|Birth order noted for inquiring minds.|
Back Row: Nick (#6), me (#1), Abby (#9), Brooks (#3), Matt (#8), Ben (#5)
Front Row: Chris (#4), Chad (#2), Mom, Dad, Luke (#10), Lorry (#7)
So I was overdue for a visit home! It'd been four years, I'd had two babies, and we'd moved to Germany since the last visit which coincidentally was also for not one, but three weddings in one summer! My family has experienced big life changes since I've been with them last: graduations, babies being born, first jobs and new jobs, death of an in-law, bad car accident, cross-country moves, and my parents will now be empty nesters - Holy Smokes! It can't have been that long ago that Mom was celebrating the end of 20-ish years of diapers! I felt like I needed to get home before my parents moved on to the next phase of their lives and to be able to see my three grandparents, especially Grandma Honey who had not been doing well in recent months.
Ryan bought the tickets and I flew with all four kids (ages 8, 6, 3, and 1) all by myself both ways. When asked how on earth this was possible, I just told everyone, "Well, it's kind of like childbirth. I knew it would be really rough sometimes, but a finite period of time, and my mom would be there to take care of me in the end!" Too true! It wasn't easy, but we all survived and it was TOTALLY worth it!!! I'd do it again in a heartbeat if it weren't so darn expensive!
And what a visit it was! I got as much sleep as I survived on back in my college days. Oi Vey! Ryan wanted to go but couldn't commit to missing work at the point when he originally booked our flights. But he surprised us in the end by coming for the final two weeks and it was icing on the cake for me to see him with everyone, our big fun, silly family!
|Cute right?! Love it!!!|
|Classic! Man, I love them!|
Ryan had his own surprise before coming -- he lost his wallet in London three days before flying to the States. UGH! Luckily it was found and eventually returned fully intact, but he went through quite the ordeal until that news reached him! If you know Ryan, you know how he loves to drive. He was stuck without a license while visiting my family and he was a trooper about being so confined! We tried to compensate by making sure his Mexican food and Brucchi's cheese steak cravings were met! How lucky am I that Ryan loves me and my family enough to forego exciting European destination traveling to make this trip possible AND join us!!! I love my Cute Boy!!!
If my blogging average continues to be so sporadic, I need to at least post some of the highlights here:
- It started with Dad and I getting cherished road trip chatting time as he drove us from/to the Seattle airport area. Dad's not a long phone chatter like Mom so these car talks are one of my all time favorites! Just me and my dad, I'll always love being called Pumpkin and TDB by him!
- I was spoiled by siblings making long treks home to visit on weekends before the onslaught of the entire clan arriving! I felt so loved! SO fun to wake up the second morning I was home and Chad's family and Abby were asleep in the living room! My sister Lorry and her little girl Katelyn planned their trip home to overlap ours for three weeks. It was so fun to be moms with her. She's got amazing patience and such a nice sweet voice with Katelyn! Late night chats with Brooks and Lorry, boring the boys into snoring comas on the floor as we discussed favorite recipes.
- It seemed like every time someone came home, they had an announcement! When dad and I picked Lorry and Katelyn up from the airport, Lorry shocked us by being visibly 6+ months pregnant! She got our reaction on video! Brooks also announced she's pregnant by tricking us with a bottle of pills we thought would simply be another prescription helping her heal from a horrible car accident last January. Neither Mom or Dad had their glasses and could read the print on the bottle labels announcing the news and it was hilarious! Ryan and I were going to announce we were pregnant at the end of the trip after the wedding, but I had a miscarraige while there. With all the busy preparations for the wedding, the fun of being home, having four kids to chase, having had two miscarriages before and knowing what to expect, AND big deal here - still having my baby to hold (he just turned 1 this past week) - I really was okay that it happened. I was scared to share it at the time because by being okay, I didn't want to belittle the experiences, past or future, of the women I love most. Alright, now back to happy highlights!
- Aunts, uncles, cousins and old friends were always dropping in to catch up. I was so glad the wedding reception helped me see even more of them! Time flew by so fast and keeping up with my four kids just simply didn't let me get nearly enough visiting done to friends and family in the area.
- I got to spend some time with my three wonderful grandparents. Lunches with Nana and swimming at Grandpa Bob's pool were adventures with the kids and crew we had! So glad they put up with us! Grandma Honey just simply didn't have much time left here but I'm glad I got to see her and how she was so lovingly looked after by Grandpa Bob, my mom, and Aunt Kim. So sad I wasn't at her funeral with all the Reid side!!! Grandma Honey filled my childhood with lots of smooches and giggles, bountiful spreads of food, and simply the best summer vacations a kid could dream of there in Tillamook on the mountain!
- Mom taught me to sew again and I really liked it, much to my own and Ryan's shock! I sewed almost all of Morgan's dress for the wedding and helped mom with some of the finishing touches of the others.
- I put my kids in swimming lessons at the neighborhood pool I spent many youthful summers in and BONUS - got to soak up a couple hours daily chatting with my aunt Kim while she had my cousin Jenn's kids swimming too. We also got to do some pool play dates! It was awesome to see what fast buddies the kids became! Reminded me of the fun I had with my cousins in the summer. My kids weren't real fans of swimming lessons because as Easton said, "Mom! I'm on VACATION - I'm not supposed to have to learn anything!" And McKay confidently stated, "Mom, I already know all that stuff." Morgan just cried and screamed through the whole first lesson or at any mention of her going to swim lessons so I let her opt out, much to the boys' chagrin. She's 3, for heaven's sake! She loves the water . . . as long as it's on her own terms!
- Dad (Papa Bare) ensured adventurous memories were made! He took my boys on their first fishing/caving/hiking adventure; took us boating on the Columbia River; he introduced the kids to Dairy Queen blizzards; he and Mom played endless rounds of UNO with the boys; and he even planned a real pirate treasure hunt with a series of rope bridges he'd built up in the trees of the backyard. And lest I forget, my family's golden retriever had a litter of seven puppies that were 5 weeks old when we arrived. My dog loving kids were in HEAVEN! It was their morning ritual to head out back to get their puppy fix first thing when they woke up, even Jake! We were soooooo stinkin' spoiled!
- We were present for another round of the Spoons Tournament and now there seems to be a growing trend toward adding a Tennis Tournament too! So far there's only a trophy for winning Spoons, it's totally awesome fun! A rousing game of Girls vs. Boys "Encore" and late nights watching the Olympics, especially with dad commenting on the gymnasts (his college sport) were also some of my favorite memories!
- We got to meet new family members - Nick's wife Christine, Lorry's little girl Katelyn, Chris's little guy Liam, Nick's lil' lady Mikilah, and of course, Matt's new wife Chelsea!
- I got to shop without children in American stores and be completely overwhelmed by all the choices! Seriously, walking into Walmart or Winco (grocery store) gave me panic attacks until I remembered I had a list! Good grief, it was such a shock to my system! And to see three major warehouse sized craft supply stores adjacent to each other on one road was mind-boggling! EVERYTHING in America seems 2/3 bigger than everything in Germany. Refrigerators, freezer space, number of electrical outlets, open hours for businesses and shops, restaurant selection, parking spaces, cars, malls, trampolines, sinks, showers, water in the toilets . . . you name it! Now
- I was able to feel like a helpful member of the family at this big shindig! Typically I've been pretty sick for one reason or another in the last 15+ years when I'd get to come home, so it was great to be well and able this time around! We had 30 people to feed, bathe, transport, and keep track of. It was awesome!!! My parents' neighbors built and moved into a new home a month before our gathering and let us use their home as overflow. Talk about good timing!
- Our family was blessed to add another fun gal to the mix! Welcome Chelsea! What a wonderful day in the temple with them!
|Beautiful wedding weekend!|
- My kids got a lot of time with their cousins playing with puppies, jumping on the trampoline, swimming at the pools, building race tracks and legos, playing UNO, and girls being girly! Easton took every chance he could get to hold little baby Mikilah! He LOVES babies!!! Tells me all the time that he will have at least ten when he grows up.
- Before flying home, we got to spend some time visiting with Ryan's dad, Nelson, and our Munich cousins who have now moved back to the Seattle area. Boy do we miss having them here!
- We had family portraits taken!!! Some long time ward friends, a talented professional mother-daughter duo, took these for us and did an amazing job! I'm soooo bad about getting these done but I am now determined to see it done more regularly to capture our family as we grow. These turned out amazing! Just think, in six months the big family shots will be outdated by three new arrivals -- Lorry and David's little boy in October, Ben and Elizabeth's first in January, and Brooks and John's first in March! I'm soooooo excited for them all!
I know I have forgotten many things that I loved, but for now it will have to do! I'm so tempted to add a buzzillion pictures as each item mentioned above has a plethora to attend it. Sufficed to say, it was wonderful to go home and be with family and friends.