Wednesday, July 9, 2014

StoltzfusCousinReunion||Recap

 Ah. This is one of those posts that brings smile after smile to my face as I scroll down through the pictures and memory lane. So many good times are represented by each and every shot. I was determined that this event be photographed. I wanted lots of pictures! So I kept my camera with me almost constantly, and enjoyed documenting this event through my lens.

A little background on this reunion. In the Stoltzfus family, the seven youngest children (my mom and six of her siblings) collectively had a total of ten daughters in eight years. It has been pretty awesome to grow up with these ladies and for all of us to be so close in age. 
Back at this wedding last year, we realized that the weddings were only going to be increasing...and that with each one of us that got married it would get more and more difficult to get all of us together for a reunion. Thus this reunion was planned and scheduled.
I am so thankful for these women...everyone pulled together and took time out of their busy schedules to travel from five different states/provinces to come together for this reunion. Three girls even left their husbands behind. (bless their hearts)
There were two cousins who were unable to come (one because of her recent wedding/move to CA and the other because of conflicting work/college schedules) and they were greatly missed. But I am very grateful for the eight of us and the one cousin-in-love who were all able to come.

All that said. Enjoy a recap of our reunion, and the story of our trip.
In celebration of this trip, we bought a new car! {not}
No, actually...our daddy purchased this for us (and the rest of the family of course). It has been an adjustment. I mean, I learned how to DRIVE on a 15-passenger van. The smallest thing I've ever driven is our truck. So in this little thing...the first time out I honestly felt like I was going to get killed. It was a very vulnerable feeling. But I am getting used to it. And on road trips like this one...my wallet dearly loves the difference between 14MPG (what I got with the truck) and 45MPG with the car. #yay
Sister and I don't pack lightly. I'm just not sure we will ever to get to place where we don't majorly overpack. Oh well. It was just the two of us and all of our stuff in the car, so we thought the more stuff the merrier and just piled it in. =) Personal luggage, food, food, and more food...a few gifts, camera gear, etc.

And yes, this was yet another typical road trip. You would not believe what all we got into. But since the main point of this post is the reunion and not another tale of a wild road trip...I will leave that part to your imagination.
We spent Saturday evening/night with some dear friends of ours who live near Middlebury, and also attended church with them Sunday morning. We had a fabulous time at their home-lots of laughs, good food, and chill time.
We met our cousin and her hubby for lunch at Subway before heading over to the B&B. Since marriage has taken her all the way out to that far-off land of Manitoba, our visits aren't very frequent and it had been a whole year since we had seen her. Much to catch up on!

Back in January when we were planning this, we decided on Indiana as the state for the reunion because it was somewhat central for everyone. The first location I thought of for us to stay at was That Pretty Place Bed & Breakfast, in Middlebury, Indiana. The owners attend a church that my family has sung at before and a couple of years ago when we were singing there a few of us stayed at the B&B for a night. It had been a very short stay but it left a big impression on me-the place is gorgeous (totally true to its name) and I knew it would be ideal for our reunion. I was also pretty sure it would be out of our price range but..it never hurts to check! So I did and found out that we could get discounts for 1)renting the whole house,  2) getting it week nights  & 3)making our own breakfasts. I was pretty thrilled about all that because I knew it would be so perfect for us!

Here it is. Beautiful, BEAUTIFUL place.
Please don't judge me for this but I immediately developed an uncanny fascination for this handicap accessible chair. (I mean, how fun would it be to take this chair down the stairs instead of walking them? I agree.) I've always had a strange liking for anything that is off limits. =) After like ten minutes spent trying to figure it out (with lots of help from those gathered around) I finally conceded that it was not to be and gave up.
Someone smarter than me figured it out later on that evening, and the rides began, and continued all throughout our stay.  hey, at least we got it working!
These two in the kitchen...wow. #nowordsneeded
LOVED spending time with this lady again! 
Everybody was divided into groups of two (or three) and each group was in charge of a meal. Alli and I and one of the cousins made chicken fajitas for our meal, Sunday evening.
All of the road-weary travelers, gathered together for our first meal and ready to party together!
I have to say, we ate like QUEENS. Every meal! It was SO much fun to do our own cooking! And it definitely cut down on the cost too.
We spent the first evening looking at wedding albums...
discussing (and researching online) personality types and individual color seasons and palettes....
We ended the evening with a full blown nail session complete with lovely chatting about all sorts of things. We also may or may not have had an hour long discussion in which we tried to plan what to do on Monday. See, it's difficult when one of the main points of a reunion is just to chill and not have anything planned or scheduled. But there are still some things that kind of have to be scheduled. So the take charge type of person amongst us (ahem) had to take charge and MAKE everybody vote on what to do, much to the amusement of some people. There were moments when nobody would give their opinion...and then suddenly there were several people vying "to have the floor". (inside joke)
Monday morning we headed out to Shipshe for a few hours to do a little shopping. Before we left I forced everyone to pose for a few pictures. =) 
(made possible by parking my Mark III on top of my car in leu of the forgotten tripod.)
Don't we look like just the sweetest, most mature group of women you have ever seen?
never mind on that. =)
my FAVORITE!
We really couldn't be together without hitting up at least ONE thrift store. After all, thrift store shopping is the Stoltzfus thing to do. =)
bargains! treasures! oh yeah!
We stopped by this green house.
We looked at plants and took pictures. 
This girl...she is the awesomest ever and I really can't stand it that we have to live soooo far away from each other. 
we thought she should take this plant home with her.
{smile}
I attempted to take a few portraits of each person. It was slightly difficult here...it would appear that we had a profesh photo bomber in our midst. =)
So here we go...meet each of the girls that came along for this reunion!
Allison
Patty
Marissa
Lyndsi
Ashlyn
Kara
Corina
Kendra
yours truly
So, weird story here. Apparently...people seem to think that Patty & Corina look alike. And other people think that Corina and I look alike. But no one has ever said that Patty and I look alike. Kinda strange how that all works. We all took a picture together anyways. =)
a few more fun ones...
And then it was on to the legendary E&S Bulk Foods Store. Their cheese prices are the best ever. And? They even have SAMPLES. Our mothers weren't there to monitor us so we pigged out  still did as we had been taught and only took teeny and delicate little bites.
Back home in time for a late lunch. We had decided to eat out on Monday. There was a dear little cafe just 1/4 mile from the B&B. Kendra told us about it because she had used to work there before she got married. We picked up some menus on our way back from shopping and sat around and decided what we would order before heading back over to the cafe.
tough decisions here...
they are crazy...=)
We had such lovely times in this little kitchen. Our mothers all love to cook and apparently the love has been passed down pretty well.
We had planned to lay out for the afternoon and get some sun but alas for us, it rained. So we settled with an indoor picnic instead, with our lunches that we had ordered from the nearby cafe.

A random hilarious fact about the weekend is the gang story. OH.MY.WORD. Sooo...several weeks prior to the reunion, a friend from the Middlebury area was visiting our family. And when she heard that us girls were coming to Middlebury for a reunion with our cousins, she told our mother that there had recently been a gang of guys abducting young girls in an area nearby where we were going to be staying. My mother panicked and implored us to never go walking along, to always go out in groups, and to NEVER roam through the woods at night. And to be sure to warn our cousins of this. So the first night we told everyone about the situation. We actually all got quite a laugh out of the mental image of a gang of guys trying to coral and kidnap all nine of us. I think they would have their hands pretty full. =) Anyway...all during the reunion, whenever there was a knock at the door...or something creaked....or somebody was late coming back from their group jog...we would all joke "oh, thats just the gang" or "THE GANG probably got them". It provided lots of entertainment. And nope, we never did get a visit from the infamous gang. Guess they figured we were a force to be reckoned with and passed us by. =)
Deep games of Take One.
Not included in this set of photos are the intense Dutch Blitz games, the time we laid out in spite of the chilly weather and ended up getting rained out, and many other moments, some that are probably best not mentioned. =)
Hard at work...cooking up something yummy for supper.
Ahhh!!!!
Deep discussions happened all during those two days, in the randomest of locations and with random groups of people. Here...I believe they were discussing finances and budgeting.
another discussion going on. I believe this one was maybe about blogging and networking and dealing with crazy people that one meets on the internet.
its pretty fun to have a cosmotologist for a cousin. =) Patty gave me a free updo, just cause I was in the mood to have my hair done. And lo and behold afterwards we were looking at a Kate Middleton magazine and realized that this is basically identical to one of her famous hairstyles!
Not sure what was the deal with the cup being in the photo. It may or may not have contained my seventh cup of coffee for the night. =)
another favorite picture right here.
Drinking my 12am cup of coffee in this little soup bowl, cause that was the only cup left. =) 
More rides on the chair. I'm tellling you...we got SO much mileage out of it. We each took at least thirty two rides. =) The funniest moment was when the housekeeper came in and talked to us for a bit and after she left we realized that the chair was at the bottom of the stairs the whole time. Talk about peals of laughter. I cannot imagine WHAT she thought of us! Seeing the chair at the bottom, she had to have known that we were using it. =)
discussing kate middleton and her style, and then just style and beauty in general.
this king size bed was so huge! pretty sure we could've all fit on it.
hmm...late night giggles.
preparing breakfast...
so.much.good.food.
this was maybe a discussion about fitness? not sure...
Alli & Lynds
time to pack up. we were all so sad to leave this place!
#tributetothechair #nowordsneeded
Alli & I stayed in room No. 3
Our lovely room. I forgot to take pictures of it til the morning we left so that is why things are in somewhat of a disarray.
Our last morning...powerful time of sharing the dreams that God has laid on our hearts and then gathering around to pray together before leaving.
heading out...it was so sad to leave!

before all heading out of state/home for our respective locations, we went to my uncle and aunt's place and enjoyed a delicious lunch that my aunt prepared for us.
For those of you who know what I'm talking about, here is the Mr. Collins wave/expression accurately depicted by Alli and Corina. Minus the greasy hair, of course. =)
piano duets together with Marissa...just like the old days.
After lunch we had an amazing time of worship around the piano...LOVED this time. Incredible.
One last group photo.

Cherishing the memories... Love you ladies! You add so much spice to my life-I'm super blessed to be able to call y'all cousins and kindred spirits!
Can't wait for next time. =)
-Chels

40 comments:

  1. It looks like you all had a blast! Glad you could have a reunion like that.
    I honestly wonder do girls ever pack lightly? I way over do it when we go places. My brothers get so annoyed with how much I bring with me. They were thrilled (not!) last time we went on a trip and found out that I brought like five bottles of nail polish on a ten day trip and a couple outfits for each day because you never know till the day comes what you will want to wear! Oh and shoes! I brought a love of shoes.:)

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    1. yeah, I'm not sure that any female can truly "pack light". =)

      -Chels

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  2. I feel like such a goofball after looking at so many "moments" captured that wonderful weekend(:
    It was great to "relive" some of those sweet memories while reading this post! Thank you.
    -corina

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    1. =) anytime...you can imagine how fun it was for me to write it all down! =)
      -Chels

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  3. Beautiful family! Looks like you all had a grand time!

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  4. Chels!

    This looks like SUCH an incredible time! I don't want to say I'm jealous, buuuut... this seriously looks like so much fun and filled with all of the amazing things about being female! Shopping, nails, deep discussions, yummy food, hair-styling, heart-to-hearts, and so on. :)

    Also, I had to laugh: "crazy people one meets on the internet"... *raises hand* ;)

    Thanks for sharing! I can only imagine how awesome of a time this was for you all!

    Love,
    Alo

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  5. I'm so glad y'all had so much fun together! I know that is a lot of great memories shared together!
    I love looking and studying Kate Middleton's style as well! Your hair did look very similar to her hair done once! Haha! Glad y'all had a good time! :)
    -Glory

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  6. Oh....it look's like y'all had a lovely time! {with many fun moments!! :)}
    Thank you for sharing this re-cap, Chelsy!
    Please know that we continue to keep y'all in our thoughts and prayers!
    Love, hugs, prayers & blessings~
    Maggie

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    1. Thanks for the prayers, Maggie!! We appreciate it!
      -Chels

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  7. Chelsy,
    Where do you find online personality types and individual color seasons and palettes? Is there a certain website you get on to view all of this?
    Love, Charlotte

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    1. I have a few books and am hoping to find some more online resources and books to make available to people. I have a post in progress on this...hopefully it will be coming this summer yet!
      -Chels

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  8. Oh, it was so lovely to be flooded with the happy memories of our time together. Thank you for the post + pictures + planning skills!

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    1. my pleasure...thank YOU for coming!! love ya!

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  9. Hey Chelsy!
    I would LOVE it if you talked about you and Allison's different styles/taste in things as well as why Allison dresses so classy almost everyday! (You mentioned that one time!) I would love to learn more about y'all's different personalities and the way you love each other through your love languages!
    Please post that soon...:) :) No pressure, though! :) Haha! So wonderful that you were able to spend a few days with your cousins!
    Love, Ada

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    1. Yes..this has been on my list for a LOOOONG time! =) Hopefully it won't be too long! I'm still working to get resources and everything together and figure out a game plan for presenting all the info in a series or something. Pray that God would multiply my time and that it would all come together quickly! =)
      -Chels

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    2. I will! Thank you for always being faithful in honoring the LORD in everything you do! You are a true light for HIM and a great role model to many people!
      Love, Ada

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  10. Hi, great pictures. I would love some info on the beautiful black head coverings some of the girls were wearing.
    Thanks! -Steph

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    1. We are all from a variety of churches. A couple of my cousins (the ones wearing head coverings) go to mennonite churches and wear head coverings because of personal conviction.

      -Chels

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  11. Aww! I loved seeing all your pretty faces! Thanks for sharing these delightful pictures! Family is certainly the best.....hugs, Merry

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  12. oh man, I LOVED this post and you totally made me laugh out loud. Your writing style >>> #suchariot.

    adore this. :)

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  13. What a fun fun post to read! I'd say we made the very best out of those 2 days! Thanks for taking time to write about this so we all have something to remember the trip by! (Plus the pictures we should get access to soon ;]) <3

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  14. Ahh, this looks like so much fun!! It's always fun to make memories with cousins! :) I always love seeing photos and your group shots are beautiful!

    Also, the dress you are wearing while playing the piano, my cousin has the same one and she added a green piece to the bottom to make it longer, just like you did...!

    Thanks for sharing! I always enjoy your posts! :)

    ~Tashia

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  15. I wish I had as many cousins as you do that are all around the same ages.
    What are the ages of all of you?
    I love your cousins owl pajama pants.
    I too love cooking. I love watching videos on youtube of healthy lunch recipe ideas. I love how cooking helps me develop skills I can use if Lord willing I get married some day and have a family.
    I can't wait until I move into my apartment for school and use my skills to cook for my roommates and myself so we don't have to eat out like so many college students do. There are alot of young people who do not take the time to learn how to cook and they eat out because they cannot cook or they do not want to take the time to cook. There are so many recipes that are simple and do not take alot of preparation time.
    Well enough of my rambling I just wanted to say how much a like to cook and how I like your cousins pajama pants.
    God Bless

    ~Jennifer

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    1. One is 16, one is 18, one is 19, three are 20, one is 23, one is 24, and one is 26. =)

      -Chels

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  16. It looked like so much fun! I have many past memories with my cousins (even if it was with the guy cousins) , and hope to make many more. (:
    Hannah L.

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  17. it looks and sounds like you had a Blast! ttyl Sarah

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  18. Looks like you all had a wonderful time! I enjoyed seeing the photos! I recognized your cousin, Ashlyn!:) She's a good friend of mine.:)
    Also, our family really enjoyed and was blessed by your concert (at Hinkletown Mennonite Church in Ephrata, PA)! It was a blessing to meet and talk with you! Before we went, I prayed that it would just be a night of encouragement- and it was!
    God bless,
    Morgan R. Psalm 34:1-3

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    1. it was great to meet you too, Morgan!
      -Chels

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    2. Thanks! :) How can I specifically be praying for you and your family right now?

      ~ Morgan

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  19. Chelsy,
    It seems like you all had a great time together! Thank you for sharing these photos with all of your blog readers!
    I would love to know your (and your family's) views on modesty/wearing skirts and dresses only. I have noticed in times past and of course the recent pictures, that y'all (all the sweet girls in your family:) seem to prefer wearing skirts almost 24/7 instead of wearing pants or shorts. I think I have seen y'all wear pants when you are playing sports or climbing trees. Why do you not wear shorts or pants around the home a lot? I DO NOT want to sound critical or judgmental! I hope you do not view these questions as just that! I would love to know more about your convictions and standards on some things! Please know that I respect how you have a desire to honor the Lord with your body and choose to dress modestly at all times.
    I love your family and enjoy following each of your blogs! The Lord has blessed every one of you and I am so glad you and your family are constantly making HIS name known through your singing!
    God bless,
    Ashlee

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  20. Hi Ashlee!
    Well, we actually have a variety of dress convictions/standards amongst the different adults in our family. =)
    At this time in my life, I personally have chosen to mostly wear skirts/dresses, not as a personal conviction, but to respect our family standard, which is my father's preference for the women to wear skirts/dresses most of the time.
    -Chels

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    1. Do you ever wear shorts, or have you chosen not to wear shorts too? And do you have a rule on how long skirts have to be, if so what is it? Just curious!:) I do not mean to be rude either.

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    2. We have various personal standards in our family. Overall we have chosen (my sister + I) to follow our family's guidelines for dress while we are still living at home.
      Personally I don't have a conviction against shorts, even though I don't wear them very often.
      Typically most of our skirts are knee length or longer.

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    3. Thank you for replying! Sorry if that made you feel akward!

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  21. Love how you write re-caps of adventures like these, Chelsy. :) You girls are so blessed to have so many like-minded cousins and I'm so glad you had such a fun, inspiring time together. And the parts of the story about the gang and the taking rides on the chair had me smiling. ;) And last but not least, love the portraits in the greenhouse. Epic location. :) All right, have a lovely weekend!

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  22. Loved this post, girl! I love the way you write. #yayforcandidpeople :]
    You and Alli are both so lovely!!
    Can NOT wait to see you again!! September seems F O R E V E R away!

    Kaylee

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  23. Wow..looks like you guys had fun!

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  24. Loved the update and pictures - beautiful girls! You all are so incredibly blessed to have likeminded cousins and family. What a blessing!
    ~Kate

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  25. I just wanted to let you know that you inspired me to start blogging more, and I definitely owe you a comment finally as a long-time reader! It's so cool to see all of your photos and that you had such a wonderful time with your cousins -- and in my home state, too! :) --Geri

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  26. Looks like you guys had such a fun time!!! sounds fun!!

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