Sad to say, we've reached the end of an era. With their house sold and their stuff packed up, Jonah and Aja and family stayed with us for a few days then took off on Friday. They headed for Vegas to say goodbye to relatives there and for LA for more goodbyes and then they're off to New Zealand - as far away as you can get from here and still be on the planet Earth. How we'll miss them! It chokes me up a bit to write this and it was weird as can be to meet the people who bought their house yesterday and to have them invite us into a home that looked exactly the same as it always did except different people (they sold the house furnished). Those people sure seem thrilled about that lovely house!
Anyway, here are the top 10 things we'll miss about these great neighbors of ours:
1. Having Jonah pop by at random times in the day (often with warm cookies - how much I'll miss those "cooks" of his) to check in or bring something or just catch up a bit
2. Hearing Aja's astute and often hilarious comments about the goings on in our ward and neighborhood and school
3. Getting sweet snuggles from Elsie - the sweetest, cuddliest girl ever. Having her call me "Sunan" and play with my necklace. Seeing how much she loves Isaac ("Isie") and how much he loves her.
4. Seeing Ana organize all the other kids into a play or be the teacher in the little school she liked to conduct for Eliza and our neighbor Olivia - she's one great little teacher and director - reminds me of myself at her age. I'll miss all her talk of ponies and horses and all her great money-making ideas.
5. Having Cam chat away to me. The other day he and the twins were "helping" me wrap some presents and Cam was going a mile a minute and I was throwing in an "uh-huh" here and there while concentrating on what I was doing. After quite a while, Cam said, "OK, I'm all done talking now" - like he'd just sort of realized maybe he was dominating the conversation. It was really cute.
6. Having Jonah around to give me expert advice on any household project I want to tackle - and having him pitch in to help make my projects happen. Having Aja around to give me expert advice or ideas on just about anything under the sun.
7. Driving Ana to school every morning - hearing her thoughts about things and having her practice the hymns with us as we drove.
8. Seeing my boys (especially Ashton) adoringly play with little Cam out on the empty lot or down in the wash - they'll miss that little guy and his great talents with pretend play so much.
9. Working with Aja on PTA - she always knew how to explain things well and make things happen and Reflections will never be the same without her.
10. Having family right next door - people to share holidays and Sunday dinners with, people to exchange help with, people who care in a way only family really cares.
We loved having them all with us for a few days (and having Grammie and Grandfather join in for the last couple days) and enjoying some last bike rides and meals and talks and good times. We all fell even more in love with sweet little Elsie (Ashton came up to me one day and said "I just don't get how Elsie can be so cute!" and she and Isaac were together like glue whenever Isaac wasn't in school and the twins loved helping her do things and having someone smaller than them around). Ana and Liza did plays and dress-ups galore and everyone thoroughly enjoyed playing with Cam when he wasn't with his beloved friend Heath. And all the kids put together a little "carnival" for everyone for FHE - they had an "animal walk" (like a cake walk), a photo booth, a giant tic tack toe game. Jonah and Aja tied up lots of loose ends and packed and repacked bags to try to get the weight right and get everything they really needed for who knows how long into 10 checked bags and 5 carry-ons. Aja's packing and organization skills are remarkable! They amazingly left almost nothing here and headed off with just the right amount of luggage.
So the house feels a little empty now. It'll be weird to go to church today and not see Aja up there playing the organ. It's weird so see different kids come out of the garage and front door of that house next door. It's weird not to hear (and smell) Jonah and Aja's car heading up the road. It's sad to think of Sunday dinner today with just us. But what good times we had and how grateful we are that we got to live by this great family as long as we did! St. George won't be the same without them - for us or for the many other people who hold Jonah and Aja dear and have learned so much from their example of thrift and adventure and unconventionality and goodness. But we're so happy they're moving on to the adventure they've been craving so much for so long and that we have fun memories to cherish and this lovely place to enjoy thanks in large part to all they did to help us end up here.
We love you Jo, Aja, Ana, Cam and Elsie! And you've always got a place right here in this house you helped us build whenever you want to come back.