Monday, January 19, 2015

New Year Baby

Baby Natalie was born on January 1st!
January 17, 2015

Tahna and Spencer welcomed their first child into the world at 1:30 a.m. on January 1st, just an hour and a half after New Year's Eve's midnight. That made her the first baby born in the local hospital of our small community. Which meant tiny Natalie got her picture in the local newspaper!

Tahna feels blessed that they made it to the hospital in time. When her labor started, it was so light that she didn't even think about heading to the hospital yet, even though their town is a 30-minute drive from the hospital--and even though a major snowstorm had struck our mountain and made driving conditions dangerous. Fortunately, her water broke soon after and she knew then it was time to go.

The drive to the hospital took 20 minutes longer than usual, thanks to the storm, but they arrived safely and sweet Natalie was born 3 hours later.

16-day-old Natalie and her mommy, Tahna.

Sarah and I had some business in their town on Saturday, so we took the opportunity to stop by and visit mother and baby for an hour. How precious is that tiny baby girl!

Tahna is a younger sister of my sister-in-law Dana, but our connection goes a bit deeper than that. In some ways, it's almost cosmic! First, my daughter Sarah went to high school with Tahna, who became one of Sarah's closest friends, which continues to this day. Second, Sarah and Tahna and their other good friend Emmi were all married within one month's time of each other in the summer of 2011. And both Tahna and Emmi served as bridesmaids for Sarah.

Here comes the cosmic part: I used to have a TracPhone five or six years ago, and when I switched phones I got a new phone number. A short time later, my son Jacob accidentally tried to call me on my old phone number. He was surprised when Tahna answered. When she got a new cell phone, she was given my old number! What are the odds?

One final cosmic coincidence: my daughter-in-law's family was renting a house when Danielle and Jacob met and fell in love. One month before the wedding, the owners of the home told Danielle's family that they had decided to sell the house, so they'd have to move out in a month. That presented quite a hardship to their family, since during that month Danielle's brother Stirling was returning from his mission, their sister Jordan was graduating from high school, and Danielle was getting married! They managed to stay in the house for another month or so, which coincided with a job change for Danielle's father. Their family now lives in Utah.

What does this have to do with Tahna? Well, she and Spencer bought the house where Danielle's family had been living! Tahna told us the house was a godsend for them, and the timing was just right. Funny how God always makes everything work out for everyone, always in His own way and in His own time. However, I admit it was a bit surreal to walk into Tahna's new home, when on my previous visits there it had been filled with Danielle's family!

Sarah enjoys some quality time with Natalie.

We enjoyed a wonderful visit, and it was a joy to hold that tiny bundle of sweetness. We'll have to do it again sometime soon!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Proposal Revisited

10 Jan 2015: Danielle and Jacob on the Gilbert Temple grounds.

On the day of my niece Mariah's wedding in the Gilbert Temple, January 10th, it was also the 11th anniversary of the date my son Jacob proposed to his wife Danielle on the grounds of that very same temple. Eleventh month, that is, on February 10, 2014. 

We'd traveled to the Valley to attend the open house of the then-brand-new Gilbert Temple, and Jacob had a lovely engagement ring hidden away until just the right moment presented itself. To commemorate that special day, they revisited the bench where he'd gotten down on one knee to propose, and we did our own little photo-shoot.

Sarah and Chris at the Gilbert Temple.

We got a shot of Sarah and Chris there, too. They are an old married couple of three-and-a-half years now, and their proposal happened in a forest of the White Mountains, but they also had a February proposal date: February 17, 2011. I'm so happy that my two adult children have found their best friends and eternal companions!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Reception

Mariah and Dallin's pink and mint-green wedding cake.

As usual, the day of wedding festivities culminated in the fun of a large, well-attended reception. It was great to visit with family and friends there, the food was amazing, the decor was beautiful, and it's always entertaining to watch the Bride and Groom do all the traditional and fun activities we've come to expect. Here are a few photographic highlights from the reception. Remember, you can click on any picture to enlarge it.

The Bride and Groom cut their cake...

...and then they delicately feed each other a slice. They were too nice!

First dance of the newlyweds.

Lots of single girls of all ages hoping to catch the bouquet.
One of Mariah's good friends took the honor.

Dallin goes in for the garter. He seemed very eager!

Guess who caught the garter? It was Mariah's 6-year-old nephew Jaren!
(And Lila photo-bombs another shot!)

The Bride's siblings Jeremy and Gabrielle prepare the getaway car!
(And they had help, of course!)

The Bride and Groom leave the church amidst cheers, sparklers, and "snow."

And then the dismal reality of taking it all down and hauling it away.

The reception was officially over at 9:00, although it was quite some time after that when the newlyweds left the building and the festivities came to an end. Then everyone rolled up their sleeves and pitched in to dismantle and put away all the furniture, food, and decorations. We stayed until 10:30 before heading back to our resort. I heard Karla's crew spent two more hours at the church, getting everything ready to travel and cleaning up. What a big job, but so nicely done!

Thanks for joining us for Dallin and Mariah's big day!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

In Between

10 Jan 2015: A gift for the newlyweds.

Lest anyone think there was time to relax and perhaps take a nap between Mariah and Dallin's wedding at the Gilbert Temple and their wedding reception, which began at 7:00 that evening, allow me to disabuse you of that notion!

Bread bowls on the luncheon table.

While the happy couple remained behind at the temple with their photographer, the rest of us headed over to the church where the luncheon had been prepared and set up by Dallin's mother and other family members. And an amazing luncheon it was, too!

Crock pot soups galore! 

I always get a bit nervous attending these events when I'm dieting. My 2015 New Year's Resolution is to avoid all sugars, wheat, corn and potatoes for an entire year so I can get healthier. This luncheon was my first big challenge. I think I did pretty well. I passed up the bread bowls and the cookies, as well as the pasta soups and potato soups.

Table decor at the luncheon.

However, there was lemon/lime water on the tables for drinking, a big green salad with Italian dressing, and a delicious cream of broccoli soup that I thoroughly enjoyed, so much so that I had one-and-a-half bowls full! There may have been some sugar in the dressing, and no doubt the soup was thickened with corn starch or flour, but overall I think I was successful in my choices.

My luncheon plate. I scooped a bit of sausage and zucchini out of a pasta soup!

We had arrived at the church around 1:00, and once it was clear that the Bride and Groom were going to be delayed for a while, it was decided to go ahead and serve lunch at 1:15. It was about 2:00 when they joined us and were finally able to relax and take some nourishment. By then, of course, it was time for the rest of us to move on to the church building where the reception was to be held and finish getting everything set up.

Elyssa and Scott hang a chandelier while Cami laughs at them.

My sister Karla puts on a mean reception. She began with her son and daughter-in-law, Jeremy and Cami (who now have 5 children), and continued on through 5 daughters: Genevieve, Elyssa, Brianna, Clelesta, and now Mariah. She's got it down to a science! She also has a small army of willing assistants who are there to see her through each wedding.

The area where wedding gifts were stacked throughout the evening.

Everyone seemed to know their part, from setting up furniture to decorating tables to preparing food. We lent a hand wherever they put us to task. My daughter Sarah, aka "the Baby Whisperer," always had an infant or toddler in her arms, rocking them to sleep so their parents could be free to work.

Table decor: Mariah's colors were pink and mint-green.

Chocolate was scattered everywhere! But I resisted it successfully. Karla always serves a light dinner featuring chicken salad sandwiches on croissants, so I ate the delicious pecan-and-grape-studded chicken salad without the bread. There was also pasta salad (I only picked out a couple of bites of salami); luscious-looking brownies that severely tested my resolve; and tempting pink punch that looked much sweeter than my lemon water! However, I was able to enjoy vegetables (celery, carrots, cauliflower, grape tomatoes, and olives) with a creamy dip, and strawberries with a few apple slices (but none of that decadent caramel sauce that was beckoning to me).

The refreshment table as it was being laden with a variety of delicious foods!

My largest contribution to the reception prep was the chalkboard that looks to become a family tradition. I first did one for Riley and Celesta's wedding more than a year ago. Karla handed me the chalkboard, chalk markers, and a sample of what she wanted, and the rest is history. Now, armed with Mariah and Dallin's special dates, I spent much of the 4 hours between the luncheon and the reception working on this beauty. Never mind that I had it half-finished when I decided I didn't like it, scrubbed it all clean, and started over! In the end, it turned out well. 

Mary with the Chalkboard of Romantic Memories!

One more post to go. Next, the reception fun!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

La Familia

10 Jan 2015 - My own progeny on the steps of the Gilbert Temple:
Jacob, Danielle, Dylan, Sarah, and Chris.

When can we count on seeing many of our extended family members? Weddings and funerals, of course! Thankfully, this occasion was a joyous one, that of Dallin and Mariah's wedding!

All the members of the Bride's family who were at the temple to celebrate with them!

My sister Karla, with her daughter and newest son-in-law.

Karla with 9 of her 10 children, plus Dallin (Josh couldn't be there).

The siblings look on in horror at this public display of affection!

Mariah with all six of her sisters: 
Elyssa, Gabrielle, Brianna, Mariah, Celesta, Genevieve, and Addison.

Seven sisters on Mariah's wedding day!
(With a photo-bomb appearance by Lila...)

The Bride and Groom with two of Mariah's three brothers:
Jeremy, Mariah, Dallin, and Julien.

The Bride and Groom with Mariah's oldest sibling, Jeremy, and his family:
Lexi, Cami, Makayla, Jaren, Analyce, Braxton, and Jeremy.

The Bride and Groom with Mariah's second-oldest sibling, Genevieve, and her family:
Jaycee, Genevieve, Lila, Brooke, Max, and Scott.

The Bride and Groom with Mariah's fourth-oldest sibling:
Elyssa, her husband Ross, and their three little ones.

The Bride and Groom with Mariah's fifth-oldest sibling:
Celesta, her husband Riley, and their new little guy, Levi.

The Bride and Groom with Mariah's sixth-oldest sibling (Mariah is #7):
Brianna, her husband Bryce, their son Carson, and one on the way, soon!

Mariah and Dallin with all 14 of their Brinkerhoff nieces and nephews!

We got in on the photo session, too! Left to right:
Danielle, Mary, Jacob, Mariah, Dallin, Dylan, Sarah, and Chris.

My brother Jeff, his ex-wife Dana, and several of their children were there at the reception that evening, and now I'm kicking myself for not thinking to grab pictures of each of them as we visited! But it was so good to spend time with them!

Karla, Jeff, and Mary.
Our brothers LeRoy and Darryl weren't able to make it, but
all three of us Butler siblings who are currently single were there!
(This was after the reception, after 10:00, and we were worn out!)

Next up: what we did for six hours between the temple and the reception!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mariah and Dallin

Mariah and Dallin are now Mr. and Mrs.

My lovely niece Mariah and her sweet fiance Dallin were sealed together for eternity in the Gilbert Temple on Saturday, January 10th. It was, as ever, a beautiful ceremony. It was so tender to see this couple gaze into each other's faces across the altar, with tears on their cheeks.

The LDS Temple in Gilbert, Arizona.
January 10, 2015

It was an overcast, drizzly day (always badly needed in the desert), but half of the photos on the temple grounds were finished before the rain began in earnest. Unfortunately, after everyone else left, the rain presented a challenge for the other half of the pictures, featuring just the newlyweds.

Mariah and Dallin just after they came out of the temple doors.

Mariah with her niece Lila.

The whole wedding party.

Congratulations to the happy couple! 
Next up, el mucho familia at the wedding!

My niece Gabrielle, Mariah's younger sister, was a bridesmaid.
Isn't she pretty?