Wednesday, August 31, 2011

In pieces.

(Photo of Emma, Kelli, Jill, and Kate taken outside of their home in Bountiful, Utah. Two days before leaving for California.)

I stopped on my way to a wedding reception to see if there was anything else I could do to help. Mom had been there for days straight, among other things, trying to keep Kelli focused. I started on the task of cleaning out the fridge but my own focus was elsewhere. Kelli was putting on her best brave face but I could see under her tough exterior that her heart was heavy. As Jill and Emma arrived from saying last goodbyes to friends, I found myself looking intently at their features-Emma's thick, wavy hair and Jill's rosy little lips-and trying to imprint them on my mind so as to never forget the way they looked at that moment. Jill twirled so I could see how awesome her tulle skirt was and my throat started to close with emotion. How was I going to survive without regular doses of sunshine from that little girl?

I don't think for even one day I took for granted how lucky I was to have all of my siblings and their family living so close. And yet here I was wishing-really wishing-I had come up more often, had more sleepovers with her kids, more BBQs, more sister get-aways and just more chats on the porch. The road ahead of my sister was not going to be easy and knowing that none of us would be close by to offer a hand or a shoulder made this goodbye that much more heart wrenching. That said, we also know that there is much for Kelli to look forward to and plenty to celebrate and we wish we could be there to enjoy those moments together as well.

Because Kelli had such an aversion to being in the spotlight, she served others quietly, behind the scenes, almost hoping no one would notice. But not so. Everyone noticed. All felt the love and the strength Kelli provided. She has no idea how missed, and by how many, she will be.

I was feeling pretty proud of myself for keeping it together. I could feel the eyes of her girls focused intently on my face-checking for signs of emotion-needing reassurance that I, and they, were going to be okay. I wanted them to know how much faith I had in them and their mom in making the most of the adventure ahead. But as they skipped off for a farewell dinner with neighbors, I got in my car, closed the door, and sobbed. To pieces.

Then started planning my next trip to California.

Man, I miss you, Kel....

Monday, August 29, 2011

Emi & Stu

After being together for "quite some time" these two finally tied the knot! I love this niece of mine and am excited for her to move on to this next phase of life.

The couple of times I saw Emi before the wedding, I was surprised at how relaxed and unaffected she seemed. It became clear very quickly that that was because my other niece, Janelle, was masterminding and executing the event. She didn't seem quite as relaxed. I loved Janelle's lists for everyone and the written wedding schedule. A girl after my own heart. How do people live without lists?
It had threatened rain all day (still Emi didn't seem concerned) but the evening was dry and calm. It was a little toasty, but beautiful. Janelle created the collage boards at the back. It was just about the most fabulous thing I've ever seen.
Janelle is also the photographer who took the engagement photos of the bride and groom.

Instead of a "guest book" tags with prompts such as "marriage advice" greeted people as they arrived.
They then zip tied their tags to the peg board wall.
Inside are bubbles for when the bride walked down the isle and sparklers to light after the ceremony.
Janelle's oldest, Zander.

And my two oldest, of course. It was nice to hear them play. It's been awhile.

I have a hard time getting him in focus. I think it's because he is always telling me I take too long and so I am a little panicked every time.
Emi's sister, Maddie, with her little fam. Husband David and baby Pippa.
The centerpiece.

The ceremony begins. Janelle's kids (that Emi has nannied/raised for years) walk the isle first.
Ozzie reads a welcome/congratulation announcement and immediately steals the show. He invites everybody to take out their bubbles so that Emi can walk down the isle in a sea of beautiful bubbles.
Janelle's youngest, Zackry, is the ring bearer.
I have no idea who did Emi's bouquet, but it was gorgeous. We asked her if she was going to throw it but it was very large and heavy and she feared throwing it might cause an innocent bachelorette bodily harm.
Another niece, Kira (Janell's sister), snuggling baby Pippa.
Andrew, my nephew (Janelle's brother), chats with Britt.
The chow truck arrived to feed the masses.

We dined on gourmet chips and fried shrimp to start.

And then your choice of tacos.
The drink station was my favorite. Make your own flavored fresh lemonade. Peach puree, strawberry puree and mint were some of the choices.
Ozzie went for the plain.
My crew, on the other hand, dumped as many flavorings as possible in theirs. Except for Gabe. Don't be fooled by his colorful concoction. He is Mr. Vanilla all the way. He is just posing with my cup.

The bride wore neon.
After the ceremony, the chairs were cleared and replaced with comfy couches and candlelight. The bride's father and brother discuss how they are going to open up their great yard and home for my kid's weddings someday. Right?
Nope. Not over yet... Friday night was the ceremony and Saturday night was the reception. We came back for more food and fun.
I am usually not a pie fan. But these pies....! Every fabulous flavor imaginable! I stuck to the fresh raspberry peach and am now a raspberry peach pie fan.
It was after this picture that my camera battery died. I regret deeply not getting a picture of Janelle so you can have a visual of my new artistic hero. She and Emi are a wonderful, creative team. It was a beautiful weekend all around.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Aussies were here

It was 16 1/2 years ago in Jordan's home town of Adelaide, Australia, that I was introduced to Jordan's long-time childhood friend, Dale and his wife, Lisa-Jayne and their kids for the very first time. Nine years later Dale and Lisa-Jayne would visit us on our home turf which in turn prompted our family trip back to Australia 3 years ago with the plea that they try-really try- to bring their whole family to back to the states to visit us as soon as possible. Last month, our long time plea became a reality.

It was no easy feat on their part. It was a costly, looong flight and arrangements had to be made for long term care for their 17 year old autistic son. But the time we got to spend with Dale and Lisa-Jayne and Deegan and Amber-Jean and Jordan was invaluable. Hands down-the best part of our summer.

It was fascinating for me to watch my somewhat anti-social husband banter back and forth with his friend as though he had just been with him yesterday in the school-yard. (Although the whole lot of them had such a hypnotic animated, friendly nature that it was hard not to join in).

The other bonus for us was, that in the midst of multiple work crises for Jordan, the presence of long-time friends encouraged/forced us to do things together as a family. It was a much needed respite. Among other things (which seemed to include a lot of eating), we made it up to the Alpine Slide in Park City.

In between thunderstorms, we were able to squeeze in a couple of rides on the Alpine Coaster.
It is a beautiful, calm, scenic ride to the top of the mountain.

Coming down either a "thrill" ride or a "chill" ride depending on who you're with. The first time I went up, I was by myself. The last instruction you receive is "don't pull up on the brake. You wont fall out." Ya, well, I kinda ignored the instruction and pulled up a little on the brake. Heck, I've got nothing to prove. The second ride down was a little different. I went with Jordan. As we were pulling out squished in our little sled, the attendant guy asked us if we had ever ridden together. When we told him "no" he kinda got this evil grin on his face and said something about how it was a whole different ride. "Oh..and whatever you do...DON'T pull up on the brake." Any guesses as to wether Jordan pulled up on the brake during our trip down the mountain? God bless seatbelts.

Lisa-Jayne and Jordan Jr. claimed they didn't pull up on the brake either....

So..if your visiting from Australia, half way across the world, what would want the last meal you ate in the good ol' United States of America to be?

Five Guys Burgers and Fries..of course!

With cajun fries? Dale said "no."
Gabe and JJ
Lisa-Jayne and Hailee

With 30 minutes to kill before their flight, the kids made good use of the tramp and the rope swing prompting their very anxious father to want to gather his chicks as quickly as possible before "someone broke their neck."

Hailee and Gabe are seasoned veterans. My kids have had many more years of practice doing dumb, dangerous things.
Deegan shows his dad how careful he can be.
As I was saying...this prospective missionary looks to be careful in many respects.
No sooner had they pulled out of the driveway, my kids were planning our next trip to Australia. To visit "their" friends. Already we were missing the air-soft wars, the ping-pong tournaments, the multi-cultural accents by Deegan, the incredulous facial expressions from Dale the "fashion shows" from the girls, the double dates arranged for the boys and the intimate chats on the porch. We miss our friends. We had a blast and had our "buckets filled" in the process. Summer guests don't get much better than that.