Every other summer, my dad’s side of the family gets together and stays in a ginormous house for a week. My dad has three siblings, all of which have children, and my oldest cousins are now having kids of their own, so our numbers keep getting bigger and bigger. This year, we totaled 24, with one more on the way! We’ve stayed in all sorts of cool places in the eight years we’ve been doing this, and this year we decided on a house on Lake Lanier, Georgia that was a whopping 18,000 square feet! Here is the view of the house from the back: It was stunning. My three-year-old cousin referred to the house as “the castle,” and I think he pretty much hit the nail on the head. This house had closets the size of my bedroom at home. It also came with all of the necessary amenities, such as a pizza oven, an air hockey table, a roulette wheel, a hot tub, and a movie theater. This house was designed in a style I can only call “eclectic and ostentatious.” While the three-story mansion was breath-taking from the outside, some of the decor was suspect. I didn’t take many pictures of the inside of the house, but I think this gigantic deer head chandelier pretty much sums it up. (Note the nightmare-inducing red eyes.)The view from the back of the house, however, left nothing to be desired. Lake Lanier is really beautiful. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a pool with a view before, but it was an amazing experience! At sunset, the lake and the pool both reflected the sky, and it was truly gorgeous. I also got to get up close and personal with the lake, because my uncle was kind enough to take us out for trips on his boat. My smile says it all- I love to be out on the water, as long as I’m not the one driving the boat! We couldn’t go “very fast,” because my small cousin was riding with us, but I was definitely okay with that. 45 mph felt pretty quick to me!
One of the highlights of the week was our newest tradition: playing laser tag. We did it at the last reunion and had so much fun we decided it had to happen every time. And we did not go to some laser tag place, oh no. We had some guys come and set up laser tag in the yard. It was the same guys who did it for us two years ago, and I could tell he remembered how crazy we were. It was father against son, sister against sister, cousin against cousin! We are just a little competitive in our family, but no one got too caught up in the game to keep us from having fun. Here’s a picture of my sister and I trying to look menacing. (Note the different color headbands- opposing teams) (Also note the grandmother and baby in the window, kind of taking the edge off of our “scary” look).
And because we can’t play laser tag the whole week, my family has to find other ways to be competitive. We love to play card games and stayed up every night playing fun, simple games like Oh Hell, Screw Your Neighbor, and Golf. And when we weren’t in the pool or playing games, we were eating. Every nuclear family takes on one night of cooking, and that makes for a week full of delicious food. We had some things that we almost never get at home, like homemade pizza and low country boil, as well as old favorites like tacos, chili, and the delicious pulled pork sandwiches that my grandmother makes every year (and which I ended up eating for lunch at least 5 out of the 7 days we were there). I also did my part to make sure that the pies, cookies, and ice cream we got for desert did not go to waste. If I wasn’t running up and down three stories of the house all week, I probably would have gained 10 pounds!
During the week, we went for a few excursions in the surrounding area, including quite a few trips to the outlet mall (which was only 15 minutes away!). And of course, we went to mass.
The picture doesn’t do it justice, but the windows behind the altar let so much gorgeous natural light in, and the dark green trees provided such a beautiful backdrop for the mass. The church seemed so small compared to our huge parish at home!
Overall, this week was filled with fun, relaxation, and lots and lots of love. My family gets along so well that it freaks other people out, and it is nothing but a good time when we are together. We don’t take it for granted, and we know how blessed we are to have an extended family so full of love and support. We have been looking forward to this week for the past two years, and I am already looking forward to the next one. Whether we are in the mountains, at the beach, or the lake, it’s the people I get to spend this week with that make it so enjoyable.
Almost everyone will be getting back together in six weeks for my uncle’s wedding, but I will already be in Spain by then! I am very sad to be missing the wedding, but it was great to be able to get to see everyone before I go. I could not be more excited for Spain! I cannot believe it is less than a month til I go. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!