Blessedly, Stephanie arranged to have Whitley watched by her mom (Grandma Kay) for the majority of Thursday so I had the day to get things prepared. Even when I felt like so much had been completed the night before (and I'd be sitting around with "nothing to do" on Thursday - as I told John), there is still so much odds and ends to complete. Mikayla was a lot of help upon returning from Brayden's football game, with just an hour to go before guests arrive. However, as it turned out, even upon pushing out the start time an hour, our guests must really be opposed to arriving on time, as it was just our family and Cully (who had attended Brayden's game with us) all the way through the first half hour. At least it gave us time to do the obligatory food spread photos which I refer to each year so I don't have to "reinvent the wheel" when setting it up the next time.
I multiplied our chili recipe by 6 this time - taking into account what was eaten last year. However, because of the later start time, we had a lot leftover. Thankfully, there's plenty of folks willing to take leftovers home.
Poor Zach - he kind of ends up with Brayden as his annoying shadow all night long.
I'll save myself from adding captions or names to all these photos - that would just take too long. And, in some cases like this pic, I really have no idea what was going on between Joe and Cyrus.
I love how we always get a contingent of "Harlow folks" who congregate in the same place every year.
John was restricted from doing a pumpkin due to his eye sutures removal, so he gladly took to socializing. - A huge shout out to Cully at this point, who manned the camera, love that guy already, but love him even more when he preserves memories on our behalf!
Cyrus (our Olympic athlete!) - is a pumpkin carving genius. He "dibbed" the outdoor space for him to go to work on a "Grinch" pumpkin.
This is how Brayden rolls every year, he cons someone else to carve his pumpkin every year (I think Zach has had that honor two years running). Brayden just sits back chowing on snacks...and eh hemm..."supervising"....
This guy (Paul) chose an alternative to the pumpkin - a mini watermelon. Hey, whatever floats your boat.
LOVE these ladies.
Mikayla, just like Brayden, has a constant carving companion in Elaina. However, unlike Brayden, Mikayla gets very involved. It's a special time for the two of them every year.
I thought it would be fun to use the pointer tool to do dots - but sadly they didn't illuminate enough when I lit the pumpkin. I had to go back and cut my lettering out...
John, showing off his eye without stitches!!!
Cyrus, as viewed through our blinds, faithfully carving away outside.
I love this pic - such an easy event to host as everyone is busy socializing and carving.
Mikayla and Elaina's finished project.
When we talk about Brayden "pestering"....this is kind of "case in point".
This is Alesha - the girl I've begun meeting with this year - I love this pic of her and her energetic smile.
Mikayla helped me to recarve my holes.
Our faithful cameraman Cully.
You'd think, with all of these beautiful girls in attendance, more single guys would make this event a priority. Missed the bus on that one, boys! These four are smart, though - Matthew, Jacob, Cully, and Paul.
My finished "pumpkin project".
Heather was at the Whites house prior to coming over and "borrowed" Whitley's pumpkin to bring over. She returned it that night on their doorstep with Minnie Mouse carved in. I can only imagine Whitley's "What's dat?" fascination with it. =)
A little outdoor exercise with Heather and Mikayla playing volleyball.
Alesha and Ashley are roommates - and I got to "adopt" their room this year by being a resource for them and occasionally dropping off treats on their behalf. Love these two girls!
Really feeling the enthusiasm from these guys.
Another Trinity Girls shot...
Brother and sister. Jacob's sister, Miriam, is a freshman this year at UO and living in the Trinity House.
All in all, this was one of my favorite years. In the past, there's been headaches I've fought, unexpected issues, panic about lack of food, etc....and this one ran super smooth. Interestingly, the whole day was a struggle for me emotionally - I just felt oppressed and attacked, which further testifies to my firm belief that the enemy would not want this sort of event to take place. It happened though, and I'd say we won the battle.