Several years ago, my Mom decided that she wanted to spend her inheritance on family vacations, and the decision on where to hold the annual vacation is rotated among the folks and their four children. In year one, my folks selected Crescent Beach, Florida, near where we grew up. For the second year, my brother selected the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My sister selected Myrtle Beach in year three. If you've noticed a trend, then you're not alone, so this year, when it was our turn, we decided to break out of the Southern beach rut and head north. We first started looking at Newfoundland and Nova Scotia -- as much as those places seemed like they'd be fantastic, we were unable to find houses that would contain all 14 of us (two parents, four children, three spouses, and five grandchildren), especially in the lifestyle to which my family had grown accustomed the past couple of years. Settling on Maine, we came across this house just south of Portland. The house even came with the all-important heated pool for the family members who wouldn't be up for swimming in the ocean so far north (and for the grandchildren too young to swim in the ocean).
Overall, I'd say it was probably our best family vacation yet. The house could have used a little more effort in the upkeep (e.g., sliding glass doors and screens that worked properly), but it was more than adequate, despite everyone not having private bathrooms like in years past. We got rain for a couple of days, but it never got too hot (or too cold). And this was about the extent of the complaints. People got along better than in past years, the beach itself was awesome, and the usual fights about food (e.g., eating out vs. cooking; and parental complaints about buying too much) never seemed to materialize, due partly to better planning this year.
With all the people around her, Emelia stayed pretty wound up. As a result, she slept poorly, meaning that Kathy (mostly) or I (occasionally) would be up with her while everyone else slept, and we got more tired as the week wore on. Still, it was great seeing Emelia interact with all of her first cousins. And I mean it when I say "all," because we had Suz's kids with us for three days -- their Dad lives in Maine, and he was nice enough to let them stay with us. It also meant that Hunter, my brother's son, had peers with him (with whom he got along great), instead of being over five years older than the next cousin (his sister). Having to supervise four kids instead of one sometimes felt a bit overwhelming, but Suz's children are generally great, though they did get a little grumpy the last day with us.
Emelia with her parents and all her first cousins. I'm holding Luke, three months Emelia's junior, whom we got to meet for the first time on this trip.
Josh, Kim, Hunter, and Lauren, at Cape Elizabeth (Two Lights), a must visit if you're ever in the area.
Josh, Mom, Aaron, Shari, Dad, and Rebecca