Thursday, August 20, 2015

August 13, 2015: BYU Commencement

Road trip! The culmination of our summer was driving up to Utah to celebrate the culmination of Lyndsay's college experience at Brigham Young University. I got to drive with the three boys, which was awesome since two of them could help drive!

We drove up the day before. I actually really like road trips with the kids, being "stuck" together for a nice long time. We had some conversation, some laughs (Dylan is hilarious), and the boys got some reading done in between video game sessions.  Conor is working his way through the Far World series,

And Aiden was hard at work on his AP English Language assignment, reading and annotating The Fiddler in the Subway. Great book.

When we first arrived in Provo, it was late and we were starving. We drove right to Cafe Rio and ate dinner, and then headed back to the hotel to crash. Well, some of us wanted to crash. The boys were so hyped up and insisted on jumping on beds and throwing pillows around and laughing and, well, being boys. Which they apparently are slow to grow out of. But finally we were able to settle down after enough mishaps and Mom going slightly crazy.

The next day, we needed to work together to get Lyndsay moved out of her apartment before the ceremony. Her brothers worked hard packing and lifting for her. She had already done a lot of the work and cleaning, but man, moving is a huge job.

And, we realized, she has too much stuff.

She stored most of her things in the garage of one of her professors (whom she babysits for as well), and then some of it went in her car, and some in mine. Some we took to Deseret Industries to donate. Cleaning out her fridge and freezer meant that she made huge batches of smoothies and kept making us drink one after the other.

Then we all came back to the hotel room to get ready for the graduation.

The commencement was held at the Marriott Center on BYU's campus. We got there very early to be sure we could get good seats. My dad had flown in from North Dakota for this event, and Lyndsay's dad and his family had driven up from Arizona. Adam met us there from St. George, where he's been working. The one thing we all had in common was our love and pride in this girl we get to call ours.

Lyndsay's major was Bioinformatics, which is a conglomerate of computer science, genetics, and molecular biology. She minored in Computer Science. She's a real life scientist!

We are extra proud of her because my mom and I realized that Lyndsay is the first female anywhere in the family, both sides to receive her Bachelor's degree! She's a pioneer and she is paving the way for all of her female cousins and her future daughters and granddaughters.

After we were settled in our seats, Lyndsay had to leave us to go line up with the graduates. We waited anxiously. (And I enjoyed seeing Dylan all dressed up in a shirt and tie.)

Lyndsay texted me this picture of her and her best friend and roommate, Emily from the processional line outside. It made me tear up instantly. This is real! There is my girl in a cap and gown!

When the graduates started entering the stadium, they walked down several different aisles. I was scanning the blue caps, searching for my girl, when all of a sudden, I heard, "Mom!" There she was, walking right by us! We had picked a most fortunate spot to sit, and it melted my heart that she wanted to be sure that I saw her. I love the expression of pure joy on my dad's face. He graduated from BYU's undergraduate and law program so many years ago.

The faculty came and sat on the stand, along with the commencement speakers, Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder Dallin H. Oakes, there in the front in the green and red robes.

The speakers were excellent and appropriately inspiring. The degrees were pronounced upon the graduates, and then they left the arena, officially finished with their programs. We got to see Lyndsay again as she filed past our row. Man, she glows.

We met up with her outside for hugs, tears of joy, and pictures.

All of us together, who came to celebrate our Lyndsay.

That day also happened to be Conor's 9th birthday. We had talked with him about postponing his celebration til we got home, but we still wanted to be sure he got a little birthday love. Here we are driving over to the restaurant. Love this boy.

We ate at Buffalo Wild Wings, though through a series of unfortunate circumstances, Adam never made it to dinner.

We surprised Conor with some birthday love.

I love this man so much. He is a hero to me, and it meant so much that he could be there to share in this joyous occasion.

My birthday buffalo.

We headed back to the hotel for some swimming and fun and then went to bed even more excited for the events of the next day.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Summer Catch-Up

School started this week. Summer ends too quickly! The climax of our summer happened last week when we went to Utah for Lyndsay's college graduation, but I wanted to get in a post of how we filled our time up until that blessed event.

Puzzles. Lots of puzzles. It seems we always had one going, and I'll tell you, it was pretty nice. We kept two tables set up in the living room, one for pieces, and one for the puzzle. Having that project to work on kept the television off more often, and it allowed for some really lovely talks late into the night with my children.

When we finished that one above, we wanted a bigger challenge, so we ordered a 2000 piece puzzle. Holy cow! None of us had ever tried one that big and it took a LONG time, but what a great feeling when it was finally completed!

I  finally stuck to my goal of teaching Conor Latin. We started right at the beginning of summer and did two lessons each day on most days. He is learning so quickly! I also taught him to write in cursive, because somehow that got left out of the curriculum and it was important to me that he have that skill. So, most every day he did two lessons in Latin, two pages in cursive, and read for one hour. Mean mom, I know.

Blessed surprise! Dylan moved back home the first week in July. It was sudden and unexpected, but so wonderful to have him home. I had some anxiety about the transition, but really, it's been a delight. I want to write more about this, and about him. But I can tell you now that I am so proud of this boy, what he's come through, who he is becoming, and where he and I are in our relationship now.

Conor played in an All-Stars league. They were younger and less experienced than every other team and lost every game, but it was a great opportunity for them and they had a lot of fun. Conor got the only hit (a double) in the last game, and even got to pitch for the first time.

He was awarded the Game Ball for that last championship game. So proud of him!

Lyndsay drove home from Provo for a week and a half visit, and stopped at the hospital to see me on her way home.

A few days later, we went back to the airport to pick up Aiden, who returned from his six week visit with his dad in Arizona.

Which means. . . All my chickens were home!

Lots of board games were played.

We had a beach day.

So good to see my oldest son engaged and having such a good time with his little brother. Man, it was good to be together.

Lots of late night laughs and fun sibling rivalry. Just like the old days.

We threw together a quick birthday/graduation party for Lyndsay.

Her friend, Aisha, came home from her mission in Uruguay that same day, so we celebrated her as well. Aisha was Lyndsay's first room mate at BYU.

Happy 21st birthday! How time flies!

The next day we made a return trip out to Long Beach to go kayaking.

(We brought a friend along with us.)

And then the following day we had to say goodbye to Lyndsay and send her back up to Utah to finish up her last week or so in Provo before graduation. School was finished for her back in June, but she had to study and take the GRE (Grad school entrance exam), get some more work done in the research lab, and pack up her apartment.

Not too sad of a goodbye this time, since we knew we'd be up there shortly to celebrate all her hard work. Love this girl!