Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Successful Vacation

We don't take a lot of FAMILY vacations or trips.  It just doesn't really seem to jive for our family. I would love to say it was different, but we make individual and partial trips work in the best way we can for OUR family. With that said, it was sort of out of the ordinary recently to embark on a family trip last week and even more out of the ordinary to say, we actually all enjoyed it!

Except for the part that we experienced a NINE HOUR flight delay. There was a lot of laying around the airport. Literally.

(We received vouchers from the airline for our delay, and before we'd even taken off I was planning the next vacation. Mike recommended we get through this one first.)

Last week we visited beautiful Southern California for a Sowby Family Reunion. It's the branch of the family that two previous family reunions are recorded HERE and HERE.

These Sowby Reunions where the descendants of George Isaac and Annie Martine gather, have happened every two years for 35+ years.


For many years now, and especially the last couple reunions, fewer and fewer descendants are making the reunion a priority. It makes me sad, and honestly, a little bitter. Everyone is busy, everyone has schedules and everyone has conflicts.We do/did too. In fact, for some reason we had a lot of hiccups, setbacks and difficulties making this reunion happen for our family. The seven hour flight delay at the airport seemed to be the cherry on top, but then some complications (and a 1.5 hour wait) at the car rental place at LAX topped the cherry and caused me to look at Mike, and while trying so hard not to cry questioned, "Maybe we seriously are not meant to be here?"

But we were
We made it happen.
A few other families did too, and the result was a glorious time spent together laughing, crying, playing and enjoying family bonds.

Megan Sowby, Luke Sowby, Hannah Flaherty, Joshua Sowby, Connor Flaherty
Ryan Flaherty, Ellie Sowby, Sarah Flaherty, Drew Sowby

 Joshua, Sarah and Ryan Flaherty, Drew 

 front to back: Carol & Bernard Baker, George & Christene Sowby, Sandy Mittleman, Karena Hamilton
 Tiffany, Karena Hamilton, Bernard Baker, Jennifer Flaherty, Steve Mittleman, Damon Flaherty
Seth Hamilton, Mike, Carol Baker, Karen Mittleman, George Sowby, Christene Sowby, Amber Larson
Sowby Children, Hamilton Children, Flaherty Children, Larson Children

Obviously, I have never met Annie Martine Sowby. I'm related to her only through marriage, but over the past several years, I've had a handful of very personal experiences that have caused me to believe Annie Martine is one of my personal cheerleaders. A week or so before we left for the reunion, Mike and I were seriously debating whether or not to cancel our plans to go. One morning, I woke up early and knew I couldn't cancel. In a text exchange to Mike, I told him, "We're going to CA! I'm going for Annie Martine." (It's funny--I never refer to her as simply, Annie or Great-Grandma Annie, she is Annie Martine.)

How could seeing these scenes, not make Annie Martine (and of course George Isaac and their children whose posterity is represented here) rejoice and smile down from Heaven?

Cousins Carol Baker, Karen Mittleman and George Sowby

 According to Joshua (and this photo proof), Joshua did all the work maneuvering the kayak.

Luke and Sarah (Flaherty) were so proud of this creation they built on Mike's tomb. It was just moments away from completion when a HUGE wave wiped out everything you see in the above picture.

 Mike, Luke and Megan (photo courtesy of Cousin Sandy Mittleman)
 (photo courtesy of Cousin Sandy Mittleman)
 (photo courtesy of Cousin Sandy Mittleman)
(photo courtesy of Cousin Sandy Mittleman)

These relationships don't just happen at one reunion-- they happen over time. Mike and I have been blessed to have these people in our lives on a regular basis. With the exception of a few of the older cousins, my children knew these cousins. They mentioned everyone before we even got there. They knew who to expect, who they would enjoy playing with the most, and who they wanted to see first. We've not only made these reunions a priority, but we've opened our home to most of these people on many occasions over the years. It makes me smile that our relationships with most of them run much deeper than simply seeing each other every couple of years at a reunion.

Like this girl for example.
Cousin Jennifer is one of my favorite friends! Our husbands laugh about just how much we have in common, so it was no surprise that we also have the same make-up bags. Jennifer and I talk to each other a few times a month. Usually because one of us needs talking down from a ledge, or one of us needs reminding that we really do love our children. Love this cousin of Mike's! We likely should have been sisters, but then I couldn't have married Mike. So we'll suffice as cousins and friends.

I shouldn't have favorites, but I admit I do! Cousin Karena and Cousin Sandy (no photo of  us!!!!!) are two of my other favorites. I wish I had spent more time just sitting and visiting with them, but it didn't quite work out that way. But, that's nothing that a future trip to Utah won't be able to solve.

One afternoon, Karena, Jennifer and I left the children in the care of husbands and cousins at the pool and snuck up to my room for some left-over chocolate cake.

Not sure how well Mike was keeping an eye on the children...

This sand bucket cost $1.00 at the dollar store. Joshua couldn't bear the thought of us leaving it there on the beach for another child to play with. When he realized, "They really will let me take this on the plane? Then I'm taking it." It was a done deal. He carried that bucket around with him for the next several hours.

Joshua and Megan opted for a kayak ride with Mike. Drew, Luke and Ellie opted for a trampoline jump:

 The headaches of getting to California have almost been forgotten. Our memories made at yet another reunion, are deposits into relationship banks that we will withdraw from throughout the rest of our lives. Unfortunately for my little family, it seems we are all too familiar with family members who don't seem to make relationships a priority-we know who loves us and want to be around us, and we focus on those people. The others, I guess, are just missing out!

 Newport Beach LDS Temple
Attempting to capture a photo of these 5 clowns at the beach was a joke.
Balboa Pier, CA

After finally arriving in Los Angeles after our 9 hour flight delay and then experiencing further complications at the car rental place, I sent some serious vibes heavenward to Annie Martine to start intervening on our behalf. I like to think she did.

With the exception of the day Drew exhausted us all with his incessant requests for a wooden surf board souvenir for his stuffed animal, Monkey, and forgetting a few minor moments of quarreling and exhaustion, it was a successful family vacation.

 So now, where to use our travel vouchers to visit next?!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Ellie. 12.

It seems that for several years in a row, poor Ellie has had her birthday disrupted by someone from our family missing on her special day. Two years ago she and Mike were in California for her birthday (American Idol Finale), and last year Megan was gone somewhere (?). This year, Mike and the little boys were in Yellowstone National Park, and Luke went to a camp-out.

But Ellie still had a happy birthday and loved extending the celebration into Sunday when the boys returned home.

I loved Ellie's confidence to wear both birthday glasses and a birthday shirt to school. Had hats been allowed, I've no doubt she would have worn that too.

We're definitely related.

We all got a little burned out from Ellie's favorite birthday present. A karaoke machine that connects to an ipad and gives you pretty much any song you could possibly want. I couldn't help but send a video of Ellie and her friend singing away to my childhood friend, Karen. What we would have given to have had this at that age. (We used the old school blank tapes to record ourselves singing.)

Twelve years old is a milestone in the LDS church. It is time to leave Primary and join the Young Women's program.
Ellie is TWELVE. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Beautiful Italy

I will write in more detail about my wonderful trip to Italy in the coming days, but for now, I will include a few photos and instead of a write-up, I will include the words to songs, poems, or scriptures that came to mind while I was there.

Wherever you go, go with all your heart.

"Enjoy the little things in life. One day you'll look back and realize they were the big things."

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may."
LDS Article of Faith #11

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flow'r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light,

Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.
~For the Beauty of the Earth hymn

"Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God."


 I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. 

~Henry David Thoreau

Don't underestimate what the Lord is doing through you. 
~Elder Uchtdorf

 "Do anything. But let it produce joy." ~ Walt Whitman

"We travel not to escape life, but so life doesn't escape us."

"In the end, we will only regret the chances we didn't take, relationships we were too afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make."

"In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured."
~ Gordon B. Hinckley


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