Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Home

Sam's been home for one day and so far so good! We are all loving the time we get to spend with him. Admittedly, he's had a few moments of "What am I doing here?" but overall, he's doing really well. He's getting things done and spending time with his siblings. He keeps realizing things he's allowed to do like: 
  • listen to his favorite songs (Sam has always been very motivated by music) 
  • sleep in (he needed it after getting up at 2:00 a.m. yesterday!) 
  • play the piano and violin whenever he wants
  • Google (surfing the net has been off limits) 
Sam is a pretty remarkable young man. He served a great mission and had so many amazing experiences. He made a big difference in the lives of many, many people. He learned a lot of things that he'll benefit from the rest of his life. I'm excited to see where life takes him. For now, we're just soaking up our time together and enjoying the stories and experiences he's willing to share!


This is the sign we made for Sam's airport greeting. In the end, everyone was too excited to stand there holding a sign so it was abandoned.

All the siblings together for the first time in two years. We were waiting for luggage when I took this picture. By the way, one of Sam's suitcases was lost, but miraculously found before we left the airport. Yay! :)

Jeff and Sam after arriving home. 

Sam and one of his best friends, Austin. Austin returned home from his mission earlier this year so it's been about 2 1/2 years since these two have seen each other. It was a happy reunion this evening!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

RM


After two years of faithful missionary service, Sam is home and among the ranks of the Returned Missionary. It's a unique situation to be in. After such a rigid schedule and always having a companion, it's a little overwhelming to suddenly find yourself part of the "real" world again. So many things that were off limits are suddenly allowed and perfectly acceptable. Movies, video games, pop music, dating... 

The kids have had a great time this evening jamming with Sam and seeing if he can still beat them at Mario Kart. (He can.) :)

We're super excited to hear all about his untold adventures in Mesa during the past two years. I'm ready to cook his favorite meals and the kids are anxious to catch him up on their favorite movies and activities. There's a lot to do to get him outfitted and ready for college next month and it all starts to feel overwhelming if I let it, but I won't let that get in the way of how happy we are to have him back. 

I'm still wondering how two years can go from feeling like it'll never end to feeling like Sam never left. It's so, so good to have him home. We've been looking forward to this day for a long time. (734 days to be exact.)

Welcome home, Sam! We've missed you so much!


Two Years Ago...

Remember this post?

Yep. It's been two years and three days since we said goodbye to our Sam.

But TODAY is the day!! Right now, Elder Stowell is sitting in Chicago waiting for his connecting flight. In less than 2 hours we finally get to hug him again!

We've been making a list of all the things we want to do with Sam during the few weeks he'll be home before he turns around and heads to BYU. He won't be home nearly long enough, but we're determined to make the most of it.

I can't wait! :)


Friday, July 15, 2016

Kayaking at Sunset

One afternoon in Idaho we went to a big gravel pit that is on some land owned by my sister-in-law Kristin's family. There is a big rope swing that the kids had fun with as they swung out over the water and then willed themselves to let go. We also brought along some kayaks which was my favorite part. Kayaking isn't something I've done before, but I loved it! It was so relaxing to paddle around the gravel pit. The kids and Jeff enjoyed it as well so we decided to pick up a couple of kayaks when we got home. 

Lake Charleston is just a few minutes from our house so it's not difficult to get out on the lake for a quick morning or evening paddle across the lake. 

Jeff and I went on a sunset kayak date tonight. The weather was perfect with mild temps and low humidity (rare this time of year!!). The lake was calm and the sunset was beautiful. I can't wait to go back!




Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Eleven-Year-Old Cowgirl


A big Happy Birthday to my eleven-year-old Sadie-bug today! Jeff arranged for her to go horseback riding as a birthday surprise. He told her they had an appointment together, but Sadie had no idea what it could be. All she knew was Savannah was jealous and wanted to come. This got her wheels spinning and she decided Jeff must be taking her to a spa. While it's true that Savannah would love something like that, Sadie doesn't feel the same and was DREADING this great surprise. Fortunately, Sadie was beyond thrilled when she realized the truth. She had the best time!

Sadie looks a lot like grandma Stowell in the following picture. We have pictures of grandma dancing when she was a little girl and Sadie looks so much like her here.


Happy Birthday, Sadie! I hope eleven is your best year so far!


Monday, July 11, 2016

Wyoming

Driving home from Idaho last week we took a different route, but still we saw the most beautiful landscapes as we traveled across a different part of Wyoming. 


Try to imagine this scene: The sky was completely covered with clouds except for one little opening where a huge sun stream was pouring through and lighting up a little village in front of the mountain range. This is the best picture I could get, but it doesn't do it justice. It was so pretty.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Fifty Years Worth of Family

A big reason we timed our Idaho trip when we did was so that we could see Jeff's brothers and celebrate Richard and Carol's Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary (their actual anniversary was the end of May). The Fourth of July weekend was a good time for everyone to get away so we had about 36 hours where everyone (minus Sam) was in town at the same time. 

The cousins enjoyed time together. There was plenty of singing and creative music making. We ate lots of good food! One highlight was the evening where we sat around and reminisced about life on the farm and all the Stowell family things we remember from the past. There were plenty of laughs and a few tears. I think we all left feeling pretty blessed that we get to belong to such a great family group! I know I do. :)



Saturday, July 9, 2016

Utah

The Utah part of our trip was kind of a whirlwind, but packed with family and fun. We spent one day in Provo exploring BYU and then loading up all of Savannah's college stuff to bring home. We had a great time at the Monte L. Bean museum. It's pretty cool. Here are just a few pictures which really don't even begin to show the scope of impressive displays and the variety of wildlife represented there.




Bowen is the baby of the family and oh, so cute! He'll turn one in a few weeks. He started out pretty small, but you'd never know it because he has no disadvantage now. He reminds me of Sam when he was a baby with his "little old man" face and bald head. 



Jeff and Lane became fast friends when we spent an afternoon at the Herriman Reservoir where Jeff hung out with Lane building a snake out of sand. After that, Lane would sit on Jeff's lap or wanted Jeff to play with him or hold him. He would grab Jeff's hand and say, "Come on!" and drag him over to his toys. It was so cute. :) Lane was also quite taken with Sterling's beat boxing. He would start dancing and joining in whenever Sterling started up. Cutest kid!


Soren at the reservoir:


We had a family gathering one evening and I think our two missionaries, Sam and Jake, were the only ones missing. We didn't get any pictures that night (rats!) but it was great to see everyone and to celebrate my parents' 49th Anniversary. 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Elijah

Because all five brothers were going to be in town at once, we knew one family would need to stay at Jay's house.  (Jay, Jeff's youngest brother, lives across town from Jeff's parents). I quickly and happily volunteered our family so that we could spend the most time with the newest Stowell. 

I love our Idaho family and it was really great to spend time with everyone. We don't get to see each other nearly often enough! As much as I enjoy spending time with the adults and all my nieces and nephews, the highlight for me was baby Elijah. Elijah is barely a month old and oh, so sweet! 

I'll admit it, I hogged him. I held him while he cried. I held him while he slept. I bugged other people while they held him. I LOVE newborns and I can't get enough.

The next time we see little Elijah, he'll likely be walking and probably won't want anything to do with me. But for the past several days, we've been buddies. It's my favorite part. 






Sadie sewed this cute little puppy for Elijah. :)


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Cousins

Sadie can never get enough of her favorite cousins. She, Ana and Ruby are three little peas in a pod. We've been staying at their house during the Idaho portion of our trip, but that's not good enough for Sadie. She wants to know when we can move here. I think if we accidentally left her here, she wouldn't mind one little bit! 


Sadie and Ana - crazy girls!