(Stef, Karen, Shannon, Mom, Kris, Suzie, Janet, Marsha)
On the last week end in April I attended what has become known as "Sister's Reunion". Of course mom was there too, and Marsha, who isn't a blood sister, but she might as well be. It was a BEAUTIFUL thing. Seriously, one of the highlights of my year!
So why, you may ask, has it taken me so long to document this experience? I know, I know, I'm wracked with guilt over it, knowing that the details are slipping out of my mind faster than Kim Kardashian slips out of marriage.
In my defense, these type of events are the nearest and dearest to my heart and thence (word of the day), make them the hardest to write about.
I'm going to do my best to covey the details to and to also to write what's in my heart (a very draining prospect).
This year we all went to Arizona. Both Suzie's and Karen's families live there. While we spent an evening at Suzie's house, the majority of the activities were based out of Karen's house.
Thanks Karen, and especially Steve, who took a huge hit on their house from 7 extra people, and acted like it wasn't a big deal.
Steve looked like this a large amount of the time. He just smiled and cracked jokes.
And camera holding was probably the least of his, "What the...? - moments". The noise level was extreme. And when I say noise, I mean comparable to magpies trying to out squawk the others over the latest plunder of robin eggs.
Raucous peels of laughter (akin to coyote pups that yip in the middle of night and drag you from the depths of REM sleep. Trust me, I know from whence I speak) and many estrogen tinged conversations (bra size, birth control, nursing, child birth, swim suit shopping and more) emanated from any given room in the house, at any given hour. Thanks Steve for acting like that was normal.
This was a very typical scene over the course of the 4 days. Some women get together and craft or sight see or cook or shop. While we like to do all these things, we would rather just sit around and shoot the breeze. I think here, Suzie was giving us a "schpeel" on essential oils and their healing effects. She is pretty amazing in her knowledge.
(Organ Stop Pizza)
Just to illustrate my point, one evening we went to a place called Organ Stop Pizza. It was simply amazing. There is a HUGE pipe organ with all the bells and whistles (literally. I'm pretty sure this is where that saying originates). The organist was amazing! He took requests, anything from Star Wars to Rock music to Classical to Big Band. We requested Michael Jackson's Thriller -- he didn't play it, but I'm pretty sure he could have. Anyway I digress. While this place was totally awesome and amazing, I found myself being impatient to have conversations with my favorite people (it was too loud to say more than, "Pass over that last piece of meat lovers pizza!"). Granted we were only there for a little more than an hour, but that was an hour that we lost valuable "talk time". Do you know what I'm saying to you?
What I did adore though, were these cutie-pies. They danced and danced to the music. They were so cute and fun and enthusiastic, it was contagious. There was even this girl (on the right end) who loved all the dancing so much she photo bombed our picture (this is one of those moments we know we'll have in 25 years, saying, "Now, who is that girl on the end?") It's ok though, we don't mind being envied for our cuteness.
Here's another picture of my cuties, taken at their house after a nightgown fashion show. They wanted to hear and rehear and then hear again, Justin Bieber's "Baby" on my iPhone. They were singing and dancing. Even Meghan who is still tiny, knew the words (granted it doesn't take much to memorize the words, "Baby, Baby, Baby.") They made me miss my little girls, who aren't little anymore.
Despite the temptation to sit around and talk and talk and talk we did drag ourselves out of the house on a few occasions
We went to the Arizona Botanical Gardens. This was a perfect outing because we could stroll around at our own pace and still get in our 25,000 words for the day.
Watch for "the hat". It was supposed to be used so Marsha's scalp didn't get sunburned, but ended up being the strategically placed accessory to hide "baby belly" and "age belly" (sadly it never made it over my miserable chub - just ignore it if you can please, I know it's hard.)
Look at this cute little girl.
and this dude...
and this one...
oh and this one...
(ok he's not THAT important, but he is cute, none the less)
Whenever someone makes the comment that I look like my sisters, I take that as a total compliment!!
There's got to be at least one funny picture of Mom per trip. Here she is channeling her inner Bono (from the 80's), turned up collar and cool shades. I actually think she looks cute, but it's still a good laugh.
We also made it into the Butterfly Pavilion. Which of course made my brain explode with
Brian: OK? ALL of them? (stretches out long, imaginary list)
Brian Regan: .... does this one like to eat? He does? OK....... care to expound on that at all?
"How was work dear?"
"Don't even get me started. I've had it up to here with those butterflies.
I had this yellow one, landing lightly on flowers...
And this purple one fluttering around and around, LIKE I DON'T KNOW WHAT HE'S UP TO."
Here's some flora we saw in the gardens
(this one was my favorite)
Other ways we spent our time
Time with cousins
Laurie Lindsey Donaldson and Kris above
Megan and Shannon below - Megan is Aaron's cousin - she and Laurie are in the same ward
Time Eating- uh, duh!
This was at a place with a mariachi band - one of my favorite happy things
This was at a place with a mariachi band - one of my favorite happy things
Time on walks
walking off all the time we spend eating
Time cuddling baby Levi - dang he's cute!
Time in the pool
No strategically placed hats here, just strategically placed nieces.
Levi spent a lot of TIME hiding under his blanket ;) that's what Miranda thought anyway.
TIME and ALL ETERNITY
The thing that makes all this so special is being with people whom I truly love and that I am sealed to forever. I can't even sit here and write this with out crying my eyes out. See... I knew this post was going to be a daunting task (hence the 4 weeks it has taken me to get the nerve to start).
Not only do I get to hang out with these amazing people every once in a while. I am going to get to hang with them for all eternity. It makes it special to me that places like this (the construction of the Gilbert Temple or the reflecting pool at the Mesa Temple) would be a place any of us would want to go. It is special to be able to talk openly and freely about such important things. We are of one mind and one heart. As imperfect as we are (and when I say "we", what I really mean is, "me"), we are all doing our best to raise our children correctly, to build and strengthen our testimonies and to be good, happy, positive, people.
It meant a lot to me that we could just sit around and chat about things that are so pure and so sacred and no one was offended and no on made light of it (except the conversations we had about funny experiences in the temple - we're allowed to laugh about that right?). It meant a lot to me that everyone feels the same reverence and the same devotion to family and to God and to the temple as me. It was sweet that we could all sit in Sacrament Meeting together, that we could go through the visitor center in Mesa together, that we could feel the spirit of the Lord and feel each other's spirits.
It means a lot to me that I learn so much from these cool and wonderful people, who are all younger than me -- well except mom. Aren't I supposed to be the one everyone learns from? Aren't I the oldest? But as I clearly learned, being old doesn't give you all the brains and wisdom.
But on the other hand, age must give you some wisdom, or maybe mom is just a natural at any age. But she spent an afternoon going through an exercise with us about being positive and happy. Many tears were shed and many perspectives gained. Our spirits connected and this was one of the true highlights of the whole trip.
I'm sorry to be sappy - but I wanted to express how important these people are to me.
These are my people!
This is where I came from!
I couldn't be more proud or happy.
Plus what I'm about to say may dispel any gauzy film of Utopia that may be lingering.
Another way I know where I came from is...
LINDSEYS LOVE DONUTS!!!!
When someone suggested that we go get donuts after visiting the Mesa Temple. There was a ripple of joy that traveled through the crowd. Maybe even a cry of Huzzah!! could be heard.
I had been so used to being around Brad who blasts donuts at every chance he gets, for being the worst possible treat for you, because of all the grease and all the sugar and the general empty-caloriedness of them (and he is, with out a doubt, correct) that I just giggled like and idiot when everyone else couldn't get in the cars fast enough to get down the street to said donut establishment.
Here we are enjoying the spoils. We bought enough for not one, but 2 each (yes, we know how to live on the edge). But even better than the sticky goodness of the maple bar and the creamy innards of the boston cream, was the sweet comfort of knowing from whence I came.
And IT is a good place!