18 September 2014

Family Weddings ROCK.

Sean and I traveled to Utah last weekend for my cousin Heidi's wedding.
It was such a beautiful wedding and we both felt it was one of THE best weddings we had ever been to. Not just because it was a beautiful location (it was!) but because of the emotion behind this obviously very special couple. Heidi is one of my most favorite cousins. She is and always has always been the sweetest, most genuine person. I love her to pieces. She and Patrick wrote their own vows (tears!) and learned a special, choreographed dance for their first dance (more tears!). It was such a touching event.
It was also a bittersweet event for me (as most things are, these days).
I wasn't supposed to be at this wedding.
I was supposed to be only a few weeks from my due date and unable to travel. This wedding was just one of many events that are different than I thought they would be - all part of my "new" life after such a hard loss. This fact was on my mind so much over the weekend and with it brought some waves of sadness but mixed in with that sadness was so much happiness. I loved spending a few days with all of my family - my aunts, uncles and cousins are so wonderful and I cherish our time together. Because most of them live in Montana, I don't get to see them as much as I would like.
The weekend was full of family time but also full of fun couple time for Sean and I.
With two small kids, things like afternoon naps, mid-day beers, sleeping in and leisurely dinners are not part of our everyday life so we enjoyed every second of those little luxuries. Because we weren't chasing our kiddos around the wedding, we got to really take it all in and we had a ball visiting, eating, drinking and dancing. This may sound terrible to some but I kind of love leaving my kids for a couple days. I think it is good and healthy for all of us. Its important for us as a couple to be able to re-charge and re-connect with each other as the day to day grind of work and parenting can be tiring. A few days away together allows us to stay strong so we can continue to be strong parents and a strong family unit. I am acutely aware of the fact that, if we do our jobs well, these kiddos are going to grow up and fly from our nest. I want the two people left behind to still be strong and connected when that happens. Plus, its great for the girls to spend time with their grandparents and vise versa.  And by the end of the trip, we were so excited to come home to our girls and the hugs and kisses all around were that much sweeter.
Coolest bride ever. Serving wine at her own wedding :)
My cousin Seth, his wife Erin and their cute girls.
 My wonderful Aunt Sharon and I... love her.  
 Aunt Jeanie and Danielle
 Uncle Joe and Aunt Laura
 Cousins Brett and Andrea
 Uncle Ralph and Aunt Sharon
Uncle Mike and Kim
 Cousin Bryan and his wife Courtney
Mom and Dave  
Cousins Rob, Rachael and Reed  

 Aunt Jeanie and cousin Ava
Rachael, Heidi, me and Marilee  
Growing up, we called ourselves "the four musketeers."
We spent the most amazing summers together in Montana.
Love these beautiful girls so much...proud to call them cousins ... and friends.
 All of us first cousins that were in attendance... believe it or not, this is only about half of us. :)
 Sean with my cousins Seth, Patrick and Reed  
Aunt Jeanie and Uncle Pat  
 Cousin Pat and his wife Shelley
Pat and his oldest daughter Madison... love this photo!  
 Aunt Judy and Uncle Bill with the beautiful bride
 Cousin Robbie and his awesome wife, Krista
 The person I was most excited to see on this trip was my cousin Rachael. Though we stay in close contact, we hadn't actually seen each other in a long time and we hadn't seen each other since losing Lexie. Rachael and I were close as kids but have grown even closer as adults. She played an instrumental role in our Lexie journey - more than she may ever know.
 I truly think of her as more of a sister than a cousin.
 Rachael is pregnant with her second baby and due in November.
She is one of the people in my life who was due after me.
Our babies were only supposed to be about six weeks apart in age - a fact we had been so excited about. So it was pretty special when I saw her and her baby bump.
Special and happy and sad and bittersweet all mixed together.
I am learning to live with all of those feelings all the time.
"Small smiles... big steps"...  right, Rach? :)
As we were leaving on Sunday she handed me a card that I will always cherish. Rach and I have always had a mutual love of the fall season. Her words were encouraging yet acknowledging of how difficult this fall season is for me. I will cherish her card forever and  I have it sitting on my desk in my office now. On the back of the envelope there was a saying that she had highlighted... I almost missed it but while I was waiting in line at the airport it caught my eye.
It says: 
Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. The hummingbird's delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life's sweetest creation.
Of course I thought of my little Lexie.
My own little hummingbird who has certainly reminded me of all the beauty life has to offer.

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