"Wow that little boy looks like his daddy." "Hello Derek junior" "Look it's a miniature Derek." I've heard it ever since Hyrum was born. I'd look at him and think "I have to be in there too" I'm pretty sure he's got my color eyes because Derek's are more blue green but didn't really see much more than that. Derek and Hyrum's one month pictures are very similar and the picture that was taken minutes after Derek was born could have been superimposed with Hyrum and no one would have known the difference. I just didn't have any pictures of myself when I was little so I had nothing to compare it to. Then one day a picture was posted on my family's website of me when I was 3 months old. You be the judge...

Derek At 3 months

Hyrum at 3 months

Me at 3 months

Hyrum just started laughing outloud when he's awake. He's been chuckling in his sleep for a while now, but every once in a while we can get him to chuckle. Here's a video of his newest little trick.

Every Monday during the summer American Fork Arts council does a free concert series at Amphitheater Park across from the Timpanoogas Temple. It is one of the most amazing settings for...well anything. We've watched "The Sound of Music" and "Once on This Island" there. We see any play showing there and have even been to a couple wedding receptions there. It looks out at a view of Utah Lake framed in gigantic beautiful pine trees.

The whole park has a lot of big beautiful shady trees. (Something you really appreciate in Utah) We've had many picnics there even before we got married. It even rivals the temple grounds for the favorite picture taking spot around.

It is our absolute favorite park in American Fork. So when we heard that two young men in our ward had a band that was playing there we had to go. There were three bands playing that night. Almost Acoustic (Taylor and Jamison Sermon's band) was playing last. We got there and found a seat down towards the front so we could be in the thick of things but after the first bands first song we felt the need to protect Hyrum's tender ears and found our way to the top of the amphitheater. By the time Almost Acoustic took the stage Hyrum was getting tired and wasn't in the mood to mosh with the other kids in front of the stage. It was the debut of Almost Acoustic's first CD so they were selling shirts and CD's during the performance.. It was so fun seeing people we knew jamming in a band that seemed to be all the rage with the kids these days. They even sang back up and had guitar solo's. We were really tempted to buy a CD and a shirt but figured we should save our money for a house. We can still say we knew them then and saw them play the amphitheater park on the day of their CD debut. Till then Hyrum will have to jam to "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" We left there feeling a little older and not as hip but I guess that happens when your parents.

I forgot my camera the night of the concert so I went back to take pictures later. I was waiting for one of the many families getting their pictures taken to vacate the premises when I noticed Hyrum giving me a big cheeser grin so I decided to snap a picture.

Hyrum wanted to see another concert so he sat down in the stands to watch.

He waited in vain.

Anyone having read my sister Holly's blog (Michigan Avery's "Sisters, Sisters....") will understand the motivation for this post. Reading Holly's musings about our childhood as sisters made me think of my memories. I've never known life without my sisters. They have been there from my first breath. I've often thought it would be nice to have an older brother, someone to watch out for me and be protective of me. But I can't imagine life without my sisters. And now I have brother-in-laws. They're just as good as brothers but they never beat you up.

"A sister is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost." -Marion C. Garretty

Being a little sister I was always the one begging to be included. I always wanted to be in "the know" and I never wanted to be left behind. I too remember the "sister meetings" we had at the foot of someone's bed but I do remember what was discussed because I soaked every last word in. I relished the opportunity to be a part of the world my sisters lived in and I idolized them. I still do. Any one who is not a little sister does not understand the reverence she has for older sisters. They can do no wrong, even when they drive you crazy and chase you up the stairs with pinching fingers or pin you in your sheets in the morning and tickle you till you cry, they are never knocked off that pedestal. And never can be.

Nikki my oldest sister loved to do my hair when i was little, at the time I preferred that she not but she took it upon herself to mother me and I don't think that feeling she has for me has faded too much. I remember very distinctly one day sitting in the living room doing my math homework. It was fractions and I didn't like them and didn't understand them much. I was frustrated and was at the end of my rope. I knew there were answers in the back of the book and I was just about to go and cheat when Nikki walked by. I started to cry. She stopped and helped me. She made it fun. She explained everything to me and even made up a little rhyme to help me. "My name is Helga I'm from Sweden..." ( said in a lilting voice ) But that was not the first time that she came to my aid I also remember a time when I was suppose to be folding my laundry and I didn't want to do it and was pitching a fit. Nikki came in and told me to make it fun by singing while I did it. "You're looking like clothes to me!" ( Your looking like love to me ) And what do you know folding clothes is one of my favorite chores now. She was always making sure I made the right choices. Like the first and only time I swore. (unknowingly) She'd also babysit us and I can assure you that I was the worst charge she had. Bed time was not a pleasant time and I would throw HUGE tantrums. I remember Nikki smiling and stifling giggles as she pointed a tape recorder at me. But I also remember her teaching me nursery rhymes that we would say in turn. "Goosey, Goosey Gander. Whither do you wander?..." each taking a word. Some of the sweetest memories I have with her. I also remember laying beside her just days before she got married listening to her muse about beginning a new chapter in her life. I remember her coming back to Michigan to surprize me for my graduation. She was the one who called the only college I applied to and posed as me to find out if I'd been accepted. She was the one who told me that the roommates I had at school might end up being the longest lasting friends I'd ever have. She was the one who called my neighbor everyday to ask them to look in our mailbox to know just exactly when my mission call came and was on the phone at 2 am insisting that we open it right then and there. She sent me tons of books when she found out I was pregnant, was the first one to take me maternity clothes shopping and sent me even more baby baby clothes than I could have ever imagined. She has been the epitome of an incredible multitasking mother and if I know anything of what I'm doing as a mother it is because of her influence and example.

As much as Nikki was mothering Holly was...something else! Holly and my relationship was more stormy but at the same time somewhat closer. Holly and I shared a room until I was 10 and a lot of my memories with Holly stem from that room. I was a pretty vain child. When I grew up I was going to be a beautiful nurse or a beautiful ballerina...whatever it was I was going to be beautiful. One day my Mom told us to clean our room. Neither of us wanted to do it but Holly came up with a plan. She said "Sunny, let's play a game! We'll play Cinderella and I'll be the ugly mean step mother and you be BEAUTIFUL Cinderella and I make you clean this whole room!" Well I'd never heard anything so great so I scampered off happily with my beautiful title and cleaned the whole room. I'm not sure how many times we "played" this game but I got wise to it. And we never played it again. I remember another time cleaning the room when I wanted something in a certain spot and Holly wanted it somewhere else and we got in an argument that culminated in me slapping her. She is the one and only person I ever slapped and I felt SOOO bad. I don't remember which bedroom cleaning experience came first or who's mistreatment was justified but in the end it doesn't matter. Holly was my mouth piece. For as long as I can remember and even to this day Holly has spoken for me. When we were at a friends house and they were having something for dinner that I didn't like ( I was really picky) Holly would inform them that I didn't like that. There were so many situations in which my big sister Holly would talk for me and I was relieved to let her do so. She was my advocate and if anything that made me nervous or I didn't like that was just fine with Holly and she stood up for me. We danced our barbies to Carol Johnson songs. We excersized to Strawberry shortcake bicycle upside down record. We played school in the basement. And knew the bedtime songs record by heart ("We saw trees that walked!...") As I grew Holly spoke to my soul. I once asked her if she liked being married when the thought of that felt like slavery. I asked her if she liked being a mom when the prospect was terrifying. Each time she calmed my fears and helped me see the incredible beauty in the most important things I would ever do. She talked me off the ledge when I was having problems nursing Hyrum and she's given me countless ideas for the church callings I've had. And most of all she's ALWAYS made me laugh. (even at myself TA-DAAAA!!!)

Whether it was making up dances to the beach boy songs in a hotel room in northern Michigan or singing at the top of our lungs to disco, rollerskating in the basement, pretending we were the Mandrell sisters or Charlies angels, camping, riding our bikes over the scary bridge, working in the garden or walking the train tracks in Rockford to Russos, my sisters have always been there and I'm blessed to have had them in my life.

Ahh... Michigan! The mere word brings lush landscapes, long sandy beaches, sparkling water of lazy dragonflyed rivers and crashing waves on the beach to mind. Michigan will always be home. It calls to me, beckons me and I long for it. But it is not only the land that I miss in this desert I've come to find myself, it's the faces that brighten to see me and and the arms that give me hugs. My family. I wish I could move back so that my children will have the childhood I loved. Family parties every month, growing up with your cousins as your best friends, knowing your aunts and uncles and grand aunts and uncles and second cousins etc. I know all of my family and most live nearby...in Michigan. But life has found me far from that, with no foreseeable change. Don't get me wrong I do love it here in Utah. I'd miss it too when I leave...if I ever do...but there is just something about Michigan.

I 'm always on the look out for opportunities to go home. But trying to save for a new house has strapped us pretty tight as we are cramped pretty tight in this apartment and the thought of having room to put an exersaucer in the living room without having to put it away in order to cross the room is inviting and motivating so I'd just looked at the pictures on my sister Holly's blog of the sights of Michigan through teary eyes.

Then came the call. A seed planted to go back to Michigan. There was a laundry list of reasons I wanted to go. It seemed the perfect time. I talked to Derek..."I think you should go" . We looked for tickets...Ouch! So expensive! I decided to not go. Then the next day we found tickets that were reasonable. I also found out that my cousin had had her baby. I bought the tickets and held my breath. Would this put us back months from buying a house? Then Derek told me he had been awarded "Employee of the Quarter" at work which came with a cash bonus just about what we'd need to pay for the ticket.

Then came the realization...I'd be flying with a two month old by myself. How would I do that? I researched on the internet and began to feel more confident. We kept my coming a surprise from my parents. So the day after the Super summer shindig off we went to Michigan.

Hyrum did beautifully! This is the way he took off on his first flight. Sucking on my pinky and holding on to my hand. He quickly fell asleep and slept then entire 3 hour flight. Then he woke up and charmed all of the passengers on the flight as we waited to exit the plane. Everyone was asking how his first flight was and complementing him. Everybody was so friendly and helpful. Thank heaven for nice people.

We took another flight (only about 45 min this time) and landed in Detroit where I hoped my aunt Linda or uncle Andre were waiting for us. He was and we started off for Grand Rapids where my Dad's retirement party was to shortly get underway. I was treated to the sights of beautiful Michigan on a side trip through the quaint towns of Westvallia and Saranac on our way. We got to the party as they were cleaning up. Hyrum was quickly whisked away and around the room as cousins and grandparents clamored to hold him. I got my very own personal showing of Ethan Jillie and Reagan's version of "Surfin' USA" and the reality that I was really in Michigan slowly began to sink in for everybody.

The next day found us at the beach. A place I hadn't been for 5 years. I saw my cousins, aunts and uncles. We caught up on lives and happenings promising that next time it won't have been as long between get togethers and ideas of fabulous future family reunions began brewing. It was Hyrum's first time to the beach so documenting was in order.

He wasn't real sure about the sand. I don't think liked the fact that his feet seemed to sink in this strange substance. He was much more happy with his feet on the wet sand of the shore.

Until the waves came and water hit his feet. Then he wasn't so happy anymore.

There is just something about the beach that makes you feel like a kid again, relaxes you and makes you feel that everything is right in the world. The sound of the waves and children playing drowns out the sound of all your cares or helps you put things in perspective. And there is nothing like a sunset over Lake Michigan to make you miss your husband. Luckily we didn't see one this trip.

While I was in Michigan I noticed that I didn't often have Hyrum in my arms. It seemed there was always a surrogate mommy watching over him. It was so nice to know he was always in capable hands or in the arms of an adoring cousin. One of the MAJOR reasons for this trip was for Hy to get to know his family and he absolutely knows their touch now if not their faces. Here is a slide show of Hyrum's many mommy's.

The next day, Sunday, we were all in church together and then went back to my parents house for a family dinner. He met more Grand aunts and second cousins and his Great grandparents who were especially eager to meet their newest great grandson.

He was glad to meet them too!

The rest of the time there was somewhat of a blur of friends and family beaches and hamburgers. We went to the botanical garden where Derek and I had our reception. So many good memories. I was determined that Hyrum was going to get into the waters of Michigan and bought him a swim diaper. On Tuesday we were at the beach again and he had his first dip in the water swimsuit and all. He seemed to like it much better this time. I can only imagine what he would have thought of it after a week of going to the beach everyday.

Then on Wednesday my last full day in Michigan my sisters and I woke up early in the morning after talking and looking at pictures until the wee hours of the morning and went blueberry picking. We left the kids sleeping at home (except for a Jaleigh tag along) and headed out to Hyatt Blueberry farms. We got there and were greeted by a sign saying something to the affect of "We're not here right now. Pick your blueberries and put your money in the coffee can. It's the honor system" Where else can you be assured that people will pay you using the honor system than in small town USA. There's still alot of that in Michigan. As we picked blueberries and talked memories of picking strawberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches and raspberries with members of my family flooded my mind. We always hated that we had to get up so early to get out to the farm before it got to hot but those memories are some of the sweetest I have of my childhood and I miss doing it. My grandmother talking to the strawberry farmer about his children because she knew the family ( or was it that she'd been to Krupps for so many years). My Grandma Nellie running beside the flat bed trailer "to get the blood pumping" on the way out to the cherry trees that we were going to pick from. Picking blueberries with my grandma Streeter and her Aunt Byrdie as I listened to them tell family stories. Picking fruit in the fields is not only much cheaper than buying them at the store ( the blueberries I picked were $1 a pound...yeah) but much more important things can be had there, memories with family, a stomach ache from eating too much fruit in the field, and an appreciation for nature and a connection to the earth. My sisters and I determined to have sister vacations together when we are not as much in demand at home. I can't wait!

Later that day I went to see my cousin Jeannie and her 2 week old daughter. She and I had emailed consistently during our pregnancies. We got pregnant with our first children within months of each other and we compared notes on our pregnancies and basically just shared the experience together. I was very excited to see her and her new baby. Now we have a brand new bunch of experiences to share. And advice to solicit.
The trip home wasn't as flawless as the way out. Grandpa Wadsworth got Hyrum a little Michigan outfit to remember his trip and it's a good thing because he had a blow out on the first flight and needed to use it. I only wish I'd gotten one for myself too. I changed his diaper on my lap in the scrunched plane bathroom. It was an experience. The second flight he wasn't making any friends and I ended up walking the aisle with him to calm him. We were both very glad to see Daddy. It was a perfect trip but good to be home!