Thursday, September 7, 2017

Visiting the North Carolina Sweats

We got to visit the North Carolina Sweats over Labor Day weekend and it was such a fun visit! Andrea has a beautiful guest room that is Andrew's office when they don't have official guests. But since we were official, she even treated us like we were on a cruise ship and put books and treats and cosmetics like lotion and shampoo out on the vanity for us....maybe we don't have to take a cruise.

We were able to see all three of the kids in their element doing the extra-curricular things they love. We got to watch Whitney's ballet troupe while they practiced some numbers. She has such beautiful lines and lyrical styling about her.

We also got to watch Caroline climb rocks like a gazelle. Or whatever species of animal climbs rocks. She is super strong. A feminine beast.

As is Brandon (but obviously not feminine). Here he is hanging by his fingertips for an insanely long period of time. Everywhere we went on the vacation, he would hang from whatever ledge was available. Brandon also teaches a class of younger students during the week. I am at a loss for words when it comes to strength. I do have strong fingers, does that count?

Andrew, Dennis, Caroline and I drove to Kuri Beach first since Andrea had to wait for the older two to finish their school day. It was raining in patches on the drive down, but not as bad as Andrea had later in the day on her drive where it was coming down in torrents.

We had an awesome three-story beach house! Here is the view from the bottom of the stairs where Dennis and I stayed, looking aaaaaaaall the way up to the top! Daunting, but doable.

Beach combers

Such warm water on the Carolina beach. We had perfect boogie boarding waves the next day and everyone enjoyed it, including me! I actually rode waves all the way in. It was raining at one point and my favorite memory is boogie boarding in the rain.

Digging for little muscles and crabs and enjoying the day. I love the colorful beach houses that dot the shoreline.

Kure Beach September, 2017: Brandon, Age 16; Whitney age 13; Andrew age 42; Andrea age 40; Caroline age 9.

It's so great to have 6' 6" Andrew as our built-in selfie stick. Here's proof that I got completely submerged!

And yes, the sun came out! And it was a perfect weekend.

Tony calls me a "crazy grandma" because I think everybody looks like somebody else in the family (they DOOOOO). Can you see a resemblance between Andrew and Ben? 

What I did for the rest of the day.

Caroline and I with "BEACH' hair!

We always get crab at the Deck House one night, and it was every worth minute we had to wait! We did the age-old "how do you measure up?" while we were waiting. Brandon's taller than Dennis, but look, Grandpa's shoulders are still higher than B's. If Dennis had a neck he would be 6 foot 4. He says that's why he was such a good rebounder, deceptive for his height. You don't need a neck to rebound.

Will Brandon ever catch Andrew? I don't think so, although who knows, he's only 16~

Will Whitney catch Andrea? Whitney has blossomed into a woman this past year. She is such a beautiful young woman.


Beach babies!

Pretty sunset (even though the sun doesn't set on the East coast horizon Barbara, no matter how hard you try to find it.).

On the way home, Andrea asked if the girls could ride in one car and belt show tunes. And belt we did. It was awesome! Those girls have such sensational voices and Andrea has a whole ipod of show tunes that she can play in their shiny new van! This doesn't show any belting, but it was going on. I didn't take very many photos this trip. I think I have moved into a phase of less photographing it, but I still like to photograph a ton, and sure love seeing everyone elses.

Our last day of the trip, the kids went back to school, and since Andrew had taken the day off we got to have his company while we drove to Ashboro and toured the Biltmore Estates! Andrea had too many things to do back home, such as picking up children all afternoon and prepping the next day's Seminary lesson, or she would have come too.
Thousands of acres that were planted by a renown gardener and now 100 years later it looks like the forest primevil but it was actually all planned.

I hate to end this post with a toilet, but oh well! The Bible Belt is really rich with faith, let me tell you! Andrew took us to the Biscuit House for yummy breakfast, and this rib place called, oh I can't remember but it's an acronym for Lord Always Bless You or something like that (LABY it is not, but you get the idea). We are so grateful we can visit you kids and love you so much!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Robins and Reunions

Robins played a significant and comforting role in the events surrounding the passing of Wyatt and have continued to do so these past few months.

Angie shared a tender story, that a robin started singing outside their bedroom window in the early morning hours of May 22nd when Wyatt passed away. It was 5:20 a.m. and the sun was just rising.

Then at the gravesite, during the family prayer, a robin burst into song as Wyatt was laid to rest until we meet again.

It's been an answer to prayers in a sweet and unexpected way that through beautiful robins, we can feel Wyatt's spirit near and know he aware of us , oh so close, and learning and experiencing so many things on the other side of the veil. These tender feelings come from the  spirit of the Holy Ghost. Literally "the comforter." My life feels different since Wyatt passed away. There is the grief and longing, and trying to share the loss of Wyatt with Angie and Forrest and Ethan and Elise and Jonas as much as I can, and feeling so far away from them, but also grateful they are open and share their journey with me. But there is also another difference where everything I do, everything around me seems more meaningful, more real. It's a dimension to my life spiritually and physically and emotionally that has never been there before. I attribute it all to Wyatt pulling strings up there. So thank you WyWy. 

As this hot HOT summer began, I remember thinking how much I always look forward to autumn and wondering how I'd feel this year. Last year, I went up the canyons at least 10 times and took photos. Wyatt was in remission, and I was literally taking time to stop and "smell the roses" in a way I'd never done before. Once again, thanks to Wyatt's life and example that opened up a whole new dimension. At the beginning of this summer my feelings were that I thought I'd probably take a year off from going up the canyon.  But as I've felt a tinge of autumn in the air these past couple of days, I have found that I am filled with hope and look forward with anticipation and joy to going up the canyon and taking photo after photo of ORANGE, ORANGE, ORANGE and feeling Wyatt near! I'm very grateful for the gospel that teaches us real, tangible truths about who we are, where we came from and where we are going. It's true.

So, back to robins... The evening we arrived back home after Wyatt's funeral in Minnesota, I looked up and there out the window sat a robin on the fence. Patient, confident and orange. He walked back and forth, his head always turned toward me. I ran and got my i-phone and he obediently stayed until I got this photo.

The next day, my friend Debbie took me to a local nursery to buy me an orange rose bush in remembrance of Wyatt. We lined up four different varieties all in a row to discuss the pros and cons. I pointed to a climbing, fragrant orange rose bush and said that was my selection. And right then a robin directly above us and burst into song. We both looked up and there he was! I could not believe it. It's not like robins are a dime a dozen around here either! Magpies and starlings are everywhere. But robins? Again I was able to get a photo!

 (and the rose bush is thriving!)
 It had 25 new blooms a few weeks ago!

The NEXT day, again a robin. Back and forth and forth and back on the grass. Such a studly robin too! He was pleased as punch that I took his photo and then he was off!

I didn't see another robin for a week (and believe me, I was looking). The next Sunday night I went for a walk along the Jordan River parkway, and really wanted to see a robin. There are hundreds of birds on that path. But not a robin. I'd already had my "threesome" of robins, and didn't want to press my luck. Then, from a distance, I heard a robin call. I stopped in my tracks and looked around but couldn't place him (her?). He kept singing and singing until finally I spied him high up in a tree. If you look closely you can spot him!

That next day, on the OTHER fence, another robin came, beautifully silhouetted in the setting sun, cooling his heels (do robins have heels?) while I grabbed my camera.

And finally, within a few days, one more robin who stayed and stayed until I could take his photo.
All of these visits happened within a 2-week period. And I have not seen a single robin since! Pretty special.

Robins now symbolize a long-awaited joyful future reunion with Wyatt. I will mark time with days and months and earthly years, while he is busy in a sphere where time has a whole different dimension. And so, in keeping with "reunions" here are some photos from our Sweat family reunion! I wanted to get them on this blog, but didn't write much commentary :-) .

We were all able to gather together over the week of the 4th of July for a Sweat Family Reunion. It was awesome! Here we are in front of Tony and Cindy's beautiful house in Springville. I wanted to do something to honor Wyatt and of course he was in my heart and everyone's hearts with everything we did. I decided to get some orange bandanas for the guys and order some orange headbands for the women. But the headbands I wanted to order were coming on a slow boat from China (I'm so spoiled by Amazon!) and the others I found were too expensive, so I made the women's. It was a soothing experience to be working with orange/Wyatt fabrics each night. I made a couple every day and before I knew it I had finished. It's fun to see how everyone wore them, including Forrest who I think was, holding his?

Such fun to hear these two gifted and talented singers harmonize together!

and cook together too! MMMMM, Elise's chocolate lasagna!

We went to Top Golf. It was way fun. It makes me feel like I'm a different kind of person. Like a Country Club chick or something.

Three heads

A Hootenanny!

More budding singers.

Whitney and Andrea practicing a gorgeous arrangement of a hymn she sang at her other grandma and grandpa's sacrament meeting.

Amy and Dave and kids arrived a few days after everyone else. Thank you everyone for doing all of the juggling to be here at the same time!. Here we are trying out a new game which we didn't do very well at but it's fun and in the box now waiting to try it again next year!

On Saturday, July 1, 2017, we had the sacred experience of being together as an eternal family at the Oquirrh Mountain Temple where Forrest and Angie were able to do Wyatt's temple work. I get chills typing it. We went back to that temple just a couple of weeks ago (I'm typing this on August 19th, our 46th wedding anniversary and we're heading out to get crab legs in an hour). But anyway, that last week or so ago,  I was ironing my temple clothes and I WOW, I felt Wyatt's spirit intensely as near as if he were right next to me. I turned around and there was his photo, and he was giving me that wise, playful smile from the beautiful black and white portrait we have here above the computer keyboard. It was unforgettable. Hi Wyatt.

Pirates of the Springville-a-bee-ahn!

We had KFC at a park near Tony's and Cindy's house.

Elise, Reagan and Whitney - gosh, my dream come true for them all to play together! I borrowed two guitars from my neighbors. Thanks neighbors!

Ethan and Elise had to fly back home to Minnesota the day after we had this picnic, so we really enjoyed our time together that night!

Gosh we have a lot of tennis players in our family. It's so fun that so many of us like to do it. The teenagers had a blast playing a game they made up on one of the courts too. I loved watching everyone!

Fair Village. I honestly think I like it better than the girls do :-)

And yummmy Sunday dinner. So great to be able to be together.

Brandon and Carly celebrated birthdays #16 and #7. Their birthdays are a day apart - Carly on July 2nd and Brandon on July 3rd.

We..................went...........................CAMPING! It was AWESOME!!!!!


I actually hardly took any pictures but am so glad Amy and Andrea did! My phone ran out of juice.
And a group photo with great-grandma and great-grandpa Hiatt....who were the ones who helped start this crazy wonderful handsome and beautiful family that I adore!


Visiting the North Carolina Sweats

We got to visit the North Carolina Sweats over Labor Day weekend and it was such a fun visit! Andrea has a beautiful guest room that is ...