After school got out, we got the opportunity to join up with these girls in California a couple days after they got there:

Loved getting to spend some time with them and have more windows into the pre-senior-year thing for them.

We had a little home-family-church (complete with ice cream) before they left on Sunday. Dave led a great discussion talking about testimonies. Claire was squirming and embarrassed at first but then she settled in and I think she was actually pretty pleased about that little situation.

Then it was down to just the four of us for a day or two.

We had dinner with Dave’s cousin and her family who were there at the same time:

And enjoyed all the beauty Newport has to offer.

The girls and I are reading “Where the Wind Leads,” one that I’ve read before (talked about it back HERE) and one I figured they would really like (we are still reading and loving that thing):

We also got together with Dave’s cousin from the other side and his family who live close-by. We never get to see them and it was SO great to get caught up!

And then the family party began with Max & Abby’s arrival:


We were so excited we got to celebrate Max’s birthday together. We didn’t have many supplies there, but nothing a ream of construction paper can’t handle:)

To celebrate, we got our favorite acai bowls:

Played pickleball, hung on the beach, talked to our missionary:

Ate at our Taiwanese favorite (in honor of his mission): Din Tai Fung:

And I think he felt thoroughly celebrated.

Later that night, as the best bday gift of the day, these two arrived:

And we were pretty dang happy to be all together.

Sweetest brother-in-law right there!

These guys always make up funny things to do.

And Crystal Cove is so beautiful!

We had to do our traditional tinfoil beach dinners:

And lots of games:

It had been chilly the first day, so this blue sky was SO welcome. I basked in it and cherished every moment of it.

Then came game night where Lucy lost. The agreed-upon consequence was that the loser had to jump in the bay. Oh that girl was all-in with her trash talking and proclaiming the loser really did have to jump in that water. But she lost that gusto pretty speedy quick when Dave read out the scores and she realized she was the lowest! But that girl put on her swimsuit and a giant smile and we all walked out together for the big dare.

And that girl jumped right in. (With her family so very sweetly cheering her on.)

It was such a fun memory we won’t soon forget.

Oh togetherness is such a very good thing, even when it’s just for a couple days, and especially when you all live far apart and life gets crazy. I was thankful every single moment, my heart almost hurt with gratitude.

Dave’s too.

We all split up after that…Elle and Lar first on a long and delayed layover flight to arrive back to their little apartment in Miami at 2:00am, Claire, Lu, Dave and I later that evening to get ready for 5:30am volleyball workshops for Claire, and Max and Abby finally got home the next day after a six hour delay (allegiant) to get back to to their little apartment.

But I think we’d all agree that time was golden, even filled up partially with worries. I am the luckiest to call them all mine, as well as that golden girl of ours in Texas who calls us “y’all” and who we missed so much!

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  1. Just love your blog so so much. I adore your sharing and the love you and your family has for one another. I always come away feeling good. We have 3 in their thirties and conflict. 2 speak to each other… the 1 doesn’t speak to either. Our gatherings are no more. The turmoil that ensues coupled by the distance of 3 different states just became too much. So… I get the chance to enjoy “ family” through my blogs. ( this and the True Love of the Savior my Lord, Jesus Christ). The comforter. Thank you Shawni.

    1. Oh C, I’m so sorry there is conflict going on in your family. I am sending you love and hope that time will begin to heal the differences. I obviously don’t know the details of your situation, but I have seen miracles in family relationships and I pray that maybe yours can be one of them. Don’t lose hope! Thank you for your kindness, and I’m so glad if you feel good when you come here.

  2. What a fun trip. Those times are treasured.

    Have Elle & Carson being sealed yet? Or did I totally miss that post?

    1. Good question Emily, and I feel bad because your comment reminded me someone else asked this question and I don’t think I ever came back to reply! Anyway, no, you didn’t miss that. We are trying to coordinate the sealing with a party, and it’s been really tricky to figure out timing with Carson’s school and Elle’s work (this was a spur-of-the-moment-cheap-ticket deal, and we need some time to prepare). We are hoping for August or November and we are anxiously anticipating finally being able to celebrate these two and to be able to share in their sealing.

  3. The newly married look so happy. So does the long time married :). The plane woes fill me with trepidation as we are soon to leave to see family in Europe. International covid protocols seems so fluid right now. What good times you have and how smart you are to recognize the blessing of it all. I hope the worries aren’t too big with the kids. It’s always there isn’t it!

    1. Yes it is. Always someone to worry about, and it doesn’t stop when they leave home. But it sure is a beautiful thing to work together to figure things out. Good luck traveling to Europe, Claire will be traveling there for her internship so we’ve been keeping tabs on it and I think it feels more and more safe and safe-guarded which I’m so grateful for!

  4. Hi Shawni

    My Daughter loves Claires necklaces. Can you maybe please ask her where she got them from!!

    1. I think her friend made the one she’s wearing in these pictures. Is that what you’re talking about?

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