We got to SLC on the night of the 28th and went to an early morning temple session on the 29th, then went out for a fancy brunch at Grand America. The big highlight of the time in SLC for me was being there in the temple with my husband, parents, grandma and every one of my siblings plus one sister-in-law. Piece of Heaven right there. There's nothing like having the people you hold most dear surrounding you in the temple. And it was great to randomly see a great older lady who had lived in the same apartment as me when we were both missionaries in Bulgaria (Sister Williams) and the wife of the violin teacher I had all through high school. Small small world. Then that evening we had our big family party and gift exchange at my parents' new house by Park City. The house has had issues - but some day it will be done! It was done enough though to really enjoy some time up there and it's got great space to feed and entertain a big crowd.
The next day, the 30th, was Charity's farewell talk at church as she prepares to go on her mission to London in a couple weeks. The chapel was packed with tons of family members and many of Charity's friends from Jerusalem study abroad, Wellesley, BYU, etc. That girl's got quite a following. She gave a really wonderful talk - so eloquently presented with total poise and passion - all about the necessity of sacrifice and how that strengthens your foundation of faith - plus a lot more but that's one of the main messages that struck me. We had a jam-packed luncheon-open house at my parents' house afterwards and the kids ate about 10 desserts each and were in Heaven while my sisters and I scrambled to make more sandwiches and find other stuff to put out as the huge piles of food quickly disappeared. It was snowing like crazy all night the night before and all day that day but the people still showed up in droves. When things were wrapped up, Jared and I took the kids off to Aaron and Michelle's and had a great time chatting with them while the kids had a great time with each other. Thanks to Aaron and Michelle's new Cold Stone store, we celebrated Jared's birthday early with ice cream cake.
Monday was Jared's birthday and I sent him off snow boarding with his brother Aaron - his favorite activity. Apparently the fresh snow made for an incredible day of skiing despite some pretty cold temperatures. The rest of us went up to Mom and Dad's new house to enjoy the new snow (and get stuck in it with our non-snow-worthy vehicles). The kids had so much fun but I must say I was pretty worn out by all the finding and packing and unpacking and dressing and undressing and drying and finding again of all the various snow gear as we moved from house to house! We finished the day with our traditional big New Year's party at the Carver's house - for the last time. They just sold that amazing huge palace of a house. So we'll have to find a new location next year. ALL our kids stayed up to welcome in the new year - I thought for sure they'd fall asleep in front of a video after swimming and playing like crazy. But there we were at midnight with all of them! It was really fun catching up with all my cousins and family and playing games and eating way too much great food. We threw in a little candles on the cake and singing for Jared but really he didn't get very "celebrated" this year, I'm afraid.
Playing games, eating, chatting, watching football at the Carvers' house.
Silas in Heaven - all the food you can eat and no adults interfering too much!
Me and the birthday boy, the love of my life. Here's to 2008!New Years Day we headed home after a big old family meeting about the complications and confusion and hurt feelings involved in figuring out when, where and if we can all get together as our family expands and our places to sleep do not. It was very crowded and rather chaotic at my parents old SLC house and great and big but nowhere to sleep at my parents unfinished new house and going back and forth between the two with a huge crowd proved to be somewhat complicated especially with all the snow. But we got things worked out and long live the need for Eyres to be together! We'll always work something out - but I've always pictured the future of getting together with my family sort of like how it currently is with Jared's family - a LOT of people crammed into a LITTLE space with very little comfort or privacy but lots of good times and great memories - sort of like camping - and it really only needs to last for 28 hours or so that we're really all together - some people can come early, some can stay late, but EVERYONE doesn't have to be all together all that long. It's good to talk about the future though and get things out on the table. One big new thing was that my Dad committed to building a bunkhouse at Bear Lake one of these days and getting our input on it so that it can be designed for the future of the family. That would be great. Some day, some day.
It was great to get back home - but the fun didn't end. On the 2nd, friends from my mission (Kelly, Matt and kids) showed up for a nice visit and some talk of collaboration on CareerMothers down the road. Then Shawni and kids along with Josh showed up and stayed with us overnight to celebrate Ashton's birthday and break up the trip back to Phoenix. That evening, Jared's sister Kathryn's kids Will and Claire joined the party - they were on their way to Houston for Claire to finish up at Rice University and stayed the night - great to catch up with them - we used to see them all the time when we lived in the Bay Area and we miss them now! We started off Ashton's birthday on the 3rd with a grand birthday breakfast of Ashton's favorite breakfast burritos and said goodbye to Will and Claire who had to get on the road. Max and Elle gave Ashton a book and some advice on what he needs to do once he's baptized.Then I took Ashton, Max, Elle, Gracie, Ike and Ana to school - Ashton just HAD to be at school and bring his cousins because Heaven was smiling on him and made his birthday "Engineering Day" at Dixie Downs Elementary. The kids spent the morning learning about volcanoes and bubbles and prisms and got to use a robotic arm and do lots of other cool stuff. USU had sent down all these cool materials and instructions for every teacher to put on a different experiement or project in his or her room and they rotated throughout the school doing so many interesting and fun things.
Josh and I helped out with stuff at the school while Shawni graciously watched the twins and Liza - then I picked the kids up for lunch at Bajio and then Shawni and family had to take off. At this point, Ashton's birthday was already wearing me pretty thin - and we were just getting started!!!
That evening we did a little family party with candles in a huge cookie for Ashton to blow out.
Then Jared and I took Ashton out for a special dinner at a nice restaurant (while Jo watched the little kids - thanks!) and talked about how proud we are of him and how now that he's eigth he'll be getting a lot of new priviledges and responsiblities - helping out more with the twins (he'll trade off each month being in charge of helping one of them get dressed, do little jobs, eat their meals, etc.), getting a chance to earn more money and being responsible for buying more things, staying up later at night, getting some input on family decisions, etc. He was really serious and excited about it all and he's been really great for the most part - stepping up quite a bit since then. Wow, we may actually start to have an ally with all these little kids! We capped of the evening by having the "big talk" with Ashton - the whole birds and bees things. It really worked out well - he had good questions and seemed to really understand. We used mom and dad's book "How to Talk to your Child about Sex" and that helped a lot. So great to talk with this great kid who's innocent enough to get the whole thing in a pure way and see it for what it is - a beautiful thing to be shared between two people who really love each other that can have the result of producing a miracle - or "the best invention ever" in Ashton's terms - a baby.
More later! Lost this and rewrote half of it. Great great great. Time to go take care of all my little "kitties" - the twins just love pretending to be cats and they're getting a bit screechy!