From the lakes of Minnesota…

Actually, we went through the hills of Tennessee first… on our TWENTY-SIX HOUR ROAD TRIP.

Which, in case you were wondering, is A LONG TIME TO BE IN A CAR.

It wasn’t too bad of a trip. We had five drivers, we were in a fairly large suburban, and we had a giant bag of Jolly Ranchers, so we survived quite well, actually. There were only a few brief incidents that made things slightly uncomfortable.

Family reunions are worth it, though!

Especially a family reunion with lots and lots of people, and lots and LOTS of new tiny people you have never met before.. either because they are just THAT new, or because their parents (your cousins) have neglected to make sure you have been introduced so far.

We met at a camp in Minnesota, next to a lake… a very gorgeous lake. This meant lots of swimming and boating and tubing and such went on. The small kids were quite sure that the water got warmer at night. We couldn’t seem to make them understand that this only happened because the air FELT colder… yes, the water was still the frigid Minnesota lake water it always is. This mindset resulted in many late night swims… and for some of the smaller girls, all they had to do was take a bottle of shampoo with them, and it was the perfect setting for some super efficient multi-tasking.

My Dad’s family is super super super competitive… in everything. I mean, EVERYTHING. Therefore, injuries are common when it comes to games… especially games like “Mush Ball,” the new softball that we played both evenings. Oh, the fun times! The first hit of the first game resulted in our first injury- the ball to an already damaged wrist, resulting in some swelling and such. There was a sprained ankle, a pulled muscle, a bat-throwing related injury, and lots of members of the “older generation” groaning about sore muscles from all the running. Really, they should know better by now… Hochstetler Family Reunion-related injuries have been happening since the first child was born… it’s no wonder my grandparents have gray hair.

I have millions of pictures. Actually, nine hundred and five. That’s not quite millions, but it feels like it as I sort through them to find a few to post. I’ll do my best.

We started the whole reunion off with a party for Grandma and Grandpa- they have been married for sixty years now! We had a big open house for their friends in the dining hall at the camp. It was a lot of fun to see the lines of people come through the doors, waiting for their turn to hug Grandma and Grandpa and congratulate them- all the people they have met and loved over the years… and I know that group barely scratched the surface.

This picture was taken about three years after Grandma and Grandpa got married- just after they left the Amish church.

Grandma and Grandpa with their cake- what a cute couple. =)
The official reunion started the next morning… and the getting-to-know young cousins was one of the best parts.

Karina is the youngest cousin of our tribe… she was a surprise baby two years ago. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that she is one of the “grands,” not one of the “greats.” She got quite doted on through the whole thing… something she is very used to, I’m sure. =) She loves ice cream, and I’m pretty sure my mother was trying to get her to share her cup of ice cream when I took this picture.

Sevrin, my cousin Janae’s son. Janae was my playmate all while we were little, and now she is married and has two kids… very strange, it seems. Sevrin is not afraid of dirt, by the way.

This is Kylee, my cousin Darren’s daughter. She is a very, VERY outgoing little girl- not at all afraid to say what she is thinking. The dog is Zeus, her uncle’s Pomeranian. She filled a plate with dirt and tried to make Zeus eat it… he did not appreciate the gesture at all.

Intense games of volleyball happened!

Grandma and Grandpa watched the super competitive volleyball game while some of the younger cousins played at their feet. I’m pretty sure this was some of their favorite parts of the whole reunion- just sitting back and watching their offspring, and their offspring’s offspring, and some of their offspring’s offspring’s offspring play games. I can’t imagine how strange it is to look around at so many people and think that none of them would be there if it wasn’t for you.

Grandpa has collected knives for about thirty years… and he had finally accumulated over eighty different knives. He wanted to give each of us grandchildren something to remember him by, so he separated the knives into three different groups, then used a lottery system to give each of us three knives. We drew numbers then got the knife labeled with the same number. It was really cool to see all of his different knives spread out, and a lot of them had really awesome stories- a few of them were given to him by his dad, or his grandpa!

A whole row of knives, on display before we claimed our prizes. The first one in the picture is the one my Dad used to gut his first deer when he was fifteen. My brother, Josh, was the one who won that knife- so cool! There are a couple of slits in the leather sheath that Dad cut so he could carry it on his belt- the real belt loop broke. =)

Grandpa specifically set aside a couple of very tiny knives for Karina- her own little (literally) collection. Her Daddy helped her inspect them- she was quite thrilled with her prize.

All of us with our knives, and Grandma and Grandpa in the middle. These are all of Grandma and Grandpa’s grandchildren, missing only four grandsons who couldn’t make it to the reunion.

Mush Ball was one of the highlights of the reunion- and as Grandpa pulled up his lawnchair to watch, everyone piled their belongings in his lap for him to hold. Everything from cell phones to pens to “special sticks” that some of the little kids had collected!

Everyone set up to play Mush Ball!

Uncle Wendall in the middle of a very dramatic catch.

Dave with a good hit!

Cami, the youngest player on the field. She’s a great little hitter… and runner! She showed up some of her big guy cousins!

Tyler giving Kylee batting lessons. They are both left handed, so it worked out quite well for him to teach her the right way to swing.

Kylee was on third base when Tyler came flying around, and couldn’t quite run fast enough to make it to home plate before he caught up… so he just scooped her up and took her with him! It was close, but they definitely managed to score two points at once.

Sevrin having a minor (or not-so-minor) meltdown during the Mush Ball game.

Austin having a fun moment with his mommy, Joveda (my first cousin).

Dave, Austin, and Joveda enjoying root beer floats around the fire in the evening.

Karina enjoying her root beer float- notice her dirty, dirty feet!

The beautiful sunset over Grace Lake on Monday evening.

Grandma gave each of the great grandkids a stuffed animal from her collection in her house. They each got to choose one- here is Jaden with the seal that he chose.

Tyler, with his new best friends, Kyle and Ella. They are our cousin Steve’s twins… and they really like to swing. Also, Ella, really really REALLY likes Tyler. =)

Ella smooching on her new best friend.

Cami and Kylee, the two new best friends, invented a sandwich one afternoon… marshmallows on hamburger buns. It could not have looked more disgusting, but apparently it was delicious.

Hunting was a big part of life while Dad was growing up- all of his siblings enjoyed it. All of the guns that they used growing up were still at the house, and Grandpa was ready to pass them on. So, they used the same lottery-number system we used for the knives, and seven of the guns were given away- one to each of Dad’s siblings. Grandpa told us a couple of stories about some of the guns before they drew numbers.

Dad’s whole family with their winnings.
Back, left to right: Loveda, Theda, Jim, Eugene, Phyllis
Middle: Grandma & Grandpa
Front: Linda, Darcy

…can’t you imagine that crew growing up together in one house? It was probably a hoot.

Grandma gave away a bunch of her dishes to all of the daughters, in-laws, and granddaughters. Some of them were heirlooms, and some of them had really good stories behind them- like this candy dish. When she was in elementary school they did a gift swap for Christmas, and a boy that she really really didn’t like had her name. He bought her this really nice green candy dish, and she just didn’t know what to make of it. Grandpa joked that it really bothered him that she kept it all these years. =) When I got to pick, I got a tiny little vase that Grandma won in a spelling bee in fourth grade.

An attempt to get a picture of all of the great-grandchildren… it did not go very smoothly. There were tears and wails and lots of wiggling… but here they all are, except for four who weren’t at the reunion.

Karina and Elroy, the youngest and oldest grandchildren. Karina is two and Elroy is 35.

On the last night I convinced Mom and Dad to go pose on the dock for me so I could take a picture while the sun was setting. I’m a fan of how it turned out. =)

Yay, reunions!



  1. Lacey:

    As a double-cousin of your mother’s, I can see many similarities in the families. Must be a LOT of genetic material involved, that would tend to side with the “heredity” side of the heredity vs environment argument.

    Great writing, great stories, and a generally great life, isn’t it!

    Keep up the entertaining!

  2. Loved the pictures and I love reading what you write, Lacey! You’re amazing. Looking at these pictures makes me so sad because I was just across the road from you all at the time and I would have LOVED to see you. We were actually on our way over for the anniversary party when we realized that we were several hours too early and then we had to be someplace else later, so we missed it! Anyway…I am glad you posted this so I could “see” everyone anyway. 🙂

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