Cousins by the Dozens

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Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: whatever it is and whoever you are, you need one.  In my immediate family of five, it’s hard for us to come together under one roof for a few weeks in a year, simply because of our spread out cities. From those standards, this past weekend was quite the miracle.  Not only did all five members meet up, an additional 44 cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents made their way to Keystone, Colorado for a reunion that was the definition of pure happiness.

See, these 49 people that bustled in and out of the small resort town may not be my siblings, but we sure feel like it when we’re all together. If a stranger were to have walked in to our cabin, they would be welcomed with open arms – because that’s the family I’ve been blessed with. This little band of characters that I’m incredibly lucky to have been raised with flows with compassion, love, and lots of laughter.

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With the action that comes with having dozens of cousins, there was no way to capture a posed and coordinated photo. Somehow, I’m okay with that. Because as the music was playing, the fire pit on, and the chatter and laughter ringing through the meadow, I stood twenty feet from the chaos and saw the image of pure happiness. We might not see each other every day or even once a year, but when we come together, family picks up right where we left off.

So during the long weekend, my maybe-not-so-little merry group of family and I found ourselves on hikes, rounds of golf, and bluegrass festivals. On a small group hike, we ran into a budding thunderstorm as we trekked back, leaving us sprinkled with rain and hearing the boom of thunder in the town over. We made it to the cars just before the rain down poured, however, the golfers who had tee’d off earlier found themselves drenched to the bone and still sporting winning smiles.

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This weekend was filled with happy moments – but here are just a few.  There was the time when we danced (and sang) the night away while listening to a 90s playlist. There was the time when we video chatted our hard working cousin with a massive happy birthday song.  There was the time when we fit way too many cousins in one car.  There was the time that a mouse running wild in our cabin created shrieks but eventually laughter. Each and every second from this weekend reminded me of the blessing that family is. We all take family for granted every once and while, but it’s in moments like these that my heart feels at home.

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We might be a little too silly, rowdy or big, but this group of musicians, doctors, students, and whatever else you can think of means the world to me. I don’t even mind that these last few paragraphs have been filled with the cheesiest lines because this group brings it out in me, and that’s just fine. A weekend well spent in an insanely beautiful town of Colorado, if you ask me.  What are your favorite memories or adventures with family? Leave a comment!

Vacation Minded

When life gives you a broken computer and summer brain, I guess you just end up with a late blog post! So, I’ll save the boring broken computer talk and just ramble on about one of the best weeks my body and mind have taken off from the ‘online’ world.  Because my family is spread out around the country, it’s not often that we are all under the same roof for a week or two – thanks to my mom’s planning, we traded the burning California sun in for the slightly less burning Hawaiian sun as a midsummer vacation.

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A few days after the Fourth of July, the five goons that I call my family and I headed off to the blissful town of Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu.  We had a wonderful home to call ours for the week, surrounded by breathtaking views of the Pacific and adventures in the tropical mountains.  A couple nights into the stay, I witnessed the most surreal sunset with vibrant purples, pinks and oranges, radiating through the evening sky. It’s safe to say that photos taken didn’t come close to capturing it.

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The moonrise mirroring this sunset was somehow just as enchanting and breathtaking.

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We had a small, local grocery store to pick up some essentials and remind us that SPAM is definitely more than a survival ration canned meat.  Our morning coffee spot, Ted’s Bakery, served it in multiple dishes and almost every food truck had spam and rice ready to dish out. Even though the salty, cured ham is a cultural staple in Hawaii, I don’t think it will be in my pantry anytime soon.

Aside from a few meals out, we made delicious breakfast scrambles with the sweetest mangoes and tastiest avocados.. and that’s saying a lot coming from a Californian.  We definitely have our fair share delectable avocados stateside, but Hawaii’s are so creamy and much sweeter – the perfect topping to a scramble.

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Hawaii is the ultimate island getaway, and us West Coasters are so lucky to have it so close. Not much can compare to the stunning vistas at Waimea Bay or the endless tropical fish of Shark’s Cove when you’re in a summer mood… it blows my mind to think back to this trip, even if it was only two weeks ago.

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Even though the week was a short family get together, it was exactly what a work and colleged-out family could have asked for…and better. We laughed, explored, swam, relaxed, but most importantly brought the band back together for a vacation meant for the books. Mahalo, Hawaii, you were swell.  What are your summer adventures and favorite destinations? Let me know in the comments below!