Sunday, July 14, 2013

Vacation Part 3: everything else!



 

So normally I take a bajillion pictures on vacation but something about having a nursing baby and four other kids seems to put a damper on my camera abilities.  Plus there was just SO much going on all the time that I rarely had time to figure out where I'd last seen my camera or my iPad!  But I did take the above picture of what happens if you give a two-year-old a Jolly Rancher to quiet him down after 9 hours in the car.  Be thankful that this picture was taken post-furious-scrubdown.


Backtracking a bit:

On Sunday we all went to church and then came home & made and ate a delicious dinner.
  That night we were able to have many members from both of our families come to my sister’s home so that we could give Nathan a name and a blessing.  It was really wonderful to have so many of our family members there and I was so grateful to all of them for making the trip!  My mom & sisters had organized this completely awesome sundae bar with assorted fruits, nuts, syrups, candies, brownies, etc. and so we all enjoyed some AMAZING yumminess while we chatted afterward.  (And a big shout-out to my brother-in-law Chris, who sacrificed his thumb to chopping all the frozen candy bars, and my dad, who ended up with torn blisters across his palm from scooping mass quantities of ice cream.)  I didn't remember to get any photos of our family, or of Neil & I with Nathan, or even just of Nathan by himself (poor fifth child!  I promise I love you so much!) but I do have this super-flattering one of Neil & myself...








































The picture below is the sundae bar with my dad at the end scooping ice cream, Neil's cousin Becky, and my nephews Caleb & Danny and my nieces Emma & Paige (all of whom are the children of Neil's brother Chad and his wife Bridgette).




My gorgeous youngest sister Rosalind in the foreground.









My beautiful sister Ruth, our incredibly gracious hostess, with her darling baby Evelyn

Monday was a pretty crazy day.  We were putting finishing touches on food for the reception and there was a moment of utter horror when we realized that pounds upon pounds of carefully prepped romaine, baby field greens, and spinach had frozen in the back of the ‘fridge.
  Not. Good.  Fortunately we had enough time to do it all over again, but boy, was I tired by the end of the day!  We were serving a fruited quinoa salad with honey-ginger dressing, fruited chicken salad, chicken cherry pasta salad, melon salad, and what Neil calls heaven-in-a-bowl (romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, bacon, almonds, feta, & croutons with a garlic/lemon/olive oil dressing.  It is seriously amazing and we eat it in mass quantities at our house). Plus tons of delicious cake sandwiched together with raspberry filling and topped with swirls of buttercream.  I probably ate an entire cake by myself over the course of our visit because there was a TON of cake around and it was really really amazing.  
Tuesday was Elise and Paxton's wedding.  After we left the temple the responsible folk (my parents and grandparents) went back right away to start prepping for the reception at the Springville Art Museum.  Us irresponsible and ravenously hungry young folk went to Chick-Fil-A and let the kids blow off steam dressed in their fancy wedding clothes in the tube slides.  And we all looked totally awesome in our matching outfits hanging out together ordering our food under the names of Batman, Superman, etc. (the guys got creative).  I was kind of disappointed that Elise changed out of her wedding dress...
Tuesday evening was the reception.  I did not take a single photo.  As I mentioned earlier, our family was doing all of the food, which translates as my dad's sisters totally saved us.  The food was so delicious that people were coming back multiple times, which meant that it went way faster than we'd anticipated, and my aunts literally spent almost the entire evening in the kitchen while my sisters and I ferried food back and forth.  My sister Ruth did a great job making everything look gorgeous and it was a lovely party.  Really and truly lovely--the weather was totally cooperate and the venue was perfect (we were outside in the sculpture gardens at the art museum).

On Wednesday everyone was sort of crashing, so we took our kids up to Provo and showed them around BYU.  We started off at the art museum and I showed the children my favorite painting by Carl Bloch of Christ at the Waters of Bethesda.  When I was in college I spent a lot of time sitting on that bench in front of the painting.


Abigail and Juliet thought this giant bridal gown made out of bubble wrap and steel chains might have been worn by Madame Maxime...




































One of the things the kids really wanted to see was the place where Neil and I met.  So we went down to the Maeser Building where Neil & I met in honors American Heritage when I was starting my sophomore year and he was just beginning his freshman year after his mission.  We found the exact chairs that we sat in that fateful first day when he asked me if I was working on my New Testament homework and I asked him if he'd like to go to Devotional with me. 




And, of course, we took the children on a drive through the beautiful Alpine Loop, where we had our second date, and where we spent hours and hours of our courtship and early marriage.



On Thursday I met up with my dear dear friend Melanie for lunch, since she fortuitously was in Utah as well!  The three hours we spent together were such a treat.





And now some random assorted photos that show some of the day-to-day.  Ruth & Jordan have a beautiful home with a fabulous backyard and we spent a lot of time just relaxing and enjoying everyone's company. Some things I wish I had photos of but don't:

  • Running with Neil.  We had a couple of fabulous runs together, including one late at night where I randomly decided that we should try to hike up this giant foothill/mountain because it would be cool.  Turns out that it was really steep, much higher than it seemed from the trail, and composed of loose scree.  Turns out it was also really fun.
  • Hanging out with Ruthie in the backyard doing pedicures on the kids.  She gave the girls lengthy and beautiful manicures as well and then Luke decided he wanted some too, so he returned to the house with sparkly green toenails and sprayed all over with perfume.  
  • All the time we spent in the kitchen together.  I love cooking with my family.
  • Talking with my sisters.  I love them all so much!  Rosalind threw Elise a fun bachelorette party that was basically the five of us sisters & our mother sitting together eating delicious delicious food and talking and laughing (and singing John Denver songs and tickling Nathan).
  • How cute the kids were every night in their sleeping bags.  They were such troopers--they slept in sleeping bags in our room every night for more than two weeks and were just fabulous.  They were SO excited to get back to their beds once we got home, however! :-)



And Neil caught up on a lot of sleep.
























 Cute little Ev!!



 Fabulous playset in the backyard, complete with a tot-sized picnic table (great because we ate virtually every meal outside!).


 One of our many al fresco meals--Chris & Jordan put up a gorgeous pergola just before we got there and we spent so much time outside.  Lots of s'mores.  :-)  And lots of conversations about things like how much would Jordan have to pay you to let him brand you with the new grill branding iron that Neil made him?  (for the record--10K will buy you a lot of branding power in this family)

 And lots of badminton!

 Rosalind and Ruth chilling with the girls on a blanket and Mary Beth with the boys under the pergola...



On Friday we headed north to hang out with Neil's family again after we'd recovered a bit from the busy

days earlier in the week.  We got together at his parents' house for a barbeque and spent the day watching the kids swim happily around in a giant horse trough (I think?) in the backyard.  Whatever it was, it was a perfect pool for the kiddies!  It was really fun to get together with his family and catch up on the last year since we were there for Christmas.  And sadly, I did not take any photos.  Total bummer because I also didn't get any photos from the family reunion, and I was so upset about this!  More on that late.

On Saturday we went on a 5-mile hike in Diamond Fork.  It was hot, hot, hot!  Did I already mention the crazy heat wave in Utah?  I think it was about 106 in Salt Lake at the worst of it when we were there...and this was in June!  Crazy!  We carried up so much water and we drank it all (seriously, everyone had their own waterbottle that they were carrying and then we had another two or three backpacks full of water...we drank it all).

Anyway, it was so hot that I knew I would be sweating off any makeup, so here you go--a lovely picture of me hiking without having showered or put on makeup.



 I think Ruth and Jordan are the best at photo bombing.  And look how chipper Evelyn is on her first hike!  Love that smile.




 Jordan decreed that Dad was the Hero of the Day, since he carried every kid at least once and sometimes carried multiple kids at the same time.  My dad is awesome.  And I don't have a picture of it, but my brother-in-law Chris also deserves a serious shout-out for motivating and carrying Isaac.  Isaac was so attached to Chris and Chris was so good-natured about it--and he did quite a few runs up hills with Isaac balanced on his giant backpack of water.



It was so gorgeous!  (Great choice for the hike, Rosalind!!)



 Strangely, none of us felt inclined to hop into the hot pools when we finally reached them...




Luke fell asleep sitting on Neil's shoulders and was so exhausted that he stayed asleep through being shifted down to Neil's arms, being put into the backpack, and then being laid down on the ground in the backpack while we picnicked.  Poor kid!




We were all so dirty when we got home!  These are my feet, and it's all dirt rather than a tan--and I was wearing running shoes.  The dust seeped right through.

The kids were thrilled to see Mary Beth & her iPhone...she couldn't go hiking with us since her ankle had mysteriously swollen up and was really painful.

 Chris & Rosalind built this gorgeous solid oak table as a wedding present for Elise & Paxton.  It was an ongoing project throughout the week and just about everybody took a turn helping out.


 



Neil’s family reunion began on Sunday evening.  We didn’t get out of church until 2, and Neil & Luke spent most of the afternoon napping.  I was hesitant to wake Neil up since he was starting to get sick and I knew the extra sleep would really help, but I finally woke him up around 4:30 and we started packing up to go.  We ended up being pretty rushed, which meant that—horror of horrors—I forgot to take the camera battery off the charger and put it in the camera.  I remembered when we were on the freeway but we were so late that I told Neil to just keep going and not bother turning around.  Sigh.  So no camera, which really is a shame because there were SO many great photo ops and I was heartbroken not to capture them.

So.  Things that I wish I had a photo of from the family reunion:

  • My kids playing with their cousins.  They had an absolute blast.  They were so filthy and so happy.  There was a giant hill covered in sagebrush, scrub oak, and pines that reared right up in the middle of our campsite, and the entire thing was crisscrossed with game trails.  Pretty much paradise for the kids and they spent 90% of their time running around on it. 
  • Singing the kids to sleep in the tent.  I can’t tell you how much I love this—so peaceful and so wonderful.  My favorite song to sing to them is “In the Bleak Midwinter,” which is my very favorite Christmas song so I sing it all year long.  But then I also love to sing things like “Danny Boy” and “Moon River,” and, of course, my kids’ absolute favorite is “Donna Donna,” which is a really cheerful Yiddish song about a calf being led to slaughter, but eerily beautiful all the same.
  • Hiking up the Timpanogos trail with Neil, his brother Chad, his sister Monica, and all of our kids.  It was so hot but it was incredibly beautiful and the views were breathtaking, plus it was so fun to talk with Monica as we were going along.
  • The kids playing in the river--as I mentioned earlier, Utah was going through this CRAZY heat wave.  Seriously, by 9 am at about 8000 feet we were sweating buckets!  So we spent a lot of the time we were camping hanging out by the river, where it was much cooler, and the kids all ran around and occasionally dipped themselves into the freezing cold water.  In fact, we spent so much time there that we finally hauled a table & camp chairs down and started playing board games. 
  • Not a photo op, per se, but I really enjoyed the time I had to talk with Neil's extended family.  I met them all when we were married and at a few family functions, but I'd never had the chance to talk with any of them for extended periods of time, and I really enjoyed getting to know them better.  Great people!
  • When we broke camp and headed out, we decided to go with our children to Cascade Springs.  It was so beautiful and there was a ranger there who gave the kids a scavenger-hunt type thing that made the whole walk way more fun, since we were looking for specific facts, plants, etc.  (I learned more plant names in those 45 minutes than I'd learned during 5 years living in Utah!)
We headed back to my sister's house on Tuesday night, had one final dinner with all of my family, and then headed east the next morning.  We spent one night in Colorado after oohing and aahing our way over I-70, and pulled into his brother Caleb's home in Missouri on the 4th of July.  And when we arrived there we found out that my sister-in-law Juli's due date had been moved up and she was due to deliver her 7th baby the next week!  I felt SO bad that we were there but she was so incredibly gracious, upbeat, and fabulous as always.  And our children had the time of their lives lighting off fireworks for hours with their cousins--I was totally blown away by how spectacular the fireworks were around the neighborhood!!  We went with Caleb & Juli to the home of one of their friends, who had invited them over for fireworks--and we were there for hours.  It was amazing and incredible, and we could have stayed longer but Isaac started into their friend's house looking for a bed and we figured it was time to go back!



Remember how much Isaac & Enoch resembled each other the last time we visited?  Luke & Joel are headed the same way!



The next day we went swimming together and I found out something really darling--Isaac and Luke referred to the baby-sized pool as the "cat pool" because we called it the "kiddie pool" and they thought we were saying "kitty."  That's one of those things that just melts my heart and I know our family will forever refer to small pools as cat pools.





























And then we packed everyone into the car, drove 8 hours, and we were home!  We had such an amazing time and I was struck again and again by how lucky I am to have family members that I love and enjoy.  They are all such wonderful people and it was great to visit with them all!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post & photos! So glad you had a safe trip and a good time!
Love,
Aunt Pam

Elise Gray said...

oh my gosh, i can't wait to see you guys again in 1 WEEK!

Elise Gray said...

oh my gosh, i can't wait to see you guys again in 1 WEEK!

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