I left off on my last post about the scavenger hunt! It’s a huge part of our family reunion. My uncle Mike has done it for 30+ years and he does a great job! I asked him this weekend how long it takes him and he said about 3 months to make it. That’s so amazing.

It’s evolved over the years and gets bigger and better every time. In the earlier years it was mostly having to find things–worms, ladybugs, spiders, pennies from a certain year, etc. Then he added trivia questions (which is fun). Then he started adding competition based games–like relay races and stuff. Like I said, it’s different every year.

The teams were boys vs. girls. We were Team G3 (Girls 3). It was me, my aunt Linda, my mom, my aunt Maureen, cousins Lea and Melina and Mia and Noa and Di.


This year the stuff we had to find was hard to figure out at first. He gave us a list of like 6 things we had to find. Except no one knew the words. At first we thought it was a word scramble–unscramble the letters and then you know the words for the items you have to find. It took us a bit to figure out that it was actually just words in other languages–German, French, Portuguese, Spanish, etc. Once we figured that out we could find the items (lady bugs, spider, etc).

There was a race where you had to run from the starting line to the end of the garden where there were buckets of water balloons in soapy water (which were really hard to hold on to) then run back and tag the next person in your team.


Then there was the bowling competition. That is always fun! And of course we’re all quoting The Big Lebowski as we play. MARK IT ZERO! Next up was a really funny game! One team member had to run from the starting line to the end of the driveway, fill a skillet with water, then run back and pour the water into a bucket. The team with the most water in the bucket at the end wins that competition. Except–it’s really hard to run with water in a skillet and NOT spill it. AND people from other teams were throwing tennis balls and water balloons at the runner to get them to spill the water (hence the helmet). Here is a video. See below:


Hahaha! It gets pretty competitive. Next up was throwing a giant rubber boot. The team that throws it furthest gets the points. It is surprisingly hard to throw the boot. Try it sometime. It doesn’t go very far.


Then the grand finale: there was trivia questions involving the family history (like what year did the family reunion start? 1981. What is Grammy’s birth date? How did the barn burn down? It was a nut drier. Etc…)

Then each team had one final task. The boy teams had to find a girl’s swimsuit, a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, lipstick, a towel and flipflops and then put it on and run back to the judges to get your points. The girls had to get a baseball cap, board shorts, sunscreen and boy flipflops. Check out my uncle who was enjoying it way too much. 🙂



And the winning team:


Our team won! Go G3!!! Girls rule. 🙂 And of course there is a trophy:


It was so much fun. It was a REALLY hot day, though, nearly 100 degrees, and we were all melting in the sun. A few times I had to go into the house to cool off for a few moments because I was feeling light headed.

After the scavenger hunt we all went down to the river to cool off! I could NOT wait!


The water felt FANTASTIC in 100 degrees.



After swimming and cooling off it was time for the potluck dinner. It’s so good. Everyone brings two dishes and there’s so much tasty food. I went a teeny bit overboard. But…..I had to have sweated off and burned off some of those calories during the scavenger hunt, right?? Potluck:

A few different kind of salads and casseroles, a piece of fried chicken, some meatballs, and my aunt Maureen made grilled cheese sandwiches on the spot which was probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten. LOL So good.

Saturday night there was another bonfire and s’mores and just hanging out. It was so much fun. In the past we used to sit around the campfire and sing and several people brought their guitars. I’m a little sad that we didn’t do that this year. It was almost my favorite part of the weekend. (This is the reason I know ALL THE WORDS to “American Pie”.)

Sunday morning we woke up and my aunt and uncle made pancakes. It’s pretty much the only time of the year I eat pancakes and they are amazing.



It was so good to see everyone! And to spend time with my grandma. She was doing great! And she looks great for 93 years old.

We packed up the campsite, hung out a bit and then made the rounds to say goodbye to everyone. Then it was time to hit the road. We had to get home to pick up Bella.


My cousin Kristin hitched a ride to Portland with us, which was nice. We got to spend some time together, hang out, chat. We all were super excited to shower and get clean clothes after camping all weekend and then we went out to lunch at Laughing Planet. We all were craving vegetables. 😉 We dropped Kristin off at her friend’s house and then went back to the house (where we discovered our AC broke over the weekend and it was HAWT).

What a wonderful weekend. Going back to “reality” and work on Monday was so hard. I could have used one more day to decompress before going back to reality…

Boys Against Girls


As I sit here reminiscing about my weekend at my family reunion, sweeping stray pine needles out of my suitcase, smelling campfire smoke in my sweatshirt and going through the photos, I am grateful. I’m grateful that I have such a cool and fun and close family. As a kid, I always looked forward to the big family reunion mid-summer. A weekend with the other cousins, running amok all day and going way past our bedtime playing flashlight tag and sneaking beer from the keg when the adults weren’t looking (or pretending not to see), these were the memories my childhood was built on.

Even now as an adult, I still have fond memories of all the summers we’ve had together–almost 30 years worth of family reunions (the first one started in 1984). We’re all getting older, many cousins have their own kids now, but we still have this common bond. A group memory. My favorite that we discussed this weekend was remembering the early days of the family Scavenger Hunt where we had to crawl underneath an electric fence to get to the open field where things were hidden. And of course the older cousins daring the younger one to pee on the electric fence. Aren’t kids fun?

There are a lot of changes coming up in my life. Getting married next year has created this intense feeling of inclusion and nesting. I am so happy that Michael is being brought into the (sometimes wacky and weird) fold of my family and I hope that when we have kids, they get to experience the same fun things I did as a kid. I think family is so important and I am forever shocked when I come across other people who never had that; as a kid I thought everyone’s family was like ours.

This weekend we went up to my cousin Kristin’s house for the family reunion. She lives in Poulsbo with her husband and son and they have recently started their own food cart, Bonfire Ovenworks. This is a dream that Matthew had and has made it a reality–a very delicious reality.


They specialize in pizza and even though they are fairly new, their pizzas are delicious! They remind me a lot of Apizza Scholls–perfect, crispy crust with that smokey flavor from the wood fire stove.


When we arrived Friday night, Matthew and Kristin were hard at work making pizzas for everyone. Their set up is super awesome and I was so impressed with the pizzas! I ate WAY TOO MUCH pizza. They made 19 pies Friday night and there were no leftovers.


They even did a gluten free pizza for Michael, which was surprisingly good. By far, my favorite pizza was the one with arugula, sun-dried tomatoes and a balsamic reduction. I want to eat that pizza again!

Friday night we were all sitting around the campfire when we started seeing flashes of light in the night sky. A storm was coming in. Michael and I crawled into our tent and I laid there in my sleeping back listening to the rumbling thunder in the distance, the clap of lightning and then finally huge raindrops hitting the top of the tent. It was so relaxing and mesmerizing and I was lulled into a deep sleep by the rain. It was really nice. Thankfully the next day had nice weather and no more rain.

One of my favorite memories of the weekend was going for a run with my cousin Di on Saturday morning. Since my knee injury, I haven’t run outside since last September. Almost a year. I’ve gotten up to almost 1.5 miles on the treadmill at the gym so this was the first time I went outside running. Di is a super athlete, does Crossfit and used to play soccer, but she hates running so she was okay with going at my pace (thank you!). We ended up doing a little over 3 miles of run/walking. If I had to guess I’d say, 1.5 or 1.75 miles of actual running and the rest was walking.


It felt so good to get out there! I didn’t have knee pain while I did it, I felt great (but sore) the next day and I think it went well!

Saturday after lunch was the annual Scavenger Hunt. My cousin Lea took over the planning from her dad (who’d done it almost 30 years) and she did a great job! She had everyone sign up into teams of 5 and then when the Scavenger Hunt began she told the boys to go on one side, girls on the other and SURPRISE that was our new teams! Two teams! Boys against girls!

The Scavenger Hunt can get pretty competitive and of course there is smack talk, even more so since it was girls against boys. One of the activities was bobbing for plums. It was hilarious. This of course turned into a water balloon fight of epic proportions.




Whatever you do, don’t drop the beer. (Beer provided by Sound Brewery–I really liked their IPA!) Then the Scavenger Hunt took a hilarious turn. Our next challenge:

This was my favorite memory of the weekend. It was the wackiest, most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen at our family reunion! The girls chose Snoop Dog. My aunt was a GREAT sport and offered to be Snoop Dogg. We watched Gin and Juice a few times on my phone for inspiration and then set to work. She made her hair into an afro, used a mascara brush to create a goatee, put on a plaid shirt to mirror the one in the video and we made a plan.


The rest of the girls got hoodies and practiced their moves as the backup dancers. My cousin turned the song on and blasted it outside and my aunt swaggered out with her bottle of gin. 😉


The glasses were a nice touch. And the bling. Haha! Do I even need to say that the girl’s team won the whole thing??? 😉


Kudos to the girls for doing an awesome job! And of course I was there to document it all. (And I was impressed with how quickly my aunt was able to get her hair back to normal. It would take me days to get the knots out of my hair!) Next up was the potluck (so much food), and my cousin Di’s amazing Sheep Herder’s Bread!! I love this stuff!!!


Then we all sat around the campfire playing Catch Phrase (and we might have turned that into a drinking game). Dang, I think it’s been a decade since I’ve done shots. And I can’t remember the last time I laughed as hard as I did this weekend!


Another year of fun memories to be stored in my brain.

Your turn; tell me some happy family memories!