23 July 2014

On the Lake

Our summer filled up so fast that somehow we didn't make it out on the boat until mid-July.

When I announced our plans the morning of the outing, the boys may have been more excited than they were for Christmas.

After a battery-charging delay (it's always something), we ventured onto those blue waters at last.
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Nash was quick to jump right in and set up for surfing with his uncle.
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He didn't wipe that smile off his face the entire time.
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Even when he was cold and shivering, the smile remained.
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Nash wasn't the only one smiling. Crew rather enjoyed the voyage as well.
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I had a moment of realizing how much these two have grown up. It seems like just yesterday I was rocking them to sleep on the boat. This year, they hung out by themselves in the bow, without needing any adults nearby to make sure they didn't fall.
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They were in their own little world up there.
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It's a good thing we still had a baby around so I didn't have to get too sad about Blake and Nash acting so grown up. As much as I would have loved to snuggle Crew to sleep, I knew there was no way that feisty boy would sit still in my lap. His carseat was a lifesaver on the boat.
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After many rounds of surfing (sadly, not for me this year), the boys insisted on ending the day with the tube even though the winds were picking up. They enjoyed jumping from the boat onto the tube just as much as actually being pulled. Even if it meant that their dad was flicking water at them.
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We're hoping the summer doesn't pass us by without at least one more trip to the lake.

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17 July 2014

So Many Tanners

On day two of the family reunion, everyone in attendance gathered in one place at one time, which was no easy task. The immediate members of the Tanner family are spread all over the world, so the amount of relatives gathered at these biennial reunions is typically about half of the total posterity.
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That's how a big a family grows when you have 13 children. It has been years since all of the siblings have been together because several of them have been away serving missions, so this year was a momentous occasion.
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The "286 and Counting" is credited to Troy's 93 year old grandmother and her late husband. That is one large posterity.
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Half of our immediate family was missing due to a recent move.
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Poor Blake was so sick with the stomach flu during the family photo shoot. 
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He did his best to put on a happy face even though he looked as white as a ghost.
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It's too bad he felt so under the weather because there was a station set up for the kids with endless collage supplies. Nash spent an hour adding items to his masterpiece.
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We had to cut it short and head home before Blake contaminated everyone (or upchucked all over the main pavilion again). And even though I was lamenting the loss of our typical 4th of July traditions and dead tired from a night with little sleep, I always walk away from these reunions with a grateful heart. I'm thankful that our children have opportunities to see that they are part of something greater and to recognize the sacrifices of those who have paved the way for them.

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15 July 2014

Actual 4th of July

I was happy that we had an almost 4th of July a week prior to the actual holiday, filled with some of our favorite traditions.

Because this year, a family reunion took place of our normal festivities. Gathering 150+ people is no easy feat, and the 4th of July weekend was the only date that would work around other camps and commitments.

Even though it's great to catch up with extended family, I have to admit that I was really disappointed that the 4th wasn't going to be filled with our usual boating, barbecue, Stadium of Fire and fireworks. 

I know, I know, I'm an adult and I should have rolled with the punches a little better. But I just love love love our traditions that symbolize America and the peak of summer. The 4th of July has always been my favorite holiday. And after a tough year, the lack of celebrations was just one more disappointment to add to the list.

I kept trying to remind myself that we would have many more 4th of Julys to celebrate. And to quit whining about it already and try to make the best out of the situation.

But I think we were doomed from the get-go.

We wanted to have some semblance of a holiday because the reunion didn't start until mid-afternoon. We woke up and went out to breakfast which is Troy's favorite thing to do. He actually got this holiday off work which hasn't happened yet this year since he works with foreign markets.

The boys sat outside in rocking chairs and Troy taught them how to play checkers. That was the highlight of the day.
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It was kind of a downward spiral from there. We had planned on going to a local "beach" to play for a few hours, but by the time we were done with breakfast and games, Crew needed a nap. And then after hours of packing up five people for a camping reunion (which meant including bedding for the cabin stay), it was time to head to the campground.

Troy and I had no data left on our phones after using them so much in New York, so we looked up directions beforehand instead of using navigation. We missed a turn, which led us high into the wrong mountain. The winding roads made me sick, of course, so I switched to the driver's seat before we turned around and headed all the way back down and back up into the right mountain.

We eventually made it to the campground. But the next 24 hours were filled with me constantly chasing around three little boys in the woods. Mostly a certain one year old that I couldn't take my eyes off for one second. And, of course, every conversation I had while running around was about having a fourth boy, which isn't exactly what I love reliving over and over and over. Family reunions are great when you are in a happy place in life, but when you're not, the conversations can be torture.
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The rest of the reunion was filled with very little sleep on hard surfaces and cleaning up several rounds of the stomach flu that Blake came down with the next morning. Which in turn trickled to the rest of us. By lunch time, we just gave up and went home.

Thankfully, the sickness didn't strike until after the boys spent a good long day playing their hearts out with lots of cousins in the woods. It's amazing how fascinating those sticks and rocks were.
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They gave all of the children flags to wave while singing Yankee Doodle. Crew spent a good twenty minutes placing and replacing his flag in the umbrella stand.
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If nothing else, we at least got to enjoy the golden hour of sunlight shining in through the beautiful trees.
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And ended up covered in dirt by the end of the night.
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We staggered each of our boys' bedtimes since we were all piled together in one room and enjoyed a gorgeous mountain sunset in between negotiating with each one. We could even see a few faraway fireworks shows from high in the mountains.
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There were no fireworks allowed on the campground, so a roasting pit was formed instead.
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We let Blake stay up late to enjoy some s'mores with the biggest marshmallows he had ever seen. It's a good thing he ended the night on a high note since the next day ended up being miserable for him.
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Okay, so it wasn't a total disaster. And the Tanner family is so quick to show interest in the details of our lives and build us up, which I know is rare in families. But I'm already counting the days until next year, when we can celebrate America with our usual traditions.

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12 July 2014

NYC Homecoming

If it weren't for these three boys that we missed like crazy (and our sore walking feet), I don't think we would have ever wanted to leave New York. It was such a refreshing, liberating, exhausting trip. 

But we were so happy to see these faces again. 
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We're so thankful to my parents who made our trip possible. They took the boys to swimming lessons, the splash pad, the movie theater, church, and a play while we were gone. They baked cookies and took daily walks. And even though they dealt with coughing and fevers and teething, the boys were in great hands and I never had to worry once about their care.

With the addition of baby #4, we know it'll be a looooong time before we can take a trip with just the two of us again. We couldn't be more grateful for one last babymoon.

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11 July 2014

NYC Part Five - The Wedding

The finale to our New York adventures is the main reason we traveled all that way; Troy's lifelong friend's wedding.

Troy and Greg met in Kindergarten and have stayed friends ever since, which is pretty remarkable.

Troy has a lot of intelligent friends, but Greg in particular was always grade levels ahead of his peers and eventually completed a degree at Harvard. When Troy wasn't succeeding as much academically as Greg in elementary school, he told Greg that he just wasn't as smart as him. Greg responded, "You just need to try harder."

We laughed at many more childhood memories throughout the weekend's wedding celebrations.

Greg married an equally impressive young woman named Caitlin. Together, they are known as "Graitlin."
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New York has to be one of the most picturesque places to get married. I love the shots of them walking around the city before they headed to their ceremony.
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The wedding day started out with quite a bit of stress on our end.

When we arrived in the city the previous Wednesday, we dropped off Troy's suit to be dry cleaned since it was completely wrinkled from traveling. They ensured that it would be done by Friday evening which worked out since we didn't need it until Saturday morning.

We payed in advance and arranged to have the suit left at the concierge because we wouldn't be home from the rehearsal dinner on Friday evening until after the dry cleaner closed.

When we arrived at our building, only Troy's white shirt was waiting for us. There was no suit in sight. Panic washed over Troy. He didn't know how he was going to get ahold of that suit by 10am the next morning when he was supposed to be on the Upper West Side for pictures. The dry cleaner didn't even open until 10am.

There wasn't much we could do aside from buying a new suit in New York City and having it tailored on the spot. We really wanted to avoid that option, so Troy let the groom know that he was most likely going to be late. Thankfully, the groomsmen were doing "getting ready" pictures from 10am to noon, so it wasn't as vital that Troy was there yet. But he absolutely had to be there by noon.

That left him a short window to track down his suit. No one could tell us where it was until the dry cleaner opened on Saturday morning. He practically broke down the door when they opened shop. He learned that they shipped all of their clothing out to an obscure facility in Long Island City. They called the location to make sure his suit was there and he immediately hopped in a taxi to begin tracking it down.

It the end, after getting lost a few times and racking up some hefty taxi fees, Troy was able to track down his suit and meet up with the wedding party in the nick of time. It simply didn't make it onto the truck the night before. Only in New York.

He told the bride that there was no way he was going to ruin her pictures by being suit-less. We were relieved that he could live up to his promise.
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I experienced my own set of stress when the subway I was riding on to meet up with the wedding party got rerouted, which apparently happens often on weekends. I allowed myself plenty of time to get there, but after hopping trains several times to backtrack and finally just jumping off and booking it the rest of the way to the dock (in heels, no less), I barely made it to the ferry on time.
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The bride did a quick shoe change and we were ready to party aboard the ferry.
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I'm so glad I didn't miss riding over to Jersey City with the wedding party because it was a riot. The music was cranked up loud and the bride and groom danced the whole way there.
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And that view...
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We were so happy that the rest of the day ran smoothly. You couldn't have asked for more perfect weather.
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The views from their venue were breathtaking. I still can't believe we were really there, soaking it all up.
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They were married at Maritime Parc in Jersey City and from one side you could see all of lower Manhattan across the Hudson River.
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From the other side, you could see Ellis Island and Lady Liberty standing tall.
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With the addition of water lapping up against the shore and boats bobbing in the harbor, it was hands down the most beautiful venue we've ever been to.
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Even the ceremony allowed for views of the city.
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The celebration lasted well into the night with hors d'oeuvres and a cocktail hour, a multi-course meal and lots of dancing.
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I kept sneaking out to the wrap around balconies because I just couldn't get enough of the views. 
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We watched the sun set in the west, which in turn reflected on the buildings in lower Manhattan.
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There are really no words for how spectacular that experience was.
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The panoramic night views were just as breathtaking.
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We were all exhausted after a full day of events but the party didn't stop there. We headed back to Jersey City the next morning for a wedding brunch. We dined at Skylark on the Hudson. I probably shouldn't have been as taken back by the view by that point, but it still did not cease to amaze me.
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I think Troy had had enough pictures by that point.
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One more stroll along the Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, and we said goodbye to a weekend full of unforgettable views, food, hospitality, friendship and love.
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We were so honored to be a part of Greg and Caitlin's wedding.

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