We had tickets to tour the Gilbert temple the afternoon of February 13th with our neighbors since the girls had a half day of school. I had such good intentions, but all these problems kept coming up. Will had missed too much school, Russ had a busy day at work and didn't want to go twice, the neighbor's husband forgot about parent teacher conferences and didn't have time... I tried and tried to make it work, but I just couldn't make everyone happy... and then of course, that made it so I wasn't happy either. We did what we could, though, and I took the three little kids with my neighbor and her kids. It was super crowded, and as we were walking toward the temple, my neighbor noticed her tire was completely flat. So crazy. She was a little distracted during the tour, as she had to keep answering texts from her poor husband who had to come change the tire. I felt like it wasn't quite the experience I was hoping for... with the crowds and the distractions, I felt it was impossible to convey the significance of the temple in my life to my friend, but at least it was something, and I'm thankful for that.
Russ had planned to take the older boys after work, and I planned to go with them because I was set on standing in OUR temple with my family. After all, I didn't know when or if that would ever happen again. We figured it would be quite crowded, and I think Russ was somewhat dreading it since we didn't have tickets and would have to wait in the standby line. Eventually, we both came up with the idea of keeping the kids home from school so that we could go first thing in the morning. It wasn't the perfect plan, but it was all we had.
To my delight, even though there was a bit of a line to get in, we somehow made it on the very next tour. We sat in the chapel to watch the video, and I put my arms around the kids that I could reach and pulled them in for a hug. "Temples are like hugs," I said, "They hold us together." There were a lot of people, but no where near the crowd I had experienced the previous afternoon. It was relaxed and not stressful. No flat tires. Even the tour itself seemed to go at a slower pace. With the help of my boys, I noticed things I hadn't noticed the day before. We noticed the agave symbol in EVERYTHING... the tiles in the font, the wood, the glass, the floors, the lights, the door hardware... even in the embossed carpet in the celestial and sealing rooms. I took in the art, the beautiful desert images, the images of Christ. And then when we entered the celestial room, I took in a private moment... seeing my husband and each of my children there with me. My heart was full to overflowing. As we went into the sealing room again, my little Brandon knelt at the altar in his cowboy boots. I wish I could have a drawing of that. Everything made me smile... it was complete redemption from the frustration of the day before, and I was so thankful.
Now because it was Valentine's Day, I had made up all these dreams in my head about how cute our family photo in front of the temple was going to be. We could hold the letters in the word FAMILY plus a little heart, and we'd be laughing and hugging and having fun with the temple in the background. I can see it all now. Actually, I just thought of something... the word FOREVER... families would be implied by the people holding the letters. Oh my goodness, I may just have to bribe my family into a photo shoot like that. Well, none of that actually happened, and we had to rely on the photography skills of random people nearby... plus, my hubby and son had pamphlets in their pockets and Brandon was wearing a freaky large parka (with his hood on, too). It was so imperfect, but it makes me laugh to think how our totally imperfect family can be so perfect for me.
So that was how we started off our Valentine's Day, and I couldn't have asked for better, but then... just when I thought my husband, who isn't really the romantic type, wasn't going do anything special, he totally made my day by having a barbershop quartet come and serenade me. You know, the fact that he doesn't do things like that very often makes it more special in a way... I mean, I know he really went out of his way to do something he thought I would like (and I did!).
I was the one who hadn't planned anything, so after that I rushed around to make sure we could have a little bit of a celebration. I made Russ a candy bouquet that didn't look anything like the ones in the store. He loved it anyway. I always like to eat in on Valentine's Day because restaurants are so crowded, so we had a candlelight dinner with the kids. Russ and I served them and cleaned up after them just like they were at a restaurant... they really thought that was awesome.
This is what a romantic dinner with kids looks like. Silly.
Monkey see, monkey do.
After dinner, we had yummy banana splits.
Perfect Valentine's Day.