Monday, July 2, 2012

St. Louis, start to finish!

How could any visit with family friends be bad, when it began with a welcoming like this...?????
If someone told me back in 1994 that my family of 4 and I would be making this trip, to see friends whom I would know and love for 18 years, I would have laughed in their face!!! And maybe spit a little too as I laughed in their face!!!!  I would have balked at them saying I'd have a family with a boy I would soon meet, that we would be traveling back to the state I chose to move to without much thought, to reunite with friends that I made in a college I chose because it had pretty trees and cool old buildings. I would snicker when they would say there would be 13 (and still counting) kids between 6 friends who met by chance and random dorm/volleyball assignments. 
It would have been nonsense talk, I tell ya!!!
No one can explain what college life will be like, and even if they tried, 18 year old kids coming fresh out of high school are too 'smart' to really absorb the description of the friendships that are forged, the bonds that are made, and the life experiences that happen in the short 4 years that lye ahead! But it happens... 
And man, is it AWESOME!!!
<yes I said 6 friends and this pic only has 5 ; ( Missed you Kelly Clup Culp Miller>

What is even better than seeing 18+ years of friendships come together over one week of memories, is seeing our kids together! Seeing how they are developing friendships (and dare I say young crushes) within our ready made group. Listening to their personalities mesh together, clash against one another... just as their mom's did when they were young all those years ago! 

Thanks to our gracious hosts, we had multiple days filled with exciting planned and unplanned events that were ripe for memory making!!! Again, I wasn't going to miss a second and snapped, ohhhh... a few thousand photos as the days looped on! It was just what I had hoped it would be... precious time, shared by people who have knitted their lives together. Some of us keep in touch daily, some monthly and some even just yearly... it doesn't make a lick of difference tho, we all pick up right where we left off. There isn't that awkward, uneasy, re-familiarizing ourselves with each other moment...
 we just embrace, accept and begin laughing immediately!!! 
  <example #1 of young crushes developing>
<Wood/Lewis Families, going on 3 years worth of family vacas together>

The talking never seemed to stop, between the moms or the dads, or all the varying groups of kids!! Chatter was everywhere... it was overwhelming and heartwarming all at the same time! I wouldn't have traded it for the world! Sometimes, unknowingly I get lost in a group... I quietly pull back, just listen or let other's take over the attention... but not with this group! I am full body, both feet jumping, involved! And what's better...? The same goes for my family... my hubby has grown up with me in this group of friends. He was once a punk wrestler that these friends steered clear of, but is now a fun loving man that these girls can't wait to hug when he walks thru the door! Our boys fall in comfortably with all these kiddos that they only see once a year, at that! 
It's just good people time... period!
 <example #2 of a young crushes happening>
<from sweet-mates to moms... where does the time go?>

Part way thru the trip, Teams Lewis and Wood went out on a family excursion that ended up being both peaceful and hilariously tiring all at the same time!!! 2 families, 7 kids and 2 boats... what could go wrong with that!! 
Other than a lot of taunting and giggling... not much!!!!
The weather was overcast, which for us Texans was a pleasant change from the heated sauna we usually live in! The kids were giddy and already mapping out the family vs. family rafting challenge... competition is healthy, right?? Between our 2 teams families, competitive spirits run high, so I wasn't surprised when the challenges were thrown down! I may have added a few 'friendly' taunts myself... something to the effect of, 
'Team Lewis RULES... team Wood DROOLS'?! 
I can't be sure.... :))))

Red boat vs. Blue boat... let the good times float!!!
<example #3 of young crushes>

By the end of the 4 hour float trip we were all hungry but filled to the brim with family fun! 
I won't mention who won the floating game of 2012 (Team Lewis, with a last minute surge)... 
No matter the winner, it was a long, flowing day. 
We all glided along just swimmingly, happy to be together!

We ended the afternoon with a late lunch and a surprisingly awesome private tour of the local fire house! Yes, when we are together, we pack it in! No rock is unturned, no land or locale unexplored... it is the way of these 2 families!!! Make memories at all costs, take no prisoners (cause we have enough kids as is), and leave no moment behind!!!!
 <example #4 of crushing>

To wrap up the trip, on our last day we all gathered again... to eat, laugh, talk, share and join in a farewell that made me miss these people and we hadn't even packed up to leave yet!! Friendship is probably one of my most loved and genuine gifts that I hold dear and don't handout lightly! I think it is a necessary exchange for every relationship you enter into... it is a 2 way street, a journey you can't travel alone or attempt to package on your own! It just doesn't work that way... you give, you take, you reach and you hold... without that mutual adoration, friendship will not thrive! I am not saying that friendships won't wane or change directions as time and life goes on. But the true testament of friendship is when 2 friends direction's change... they always make sure to give each other a map to find each other in the end! 
That's what friendship is to me.. that is who these people are to me. I always know where to find them, we gave each other our private directions a long time ago... 
we don't need GPS, our friendship is paved in stone!
<example #5, final example of a young crush blooming>
<best shot of the trip... toad hunting joy!!!>

The trip may have ended but our friendship goes on thru each year!! 
We don't say goodbye or when will we talk again? 
We say...
See you soon, no worries... I know where to find you!!!!

Always - Abbey

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