Thanks for all the sweet comments on the last post.  I am forever grateful for Kara and Aubrey for capturing that day.  Kara is so talented…check out all her DIY things on her blog HERE and more great photography and ponderings…she blows me away.  And Aubrey, don’t you think she should start a business doing these videos?  She could capture so many things with those skills!  Both of those videos are done by her…the first is just an excerpt of the second.  Check out more of her stuff HERE. Thank you Aubrey and Kara!
It is hard to believe Max has been home for a week and a day. We all just keep looking at him and each other and are just in awe that we get him right here with us.
A few of the things I love about this returned missionary of ours:
–he offers to help all the time
–he is so patient with everything…this is so much change for him and he just goes with the flow…even smiles and says “sure!” whenever I want to take a picture:)
–he wants to plan everything out…he got a phone and put a calendar right on there first thing.  Elle was laughing because somehow all of his “alerts” were going to her phone.  One was a “reminder” at 6:30 in the morning to “tell all my sisters I love them.”  That is a heart-melter I tell you!
–he has so much self-discipline to study and eat well and exercise and study his scriptures some more.  
So much more, but for now, let’s go back to the airport day and continue that airport aftermath from the last blog post…
We drove home asking a million questions and having Max in awe at how wide and straight the streets are and how big the cars are and how different everything looks.
My brother Josh met us at our house:

…so excited to see his nephew (he had some work meetings before and couldn’t get away for the airport).

…and I couldn’t stop being amazed that we had all FIVE of these kids together:

The best gift ever for a mother.

We had chicken tikka masala (our family favorite) for dinner at Max’s request:

And it was just so surreal having him sit there across from us smiling and laughing and just THERE.

Had a couple visits from friends….

And then it was time for him to be “released” as a missionary in a little meeting in our family room with the stake president from our church.

Man, I could do a whole blog post about that meeting.  It was pretty beautiful.  That stake president asked us all such interesting questions and gave Max the opportunity to share some of his thoughts and feelings from the past two years that were so beautifully expressed.

I wish a picture could capture the beauty of how that felt.
We spent the rest of the night just together.  
Taught him all about Bo Jangles….ha!

I loved helping him unpack and watching him show all his sisters his Chinese scriptures and tell us more little details about how he studied, how he taught, how he learned, how he grew.  

Chinese flash cards:

And most of all I loved hearing about all those people he fell in love with over there in Taiwan and knowing with such a surety that they have changed his life for the better in more ways than he will probably ever even comprehend.
And hoping that that light of his changed many of theirs too.  
So much more to share that is so hard to explain.
The next few days were kind of dreamy having everyone home.
When the little girls were in school we hung out with these two:

My heart was just singing the whole time I tell you.

We went to lunch and talked and talked…and did something we all hate…happily:

We shopped.

(happened to run into a friend who took a pic so we could remember that…)

None of us are much of shoppers (some of us abhor it actually), but Max’s stuff was pretty much thread-bare by this time…

…and it’s always a fun game to help Elle find long enough jeans…which is pretty dang tough:


I just kept looking over at those two tall children of mine and just had to smile so big I could hardly see (because I can’t smile that big with my eyes open).

It was really, really great.

Lucy was delighted that Max could walk to school with us:

We took bike rides to enjoy the amazing weather here:

We bowled:

(And I got whipped by everyone.)

We ate yogurt…because that’s kind of a must when you have all your kids with you for some reason 🙂

Max was anxious to get back on his board…and the girls were pretty delighted with that.
They skated until the sun went down.
We played some tennis:

…and shopped a little more 🙂

Had some conversations in the hot tub.

I just held on to those moments with all my might.  

There was one evening where Dave was on a conference call and it was just me and the kids sitting in the family room talking.  All the kids.  All my children who I adore with all my heart.  

And I just sat there and took them in, in awe and gratitude that they are mine.  
I know I can’t hold on to them forever.  That knowledge is what made those days even more precious.  They all have to grow up.  They will all leave on different paths one by one.  Elle is already gone, Max will be gone before too long.  And before I know it Grace will graduate.  But I’m so grateful I get to be there along the way to cheer for them and watch them fly.
So grateful for this family.
…and that that extra-tall one is back, a wealth of knowledge and experiences and growing tucked into his heart and soul.  
Missions are the best.

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  1. I'm so happy that all of your 71 toes were under the same roof together!

    Love, love the photo of Max & Elle in the front seat and you and Dave in the back – such a great metaphor for changes in a family as kids grow up.

    Thanks for sharing all of this with us. I get teary-eyed at how loving, strong, and tight your family is.

  2. Im so happy….for your happiness!!! 🙂
    When I heard the news about the earthquake in Taiwan, I remembered Max! Thank God he's back 🙂
    And then, I thought to myself about how weird it was to remember this family, from another continent, from another world, another culture, who doesn't now me, but somehow I "visit" them, every week.

    Wish you all the best ! 🙂

    p.s. I agree..Missionaries are the best!!

    1. Me too 🙂 Reading about this wonderful family for years, the whole Atlantic ocean in between us (I am in Malta). So happy that everyone is together. I always get inspired and filled with love while reading Shawni's blog. I am an atheist, but oh boy, does the positive energy of this family speak to me!

  3. Can he take some class, even online, to work toward his degree until the next official semester begins? I suppose this would be a situation for enough students at BYU schools.

    1. I would think BYU would have an online solution themselves or should look into it creating such a thing. A few at your own pace online elective classes. I remember the time of life between one school and the next, or between school and full time work. Those are such freeing times in life.

    2. Yep he's all set. We looked into semester classes but there wasn't anything that would work since he hasn't declared his major yet, tried online too, but he's decided to work full time and start school again spring semester. He really needs to work so it's going to work out great.

  4. I'm behind on my blog reading so I hope you still get this. I LOVE Cacti. Where did Max get the shirt he's wearing above on the tandem bike please? tyvm!

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