This post is part of the endless-adventures-of-March series and it has been ripening for a long time. Sometimes I have so many photos of a small window of my life that I become frozen and have a hard time tackling the project. But it's time for the story to go public.
So here you have it. It was the last weekend in March, and we celebrated Easter with our Aussie friends who were stopping by on their epic tour of the United States. Let's be frank - our little town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina was just not going to compete with their prior three destinations of LA, New York City, and Washington DC so we did what we could with what we had to work with - some good Easter family time in a little town with really nothing very remarkable about it at all.
The week before Easter, I channeled my love of all things Waldorf and sprouted and planted Easter wheat grass.
...and on Friday night they arrived. But before we get lost in Easter Egg Hunts, I should back up and give you a little intro. Our visitors were Pete, Mel and their 2-year old boy William, and Mel's brother Sim. Pete was Marcos' companion in Tokyo where they served as volunteer missionaries for our church, and Mel and I were friends from the MTC, where we chatted during gym hour a few times a week (they later met in Australia and married, after we had known them separately). Although we had hit it off really well when we met, and have kept up off and on over the past ten years, the week before they arrived I had a moment of panic: what if it's awkward? What if we all dislike each other? What if we have all changed in the past ten years and have nothing in common?
But there was no need to have worried for a second. It was such a lovely weekend. We wish they were our neighbors, or maybe even family members. We miss them.
Here are Pete, William and Mel. On Friday night they drove in with Sim from DC, and after dinner we enjoyed catching up on ten years of not seeing each other. On Saturday morning they joined us for an Easter Egg Hunt and potluck breakfast at the church. At breakfast I introduced Mel to my actress friend Rebekah, and she immediately pulled out the most unreal Australian accent and carried the entire conversation in Aussie English. It still makes me laugh just thinking about it. I remember the time I went to England when I was twelve years old, and tried to keep up a British accent for the two weeks I was there. (It was not a very popular idea). But Rebekah was truly amazing. Truly.
After the kiddos had hunted a good little bundle of eggs, I made the mistake of telling Gigi that there were treats inside of them. Her entire world stopped, and she immediately sat down to enjoy her spoils.
Despite all of the running around we managed to catch a few family photos, a photo with Mel, and of lovey boy William.
Since we were practically on UNC campus, we took our friends for a tour. We started in the UNC Botanical Gardens...
...found spring springing in McCorkle Place...
...and drank good luck water at the Old Well. This well used to be the water source for all of Chapel Hill, and its outline is now the logo for all things University of North Carolina. There you have it: the most important, exciting landmark in Chapel Hill.
That night, we took a turn hosting dinner for our Raleigh friends dinner group, and after we stuffed ourselves on Kim's world famous spaghetti, Mel lead us in the Tim Tam Slam. She, Pete and Sim had brought an entire suitcase full of Australian chocolate to share with friends over their one-month stay in the states. They put out an assortment of fun size chocolate bars on the table, and it was like Heaven in a chocolate sampler. And then it was time for the Tim Tam Slam.
"Here's how it goes. First you take a small bites off the cookie in opposite corners.
Then dunk the cookie into the hot cocoa...
...and drink the hot cocoa through the cookie like a straw until it gets soft.
Then stuff the entire thing in your mouth!"
Don't you love this photo of our little friend Kinsey doing the Tim Tam Slam for the first time, with Jason giving instructions and Kim holding her hair back? I like to think that they must have a photo like this in every scapbook in Australia, of children and their first Tim Tam, like a rite of passage into true Australian childhood. Good on ya, Mate.
What a happy evening we spent together. So many enjoyable people.
The next morning was Easter Sunday and along with our Aussie friends, we invited our friends Angie and Ryan and their son Liam over for simple Easter brunch and an Easter Egg Hunt. We decided to reuse the plastic Easter Eggs from the day before, but we no longer cared about stuffing them, so some were hidden with chocolates and some were not. Gigi was clever this time and shook the eggs to see if they rattled, before putting them into her basket. The empty ones went back into the grass, where the younger boys happily found them. She is definitely her mother's girl. No chocolate? No bother.
Sweet Liam was most excited about our neighbor's toy car. Below, William shows Uncle Sim his loot.
That Sunday was Easter Sunday. Although we were very busy hosting and eating, and spending time with friends, during our quiet moments I had many opportunities to talk with Gigi about the meaning of Easter. It is a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and of the hope of living as families beyond these few years that we share together. As a family that has recently lost loved ones, this part of our faith has become especially meaningful to us. Easter informs how we approach death and it can very much inform how we approach life.
Monday morning was beautiful. It was our last full day with Pete, Mel, Sim and William, and so we started out playing at the park...
...and made our way to La Vaquita - our favorite Durham taqueria - for lunch. Our friends pointed out that in Australia they really do not get amazing Mexican food, so we drove the stretch to Durham because this place is really just that good. After lunch we visited the Tienda next door and picked from the most amazing assortment of Mexican popsicles - every flavor you can think of, including rose and tamarind. Here's Sim.
And Pete, and Mel and Will trying the Mexican soda.
On Sunday night my mom had returned from her travels to Nebraska with my Uncle John, and they joined us for the park and lunch that day as well.
That final night of their visit I went out for a late dinner with Mel, Pete and Sim. The kiddos were asleep while Marcos worked at home, and I loved having adult time out to relax and talk on their last evening in North Carolina. These friends are the perfect mix of fun and funny, so easy to be around, insightful and thoughtful, and generous. We are so glad that they scheduled us into their epic American journey. Come back soon!