what you missed while we were missing you

Dear Ben– In just three days we’ll be wrapping our arms around you and mussing up your too-short hair.

It almost seems to good to be true. You’re coming home! You’re really coming home! I tear up every time I think about watching you come down that airport escalator. I can’t wait to see you smile, hear you laugh and could you maybe do your Tarzan yell right there in the airport for us?

Despite everything we’ve shared in letters and photos, you’ll probably be amazed by how much has changed around here, so we’ve compiled a list to help lessen your inevitable culture shock. I don’t think I’ve told you about my nose ring, our new puppy, the hovercar and that I’ve stopped buying Mary so many dresses (ok, only the hovercar is very likely).

One missionary told me he was advised to watch the airline movies on the way home to help acclimate him to civilian life. Maybe you’ll get to see The Hobbit or Les Miserables? I know you’re looking forward to Harry Potter 7 Part II, but it’s old news to the rest of us, as is Cars II and The Avengers. Twilight: Breaking Dawn Parts I and II came out while you were gone and are already on DVD, but I doubt you’ll care. Still the new Spiderman, James Bond and Ironman movies are all worth watching (don’t worry, we’ll fast forward through squeeby parts) and you’ll love Phineas & Ferb, Downton Abbey and Sherlock Holmes.

Not only was the third volume in the Hunger Games series released- Mockingjay- but the first book was made into a movie (which is probably in the bargain bin by now) We’ve loved some new books: Quiet, Wonder, The Secret Keeper, The Happiness Advantage, Demon King series– but most of our reading has been in the classics, Tolkien,  Sanderson and of course, C.S. Lewis. Gabe just finished Madeleine L’Engle’s time quartet and can’t wait to discuss it with you.

Now prepare yourself– Gabe has grown nine inches. NINE. He’s huge and getting muscle-y from daily swim practice. That spacey little third grader metamorphosed into a responsible fifth grader who does his homework and checks his grades online. But never fear, he’s sweet, innocent, silly and gives hugs that melt your sorrows away.

You might remember Mary as a shy little sprite, frightened of most new challenges who lost her temper easily at home. Now, she giggles with a passel of friends at recess, slides down the banister with reckless glee and hangs with the big boys on the tube at Lake Powell.

we also bought a 1/12 share of a houseboat and penned you in as a part-owner

Still in elementary school when you left, Xander is now 2/3 way through junior high. His mouth is full of braces, he’s a full-fledged teenager and funnier than ever.

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Hans might surprise you the most. You last saw a little boy; now he’s a man. Handsome, funny, suave, you’ll probably be begging him for dating tips. And um, he’s taken over your bed, closet, desk, skis and bike— not quite sure where you’ll be sleeping.

Stefan, while he looks pretty much the same, went from a junior in high school (who hadn’t even taken the ACT) to a senior in college (creditswise at least, he won’t be graduating any time soon). He still resembles Mary Poppins– practically perfect in every way.

Your dad has more gray hair and I have more wrinkles, but we’re sillier and even more immature than you remember.

You know about that thing called Facebook. But you’ll be surprised by how much we love Instagram. Everyone around here checks my phone at least once a day for a photo update on our favorite people. Maybe it sounds lame? But you’ll love it too.

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The construction zone downtown has transformed into gleaming City Creek Mall. With it’s soaring arches, wondrous fountains and glorious views of Temple Square, it’s changed the entire cityscape and relegated Gateway to a ghost town. We now have an In-N-Out burger within 10 minutes of home, Trader Joe’s downtown and a new park and library.

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Lots of new little people entered the world in your absence. Notably, Claire (who’s running and talking now), baby Charlie, Marjorie and sweet Hope. Katy married Clint, Brenda married Clark and both families will welcome a new baby soon.

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Oh yes, Leisl’s going on a mission (we’ll listen to her talk this Sunday) as well as practically every single Mormon girl in the world.

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Since you developed our family musical tastes, I wonder how you’ll feel about our current playlists?  The Piano Guys, The Script, Train, Imagine Dragons, Les Miserables and small funky bands get lots of playtime along with all our old favorites.

We’ve added a few pets to the family: three chickens and 300,000 bees. Don’t worry, you don’t have to memorize all their names. 😉

Hmmm, maybe you should sleep on the plane ride home rather than watch movies? Because I think we’ll keep you up all night filling you in on new family jokes, who kissed who and listening to your missionary stories.

Counting the minutes!

Love and kisses, Mom

March 22, 2013



  1. Jess

    March 20, 2013

    I love this, Michelle! I can hear the delight in your voice as you eagerly wait Ben’s arrival. I totally wish I could be a bystander at the airport and witness this homecoming. Sweet sweet joy mixed with oodles of hugging, laughter, and tales to tell!

    Counting the minutes on your behalf! 🙂

  2. Annie

    March 20, 2013

    Love, love, love! This made my heart beat faster for all of you. Enjoy a sweet well-deserved reunion.

  3. Cath

    March 20, 2013

    Stunning. To think of all that has transpired in two years. Love your spin on it all and the special people in Ben’s life. Counting hours now! Love you!

  4. Michelle

    March 20, 2013

    Nothing, nothing, nothing compares to the experience of coming home as a missionary. A day I will never forget. Seeing how much my sister had grown was fine of the things that I remember most.

    And just in case it seems like everyone else came off the plane first, it might be true. The elder I traveled with and I waited until everyone else was off the plane. It was a weird transition that we longed for but felt sad about all at once.

    P.s. the best advice anyone gave my mom was to listen, listen, and then listen s’more. It’s not a conscious thing, but the desire to decompress while the memory is still fresh can fade quickly. You are already so good at it, but just thought I’d say that.

    Even thinking about that tender transition makes my heart feel all mushy. I want to reach back in time and hug my transitioning self. So great that there are so many people and so many great things to welcome him back to ‘the real world.’

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    March 20, 2013

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  6. Linn

    March 20, 2013

    I am so very excited for all of you!!

    And what a beautiful two years. I loved reading about it.

  7. Kim

    March 20, 2013

    I’m so incredibly thrilled for you and your family! I’ve been wondering lately which day it is. I can’t wait to see pictures and hear about it on your blog! 🙂

  8. Ang

    March 20, 2013

    I’m so excited for you, Michelle! What a wonderful day it will be.

  9. katieo

    March 20, 2013

    SO happy for you all.

  10. ellen

    March 20, 2013

    Exciting times for your family!

    (Is that Marjorie in Boston?!?)

  11. cristie

    March 20, 2013

    I thought I would die with the anticipation. All four times. Really, I felt like I would just drop over dead I was so excited.

    Blessings to you and yours. I am truly thrilled for you to have this experience. xox

  12. Adri

    March 21, 2013

    Hooray! Can’t wait to read all about your reunion!
    What is your Instagram username?

  13. Claudia

    March 21, 2013

    I am SO excited for you and understand COMPLETELY why you felt it went SOOO SLOW. But look, you’re here. This is the week and I am crying happy tears right along with you sister! Hey, how’s your quilt coming? Need some help? With that or anything for that matter. I’m really good at dusting and free all day tomorrow! Text me!! xoxo

  14. Tracy

    March 21, 2013

    Seriously, I cannot wait for you to hug his face. I’m so happy for you all. xoxoxo

  15. Judi

    March 21, 2013

    There is nothing like hugging your child when they return home from a mission.
    So much has changed at home, but he has changed a lot too…
    The best thing I did was stand back and watch while Robert hugged his brother and father first. It is such a sweet memory imprinted on my mind forever.
    Enjoy your day and, yes, they will be the last ones off the plane..and the look like the Armies of Helaman… xoxo

  16. Kit Linkous

    March 21, 2013

    TOMORROW!!!!!!! The girls are singing that even as I type 🙂

  17. Anne Marie

    March 22, 2013

    SO happy for you and your family. Wishing you all the happiest of Homecoming days! Thank you, thank you for all the glimpses into your beautiful world.

  18. lisastassforth

    March 22, 2013

    I have 4 1/2 months before my sister missionary returns from Chicago. this post brought a lump to my throat, and a big smile to my face. I have food for thought on the kind of letter I want to write my Hermana. thank you and congratulations!!

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