So I'll just say right off the bat, I am going to have a separate post about Heather and her funeral and all that... but here is my post about my FABULOUS California trip.
I am SOO happy I came down to California and stayed an entire 2.5 weeks!! My trip could not have been planned more perfectly. I originally planned this trip around Labor Day MONTHS ago and I am so happy I did because I was then able to be here for the end of Heather's life. But since we are talking about all that in another post, I'll go ahead and blog about my AWESOME trip to California.
First off, I want to move back to California. I can't even tell you how much I love and miss my family. I hate coming home and realizing how much my nieces and nephews have grown. Seriously, it makes me sad that I have been missing out on so much. Second, Lyla loves being around family. She enjoyed getting to know everyone and they all loved getting to know her and hold her and all that good stuff.
I was able to do EVERYTHING I wanted to while I was there (with the exception of going to the beach, seeing one of my old friends, and, well, I think that's all!). So here is a little summary of what went on/highlights in sunny California in pictures...
Just a picture I like from Heather's funeral.
One of the highlights of my trip was seeing Rhett and the changes he has made in his life. My step-brother, Rhett, has been inactive in the church for a LONG time. Last time I was down (in February) he was not even near where he is now... he wasn't even attending church at all. Now, Rhett has been going to church every Sunday, has straightend his life out completely, has been passing the sacrament, is dating a nice LDS girl, and is just doing fabulously. I can't believe how much the gospel has changed him. He even LOOKS different. It's not just because he has lost some weight, but his countenance has changed and therefore he just looks different. He is a completly new person and I LOVE the changes I have seen in him. Seriously, I feel like I was getting to know him all over again. Anyway, about a week after I got there, Rhett was ordained and Elder. It was such an amazing experience to be there and I was grateful for the invitation. Before he was ordained, he was asked to bear his testimony and it was SO beautiful. He had the room in tears because the spirit that he emulated was SO strong. I couldn't be more proud.
Mike, Rhett, and Rik on Rhett's ordination day.
I was able to go to my brother Mike and sister-in-law's softball game. They actually did pretty well!! I also went to their last game of the season a week later where they lost on a technicality... it was frustrating and lame but they all did great anyway. I took it upon myself to be their "sports photographer" and practiced taking action shots of them and I had a blast. Anyway, here is their team photo, with Elvis as their mascot.
I got to see my cousin Jeff (who came home from his mission about a month ago). He looked SO good and I love the amazing changes that have occured in his life. He is totally different and it's all for the better :) I also got to see my cousin Leslie who lives in Texas, and we were able to have a good chat as well :)
Lyla LOVES her Grandma Dana. One of her favorite things to do was to crawl all over her, grab her glasses, poke her eyes, and even give her kisses!!
Lyla also loved my mom's "Polar Bear" blanket that she has on the foot of her bed. This is a great shot of her TWO teeth she now has. She cut her second tooth the day after we got there.
Me and my cousin Amanda. She and her mom came for the holiday and for Heather's funeral and we LOVED getting to see them for a few days!
Amanda says she wants to find a man like Nate. I think it's because he has sweet synchronized swimming skills. Anyway, they had an entire routine and we have many pictures but this one is my favorite.
My mom's sink is the BEST for bathing babies!!! We bathed her in it every night. She loved it, we loved it, and it was great.
My husband is so handsome!! Here he is feeding Lyla.
We took a four generation picture. Louise Behling Larsen, Dana Larsen King, Kelly Chapman Wright, Lyla Elizabeth Wright.
My cool brother Mikey, me, and Lyla. We all have blue eyes but totally different shades.
The night before Labor day, I camped in the backyard with my 3 nieces, Ryann, Zoey, and Hannah. We had a blast! Before bed we all made s'mores around 11:30pm. My family rocks.
Us making s'mores.
In the morning. The night before wasn't bad at all. Hannah was terrifed of these tiny bugs that you would never notice unless Zoey was picking them out. So I had to kill these little things and tell Zoey not to say anything when she found other bugs so we could all get to sleep! :)
Hannah's face in this one cracks me up. After we were all awake, we got to enjoy some good ol' donuts!!
So LABOR DAY!!!! Oh, how I love Labor day (well Labor Day, 4th of July, and Memorial Day). This day is what I based my trip around. I actually chose to come down for Labor Day rather than Christmas because it is just one of my favorite traditions my family has. We always start our day off by playing over-the-line softball at the park by our house. We have the whole family, lots of friends, and really anyone else who wants to join.
This Labor day just happend to be my most successful over-the-line game yet. I caught 3 pop-flies/line-drives in the outfield AND got my FIRST homerun!! Now, getting a homerun means you have to hit it over everyone's heads and since they all decided to scoot up, I was able to knock it over their heads (barely:)).
Sweet picture of Nate catching the ball (though, sadly, it ended up slipping out of his glove just after)
After over-the-line, we all head back to my mom's house to swim, have a BBQ, play ping-pong, make homemade icecream, etc.
I do have to mention that later that day my brother's and I, minus Mike, had an underwater torpedo throwing contest and I WON!!! I was on fire that day!!
My mom, enjoying watching everyone have fun.
Lyla saw Nate with a bowl of ice cream and she just started to bolt. Notice Papa Rik's hand trying to grab her....
My little waterbaby.
After we swam, ate, etc., we all headed back to the park to play some bocce ball. I didn't get to play because Aaron wanted me to push him on the swing. But here is a couple picture from there...
Here is my oldest niece, Ryann, watching Lyla. She did SUCH a good job playing with here while we were down. I can't believe how grown-up she is!
Lyla had her first experience on the swing. She loved it, then she hated it, then she loved it again.
Anyway, here are some highlights of the trip: Visiting with Heather and everything that followed with her; going out to eat with my dad; visits with my friends; seeing one of my best girl friends Tanne Brady after her mission (she is awesome); going to build-a-bear with Grandma Dana, Papa Rik, and Lyla to get her a bear with mom and Rik's voice in it; hanging out with my Grandma and Grandpa; Rhett's ordination; going to Mikey's games; all of Lyla's sink bath's; Nate coming in after not seeing him for 10 days; going to lunch with one of Nate's friends from childhood and then visiting with him and his wife on Labor day; going mini-golfing with Nate, my nieces, Scott, and Aaron and getting ice cream with them afterwards; getting to know my sister-in-law Jen a lot more this trip than I have in past trips; getting to see and spend time with my Aunt Sandy and cousin Amanda; having birthday pies; everything with Labor Day.
I was SOO sad to leave. Being down there for so long made me realize how much I missed my family. My oldest niece Ryann is starting junior high and I wish I could be down there to watch her go through all the experiences of it. I also wish I could be there for my brother's Scott. I know he is a big boy and can handle things on his own, but I wish I could be there to spend time with him. I guess I just worry about him and how he is going to do with this new and changed life he has while coping with the loss of his wife. I can't even imagine how he feels. I just wish I could be there to support him but he knows that he's got my love all the way from Chicago.
Although I was sad to leave, I was also glad to be back so I could get back into a routine. It also helped that my FANTASTIC husband deep cleaned our entire townhome from the top to the bottom so I could have a fresh start when I came home. How lucky am I? I love that man feel so lucky that he chose me. My life is good.