Sunday, July 9, 2017

Vacation Part IV: Arizona

Friday evening we arrived in Phoenix, Arizona, at the home of Steven's mom and her husband John. There, we found Steven's brother Brian and his family. We were also soon joined by Steven's sister Karen and her family... and Andy and his family who had driven part of the way with us and then stopped somewhere along the way... It was fun to see most of Steven's family. We missed his brother David and his wife, but they were unable to come. That evening we enjoyed a delicious dinner, and then watched the lego Batman movie on a screen in the backyard. That night, the adults checked into a hotel leaving all the grandchildren with grandma Kathy and John to watch over.

Saturday, the adults returned to the house to make sure the kids were ready in time for the drive to Cottonwood to attend Steven's Grandma Maureen's 90th birthday celebration. We were saddened to learn on our arrival at Kathy's house, that Grandpa Ray (Maureen's husband) had a stroke early that morning and was in the hospital. Maureen decided to go ahead with the party that so much expense had gone into, and that so many people had come great distances to attend. Kathy went early with Brian, Kendra and our John to help set things up, and the rest of us followed, arriving in Cottonwood around 12:30.

Steven enjoyed seeing cousins and other relatives that he hadn't seen in a long time. We enjoyed a great meal, and listened to Grandma Maureen reminisce about old times. We talked, took pictures, and then returned to the car for the trip back to Phoenix.
Kathy listening as Maureen tells stories.

Steven's cousins Stephanie and Joscelyn.

Steven with a 1st cousin once removed, I think.

Kathy made these cute table decorations

Joe, Kendra, cousin Rory and Megan

Steven made a great impression on Brian and Kendra's son Finn.

Steven with another cousin once removed, John Hansen
(who might know my parents from Nauvoo...)

Angela enjoys her cake

Josh and Peter eat cake

Grandma Maureen with her descendants on Kathy's side
That evening, Steven and I and his siblings and their spouses all went out to Applebee's for dinner. It was fun to have some adult time to catch up.

On Sunday we attended church and enjoyed a quiet afternoon at Kathy's home. That evening we loaded the car, said our goodbyes, and took the kids back to the hotel with us for the night. We awoke super early Monday morning (4am Colorado time... 3am Arizona time) for the long (13 hour) drive home.
Megan and Andy
Kathy (and Karen in the background)
The siblings: Andy, Steven, Karen, Brian (David not shown)

Grandma and her 13 grandkids

Steven with his girls (Abigail, Renee and Kaylee)
Angela and Hannah got into the mix too...

The big boys: Peter, John, Ryan and Joshua

So now we're home again. As much as we enjoyed seeing family and visiting the beach and all, it was nice to be home again and to sleep in our own beds.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Vacation Part III: The Beach

While in California, we introduced our children to the beach. Waves, sand, salt water, sea gulls, shells lying around on the ground, who could ask for anything more? This was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip.

 On Tuesday, we went to salt creek beach with my sister-in-law Megan, her daughter Angela, our niece Abigail and a neighbor girl. Megan also was kind enough to bring the paraphernalia we didn't have - the beach umbrella, lawn chairs, sand toys, boogie boards, face masks, and flippers. The kids had a blast. Steven, Hannah, John and Joshua enjoyed the boogie boards and caught several waves each. Peter preferred to stay closer to shore, digging holes and playing in the sand.


The following day, we had a picnic at Dana Point with Steven's dad and his wife Yumiko. Megan, Angela and Abigail came too. The water in the harbor was tame compared to the big waves of the day before. I think Peter was the only one who really went into the water there. 

There is, however, a long stone jetty that encloses the harbor. Steven and John made their way to the very end of it, while Hannah and I only went part of the way, jumping from boulder to boulder, and hoping that no huge wave would come from the shore side and sweep us from the rock!

Later, after Bill and Yumiko left, our family joined Megan and the girls for a walk to the tide pools on the north side of the harbor. We climbed rocks and saw lots of birds and even a crab close up!

Friday, July 7, 2017

Vacation Part II: California

We arrived in Rancho Santa Margarita on Monday evening (June 26th), and showed the kids the apartment complex we lived in when Hannah and John were born and the church building we attended in those days. We stopped at the Target across the street for food, and then made our way to O'Niell Park in Trabuco canyon, where we had a campsite reserved. 

It felt weird to be in California again. It was odd to see street signs and recognize the names, but not remember where exactly we were. It felt very green. I had forgotten how everything was set back from the streets, and the streets were lined with green belts. Even gas stations were set back a way and almost hidden behind shields of greenery. It was beautiful, but took a while to get used to. In the grocery stores, I had a weird feeling like I wasn't preppy enough to shop there. I felt like some hillbilly hick sneaking into some ritzy hotel, and I was out of place. 

We spent Tuesday morning driving around Mission Viejo, remembering old times. We drove past the church building where Steven and I had early morning seminary, (and where we first met). We visited the high school we went to (that now features some additional buildings and solar panels over the parking lots!). We drove past the homes our families used to live in before we were married. We saw other schools, church buildings, even the hospital Hannah and John were born in. While the children were rather bored, Steven and I enjoyed the trip down memory lane.

Tuesday afternoon we met Megan, (Steven's brother Andy's wife) and visited the beach with her, her daughter Angela, and our niece Abigail (Steven's brother Brian's daughter). (Abigail had swapped places with Andy's son Danny for a while... Danny was in Arizona with Brian's son Finn.) I'll post more about the beach later.
Steven's eagle scout project involved installing water bars on a trail in O'Niell Park. Wednesday morning, Steven and the boys and I decided to go hike that trail and see if the water bars were still there. We enjoyed a nice hike, and I think Steven recognized some of the heavy squared-off logs across the trail meant to divert water. They were looking like they were about 20 years old and due to be replaced again. 
Later that day, we went to Dana Point, where we enjoyed a picnic lunch with Steven's dad and his wife Yumiko, as well as Megan and the girls. It was nice to see them. and the picnic that Yumiko and Bill provided was fantastic!
Thursday, we gathered up all our dirty laundry and went to Andy and Megan's home in RSM. There, the kids watched a movie, and I washed all of our dirty laundry. (Thank you Megan for the use of your washer!!!) Later that afternoon (when all the laundry was done) we put on bathing suits and went to a local swimming pool for some water fun in a less salty environment. 

Finally, it was Friday. We rose that morning, rolled up the sleeping bags, took down the tent and cleaned up the camp site, then set off for Andy and Megan's home where we hung out for about an hour while they finished their packing, and we all set off on another adventure.

On the way out of California, we stopped to see a cabin that Steven's Gram used to live in. Andy and Steven spent a while reminiscing about that. Shortly after we went to Burger King for lunch, and spent a little while visiting with some dinosaurs. Then we continue on our way to Arizona.... (to be continued.)

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Vacation Part I: Utah

I guess I have to back up just a little.

Thursday was the day camp portion of 11 year old scout camp. Peter was already twelve, but since John had been asked to help as scout staff this year, Peter attended with him. I dropped them both off at the church that morning, and after a day of fun, I returned to pick up Peter that evening. John stayed and went up to camp that that night at pickle gulch campground.

Friday morning, I dropped Peter off at the church again, and then he drove up with the scouts to camp. When Steven got off work Friday evening, he didn't come home, but rather went straight to the camp to join the boys for dinner and the campfire activity and to stay the night.

Saturday morning, Steven returned home with John and Peter, we finished loading the car (we'd loaded most of the things Thursday evening, and I had everything else pretty much ready to go), and then we finally began our family vacation.

Driving with four teenagers isn't anything like driving with toddlers and babies. We drove for a few hours in near silence that morning before any of them really woke up. Over the course of the next ten days, we traveled about 2000 miles. We watched a few movies. We listened to an audio book. We listened to music. We enjoyed times of silence as each read books or did quiet activities. We stopped occasionally for gas, and on long journeys we stopped for about an hour lunch break. And for the most part, that was it. No stopping every hour or two for potty runs. No tantrums. No screaming babies. I enjoy travelling so much better now than I used to!

We stopped at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere, near the Colorado/Utah state border for lunch. It was probably over 100 degrees there, and not much shade. We walked around a bit, ate a bit, and then climbed gratefully back into the air conditioned car for the next leg of our journey.

We arrived at my parents home in Orem that afternoon, and were able to see both my parents, as well as my sister Amber and her family and my brother Tayson, who recently returned to the States from Taiwan with his son Jadon. Later on, another sister April arrived from her home in Wyoming with her family.

That evening we walked to a nearby park to stretch our legs and enjoy each others company.

On Sunday, we attended church with my parents. It was their ward conference so we got to hear from their bishop and stake president.

After church, we were joined by those of my siblings who live in Utah: Lindy, Lia, and Heidi, with members of their families for dinner. So I got to see my parents and six of my ten siblings while we were there! It was very fun to see them all again. I wish I had pulled out my camera while we were there, but I was enjoying their company so much that it didn't even occur to me to take out my camera and take pictures! 😞

Monday morning we packed up our stuff, enjoyed breakfast with my mom, and headed off for the next leg of our trip. We stopped in Saint George, Utah for lunch and a short rest. It was nice to stretch our legs and walk around the beautiful temple after our picnic on the lawn outside the fence to the grounds.

Then we continued on our way to California.... (to be continued)

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Peter is 12!

Peter just celebrated a very special birthday! He's TWELVE!!!!!

Gifts included an entire new set of Sunday clothes including dress shoes, black pants, white shirt, and a yellow tie. He also received a small star wars lego set, a deck of playing cards, and some earbuds. 

Due to the fact that we left on vacation just a few days following his birthday, he hasn't yet been to church in our ward since his birthday and he hasn't received the priesthood and been ordained a deacon yet. Hopefully that will happen this coming Sunday. It will be a blessing to have all three of my boys participating in the administrating of the sacrament each week!

Forty Something

So, I had a birthday a while ago. I'm forty something now, I think. Hannah took pictures. Steven made the cake.