Mawage Is What Bwings Us Togevah...

My cute baby brother Daniel married his sweetheart, Sarah, on Saturday, April 20. It was so surreal to see my youngest brother getting hitched--I feel so old! It was absolutely wonderful, though. Because my sister received her endowments in March, my entire family was able to attend Dan's sealing, which made it that much more special.

Attending sealings always turn my thoughts to my own wedding, almost seven years ago. Sometimes I'm amazed that it's been that long, and other times it feels like it's been forever (I mean that in the best way possible). I'm so grateful that Cole was willing to bind himself and his future to me and mine for eternity. I couldn't have found a man more suited to me, and even though the last seven years haven't been a cake-walk, I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.

I'm also grateful for the sealing powers of the temple and the knowledge that my family can be mine for eternity. I love each of my siblings and their spouses, and I know we're going to have a rockin' time on the other side. :)


Matthew's Birthday, and Coming Home

Matthew's first birthday fell during the week we were in OR. Since my mom was still recovering, we decided to keep the celebrations pretty simple (plus, we were planning to have a joint birthday party with several other family members in April when my parents came to visit). Matthew got to wear a special birthday shirt (it says "lil' cake monster), and we picked up some cupcakes so he could execute the required cake smash.
My big birthday boy
He thoroughly enjoyed his cupcake
Other than that, the day was pretty quiet.

Overall, Matthew had quite a fine time in Oregon. I think he really enjoyed having all the attention. He decided snacks were best enjoyed directly out of Grandma's hand:

And he rocked along with Papa on the piano:


You know how trips can either fly by too quickly or drag on too slowly? Well, this one didn't do either. It actually felt like the perfect length. I had a lot of fun spending time with my parents, but when Friday rolled around, I was ready to go home to the rest of my boys.
Friday morning I was up before the sun again, thanks to Matthew, so I was packed and ready to leave by probably 10 AM. My flight was scheduled to leave at 5:30 that evening, but my parents wanted to head up to Portland early--just to make sure I had plenty of time. Well, if any of you are familiar with my dad, you know that he is a champion at finding multiple, less-important tasks to eat up his time until he's stressed and running late (P.S. I love you, Dad!). That day was no different. He puttered around until my mom could finally steer him in the right direction. Even though it was later than we planned, we still thought we'd have plenty of time to make it to Portland. We were sorely mistaken. Apparently, everyone else in the area decided to head north at the same time we did, and traffic was dismal. My flight ended up being delayed about 30 minutes, but we still pulled up to the curb 5 minutes before my flight was due to leave. I was FREAKING OUT by this point. The guy at the curb (who had the manners and customer service skills of an ape) checked my bag and the car seat but didn't seem too confident that they would make it on the plane. My dad came into the airport with me to see if there was even a minuscule chance I could make my flight. Thanks to the orientation of a friendly airport employee we made it to security quickly. But, when I got there, the line seemed impossibly long, and I just about lost it--there was no way I was going to make it on time! (This, of course, seemed like a huge crisis to me. It wouldn't really have been so bad if I had to take a later flight.) The same airport employee turned up and asked if we needed more help. We explained the situation, and he made a call to the gate where my flight was docked. He told them I was coming and reassured me that I would make it. When I heard that, I took off running. I breezed through security (the line wasn't nearly as long as I initially expected) and ran to the gate, where they had just barely started boarding. I couldn't believe my luck!
This flight was completely full, but there were a lot of families with small children so I didn't worry so much about Matthew disturbing anyone. I ended up sitting in the middle of one of those families because I gave up my seat so a couple could sit together. This little family was so gracious. Their older daughter (who was probably 6) was really tickled to sit by Matthew, and they shared their snacks with him during the flight. He was pretty well-behaved; since he didn't fall asleep he got a little squirmy but it wasn't bad at all. What WAS bad, though? It was snowing in Salt Lake when we landed. :(
We deplaned (and had several people ask if we needed any help!) and headed toward baggage claim, where we were met by Cole, Kyle, and Lucas. It was so nice to see them! I didn't realize how much I missed them until then. Lucas jumped into my arms, wrapped his arms around my neck, and didn't let me go until we got in the car. Miraculously, my bag and Matthew's car seat made it on the plane with us, so we were able to pick up our things and head home. It was an exhausting, stressful day, and I can confidently say that without the help of a few well-placed angels on earth, I never would have made it through.
I had such a wonderful time in Oregon! I'm hoping we can all go back there to visit, either this summer or next, just so my other boys can experience it. Or, Cole could just look for a job up there and we could move... :)


Oregon: Pacific Wonderland

My dad decided to take Monday off so he could take us on a tour of the coast. We headed west to the ocean then went north and south along the coastline (our trip took the shape of the letter "T") to see a sample of Oregon's beautiful landscape.

After living in Utah for a majority of my life I've seen my fair share of breathtaking, natural beauty, but there is something distinct and special about Oregon. Maybe deep down, a part of me is Oregonian and that's why I love it so much. Either way, I had a wonderful time exploring some of Oregon's beautiful terrain and I gained an even deeper appreciation for God's creations.

We stopped at a viewpoint over the ocean that included a cute lighthouse.

You can barely see the lighthouse over Matthew's head

We stopped at what's called Devil's Churn. It's this place in the coastline where the incoming tide has worn away the shoreline into a deep crevice. The tide was out when we visited, so I got a good look at the crevice itself. However, when the tide is high, the waves crashing into the crevice churn and spray and are pretty spectacular (look up videos on YouTube to get an idea).

Devil's Churn at low tide
 Along the beach there were tons of little tide pools that are teeming with aquatic life when it's warmer.

After Devil's Churn, we turned around and headed south. We stopped in Florence for lunch, and I saw a little diner that my boys would absolutely love.

Yes, there are full-size cars sticking off the top.
We ate at a place called Mo's that was right on the bay. When the tide is in, it looks like it's floating on the water. Matthew's lunch came with a souvenir frisbee, which ended up being his favorite toy on the trip.

After lunch, we continued driving down the coast. We stopped a few times to get a look at some huge sea lions sunning themselves on little islands. They're EVERYWHERE, and my parents say they're really loud. The wind was blowing pretty strongly so I didn't get a chance to hear them too well, though.

One of our last stops was at Shore Acres State Park, which has some beautiful gardens. There weren't a ton of flowers to look at because of the season, but I still got to see some amazing flora.

All of the trees in OR are covered in moss.
So, even in the winter the trees are green. 
This is one of the weirdest trees I've ever seen...
Apparently it's a "monkey puzzle tree." The leaves reminded
me of the bark of a palm or banana tree.
My dad is a camping enthusiast, so he also showed me some of the camping spots they've especially liked along the coast. In one of the campgrounds, there were a ton of these funny little tent-like "cabins." Apparently they're called yurts, and they're for people who want to camp without really camping.

Looks cozy, right? I guess they have a wood floor and beds and everything.

On our way back home, we stopped in Charleston for drinks. Charleston is one of those "blink and you'll miss it" seaside towns...basically a hole in the wall. The convenience store/grocery/deli was called Davey Jones Locker, and, according to the T-shirts sold inside, is considered the "cultural Mecca of Charleston."
Not really something to brag about, in my opinion...
 I had been a good girl during the trip, so I also got a treat!

Nostalgia...who doesn't love rock candy?

Our little excursion took us all day, and as we were heading inland around dusk, there were a bunch of elk grazing not far from the road.

While we were in the car, Cole called me because the boys needed a "Papa song" before going to bed. It was kind of fun for my dad to witness something he started so many years ago get passed along to his grandsons.
It was a long, tiring, but extremely entertaining day. I told Cole if he ever gets a job offer in OR to take it, because I'd move there in a heartbeat.
In the next post: Matthew's birthday and getting home by the skin of our teeth.


On the Oregon Trail

For those who didn't know, my parents moved to Eugene, OR just over a year ago. We've definitely missed having them so close to us...especially when my mom told us she needed to have a pretty major surgery. As soon as we found out, we made arrangements for my sister and I to spend a week each up there helping my mom as she recovered. I planned to be there from 3/15 to 3/22, and Stephanie planned to come the following week.

**AS A SIDE NOTE: I just want to give a HUGE shout-out to Cole for making it possible for me to go. He managed to balance taking care of the boys and the house and getting all his work done for the week while I was gone. Thanks also to my mother-in-law, Diane, for stepping in and helping where she could.**

I decided to take Matthew with me because he was still *kind of* nursing and was still fairly attached to me. Plus, I knew his silly personality would help cheer my mom up, since she wasn't really looking forward to having weeks of down time. We decided it would work out best if I took an evening flight--Cole wouldn't have to leave work early to get me to the airport, and there was a greater chance that Matthew would fall asleep for part of the flight.

In spite of the fact that I am a serial procrastinator, we made it to the airport in plenty of time to catch my flight. We got my bag and the car seat checked easily, said our goodbyes, and I hopped in the security line. Kyle was really distressed about my leaving, which surprised me. I expected Lucas to have a harder time (he's been going through a "Mommy's boy" phase)--but, Lucas was distracted by Netflix on Cole's phone (ah, the joys of smartphones!) so I don't think he really noticed. Cole and the big boys rode the escalators to the second floor and watched until Matthew and I made it through security before heading home.

After getting through security (which was easier than I thought it was going to be with Matthew in tow) we headed toward our gate, which was ALL THE WAY AT THE END OF THE TERMINAL. Seriously, I felt like I walked halfway to Oregon. We got there with about 15 minutes to spare before they started boarding.

My travel buddy
The flight wasn't anywhere close to full, so Matthew and I had a full row of seats to ourselves. We made ourselves comfortable and got ready for take-off.

He was really well-behaved on the flight, which was a relief. I worry way too much, so I expected him to be the screaming child that all the other passengers tell horror stories about to their friends and family. The flight was less than 2 hours, and about halfway through I put his pajamas on, nursed him a little bit, and rocked him to sleep. He slept through landing and de-planing, but stirred a little when I put him in the stroller. We had many gracious people offer to help--honestly, I was a little surprised at how genuine and thoughtful people were on both of our flights. I guess I expected more stereotypical, self-absorbed travelers. We met my dad at baggage claim, hopped in the car, and started the 3-hour trip to Eugene (I flew to Portland because it was cheaper and easier to find desirable flight times).

Matthew promptly fell asleep in the car, and I enjoyed a nice chat with my dad. We got to their house late that evening, and my mom was still awake. I said hello and we talked for a minute before we all headed to bed.

Matthew wasn't at his best, sleep-wise, on this trip (not that I blame him), so he ended up in bed with me quite often--and he's not a good snuggler. Add to that his stubborn adherence to his "7:30 AM Utah time" wake-up call and my tendency to stay up late with my parents and you get a not-extremely-restful trip for me. But, there was plenty of rest time during the day. I think my mom and I took "movie naps" every day (in my family, that means you put on a movie knowing full well you'll fall asleep instead of watching it).

taking up all the space in my bed...
Saturday evening my parents took us on a little tour of Eugene. It was pretty interesting, because they lived in Eugene 28 years ago when I was born and they had lots of fun stories.

Matthew and me on top of Skinner's Butte
Autzen Stadium, home of the U of O Ducks, as seen from Skinner's Butte

Sacred Heart Hospital, where I was born
Sunday my dad, Matthew, and I headed to church. It was fun to put faces to the names I'd heard so many times from my parents, and it was a welcome change to be able to attend Sunday School and Relief Society (but I admit, I did miss Primary a little bit). I think the thing I enjoyed the most was seeing how much the people of their ward truly love and care for my parents. It is such a comfort for me to know that even though they aren't near us they are still surrounded by good people who will take care of them when we can't.

In the next post: our trip to the Oregon coast.
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