I missed writing yesterday. No post. But we were all having too much fun with our friends that were visiting. We established over this visit that we truly do think of each other as family. Not even extended family. But just like family. Sisters.

When Dave and I were first married we moved across the United States to Dover, Delaware. We had no family there. No friends there. No one we even knew. We walked into church our first Sunday there and I looked around wondering who would fill the emptiness of missing my family. What I didn't know until a few months later, was a sweet lady named Reenie VonStetten (who knew we were far from home) watched Dave and I walk through the doors of the Church that first Sunday and thought to herself, "I am going to adopt them as if they were my own." Jim and Reenie VonStetten became our surrogate parents in Delaware. Their children still living at home....our younger siblings. Even their grown children off at college got to know us when we met them on their wedding day and were introduced as "these are our 'other' children"!

We ate most meals there on Sunday and even throughout the week. We hung out at their home. We had family home evening there often and enjoyed the spirit we always felt in their home. We felt home there. We were taught by Jim about proper grammar and use of words (i.e. well vs. good), guided in managing finances and even schooled in what music was NOT appropriate to listen to in my car. Reenie was nurturing in every way. I could call her for help with recipes, advice, an uplifting chat when I was homesick and she introduced me to a new laundry detergent....liquid Tide in original scent, which I still use to this day to remember the smell of their clothes. Jim and Reenie helped us move into our new home and Jim even painted our walls, just like dads do!

We stayed with Brielle and Brinn for a week once when Jim and Reenie were traveling out of town. It was the first week of school for the girls and the first day of high school for Brielle. It was a special time for us, a time for us to return the favor of Jim and Reenie adopting us, as we nurtured their children and got them off safely and encouraged on that first day of school. Many prayers were whispered in my heart that day for those girls, especially Brielle, who was so nervous. It was my first experience of mothering and one I hold dear.

The VonStetten family moved to Pennsylvania a year before we moved back here to the west coast. We visited them a few times in PA and it always felt like we had never been apart. But we did miss them.....terribly. When we moved back to the west coast we kept in contact. One Thanksgiving, while Brielle was in college and couldn't get home to PA, she came to our home to be with family. And another time Jim, Reenie, Brielle and Brinn were here for a wedding we were able to spend time together and Jim even shoveled a small pile of dirt on our lot where we were building our home so that he could say that he helped!

He took good notes while he was visiting us and our home that we were building and we were quite excited and knew we were "officially" family when we upwrapped a custom mail box that had come in the mail shaped as a house painted in our exact house colors. He only made those for family and 10 years later it still stands today!

So to have Brielle and her family here visiting with us has been wonderful. We last saw Brielle on her and Brock's wedding day. We traveled to Utah with Kaia and our new baby, Blake, to attend their wedding. We were able to spend a little time with them and knew watching her and Brock interact that they were in love and he was good to her. It has been so fun to get to know him better and to meet each of their three children finally. It has been 6 1/2 years since we had been together. And just like when we went to visit their family in PA so many years ago....this visit felt as if no time had passed at all and we picked up right where we had left off.

Brielle and I feel like sisters. Dave is like another big brother to her. And her little family is now so loved by our family. And my kids love her kids and her kids love my kids. And this morning we had to hug them all good-bye and watch them drive away. And I cried. And our house was too quiet when we walked back in. And felt instantly like something was missing. I love her and her family so much. I want her closer. I want her whole family closer. Her mom and dad, her sisters and brothers and their children. Today is a sad-ish day for me. Tomorrow will be better when we can Skype and see each other again.

In the mean time, I will just think about how fun it would be to be able to go have a Sunday family dinner with them again back in Delaware. And laugh and play and break every manner possible at the dinner table and watch Jim's disapproving facial expressions and then glance at Reenie and watch her try not to giggle! And I will go sit in Kaia's room today....a lot, where they all stayed, and remember them there and the fun fun time we had this week with them.

My favorite pictures from our week with them tomorrow. I think for now I will go find a radish and see if that doesn't make me feel so sad-ish.

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  1. April, when I was at the library a few weeks ago I looked for the movie - "don't be sad-ish, have a radish." If I can find it, it will be a surprise family night at our house. The in-laws will probably wonder what the big deal is...but our family will all remember the movie "A Special Trade." But for today- it's OK to be sad-ish.

    Love, Mom

  2. Your stories, especially about your past, are always intriguing. Thanks for sharing...I hope the radish helps.

  3. I loved your post. Yes it made me cry but I cry pretty easy. We had such a good time with you guys. It is so true that it felt like no time had passed. I can tell you one thing it won't be 6 years till I see the Kennedys again! You and Dave(and kids) really do feel like family. It was fun talking about all the memories we had back in DE. I wore my button ring today and it looked really cute! I love how creative you are. You are definitely a woman of many talents. Love you lots

  4. I know it was really sad to see them go but I'm so glad you had such a good time with them, it's obvious you care very much for them! what a fun week

  5. what a wonderful "family" you have...I totally can understand...oh...and saw one of your items on an Etsy showcase this morning....Fabulous...Congrats...

  6. Those VonStettens really are amazing people. I love them, love them, love them. I had no idea of the magnitude of your relationship with them. I was gone at college, I guess. What a beautiful thing. Them taking you and Dave under their wings like that. They are such wonderful people. Making a scary, transitional time in your life so much easier. :)

  7. I remember when you stayed with us! I loved it! I've always looked up to you like a big sister. Brielle had so much fun visiting.. hope we can all get together one of these days. Thanks for sharing your memories..

  8. I loved listening to you relate the time you spent with my family while I was away at college. My mom talked about you guys ALL the time and it was fun meeting you at my wedding. I have pictures of you doing the chicken dance. I loved hearing about my Dad correcting your grammar - we had that our whole lives and Brock gets it still - Poor Brock! My parents sure are special people and I'm so glad that you had them and they had you. I'm also glad Brielle had you - I think you helped her a lot growing up. And even though she told me she was coming here for Spring Break but went to your house instead - I'm glad you guys had so much fun! I loved hearing the stories of your April Fools jokes. - You really are too much!!


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