Cooking for a Crowd

We headed west for the weekend...back home as I tend to refer to it, even though it's not my home anymore.  For as long as I can remember, we've had an annual family picnic that migrated from May to August over the last many years.  My family met my husband at one of those picnics...well, he was not my husband then...not even my fiance, but they all approved, so now he gets to keep coming back! 

My Grandma's picnic's been at every picnic that I can remember!

I remember the picnic being at the city park in the town that I grew up in...the pool opened the same weekend, so often we'd get to go swimming later that day too!  A couple of times I remember having it at my grandparent's house and then softball in the pasture.  Softball is part of the tradition.  The picnic is now in the town that my grandparents live...not far from where it originated.  The crowd is a little less, or so it seems, as all of us kids are all grown up and more spread out now. 

It used to be my Grandpa and his siblings and their families. It is still my Grandpa and Grandma that coordinate the whole thing in an effort to keep the family together. My great aunt...Grandpa's sister was there, and the rest of his siblings' families were represented through generations, and I even had the pleasure of being reintroduced to a cousin from AZ whom I haven't probably seen since I was "knee-high-to-a-grasshopper".

It may seem silly to gather for merely a meal and a ball game every year, but tradition is a rich thing. Family is important. My grandparents know their roots, and they have a strong desire to pass that along to the rest of their family. Hundreds of years of family history is within the covers of two huge binders that one of my cousins is dedicated and passionate about completing. My grandpa can vividly recant many of the stories that are recorded.

It is easy today to let go of such things in a more modern, fast-paced world where we can IM and text and post on each other's facebook walls...but my kids would never  remember playing softball with three generations of cousins, or know about using paper plates as bases, or what garlic sausage or chicken noodle soup and butterballs or blackberry dumplings taste like via the world wide web.  They'd never know what it was like to visit with a great-great-great aunt, or rekindle connections with cousins of the same age. 

  It is hard to get together, especially with distance and crazy schedules as obstacles, but I'm so grateful that my grandparents are persistent to instill in us the beauty of family ties.   

The softball game is a must.  Paper plates serve as bases...unless we're playing in the pasture, in which case, the driest cowpies that can be found work pretty darn well!  Gloves are shared between teams, as is a catcher.

 The roster changes over the innings, and no one really keeps score.  Despite the leiniency on the rules, as the innings progress, so does the competitveness!

 The four year old gets thrown out at 1st, the grandpa gets run down for the tag out, and the torn paper plate/base??

 There is some discrepency which piece is actually the base!! 

This year we even had cheerleaders!!  Mathilda was in heaven with the cheer coaching that was being offered to her!
Regardless, the day was and always has been wonderful whether family members drove 5 minutes or 15 hours to get there. 

My Grandma from MT came for the weekend since my brother and his new wife and my family would be there.  Family picnics have no boundaries.  :)  It was great to spend the weekend with her as well, especially since we don't make it all the way to where she lives very often.  We took advantage of the time of year and the time we had to teach Annie the ins-and-outs of preserving sweet corn.

We broke up a morning run to teach Annie how to start an irrigation tube in a field of corn that didn't belong to anyone we knew! LOL. Cash and I share the same fond memories when we smell and see and feel and hear the reminders of these parts of our childhood, even though we didn't really experience them together. We can relate to how the other remembers.


 And I joined my dad and Jakob to set some water in the corn too.  

It's been a while since I've started a tube. Jakob made the mistake of betting me that I couldn't do it on the first try.

  "Oh, son...little do you know how many of these I've started in my life!"  (And it helped that I had a little refresher earlier in the day with Cash and Annie!!)  It's pretty much like riding a bike.  First time...booyah!!  Pay up that pack of gum, my child!

 Among many, many other things that we had fun doing, we made some ice cream to take to the picnic...oops, we forgot to take it, so we had to enjoy it all to ourselves instead. :)

 The taste-testers were eager to do their job during the making of it! And the title of this post??? "Cooking for a crowd"??
Well, we find humor in giving my mom a hard time about her challenge in feeding all of us when we're home...there were fourteen of us staying under my mom and dad's roof and there are normally two...the two of them! Me?? I'm used to cooking for a crowd...I do it every day! I love it! Don't worry mom...none of us went hungry!

 We'll all be back at Christmas and you can practice again. I'm just happy we can, and I look forward to the time together wherever it may be!