Stuff I did:
* Flew in Wednesday night. (Ate a Caesar salad at the airport and didn't get sick. Viva la return of salad dressing to my life!)
* Visited with my cousins Rachel and Julie at the same time Thursday morning. (I'd slept in that day, and had just woken up as I heard Julie ring the doorbell. I hurriedly got dressed, so I could join them in the family room. ... One of my favorite moments of the whole weekend was hearing snatches of their conversation and thinking "That's so funny... I can hear different elements of my voice, and my laugh, coming from the other room." Genetics are awesome.)
* Spent Thursday-day with Julie, running errands (dropping by the BYU Bookstore to get me some chocolate milk among them) and hanging out. Thursday-night, my Olettie Colettie came to get me and we went to dinner at The Spaghetti Factory. We laughed, we cried, I ate Mizithra cheese, and she introduced me to the most delicious chocolate drink on the planet. It was a little bit of heaven.
* Friday morning, I spent time with Mark and Rachel. (I love them!) Julie came to get me mid-morning and I went home with her to whip up a batch of sugar cookie frosting, then she dropped me at (drum roll, please) Burgers Supreme for lunch with Jenni and Trev. After I ate a bacon cheeseburger literally dripping mustard and fry sauce mixed with ketchup (thank you, Stomach, for coming back to me ... on some levels, anyway), Jen took me back to Julie's, where I frosted a few dozen cookies while Julie entertained more than a handful of children at Pari's birthday party. (Don't feel sorry for me, frosting the cookies. Julie's job was waaaaaaay harder than mine!) Friday night, Kathy the Younger came for me and took me to the most delightful little place in Orem, where we drank the most delicious passion fruit Arnold Palmer, ate the most divine food (gnocchi with mustard seeds and cream for me, and a roasted corn, pablano chile and goat cheese pizza for her) and talked the night away.
* Saturday morning, I was picked up by former FB-only friends and we quickly became actual friends who share a love of syrup, Monte Cristos, Disney parks, donuts and good humor. They dropped me at the church for Pari's baptism, where I was privileged to sit and sing congregational hymns with my cousins, and I was able to meet my mother's cousin, David, who I'd been emailing off and on this summer. (I heart family. So much.) In the afternoon, we went back to Julie's neighborhood for a luncheon. I was able to talk - and laugh - with my cousins. I even got to hold a baby! (For five minutes, until he started wiggling and he hurt me, at which point I handed him back to his mom, but I did get to hold him!) We ate and we made merry, late into the evening.
* Sunday, my good friend Mich came over to the house and we sprawled across the bed in the apartment, talking (off and on) with Rach until 2:00 or so, at which time we left for the airport, by way of Wendy's so I could get some chicken nuggets and a baked potato. (You know me, always a connoisseur of the finer foods...) I flew back in Sunday night, tired-er than tired, but so grateful for the time I'd been able to spend with some of my favorite people in the whole, wide world!
Stuff I learned:
* Spaghetti is no longer the enemy. (Halle-freakin-lujah!)
* Cafe Rio is not my friend. (Specifically, the jalapeno ranch salad dressing and I are friends-off.)
* Grape Jelly frosted donuts are way (WAY!) better than they sound.
* I can only drink half a bottle of BYU Creamery chocolate milk at a time. (Tragic!)
* There are ladies (plural) who frequent the Orem public library who read my blog. I'm talking, strangers. AKA: people who've never met me. They've talked to my friend Kathy U. (who does know me) about the blog and my story. I am astonished. (And feel a little bit like a celebrity. ... Does this put me on near-equal grounds with Nathan, do you think? I hope so! It's about time that he realized that we have a heck of a lot in common and he needs to fall in love with me and marry me, already!)
* Pumpkin pancakes + buttermilk syrup (and candied bacon) is a heck of a way to start a Saturday!
* Three words: Roasted. Cocoa. Beans. (Seriously. They have these coffee-store-esque chocolate shops in Utah. Roasted cocoa beans that are then ground and brewed like coffee.) Three more words: Best. Thing. Ever.
* Paper products do not last forever. (I stayed with my cousin Rachel et al, who live in our grandparents' home. Rachel and Mark found some circa 1978 toilet paper in storage and thought they'd make my day by putting it in the apartment bathroom. ... It did, in fact, make my day, in that I laughed OUT LOUD when I saw the MD TP packaging from my childhood. It did not make my day so much when I unwrapped (and used) said TP, and then could not get it to flush. It appears that there is a chemical change in TP when it's left in storage for 20+ years. Not only was it thinner and scratchier than the cheapest 1-ply tissue should ever be, but it would not flush. Seriously, I'd have to let it sit and soak for a good 15-30 minutes so it could get wet all the way through before it would go down the hatch. A little bit disgusting, I know... but it was a lot hilarious, so I had to share.)
Stuff I heard:
* "Your blog made me laugh out loud." (High praise from a former stranger. I am flattered beyond words. ... Also, I am happy to know that people who haven't ever met me can read my blog and think I am funny, and not a complete and utter - oversharing - lunatic with an unreasonable affinity for parenthetical comments.)
* "You are the best story-teller I know." (Thank you, Colette. This is in my Top Three Favorite Compliments of All Time. - The other two being "you're so funny" and "you are beautiful", in case anyone wondered.)
* "You look so much better than I was expecting you to!" (Seriously, I heard this from almost every single person I came into contact with. Apparently, this kind of comment is what comes of having posted pics of myself to the blog when I was still in my no-make-up surgical recovery stage.)
* "I love you!" (Currently, these three words are tied with "roasted cocoa beans" for being my favorite words in the English language.)
Stuff I said:
* "Thank you!" (To so many people, for so many things.)
* "I love you!" (To so many people, for so many reasons. Over and over again, and I meant it every time.)
And now... a short photo essay.
Look, Mom, it's your mom's old vacuum!
And how can I tell that it's Grammy's old vacuum (and not yours)?
Because it has a Grandad Special label on it. (Also, possibly dust left over from 1997. In retrospect, I should have grabbed a rag and wiped the thing down before I took its picture. We're gonna pretend that the dust adds to the charm of this photo.)
Look, it's me with the youngest Ball baby!
I love him and his fuzzy little head. Cutest. Baby. Ever.
And here I am with my cousin Julie and a whole lot of greenery. (Don't get me wrong. I am not complaining about living in the desert, in the summer... But HOLY MOLY, look at all that green!)
This is me with the Mangums.
I love them and their donut-buying ways!
And this is me with Cousin David and his lovely wife, Georgia. (Okay, he's technically my mother's cousin, but I believe in calling all relations of a cousinly nature by the title of Cousin, with a capital C, whenever appropriate.)
Doesn't he look like Uncle Dick?! I love it!
And, okay... one more. This is not a great pic of me, uh..... stomach-wise, but I'm going to blame that little pooch on all the yards of extra skin I have about my mid-section. (If and when I ever have to have surgery again, I really am going to talk to the surgeon about taking some of that with any/everything else he takes from me while I'm under.)
Robin snapped this while Julie and I were talking (and, clearly, laughing) in the back yard. I love that Jule's bent over in a laugh and I'm smiling up at her. One of her girls saw this pic and said "You really are the best cousins!" Yes, yes we are.
A big, fat "THANK YOU!" goes out to my family for letting me stay with them and eat their food. A further thank you goes out to the many people who chauffeured me about Provo. I don't know who or where I'd be without my family and my friends. You all have made me who I am today, and you give my life value that it wouldn't have without you.
** Also, a thank you - and an apology - to readers who may not be related to me or have an interest in what I did, and who I did it with, whilst on vaca in Utah County. Please stay tuned for some seriously shorter posts in the near future.