How do I explain what life has been like over the last week? Crazy. Busy. Fun. Exciting. Wonderful. I got to see all three sides of my family--the Smiths, the Nelsons, and the Wades--within just a few days' time. It was family overload in the best sense and I loved every minute of it. In fact, as I reflected on all our individual idiosyncrasies and dysfunctional-ness, I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of love for my family. This is our one real, imperfect but beautiful life, and we're meant to stick together.
Here's what went down...
Wednesday: The two little boys and I drove to my Aunt's house in Utah. Although my Aunt Mari feels like she is the worst hostess ever, we always feel welcome in her home. So thanks for letting us eat all your cereal and make a mess in your basement, Mari. The boys just think you're the absolute coolest, and I can't help agreeing. Wednesday evening, my cousin Emma and I went out to the lake to take her high school senior pictures. I love photographing seniors. That cool cat busted out some Irish dance moves on the dock! We had a lot of fun together.
^^Look at that air and those pointed toes! A beautiful girl with a lot of talent.^^
Thursday: I couldn't have begged for better weather all weekend long. I took my boys to the neighborhood park in the morning where Jed and I had a little water fight with his water bottle. Hehe Then my cousin, Necia, traveled from Salt Lake City just so I could take baby Alana's newborn pictures. Between those fat cheeks and those tiny kitten cries, I couldn't get enough of Alana. She was beautiful. I just hope I did her pictures justice! I happened to leave every scrap of my newborn props and blankets at home. Luckily, 'ol Wally World helped me out a little. It felt really good just to sit and chat with Necia. She is the sweetest mama. After Necia left, I took the boys swimming for a couple hours. Hot spring pool in April? Yes, please! Finally, my Aunt Mari babysat my boys that evening so I could meet up with Bron for his cousin Rylee's rehearsal dinner. Mmmm! Delicious Chinese food and familiar family conversation was just the ticket that night.
^^Who needs props with a baby that looks as sweet as that?^^
Friday: Wedding Day at Temple Square! Bron and I joined the throngs of family and friends in the Salt Lake Temple for Rylee and Jeremy's wedding. Rylee glowed. She just emanated happiness. And her new husband Jeremy is a sweet stud. However, by the time we got out of the temple, Jed and Levi were tired and hungry and falling apart. Wedding days are tough on little people. So Bron and I did the best we could for a few hours before he headed home with the little boys and I hopped on an airplane bound for southern California!
^^Jed and Levi turned heads all day long with these handsome outfits!^^
^^As good as a family picture gets these days. Haha. But I sure love all three of my boys.^^
Saturday: Wedding Bells in Laguna Hills! My little brother, Joe, married his Hungarian fiancé Karmen. It was an intimate, simple and sweet ceremony. I couldn't help be touched as I watched both Joe and Karmen's eyes water as they said their vows. They invited just a small wedding party of close family and friends. We took some pictures at the beach and then headed to a beautiful home overlooking the ocean for a delicious Hungarian dinner. Karmen is superwoman. I can't believe she cooked on her wedding day! It was a delicious meal. I am so happy for my brother. Karmen is a beautiful bride and seems to be just the partner Joe needs. They are so obviously head-over-heels in love.
^^My brother Joe and his bride Karmen^^
Sunday: Sunday was a much needed day of rest and relaxation... and fun! I stayed at my dad's house over the weekend and really enjoyed getting to know my stepmom, Liz, a lot better. How can anyone not love that little spitfire? She's awesome! After brunch Sunday morning, my dad and I took his 16 foot dingy out in the bay (just don't ask me which bay!). He let me drive. We talked and admired all the other boats and houses... until we came to the open ocean. I cannot describe to you how much I LOVE the open ocean. It's like it's a part of me; deep down something feels complete when I can see nothing but water to the horizon, breathing in the salty air and feeling the wind on my face. I guess the ocean poses endless possibilities for adventure and exploration. It makes me excited. So I throttled the engine and scared myself as we crashed over the waves! It feels so exposed to be on such a small boat! Thanks for taking me out, Dad. I'm glad you've shared your passion for the ocean with me since I was a little girl. It means the world. Finally, Sunday evening, I met a high school friend at the San Clemente Pier. We ate burritos and talked until the sun set.
Monday: Boarded a plane, landed in Salt Lake City, and drove home to my three handsome boys.
So I've had quite a week! But it was the best of weeks. I've actually had a hard day acclimating back to reality. I feel like I'm having an identity crisis. Southern California will always be home; it's my familiar full of happy memories. Plus, what can possibly top an ocean view? But on the other hand, I don't want to give up this simple, beautiful, country lifestyle I enjoy here in Idaho with my own little family. So I think I have a plan: I'll raise my family here and then Bron and I will retire to a boat. Yup! It's going to happen.
A GIANT thank you to everyone who helped make our weekend so enjoyable! We love you all.