Monday, July 28, 2014

Utah!--Part IV

Phew!  Just trying to document all of this Utah fun is exhausting.  One week down, one week to go.

We spent a lovely Sabbath day with our friends, the Evans.  They may have been embarrassed to introduce us to their new ward since this was the worst day of peeling faces for both Caleb and me.  Even my own husband and children could hardly stand to look at me as the sunburned skin sloughed from my forehead and nose.  Eek!  But we had a great time going to church with them and later enjoyed a great Sunday dinner and visiting that lasted long into the evening.

We had gotten word that some of our cousins had arrived in town, so on our way back to Aunt Shauna's house that night, we stopped in to see them at the house they were renting for the next couple of days.  The kids greeted each other with delight, then went straight to playing in the backyard, paying no mind to the late hour.  Not long after the reacquainting began, Sam came into the house with blood covering his face.  Evidently the seesaw he'd been playing on had met with his forehead, leaving an awful gaping wound.  Within minutes, Lucy was rushing Sam to the ER while the rest of us knelt and prayed in their behalf.

Neither Jon nor I could stand the thought of Lucy being on her own (Jay would not arrive in Utah for a couple more days), so Jon dropped our family at Aunt Shauna's and then went to the hospital to offer moral support.  Jon is a great guy with an innate calming influence...until needles, sutures and flesh wounds meet.  That's his cue to leave.  So he made sure Lucy and Sam were both OK but also made sure to exit before any stitching began.

Sam was unbelievably brave and was ready for Jimmer Jam camp the very next morning.

Caleb and several cousins attended Jimmer's basketball camp, held at the new Provo Rec Center.  Caleb rated his experience a 10 out of 10.  Jimmer played with the kids and talked to them about bullying.  The kids practiced basketball drills and played a lot of 3 on 3.  The final day of the 3-day camp was a 3 on 3 tournament.

This next photo was taken by the camp.  Not sure how the kids were grouped, but most of the people in this picture are complete strangers.  Cousin Connor is on the far right of the front row and Caleb is in the middle of the back row.

An action shot and view of the beautiful facility:

Connor defending Caleb's shot in the background while Jimmer talks to campers in the foreground:

After lunch at the insanely busy Cannon Center on BYU campus, we returned to the Provo Rec Center for an afternoon of swimming.  The facility has indoor and outdoor pools, water slides, lazy river and more.  So fun for the kids and dirt cheap. 

We had moved out of my Aunt's house that morning and into a hotel.  My cousin, Sara, and her family had come to town so we needed to vacate the house for them.  It should be noted how fabulous my aunt and uncle are.  They are so, so good to us, treating us like their own kids/grandkids.  They opened their house to us for a full week and we really enjoyed our time with them.  It could also be noted, however, that after a full week as house guests, it was also nice to just be on our own.  
That evening, Monday, we returned to Aunt Shauna and Uncle John's house one last time to have dinner with my cousins.  I had such a great time reminiscing and catching up with them.   

On Tuesday, I went to lunch with friends from our old Provo ward.  We started a weekly lunch tradition back when our oldest kids were tiny.  I moved from Provo over 12 years ago, but that tradition lives on.  Sometime in our lunchtime chatting, which included a good share of belly laughs, we got on the topic of PooPourri.  I shared my testimonial of the product (I could seriously be their spokesperson) and next thing you know, they were all shopping for bottles of their own.  One by one over the course of the next few days, they each texted me to thank me for my recommendation.  I'm telling you, no one should ever go without it.  :)

I said good-bye to my friends and met the family at the Wilkinson Center where they had gone for another round of BYU bowling.

We tried some posed shots but I think the candid pictures are my favorite:

Lucy and Natalie were on the same fashion wave length:

Before leaving BYU for the last time, we stopped by Legacy Hall to measure Alyssa's progress against the shortest athlete in BYU history.  This is proof that she has grown:

Left:  September 2012                                                         Right: July 2014

The usually-locked door heading into the football headquarters was open, so we had a little look around.

Caleb posing in one of the film rooms:

 That evening, Jon and I attended a reunion of students that studied in Guatemala which was being held in honor of our former professor's retirement.  It was a neat walk down memory lane and so convenient that it happened to take place while we were in town.  Our group was the first of about 15 groups of students to study anthropology with this program.  Our professor told us that Jon and I were the first of about three couples to wed as a result of program.  He also added that we were the most memorable couple.  (Hmmm...not sure what he meant by that.)

On Wednesday morning, while Caleb was finishing up at Jimmer Jam, I met some friends for breakfast in the park.  My friend Tracy, who now lives in Arizona, was in town and we were able to coordinate our schedules for a couple of hours of visiting.  Stephanie and her two youngest kids joined us as well.  The kids had a great time playing together.

Kennedy (Tracy's daughter) and Natalie

Alyssa and Lydia (Stephanie's daughter)

We had enjoyed 11 wonderful days in Utah County.  We did so many fun things, but connecting with friends and family was easily the best part.  Around midday, we said our good-byes and headed north for the family reunion portion of our trip.

Oh boy, are there stories to tell about that...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Utah!--Fourth of July

We weren't necessarily planning on attending the Fourth of July parade--probably because of the heat and the crowds and because we have kids who like to sleep in--but when Jon and I found ourselves a block away from the festivities, we couldn't resist the cadence of the drum lines and the pretty petal-papered floats.  I mean, what better way to begin Independence Day, right?

Friday, the Fourth of July, was Alyssa's last day (and it was only a half day) of gym camp.  We'd already been warned by BYU that sport campers should allow more time getting to camp due to the parade.  We drove the back way to campus that morning, being careful to avoid the parade route.  We arrived quickly and found a parking space quite easily.  The parking lot next to the Smith Field House (location of the gymnastics camp) was the staging area of the parade.  When we came out of the building after dropping Alyssa off, the floats seemed to be calling to us.  So we decided to walk the one block to University Avenue and watch it all go by.  I clapped to the beat of the patriotic tunes while beads of sweat trickled down my spine.  Utah is hot! Even at 9 a.m. 

I think every high school in Utah County entered their marching band in the parade.  There were beauty queens, military vehicles and government officials.  But the BYU entrants were my favorites, of course.

The cast of Studio C rode scooters behind the BYUtv semi.  We knew Caleb would be so jealous that we got to see them while he and Natalie were home in bed.   You snooze, you lose, Buddy!

BYU dunk team some of the cheer squad:

And good ol' George Q ended it all with a bang.  Literally.

The parade ended right about the time we were planning to pick Alyssa up from camp.  (Parents were invited to come watch the last hour.)  

It had been a very full week so we all looked forward to a quiet afternoon at my aunt's house where we could rest up for America's big birthday bash that evening.  I got in a much needed nap because I knew it would be a late night.

Sarah joined us for a late lunch at The Old Spaghetti Factory and we later went for Macey's twist cones.  In my opinion, it's the best ice cream on the planet.  If soft serve rocks your world like it does mine, then Kong Kones just might be one definition of heaven.  It used to be that only the largest cone was called the Kong Kone.  But Macey's has now assigned all of their cones names within the Kong family.  The sizes have increased but their prices have not.  I got this Momma Kong Kone (the Daddy Kong was just too big) for just over a dollar!

At last it was time for the big event: Stadium of Fire!  Maureen came down and we all went together.  So much fun!

Even though it was getting late in the evening, it was still hot.  This is Alyssa's "I'm melting!" face.

Just being in LaVell Edwards Stadium is a treat.  It's not a football game, but it's still a great reason to sit in those stands.

There was no military fly-over this year, but the sky diving team was pretty cool.

The Stadium of Fire dancers did a western-themed number:

And some fun formations like the Statue of Liberty and the Liberty bell:

The girls had fun with their glow sticks.

Studio C did three clever--and actually very funny--sketches and Carrie Underwood put on a great headline act.  Oh, and there was an amazing super hero-themed trampoline act, too.

At the end of it all, the south end zone erupted with the most dazzling fireworks display.  Those big bangs and bright colors always make me proud to be an American.

Caleb went home with Maureen that night.  She wanted to map out a route on the Frontrunner that she hopes to take with her students and she invited Caleb to be her travel buddy.  He gladly accepted the invitation.

While Caleb was off with Maureen the next day, the girls, Jon and I were invited to spend the day on Utah lake with my cousin and her family.

The girls were a bit hesitant to jump in at first:

But Alyssa eventually got brave enough to try wake boarding.

It was so much harder than it looked, especially for someone with next to no boating experience.  These next two photos are a very accurate depiction of how long she got up:

So they decided to stick to tubing.

And they had a blast!

What a great holiday weekend.  Happy Birthday, America!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Utah!--Part II

We always arrive in Utah with a mental list of places we want to go and people we want to see.

After getting Alyssa checked in at camp on Monday, we made our first of many trips to the BYU bookstore.  We bought t-shirts, hoodies and chocolate covered cinnamon bears--because it would simply be a crime to miss out on that deliciousness.  I dug into them as soon as I was finished with my Chick-Fil-A lunch from the Cougareat.  

That evening, we made our way to Mapleton to visit our dear friends, the Evans, who moved from Auburn a little less than a year ago.  They served us a nice meal in their beautiful new home and we had such a great time visiting the night away.  Before we left, we made plans to meet at Y mountain the very next morning.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love BYU?  I mean, I really love it.  And my son loves it even more.  When your affections are as strong as ours, hiking Y mountain is clearly a must--and it's good exercise, too. (Caleb and I would each hike it twice during our time in Utah.)

The hike is so much harder than it looks.  It's not long, but it's 10 steep switchbacks to the top.  The embarrassing sweat on my shirt is proof of the exertion expended in the climb, but the view is fabulous and worth the effort.  That's the Provo Temple to the right of my shoulder and LaVell Edwards Stadium to the left of Stephanie's shoulder: 

Caleb and his two lifelong best buds, Mason and Landon:

Nat and Lydia sitting on the Y:

We cleaned up and met at Brick Oven for lunch, Caleb's all time fav.  It wouldn't be a trip to Provo without Brick Oven pizza and red cream soda. 

Then we walked across campus to do some BYU bowling--also on Caleb's list of must-do.

The boys finished their final frame just about the time Alyssa was finishing up camp for the day.  We picked her up and returned to my aunt's house for dinner.  But because we still had a few hours left in the day, we had time to squeeze in more fun.  So we met the Evans at the Provo Beach Resort for a go at the ropes course.

Jacob, Lydia and Natalie did a little bit of karaoke and then we ended the night with a treat at Rita's.

Wednesday was spent at Seven Peaks water park with the Evans family.  I failed to take pictures to document the fun but if our sunburns were any indication, then the enjoyment was extreme.  Alyssa's gym camp spent the evening at the park, too.  The seven continuous hours baking under the hot Utah sun later led to a hideous peeling of an entire layer of skin from my face.  I even used sunscreen--just not enough, evidently.  

Seven Peaks water park as viewed from Y mountain

We had dinner at another Provo favorite, Los Hermanos.  (Jon and I frequented this restaurant nearly weekly in the early days of our marriage.)  Then we took Caleb and Natalie to the Evans' for a very rare treat--a sleepover!

Thursday was all about seeing old friends.  I failed to take pictures the entire day which is probably my biggest regret of the trip.

I started with lunch with one of my closest friends from college, Sara.  We cheered together at Ricks and BYU, had the same major, which meant we had several classes together and our bond was strengthened by cinnamon bears and frozen yogurt.  We've remained close over the years and she's just one of those friends that when we get together, there's simply never enough time.

In lieu of a current photo, here's a throwback to our college days:

While I was passing the hours visiting with Sara, Natalie was busy making money.  She and Lydia set up a lemonade and cookie stand.  In no time at all they had earned $16.25!

I picked Nat and Caleb up from the Evans and raced to BYU to get Alyssa and Jon--Jon worked most mornings at his sister Sarah's office in Orem.  She dropped him off at BYU and we met him there.  Alyssa had just a few minutes to shower and change before we left for a dinner date with some other dear friends.  (Again no pictures--BOO!)

Alison is my oldest friend.  We met when we were six, our families were always close and her little sister was like a little sister to me, too.  We were roommates all four years in college and because she dated her now-husband, Brian, on and off for such a ridiculous amount of time--seven years!--I've known him for what seems like forever as well.  Brian and Alison invited us to come to their house in Daybreak for dinner.  Alison's parents and her little sister, Hillary, and her family were also included.  It was a really wonderful evening of catching up and Brian smoked a delicious pork roast.  Alyssa, who had been putting in long hours at gym camp and lots of play time for several evenings on end, was ready to collapse with exhaustion, but I had the hardest time pulling myself away from Alison's house that night.

Alison and me circa 1985

All of these friends will always hold a piece of my heart and I fell into bed Thursday night basking in the fondness of their friendships.

What a great week so far!  Next up...Independence Day.