Can you believe that we got every person, including the babies, to look at the camera for this photo??? I had to feature it at the top of this post because it was just a straight up miracle.
We spent a lot of time in July, August, and September partying with the Nielsons. Here are a few of the highlights:
-We spent a fun long weekend in Pocatello for the Fourth of July. It included everything that the 4th should: a parade, popsicles, homemade pie, cousins, water games, a slip-and-slide--and of course bouts of the stomach flu (we truly can't get through a family reunion without this happening). My favorite part of a Pocatello Fourth of July is always the fireworks show. You can just walk down to the fairgrounds fifteen minutes before, lay out your blanket, and they are right overhead. It's magical.
-In August, we welcomed Tanner home from his LDS mission. In the two years that he was gone, five babies joined the Nielson family and one more is on the way! My mother-in-law, Sally, made some adorable shirts for the little ones to wear when Tanner arrived at the airport: "Hi, Uncle Tanner! My name is _______. " Obviously, he knew their names while on his mission, as he got letters and emails from us weekly, but he had never met the minions in person. I think he's a tad overwhelmed by the chaos of it all, but he is the cutest uncle, and we are so glad to have him home! Noah is especially smitten with his Uncle Tanner and wants to be just like him when he grows up. I totally approve! I have loved Tanner since he was 11 years old, and he will always be a little brother to me.
-Ryan had a dental conference in Utah, so we spent a couple of days there and stayed with Derek, Alli, Lily, and Baby Annie. I loved my newborn snuggle time (even better when I'm binge-watching a BBC show--Poldark, you've gotta watch it!), and we all loved escaping to the mountains for a (very) little hike with the young ones.
-We were back to Utah for Annie's baby blessing the following month and she was the sweetest little old-fashioned princess in her crocheted blessing gown and bonnet. Derek said she looked like a pioneer; but Grandma insisted that she looked like Princess Charlotte in England. Ha! The day before the blessing, we also fit in a family hike to Doughnut Falls in Utah and had fun.
-We went to Sun Valley with the crew for Labor Day and enjoyed time at the cabin. Amazingly, we hadn't spent any time in Sun Valley all summer (I guess because of all of our other travels and adventures?), so it was high time that we got up there. We loved going for walks with the family, sneaking out for a girls-night at the ice show (and the guys sneaking away for a day of fly-fishing), enjoying the sunshine and mountain air, and eating Sally's delicious meals. And now that I think of it, no one got the stomach flu during this trip! It's some sort of miracle!
It was a fun summer of memories with family. Sometimes it is hard for me to travel so much with the kids--I am a homebody, and I love my routines and schedules--and sometimes the chaos of having seven children under the age of four crammed into one house or cabin about does me in--but watching my kids develop relationships with the ones who matter most is priceless. Noah absolutely adores his grandparents. Ryan's parents handle the mayhem so well and genuinely seem happy to have all the whining children around. I think they have perspective and life experience that I don't have yet (well, and they get to send those tired children home at the end of the weekend!). I love each and every one of the Nielsons, and I am grateful for the goodness that they bring to my life.
One of the apostles in our church, L Tom Perry, recently passed away at the age of 92, and in his last sermon he said, "The family is the center of life and is the key to eternal happiness." I know this is true, and my heart fills with gratitude as I scroll through all of the photos in this post and reflect on the joy found in family relationships in this life and beyond.