Archive for the ‘The Beehive State’ Category

My sole reason for this visit to Utah was for the funeral of my grandfather, and it was very hard for me to acknowledge that and accept the closure of saying goodbye to him – he will be so missed and I am so sad that my kids will never know him in any other capacity than stories. There is a thing about funerals though – they bring entire families together – and when you have a family like mine, that’s something to take advantage of. I got to see people I hadn’t seen in years, and have a few extra days that I wouldn’t otherwise with my immediate family.

A lot of the following pictures are of terrible quality, but I love them just the same because each one is a warm-fuzzy-moment in a week that carried a lot of sadness and missing as well.

Alex, reading one of the poems that my grandpa used to read to her when she was cleaning his house a few years back. It was one of many new stories I heard about him on that trip and I loved every single one.

Two out of four (my younger sisters squished in with me too) sleeping companions. Lola is on the right hand side covered in blankets (Lola is always covered in blankets) and Jack…well…you can never miss Jack.

Baby time with Juniper at the funeral. Baby time = healing time. I smelled her head a lot and let her tug on my jewelry and listened to her say “tur-tle” over and over. It was wonderful.

My niece, Lucia, on the elephant at Bombay House – our favorite family restaurant. We all agreed that it was a very fitting way to spend our evening when my grandpa was the one who had introduced us to the restaurant because of a long-time friendship with the owner’s (who has always treated us like family) parents.

I don’t think I’ve ever been with my sisters where we haven’t been doing some sort of photo-shennanigans. I believe there are less than 5 normal pictures of us in existence.

I went to Colt and Maggie’s Oscar party (I’ve always been sad to miss what sound like fabulous Colt and Maggie parties) and dined on best-picture themed food (which was all fantastic, as I knew it would be). An extra bonus of the evening was having my cousin Jonny (Maggie’s brother) there as well – we haven’t been in Utah together since I moved to PA and we became close. An extra, extra bonus was the self-declared lap-dog-who-is-too-heavy-to-be-a-lap-dog love we got from Colt’s adorable Sparky.

Alex, working on her handmade spoon with help from my dad. If you tell my dad that you want to whittle a spoon, he’s not going to just smile and pat you on the shoulder and say, “good luck with that.” He will go find tools that were passed down in his family and show you how to use them and make sure you get the technique right before you leave, with the heirlooms in hand – happy they are once again being used.

And because I don’t have a picture of her from the trip, I have to put one in of my mom’s food. Because it doesn’t matter that I came out to help her. If she has even one opportunity to take care of you, like making tamales or German pancakes – two of your favorite foods, she will. Because that is who she is.

My favorite memories of the trip do not have photos attached, but the conversation I had with my mom, on the way to the viewing where she told me what kind of dad Grandpa had been – looking around a room full of Craigs and realizing how proud my Grandpa would be of his legacy – and singing songs with my sisters on the porch – those are things that make every second of that trip, despite all it took to get out there, worth it.


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On Tuesday morning I boarded a plane by myself. For the first time in 11 years, I wouldn’t have either a husband or children to accompany me. It was…strange. So strange that I couldn’t concentrate on my book. I pulled out my iPhone for a minute and scrolled through some podcasts to find something to listen to, and then my friend Marty popped up in my head (hint: he’s not a fan of people staring in to electronic devices) so I decided to channel him. I put the phone away to talk to my neighbor, who had been making friendly comments since I sat down. Two plane rides and almost six hours later, I had met two new, and yet completely different in almost every aspect, people. And I had successfully managed to calm my brain about the matters rolling around in there – my grandfather, leaving the girls, leaving Tom, leaving Koda, finding clothes for the viewing, and too many more to list.

I’ve been here for a few days now and my brain is back to a discombobulated state…there’s no way I can put all these thoughts in to a structured paragraph. So I won’t.

  • Utah drivers – y’all need to CHILL. Learn the meaning of the word merge.
  • My parents do not have a full sized mirror upstairs so instead of walking down to my sister’s bathroom, I usually opt to stand on the tub instead, which puts me at the appropriate height to see in the above-sink mirror. I’m fairly certain this will one day end in disaster but I still do it.
  • Dinner at Cafe Rio makes me so happy I want to hug my food. I miss Mexican food that tastes delicious and I didn’t have to cook myself.
  • When you are debating the color of a shirt, it is much easier to prevail when your competition is your color-blind husband than when you are going up against two artists and a graphic design student.
  • My sister likes to do “your mom” jokes…
  •  The 75 mile an hour speed-limit on the last leg of the trip to my parents’ house feels so decadent compared to the 55 limit I’m surrounded by in PA.
  • The mountains are so pretty covered in snow. Especially when highlighted by the sunset, in pinks and golds.

Tomorrow I will attend my grandfather’s viewing and on Saturday we will have the funeral. After typing that sentence my entire brain stopped and ceased to think about anything else for a full minute.  But no matter how scattered I am right now, I am incredibly grateful to be here with my family, to have a husband who is taking on my full-time job along with his, in order for me to be out here, and for friends who have sent me incredibly kind and loving thoughts the last week. Y’all are wonderful…which seems a perfect ending to some random thoughts.

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I can not believe I’ve been back in PA for almost a week now. It’s been 6 days of getting only the top items scratched off my To Do list, while adding at least 5 more at the same time. I didn’t even completely finish un-packing until yesterday – hence the seemed abandonment of my blog. I am still here though, and we are slowly adjusting to our regular schedule (the time-zone issue seems to be the hardest for all).

As far as the time spent in Utah goes – I really didn’t do much there. The girls were sick with colds for a week of it, and I hadn’t rented my own car so most of the time was spent at my parent’s house. It seems like normal things were happening: cooking, gardening, playing with cousins, and taking walks to the park. I did end up helping my mom get her studio cleaned out and set-up and I can not express how much it meant to me to throw with her and how much she helped me in the areas I’ve been struggling with. That was definitely a special activity. But of course the most special thing about the trip was the time spent with family we rarely see.

Here were some of my favorite parts:

(And more  – on flickr)

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I knew that despite any misgivings about the length of my trip, and whether my family would be ready to kick me out in the middle of it, that I’d blink and it would be over. Today was my last full day in my parent’s home – tomorrow will be filled with hours of travel and hopefully on-time planes and well-behaved children.

Leaving my hometown is always bitter-sweet. I truly love Pennsylvania, and have missed my friends, my garden, and maybe even seeing wild bunnies snack on our clover-filled lawn (just a tiny bit – the second they look towards my herbs they are officially on the endangered list). But nothing compares to the Wasatch Front – I’ve always felt safe and protected under its shadow. I miss looking out over the valley from 6000 feet, with 2000 more looming above me. I miss desert rain. Short bursts of water, washing away the heat, leaving an intoxicating smell. And of course my family is here. Family and friends that might as well be family.

But it’s time. I am ready to go – ready to tuck the girls into their own beds, and wait for my much-missed traveling husband to arrive a day later. I’m ready to be surrounded by a certain family of ninjas and schedule a playdate that is as much for the mommies as it is for the kids. I’m ready to be back with people who will look you in the eye and smile, help you at the drop of the hat, and most especially, allow you to merge into oncoming traffic.

It’s time, and I’m ready, but I’ll still miss you Utah, and everything you hold that I love.

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The reason my trip to Utah was timed for July was this: my youngest sister would be turning 21 on the 2nd, and we were going to celebrate.

I think the best way to illustrate our night would be Marty-style, in pictures, so here goes…

This is Alex. She is 21.

And this is really a much more realistic picture of her personality.

On our way to Cafe Trang

Checking for horoscopes in the City Weekly.

I got the caramel pork. It was delicious.

Ahh. She’s all grown up!

This was Kari’s fortune. Yeah.

She decided to get some better luck from the Buddha.

Best Neighborhood Watch sign ever.

Alex and I are the same astrological sign – our horoscope said to cause a ruckus – jay-walking was our first step in fulfilling our destiny.

A few hours and 20 outfit changes later (Keeley and Alex!) we were at Liquid Joes, ready to dance the night away. Cheers and Happy Birthday to my baby sister!

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Home-brewed iced coffee, a magazine, and quite possibly the sweetest dog in the world – with a view of the Wasatch Front on my parents’ porch. Not a bad way to pass the time.

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We did make it to Utah, and we mostly have our sanity intact. The girls were champions on the flights, and Sophie only made me carry her 3/4 of the way through O’Hare. But the time–change on my Young Ones is a killer, even though we’re only 2 hours behind the East coast, so patience is running thin on both sides.

The last two days have been filled with a Scottish festival, visits to parks, cleaning out my mom’s studio (yay!) and of course delicious food. Having three girls as the children in the house has been…interesting (how did my parents manage 5?). But sometimes, they get along, and that is pretty wonderful.

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