Wednesday, October 8, 2008

In-laws vs. Outlaws

For Stacy, who suggested to me, "you could blog about your great in laws." So I am.

I love family. I'm not sure how to make it more simple. I love them. I love the immediate, the extended, the barely-technically-related, AND my in-law family. I feel very blessed to be connected to so many wonderful people, not only on this earth, but for eternity. I don't mean to make some of you vomit a little in your mouth - those of you who may not be feelin' the love for your family, but I really, truly do cherish all my in-laws.

STACY (wife of my brother) was a score for the entire Garrard family. I will probably never understand how many angels worked in our favor so that Nate and Stacy and all their children (2 now, bazillions to come, right Stac?!) would be entwined in my life. After Erin and I were married for so long and since we had been so close for forever, I wondered what it would be like when one of "the boys" got married. I am so grateful it was Stacy to blaze that trail. Stacy has been a blessing in my life as she makes me laugh, brings the best out in my brother, and is a great mom to her kids. I love that they have lived so close and we could hang out and watch dippy reality shows together. More than anything, Stacy has taught me how to be more patient (I mean, really, she is incredibly patient with me and my over-bearing, bossy, oldest sister thing.) Now that Stacy and Nate have moved their little family to Connecticut (okay, not really, just across town), I will really miss knowing they're just down the road, that they can hop over to McDonald's for lunch, or I can drop in to get a Gus and Zoee fix. It's been good to have another Garrard sister in the mix, and she is oh-so-one of the daughters!

KEVIN (husband of my sister) officially joined our family a month after Tyler and I joined forces. However, long before Erin and Kevin married in January 1997, the two of them "imprinted" and have been a thing for longer than I can even pinpoint (I know we were young and it had something to do with the Mother/Daughter sleepover at the Mohlers . . . I think.) Kevin is a good man. I don't say that to keep it simple or generic, but with the most reverence and sincerity. Heavens knows we've butted heads (especially as teenagers), but I love that Kevin is funny, loyal, hard-working, dedicated to his family, and completely in love with my sister. Tyler and Kevin can commiserate, er, I mean hang out together when we all get together and I know Tyler appreciates having Kevin around. He'll often ask who's going to be at my mom's when I want to go hang out, and then will specifically check to see if Kevin's going to be there. They're a little brother-in-law team, I guess. What I love about Kevin is that he is kind to my kids. They like Uncle Kevin and he's not scary and I can trust he will take care of them and look out for them (whilst trying to pull out all sorts of family secrets from them, but hey, who cares about that?!) Beyond all that, Kevin and Erin have four beautiful children that love to come over and chat and visit with me . . . okay, not really, I can barely get most of them to say more than four words to me, but I know they love me by the way they nod their head when I ask them if I'm their favorite aunt.
DODIE AND BRUCE (parents of my husband) deserve way more than just a blurb on this post. When I say I have loved them long before I loved Tyler, it would be no exaggeration. It has been a great blessing to have Bruce and Dodie in my life, first, as my piano teacher and our ward's young men's president long before they were my parents-in-law. It's pretty amazing, actually, that they love me considering all the hanging around I did :) Bruce and Dodie have both given everything they have for the benefit of their family, and then some. I have laughed with them, cried with them, lived with them (boy, was that a fun year or what?!), travelled with them, confided in them, trusted them, worked with them, and just appreciated them in my life SO much. I can't imagine better grandparents for my kids and every time my kids get to spend time with either or both of them I feel so much gratitude that they have a good, memorable relationship with each of them. Really, there are cheers when we announce we're going to Grandma Dodie and Grandpa Bruce's. More than anything I can say I'm grateful for the man they raised. Many of my favorite attributes of Tyler were home grown and exemplified by his parents; things like honesty, hard-working, fun-loving, family-orientated, and loving.

LANE and AMY (eldest brother [of my husband] and his wife) were married 7 months before us and their wedding marks the beginning of mine and Tyler's romantic relationship. Lane was a good friend to me when he got off his mission and I remember vividly being home from college my freshman year at BYU, over at the Barlows for a Christmas visit, and Lane being totally pumped up to proposed to Amy. For as long as I have known Lane he has been hard-working and completely dedicated to his wife and family. And to say Amy is one of the best moms I know would be a drastic understatement. Amy is a good example to me of how to enjoy my kids and I wish I had half the energy she has to do all that she does for her kids and her family. In addition to being great people they have given me four of the SWEETEST, loving niece and nephews EVER. I kid you not that every time we leave a family function we can count on hugs from Lizzie, Hayden, and Owen (Camden's a little hit and miss, but let's face it, there's a lot of us in the crowd to work for a little guy.) I love their kids and just about want to eat them up all the time. Too, I watch with great interest to see how Amy handles her life with three boys who are spaced exactly like my three sons.
JARED AND MINDIE (younger brother [of my husband] and his wife) have been my friends for a really long time. Well, most of the time. When we were younger Jared and I fought like, well, brother and sister (who would've thought we'd eventually really be related) and Mindie being best friends with my sister made her feel pert-near related. I'm very grateful for the love and support they have always shown me and Tyler, not to mention the MANY laughs and memories. The past few years I have been so blessed to have served with Mindie in the stake Young Women's organization and I love it. I know, poor thing, she probably gets so sick of being around me! No matter the ups or downs Jared and Mindie have been through (and yes, they've really been through a lot) they have exhibited an incredible amount of faith and positivity. When there are panicky times, it's Jared who reminds us that it will be okay. And Mindie, no matter what trial she is facing or the rest of us are enduring, will remind us how many ways we are blessed. Jared and Mindie are invested in each other and their entire extended family, too, and no matter how draining that is, they don't give up on us (any of us, really.) Their kids, too, are a complete joy in my life. There's not a lot better than having a good conversation about Connor's soccer game, about Courtnie's shoes, or about Blake's latest accomplishment. (Okay, Blake doesn't really chat it up yet, but he can throw anything and everything like a champ!)
BRANDON (youngest brother of my husband) is pretty stinkin' great. I love 'im. I drive him crazy, I'm sure, but nonetheless, I know he'd do anything to help me (like come play nurse and nanny the night of Tyler's vasectomy so I could go out for girls' night.) Tyler and Brandon can tease like no other, especially when it comes to playing each other with sports. And without fail Brandon cracks me up. He's one of my kids' favorite uncles because he takes time to play with them and listen to them and make them feel important. I can't wait for the day when Brandon gets married and has a wonderful family of his own because I know what a great treasure he is . . . seriously ladies, he's a hot commodity!
ALEXIS AND WADE (sister [of my husband] and her husband) are also a blessing in my life. Ever since Alexis would steal my shoes while I was taking piano from her mom, I've thought of her like another younger sister. When she found Wade, we all agreed it was a perfect match. Lexi is a great mom and wife and all home-maker-y AND she is one of my closest friends. We talk all the time and Brock and Caitlyn are the bestest of friends. I admire Lexi for always trying to be the best mom (even if she's too hard on herself) and for Wade working hard for his family (even if he doesn't change quite as many diapers as Lex does :)) The Christiansens are really centered in the gospel and have strong testimonies (which is a strength to all of us.) It's been fun for me to watch them experience all the raising kids stuff and they're so nice to listen to the rest of us pretend like we're experts even though our kids are the ones beating up on each other and our kids are totally ignoring us, their parents. I love their girls like they're my own.
So, there you have it. I love my in-laws and I mean it when I say they are my own family. Thanks, Stacy, for giving me the chance to let you know how great YOU are (and the rest of my clan!) Love ya.

1 comment:

chris jenkins said...

i love this post and cannot agree with you more - you got a great bunch of family - many of them i have had the pleasure to know.

it was good to talk to you today. i miss ya. i got to talk to mindi today for a bit tonight too. i couldn't agree more - she is one of the most positive people i know and a great example to me. and zack loves jared as his soccer coach.