A few lessons I learned, in no particular order, having spent this time with family and friends:
1. 18 people + 1 toilet + 5 days = disgusting.
Lavender air freshener helps minimally. Etiquette lessons from Rob should have happened earlier and more frequently. But it makes for some funny conversations and you really get over your shyness pretty quick.
2. Although healthy food options can be available, when there is junk, kids will eat it. And a lot of it. Although, if you also put snacks out on the counter or healthy options right at the card table (e.g. cucumbers and blueberries), they will eat that too when completely sick and turned off of junk. Which happens. That tells you about the amount of junk that was consumed.
3. Judy’s list of what to bring, planning meals ahead of time and even cooking and freezing them ahead of time was genius. Made meal time so much easier. Thank you, my hero!
4. Staterooms ARE glorified coffins. Use them to store your luggage. And bring minimal luggage. I mean 1 swimsuit, 1 change of regular clothes. That’s pretty much what we all wore. OK, I noticed that the girls all had multiple suits, but the boys certainly don’t need more than one. My boys barely changed out of their suits. They slept in them most nights!
5. Secret Buddy idea – rocked. So fun. Thanks, my special buddy:)
6. My job working with head injury has made me a bit of a conservative, risk averse, cautious parent. But hey, that’s my reality. Sorry, kids:)
7. Bring more drinks than food. We drank soooooo much.
8. You need a ton of ice. TONS. And people don’t like me putting my homemade ice pack in the freezer (which I had to use when I pulled my hamstring waterskiing. Oh yes, next lesson, it is not easy to try to waterski for the first time at 42).
9. We talked a lot about parenting, and I’m glad that I am in the camp of pushing my kids to do stuff that they don’t always necessarily like. It seems that the 6 of us parents were all in agreement that we need to push our kids to do hard things, and that when kids are too “soft”, we as parents need to take the responsibility. It’s always reaffirming for me to hear these things, as my parenting is often microanalyzed and Rob and I get painted in a negative light, so it’s nice when you hear from people that you respect that they parent similarly to you and enforce similar values.
10. I love my kids being surrounded by other kids with similar values, and especially love that they were exposed to such awesome examples of respectful, fun, loving and “in love” couples. I love that they got to see how other families work – how we are the same, and how we are different. I love that each of my kids felt so loved by each of the adults there, as well as each of the kids.
11. I can’t believe I didn’t take any pictures of the whole gang of kids. What a miss! But I loved that they all spent time with each other. It seemed that there were always different people talking or playing games. There were no “exclusive relationships”, which often happens where, for example, the oldest will pair up with the oldest and stay together the whole time. Everyone mingled with everyone. It was so nice to see.
12. You can never overuse “big boy”, “chief” or “speedy”. Ok. I may change my mind on that one SOON.
13. All hymns and church songs sound better when sung in opera style (by Tanner.)
14. Stories about missions can really touch some hearts and spirits.
15. True family and close friend ties never sever. It’s been years, and we all just picked up from where we left off.
16. I think houseboating is glorified camping. And I’m not sure I am a camper. Days were great, but I admit, nights were harder. But, I would do it again (with some minor changes:))
17. Travel and vacations are the best thing in the world.
18. You really need two speed boats. One for water sports and one for exploring. We all agreed that we needed to explore the lake a bit more, but moving the houseboat was a big task, and there was not enough room on the speed boat… next time!