Between the time we load our belongings on a boat to travel back to America and when it would actually arrive is usually about 6 weeks (although it took THREE long months to get from Dallas to London!), so we had some time to kill before we could plan on really moving in somewhere. Brian and I both really missed our Utah summers that we both grew up loving, so we decided to head to one of our favorite places for 3 weeks before we permanently move to the big city again. We hoped to spend time with friends, family and the mountains. And, happy to report, we did plenty of all three! Brian and I upgraded to Business class on the flight from Heathrow to DFW- which Brian earned by traveling a TON in the last year, and I feel I earned a little bit of too since I was husbandless for the better part of the last year. ;) The kids survived splendidly back in economy sitting by each other and loaded with food, games and movies. I don't even know if they came up for air. ;) We went back and checked on them a lot and our trusty Kate was holding down the fort quite well. We didn't watch much TV or movies in London, so they were definitely making up for lost time. Once landing in Dallas, Brian's awesome dad showed up with a big car and an even bigger trailer so we could haul all of our bags from the airport to their home. I then said goodbye to Brian and the kids and they headed off to their Nana and Papa's house while I boarded a flight to Utah to meet my sisters and mom for BYU Education Week. However, my flight kept getting delayed and by the time I finally made it to Utah at near to midnight, I had been awake for over 24 hours straight and was quite delirious (and emotional....sorry, Rebecca!). My twin sister, Rebecca, picked me up from the airport and we made it safely back to her house and I crashed...for a solid 4 hours. I woke up at 4:30 am wide-eyed and bushy-tailed, as they say, due to the time difference. Not a noise in the house and pitch-black outside, I got up and exercised in their basement to get my blood pumping for the fun day ahead. We got Rebecca's cute kiddos off to school and then drove down to BYU to meet my sisters for a full day of classes and eating, as we do at Education week. It was, as always, SO FUN to see my sisters and mom- most of whom I hadn't seen in over a year. We ate well and were taught even better and I left with some good sugar in my belly, some great lessons learned and some quality time with my hilarious sisters.
On Saturday morning, we all got up early (me at 5:30 am...progress!) and went on a long walk all around near my parent's cabin at gorgeous Sundance resort. We then saddled up for a yummy breakfast at Foundry Grill (if you ever get a chance to eat their biscuits and gravy, do NOT pass it up) and then we got ready for the day and headed up to a park in Salt Lake for a lunch reunion for my dad's side of the family. It's always fun to see aunts, uncles and cousins that you haven't seen in forever and catch up! Afterwards, Jenn and and Claire headed off to the airport and their homes while the rest of us went back to the cabin and stayed up way too late again talking. The next morning I went to church with Rebecca and her family, which is always fun because it totally throws people off that there are literally two people that look that much alike! Its kind of nuts. Brian and the kids flew in the next day and we all checked into our corporate housing apartment in Lehi- our home for the next little bit.
One day, we drove up to Alta Ski Resort to do the hike to Cecret Lake (pictured above and below). It was a gorgeous day for hiking and a beautiful drive up Cottonwood Canyon. The hike was really nice, and we packed a lunch along so we could picnic up there. I know I've said it before, but we just really love the mountains. And we've been pretty spoiled this year with all of the amazing mountains we've been able to see and literally walk on. This one was no exception.
While Brian and the kids were in Dallas, we had planned a little party for all of our kids' friends there. It was a highly anticipated event (at least on my kids' part) and they were beyond excited to see everyone after a year of being apart. Not quite as excited, though, as seeing their beloved grandparents and aunts, uncles, and cousins that still live in Texas. They are the family we have literally spent the most time with, and we have missed them so much. I know they had a ton of fun at the party and staying with their Nana and Papa for a few, very special days. We are so grateful that Brian's parents let this big crowd take over their pool and home for a few hours one night. It was definitely something my kids won't forget. They swam until they couldn't swim anymore and left with a lot of mosquito bites, but even more love! They even got to eat their favorite, Chick-fil-a, while they were there. They sure did miss that food!
Our first week in Utah, we packed with outdoor fun. We drove up to Bridal Veil Falls and walked down the gorgeous Provo River Trail. The fall colors were starting to pop a little and the canyon was incredible.
My mom and her sisters were in town and staying at the cabin, so we went up to see them one afternoon before they all left. We got to go on a walk with my mom and look for turkeys. That night, we all met in Park City for a yummy pizza dinner, where we also met up with Josh, Dagmar and their kids. The next few days were spent at our community pool swimming and spending time at the Boyle's and Bell's homes with cousins...a lot of time spent outside getting nice and dirty! We also took the kids to BYU a couple of times so they could see the campus that we love so much. We snuck in three BYU women's soccer games while we were there over the 3 weeks too.
The Bells fed us all a lot of good food and let us really take over their home at a moment's notice a ton during our time in Utah. I hope they enjoyed it as much as we did. ;) Our kids played so cute together and Rebecca is one of the best cooks around, plus has, as Lauren says, "the cutest baby ever", so we were never bored and never hungry. A good combo. We went to Seven Peaks together and we also went to the movies with Julie's kids one night. We even hit up the Museum of Natural Curiosity one day, which was so fun for the kids- I had to pull them out of there after almost 5 hours! We also all met up at Liberty Park in Salt Lake to let the kids run around altogether and then we had a picnic, followed by delicious Banbury Cross donuts. We even snuck a sleepover in on one or two nights. I'm telling you, these cousins spent a lot of quality time together. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Christian made us his famous kook-burgers one night, with all of the fixings, and they were amazing!! We all devoured them and would have eaten more, but we had to leave room for some s'mores, which we cooked in their fire pit after the sun went down.
Brian left for a week to go to Berlin for some work there. While he was gone, we got out a lot and took advantage of all there is to do around Salt Lake. One day, I took the girls all around Temple Square. We toured the conference center, the temple, the church history museum and City Creek mall. It was a really nice day. I love taking my kids to the temples, and this one is our very favorite. Afterwards, we met the Bells at their very fancy church ward party. They had bounce house slides and we even got to ride in a real-life hot air balloon. So fun.
One night, we met up with our good friends, the Poultons. Ally and John lived by us in Texas, but have since moved to Utah. I played soccer with Ally (who used to play for Utah State and is amazing!) and we served together in our church callings. I love her- she's one of those people that totally makes you want to be a better person. We met them up at Mueller Park, where we barbecued hot dogs and s'mores...so good!! We could have spent hours catching up after having not seen each other for so long. They are some of the best people I know.
One day, we headed up to Park City to do the alpine slides there, which is a must (an expensive one, albeit). It was a school day and the place was EMPTY, so we got to have the mountain pretty much to ourselves. We only had time for a couple of rides before they closed. It was such a beautiful day out...I probably enjoyed the lift up just as much, if not more, than the actual slide. These aspen trees that cover the mountains in Utah are so incredible.
We also got to spend a couple of days at my parent's cabin in Sundance. My dad, having just flown in from Palo Alto where he was helping Beau and Amy at their house, was able to meet and stay with us there too! It was really nice to have him around. We cooked hot dogs and s'mores in the fire pit out front on our first night and it was perfection. Kate was staying with Sofia and Lilian for one night at their home in Heber so she could go to school with them (which she loved!!), so I picked her up, hit up the grocery store for everything we needed, and we made it just as the fire was ready to start cooking. Ah, it was seriously so nice. The next day, we rode the lift up to the top of the mountains there and then hiked up to the summit and then rode back down. It was stunning. Brian's phone actually fell out on the lift somewhere without him knowing it, and we got a call the next day from a guy who had spotted it while riding 40 feet above, he hiked down, and called us so we could meet him and get it back. How nice (and lucky for Brian) was that?!
We took the Mandan Summit trail to the Mandan Short loop and hopped back on the chair lift down. These mountains are some of my favorites. And when the leaves are starting to turn gold and orange...so beautiful!
We went to church with the Bells every Sunday and hung out at their home for hours afterwards while the kids played and the adults talked. The prophet is in their ward, so we were able to figure out a way to meet him one afternoon as he was leaving. He let us give him high-5's and my girls loved it...something they certainly won't forget.
Taylor is totally convinced that she will one day play for the BYU Women's soccer team. She soaked up every second of their games and was so excited to high-5 them after the last game we saw versus Brian's alma mater, SMU. BYU smoked them 5-2, and it was really fun to be there- especially to see this girl's face light up here at the end.
Hot dogs and smore's were kind of a theme this trip. We had to American-ize ourselves again, right? ;) This was from our weenie roast at Sundance with my dad. We loved this night.
Our final day at Sundance, we drove the Alpine Loop to Cascade Springs, where we got out and explored. Once again, we had the place to ourselves because of school. It was so beautiful out. That night, we met up again with my dad and our cousins for a pizza dinner altogether before my dad had to leave town.
Our last night with the Bells at their house. I don't think my kids have ever been so baby hungry in their lives- even though Caroline looks upset here, I'm pretty convinced her self-esteem has never or will never be higher as it was during the time we spent there. She had her own personal 5-girl fan club and her feet never hit the ground. Eloise and Tessa were like two peas in a pod too. This was right before we had to say goodbye. Man, we had some really good times with the Bells over the last few weeks. We love this family so, so, so dang much. Wish we lived closer...one day we will.