Thursday, June 27, 2013

Time with Cousins: Summer 2013 {Indiana Family Photography}

Summers in the Labuda household always include a trip to Indiana to see my family back home.  This summer we are blessed to make two trips.  Stephen Jr., Alden and I made the first two week trip on our own - leaving daddy back home to work.  Steve will join us for a shorter trip in August to celebrate my mom's retirement with my brothers and their families.

For the past two years, my summers have also included a special get together with my "creative friends" for a few days in Northern California.  I'll blog about that adventure in the days to come.  It is that retreat that brought about my earlier than usual trip to Indiana.

The plan was to leave Stephen and Alden at my parent's house while I was in California.  I flew out to Chicago with them in order to spend some time with them at my parent's before leaving them there on their own.  A good transition for them.  This was the first time I left my children with my parents for more than one night.  If you know my parents (especially my dad), there is no greater gift you can give to Nana and Papa than to allow them the joy of a sleep over with their grandchildren.  Knowing they see it as a gift makes leaving Stephen and Alden there that much easier.

My children had so much fun!

Thank you so much, Nana and Papa, for watching them!

Our time in Indiana is always jammed packed full of mini reunions with high school, college and church friends - not to mention lots and lots of family.  I grew up with 40 cousins on my mom's side alone, so you can imagine how many families there are to see.  

How's that for a large family!

One of my favorite impromptu reunions this year was hosted by my cousin Jeff and his wife Darcy.  We hadn't seen each other in years, so it was such a gift to be able to reconnect.  Though it was very last minute, Darcy was even able to arrange for my cousin Brooke and her two girls to join in on the fun.

It was an emotional reunion to say the least!

As we made our way down the hill toward the lake, my cousin Jeff called out to my brother and I.

"Aren't you are a sight for sore eyes!"

I couldn't agree more.

My older brother Todd, my cousin Brooke, My middle brother Philip, Me, and my cousin Jeff
(Missed you Bryan!)

Sometimes you don't realize how much you've missed people until you give them a great big hug for the first time in over 16 years.

That was my reaction when I hugged my cousin Brooke.  I couldn't keep the tears from flowing.  I was surprised by them, honestly.

Happy tears for sure!

You see, my parents divorced when I was in fourth grade.  After the divorce we did not see my dad's side of the family very often.  It was easier to avoid running into him.  As a child I had little choice over the lack of contact with my dad's side of the family.

That was before Facebook.  Before cell phones.  Before the internet.

My brothers and I missed out on a lot.

So, when I saw Brooke with her two beautiful daughters, a wave of emotion flooded over me.  I was caught off guard by how incredibly GOOD it was to see her (and the rest of my family).  Just as expected, we were able to pick up right where we left off - like old times.

My cup runneth over...

Thanks so much, Jeff and Darcy for hosting!  Let's do it again soon.

It was great fun!

Take a look...

Of course, I have to start with my own kiddos and their first cousins, right?

Here's Stephen Jr.  He wants his hair long - despite his daddy's constant requests to chop it off.  
I rather like it!

Our Little Miss Alden.  

On the left: Her initial response whenever I ask if I can take her picture.
On the right: Her sweet smile after a little direction from her mommy.

Alden with her cousin Jaxson.

Stephen, Josie, Jaxson, Layton, and Alden messing with the clay. 
(We missed Jordan and Tyler...)

Layton.  Mr. Athletics!

Taylor.  Broken Arm.  My Hero.
Anyone who can run a 25K is tops in my book!

Left: Papa and Jensen.  Right: Jaxson.  
Jaxson had his first week long sleepover at my brother Phil's house.  What fun they had!

Left: Brooke and her oldest daughter
Right: Jeff and Darcy's son and Brooke's daughters.

Could they be any cuter?

Me, Darcy, Brooke, and my sister-in-law Shari
(Missed you Kim and Ruth!)
Photo bombers: My nephews Taylor and Jaxson

There were other reunions as well.  New friends were made.  Old friendships were reestablished.  Great fun was had.

The very next day we were surprised by even more of my relatives from my dad's side of the family. My uncle Clarence, my cousin Jason, and my aunt Cynthia all came out to my parent's church to hear my brother Todd preach - who was guest preaching that day.  Father's Day!

More pictures and stories to come.

Happy Summer 2013, everyone!


  1. What a great time we had! We miss you all so much and it was so comfortable to get together again. Thank you so much for taking the pictures so all of us can remember this amazing afternoon! Darcy :)


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