Is there anything cuter than an eight year old?...their cute crooked teeth, their cute endless telling of knock- knock jokes, their cute enthusiasm for school,
...the cute endearing way they can feed and dress themselves and
take care of all their own physical needs.
any mother's dream.
I think eight year olds give me the least amount of trouble.
Yes, eight is a pretty tolerable age.

If you think one eight year old is pretty cute,
how about two eight year olds?

And then, how about two little eight year old cousins?
 It's like they took cute pills, or got cute injections,
 or used cute cream on their rough spots. 
It's like they took cute lessons or have cute superpowers  

It's like they were saving up all their cuteness for this moment.
So our little firecrackers Rivey Jane and her cousin Loxy (like goldie Loxy) were scheduled to be baptized at the first of December...together!
cute overload huh!
River started counting down in July, and I was likewise counting down the days until my parents came home from their mission on November 30th.

arriving just three days before River's baptism.

River reported daily;
"only one hundred twenty six days until I get baptized!..."
"only one hundred....twenty three days until grandma and grandpa come home!..."
on and on and on.
OK, that part was not cute.

The week or two before my parents big homecoming, 
my family got together at the 'ol homestead to give the place a spit shine. 

It was our chance to go through mom and dad's stuff and really wipe out
 anything that my parents had been holding on to;
burn a few antiques, anything old looking...
rearrange their belongings...
donate a bunch of boxes to charity that were labeled "precious, keep safe"
...you know, really spruce the place up. 
 Wes had a strange meniacal laugh as he worked. 
 and then bright and early on the 30th we all rendezvoued at Salt Lake City International.
(except sadly for Will and his wife Kimi. Will was able to call though)

This may or may not have been my parents airplane.

I took a picture just in case. Wouldn't that have been awesome!

We all practically ran through the airport with a spring in our step,

Brett was trying to do the moonwalk on the people mover.

Kal in his African outfit was Elder and Sister Neves' #1 fan. 

And then once we all met up, we began the waiting.
With big smiles on our faces, signs in our hands, and a few new babies in our arms.

"I feel my body" is one of my dad's favorite African phrases, meaning "I'm not feeling well."
I can just imagine what the people in the airport thought of Luke as he waved this sign around.
 And so we continued to wait...

the girls decided to dress up like six years olds since they promised
Grandpa they wouldn't do any growing up while he was gone.
Hallie thought they said "sixteen year olds"

And again we waited and waited...
it was a nail biter. (oh that's lovely Hilary)
Each announcement was closely listened to with anxiousness.

We counted on Jared for a little comic relief, (come on Jer, give us something) 

Each person that stepped on the escalator we held our breath in anticipation.

my brother Wes tried to sneak off up the stairs to be the first one to see my parents.
He was just insuring his place as the favorite child until we caught him and shamed him into coming back.
This is the view from the top of the escalator as we waited.
It was tough trying to keep all the kids corralled and calm and behind the line
as we waited and waited...
We instructed all the kids to not race up to them,
but just to wait until Grandma and Grandpa got off the escalator to give them hugs.

And then....

Just about when we thought they missed their flight,

Just when we thought they decided to stay in Africa,

we saw a familiar face peek around the corner...


                                            after a year and a half, it was really them!
Their descend down the escalator was incredibly slow as my parents took it all in.

It was all pretty emotional.
Maybe we should've just let the kids swarm them. They finally did.

It was overwhelming for me, I can't imagine how my parents felt.

As far as homecomings go, this was a pretty good one.
It wasn't loud and crazy, just tender and sweet.

 There were a few introductions of new babies and namesakes.

"Grandpa, sweet baby James.....sweet baby James, Grandpa."

 Dallon was showing off a little facial hair, 
someone in the family has to grow it.  

Gracie was so proud of her little brother, showing my mom Cash's little one year old tiny steps.

My Dad made sure to check out each one of his grand kids,
 inspecting them, measuring them...
making sure they were his.

My mom gathered her granddaughters around to tell them how she managed herself in Sierra Leone and especially how she fended off  all the marriage proposals. 

Quincy wanted to make sure her grandpa knew she was already potty trained.
Grandpa teased Quincy that he thought she was still wearing a diaper.
" No I not Grandpa!"
We caught Wade and Danny sneaking off to become international men of mystery

We took a bunch of pictures, making a spectacle of ourselves.
And then I had a fleeting thought "wow, that went by really fast..."

May 30th, 2010                                              November 30th, 2011
Eighteen months later we had them back again...
   a little tougher, and thinner and happier and tired'er.

If you know me at all, you know I hate goodbyes.
So leaving the airport with my parents in tow was like breathing a big sigh of relief.

I realize, even as I type this that these pictures
 which are still in recent memories will someday be priceless.

I have the luxury of having my parents and my family home with me.
 Something that I know not everyone has.
Dean told me just the other day how much he wished his Dad could see our kids grow up.
I treasure these happy days.   

At one point Dean looked at me after I was all cried out and said, "you happy now?"
yep I was. all full of happy.

... And just when I thought I had all the happiness I deserved ...
three days later, River and Loxy were baptized.
 River just reminded me that this post is about her.
OK, now back to cute.
It was a wonderful day, as all baptism days are.
It was a day that I failed to enjoy like I should have because I was worried about having enough rolls and spoons and if I remembered the lemons for the ice water. silly huh.

River's asked her big brother Brett to baptize her,
and her Dad to confirm her. Dean was reluctant to give up the honor, but proud to do so.

Watching my oldest son tenderly take his little sister's hand in the water was one of those moments that was forever etched in my heart even as it was happening.
 two cool kids.

River and Loxy sang the song "Where is Heaven"
and our friend Judy sang to both girls a special song that she wrote.

But first, one quick word about River's baptism dress.
I had something specific in mind when I looked for a baptism dress for RJ.
I just didn't see it anywhere in the stores or online.
Then at a yard sale in the fall, I found a dainty little vintage bottom of an apron.
 (the one on the right)  
 I had my vision!
I bought it for a quarter. That was to be the skirt of her dress.
The top part of the dress was another apron that I found and purchased at the antique store
 along the freeway. (the apron on the left)
This one I paid $12.00 for. The material was a perfect match.  

My miracle worker mother-in-law and I worked for a few days to make all the pattern pieces fit and to come up with a baptism dress constructed from cast-off aprons.
 Here is the end result. A dress fit for a princess
                                       The sleeves of the dress were the hem of the apron.
I cried when I saw it on her.    

Loxy's little dress was made from her Grandmother's wedding dress.
Her Grandma Colleen was smiling down for sure.
River and Loxy took it upon themselves to be the party hosts
of three combined extended families.
oh they had a rough job.

we fed a crowd, and were thrilled to see all our friends and family.
 River with her Grandpa and her uncle Virg assuring them she loves them both the same.

Riv trying not to play favorites with Aunt Karen and Uncle Jim 

Everyone treated River like royalty
 Lox Marie and her Aunt Tammy Marie

 Riv and her uncle Josh, who apparently lets his five year old do his hair.
Loxy feelin the love with her mom and auntie
Loxy and her daddio.
 jet-lagged? or just same old Grandpa?

It was one of those days that when it was all said and done and over with,
I wished I could've woke up again that morning and started it all over.
It was that wonderful.

The day was perfect.
Yes...I burnt, no...I scorched a huge pot of my best batch ever of tomato basil soup that morning,
and yes I was running late, and yes I snapped and yelled at my kids and husband that day
and even got mad at the baptism girl herself...
(although a jury would've sided with me)

but it was truly a happy day...

my orneriness was just my four hours sleep in three days talking.

I believe these Happy, Perfect Days are given to us to allow us to trudge through those days when the wind howls
and the children are rebellious,
the relationships are dysfunctional
the house is disastrous, 
little noses are runny,
the money is scarce, 
waistlines are pudgy,
 and the neighbors seem to hate us.  

The Happy Days are what gets us through.

Is it just me or does it look like I have River in a choke hold...
she looks a little scared.


twocuff said…
You rock Hillary!!
Ali said…
Hil - You made me cry happy tears. I'm so glad you parents got home safe - and you are a genius with the gorgeous baptism dress!!!!

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