Sunday, September 27, 2009

Speidel Reunion 2009

So we were supposed to go to Utah for a family reunion on my mom's side at the beginning of August. I was really excited to see my cousins, Aunts, Uncles, and grandma, and I was especially excited to see my sister Hannah who got off her mission in July and have my siblings meet Kaitlyn. However, because the reunion was so close to my due date, I didn't know if I would be up for the flight or not so we didn't buy tickets in advanced. We planned to fly stand-by instead, and the whole week leading up to the family reunion, the flights were full. I was really bummed about not seeing my family, and decided to find a cheap ticket to Maine. We found some on Southwest for $39 one way for the end of August! What a steal! I was so excited to go and what a great trip we had :)

Day 1: We got to Boston early Thursday morning, and were really surprised about how energetic Nathan was after getting up at 3 in the morning and not sleeping much on the flight. He decided he wanted to pull his own suitcase through the airport in Boston to meet Grandma and Grandpa.
Nathan saw my dad and said "Baca!" because that's how he says "Grandpa," then he ran right towards him and past him. Such a silly kid. We had an hour and half ride back to my brother's house, which is in Sanford Maine. My parents are renting a house a few minutes away, so it's convenient to see everyone all at once. I was so excited to see Hannah and as soon as I saw her, I immediately stopped nursing Kaitlyn, handed her over to my mom, and started screaming and crying and hugging Hannah all at once. I think everyone thought we were insane. It was really great to see her though. 18 months is a long time not to see my sweet sister. She was just as funny as ever and was really surprised about how much Nathan had grown because he was only a few months old when she left. She also loved holding Kaitlyn. It was fun to have 2 babies in the house. My nephew, Dash, was born a few months before Kaitlyn so we had a lot of baby time. Later that day, we went blueberry picking at a blueberry farm 5 minutes from my brother's house. Nathan had a lot of fun getting lost among the blueberry bushes and he and cousin Riley enjoyed the nearby pond and old fashioned tractor more than the blueberries. That night, my sister-in-law Ali, made an amazing dinner with steak tips, sweet potatoes, and chocolate souffle! My mom always says what a great cook Ali is, and I thought, yeah, but does she cook like this all the time? Soon after, Ali brought out my chocolate souffle with a candle in it. It was my belated birthday party! She's so thoughtful :)

Day 2: This day we got to go the beach. I love the beaches in Maine! We went to Sanford Beach first, but there was no beach! The waves came all the way up and over the sand. We sat on the benches overlooking the water and ate ice cream instead. The ice cream melted faster then we could eat it though, and Nathan had a heck of a time eating his, but he was determined to finish it. We drove to Drake's Island, which is my favorite beach in Maine, and enjoyed the perfect weather. We had a picnic and played in the water, although it was freezing cold. Nathan loved Riley's dump truck once he got used to the sand, and they played for hours with the sand toys. I laid out in the sun and could have been there the whole day, but we had tired babies.

Day 3: The next day, we were on the phone with my parents (we were staying with at my brother's house) deciding what to do for the day. We concluded the beach, and told them to get ready and come over to get us. They came over a lot sooner, and we were presented with yet another surprise, my sister Doree had flown in the night before from Utah and no one but my dad knew! He is a lot better at keeping secrets these days. We were so excited because we were now all together for the first time since our trip to Hawaii before Hannah left. We had made our own Speidel Reunion! The week before I completely got on Doree's case for not coming because she said she was going out of town with some friends. I told her to not put friends before family, and she pulled through! I felt bad for doubting her:)

Everyone, with the exception of Jake, jumped in 2 cars and headed towards the beach. As we were driving, it started to rain. For some reason, it seems to rain on us a lot when we're together. We decided to go to Orchard Beach anyways and walk around. Orchard Beach is a typical touristy beach with a boardwalk and shops and everything. The weather cleared up, but not enough to go swimming. We just enjoyed walking on the beach and running from the waves crashing up on the shore, especially the ones under the pier. Nathan loved the huge waves and the wind. He was laughing and dancing around and talking about the water and the birds. He saw a carousel on his way to the beach, so we had to go and ride the "horshey." We found a table to picnic on and then stopped and watched a community dance group called the "jazzettes." At first, we wondered if they were for real, but we kind of got into watching them and critiquing them. It was funnier to us, I'm sure, because we grew up dancing at my mom's dance studio.

We then drove to a nearby beach called Ferry Beach, and thought we'd check it out. It was a lot less touristy than Orchard Beach, so it was serene and peaceful. We enjoyed sitting and watching the kids play and make friends. Eventually, we got brave enough to go in the water, but boy, was it cold! That was the first time Ali had ever gone in the ocean in Maine- I guess we're a good influence on her:) My 4 year old niece, Riley, was braver than all of us and jumped in almost as soon as Andrew did. Nathan, on the other hand, preferred pushing his dump truck around. That night, my brother Jake came home from his trip, so we were all officially together. Ali made us yummy lettuce wraps that are better than PF Chang's and it was great having a meal with everyone. The rest of us were her sous-chefs and we set the table and cleaned up. We left the cooking to her. That night we just had to take a picture of all of the kids in their striped PJ's! (wll get Kaitlyn some striped ones for next time)

Day 4: The Miller clan met my parents and sisters at church. We sat down and my mom said that we might be asked to sing on the spot. I asked why and she said there was going to be a surprise. I then saw my dad give his keys and wallet to my sister and walk up to the stand! Could it be? My dad was giving a talk! Out of all of the years that I can remember, my dad spoke in church once and that was with my mom. He is a pilot and travels a lot, but mostly he doesn't like speaking in front of others. I'm very much like him that way. I would rather just talk with people on an individual basis. My mom said that he told her that we better be ready to sing if he needed to use up more time, but he didn't because he gave such a wonderful talk and had a lot to say. He talked all about growing up, being raised in a Catholic church, and finding the church through my mom. He grew up in Algeria, during the French war where the apartments around him were being blown up and his friend was killed. He remembers hiding under the table being so scared. His family then moved to France and attended a Catholic church. He was told that God did not love him if he ditched Sunday School and that he would never get to heaven. He knew that God was a loving God and did not feel that way about him. He also talked about how it was hard for a little boy to understand what the Atonement was and all he knew was that Jesus was nailed to a cross. His family then moved to California, where his dad's sister lived. He had to learn English and adjust to life in America, but enjoyed the freedoms he felt. He always wanted to fly and became a flight instructor. My mom took lessons and he was her instructor. She was his instructor in the gospel and my mom's dad baptized him. He said he got 2 licenses out of the experience- a pilot's license and a marriage license. He talked about how when he read the Book of Mormon, he could relate to Lehi and his family leaving their home and traveling to a new land to start a new life. He felt the Spirit and knew that God loved him and was better able to understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ. My mom, my sisters, and I were all teary-eyed because we were so moved by my dad and the Spirit we felt as he spoke. It was one of the most spiritual experiences I have had. It is so powerful for a child to hear her father share his testimony and how the Gospel changed his life. Wow!

When we got home, we were all in nice clothes, so we decided it was time for a family picture. We enjoyed goofing off and trying to get the kids to smile. They got tired of it pretty fast, but we're glad to have record of us all being together.

Day 5- My mom had to go to work- she works as the dispatcher at the local airport- yes, it's all in the family. Everyone at the airport jokes that it's the Speidel's family airport. Hannah works there now too and Doree worked there last summer. My dad and brother are always in and out flying their planes and fixing them up. Riley even brought her preschool there so Jake could talk to them about planes for a field trip. Riley loves the airport just as much as her father and grandpa and goes with them to fix planes and fly. Anyways, the rest of us went to a nearby river that had a beach and a playground- Nate and Riley's dream! Doree got in a little dip before she had to leave for Utah. Jake and Andrew left to fly the Cub that was put on floats. They landed it on the river right in front of the beach! As they were circling above us, several fellow beachers were betting on whether or not they could land because the river was pretty narrow for a float plane. I also heard one of them say, "they're coming to pick up the lady in the red shirt" as they pointed to me. I felt like a movie star- it was so funny. Well, they did land, everyone cheered, and several men jumped in the water to help Jake tie the float plane to a tree. I then jumped in the plane and Jake and I took off. The Cub is only a 2 seater, so that's why we had to take turns. I waved to everyone on shore and it was quite the experience. We then found another lake and landed in it. It was crazy and exhilirating to watch the water splash underneath us, but it is a softer landing than on the runway. Jake found a little island and we landed there, tied the float plane down, and went swimming. Someone came on a jet ski to see if we were ok or needed help. Jake says he gets that all the time and mostly people are just curious about the plane. We took off, landed on another lake, and jumped in again. Jake let me fly a little, but I'm never very good at keeping the airplane straight. He took over and did some zero gravity tricks. We landed it at another lake, roped it off, and covered up. It was one of the coolest things I've done in a long time, and it was fun to spend time with Jake because we don't get to visit too often.

We then went home, had a small nap, and went to the airport to fly the MD-180. Jake wanted to take Nate for his first flight. Since the 180 is a 4 seater, Andrew, Nate, and I got to go. We left Kaitlyn with Grandpa. Nathan felt pretty cool with his head set on and kept saying "ehplane" until we took off. He then got nervous, closed his eyes, and grabbed onto the window. He opened them just a little, but I had to distract him by showing him pictures on the camera. We heard my mom on the radio, which was fun. Andrew also got to fly. We flew over the coast, and then had to head back to the airport because a black storm was coming in. Nathan liked the landing the best beacuse there was a little bump. He laughed and as soon as the airplane stopped he said "agan." Almost immediately after we landed, it started pouring rain. Good timing on Jake's part. It was a fun day of flying, but we were all exhausted.

When we got home, Doree was back because she had missed her flight, so we stayed up late into the night and played games. That night, we got my brother to play with us. He usually refuses to play games, but he said he was branching out. We had a ball laughing through Taboo. Jake got so excited anytime he guessed a word. It was fun sibling bonding time. We were glad Doree came back.

Day 6- Andrew and Doree had to leave early in the morning to get back to their respective jobs. Riley and Nate went to the neighbors house to play with their toys and playground equipment. Nathan is so happy at Riley's house because he loves playing with his cousin, her dog Chloe, her neighbor friends, and he loves all of the space and new toys. Oh, to have a house, that would be so nice! That afternoon, we had a picnic and went hiking at a place called Von Woods. I hadn't really done much exercising since having Kaitlyn, so it was a lot for me. We hiked several miles on a trail that was pretty up and down and about halfway, I told Jake he better go get the plane and come and get me because I wasn't walking another step. He told me to hand Kaitlyn off to my dad, and that really did help. She is light in her baby Bjorn, but after hiking for awhile, she gets heavy. Jake wore Nathan on his back in a hiking pack meant to carry kids. Riley got jealous because she usually sits in it, so Jake lifted her up and put her on his shoulders. Yes, he was holding both kids- one on his back and one on his shoulders, which was over 70 pounds. We let Nathan run at the end, and he loved "hiking." We then took the kids to the park. Maine is a very family friendly place to live and is full of parks and fun things for kids to do.

Day 7- Jake went back to work. Hannah, Dad, and I took the kids to the river again and did a lot of swimming. Hannah and I swam across it and were approached by someone that just had to meet us because we were such amazing swimmers. It wasn't really that far, so it was kind of funny that she was impressed. Nathan wanted to swim that day and he loved pushing me under the water. That evening, we all went to Riley's open house for her preschool. Nathan was an aspiring student and enjoyed all of the toys, and learning stations. That night, we went to mom and dad's house and let them enjoy all of their grandkids while we had a nice meal. Can't you tell how much they love these kids?

Day 8- Mom, Dad, Ali, the kids and I went to the Acton Fair. It was a small fair, smaller than the Montgomery County Fair we went to in Maryland. The kids liked it a lot because we saw a lot of animals and of course their grandparents spoiled them by buying them tickets for carnival rides and ice cream. The llamas had a costume parade, which was funny, and we enjoyed seeing the cows and sheep. That night, Hannah, Ali, and I met Mom at the church for an enrichment activity that she was in charge of. She set clues at each table for a murder mystery. Each person at the table was assigned a character each character had different clues to help solve the mystery. It was a clever idea.

Day 9- Sadly, we had to leave, but I got to bring Hannah with me to help take the kids home. It was definitely hard to come home, and to this day, Nathan will just start saying names like "Chloe, Riey, Baca, Mana (grandma), Ake (Jake), Amee (Ali), Doee, Hannah, " because he has such fond memories of Maine. It is really cute. So do I of course, and I am so happy we had such a good time together. I love my family and I am so thankful we get to be together always! Kaitlyn and Dash say it the best in this pic- the trip was full of love and closeness:)

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