There is something almost holy to me about having your whole family together after some have left. I don’t think you can ever explain it until you are in it, and even then, there are not words.  There is just love just filling up the air and oozing out of all the pores in your whole body.  I’m dramatic I know, but to me this past weekend was a holy one.

It was a blurry one too, there were so many comings and goings and I didn’t get much sleep. There were a lot of other family members here too.  My parents came to town at the same time. They wanted to see Grace and Claire’s last tennis match of the season and my dad had his own tennis match here. A bunch of extra cousins were in town too…Dave’s sister and her family were here for a week, then the kids left and her college daughter McKenna, who is another of Elle’s best friends joined us in time for the wedding and stayed with us a couple nights, and Dave’s oldest brother and his wife and another sister came to town too.

Before people started coming, Grace and I snuck off with one of her friends to take some senior pictures.  It was so windy but we wanted to give it a whirl.  I’ll have to post our favorites soon.

Grammie and Grandfather arrived first. Their flight was late so they missed dinner with everyone but it was fun for Dave and I to have them to ourselves while the girls were all at mutual camp kick-off.
I took my Mom on my BrainFood route, and we talked deep about so many things, but mostly family revelation (she, my dad and my sister are deep into writing a book about that right now).  Boy, I’m so grateful for the pathway we sometimes don’t recognize until we’re past it.
We went to Grace and Claire’s last tennis match of the season.

Grace was playing practically the whole time so I didn’t get a pic. of just her with my parents, but here she is about to win her match 🙂

Abby rolled in half-way through (same flight as my niece so Dave’s sister dropped her off) and joined Grandfather in the grapevine watching the end of Grace’s match.

Ha!  (This is a funny exercise my dad does when he wants to keep moving that we are all endeared to 🙂
Josh came too…good crowd for that last match and I didn’t even have time to get all emotional about it being the last….
…because the three of us had to hustle off to my niece’s wedding dinner (not the one who just flew in with Abby luckily!)

It felt so good that it wasn’t OUR wedding dinner and all three of us loved just relaxing and enjoying all those good people gearing up for the next day.

Abby and I walked Lu to school, and midway there up drove Dave, Elle and Max (they had just flown in on hour-apart flights that morning).  Hooray!

A little father/son ping pong and accidental matching:

Some girl talk before the bridal party was to meet up:

So happy to have these cousins back together:
Does this house look familiar?:

Yep, my cousin-in-law was the one who hosted Abby’s bridal shower (back HERE) and was on for hosting duties again (she is SO good at that).  It was so fun to join in for a little bit with the bridal party as they got ready.

Then it was off to the WEDDING!

I know I mentioned this, but those two in the back seat were so happy to be there to enjoy someone else’s wedding they didn’t have to be the stars of.  And that lady in the front seat was pretty relaxed/happy as well!

So happy for these two!

(Missing the fourth cousin in this close-knit cousin bunch above…she is serving as a missionary in Florida right now.  We missed you Jaylee!)

We were also missing one of the nine siblings (on a family trip that had been planned well before the wedding), but so great to have these eight together:

Missing no one in this family though!

Woo Hoo!

Excuse this second car picture today, but this time it was with Dave’s brother and his wife who were in town from Milwaukee:

We stole them away for lunch to meet up with our family, and loved sitting there on the patio eating tacos surrounded by all those people I love in one spot.

On to the reception:

Dave’s Uncle and Aunt who we love, and Max are good friends with their granddaughter up in Provo:

There was something pretty grand about the reception.

Our whole family was dancing our hearts out on the dance floor.  I love that Dave has passed dancing skills on to all of our children and they have got the moves, and they make me join them sometimes.

I’m not going to try to describe how that felt that night all tightly knit together, everything else faded in the background except to say it was holy to me.

The next day we did this:
And this:

We came home and met up with my niece (Elle’s fellow bridesmaid) and a companion from her mission and hung out in our back yard all afternoon.

We set up the volleyball net and had a great game with all nine of us and Lucy keeping score and I looked around and realized it’s ok that my kids are growing up.

There is something pretty great about a family ebbing and flowing and growing and morphing and I love what we’re becoming.

My parents had been with my brother that day, then joined us as the sun started to slant.

We went and played tennis:

(My dad is really confused in that picture above because can’t figure out how these girls got so dang good.  HA!)

Then this barefoot duo joined in too:

Crazy kids.

We had a really late dinner, and a good dance during clean-up:

(I love that area for after-dinner dancing which happens more than you would guess…)

Since dinner was so late we didn’t start our last game night until even later but I loved having my table crowded to the max with our whole family and Mom and Dad and McKenna and even my brother-in-law who happened to drop by and we lured him in for a few rounds.

Then, late-night hot tubbing.

We had our whole family together for church and and I was determined to get there on time (8:30am), but there was a comedy of errors that morning that I won’t go into details about, but it all melted away when Elle and Abby came in to join my primary class and shared how they know Jesus is real and spilled out so much beauty into that crowded room.
It was a good weekend.

I hate goodbyes, but college is over so dang quick before we know it we’ll all be back again.  And then split again. And then together again.

And so it goes.  The life of a growing, expanding family.

I am a grateful mama.

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  1. I rarely comment but I love the sentiment you end on, Shawni. This makes me think of my own family – on my mom's side in recent years, there have been divorces and deaths and break-ups and new relationships and new marriages (with new sets of in-laws) and new babies. I love that our family continues to evolve and expand and welcome new people into the fold.

  2. Love the posts about your family being together. I think that Lucy may be a little lost in the shuffle, thus the meltdowns. Maybe you shouldn't be so quick to mention her negative behavior so much in your blog, just the positive happy things she does. I have followed for a long time and have yet to read many posts that share info on any of the other kids' whining, crying, complaining, etc. I know Lucy is not your only child to behave this way.

    1. Thank you for the thoughts that have been shared here about Lucy, I so appreciate the outside perspective. I am so grateful for this blog community looking out for and loving Lucy. Blogs are tough because it's difficult to convey all the emotions wrapped up in this family of ours in words. I don't want to gloss over the tough things and only highlight the good because life is real. The truth is that Lucy pretty much rules the roost these days with her moods. She is the sun and we are the planets as she maneuvers into a pre-adolescence unlike any of our other children. I can't go into much detail because believe me, I want to protect that girl I love so much. But I'll just say this is a huge part of BBS, and a huge part of our lives right now as it affects us all quite deeply. That being said, I have removed a couple comments as well as a few lines from the post thanks to these suggestions. Please know I did read them though, and really do appreciate the insight and suggestions so well said.

      I’ll also just add that that conviction and emotion and drive that Lucy has that has such a powerful hold on us is going to get her places in life and I'm so grateful she's got such grit, and such a dramatic presence. She knows how to make things happen. That girl is going places!

    2. It is good to see things from others’ perspectives, so I thought I would just put a few of my thoughts into words. It started with the picture of Lucy and Max dancing and is woven through every picture with Lucy,..she is loved!!! I marvel at those older kiddos of yours. I have just always been able to see that they truly love their sister. I don’t have teenagers yet and I don’t have a child with BBS, so I’m sure there is so much more you could educate us on, but walk that line between being real as well as respectful of your daughter. I think you are doing a beautiful job of highlighting both Lucy’s challenges as well as her triumphs and strength. I mean it sincerely.

  3. Such beautiful sentiments! Thank you for sharing! As a side note–do you recall where your purchased your big, round dining table from? It's so beautiful and I just love the community that comes from being in a circle like that.

  4. My oldest is graduating from high school next month and off to college, so your positive perspective on the ebb and flow of family life with young adults in their phase of metamorphosis give me comfort. Like you, I adored my babies and young motherhood, and now that my youngest is ten I'm feeling a lot of loss. But there is still joy ahead!

    Do you mind sharing your source for the round rotating/spinning outdoor chairs by your pool? I love those at our local children's museum and would love some for our basement.

    1. I actually cannot remember where we got those since I looked at a lot of places. Just google spinning top chairs and you should find a few different varieties.

  5. How sweet is that picture of Max and Lucy dancing together?! So happy you had such a wonderful time with family. Like you said, it is sacred. So blessed.

  6. Growing up is hard! All that comes with puberty can be really challenging for typically developing kids and I imagine Lucy’s BBS makes things even more challenging! How lucky she is to be surrounded by a family and extended family that love her so unconditionally! Those photos of Lucy dancing with Max are beautiful!

    Now that your kids have begun starting families if their own have they (and spouses, potential spouses?) been tested to see if they are carriers of BBS? It’s typical in the Jewish community to be screened for tay Sachs etc.

    1. Good question, we haven't tested anyone else, the chances are so incredibly rare, but we'd totally be in board if any of our kids or in-laws want to look into that.

  7. What an amazing adventure! I'm in awe of you parents. So many personalities. So many journeys to track.

    I just "got" how the lines of the bridge, across the pool, reflects into the water as a continuous flow. (Magical!) Your home is a serious Architectural Digest contender.

  8. I love that everyone is wondering the same things as me- where you get your furniture :). What are your favorite stores? I'm especially interested where you got your cozy family room couches.

    1. Oh I didn't answer fully, I don't really have a favorite store, but I've found great stuff at Room & Board, Potato Barn, Crate & Barrel, TJ Maxx, Restoration Hardware, CB2…and just random stores around where we live.

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