Growing up, my family spent many vacations boating in New England with another family. The nine of us, along with our dogs, would pile into their 27' Sea Ray. Sleeping arrangements were like a game of Tetris trying to figure out how to fit us all into every nook and cranny. I usually slept with my mom on the table that converted to a bed. We would always get funny looks piling out of the boat into the dingy to make our way into town. I'm sure the multimillion dollar yachts that frequent the area thought we were like the clown car at the circus. We always had a blast though, and those trips are some of the best memories that I have from growing up.
Now that we're all adults, my family still likes seeing how many people we can get into a small area. We've expanded quite a bit, so finding spaces to accommodate eight adults and eight kids is not easy. Thankfully, my brother's Mastiff is not invited on our vacations, however. Back when we had far fewer kids we tried Maine, but even then it was too difficult to constantly load everyone into all our cars and walk around quaint little towns. They suddenly seemed a lot less quaint when we arrived. The last couple years we wised up and just headed to NC where we could spend our days alternating between the beach and the pool. We stay in a condo that's smaller than our house, but somehow accommodates all sixteen of us, and a couple of my cousins' families stay across the street. The first couple days are always a bit chaotic, as we adjust to the cacophony of so many children excited to see each other. I love it though. The older kids dote on the little kids and the little kids adore the big kids. It's so fun to see them all together. During the day we swim, build sand castles, and skimboard, and at night we go crabbing and occasionally karaoke. Really, you can't get much better than that.
This year, the kids and I drove back home with my parents. Sixteen hours in the backseat of a mid-sized vehicle with my two hulking toddler car-seated children is something I don't want to do again anytime soon. I've done it before though and I'm sure I'll do it again. It's kind of like childbirth; you forget about the pains just enough to try it again. Now we have a week and a half of more time to hang out, sit by the pool, and just enjoy each other's company. The only thing missing is Matt.