Wednesday, November 16, 2011

{busy elves and a birthday boy}

As you might have guessed . . . we haven't been sitting around lamenting the passing of Halloween.  
Thanksgiving and Christmas are just too exciting!  I was serious about decorating!

November 1st was the perfect day to take down the Halloween decorations.  My little elf decided to decorate her room immediately!  She donned a Santa hat, brought her own decorations in and got to work.  
Pictures of her room will be posted soon.
The family room Christmas tree was next on the list and we decided to employ another lovely elf . . . which made it so much more fun!  Especially when the elves started decorating themselves.
We love Baylee!

The tree did get finished and it looks beautiful!  I'm really in a hurry tonight so I don't have all the pictures ready but hopefully you are now in a festive mood!

We had to stop decking the halls so we could celebrate a very special day.  My baby boy was about to celebrate his 16th birthday! I had to take a final picture with my big boy - it was his last night to be 15.  I'll never have another 15 year-old son! :(
The boys enjoyed a little breakfast feast bright and early on November 8th . . .
I am one lucky momma!
Landon made sure we kept with tradition and he got to open a gift first thing that morning.  I'm glad he likes books but it didn't last long.  I wish it would've lasted more than a day and a half.  Oh well!  He also received Inheritance and he's finished it too!
Is it noticeable that I have eight fashion conscious sisters that equate to eight fashion conscious aunts?? haha
 My mom & Rachel really know how to keep him looking good!  Perfect gift = super soft hoodie.

India had the best idea!  She made Landon an "Emergency Date Kit" - so thoughtful for the 16 year-old in her life.  She's a clever girl and he loves this.
Having all four kids home for Landon's birthday was the best.  Everything was right in my world and I couldn't have been happier.

I love the picture below!  What are best friends for if they don't blow out your candles??  The boys were joking around and I love watching them together . . . being best friends.  Although, I don't know if guys have best friends.  Maybe BFFs are just a girls thing?
The icing on the cake was having the Serdar's visit!!
These are the best people you'll ever meet.  We were so blessed to have them visit and we miss them already.
For tonight, that's the end.  Life has been too busy to update and I still hope to make time for a few flashback blogs in the future but for tonight that's really the end.  Nolan and I are getting up at 3:00 a.m.  We are going to check a few things off our bucket lists!  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

{I heart Avellaneda}

I love magical places.
Places that just let you know you're alive when you're within their realm.  
The castles of London.  Machu Picchu.  Disney World - especially at Christmas time. Home.
I discovered another magical place . . . Avellaneda, Argentina.  

Actually, it was the hearts of the people we met that made it magical.  I'm still trying to finish documenting our time in Argentina and I'm almost done!  I couldn't possibly end without remembering the magical evening we spent in Avellaneda - and then I still have Iguazu Falls.

This remembering is wonderful stuff!  It's also great for my month of Thanksgiving.

It was an evening that allowed my son to be treated like a prince and I was definitely given special treatment as if I were his royal mother.  Let me introduce you to some of the best people you'll ever find in the world . . .
Impressive, yes?  We discovered all of these precious people - and many more - waiting in the foyer for our arrival.  
We were showered with hugs, kisses, gifts, and forever friends.

Nolan served the last few months of his mission in Avellaneda.  We were privileged to spend our last evening in Capital with these wonderful people.  They actually planned an evening unlike any other.  We got to meet so many wonderful people, hear of their love for our son, and eat great food!  I know.  Over and beyond anything even in my dreams.

Marcelo {took us to Boca Stadium} went in to work late that evening so he could see Nolan one last time.  He also gave him the ever fantastic Boca scarf!  I absolutely melted when I saw those tears in Marcelo's eyes as he said farewell to Nolan. . . another moment etched in my memory.

La familia Albarracin & Hermana Borda - it sounds much fancier when they say it!

That sweet, tiny, little Hermana Borda was the sweetest thing and would look up at me with her darling smile full of expression and talk to me about Nolan and my Spanish wasn't good enough to understand nearly enough.
The Albarracin family stole my heart.  Mari just looked so beautiful that evening . . .

{Mari actually gave me the beautiful necklace she was wearing!  Tears. Love. Happiness. Gratitude.}
This post has been a struggle because there are so many pictures and yet how can I leave anyone out?
I already feel ungrateful and as if I'm betraying these dear friends when I edit it down to what I hope is a reasonable size.  I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for the best!

We went into the cultural hall where so many chairs were set up in a circle and the refreshments were being prepared.  {Love Elder Calderon!}

We didn't want to stop and sit down because we were busy taking pictures and meeting everyone.

Gustavo is awesome!  He's the guy with airplane arms and a super personality.  Can I say that he is the Argentine "Kramer"??  I don't want to be offensive in any way but I seriously loved this guy and Seinfeld's Kramer was the first thing that came to mind . . . and I honestly mean it in a good way!

{I admit I've only seen a very few episodes of Seinfeld in my life so I have no idea if that sounds offensive but I liked Kramer!}

Everyone needs one of these guys in their life!  His friend was also awesome but sadly, I can't remember every one's names and Nolan's not home to save me. :(  Needless to say - loved these guys!

Nolan managed to get away for a few minutes to leave a little something in the bishop's office.
Bishop Vescio is incredible and Nolan really grew to love and admire him.  Beef jerky, peanut butter, peanut butter cups, Reese's Pieces - not available in Argentina!  The people love to try all of it and particularly the Reese's Pieces because they've seen "E.T."  Oh, the privileges of living in the States!

Obispo Vescio - Bishop Vescio!  He also has an equally fabulous wife and daughter that we love.  We brought mate back with us so we can enjoy a little Argentine culture.  Love him!

We finally took advantage of those chairs and Bishop Vescio invited people to share their testimonies, experiences with and feelings for Nolan.  

It was an incredible experience to see the lives he had touched and those whose lives had touched him.
I was in awe that over 60 people had come to tell him farewell.

I thought this might be their custom but Bishop Vescio corrected me and said this was unique.  This was a first.  Nolan is not perfect and definitely wasn't the perfect missionary {I'm sure there are people in Argentina that would say that} but he tried.  He grew, changed, and truly loved these people with all his heart.  Love changes everything.  Love changes lives.

I can understand a little Spanish {wish it were more} and I was so humbled to hear the things they said: how much they loved him, would miss him, would remember him, and how grateful they were that he had loved them.  I can't describe the feelings in that room but I left part of my heart there and my heart is better for it.

I love all the people in these pictures!!


Hermano {Brother} Arizaga



Hermana Barrionuevo

Hermana Borda


Hermana Ramos

Hermana Arizaga
There were many more that shared the feelings of their hearts.  It was all so precious.  I was given the opportunity to share my feelings and Nolan translated for me then Nolan gave his parting testimony and told them again of his love.

We wiped our eyes and returned to a lively party mode!


Mari - and I'm wearing the fabulous necklace!!  Thankyouthankyouthankyou again Mari.

La Familia Maidana - check that out!  They made Nolan a train and the engine depicts the Argentine flag while each car holds a letter of his first name!  It's beautiful!  {I took note to be more thoughtful.}

Luis - I love this boy!  He was the good life personified.

Keaton had a great time himself! haha  He isn't chasing any girls but still manages to find a few.  You might say he had several request for pictures.  We discovered that it was faster to take them in groups.

Jannet, Christian, Karen!  Love, love, love!

I had already met Jannet via Facebook before going to Argentina.  Her English is better than my Spanish and combined we do alright!  There are just some people you know are your close friends the first time you meet them and these are mine!

La Familia Barrionuevo - the sweetest people and my heart ached when I couldn't express my feelings to them and to all of these people.

Nelly - love!  {Should I put that on every picture or do you think you just know by now? I'll trust you know.}

La familia Velasquez

Melisa, the lovely hostess with delicious homemade mini-pizza's!!  Perfect party food.  Perfect party hostess.

Love these people . . .

Love this picture . . .

Luis - the best!

Nelly & Martina - love, love!

Evelyn, Patricia, Arsenio - Love, love, love!  {I can't resist}

Elder Calderon - I'm saving an empty bed for this guy.  He's part of the family now.

Luis, Sr.

La familia Vescio - more love!

As we cleaned up we also created a lot of space for the skateboarders.  This kid was awesome!
He jumped over Keaton.  {As a mother I was supposed to tell them not to do it?  Oops!}
Keaton's a bit bravish down there.  {I have a video of the actual jump but I don't know how to put it on my blog yet.}

It was getting late but we wanted to stop and visit one more family.  Silvina looks like a teenager but she's the mother of four!  In an earlier blog I mentioned the soccer/futbol craze and told you about the various teams . . . case in point!  Boca and River fans going against each other!  To them it's like the North and South fighting in the Civil War . . . families divided and they all think they're right.  Too funny!
They are such a great family.  The father died a few years ago and Silvina is doing a great job raising four kids alone.  {One son opted out of the picture.}   It was a treat to get to meet them and much better than our next activity - packing.

I know this was a long post - and I didn't include nearly all the pictures I would have liked.  I didn't even get to include pictures of all the kind gifts.  Nolan received everything from a personalized mate "cup" and steel chopsticks to beautiful cards and keepsakes made of screws and corks.  

It was fun!  It is wonderful to know that this world is still full of so many good people.  People who love the Savior, Jesus Christ, and keep His commandment to love others.  I felt that love and that evening was magical!