There is something about being with the Alders... something fulfilling. And beautiful. And encouraging. And motivating. And inspiring.
Brian's parents revolve around family, and they are masters at expanding and adapting their revolving circle as the needs and circumstances of the family change. They didn't miss a step when I entered into it, and with the addition of each of my children, they have changed their lives to welcome them. They are parents, but I have watched them as they've become grandparents, too. And, through their stories, I can see that they have not forgotten that they themselves are children and grandchildren as well.
This bleeds down into the rest of the family. Each of Brian's siblings are unique and interesting. Each has something different to contribute to the family, and all combine together to make the family setting rich and beautiful.
I know my kids feel it too. Though, mostly they just love being around their only cousins.
We spent a week with these awesome people... here are some of the highlights (and then, I promise, I'll start talking about my life as it is now instead of my life as it was during the summer. Though, lets take a moment to feel the accomplishment of sifting through and editing two thousand summer pictures, and then recording the highlights. Deep breath in, deep breath out... Ah. Feels good.)
1 - Mawwage. Mawwage is wat bwings us togeder today. Mawage, dat bwessed awangement, dat dweam wifin a dweam...
The setting was gorgeous, and don't let this next picture fool you, the kids were energetic and had fun all night. (Though, maybe the picture proves that...?)
2 - Formal birthday parties are fun when you're young and again when you're old.
I love that my children are old enough to now have memories of a great grandparent... Great Grandpa Alder is an inspiration to us all... Happy, hard working, and surrounded by love.
3 - It is miraculous that this quiet patch of earth can be both emotionally draining and emotionally sustaining at the same time.
Brian and I were happy to take time out of a busy day to escape up the hillside for this quiet moment with our children. Timothy was napping, and initially we thought it would be best that way because... well, because he's not really the type to sit still and reverently as we remember what Jess means to us. But now, I'll be honest and admit that a quiet tear just rolled down my cheek as I saw this picture and felt the hollow absence of him. I would have liked all of my children to have been there... toddler energy and all.
But, it was nice to be able to sit in a circle around Jess's grave and to talk with the kids, again, about how beautiful he is to us and to our family. And we might not have been able to do that if we were trying to keep Timothy from balancing on the headstones, or darting into the parking lot, or eating the memorial flowers next to us, or... well, or otherwise behaving like a crazy toddler.
4 - Alder Family Reunions are the best
I'd be lying if I said that the Alder Family Reunion wasn't surrounded by a lot of stress. My mother-in-law, Jean, deals with the brunt of it (she's a planner) as she arranges everything just so. I watch her bat ideas around and then try to juggle the needs and wants of every member of the family who, by nature of being different humans, have different ideas and opinions about how it should go. Bless her for trying to accommodate us all. In the end, we settled on a beautiful cabin in Eden, Utah with an incredible view.
This year she brought all of the family history books she has collected over the years. She piled them on the giant coffee table, and it provided hours of enjoyable reflection as we poured through them. There were stories and pictures of our history all the way from great-grandparents down to the family calendar I made with my own hands just last year. It was incredible to be able to see all those years thrown together in such a small pile on one table.
I spent one afternoon getting snapshots of each person for Jean to make a little remembrance book.
And aside from that, we spent the time relaxing. And eating.
And playing in the rocks.
And patrolling the doors. TK took it upon himself to be in charge of all open doors. They were unacceptable, in his opinion, and soon were slammed shut.
One afternoon, we took the kids for a hike. Which ended up being less of a hike and more of a 'drag the kids up (and down) a giant mountain on a trail that was most certainly intended for ATV's and not for human feet'. But when the trail ended up being steep enough that it would have been impossible not to use our hands, we decided to call it a day. It ended up giving (some of) us a sense of accomplishment and (all of us) a pretty view, anyway.
Sorry, Miles... you are going to have to get down somehow...
We ended the reunion with a scavenger hunt put together by Brian's oldest brother, Steve. The kids had a blast,
and the scavenger hunt was so well organized that every single child had fun.
5 - Sometimes people ask me to take pictures of their family. I'm always nervous, but thankfully my sister-in-law has a gorgeous family that is hard to mess up.
We stopped off at Heidi's house just before we left to have one last hot-dog BBQ and to take some pictures of Mary's family. Brian was so helpful and actually let me drag him around the backyard to take pictures of him as I experimented with the light. I'm not even going to tell you what he found so funny here... because it might have had to do with me being indecently exposed as I bent over to take the picture. (Man, I gotta watch that.)
And since the camera was out, and these two were sitting in the hammock all cute-looking with Jack by their side...
Alders, we sure love you!