Saturday, July 12, 2014

Aaargh! The Pirates of Monticello

Last weekend (4th of July) was the much-anticipated Cousins Weekend, when my brother and nephews made the long haul from St. Louis to come and visit.  Aidan and Hugo seemed to pick up right where they left off, and Julian, Leo, and Pax bonded again over their shared love of jumping on air mattresses.

We had a lazy lake day the first day.... (not entirely lazy, what with the sea monsters and all)

...and then drove to a local brewery for a most unforgettable evening.  Weather, drinks, food, and temperaments all united.  What a great night!

On Friday (the 4th) the kids got this idea around lunchtime to make a Jolly Roger flag (also known as the Jolly Rancher, for boys who get these names easily confused).  Jeff pulled out the "Dangerous Book for Boys" and helped them sketch an outline of the Jolly Roger on an oversize piece of paper, then left them to finish out the details.  I don't know how this idea even began, but once it was launched, it grew into something so incredibly awesome, we couldn't have planned for anything so cool...

The end result was a truly impressive pirate flag.

Somehow, one good idea led to another, and the next thing we knew, the 10 of us decided to commandeer the pontoon boat as bona fide pirates, launching water balloons (with Dad's balloon slingshot) on unsuspecting landlubbers.  Shiver me timbers!  We started by preparing ammunition...

which led to a bit of mutiny.

We set sail.

And we launched our attack!!!  Water balloons were fired on many the unsuspecting landlubbers.... their absolute delight!  Everyone was such a good sport about our attacks, even the 4ish year old who was floating in a raft next to his dad.

Pirate Adam inspected the contents down the bung hole.  (Alas, me hearties, no ginger beer, but some fine IPA.)
 We flew the Jolly Rancher high after each successful... attempt.
We generally reveled in our pirate success.....

....until it was time for the fireworks that night.
 The pirate attack was, by far, the best and most memorable event of the Cousins Weekend.  However - all of our time together was pretty awesome.  On Saturday, my parents hosted a midday cookout for friends of Adam's who made the trek to the lake to see him, and us. It was a lovely afternoon, and Adam's visit provided the perfect excuse to catch up with longtime friends.

Another favorite memory was taking Hugo, Aidan, Leo, and Pax (via kayak) into the deepest and most secluded part of the lake where motor boats can't go.  We saw a heron, some turtles, and a whole bunch of fish.  The clear water in the marshy grass was exceedingly peaceful, ephemeral.  A hushed silence fell over the boys as they took it all in.... it was magical, transformative.

And because you know I like to keep it real here on the Lit Farm, I'll add that the only less-than-lovely memory I have of this weekend is that the Mysterious-yet-Vicious-Stomach Virus of 2014 (so dubbed by my brother) attacked 8 out of 10 of us in the ensuing week.  Mysterious in that it presented differently in each of us, vicious in that it was... vicious, at least amongst the Carter crew.  (Nothing like two kids simultaneously puking all over new hardwood floors, at midnight, to give you a little vaso-vagal jolt to the heart (plus a day in a half in bed, yourself, 48 hours later.)  All's well that ends well, and we'd never appreciate our health if it weren't for some judicious reminders of how awful one can feel every now and then.

Cousins Weekend:  For Better, For Worse, In Sickness, and in Health...  Ahoy!

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