Thursday, January 24, 2008

Welcome Home Jake!

This past weekend, Chris, the boys and I spent the weekend in Idaho Falls, where we welcomed my brother, Jacob, home from his LDS Mission to Vladivostok, Russia. We had such a wonderful time with my whole family, especially with Jake! I made a slideshow of all of the pictures I took over our four-day trip, but thought I'd share a few of my favorite highlights individually.

First off, Chris thought it would be hilarious to greet Jake at the airport looking like... I can't even think of the right word. He grew out his facial hair for the past couple of weeks, then shaved everything but his mustache before we went to the airport. Then he scruffed up his hair and adopted some creepy wild expression in his eyes to complete the look. He also created a very artistic sign-- one of Jake's and Chris's favorite things to do is play Risk, and they've even created a little catch-phrase: "Are you ready to RISK open warfare?", which Chris meticulously printed out on his sign. Wow, I cannot believe how nerdy that sounds! Oh well-- the gig worked-- Jake took one look at Chris and started laughing!

The Idaho Falls airport is hilariously small-- I haven't been there for several years and it was really laughable. The nice thing about it, though, was that there were no crowds to fight through! When Jake arrived, we pretty much took up the whole arrival area, but no one seemed to mind. My whole family was there-- all five sisters, three husbands, six kids, and my parents-- it was a huge group. After more than two years, it was awesome to be all together again!

Top L to R: Chris, Baby Graham, Todd Flatland, Todd Freed, Hadley
Middle: Brynn, Allison, Mom, Dallis, Jake, Dad, Ann-Michelle, Gordon, Elise, Kristie
Bottom: Thomas and Caitlan

After we got back to my parents' house, Chris shaved of most of his mustache... these pictures are inappropriate on a bunch of different levels, but I bet you're smiling...

Since Jake has been in Russia for two years, one of my parents' main objectives was to make sure he got plenty of good American food. On Saturday night, he was welcomed with fresh pumpkin pie and eggnog. Sunday dinner was my dad's famous chicken teriyaki a la mesquite, mashed Idaho potatoes, and "Better than Caitlan" cake for dessert. Yummy! On Monday, we continued the good eats with a tasty breakfast at Smitty's.

After Smitty's, we drove up to Rexburg to go through the new Rexburg Temple. The Temple was just beautiful, our kids were pretty well behaved, and once again, it was great to be with my whole family. One funny moment-- when we were in the Celestial Room, I was holding Gordon and whispering to him to look at the chandeliers, etc, and trying to keep him quiet. He started whispering a list of candies he likes to eat to me: "red candy canes, blue candy canes, pink candy canes, orange candy canes..." It was cute.

It was FREEZING cold outside, but we managed to snag a few shots before racing back to our warm cars. (If you look closely, you can see that Gordon is crying-- it was really, really cold!)

The kids had a blast when my dad took them outside on his neighbor's snowmobile, and the older boys had even more fun taking the snowmobile out at night. They're just a bunch of daredevils-- ha!

And of course, the weekend wouldn't have been complete without several games of Risk. The last time we played was in January of 2006-- two years ago. Crazy! Chris won the first round, then I won a game of Mission Risk (a rare occurance), then Jake finally regained his throne as the ruler of the world. A proud moment indeed.

And, if you've ever wondered what I would look like as a Matryoshka doll, Jake brought me my likeness straight from Russia...

It was a great weekend and we're so happy to have my brother back in the US! We're so proud of him and the incredible person he is. Love you, Jake!

By the way, Cait has a slideshow, too! Oh, and check out Todd's coverage of the event-- awesome. As Todd pointed out, he and Ann-Michelle are responsible for the two additional people in our family during Jake's absense.


becky ward said...

Jake looks great! Maybe we will get to see him this weekend. And Chris looks...possessed. I love it! Very funny!

becky ward said...

So, I watched the montage after I left my first comment. But watching it brought back such tender memories from when my brothers returned home from their missions. I loved those days!
Loved the picture of you and Chris with your heads tweaked...too cute. Loved the Reed's Dairy sign, the picture of you and Jake, and the pictures of Jake playing with your Dad. I bet your Dad is so glad to have Jake home.

Elena said...

Every time I see a missionary come home I cry. I don't even know your brother and I teared up when I saw those deep heart pulling hugs! Chris cracks me up. And what a beautiful Russian doll. She really does look like you. I have wanted one of those since I was a little girl. Someday I'll go to Russia and get me one.

Holly said...

So I guess I haven't seen Chris' face in a while! Wow! That was weird. I thought it must be his weird brother until I started reading.

Also, I'm very jealous of your matryoshka! We have lots of them, but none that look like me!! That's probably a pricey better hold on to that.

Emily said...

Were there any cute girls at Jake's homecoming?

Marilyn said...

Such a cute boy! And a great song - I love the Proclaimers! You are way too cute to be seen in public with that crusty looking son of mine. Yikes.

michelle said...

There's a missionary version of Risk?

Esther Ogden said...

That was the best blog entry I have ever read! I laughed my head off at Chris! That guy is FUNNY! You two must have a blast together! Welcome home to your brother. He sure has a great family!

Emily said...

Sooooooo funny! But-- I want to know what a "Better than Caitlan" cake is... sounds like fun!

Marilyn said...

Hey Elise! The Matrushka with the beautiful blue eyes does look like you! And Chris does look like Hitler's younger brother, Wayne.



Tiffany said...

How fun for you guys to be all together again! I remember when jake and my brother Steven used to hang out before you all moved to WA!

I love family homecomings!

The Clarks said...

Hey pass this on to Jacob if you could I don't know if he'll remember me but we were buds in like seventh grade before ya'll moved. Hope he's doing great and cheers to him for serving. I went to Germany and it's just great to see us all grow up a bit.

Steve Clark