I thought because last year I posted some of the "personality" pictures I had of him, this year, I could take us all on a short trip down memory lane. It's about time I record a few things from our early years together.
For those of you who don't know, Jeff and I met at Ricks College where we were both playing in the Symphony, and it just so happens we were also in the Bluegrass band which toured Spain and Europe that following summer. We dated a bit before tour, but my goodness, Europe was the clincher. If you really want someone to fall in love with you (or alternatively, hate your guts) spend one month together in Europe. You can guess which it did for us.
Here's our band! We all got to be pretty close during our tour preparations and rehearsals, which enabled Jeff and I to spend a lot of time together, even before we were dating! I LOVE this group! From the left: Russ, Bevany, Taylor, Valora, Jeff, and me. This was at an outdoor festival in Spain and I remember the group from Austria doing their leather slapping dance where they kept kicking each others behinds. I guess you had to be there. Gotta love those American Flag vests! Jo and Vaness, did you guys wear these too?
Probably the most significant moment of the whole tour was shortly before this picture was taken. Jeff and I left our hostel to go for a walk down by this beautiful river. We sat and talked for hours and hours, and eventually we talked about marriage. It was this day, on this spot, where we decided we were going to be married.
If you're wondering why we are dressed alike, the entire team dressed the same every single day for a month! Everyone was jealous of our stylish outfits.
Who took this picture, you ask? Well, after such an amazing, life changing conversation, we decided we should document it, so Jeff ran up to ask a passing woman if she would take our picture. We were in Spain, and apparently, Jeff's Spanish repertoire of sprinkler parts and Joseph Smith wasn't enough to help this woman know how to take our picture. We were motioning, counting, demonstrating... you name it. This sweet old woman was just not understanding how to push down the button correctly. It was hilarious. This picture was taken while Jeff was demonstrating how to properly hold it down for the right length of time. I love that he got a picture of this woman in the process. You just can't beat that pink lipstick! Funny thing is, she finally just stopped some young ladies as they were passing by and let them do it. SO, this sweet woman didn't even take this picture, but I will never forget her!
Another one of my random memories (why don't I ever remember things that really matter?): We stayed in this school/hostel for 2-3 days, and ate in their cafeteria. They served us soup and bread one day for lunch. When I dipped the ladle in, it was full of clams, shrimp with everything attached (which, at that point, I'd never even thought about!), snails that I was sure were still alive, and some weird fishy stuff. And, if you scraped the bottom with the ladle, you'd get soupy sand. SAND! I think the only person on our team who ate it was Russ who had served his mission in Zimbabwe. He thought it was delicious, but the rest of us filled up on bread and ice cream. I was such a wimp!
We stayed in another school for almost the entire 2 weeks we were in Portugal. Jeff picked his bunk because it was next to some bookshelves where he could put all his stuff. This guy is tidy. Big bonus. Unfortunately, he got eaten alive for the entire two weeks we were there. He would wake up in the morning and fresh find spider webs connecting his bed to these shelves. He would clean them all up, then it would start all over the next morning. This is him with one of his spider-bitten legs. There was nothing he could do, there were no other beds or places to sleep, so he just laughed and made the best of it. Is he a trooper or what?
So, 4 days after this European adventure, we were properly engaged. 5 months later, we were married in the Salt Lake Temple. It was an incredible day!
7 years and 3 months later, I realize he's an even BETTER catch than I even realized when I said "yes!". Here are some of the pictures we were given from the big wedding a few weeks ago. I love this one of him while he was giving his speech. What a handsome devil! And I know our moms are just loving this beard, am I right?
And, earlier in the evening, when he was in the parade around the buildings, eventually to follow Don through the 3 "doors", one of which was a gold chain that Jack and Jane were holding. This was a much better picture than I had.
I said it before, Jeff is simple. So, we had a nice, simple birthday celebration for him. I kept Jack home from school so we could meet Jeff for lunch, which we discovered we'd never done on a Wednesday before. I realized this because Wednesdays are a special day... it's cake day! This means that at lunch time, a woman comes with loads of cakes, of many varieties, and sells them for 12 baht/piece at the cafeteria. If this is exciting for Jeff, you can imagine how excited Jack and Jane were to be able to pick their very own piece of cake! This is everyone eating (or in the kid's case, licking the frosting off of) their cake. I opted for mango and sticky rice, my favorite!
Doesn't the old saying go, "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach"? If this is true, than it's an even bigger miracle that Jeff wanted to marry me. I'm not a cook, but it was fun to try and spoil Jeff with some of his favorites on his day. We had breakfast cake in the morning, and Lemon Fried Chicken for dinner. I think this was the first time he's even gotten all the chicken he wanted because he didn't have to fight the other Hillman brothers for it! It was a nice night at home, and the kids were thrilled to decorate the house with balloons, signs, and reasons why Daddy is so super! Not to mention, we finished with Jeff's favorite kind of cake, ice cream cake. If you're paying attention, you'll notice that is THREE cakes in one day. Wow. Thank goodness his birthday comes just once a year!
I also wanted to renew Jeff's pictures of the children on his desk. I was happy that he was pleased with how these turned out. Who wouldn't want to see these glowing faces all day?
Like I mentioned before, it was hard to get the kids to stop wrestling and smile for the camera! But, they do love to dance together, so this one worked out pretty well.
This one of Jane was my favorite of the whole shoot. It captures her perfect little smile and twinkling eyes just right.
Jack was having the hardest time giving a genuine smile because they kept adjusting his chin, or moving his hands, etc. He was so NOT into it. When we had him stand up and be Spiderman, that's when he really started having fun. This picture is so him.
Living in Bangkok, we meet so many incredible people, but we also have to say a lot of goodbyes. Today, we had to say goodbye to Elder Mortensen. He has served his two years and is heading back to Logan, UT on Friday. It's interesting to be on this side of things. I've only been on the receiving end of a missionary finishing. Having Jesse and Scott return home after their two years was so exciting! And, I always loved to hear all about their families and friends from Russia and Mexico. But, in this case, we've been able to see Elder Mortensen while he's actually been serving his mission. It's been amazing to watch the work he's done first hand, as opposed to hearing about it in the past tense. It really makes me feel like I understand the whole mission experiences of my brothers a little better. He's been in the ward the entire time we've been here, so it will be weird to not see him every Sunday, but when I think of him returning to his family, I get so excited for him! Life moves on, and it will be fun to see what lies ahead for him! Good luck, Elder!
One more... Jack's been full of inventions lately. He constructed a time machine, crane, and tonight, roller skates. He later went on to make a skateboard out of these same "skates" and his kick board.
We've been getting more requests for Jack playing his violin. This isn't showing off Jack's violin as much as it is just a very typical moment in our family. Jack has a lot of distractions when it comes to his practicing, and I am amazed some days that we get anything done! He's such a good sport, and boy, does he love his sister! Nothing makes me happier than watching my kids laugh together. Best sound in the world. Keep your eye on the lower left corner of the screen.
So, we end another great week. It was especially fun for us to celebrate Jeff. He does so much to keep our family functioning and happy and never gets nearly enough credit. I realize more and more how blessed I am to have a husband who has been able to find a balance between the many directions he is pulled. I am so grateful to be married to a man who values what really matters. I couldn't ask for anything more.