Thursday, July 17, 2014

June/July: UTAH

No buts about it, our trip to Utah was wildly successful.
We hadn't seen this cute little Kate since her birth almost a year ago, so it was fun to see how she's grown. And she sure has. Here are the rolls to prove it. Can you believe Leah's little Kate (left) is 5 months younger than Alyssa?
These cute little nakeds loved gnawing on Grandma's peas. But while snatching naked pics was one of the first things we did after arriving, I guess I should start from the very beginning, before we arrived.

Welcome aboard Delta Airlines, Non-stop flight to Salt Lake City, Utah

Upon arriving to the airport we were thrilled to find that Jodi Peterson (one of my dearest friends) had a sister-in-law and her kids on the same flight. Its a small world after all. Oh, but it gets better. We soon discovered that they were seated on the row behind us. (hmmm, so they were the stinkers that booked the coveted back row before we could get to it....they must know the importance of being close to the bathroom, I just hope they didn't have to learn that one the hard way like we had to one previous flights.)
Jodi's nephew Isaah is just a few weeks younger than Kennan. So of course we had to rearrange seats a bit so they could sit by each other. They played games together the whole flight and I didn't hear a single peep from Kennan. #bestwaytofly 
Finally after months of waiting and almost of full year since our last visit, we made it to our beloved Utah! Home of the gorgeous mountains and our even more gorgeous family.
My sweet sister Ariel (a.k.a. Vanna White) helped us unpack. My mom made us a make-shift dresser out of Gator bins. It sure beats the heck out of digging through suitcases for a month.

Let the Parties begin

The next day the house began to flood with people. I think it was raining babies. At the end of the day my mom calculated that she had prepared and served 81 meals. Thank heavens she finally has a dishwasher that works.
It was fun to finally meet these sweet little boys: Cousin Melissa's baby Corbin and Bethany's smiley little chubber Cairo. The above right is cousin Maggie holding him.
And in other family news leah got a new camera...
Which lead to this hilarious moment. Leah is showing Bethany, Rachel, and Maggie a video of Katie sitting in her high chair and bouncing her way to the fridge. (If you haven't seen it yet, ask Leah, it's adorable).
My sister Ariel is a great babysitter to all her nieces. She made puppets with them.
 Roxanne is about a year younger than Brynlee and December (who are "twins" because they share a birthday) and Haylee towers over them all in height even though she is only 9 weeks older.
Look at these Divas!
Roxanne is personality-plus and is a great performer, as we learned watching these girls do a puppet show.
The family has been working really hard to tear out the "forest' in the back side of their house and replace them with these three teared garden beds. They also planted all this grass which the kids had fun rolling down.
Bethany introduced the kids to these ingenious marshmellow shooters made from papercups and balloons. Here they are attacking Aunt Susuan.
These shooters launch mini marshmellows impressively well.
It was a riot to watch. Although not so much fun once everyone left and we had to pick up hundreds of melted marshmellows out of the grass.
Kennan and I
Leah and I
Here is a riddle: What is better than sisters and cousins? Answer: sisters and cousins with babies!

Hiking Mount Timpanosos

Dad is getting a total knee replacement in a couple months so he figured it would be a good idea to completely wear out the knee he has before getting a new one. That way it makes him feel like he will be getting his moneys worth with the new one. We all joined him in his endevours, except for mom, she refused to support such a thing.
I should of taken a picture of how Dad's knee bows to the side as he walk.
I can't believe skinny Leah made it the entire way toting Kate on her back.
Dad has never been one to complain, but when asked he admitted that each step feels like a knife digging in to his knee. But he would follow it up with a quick "but you only live once."
It's only like a 3 and a quarter mile hike, but it felt like more since it was straight up hill.
So it required a lot of breaks on the way up.
Yeah!!! We made it to the cave!
Grandpa and Brynlee
Ben and Kennan
You know where the best place to take a low quality picture on your phone with no flash is? A dark cave.
I'm so proud of these two. They made the hike with no problem and no complaints.
This hike was so Beautiful!

The Children's Discovery Museum

The new children's museum at Thanksgiving point was AMAZING. We were there for a couple hours but didn't get to do most things there because it is so huge. And I ran in to my good high school friend Kristen Cramer. It's a small world after all. Again.
My older sister Rebekah has four kids and four foster kids right now that she hopes to adopt one day. They are the cutest, sweetest little kids ever. It was Willie's birthday so Rebekah made him this cool campfire cake.
Who is up for lunch at Costco? Everyone of course. No matter how different or distant my sisters and I become we will always share love of saving a buck. So offer cheap food and everyone will show. It was so fun to have ALL 8 of us sisters together in public.

The Butler's house

 Of course Rachel has a new house, it's been more than 6 months since we have seen her. And though it may not be as big and beautiful as her past houses, the community in Daybreak is KILLER. It has the feeling of something right out of a "Leave It to Beaver" show, where everything is perfect and all the kids are out ridding bikes in the street.
But who wants to be out ridding bikes when you can be watching shows on Mark's flat screen and eating popcorn.

Father's Day at The Butler's house

Can anyone besides Miriam tell me what is so funny about this picture? Look really closely. If you don't get it then it will remain an inside joke forever between Miriam and I.
Riding in the big red van to the Father's day party at Rachel's
We all walked down the street to a field to play kickball. P.S. You can't get grass like that where we're from!
Jairus and Leah
Loading up for our walk
Daxton and Lincoln (Rachel's babies)
Little Lyssa
Kickball was SO MUCH FUN. 

One of the things that make our family unique and fun is Dad's unexpected, random, and unfair surprises. Back in 1997 one Father's Day dad bought all of us kids presents for father's day. He decided to recreate that memory by giving his kids gifts this fathers day. But the funniest thing about it is that he only gave gifts to his kids that came to the party to celebrate the day with him. Rebekah and Bethany  missed out big time. This is our "you should of come" picture to them.
And this is why Grandma Allred calls her a little Dandy Lion. It looks like you could blow her hair right off her head.
Lincoln and Rachel
Dad lounging on the lawn. We all sat around eating
Popsicles and candy.

Lake Powell

While we were there the Butler family was supposed to go to Lake Powell. The only problem is Rachel couldn't pull herself away from me. I can't blame her, I'm always with me too. So Mark generously offered to take just Kaden and Kennan. I was super nervous about sending him. People die at Lake Powell every year. And he had never spent a night away from me like that. But how could I refuse? It's Lake Powell afterall, which is better than Disneyland. So I agreed and then spent the next four days praying hard for his safety and that he would be good. I was so relieved when he finally made it home. He had the most wonderful time. Just look at these pictures. Their smiles say it all.

When Derrick saw these pictures it made him feel really bad that he couldn't be the one to be there experiencing this with his boy. But Derrick was a good sport about it and does't want his kids to miss out just because he can't participate. Don't worry Derrick, I heard a rumor that Residency doesn't last forever, even though right now it feels like it will never end.


We rode Trax downtown. Here are Byrn and Cami on Trax. Bryn is talking to Dad on her play phone. She carried on quite the conversation. Onlookers probably thought it was real. Funny thing is that she really knows Derrick's number and called him almost on a daily basis every chance she could steal a real phone.

The Planetarium

We went to the Planetarium downtown to see a movie on the IMAX theater. Here the girls are walking on the moon and Mars.

The Children's Museum

Kennan and Cami going fishin'

Mom and Bryn Dressed up and did some traditional Latino dances.
Alyssa tried to join in on the fun.
Then we went to Grandma and Grandpa Cahill's for lunch. I love that they live just 3 blocks from the temple downtown. It's so fun to visit them while down there sightseeing.
Kennan is REALLY into collecting crystals. In fact you can often find him breaking open rocks with a hammer as he looks for something shiny inside. He found this Crystal statue and really wanted it. He asked Great Grandma Cahill and she explained that it is a really expensive statue that they purchased while on their mission in Columbia. Then she graciously said he can have it if he promised to take good care of it. They carefully wrapped it in tissue and placed it in a tissue box. It now is on display on top of Kennan's dresser next to his cherished trophy's. He has invited several friends over just to look at it. He loves showing it off. The good thing about Kennan is that I can trust that he will take good care of it. He is very responsible with stuff like that.

What is that white stuff?

It snowed on the Mountains while we where there. Crazy June weather.

Shopping and Lunch with Oma

You would never guess that this shop-a-holic is almost 80 years old. Between her and Grandma Cahill I am genetically predispositioned to live forever.
Where did we eat for lunch? Cafe Rio, of course. I have yet to find any San Antonio establishment that can compare in flavor and quality of food to Cafe Rio. 
In order to catch this shot I had to first give a cute little Hispanic lady a crash course on picture taking on the iphone. I'm sure this life lesson will get her far.
Eating popcicles on Oma's lawn

Temple Square

Isn't that a beautiful picture? I didn't even Photoshop it (not that I have photoshop or change any of my pictures). The colors and flowers were naturally brilliant. I only wish it hadn't been the very moment when Kennan decided he had reached his lifetime cap on smiling for pictures. Don't worry, I found ways to bribe him so I could capture these next few....

Okay, now Alyssa has met her smiling quota. She is officially done being happy.

My cute little sisters, Ariel (11) and Abigail (14)

Doggy Devin

This was a dog Jairus was dog sitting. I can't remember what his name was, but Cami says it's Devin so we are going with it. The kids loved playing with the dog...meanwhile Miriam ran inside and locked the door.

Jairus has nice abs!

Jessica and Rhett's wedding

Jake and Joe: The bachelors
Kennan Kaden and Ben: The Three Amigos

Miriam and Leah
Brynlee is still lobbying for World Peace. I think she is trying to establish her Miss America platform.
Mark sometimes gets confused as to who he belongs to...pretty much anyone who brings him food and rubs his feet.
Oh good he finally found the right wife.
Rachel please control your husband!
I love my sisters
Ariel is a gorgeous girl all dolled up. Now all she needs to do is wait 5 years until shes old enough to go to the prom.
My cousin Weston and his beautiful wife Megan
Wedding food is the best...
Probably because it's served with love.
For those of you that aren't familiar with our big family, here is how it works. On the left is my sister Abigail. Next to her is my sisters son Michael and next to Michael is his sister Ashley. So Abigail is is Michael and Ashley's Aunt, although she is younger than both of them.
Michael earns the award for "Most grown up since last year". He has turned in to a dapper young man.
I think my nephew Daxton's real father is Buddy the Elf.

Bethany and Lance with their strapping young boys. Their little princess was off tearing up the dance floor.

Grandma Cahill used to tell us "you're my favorite". It was a good trick until we figured out she was telling all the other grandkids the same thing. Bethany and Ariel are my favorite sisters. 

Cousin Andrew and his beautiful pregnant wife Ashley
Lincoln has the most beautiful eyes. Every time I told Rachel that she acted as though she'd never noticed. How could you not!

DJ Reneau
Roxanne and Reneau Teeples (Bethany's kids)

Congrats Jessica and Rhett

You know its a party when Oma has to take off her heals.

Oquirrh Mountain Temple

Early one morning I was able to sneak away and go do initiatories at the temple. This new temple is beautiful. It was a peaceful morning and was wonderful to have some alone time.

Swimming at Bethany's pool

I think it's impossible to swim too much in one summer. The kids just can't get enough of it.
Leah holding Bethany's baby Cairo
Reneau, Alyssa, Kate
Cousin Heidi and her cute little Eli

After swimming Bethany treated us to her healthy homemade pudding. It was TO DIE FOR. So good.
Well that sure wore the kids out. The oldest two kids almost never nap in the car.

Sundays at Mom's

Everyone loves Sunday evenings at Mom's. I would say "mom and dad's" but Dad is usually leaving for work Sunday evenings. The food is always amazing. The men especially love it because they aren't required to do anything but sit and get their feet rubbed.
Or talk politics....Oh wait, we don't talk politics, usually the discussions revolve around money, or whether or not Dad should move (to save money) or if we should go to Lake Powell this year (if we have the money).

And if you don't have a wife to rub your feet you get to hold the babies so the wives can rub their husband's feet. See Jake holding Alyssa above for demonstration.

The Utah Museum of Natural History

When we lived at the University of Utah the museum of Natural History wasn't very spectacular. They have since built a HUGE new building have completely changed things. It's kinda expensive to get in, but during the summers they usually have a promotion for military members and their family to get in for free. It is definately worth going to. They even have tables for a picnic.

The kids learning about Earthquakes

Daybreak Zipline Park

We went to this park 4 times while I was with Rachel. It was so fun. This was my favorite place to sit and dip my feet in the stream.
The Zipline park in Daybreak is impressive. Maggie and her gang were with us on this occasion. This is her son Michael trying out the zipline.
In addition to the zipline and sand they have a great water feature for the kids to play in. Too bad Rachel probably won't live there by the next time I visit with how often her husband plays monopoly.

Oquirrh Mountain Temple

Camping at Palisades 

Above is Jairus is giving Dadd a demo of his hammock, using mom.
These kids brought bb guns and were trying to shoot tadpoles or baby fish. Jairus is showing his successful shot.
Dad is helping the kids prepare the rods.

Manti Pagent

It's been years since I've attended the Manti Pagent. I was thrilled to be able to share this experience with my kids for the first time.
But to fully appreciate the experience you have to first eat all sorts of unhealthy foods that the vendors sell. We had our fill of funnel cake, popcorn, potato swirls, and snow cones.
It's not every day you can get your picture taken with a Lamanite....
or have one show up in your picture. He tried to pick up Alyssa and she promptly freaked out. What a good girl, that's exactly what I expect from her when strange men pick her up, I've taught her well.
It was a perfect night. The weather could not have been better. 
Miriam and Leah waiting for the show.
The pagent was even more beautiful than I remembered it being. Maybe it's because I'm getting older and more sentimental. It did make me miss my sweet husband terribly. It was fun to sit at the base of the temple reminiscing about how 10 years prior we were married there, and how our lives have changed and evolved over those years.
Jairus caught a fish and Kennan was green with envy. It has been his life long dream to catch a fish and although he's tried several times, he has never had any luck.
This is us eating the fish.

Alyssa loved Camping. All my kids slept really well there.
This was the night Leah announced that...she's pregnant!!! Which means she won the following competition as outlined in an email sent out by Dad....
"I have 16 grandchildren. My birthday is 5/17/57.
17 and 57 are important numbers to me. That means
I am offering $1,000 for the 17th grandchild
born in my 57th year of life. In May I turn 57, that means
anytime between this May and next May. Good luck
and let the games begin. 
Love Dad"

Which was soon followed by a change of rules: 
"I decided to change the contest.
$500 for a girl, $1000 for a boy.
Love Dad"

One of my main objectives in Utah was to wean Alyssa because I knew I had no chance of competing in this competition until she was no longer breast feeding. The first couple weeks in Utah I struggled to get her to stop and I would always give in to her (its just so easy). Finally Miriam intervened and started preventing me from nursing her. And she started giving her bottles at naps and at bedtime. None of my other babies would even think about taking a bottle. But we soon found that she liked it and was becoming quite attached. And Wa-la, the day she was officially weaned was when my cycles returned. Although after 2 full years of not having them I had forgotten how miserable they can be. Now I'm wondering why I was anxious to start again. (As a side note, this competition really wasn't my motivation and I'm thrilled that Leah won. That's what I was hoping for)

Headshots: 2014 Boating edition
Did I mention Leah's pregnant? I shared a tent with her this night after she announced and it's a good thing she did because it played out like this: 2am I wake up to the smell of beef jerky, 3am I hear her eating yogurt, 4am snacking on graham crackers. She claims that at 6 weeks pregnant she had already gained 10 pounds.
This is Josh Schriener's (Rebekah's husband) awesome new boat.

Off to Annabella

Miriam was so kind to let us use her brand new Honda Accord to drive to Annabella to see the Allred's. Driving her new car was fun, it even had air conditioner, which is good for being a '97.
Bradan was so good to my kids. Here he is playing chess with them. He is going to make a good dad one day.
Bradan even got the baby to sleep, which no male had ever done besides her father.

Bryn and Emily using Bradan as a couch while Kennan tries to destroy him from above.
Bradan also did sidewalk chalk with the kids.
The boys left to go fishing before dinner and said "If we aren't home by 10 call search and rescue." It was just a few minutes before 10 and they still were not home and we were starting to get worried. They finally called and said  they were on their way . They had had too much fun fishing and watching Elk.
I was beyond estatic when they returned to tell me that Kennan caught his first fish. They tried to gut it but it got destroyed so they threw it in a bush. I'm sure some bird appreciated it. Kennan couldn't have been happier. He laid in bed that night talking my ear off about the amazing time he had.
Kennan really loves his Grandpa.I think their spirits are very similar in some ways.
Grandma Allred treated all us girls to manicures and pedicures at the college.
My girls were so enammered with this experience. They gave Bryn the suppliees they used on her to play with at home and she insisted we get her a manicure bag. Luckily Grandma saved the day by giving her a big gold purse, which she is still carrying around with her everyday several weeks later.
The girls getting manicures.
Emily and I got pampered too. It was awesome and so relaxing. I am so lucky I have such great sister-in-laws that I really enjoy spending time with and talking to.
Brynlee insisted on trying our her new pedicure skills on Bradan. He was a good sport about it.
Sparklers!!! Maureen has really become "the fun Grandma". 
Kennan and Grandpa played catch on the lawn many times. He was in heaven, eventhough the girls wanted in on the action.
Using Cambria as a shield didn't fare too well for Bradan.
Bradan and Emily are like completely different people from when I saw them a year ago. Bradan has lost 90 pounds in the last year and Emily has lost 40. I am blown away at how they have changed and how energetic they are.

Slip n slide
Bradan should of never started this game. They all lined up for their turns over and over again.

Alyssa didn't care to get in on the action. She was content just watching and crawling around the lawn.

This next sequence of pictures is my favorite. It needs no explanation.

Maureen took Brynlee on a long four wheeler ride.
And Brett took Kennan.

No wonder my kids didn't want to go back to Texas. After being spoiled rotten and living this fantasy life I hope they can ever be satisfed with regular life again. :)

Provo Rec Center

The Paulos family happened to be in Provo the same time as us so we met up with them at the provo Rec Center. It was so much fun they. It had several big waterslide, a great kids area (both indoor and out), a rock climbing wall where you jump off into the water, and a cliff jumping pool. And its pretty cheap to get in. The kids had a blast. Cami was thrilled to have her two best friends wit her.
Alyssa and Faith were cute together. They were excited to see each other and Alyssa even gave Faith kisses.

Alyssa learned how to scowl in Utah. This is the look she gave people all the time.

Katie Daniels Jorgensen

It's always good to catch up with my childhood best friend Katie (she's the one who Derrick and I attribute our getting together to). But it was even more special this year since she has a new baby. She was just a couple weeks old  here. Katie and I were pen pals for years after I moved from Richfield at the age of 12 and I have kept most of her letters to me through the years. So I complied them into a book and wrote her a peom about our evolving friendship and put it all in a book. It's like a journal of her childhood in a way. I hope she enjoys those letters as much as I have. They have brought me so much joy through the years. I'm so blessed to have her as my friend. She named her new baby Brynn.

4th of July 2014

To celebrate the 4th of July we attended the ward kids bike parade and breakfast.

The kids decorated their bikes, wagons, strollers and scooters for this event

Miriam pushed the babies in the stroller. And Ariel just walkd along looking cute and festive.
Grandma pulled Brynlee in the wagon.

At first we were disappointed when we found out it wasn't pancakes but rather scones they were serving. But it turns out my kids love scones (I don't make them very often so I didn't know). Alyssa and Cami both ate two.

I changed my mind...maybe it's Ariel and Miriam who are my favorite sisters...
Or rather Miriam and Abigail!?!

Stadium of Fire

I've always wanted to attend the Stadium of Fire. Even more this year with Carrie Underwood preforming. So I was thrilled when Kim said she had a couple extra tickets she could sell me. And I was even more stoked when it turned out she had four tickets for me so I got to take three of my favorite sisters.

I had to take this picture to show Cami. It actually just made her jealous that I got to spend time with HER best friends.
And MY best friend too...
Carrie Underwood's performance was spectacular. My favorite part was when she sang "Jesus Take The Wheel" and then transitioned in to "How Great Thou Art". It totally gave me chills. And the fireworks at the end were incredible. What I loved the most is how they were set to music that blared through the stadium over the loud speakers. God bless America.

It's all in the family

Wonder how my parents fit so many guests...we just throw out the need for boundaries and personal space.
Cami absolutely adores Uncle Jairus. Maybe a little too much.
He wasn't expecting this simple kiss to include tongue. Surprise..she totally slobbered him.

Classic Fun Center

Brynlee practicing her skaing skills.

Cami on the Scooter

Reneau and Daxton
Leah and Miriam really need to stop shopping at the same stores.
I think the kids went down these slides about a hundred times. They had a riot.
These fun-loving ladies and babies were out soaking up the sun. Meanwhile back at the tables inside...
After a fun filled day bouncing, skating and swimming we all went to Oma's house for pizza and popcicles.

Oma looks snazzy in her new glasses. She lucked out by not having to wear glasses her whole life until she's almost 80 years old. Did I mention that Leah is pregnant?
Hey look, twice in one trip I get a picture with all my sisters. And this one has Oma too, bonus! I can now officially declare this trip a sucess.
Dad is a succor for his daughters, although he won't admit it.

Meanwhile back on the Lawn Mom was entertaining the kids with a riveting rendition of "Once there was a snowman" in July. Of course he melted. We were all melting.

The kids with Grandma and Grandpa Cahill
Alyssa with her 2nd cousin Ashley

Eating at Grandma Wouden's is so fun. I'm not sure if its because she has great food or great kid accomodatons (table, chairs, and litle dishes), probably both.
Ariel dolled up Brynlee. She looked so cute. Maybe I should start curling her hair.
Grandma's helpers in the kitchen

Next year I will maximize my time with the family by not viiting during the World Cup.
One of my favorite memories is going on a date with Ariel. We saw the movie "Heaven is for Real" at the dollar show. Then we went to "Straws" for a caramel shake and we took it up on the roof and ate it as we watched the sunset.

Final Goodbyes

Mom and Miriam walked us into the airport to the baggage check. They thought they would have to say goodbye to us there but the guy behind the counter asked who would be helping me. I told him no one and he said, "No, sister, you need help!" in his thick African accent. Mom was happy to learn that by poviding her ID she could assist me through security and to my gate. And Ill admit it was super helpful. Until they found honey in my bag that I should of placed in my check on bag. So my mom had to be escorted out with the honey back though security. Thank heavens she was with me because if not I would of been forced to throw it away, which would of made me mad as a hornet. 
Brynlee was absolutely devastated about leaving.
Goodbye, Utah. We will miss you. Thanks for the memories.
And this little piggie slept all the way home. The End.