Sunday, April 1, 2012

Celebrating Lori's Life

My dear friend, coach, and mentor Lori Richards passed away on February 4, 2012 from complications from liver cancer. Lori is the mother to two of my best friends, Kristin and Lauren. I have known and loved these women for almost fifteen years. Lori is one of the first people who coached me and taught me the game of volleyball. She is the reason that I developed my talent and the guiding force behind me playing volleyball in college. Lori has always been a role model in my life and she was a second Mother to me after my Mom passed away. Lori was one of a kind. She lit up any room she was in and had a magnetic personality that instantly brought you in and made you feel like her best friend. I always admired her generosity of spirit and her love for our Savior, Jesus Christ. She will be greatly missed.

While she was in the hospital, I sent her a letter to help lift her spirits while she battled for her life. Here are some excerpts from that letter.

"How can I begin to thank you for changing my life 14 years ago when you came to my high school and asked me to join your team at Players? I didn't know it then, but that decision to play for you paved the course of my future. You gave me two of the best friends I've ever had. You helped mold my talent into something I was proud of. You took me under your wing when my Mom passed away. You helped me get a scholarship to BYU, a place I had always dreamed of attending. And that decision helped me find my husband. That's quite an influence you've had on my life. And I am ever so grateful.

Your two daughters have blessed my life immeasurably. Thank you for raising them to be kind, loving, graceful, compassionate, fun, passionate, and stalwart. In short, thank you for raising them to be like you. Their lives are a testament to the woman, Mother, Grandmother, daughter of God, and wonderful coach/instructor that you are. I'm forever blessed to have known the Richards family."

I was fortunate to be able to attend her funeral, or Celebration of Life, as the family referred to it. And it was truly a celebration of the life of a woman that touched so many lives and gave meaning to the phrase, "live life to the fullest."

My ELK girls. We were missing our E, Erica, who couldn't stay for the funeral. I got a glimpse into our future seeing all of Lori's teammates gather to honor their best friend. I look forward to the years of friendship and memories with these girls.
While we were all in Utah, we gathered at BYU for some playing time in the Smith Field House. Brought back so many memories. Here I am pictured with Lauren's daughter Merit and my son Cash who are future Cougars. Hopefully.
This picture makes me happy for so many reasons. I spent most of my college life in this gym and surrounded by most of these people. And I love that six years later, we are still there for each other. We have each expanded our lives with significant others and children, but we are still one big happy volleyball family.

Grandpa Patterson is a superhero in our house

Casey’s Dad came for a visit in February. The Patterson's moved up to Utah right before we moved to Puerto Rico, so we aren’t able to see them as often as we would like. He was in town for a job, so we were lucky enough to have him for a sleepover. Grandpa Patterson is considered the next best thing to Dad in our household. And that’s saying something. Daddy is the best. Grandpa is the second best. And Mommy falls somewhere after that. At least in Cash’s mind. I think I am still at the top of the list in Guy’s eyes. But I’m sure he’ll soon grow to admire his Daddy and Grandpa as much as his older brother does. Cash spent every second he could either in Grandpa’s lap or following him around the house. And if he didn’t see him for a few minutes he would say, “Where Grampa go?” I am grateful that my boys have these two wonderful Patterson men to look up to. Superheroes have nothing on them!

Home again home again jiggety-jig

Here is how we celebrated being home in good old Huntington Beach. It feels good to be home. Life at the Mora Kai is grand.
We missed carpet!
Guy started pulling himself up to a standing position.
Both boys got sick soon after we got back, so we had to keep ourselves entertained.

We miss the PR sushine, but we are loving the HB weather.
Guy is always longing to be one of the big boys.
My sister Nikki celebrated her birthday and it was so fun to be around family and party! (That's my brother Tim in the middle. These are my only siblings that live in CA too.)

Adios Puerto Rico

We have to once again bid farewell to the people and places that we have come to love on the island of Puerto Rico. We love living in Guaynabo with Jorge and Cristy Rodriguez. We love spending time with the Rodriguez and Morales families. We love attending the Metro Ward and making lifelong friends. We love traveling around and seeing more of Puerto Rico. We love the food. We love the besos. We love Corozal and the passionate Plataneros fans. We love the tropical weather. We love the huge iguanas. We love the beaches. We won't miss the crazy driving or the mosquitoes. But we will miss the parties. Puerto Ricans party hard. Besos to all of our Puerto Rican friends/family.

 Hopefully we'll be back again soon.

Island life is the life for me

We spent three nights on Culebra island and I wish we could have had more time there. And hired a nanny. But seriously, it was a great little vacation for our family. We spend all day at the beach and then walked around the little island for dinner each night. It wasn’t quite as relaxing as it would have been without the kids, but it was so fun to see Cash loving the ocean and playing in the sand. And Guy eating the sand. He was mostly just along for the ride. But Cash has turned into a total beach babe during our time in Puerto Rico. I love every moment of him loving the beach as much as we do.

One of the restaurants we ate at had these fish off the deck that would come up and eat the food you threw into the water. Cash was obsessed.
Crazy that we have a picture almost identical to this one that we took on our honeymoon in Cancun six and a half years ago. We were just two kids in love. Now we have two kids that we love too. Pretty great six and a half years.

Island Guy

I had a lot of fun, maybe too much fun, taking pictures of Guy while we were visiting Culebra island. I think he needs a separate post because these pictures are just too cute to miss out on. Guy is 7 months old in these shots.

Our sweet baby Guy was such a trooper on this trip. He spent most of the time napping in a pack n play on the beach. But when he was awake, he was either eating the sand, following Dad and big brother around, or crawling straight for the ocean. I love this little Guy so much. Just look at that face.

The island of Culebra

After Casey's team lost, we jetted off to the island of Culebra for a three-day vacation before heading back home to California. I have been wanting to make this trip for three years now and I was so excited to finally be doing it. We woke up super early to drive to Fajardo so we could catch the ferry that goes to Culebra. You have to get to the ferry terminal really early because there are only three ferry rides a day and the lines get really long. As soon as the tickets are sold out, you are out of luck until the next ferry takes off almost four hours later. We pulled up and got into line and within ten minutes, the tickets were all sold out. Our only other option besides waiting the four hours, was to go to the local airport and try to get on a flight to the island. We took our chances with airport because I was not about to wait for four hours with two little kids at a ferry terminal. Plus the daylight hours were burning and I wanted to get to the beach! We arrived at the airport and luckily we were able to get tickets on the next flight that was leaving within an hour. It was more expensive, but it was an experience we wouldn't forget so we went for it. The plan was so small that it was terrifying, but my only consolation was that if the plane goes down, at least we were all on there together. The flight was 15 minutes from take off to landing. Guy was in the baby carrier and slept through the whole thing. Cash sat next to me and thought it was the coolest thing ever. It was basically a dream travel situation. The ferry takes two hours, so we were stoked to get there early and get started on our vacation.

Culebra, or the Spanish Virgin Island,  is an archipelago consisting of the main island and twenty-three smaller islands that lie off its coast. The remote tropical island is really small, only 3,000 inhabitants. There are no stop lights, one gas pump, and everything opens and closes depending on the owners plans for the day. I loved it. The beaches were beautiful, especially Flamenco beach where we spent all of our time. Clear water and almost white sand. It was a dream vacation for our little family.

The U.S. Navy used Culebra as a gunnery and bombing practice site in preparation for World War II. This is one of several WWII-era American Sherman tanks still stranded in the sand of Flamenco Beach.

A loss for Plataneros

Casey's team lost in the semi finals in the seventh game of the series to Lares. It was a heart breaker because one of the best players on Casey's team injured himself at the second to last game and their team really needed him to win. They still came close to winning, but ended up with a loss and their hopes for a repeat championship dashed. The boys and I have loved watching Casey play again in Puerto Rico for the Plataneros de Corozal. The fans are loyal and loud. And they love Casey. Makes for good times.