Saturday, May 23, 2009

Graduation Weekend!

Well, the weekend that we had been looking forward to for four long years finally arrived, and it was an awesome weekend, well worth the wait. There were so many emotions that weekend, and so many memories breezing through our minds that I'm finding it difficult to even begin describing it. I think the thing that sums it up the best is to compare it to racing a long set of laps in a swimming pool. You have your head down in the water the entire time, just barely getting your mouth out of the water for short breaths inbetween your strokes, but you keep on kicking and stroking for all your worth...and then all of a sudden you're at the wall and the race is done and it's time to come out of the water. That's how it feels right now. We're exhausted and elated and thankful and excited all at the same time!

Our weekend officially began on Thursday evening, when Oliver and Keisha arrived in town. We had just finished up with having dinner with the Elders when the doorbell rang and our first Idaho visitors arrived! Hooray!!! We were so excited!

Later that night, Andy went to the airport and picked up Trever and Samuel who were flying out and then driving our Accord back to Idaho for us. Taylor was so excited to have Samuel sleep in his room, and had been counting down to his arrival for several weeks.

Friday morning, Andy and Taylor and Trever and Samuel left to go to the Cleveland Natural History Museum on a field trip with Taylor's 3rd grade school class.

It looks like Uncle Trever was popular with the kids...

That afternoon, we met up with Oliver and Keisha again, and went to the Westside Market. In all of our four years here, Andy and I had just never made the time to go over there, so Oliver and Keisha made sure that we didn't miss our last chance. Thanks guys, it was awesome! Rachey and I really liked this bakery display. Yum...look at those cakes!

Here are the yucky pigs. Seriously, this picture just kind of grosses me out. Pork anyone?

Aunt Keisha was awesome! Lainey just snuggled right in and didn't get too far away from Aunt Keisha all weekend long. :)

Friday night Oliver and Keisha headed out for Pittsburgh, and we took Uncle Trever and Samuel out to Squire's Castle for one last BBQ. Squire's has been one of our favorite places out here in Cleveland, and it was a beautiful night for ball and a bbq.

Trever spent most of the time pitching to Rachel.

Here's Trever and Samuel in front of the castle.

My kids loved having Uncle Trever around. Thank you for being so patient with them!

Taylor and Samuel played catch the entire weekend. They were actually playing catch in our front yard while we were loading up the cars for Squire's and Samuel caught a ball that slipped through his mitt. We heard a whack and then Samuel went down to the ground. We all went running over to him...he was okay, but he sure did have a big shiner for the rest of the weekend.

These two boys just had so much fun together.

Rachey grew pretty attached to Uncle Trever. I thought this picture was so sweet.

Boy, do you think our kids like baseball or what?

When we came out here four years ago, we had a picture of our family taken in front of the castle. Four years ago we didn't have Matthew or Lainey with us. Brooklynn was our baby then...11 months old, Rachey was 3, and Taylor had just turned 5. Our family has sure grown.

Even Mommy and Lainey got in on the baseball action for a little while! (Andy says that I throw like a girl. That is a good thing. I am a girl.)

There is a saying that I love and want to put on the boys wall in our new house. It goes like this. "Boy: noun: a noise with dirt on it." Here is my cute little boy covered with dirt and having the time of his life. He is so sweet.

So while everyone else is playing ball and Andy is grilling the meat...Matthew is raiding the cooler. He is so funny.

And sweet little Lainey was pretty content to watch everyone from her carseat...all snuggled up with her blankey and rattle bunny. She is so cute.

Brooklynn really isn't into baseball she spent most of her time roller-blading along the path that went by our picnic table.

So funny thing, as we pulled into the parking lot a guy went past on a bike and yelled "Dental student?" to us. We laughed and said yes...then wondered what gave us away. Idaho license plates? More than one child? must have been our beautiful white teeth, right?

Saturday morning we headed up to Kirtland. Trever and Samuel had never been here before, and we were excited to show it to them. I was having a hard time...I'm really going to miss Kirtland.

Here's Taylor at the mill.

Samuel and Taylor never stopped goofing around. They were just really fun to watch. It made Andy and I so happy to see Taylor having a friend. These have been some really tough years for him...we are so excited to get him back out to Idaho.

Here is cute little Rachey at the mill. Our kids have been on the tour one too many times I think. They really didn't care to listen to what the sister missionaries were saying...they just wanted to take a quick look and move on to the next building. :)

Rachel's favorite part about visiting Kirtland was this cat in the cemetary next to the temple. Rachey loves animals...sometimes a little too much. Because we don't like her petting stray cats, we asked her not to touch it...she was doing her best to obey...but you can tell that she just really wants to reach out and pick it up.

And here is Lainey with Aunt Keisha again. I think that Lainey had a great weekend...being held nearly the entire time! Now a week later she's still thinking, "Hey! Where did my Aunt and Grandmas go?"

Matthew had to go to the Doctor on Thursday morning because he had a fever...and we found out that he had an ear infection. I could tell that he didn't feel well all weekend, but he was a good little trooper. I was glad for all the help with Lainey that weekend, because Matthew wanted to be held by Mommy quite a bit.

Here's Grandpa Belnap with his grandsons in the school of the prophets, above the Whitney store. I have a lot of fond memories from meetings we've had in this room with the young women, and will miss it.

Here's Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Daryl in front of the Whitney store. Both sets of grandparents arrived Saturday morning, and met us in Kirtland. It was so fun to have them there with us!

Lainey quickly found Grandma Belnap's lap.

Later Saturday night, we headed out to the Highland Heights Community Park for a BBQ that Andy and I had organized for graduating dental students and their families, our Mayfield ward members, and friends from the Kirtland Stake. We didn't think that anyone would come because it was cold and rainy...but we were so excited when so many friends braved the weather to come out for one last get together!

Rachey was cold and so she snuggled inbetween grandma and grandpa.

My kids were just soaking in all the attention that they got from their grandparents that weekend! Grandma Ruth was teaching Brooklynn a cute song about a "horse and buggy".
Saturday night, we finally got home from the bbq, got everything put away, bathed the kids...and made it to bed very late. I don't know about Andy, but I didn't sleep very well Saturday night, I was too excited for the next morning....GRADUATION!!!

Ruth and I went to convocation that morning, and while she and Lainey saved our seats, I went outside and took a few pictures of Andy as the graduates from the different colleges were lining up for the parade. I just felt so proud of he is in his you honey!

Here's Laineybug and I waiting for the procession to make it in.

And...Lainey snuggling up to Grandma Ruth. This was the first time Lainey had met her grandmas...and she was getting in 4 months worth of snuggling time.

Here I am with the graduate! Be forewarned...from this point on you might see a lot of pictures of Andy and I kissing, hugging, etc...we stayed up late Sunday night talking about the day, and both of us said that it reminded us a little of our wedding day. It was exciting and exhausting...and lots and lots of pictures. :)

After convocation, we met up with everyone at the dental school reception/luncheon. Here is Grandma Belnap and Uncle Trever.

Samuel came prepared for the long day with a good book. Although, I don't think the he or Taylor minded the luncheon so much...I think that he and Taylor each went back to the buffet 3-4 times. It was awesome.

Uncle Oliver and Aunt Keisha.

Notice how Lainey keeps finding her way to either Aunt Keisha or one of the grandmas? she is with Grandpa Belnap. Meanwhile, Brooklynn is doing something with Grandpa's ear. :) Sorry dad!

Matthew with his Daddy.

Grandma Ruth and Grandpa Daryl enjoying the luncheon.

After the luncheon we went outside and took a few pictures before the diploma ceremony. Here is Brooklynn with her daddy.

Matthew had about had it for the day. He really just wanted to run around and climb on the outdoor sculptures.
These are a litte out of order...but here is Andy and Matthew after the diploma ceremony. Andy is officially Dr. Thuernagle now!!! Even though it was much harder having all of the kids there, I am glad that we decided to bring them. It really was a family graduation. I think that we each felt was the day that we had all worked toward. So, here is Matthew wearing the grad cap. So handsome.
And it's Rachey's turn in the cap. Andy and his girls. :) Poor little Brooklynn was just exhausted.
The boys turn with Daddy. Taylor's turn with the cap.
I like this picture. I think it portrays the fact that graduation isn't the's the beginning, so here's looking toward the future!
I warned you! I was so proud of Andy...he had worked so hard during the past four years, not just working hard in class and in the clinic, but working long hours at the library at night, and working Saturdays in order to support our family. Dental school as a single student would be hard enough, but dental school with a family of 3 children to start and 5 children at the end was not an easy task. It was a proud moment. :)

Here is Andy with Dr. D'alessandro or Dr. "D" as he was known in our home. :) Dr. "D" was one of Andy's preceptors in the clinic.

Who's that guy? Oh! The "other Dr. Thuernagle" or "Dr. Thuernagle squared" as someone said that day. Two handsome brothers.
So here is Andy getting his diploma from Dean's official!
I love this picture. My kids were too excited for their daddy to wait until after the ceremony to give him hugs. They ran up and gave him a hug before he sat back down in his spot. Taylor, out of all of our kids had to give up the most for this endeavor...he's been Mommy's big helper, the little man of the house these past four years, and I just love this picture.
Here are the girls with their Daddy. So cute...amazing to think that when we started Brooklynn was our 11 month old baby.
And here is a great picture of Andy with his mom. She was so proud of him, and we're so glad that she was able to be there to share this awesome weekend with us!
And here is a group shot after the diploma ceremony. Andy and I are both holding the diploma because...well...because it definitely took two.
And here we have Oliver and Keisha and Trever and Samuel in with us. Trever and Oliver were awesome, they were both taking the pictures for me so that I could just relax and enjoy the experience. Thank you!!!
So we got home from the day's festivities...and there was Andy's scooter in the driveway. I had been joking a few days previous to graduation that it would be hilarious to get a picture of Andy riding the scooter with his robes flying. Graduation just wouldn't seem complete without one last official ride on the notorious beast of a scooter. he is. I'm sure the neighbors were wondering what in the world that weird guy in the blue bathrobe was doing riding up and down the street...and what was up with that strange looking shower cap?

Ahh...what an amazing weekend. Ruth and Daryl, Mom and Dad, Oliver and Keisha, and Trever and Samuel...thank you, thank you for coming out to Cleveland. We could not have done this weekend without you all! Thank you for helping with the kids and taking all the pictures so that Andy and I could just relax and enjoy it and soak it all in. And for all of our family and friends who have given us love and support over the past four years, thank you. We couldn't have done it without you as well. To all of our Cleveland family...we will miss you tremendously...finishing school and leaving is bittersweet. We feel so blessed, and are looking forward to moving back to Idaho and settling down for a good long while!