This morning was bitter sweet. We woke up at home, our home. Vacation is over. No water skiing or fireflies. No boat rides before bed time. No Nana or Papa to read bedtime stories and take the boys for rides on the scooter or four wheeler. There were tears shed by all of us when leaving and I guess that’s a good indication that we had a great time and will be eagerly awaiting our return for Christmas!
Truth be told, I’ve been working on this post for far too long. Days in fact. I’m a bit overwhelmed at the thought of blogging what happened over the last two weeks. Between Matt and I, we shot over 3000 images! I’m sure this is going to be a long one so if you have the time and a cup of coffee or tea, I hope you find it enjoyable.
We arrived on Friday the 27th of June and settled right in. I’m always amazed at the details that his parents and especially his mom provide. In our room, not only were there diapers and wipes but pull-ups, towels, stuffed animals for Miles in his pack-n-play, sunscreen and new toothbrushes for the boys. We spent a few days alone with his parents and did some needed projects around the house. We hung pictures in his dad’s office, went grocery shopping etc. His mom revolutionized my thoughts about going to the grocery store when she told me that she had a cooler in the trunk to keep the perishable food while we went to the other stores that were on the list. Amazing! So smart! Now I don’t have to rush home on certain days if I can just remember to bring my cooler!
The days that followed were filled with cousins and aunts and uncles, a night out to see a show, a pirate boat parade and fireworks on the 4th of July, late nights playing games, a chocolate bar taste test (this has become a tradition with his parents and one I highly suggest), dinner with a close friend and many many boat rides around the lake. Mason had more adventures than I can even begin to touch on. He fished, drove the Sea-Doo (jet-ski), tubed off the back of the boat, water ski’d between Matt’s legs, drove the boat and went sailing on the Hobie Cat and basically spent every moment he could in the water. He even went swimming off of the back of the boat in deep water with me more than once. We would put the kids in life vests and they turned into fish.
Miles had his fair share of adventure too. He would ride with dad on his power wheel chair, four wheeler and scooter. He would go for boat rides and if he started getting fussy you could pretty much offer any one of those options and he would instantly calm down, grunt his response for yes and start moving in the direction of one of those items. The cutest thing was when you would ask if he wanted to go for a boat ride. He would grunt yes, walk out toward the boat, usually with me yelling at him to wait and hold someone’s hand while walking on the dock, get up on the boat have his life vest strapped on and then he would start signing and saying more until the boat started moving. He absolutely LOVED it.
I think I have to say that the visit with one of my long time friends, since I was about 12 years old, was definitely a highlight. Steven Lee Burright, who is an amazing illustrator and set designer is working this summer at the Barn Theater. It has been run by the Ragotzy family since 1946. They opened the theater with $875 and have held over 500 productions over the past sixty-two years. My sister went to college with Steven as well as Penelopy Alex. Penelope not only studied at the barn years ago but dated and later married Brendan Ragotzy. Now, all these years later, Brendan and Penelopy are running the Barn.
It’s such an amazing coincidence that I grew up knowing about summer stock at “The Barn” and Matt’s parents live within an hours drive from the theater. Les Miserable was the show playing and when I knew that Steven was spending his summer there and Matt’s parents told me that they had seen Les Mis 7 times because it’s their favorite musical, it was a must on the agenda.
Steven was there to greet us right when we arrived and had reserved fantastic seats. The show was awesome, an incredible show. The singing was wonderful and haunting, the performances were remarkable and the set design was amazing. Especially for being set on such a small stage. I was most impressed by how the complexity of the story was conveyed with such simplicity.
We went to the Bar Show after the performance and we highly recommend reserving seats for that if you’re lucky enough to get out there to see a show. It was a fun way to spend our time after seeing Les Mis and Penelope came and spent some time with us which made the night that much more special. She greeted me with such warmth and open arms. It had been something like 25 years since I had seen her. Crazy. It was really a treat to see her again after all these years. She’s an incredible woman who not only co-runs the Barn but has 4 children ranging from 14 to 4 years old. Amazing!
(Thank you Steven for making our night so enjoyable and Penelope, I’m so glad to have reconnected after all these years!)
So, here I go, getting into the details of just ONE of the things that have happened. See why I’m overwhelmed?? I think I’ll have to just let the rest of the photographs speak for themselves or this post will go on for days.
Matt and I were pretty trigger happy to say the least and I felt at times that I was taking too many photographs. Not stopping enough to enjoy what was happening right there in the moment. But the truth is, I LOVE to take pictures. It brings me joy to see life through the lens of a camera and when we would sit around the computer at night enjoying the moments that Matt and I captured, everyone else is enjoyed it too. In fact, my sister-in-law Susan said that she appreciates all of the images because with three children she can’t be everywhere at once. She misses a lot of what happens and then gets to experience it because we’ve photographed it.
These past two weeks were special for me. Matt’s father has ALS and even though the progression of the disease is slow the difference in his ability from the last time I saw him is evident. It’s both easier and harder being away from him. Easier because I’m not faced with his disease on a day to day basis and when we communicate via phone or email he’s just “dad”. Harder because when we do see him the difference is that much more. But, the grace that he walks through life with is incredible. He is a man devoted to God and his family and an amazing role model for anyone who knows him.
Matt’s parents called a meeting while the entire family was there. A meeting to discuss the lake house and it’s future. Being a three story home with large yards and a garden the upkeep is intense. Matt’s mom is deep in the conversation of keeping or selling the home. They built that house to be a magnet for their family. A place to come and rest and enjoy themselves and each other. They have succeeded to no end but now that dad is sick, the question of staying or leaving is on the table. I think knowing that the possibility existed that this could be the last time that we were all there having fun made me truly appreciate and enjoy every moment. Maybe that’s why I took so many photographs. I wanted to be sure to capture the spirit of the house and the family. I think Matt and I did just that. The images show love and history, fun and adventure. Everything that I love and appreciate about this family.
I’ve been blessed to be a part of this and I thank God for all of them.