arizona, a wedding, and
f a m i l y

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flying halfway around the world with a baby (and without his dad and brother!) right before christmas for just four jet-lagged days is pretty much crazy. but it was really so worth it to be at my nephew's wedding and to spend time with my family. (oh, and the amazing weather in arizona didn't hurt!) it was a wild adventure that left my body and mind so tired, but my heart so full.

i always say that the one thing i don't absolutely love about london is that it's so far from family. not missing this gathering (unlike many that have come before in the past few years) was the right thing for me, and i'm so grateful i was able to go.

indeed, the crazy trip was worth it - for the fantastic wedding day:
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the time with beloved family members:
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and the sunshine:
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all relished, with a side of christmas magic:
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gabriel was a champ on the long flight from london to minneapolis, and then we happened to be on the same flight as my brother and his family from minneapolis to phoenix - crazy! so much fun to meet up with them in the airport during our layovers.
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and then the reunions with the whole gaggle of siblings/aunts&uncles and neices&nephews/cousins was sooo sweet! six of my eight siblings were in arizona for the wedding (we sorely missed my brother that lives in hawaii and my brother that lives in switzerland). a bunch of us rented an airbnb near my sister's house. the girls took morning runs (through the beautiful foliage-y streets of shawni's neighborhood) every morning.
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i became an aunt just days before i turned eleven years old. my sister's first baby's birth sparked a deep love (sometimes bordering on obsession!) for my nieces and nephews. i adooooored that baby - and his siblings and cousins that followed. now that baby boy is married ... i can't believe it! it was so special for me to be able to meet his bride the day before their wedding (i absolutely loved her from the moment we met!) and to witness their sealing and celebrate with them at their reception. i am so excited to see these two grow together. they are an awesome pair.

the day before the wedding, we had a wedding shower with a big group of family members and friends.
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here's the bride abby with her mom and almost mom-in-law! and the couple with max's grandmas.
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that night we had a really special family dinner, which was so so full of love for these two kids, embarking on a new adventure. love them.
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my brother happened to catch this shot of max & abby running into the temple - i love it! the sealing was beautiful and happy and then we all waited outside for the new married couple to come out.
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max & abby's exit from the temple was sooo jubilant! i loved it. the thing i like best about these photos though is the beaming face of my sister, so proud and happy and full of love for her only son and his bride.
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while her daughters snapped a bunch of photos on their phones, haha:
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while the bride and groom were taking pictures with different configurations of loved ones, my siblings snagged some family photos. my niece eliza and sister-in-law julie didn't know that burgundy was the wedding colour before the wedding, but they were sure perfectly coordinated, haha! i love all of these people so much.
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this family gained a new member on this day!:
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and abby gained a loooot of new cousins! ;)
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the reception that evening in shawni and dave's back yard was so, so great. the setup was totally magical:
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sky lanterns were set off:
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and there was a lot of dancing. first these sweet mother/son and daddy/daughter dances:
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and then a full-on, super hopping dance party. i had a blast grooving with family members. gabriel slept through the entire reception, which part of me was sad about but more of me was happy about ;) it was so great to just celebrate with most of my best friends in the world.

gabe and i stayed in arizona for a couple of days after the wedding, because the cheapest flight back to london (we found a crazy good deal) was on the 23rd (overnight, so we arrived home on the morning of christmas eve!). jet lag meant the baby and i had had some really rough nights, but as sleep-deprived as i was, i still sooo enjoyed these days with family. most of my siblings and their families stuck around arizona for a little while before returning to their homes for christmas.

all the teenage and adult girls went to lunch together. we had all been working on reading the book of mormon by the end of the year together. we shared progress and insights via an email thread and then in arizona were able to be all together to discuss in person!
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we all piled in my sister-in-law kristi's sprinter van and my faithful mom lead our discussion from the front seat on the way to and from the restaurant :)
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gabriel and his cousin-twin (born five days apart!) etta had some bonding time by shawni's christmas tree...
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...and that evening all the eyres in arizona gathered for a "jerusalem supper." this is a christmas eve tradition we did growing up - we make middle-eastern food, dress up a little, and pretend we are sharing a meal with mary and joseph just before they leave for their journey to bethlehem. it's kind of a weird but also kind of awesome thing, and it was so fun to do this all together this year! three generations gathered by candlelight reflecting on the birth of jesus.
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the lights still up from the wedding reception doubled pretty perfectly as stars in the night sky on the night of jesus's birth, and we did a little nativity storytelling and roleplaying outside.
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something in my soul was so deeply moved and soothed as i knelt on the grass and sang christmas carols that warm night, surrounded by family members. since i haven't been with extended family on christmas for several years, this was just soooo wonderful for me and made my heart to happy. gabriel again slept through all the festivities, haha. missed his chance at being baby jesus ;)
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the next morning i sent this picture of gabriel to ian, watched my dad and sister and nieces play some tennis, and checked in on moses via our video monitor a dozen times, missing him like crazy.
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my mom took me to trader joe's to stock up on some goodies (we ended up going to two different trader joe's that weren't particularly close to each other, because the first one we went to was sold out of candy cane joe joe's. what!!!) and gabriel and i spent some time just sitting by the pool soaking in some sun with loved ones before we headed back to amazing but quite dreary (when it comes to the weather!) london.
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gabriel was sad to say goodbye to the pool table at the airbnb, which he randomly loved:
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and had a bit more time chilling by the christmas tree:
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and then it was time to head back across the ocean! gabe slept through a lot of the red eye flight, but only in hour long chunks so i was pretty bleary by the time we touched down at heathrow. we headed straight into christmas eve celebrations at home with moses and daddy!
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pretty much crazy. but worth it.


  1. What an amazing whirlwind trip! I'm on my way to the US from Europe next week to visit family. Family makes it worth it!

  2. How do you feel about Abby marrying as a teenager? Did she do a mission like Max?

    1. she's 20, so not technically a teenager ;) i think marrying young works really well and is the right thing for some people and couples. that's a little hard for me to wrap my head around, and these two definitely seem super young to get married to me. but they found each other at this point in their lives and prayerfully decided to commit to each other, so i'm very excited and happy for them.

      abby did begin choose to serve a mission but unfortunately got very ill while training for missionary service in peru and so came home within the first couple of months.


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