Friday, July 21, 2017

Marsh Family Reunion: Aspen Grove 2017

For John and Lucina's 40th wedding anniversary, they and (mostly) Rebekah organized a family reunion for us all at Aspen Grove up Provo Canyon. Being the only one in the family who had ever been to Aspen Grove, I was a little skeptical as to how this would work with all our young families (and four babies less than a year old), but I also had limited memories of the camp since I hadn't been since I was ten years old. Either way, we were excited to hang out with all the Marshes (and Skousens) for a whole week!
Rory, as usual, was a lot of help when it came time to pack!

 We left in the evening on Friday the 14 and drove to St George for the night to split up the long road trip. Saturday morning we took off for Provo to hang out with these fools. Are they just the cutest Aunt and Uncle there ever was. We met up at the BYU bookstore, wanted to buy everything, bought nothing, made sure both Kendall and Bryan got snapchats with Rory to prove they are desirable marriage partners, and then Bryan had some intramural game so he ditched us.

Kendall accompanied us to the Creamery, where the line for ice cream was so long that I quite shamelessly purchased an entire carton of Earnestly Chocolate (plus a mint brownie) and then sat down with some plastic silverware to dig in while we visited. I love my siblings, I love BYU, and I love being a lame alumni that walks around being all, "In my day this was where Fox Hall was..." Rory, obviously you can do what you want, but we will do everything in our power to brainwash you into being a cougar, ok?

Stephen's firm just hired a BYU accounting student for an internship this coming winter and they asked Stephen to follow up with him and schmooze him a little bit. So, after eating way too much ice cream at the creamery we went to meet the recruit, his wife, and baby daughter at Tucano's. I feel this is important to document for posterity because I felt very fancy eating free Tucano's, and we had an awesome time. I ate so much food that I couldn't even accept the complimentary cookie that was offered to me upon check in at Aspen Grove. I did, however, kick myself for not taking it for later. 

We checked in, the kids all met their counselors, and there was a little orientation meeting for the parents to explain how the week would go. As soon as we heard about the activities and got a glimpse of the other families, my sister in law said, "Oh, so this is like EFY for families?" And the Marsh men (all returned missionaries married in the temple, mind you) quickly agreed that this camp was the "most Mormon thing they have ever done." 

So at Aspen Grove they split the kids into age groups and throughout the week the kids meet with their groups for most of the day for things like hiking, swimming, arts and crafts, and games while the parents get to do the same things without kids. They even let you drop off your babies, no questions asked! Crazy. Having been tot he camp before, I remembered the baby room, and my sister Kristy who worked at the camp as a counselor DEFINITELY remembered the baby room (mostly because she felt it was grossly understaffed) so I didn't see myself sending Rory there during our stay. There were two girls specifically in charge of the infants for the week and there were 9 infants at the camp (4 of which were Marsh babies) so these poor girls had their hands full. 

Anyways, so got there on Saturday in the evening and checked into our rooms. We were in the lodge so we basically had a small hotel room for our family and all the other Marsh families were on the same floor as us. We had a large common space and a little kitchen for everyone on the floor to share but that we mostly took over as our own. We went to orientation, signed up for all the various sports and activities we were hoping to do during the week, and then did something that night, but I really can't remember what. 

On Sunday they had a church service in the outdoor amphitheater. We had classes and relief society, the whole nine yards. We spent the rest of the day relaxing, napping, and going for walks. 

I couldn't possibly remember what we did each and every day, so I'm just going to try to get down the notable activities that I do remember. It was seriously such a fun week.

First of all, seeing the cousins together was so much fun. We got asked repeatedly through the week if Rory and Tanner were twins. Meal time was pretty good at the camp, but the best part was the baby table that was stalked with all sorts of Gerber's baby foods, packs of applesauce, Grandma Sycamore's bread, and peanut butter and jelly. It was open from 6 am to sometime late at night, and it was amazing.

 I spent a lot of time at the crafting cabin. The first day activities were open, Stephen and I found we had a free morning before Stephen had signed up for some sports in the afternoon. We went to the craft cabin and brought Rory with us. We were still pretty skeptical of the baby room, so we kept her with us to make sure she would at least get a morning nap. I bought a large soup mug and got to sit and paint while I hung out with my husband and my baby took a nap. It was bliss.

We ended up taking Rory to the baby room for an hour in the afternoon when Stephen and I both had some sporting event going on. We were nervous, especially when we went to drop her off and Tanner was being held by one the counselors crying and looking miserable. Well, it was a huge success! Rory played with her cousins for an hour and the counselors reported that Rory made all of the other babies happier! It was one of the proudest moments of my life thus far.

We ended up following that pattern for the rest of the week. We would keep Rory with us in the mornings to nap (hopefully) or do something all together, and then we would take her to the baby room for 2-3 hours in the afternoon. Sometimes she napped, sometimes she played with Tanner. Only once did I come in to find her wailing uncontrollably and that was horrible. But besides that I think she handled us abandoning her to do something more fun like a champ!

Because of the unlimited food that someone else was making, Rory got to try a lot of new things. Up to this point she'd mostly had just baby food with a little nibble of something I was eating here and there. Needless to say, she was a big fan of all the new things she got to try. Pasta night was one of the biggest successes.

One thing we all got to do together was lazer tag out in the forest and it was amazing. We used converted paintball guns and were separated into two teams. First it was us against another family, who smoked us, but then we traded up teams a little bit (my family willingly sacrificed me to the strangers so that I would no longer be a liability) and the strangers won again! It was close though, mostly due to how many of my in-laws had gotten plenty of kills from me. If only I were a little better at the things I love to do.

The girls played in the women's doubles tennis tournament and luckily for me we only had to play each other. It was Rebekah and me versus Linne and Ashleigh. Linne and Ashleigh are both naturally very good at everything and Rebekah and I are both very good at cheering each other on despite the fact that we are awful. It was so much fun and if it hadn't been for the heat of the afternoon sun I think we all could have played for a lot longer. Instead, we called it quits after Linne and Ashleigh dominated us twice and met up with the guys for some ICE CREAM! Aspen Grove sells BYU creamery ice cream and mint brownies and also MINT BROWNIE ICE CREAM which is like two of my favorite things had a baby and I didn't even know it existed. Here is everyone eating a dole whip from the soft serve machine and me losing my mind over the mint brownie ice cream like a child.

 Wednesday was the day of crafts! I had already spent a lot of time in the craft room working on painting my pieces, but on Wednesday we four girls had signed up to take a pottery class! After what seemed like a promising start I turned out to be horrible and couldn't even make something that I could pull off the wheel but it was so. much. fun. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was also cool because the wheels were set up in this little structure they set up on top of the river so the scenery was just gorgeous.
Most of the group had also signed up for a wood pen turning class that happened right after pottery. They bought a block of wood and used a lathe to turn it into a pen casing. They all turned out so gorgeous and so unique and it was really fun to watch.

 One of the nights we took the nieces down to the arts and crafts room and everyone painted together. Madison painted the girliest cupcake you will ever see, Kenzie made a very detailed ballerina, and Sydney painted a multi-colored eagle. All of their artistic processes were fascinating and their projects all turned out darling. I love me some girl bonding time.

On one of these days (Tuesday maybe) We got together for family pictures, which was no easy feat. Lucina and I had worked on the outfits and color scheme together and oh my, was it an ordeal. But I think it all turned out so cute and even the photographer said she was impressed with our palette. And after pictures, I pretended it was a real camp and didn't get ready for the rest of the week.

On Thursday, our last full day there, we didn't have a ton going on so we took a little family walk in the morning down around the river and got some pictures to fully document our week. 

 We left Rory with grandma for a nap and Stephen and I went on a little hike up the Timpanogos trail. We only hiked about an hour, but it was still lovely.

Finally it was time to say goodbye. That afternoon we picked Rory up from "rompers" for the last time and she was happily watching a magic show with Tanner and some of the older kids outside. The counselor told us, "She wouldn't nap this afternoon. But she took a great nap this morning!" Uh, Rory was with us all morning... but it's ok tired, overworked baby counselor, you're done now. You can rest. 
Rory was not sad to see the last of this room, even though with those little dark napping cubicles it seemed like a pretty sweet place to me. 

 Things that I didn't manage to get any pictures of:
1) We had two beautiful baby blessings! We got a room in the main building and Samara and Siena were blessed by their dads. They were both lovely blessings and it is always such a joy to get to share in those special moments with family.
2) Bekah organized an amazing game night/ tribute night for John and Lucina's anniversary. She had a special slideshow made up for them and then we played Jeopardy and Family Feud Marsh Style for the rest of the night. There was plenty of candy and good times to be had.
3) Late and (not -so) quiet games of Mormon bridge. I love this game and this is my favorite crew to play with. Always a good time. Also, John and Ashleigh taught us a new game, Left, right, center, or something like that and it was SO fun. Lucina ended up with a pot of cash that she gladly gave to Kenzie who bought ice ream for all of her cousins with it.

And here is Poppap, sitting on a turtle, eating an ice cream cone, because he's the best Poppap in the world. I laugh just thinking about these pictures.

We got our groove on at the family dance party. John, Ashleigh, Linne and I showed the girls how it's done. Kenzie left heartbroken at the prospect of not seeing her camp crush again (oh to be ten years old) and we were done with an adventure. 

Marsh Family Reunion 2017 was a success! We drove to St George Friday night and the rest of the way Saturday morning and this little baby killed it, as per usual.

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