It was at a Christmas party, right before I married Ben and moved clear across the country, that I started getting a wee bit sad at leaving so many friends that truly felt like family in Texas. I remember my friend, Stephanie, wrapping her arms right around me tightly and saying with all her motherly authority, "YOU will always be family." And I really do feel that I have family in Texas still, even eight years later. Steph and Ron definitely are that to me and when they said that they were coming to Seattle to embark on their Alaskan cruise, I begged them to stay with us. After all, there is always room for family. We got them for a whole day and by the time we dropped them off, my kids were ready to stow away in their luggage and go with them.

We did a little photo shoot the night before they left and I was impressed by how well it went. They had been up since 2 A.M. our time, flown across the country, been hauled through Pike's Place Market on the busiest day that I personally have seen, and played on the floor with my kids for hours before we went out. Good sports indeed.

See? They are awesome.

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Kinder, more loving people you will have a difficult time finding. And they are FUN! And that Stephanie can laugh!

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Okay, the look on Ron's face here reminds me of "The Denim Shirt Fiasco". Steph got it in her mind that Ron needed a new denim shirt for this photo session. She searched high. She searched low. She finally went to Macy's and did a little victory dance when she found a shirt in just the right size....but didn't really calculate if the price was reasonable or not....and I myself gasped when I forced the price out of them. The look on Ron's face here is reflecting the fact that he will have to postpone retirement for an extra two years just to pay for the shirt. Steph kisses him in gratitude. Stephanie had another co-ordinating outfit that she spilled food all over at the market and went comfy instead. He loves her.

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They have that kind of married love that has deepened and matured and is deeply cemented by their great friendship.

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Ben said to me as they were leaving, "I feel like I have these amazing friends that I didn't even realize I had." I am so thankful for their friendship too. We hope it doesn't take the whole cruise to recover from the whirlwind of a day we had together. I love you both.