Thursday, August 29, 2013

Grace's Baptism

I have put off blogging about Grace's big day for so long that now I can barely remember it!!
Luckily, a few days after her baptism, I wrote Grace a letter.   Here's an edited version of what I wrote:


I am so proud of you for getting baptized.  I have so many things i want you to know and remember about that day.  So, bear with me here...

It was such a beautiful day.  The weather, which had been threatening to rain, cooperated nicely.  Your Grandpa Ashworth and Grandpa and Grandma Allred were here, along with Karen. and Tommy, Julia, and Nathan.
Grace with her living grandparents

Your Grandma Allred made you a beautiful quilt, in your favorite color--blue.
Grace with her beautiful quilt, handmade by her Grandma Allred

Julia and you went for a walk to Walgreens to get some white nail polish (which you'd insisted upon, to match your white dress) and while there Julia bought you the pearl headband that you ended up wearing.
Grace getting her nails painted by Aunt Julia

As you were getting ready, you told me several times that you had butterflies in your stomach.  But as nervous as you were, you were still so kind to everyone who came to support you.  And there were so many people who came--friends and teachers from school, friends from soccer, friends from girl scouts--all because you're so great and they love you!!
A few of the friends who came over to our house for dinner afterwards

You had a soccer game that day at 11am, then Abby's game at 1pm, then your baptism at 4:30.  It was a long day for an 8 year old.  

My cute little soccer star!

The whole crew at Grace's soccer game, before her baptism

You looked sooooo beautiful in your dress.  You wanted your hair in a braid down your back before the baptism, and then just to wear it down with the headband after you were baptized--and you looked so cute both ways!

You and Dad practiced at least 5 times, if not more.  In the front room, after Family Night and other times, too.  You wanted to be sure that you knew exactly what to do.

Originally you and your sisters--all three--were going to sing "I'm trying to be like Jesus" but then, after a small blunder at your elementary school talent show weeks ago, you announced that you would not be singing at your baptism.  And then, the morning of the baptism Eliza announced that she, too, was not going to sing.  So it was left to Abby to sing  a solo--which she did.  And it was beautiful.  She was so nervous, in fact she asked me right before if we could change it to just one verse, which we did.  But she did such a great job.  I hope you remember what she did for you--she looks up to you so much and really would do just about anything for you.

Braelyn, who was your first friend you made when we moved here 7 years ago, shared this day with you.  We've watched you girls grow together these past seven years, and it was so fun sharing the day with her and her family.  She got baptized first, and then you were second.
Grace and Braelyn--friends for 7 years!

Braelyn, Grace, and Serena (friend from her soccer team)

The water was cold, as I'm sure you'll remember.  My eyes filled with tears when your dad said the prayer.  Hearing YOUR name, my baby girl's name was just so exciting and enough to make me want to explode with joy!!

You'd asked me to say the closing prayer, but I'd been struck dumb--quite literally.  I've never lost my voice before.  And I doubt I'll ever lose it again.  I firmly believe that I lost my voice that day because I'm too loud and overbearing, and without a voice I had no choice but to shut up and just let you have your day--all to yourself!  Sometime here at the house, after the baptism, it came back.  It was too coincidental to be anything other than divine intervention. :)  

I was so happy to be the one to help you out of the water.  The bathroom was FREEZING cold--the AC was so high.  And you were shivering so much.  I got you dressed as quickly as I could, hoping to warm you up.  You were so cute in your dress, your headband, your pearly-white fingernails--I just felt so much joy and happiness...and mostly you just felt cold :)
The next day, when Dad asked you to write down some of your thoughts, you told him, several times, that all you could remember was that it was cold.  After hearing it so many times, it finally just really hurt his feelings, and he got really upset with you, which in turn made you upset.  It was the exact opposite of what he was trying to do.  He felt bad.  You felt bad.  And I was worried that all you'd ever remember was your Dad getting mad and the water being cold.  But I've noticed, as the days have passed by, you've had more of a chance to think about the parts of your baptism day that meant the most to you.  And i hope that you'll always realize just how awesome it is that you have a father who honors his priesthood and was able to baptize you!!
I love you.  So much, Grace.  You are just an amazing girl.  You are thoughtful.  You're considerate of how others feel.  You want to do what's right.  You try so hard to be kind to your sisters--even when they're totally bugging you.  You're helpful around the house.  You're really good at communicating (as long as you're in a good mood :).  And have righteous desires--desires to understand and obey God's commandments.  I feel so lucky that God has given me the role of being your mom.  I hope we'll always be as close as we are now.  Chances are there'll be few ugly years when adolescence hits...but as long as we can pull through that, we'll be golden :)

I love you!!  --Mom"

Monday, August 12, 2013

Karen's Wedding/Trip to D.C.

Just a few days after Grace's epic birthday party we took the whole crew to Baltimore for Karen's wedding.  (Remember how she and Tommy got engaged at our house on Thanksgiving?? They finally got married!)

Originally just Reid and I were gonna go.  But ticket prices dropped, and arranging childcare felt more overwhelming than just taking the kids with us--so we made a big ole vacation out of it.

Day One:

My fear of flying is greatly subdued when my spouse and all our dependents are on the plane with us.  It's almost enjoyable actually.  The girls did great.  James finally fell asleep.  The people on our rows actually liked kids--it was an ideal flight, really.

We landed, got the rental car (which Grace was so in love with she asked if she could use her allowance to pay for us to always drive a rental car because they're "so clean!!") and headed to Alisa's house where all the Allreds, plus a delicious picnic dinner, awaited us.  We chatted about how green and lush and warm and beautiful everything was.  And I was starting to feel a tinge of why-don't-i-live-in-the-east??? when Alisa started talking about the lice, the ticks, the humidity and the spiders.  Thank you for the reminder!!

Day Two:

While everyone else made themselves useful in wedding preparations, we ditched and took the kids (minus a napping James) on a really quick trip Gettysburg.  It was beautiful, informative, and sobering, and I'd like to go back someday when we have more time!!

Outside of the Gettysburg museum
Inside at the Gettysburg Cyclorama painting
Day Three: The Wedding

Okay, before I show wedding pictures, I must tell you about the dresses my girls wore.  I knew I wanted to make their dresses since shopping for dresses overwhelms me and sewing them soothes my 200-year old soul.  But it wasn't until Karen chose the color peach that i knew exactly where I wanted to go with this.

You see, that is the same color that my sister, Melanie, chose for her wedding 23 years ago.  And it just so happens that Julia and I, being the sentimental beings we are, held onto our handmade (by our mom and grandma) peach Bridesmaids dresses all these years.  And it just so happens that of the many ugly styles of the late 80's that have made their way back into our current clothing repertoire, these dresses were not among them.

So, I cut and cropped and unpicked and sewed, and unpicked some more, and....voila! Upcycled bridemaid dresses!

Julia's dress (well, the bottom half) became...

Abby's dress

And my Pollyana-inspired drop-waisted pirate-sleeved dress became...

Eliza's dress!

Since Grace was getting baptized just days after we'd get home from the wedding, I decided to throw a peach sash on her ivory baptism dress I'd made for her and call it a two-fer.
And James, though completely uncooperative with the camera, looked quite dapper in his black tuxedo that I bought 8 months earlier in the costume section at GoodWill  (such foresight!)

The wedding was beautiful.  It was so nice being inside the temple with Reid's parents and all of his siblings. (Tom's wife, Jana, was greatly missed.  She was at home with 2-week old twins!!)  Karen looked out-of-this-world gorgeous.  And the words of council that Tommy's Grandfather gave were worthy of being written down.  I really hope someone did, since I can't remember a bit of what he said.

The girls loved all the excitement around the event.  I'm so glad that we abandoned our plans of leaving them here.  I think Karen liked having so many of her nieces/nephews around her.  Tommy tolerated it, too. :)

Alisa did the photography for the event (8 months pregnant and all!) so I just snuck in beside her, after she posed people, and took a few shots.  Of course her's turned out about a billion times better.  But I don't have hers, so here are a few of my shots of the day:

Day Four

We slept in, ate donuts, recovered from a pretty tiring day, went on a picnic, took the kids "fishing", enjoyed being with family, and didn't take a single photo.

Day Five

My little brother and his wife were in DC that weekend for a get-a-way, and Alisa was kind enough to let them come crash at her house all Sunday.  Jared and Kristie are great and all, but really it's my little niece Alia that i was dying to see! :) Oh, that girl is so stinkin' cute!  She's 4 months older than James but talks like a 5 year old.  She is chubby, and sweet, and reminds me of everything I loved about my sweet round baby girls!
And Jared claims that he's just as excited to see my kids.  That's nice, 'cause they sure do like him.

Alisa has the world's awesomest tree swing in her backyard.  The kids made it look so easy.

 Reid made it look...ahem...less easy
I was perfectly fine not swinging at all, but my kids insisted.  I, of course, complied.  And screamed like a child the whole time!  I'm so brave.
While the kids played in the sandbox, got ticks and lice and Lime's Disease i'm sure, we adults just chatted about life, and how much easier parenting was before we had kids.  

 The conversation soon turned to baked goods, as all good conversations do, and it turns out that Alisa, Kristie and Reid ALL believe that they make the best chocolate chip cookies.  There was only one way to find out for sure!

The three contestants with their goods laid out in front of them

We all did a blind taste-test and cast votes to determine the best cookie. I honestly can't remember the outcome.  Six dozen cookies later, I think it'd be fair to say we were all winners.  

Day Six: 

We were really excited to show the kids Washington D.C.  Sometimes when Reid and I are really excited about something, the kids feel the need to balance our eagerness with some apathy and grumbling.  But, unless my memory fails me, they were all pretty pleasant this day!
Abby holding the entire Washington Monument in her hands--scaffolding and all.
Eliza, Abby, Ella and Grace in front of the ever-impressive Lincoln Monument
Grandma with her grandkids, including a very ornery Kate and James

These girls aren't angry, they're just trying to look like MLK...who actually looks angry.  Rightfully so. 
Being silly at the FDR monument

Korean War monument.  I'm telling myself that Grace was pensively gazing at the reflection and thinking about her grandpa Ashworth who was in the Korean war.  There's a chance she was just tired.
I'd never seen the Martin Luther King monument before.  It's really breathtaking.  Grace learned quite a bit about him in school this year, so that made it even cooler. Abby loved the Lincoln monument, especially after all we'd learned about him at Gettysburg just days earlier.  Eliza liked the reflection pools.  And James liked to cry lots until we gave him another snack.

As for me, I can safely say that everything I currently know about FDR I learned walking through that monument.  Why didn't any of his MANY accomplishments ring a bell? Seriously--did I go to school?  Where did all of that info end up?   Why can't I access it when my children ask me questions?  Someday they're gonna ask me why they even have to go to school.  Heaven's knows i won't have an answer for that!

We also went to the Museum of Natural History, but i didn't get any great photos of that.  We were pretty tired and hungry by that point.  We headed back to Alisa's house, via back roads and scenic byways, passing beautiful estates and charming cottages all along some verrrrry windy roads.  If I hadn't made the car stop to puke on the side of the road, it would have been my favorite part of the day.

Day Seven

We spent the morning at Alisa's house.  My children (one, in particular) caused all sorts of hurt feelings, which is how we knew it was time for us to head back home.  We were so thankful that Alisa's family put up with us for as long as they did!

It would have been nice to come back home and spend a few days relaxing, but we had exactly 48 hours before family and friends would start arriving for the big weekend--Grace's baptism!!!