Monday, August 19, 2013

The Value of Family

Early August brought my Texas family to the lakes of Minnesota for the long-awaited Waller Family Reunion, 2013!

Lakecrest Resort on beautiful Long Lake in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, hosted my huge family with warm and inviting accommodations, gorgeous surroundings, a beautiful beach, fish, and the iconic sound of loons!

I grew up in a large family; my parents were blessed with 7 boys and 2 girls.
As you can imagine raising such a large family had many challenges, but we were happy and always had what was most needed.  We were sometimes short of cash and seconds at the table weren't always available, but we excelled at finding ways to entertain ourselves.  

Backyard games of kick-the-can, cardboard fort building, a putting green in summer, and an occasional ice rink in winter assured that we always had plenty to keep us occupied.  
As we've gotten older and raised our own families, its refreshing to see that the love of simple, creative joy still resides in my parents and siblings.  Throughout our week-long reunion, countless casual games of frisbee, kickball, basketball, tennis, shuffleboard, fishing, skiing, tubing, and sand-castle building kept us all entertained.

But the Wallers sometimes like to go BIG!  And that's exactly how we did our Hawaiian Luau!  

My brother started cooking the roasts early in the morning and by mid-day the smell of smoked pork was all that was needed to call the entire family to dinner.  

And if you're going to have a Luau, Hawaiian attire is a must - even if the temperature drops below 65 degrees!  We all seemed to manage just fine with layers of leggings, t-shirts, and sweatshirts.  
The spirit of the islands was alive and well.

The colorful family photos we took at our luau truly showed the exuberance and joy we shared.

 Now that's one, BIG, happy family!

I'm so pleased that my family has grown.  Particularly in it's number of women. 
And what incredible women my brothers have brought to this family!

Often when our family gets together the women find themselves working in the kitchen preparing meals, cleaning up after dinner, and caring for the small children.  They often miss out on all the fun that's being had. To ensure that we women took a little time for ourselves, we planned an Aprons & Pearls Tea Party as a way to do just that.  No Boys Allowed!

We gathered together on what turned out to be a spectacularly beautiful day in the mid afternoon to relax, have refreshments, and just enjoy each others' company.

The location was selected,


decorations hung, 

the tables set, 

food and ...

drink prepared, 

live entertainment secured,

and all of us looking glamorous in our aprons and pearls.

Not to be outdone by the women folk, the guys had fun taking the little boys on a treasure hunt 

complete with a pirates' map washed ashore in a bottle, 

a long, adventurous hike through the resort, and a bountiful treasure box found at the end.  

We all gathered together, boys and girls alike, to eat up the leftovers and clean up after the festivities - truly a supportive family, one that values and loves each other dearly.

All good things must come to an end, and our week together ended far too soon.  But the time we spent together was immeasurable in the bonds that grew in fun, love and simple pleasures. 

2015 reunion plans are well underway!

All photographs taken by Angelique Gulino-Waller and Paulette Rodriguez.

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