Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hydro Family Gathering 2012

I’ll warn you right now – there are a lot of pictures in this post!
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This past weekend we took the 7 hour drive to Nashville to finally meet in real life some of the wonderful families we have only known online until now! I have been so excited about this trip! I am so grateful to be living in the age of the internet, because it helps a lot to have a support system of people who know what it is like to have a child with hydrocephalus! All our sweet babies have been affected to varying degrees of severity by this horrible condition, and have all kinds of additional diagnoses, but we are brought together by hydrocephalus.
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We had a group booking at the Drury Inn in Nashville, and I think we were probably the first to arrive, so we had some time to explore the hotel a bit. Avery di a lot of walking over the weekend – long narrow hallways are definitely a comfort zone for her when it comes to walking!
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On our way down to dinner, we met a lot of familiar and new faces in the hallway! Brogan instantly made a new best friend in Grant, and the two were practically inseparable for the rest of the weekend!
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Dinner in the hotel.
After dinner we took the kids to the pool, and they had a very exciting late night! Gabe was nice enough to take over bedtime so that I could go back down to the pool with Michelle, Sammy and Owen, and when I went back upstairs at about 8:15pm, Gabe had fallen asleep too! So I showered and went back downstairs, and had a lovely evening talking to to a bunch of the other parents.
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The next morning we all met at Charlie Daniels park where Michelle had reserved a pavilion for our get-together. We had a really great time!
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Brogan and Grant spent almost every minute together! Oliver liked to think that he was big enough to play with them sometimes too!
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Avery was fascinated by the fact that Jigsaw (Owen’s amazing dog) could lick her own nose. I told Avery and Sammy to try to lick their noses, and Sammy didn’t not approve of me trying to get a picture of them doing it! haha!
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It was a very hot day, but Michelle had come prepared with paddling pools, and Jill had brought water balloons! So the park person came and unlocked the water thing by the pavilion and we got to work on cooling off.
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Water balloons and lots of drinking water.
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Brogan tried to fill up the pools using one of Gabe’s hat as a bucket, but then something more suitable was found!
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The paddling pools were a big hot with the kids…
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…as was the water faucet! Oliver spent a lot of time over there.
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Parker saw some guys playing basketball and decided that she needed to play too, so she went running over there to join in. It was hilarious!
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She was still running when we started trying to get everyone together for a group photo! It took a little time, but we got one:
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(Stolen from Michelle….!)
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Another big hit was the giant bags of Dum Dums that the Stamms brought! Who’d have thought that a big group of kids would go so crazy over such sugary deliciousness…? haha Here, Oliver is enjoying lollypop #5 or so, and playing with a toy he found in someone’s stroller. Norah very happily sat and sorted through the giant pile, trying to decide which one to have next!
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Gabe playing catch with sweet Cayman!
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Oliver watching Madeline in the pool while he sucked on his lollipop.
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The kids (and the grown ups too!) had a lot of fun with the water balloons!
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Jigsaw was such a good sport – I was amazed at how well behaved she managed to be even with all the excitement! Brogan and Grant chasing each other with water balloons.

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Kobe found a super fun puddle to splash in. Oliver just observed for a little while…
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…then he decided to join in!

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Cayman and Tyler tried out Owen’s awesome and amazingly cute wheelchair, and then Kobe decided to give it a go too!

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Avery’s standing and walking continues to improve! She can now stand and throw a ball without falling over!
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Avery watching Ava playing her game, while James plays his own game too. Everyone was starting to feel a little exhausted from all the excitement, I think!
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The girls took over the water balloon pump, and were far more organised and bossy than the boys had been. “No, you can’t take one, we’re going to put them all in this bucket so that there will be enough for everyone to take one when they want one!”
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More fun games.

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Gabe tried to keep the boys from playing with the bocce balls, but Oliver still managed to smash Brogan’s hand between two balls! It got all swollen and blue, and I was a little worried it was broken, but he finally started using it again today, so I think he’s alright!
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We decided to head back to the hotel shortly after the hand-smashing though, because Oliver was way overdue for his nap, and Brogan had played to beyond the point of exhaustion! 
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When we got back to the hotel, I put Oliver down for his nap, and we set Avery and Brogan up with a movie in the little sitting area at the end of our hallway. Then we started collecting children! Brogan made friends with James enough that now we’re home, he keeps on saying that he misses Grant and James so much!
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All in all, we had a really great weekend! We got to spend more time with everyone on Saturday afternoon in the pool, and during and after dinner, and a little bit at breakfast the next day, and I really enjoyed being able to spend time with people I got to know online through our blogs and facebook groups. I am already looking forward to next time!