These sisters and brother and their families gathered from around the world (quite literally) to celebrate their parents' fortieth anniversary.

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When I met up with this clan at Rich and Elsy's home, Elsy pointed to an 8 by 10 of themselves as long haired, grinning college students resplendent in their 1970's wedding attire. She said that they were so poor as students that they only had four by six snapshots of that happy day until their 25th anniversary, when the kids blew up their favorite picture and framed it. For their 40th, they wanted to capture their parents in photos again, and arranged a family photo shoot.

They all bear a striking resemblance to each other, don't you think :) ?

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Rochelle, the eldest daughter, and I went to high school together for a few years. In fact, it was she who introduced me to the joys of "Sun In". Does anyone else remember that remarkable product? She gave my adolescent self a quick lesson on application of this highlighting spray, which would turn my hair a lovely shade lighter. I mustn't have listened too well because I ended up with an overwhelming mess of coppery split ends that grew more brassy as the weeks went by, and scared me away from hair color for almost two decades :).

Fast forward to this past year and ....ta-da...Facebook where I have so enjoyed keeping up with old friends and classmates. I discovered that Rochelle and her beautiful little family were over in Holland and have recently moved to the South of France (poor souls). It's been fun for me to see the updates and pictures and catch some of the effort she has made in staying very connected with her family on the other side of the ocean. When she emailed me months ago about meeting up with them this summer I was so happy for the opportunity.

As soon as the whole clan began walking together through the park across the street from her parents' home, I began to see for myself a lot of the affection that they all held for each other. Lots of teasing. Aunties holding hands with nieces. Here's Uncle Erik with one of the boys.

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They were sandwiching this time between a big family trip away for the week and a big hoopla of a party the next day with friends and extended family.

Here's another favorite of Uncle Erik and the boys. Everyone needs a fun uncle like that.

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Here are Sara and Brent and their sweet Peter, who was a bit nervous about my puppet but quite happy to consume some snacks. Smart mommies come prepared.

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Anna and her fiancee, Rob.

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And Rochelle and Stephan and their crew.

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I had Elsy and Rich sit on a log and asked Rich to kiss his bride, telling them that the family behind me would rate their kiss and tell them if it was good enough.

They out smarted me.

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Then they gave it another shot...didn't have to do much persuading.

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The grandkids hopped up with them and they all tried to pat their heads and rub their tummies. Grandma rubbed a baby....just as well.

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A fun crew.

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Congratulations, Rich and Elsy, on your anniversary, and on raising such a beautiful family. It's clear you have done a great job.

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