After we made the trek back from California on Friday, May 24th, we had the rest of that day and the next to spend with our respective families.
The sinking feeling had begun. That awful belly kerplunk that precedes the goodbyes.
We spent that afternoon with Chris and Amy and the girls, as my mom had left for a few days for a horse ride with a good friend of hers.
That evening we were going to have dinner at my favorite fancy restaurant in town. It was a Friday, so there was no other choice but Bedillons.
On Fridays they have the most amazing cream of crab soup.
This restaurant has a very special place in my heart. And my family's heart(s). We grew up eating here, because my dad has always had a great relationship with the owner, Michael Jackson (not a typo).
I went on father-daughter dates here, special occasion dinners, and it was where we had our rehearsal dinner for our wedding. All in all, it's at the very top of my list.
It's a local treasure, to be sure. Mr. Jackson has an amazing museum collection, and a beautiful cactus garden in the back.
This particular day was a gorgeous Arizona evening, and the perfect time to sit outdoors!
They had live music and the place quickly filled with people.
|Bacon-wrapped olives: Mmmmm|
|Fly me to the moon, soup.|
It began to get dark, and the musician began to sing and the cactus garden lights began to come on...it was all very lovely.
The food, of course, was to die for. Bedillons has a great menu. Top on my list are the crab soup, bacon-wrapped olives, twice-baked potatoes and every entree I've ever had.
|This is what happens when you tell Abby to smile when she's trying to eat her french fries.|
There's not much else to say, other than that the breeze was lovely, the music was amazing...
Actually, about the music. My dad seems to know everyone, so naturally he knew the musician.
Turns out his name is Noel Kirkland, and he used to perform with Glenn Campbell. He was really good - singing some of my favorites like Fields of Gold by Sting, and Your Song by Elton John.
Just sitting and enjoying our food and drinks and talking and laughing and entertaining the girls...
The evening went on in desert bliss.
This trip constantly has me changing my mind on what the "best picture ever" is. But this Chris/Bell lip-buzz showoff is really high on the list.
After Chris, Amy and the girls went home to put the girls to bed, dad, Dusty and I stayed for a while longer listening to the music and enjoying the weather.
Definitely one of my favorite evenings of the trip. It was special for many reasons, but any time I go to Bedillons it leaves a happy feeling... even in my kerplunked belly.
That night we spent the night at Chris and Amy's.
We stayed up until I think around 2am. It was a hefty evening! We talked about families, God, the church, our lives....it was wonderful. I'm so glad we did.
Dusty and I both just felt so encouraged afterwards. It's so uplifting to have them in our lives, and it was definitely the most difficult goodbye of all. As soon as I woke up the next morning I kept having to push the tears back inside my eyeballs. Or as my mom would say, my eyes had "sprung a leak".
Over the past few years our relationship with Chris and Amy has deepened and strengthened and I'm so happy and blessed. The hard part about it all is that it has had to endure these quick trips and constant goodbyes. I remember when I was younger, I once exclaimed "Chris is a stranger to me!!" in the dramatic way only a young girl can manage. With six years between us, we were always in different stages of life, with different interests and different demands on our time.
With time, we have been led closer and closer together and now I have the immense joy of calling him a "stranger" no more :) haha. I cannot wait to share the family stage of life with him and Amy, and have them be aunt and uncle to our babies, too. We miss you guys so darn much. Gadzooks.
The next morning, partially because I was hungry and partially because I was getting too emotional, I offered to go and grab our stuff from my parent's house while Dusty stayed at Chris and Amy's with them and the girls.
I went and quickly packed up our bags, and went out and grabbed some donuts for our last little meal together.
I love watching my dad play the same sweet games he always played with us.
Pretending his hands are spiders, and the like. I remember I'd always ask, "Are you a good spider?" and he'd shake his pointer finger yes or no. If he said yes, I would pat him and say, "Good spider." If he said no, I would smash him like the evil bug he was.
The next part I'd just as soon skip over.
It was the goodbye. The one my belly had been telling me about for the last 24 hours.
They stood there like that, waving, as we drove away, sobbing, out of their driveway.
It was rough, guys. Really rough. Then we continued to cry all the way to Chandler.
It was so incredibly sad to realize that Bell won't be lip-buzzing, and army-crawling, and squirming and being her sweet, chubbylicious self the next time we see her. And Abby won't be saying "Unc'D" or stringing her sentences together the way she does, or saying "waaaaay up high!". She'll be big and accomplished and she'll probably have learned a whole new language by then.
On the bright side, we got to see them and spend time with them in this stage. And that's a really special thing. And for their whole lives, we'll be there - the chances of them remembering our absence is slim to none. And that's pretty great. We'll just have to be the ones to suffer in the meantime ;)
In Chandler, we had a whole new host of family greetings and goodbyes all at once.
Again, it was the perfect ending to our time in AZ. We all met at Joe's Farm Grill, which is a great local spot which I had never been to before. It was so yummy. And was the perfect spot to have a family get together.
I just printed out all of our pictures from this trip home yesterday, and flipping through them I was swooning all over again at all our adorable nieces and nephew shots. These pictures of Dusty with Wyatt are so precious! How did we get so darn lucky! I hope our genes pull through and we have ridiculously adorable children. Even if they're ugly, our family is pretty great and will lie and say they're the cutest of all.
We stole this entire corner and made it a Schan Clan gathering place.
The food was amazing, and everyone was buzzing with conversation.
Rosemary Dill onion rings. Yum.
I grew up with a similar range of cousin ages, and even in the time Dusty and I have been together I've been able to see a lot of his younger cousins grow into (almost) adulthood. I really look forward to getting to know them more, too! They're all bright, sweet and hilarious.
|I love how Cole is just sweetly holding Wyatt's foot.|
It's a pretty strange thing to suddenly look around at all of them and say, Oh geez. These kids aren't really kids anymore! Some of them are entering high school, talking about college...it all seemed to be happening behind our backs.
Wyatt is the new kid on the block, and the rest of us cousins are now the older generation.
We also included a little birthday party for Aunt Celes, so after we ate they brought out a cake and we sang happy birthday to her.
As the sun continued to drop lower and lower, the food began to settle and we all just sighed in contentment.
We ordered some shakes (yum) and took some Wyatt time with our dessert, as well.
Look at those blue eyes!!
The idea of Dusty's family visiting us over Christmas is such a hopeful teaser, because otherwise we wouldn't be seeing Wyatt until he's walking, and maybe even talking.
He already changes a little every day, it seems. How much will he change in 195 days until Christmas, or in 400+ days until we move home!?
We obviously love every member of our family, but the babies are such distinct little reminders of the time that is passing. We're thankful for the technology that allows us to feel closer than we are. But it's definitely not the same as holding their squirming bodies, hearing their coos, and looking into their eyes as they stare in wonder at our hair right before they pull on it.
|Discovering The Beard.|
There's something very special about being an aunt and an uncle.
Dusty loved being an uncle with Abby, but there's something particularly special about having one of your own siblings have their first baby, too. It's an extension of the bond you shared with them growing up - you were there when they were a child, played with them and laughed with them and learned with them. Now they have a child of their own. It's a little unreal, a little magical, a lot beautiful.
We walked Emily and Matt and Wyatt out to their car, and said our goodbyes. We cried and held Wyatt's hand (Dusty was holding him close), then allowed Em to put him in his car seat before saying goodbye to her and Matt, too.
Please come at Christmas.
But no pressure. :)
We didn't leave until 1am, so we went back with Paul and Rhonda to their house and hung out lazily together until it was time to leave for the airport.
The biggest highlight of that last goodbye on the curb was that we may never have to take that horrible flight again! Let's pray that's true.
Now that we're home, Dusty has a "countdown to home" calendar going on his phone, counting down every minute, every hour, every day...
I don't plan on wasting our time here in Virginia (I've even started a 'Burg Bucket List) but I truly look forward to the moment when we'll all be sitting together against an Arizona sunset and I can pause and say, "Hey...remember that one time when we lived in Virginia for three years?"