We left an open spot on the porch swing for our sister Barb, who was there for the first evening only to have to leave suddenly to go back home due to tragic auto accident in John's extended family.
So our HGR began on a very heavy note, but Maria and her kids and Kim and I still had a great time with Mark and his family at his Texas hill country home.
And we did laugh as we took this photo, knowing very well that Barb in person would not have fit into that space left for her. Hard to fit 4 House butts on a single swing!
After flying down on previous trips, it was our first time driving to the San Antonio area and the traffic most of the second day was terrible. There wasn't much scenery along the interstates, but it was VERY DRY in Arkansas and Texas...
We all arrived on a late Friday afternoon. This is the only photo I took of Barb and John, but it does confirm they were indeed there, if only for a few hours.
We started out with a family celebration of Mark's 12-year-old daughter Scout's incredible weekend at the Texas state swimming championships. She brought home 4 medals and broke into the national rankings with her speedy freestyle times. This girl is a dolphin in the water! We're super-proud of her and excited to see what her swimming future holds.
Mark's 16-year-old daughter Blaise and her boyfriend Landon...
And Mark's oldest Ethan with his girlfriend Kyli...recent high school graduates and getting ready to begin their freshman year at Texas A&M. They had just gotten home from Freshman Orientation Week and were gung-ho to get into the full-blown Aggie life.
Our sister Maria brought her two almost-grown children with her. Seanna is 17 and just getting ready to begin her senior year at Trenton High School in Florida. She had just gotten home from spending the summer working at horse shows across the southern states.
Wyatt is now 20, and we got to meet his long-time girlfriend Hallie. Wyatt is heading into his junior year at University of Florida where he is majoring in business and just happens to be one of the best college baseball players in the country. Hallie is quite the athlete herself, playing softball for University of Southern Florida. She was recuperating from shoulder surgery.
Our brother Mark was also in recup mode, having had neck surgery just 10 days before our get-together. We were a beat-up lot, but we would never let that stop us from making memories!
It was miserably hot outside, over 100 degrees every day, so we spent a lot of time just chilling in the house.
Mark is not a TV-watcher, so every time we watched it he had to FaceTime Alli and have her walk him through turning it on. Quite comical!
Taffy had the right idea...don't get far from the fan!
Seanna and Scout got all creative one us with their painting.
And we enjoyed lots of time in their pool!
Blaise is a cutie, always smiling like her momma! She's going into her junior year at New Braunfels High School where she is not only at the top of her academic class, she is an incredible volleyball setter.
Of course, I always insist upon a family photo session. My sister Maria and her gang...
Mark and his family...
My man and me...
And the whole House clan that was present...we definitely are missing our Barb and John!
I told everyone to laugh and this is what I got. Mark thinks he's Santa Claus, and Hallie is thinking "get your hand off my sore shoulder, Terry!" (sorry Hallie...I didn't even realize I was doing that!)
Mark has his menagerie of barnyard fowl...
...and 6 goats. Poor things, there is very little grass for them to eat (not to worry, Mark feeds them grain too). So dry!
Seanna and Mark practicing for the upcoming family game tournament...
While the kids did their thing, the adults had a fun meal out together in New Braunfels. Of course there was a wait to get in, so we did a little browsing in the nearby shops. Mark and Kim just LOVE to shop...as you can see....
Unfortunately, Hallie couldn't do the pool this year...
...but the rest of us spent lots of time there just relaxing and talking.
Wyatt even did a little working out in the pool, including box jumps out onto the deck. What???!!! That boy's got CRAZY STRONG legs!
We took turns fixing meals for the whole gang. Kim fixed his famous chicken-and-noodle banquet our last evening together.
Mark organized a family game tournament, with blind-drawn brackets and all...Connect 4 and Jenga.
Alli and Kim, a couple of great minds at work here...
...but what goes up must come down!
There is no shortage of competitive spirit amongst the Houses, but in the end Wyatt prevailed in both contests.
If a professional baseball career doesn't pan out for him, he can always fall back on his Jenga skills....
If you look very closely, you can see that Aunt Terry (that would be me!) gave Wyatt a run for his money in both finals! But eventually his youthful, steadier hands and craftier gamesmanship won out.
We surely missed Barb and John, who bring a lot of energy and laughter to our family. But it was still a super-fun weekend with some of my very favorite peeps in the world!
(Hallie..."Terry! Stop already!!!"....oops.....)
So very grateful for the wonderful family God placed us in!
And that's a wrap for...