I am an only child.
My mother is an only child.
My father has one sister. She only has one child.
I only have one first cousin.
All this math to point out I have a small, tight-knit family tree. Maybe even just a shrub.
Eric however comes from a forest of family.
Every year, the limbs from his family gather at Petit Jean state park for a Labor Day family reunion. The park and its lodgings are taken over by the family. They come from all across the globe. It is like nothing else I have ever experienced. And this is just his mother's side of the tree. (He has an entire Yellowstone Park full of family trees on his father's side as well.)
The first time I attended this particular reunion as a mere girlfriend, I was overwhelmed. Not only were there tons of family members but the majority of them all look alike. Meaning Eric's dark hair and set of teeth were staring at me from every cabin.
I am still not totally used to the event but have found my reunion-comfort-zone.
And of course, now that we have added to the family forest with Jackson, each reunion becomes more fun as he learns about this side of his family.
This year was even more eventful for him as he is constantly more aware of his surroundings and is so busy worshipping his cousins.
He was thrilled to dance with Davis, chase cousins, discover cicadas, hike down to the falls, entertain the tiny babies, relish popsicles, wear out the playground, sample homemade ice cream, play paw-paw's guitar, snuggle with relatives and eat his fill in smiley face cookies.
After nearly three days of "reunioning," Jack was tired out.
We decided to pull a classic parenting move and drive home at night so he could sleep the majority of the five-hour trip. After a bath, and after he gave many sweet good-byes, he climbed into his car seat already in his pjs. As we began the trek down the mountain, a light rain started.
It was pitch black.
Eric and I softly chatted about the holiday event, kept noticing deer on the side of the road and had our book on tape ready for the late-night road trip.
We were all very tired. Ready to unpack, start the laundry, snuggle the dog and catch up before the work week began.
Back to the grind.
After about thirty minutes on the road I hear, "Mama?" from the darkness of the back seat.
"Yes?" I say turning around but still unable to actually see his sleepy face.
"What's next, mama?"
It seems our sleepy cruise ship director is ready for more.
For a photo recap check out this link and scroll down a bit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/73102019@N00/sets/953110/