We spent Labor Day weekend celebrating birthdays for two pretty awesome kids. My nephew, Benjamin, is turning four, and Lina will be turning two in just a few days. The fact that the exact date is not here yet allows me to ignore this reality a little longer.
We decided on a simple family picnic at a nearby park. Edwin Warner Park in Nashville has quickly become a new favorite, thanks in part to a nature play area where kids can dig in the dirt, make mud with water from the spigots and generally muck it up to their hearts’ content. This thrills Lina’s soul. She finds the nearest puddle, plops down in it and coats herself in mud like it’s her job. Nephew Luke discovered a shared love of mud, and the two of them ended up looking like… Well, you can see for yourself. Meanwhile, Corin and Benjamin embarked on a “paleontologisting” adventure, digging for T-rex bones at the top of the dirt hill. They made up ridiculous names for each other and generally had a great time all weekend.
The menu was easy: sandwiches, macaroni salad, avocado/corn salad, fresh fruit, and banana cream cupcakes and (very soft) ice cream for dessert. The weather forecast had been threatening thunderstorms, but we lucked out and had overcast skies and pleasant temperatures, with just a little sprinkling of rain here and there. We returned home in time to open gifts before my brother and his family had to hit the road back to Chattanooga.
There is something about these kinds of family gatherings that whispers, “Remember this. This is the stuff of life.” The squeals and shouts of little kids, the chaos of big meals, the mess of toys everywhere I look, knots of people deep in conversation, peals of laughter from the next room… This is family. There is nobody perfect here; it’s just a lot of people who love each other, celebrating milestones together and making some awesome memories in the process.
(My thanks to Ryan for taking quite a few of these pictures.)