Saturday, August 25, 2007

From one side of the continent to the other

On August 13th our family embarked on a eight day trip east to New Hampshire. One hundred and ten years ago Rockywold-Deephaven Camps (RDC) was created by my mom's great great grandma Mary Alice Armstrong. So there is a lot of rich family heritage at this camp. My parents worked at the camp one summer when I was little, Birch and I worked there the first summer we got married ten years ago, and most of my siblings have also worked there for at least one summer. When our family goes to RDC we don't actually stay right at the camp but just outside at the "Log House," a cabin that my grandparents built thirty-two years ago. Nothing has changed at the cabin--it has the same ceder smell, the same decorations, the same fun toys that I played with when I was a little girl visiting, and probably even the same mice family that has occupied the house for the past thirty-two years. Anyway, we took the kids back to RDC three years ago and ever since then we have been saving our pennies and frequent flyer points so we could visit again.

It was a VERY long flight. We left at 11:00 pm and split up the family on two different airlines in order to take advantage of our frequent flyer tickets. Due to "technical difficulties" on two of Birch's planes we didn't all join together until 18 hours later. We were all glad to finally make it to the Manchester, NH airport and finish our journey to Rockywold-Deephaven Camps (aka - RDC). Birch took Alysee, Nathan, and Cooper on his airline and I took Alex and Tyler (doesn't sound like an equal split??--well, Birch said I could pick). Don't feel too bad, though because my parents were also on the flight with Birch and the little kids.
I had forgotten how uncomfortable sleeping on a plane really is. The little kids seemed to still get comfy and slept periodically throughout the 18 hours of traveling. Cooper even slept all tucked in underneath the airplane seat.
We celebrated Alysee's fifth birthday while at RDC. She had a wonderful day and definitely enjoyed all the royal treatment and birthday gifts!
We all (well I did get in once--I am not a fan of chilly water) did a lot of lake swimming and playing in the water. Nathan was especially fond of riding in the canoes, and of wearing a life jacket. The boys and Birch played a plethora of tennis. Tyler and Alex didn't even mind being the ball boys when it wasn't their turn to play. One night after a busy day Alex whispered in my ear, "Mom I think you have become more athletic since coming to RDC." This, of course, would be Alex's dream of a cool mom. I did play tennis (or at least try) a couple of times and I did climb a mountain while there--certainly whatever athletic bone my children have did not come from me.
When the weather was a bit overcast we had fun kayaking and canoing. It was so great having Alex feel so confident in the water this year. Alex really got brave and loved participating in all the crazy games that the uncles and Poppi made up to do off of the docks.
Cooper is definitely our best water baby!! He was so cute jumping in and out of the water and then acting like a little fishy in the lake.One of my favorite parts of the trip was spending time with my extended family. My sister Emi and I had a great time laying out on the docks attempting to add a little color to my legs.
Tyler loved everything at RDC. What he did love most, though (and I have no pictures) is eating unlimited ice cream at the dining hall.
Almost every night there was some sort of family activity that we could all participate in. One night we listened to the famous Odds Botkin (a storyteller), another night we watched a magic show, but our favorite was Friday night--the traditional Square Dance. The kids were a little shy at first to let their hair go but as soon as the music started and their uncles, aunts, Ami, or Poppi started twirling them around, they had a wonderful time. Birch and I stayed and participated in the Adult Square Dance while my parent's tucked the kids in bed. Now there is some good exercise!!
Uncle Seth and Alysee letting loose.Saturday with the weather being a bit chilly we decided that it would be a perfect day to hike Rattlesnake Mountain. The view from the top of the mountain is absolutely stunning!!Although we were missing my sister Laura (serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Switzerland), and my sister Leah and her husband Geoff and two kids, and my brother Matt and his wife Jessica, we did have a great time with those in our family that were able to come. Seth and his wife Caroline are still at RDC working at the camp for the next couple of weeks.
Another shot of the Ditto clan on top of Rattlesnake Mountain looking over the Squam Lakes Region.
Sundays are always a unique treat. There is an island a short boat ride away where we attend a non-denominational service. I always enjoy being around other people who also believe in Christ.
Nate had the best time following Birch around. In the early mornings Nate would tag along with Birch and Poppi to go play tennis, then the afternoons Nate would hang out on the docks to watch Birch dive. Nate just can't get enough of his daddy!

Cooper was such a good little boy on this trip. He adjusted easily to the three hour time change and did moderately well with others helping care for him (as long as his mom and dad were out of eye shot). Coop's favorite thing while at RDC would be the big sand box.

The travels home were less eventful than the trip to New Hampshire. We all arrived safely back on the west coast and were glad to pile in the car and make the two hour trek home. We can't wait for our next opportunity to make it back to RDC again!! It is a magical place!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Another Ditto Reunion...having fun in the sun

This past weekend we spent a wonderful sunny weekend at Lake Cavanaugh (just north of Seattle) at a cabin that one of our sister-in-law's grandparents own. This is our third year that they have treated us to a perfect family reunion location. We couldn't have asked for better weather. We all now have pealing noses and tan bodies (well my arms are tan). We spent Thursday through Sunday laying around, hot tubbing, waterskiiing, wave running, playing games, watching movies, and eating. Sounds like the perfect reunion, huh?!

Birch's brother Kelly made this fun game called "Koob." Many hours were spent throwing batons at wood blocks. I never tried to figure out what the point of the game was but everyone who played loved it. (Our cabin is in the back--it easily sleeps all 24 of us)
ALL the kids loved going for rides in the boat while their dad's showed off waterskiiing. The daddy's started sneaking out in the mornings for early morning waterskiing without fourteen little children in tow.
This is how I spent most of my time--laying around reading and talking with my fabulous sister-in-laws. I made it through about half of my "Positive Parenting" book by Glenn L. Latham.
Alysee and Tyler spent most of their time in the hot tub. Note: they are wearing kid-size wet suits. This cabin is fully equipped with wet suits for all sizes. They were quite the fishes!
Nate's FAVORITE thing to do was go on rides with anyone on the wave runners. If Birch was ever talking a nap, Nate could be found trying to drag him out of bed or the lawn chair to go for a ride on "the things that go fast."
Tyler loved the hot tub and going for rides on the boat.
Coop was just happy doing whatever he wanted to do. He loved going for boat rides, gooing at his baby cousins, eating corn on the cob, and playing on the teeter-totter.
Alex attempted being the first grandkid on water skis. I am sure that Birch's dad was watching from heaven as Alex dared the water. Birch used all his tips from his dad to instruct Alex. This is Alex on his second try. He was so close to making it all the way up. Uncle Brenty was right at hand on the wave runner to pick Alex up when he started inhaling water. Alex was a little unsure of trying again and again and again--but all the uncles kept encouraging him.Alex decided that three times trying was enough for him this year. I think next year he will give it another try. He sure likes feeling like he was part of the cool uncles waterskii club.
Alysee enjoyed being with her cousins, going for boat rides, and swimming in the hot tub.
Even though waterskiing has become a once a year sport for Birch -- he hasn't lost his touch! He got to ski until his arms ached and he couldn't hold onto the rope any longer.

It was a great reunion and we all can't wait until next year!!! It sure is wonderful to be part of such an AWESOME family!!