Cuzipalooza 2013- These are the Days

Me and Mimi


The O’Melia family bus arrived in Connecticut after a beautifully uneventful ride of only 90 minutes.


I relished it.


This is when I do my best rejuvenating…in a quiet car.

If a hot caffeinated beverage happens to be in my cup holder…even better.

Silent car rides are probably one of the number one reasons I’ve survived the last 14 years and lived to tell about it.

Now you know another fascinating fact about this mom of seven. ;)

I love pulling into Mimi and Pop’s driveway and watching kids excitedly exit the van, running inside to greet my mom and dad.


Life is a gift, I’ve realized.  Things will not be like this forever.


This is the house I grew up inside.  It feels like home.

They scamper upstairs into familiar bedrooms and set up camp for the week.  Sleeping bags and pillows cover the floors everywhere.  We exceeded bed capacity long ago. ;)


I am certain these are the times we will look back upon with great fondness.


We hunker down for the night.  My husband and I relax with great contentedness, little children sleeping all around us.

No alarms need be set. No responsibilities to be fulfilled.


These are the days to hold onto…tightly.



Daddy Duff

Keagan at Bat


Dawn breaks.

We prepare ourselves for ‘Field Day’.

Apparently my niece and nephew have been busy brainstorming a list of competitive events and gathering prizes.





Baseball, water balloons, sponge relays, egg toss, and spoon races…are all among the selected activities.




Cousins running, screaming, laughing with delight…


Handsome Nephew


Surely these are the moments that will be etched most deeply, outlasting all the others.


Raw eggs splatting, water balloons pelting, sponges dripping water down bare legs…



Bring it!

So Much Fun!


We are busy living these moments, having the most fantastic fun.


Water Balloons


Lunch, compliments of Uncle Kev.

Little people eating outside on the deck enjoying a perfect July day.

Kids slippin’ and sliding their way into the early evening.


Slippin' and Slidin'


Family sharing dinner.

My sister serving me up cheesecake with chocolate mousse and raspberries.

She obviously cares nothing about my exercise goals.

Even so, I managed to make this plate of creamy goodness disappear completely. ;)

No guilt here.  Zero, zilch, nada.

Pure delight.


Cheat Day


The youngers are scooted off to bed.

Isn’t he the cutest?  My baby boy.

If only time could stand still.


My Love


The olders head out with Auntie Kath to enjoy a nighttime swim.

There may have been some confusion about departure dates.

I’m still laughing.

Good times.



The sun faithfully rises again and we’re off to Lake Compounce for more excitement and thrills.

I stood with feet firmly planted on solid ground, wondering if motion sickness can affect a common bystander.  Oh yes…I’m that pathetic.


The Brave Ones

Last MinuteNerves



We rode the flying swings…



Flying Swings



And this epic roller coaster…


Keag and Gav




When I say ‘we’, I mean it in the loosest sense. ;)


I believe these two were the ultimate adrenaline junkies…


Thrill Seekers


Who in their right mind would ride to the top of this monstrosity only to free fall toward the ground at an alarmingly fast rate?


Going Up!


If my sister hadn’t come along, my children would’ve been riding alone.

She obviously inherited all the ‘fun’ genes.  I received the ‘extreme motion sickness’ and ‘extreme caution’ genes.  Lame.


They are not right


We tail-gated for lunch before heading to the ‘wet ‘n wild’ side of the park.

Tail Gating


Lake Compounce Tailgate


Such good, fun times.

My mom trying on her new swimsuit in the 12-passenger van…humorous.

My mom checking out the fit in the car window beside us…hilarious.

The tags came off and we were water-ready!

Water Fun


I mustered up some courage over sandwiches and stood in line with Luke and my nephew to ride one of the smaller water attractions.

Somehow I didn’t anticipate that the fully enclosed flume would be pitch-black inside.  I discovered that twisting, nausea-inducing descents in the dark, with water flying up my nose, are not my idea of a good time.

I tried to warn my charges, but they only stood in line more eagerly.

I’m a wuss.  It was confirmed.




The wave pool was more my speed.  I became so hysterical jumping waves while trying to converse, that I almost drowned.
Wave Pool Fun!


Really…I was having the time of my life.

So much laughter hanging out with amazing family that I love.

I could tell you stories of a little girl wearing platform shoes and a boy with stones in his sneakers…extreme efforts put forth to make the height clearance.

I could share about the roller coaster ride that threatened perfectly strong boy ribs…I’ll refrain.

This was living to the fullest.


The sun rose yet again and we had another joy-filled day.

My parents…they have the most amazing neighbors.

Neighbors who have lived there since I was a little girl.

Neighbors who were going away for several weeks and offered us the use of their pool.

It felt more like a resort.  A private, perfectly manicured retreat where the kids could swim and we could relax.

I loved it.  It was my happy place.


Pool Paradise


The kids also loved it.


My Gabby

This Boy


Competitive raft racing and pirate raiding happened when we weren’t floating around.


Competitive Raft Races

Raft Races


I introduced this little lovely to the chaise lounge…


Gabby meets the chaise lounge


and she approved.


We played ring-around-the-rosie, had a pizza party, and rocked Mimi’s sunglasses.


Ring Around the Rosie


Pizza Party


Love Him


These cuties walked the same sidewalk I traipsed as a little girl and I felt all nostalgic.


These girls waling in my old hood



We saw fireworks, ate ice cream, and prevented one van from overheating.




“That’s a rich farmer.”

The words we listened to all night.


Then another day began and it was mani-pedi day for the ladies…Mimi’s treat.

Oh the pampering we endured…







it was not for the weak.

Afterwards, we were forced to hit the pool again..

My Girl at the Pool



I could get used to this!

Let me just give you a glimpse at the level of relaxation I was experiencing.


Feet UP!


Those are my feet.  Poolside.  Perfect pedicure.  Dangling off of a lounge chair.  Iced coffee in hand. Three youngest in pool with Auntie. Unheard of, right?

Oh, but it gets better…

Double-date night.

Free babysitting.

Dinner paid for.

Pinch me!


Date Night!


These are the days.

And they fly by ever-so-quickly.


The sunlight spilled over the horizon once more and my mom and I were off to a wedding.

The little girl I once babysat for and carried around on my hip was getting married. Well if this wasn’t confirmation that the days do indeed quickly turn into years.


Ready for the Wedding


I remember crooked pig tails splashing in the pool and little arms begging to be carried like it was yesterday.

She wanted bedtime stories until her eyes were heavy with sleep, the more fantastic the better.

I fed her bottles and spooned baby food into an eager mouth.  I held chubby hands when legs still wobbled.

We invented games and created artwork.  We had so much fun together.

She was always thrilled to see my face appear at the back sliding door.

Where did the time go?


Mim and I


Well that little-girl-turned-beautiful-woman walked down the aisle with her proud parents and met her groom lakeside where they exchanged vows in a stunning setting.

It was such a privilege to be present.


Mary and Bill


I loved watching the bride and groom enjoy their super special day surrounded by family and friends.

I wish them all the happiness in the world.

We dined on delicious food, ate cupcakes and ice cream, and danced like fools.

It was a great time!

Unfortunately, I somehow managed to leave my good camera behind at Mimi’s house and then my phone’s battery died.

Very limited pictures are the result.


Margaret and Spencer


Of course you can not attend a wedding without thinking about the day when you took that plunge into married life yourself.

And where was my groom you ask?

He was back at the ranch caring for 8 children, 1 grandpa, 2 dogs, and a cat.


Back at the Ranch


I love this man. I love the life we have together. I love these days.


Love this Man


May we make the most of them…

Loving with all we have, being thankful for the countless blessings, and finding joy in everything.

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