In Jordan, Part II

Woke up in Petra, excited to start the day....


We took our hotel van to the site, got our tickets, and began our full day of exploration at one of the Seven Wonders of the World.  The anticipation was at an all-time high.  You are greeted at the entrance by lots of local bedouin men and boys trying to sell you rides on their horses to the base of the hike- which really wasn't far at all so, we decided to walk it- and it was such a beautiful day out.  We kept saying how hot this place must be in the summer because the winter is so nice!  Once at the base of the siq, or crack in the stone, which starts your walk toward the first sight in Petra, it took about 30 minutes on pathways through this stunning stone crevasse to the Treasury.  Locals, Nabatean bedouins, are the people who currently live right here inside Petra, but its been populated as early as the 4th century BC when it was a trade route, which generated a lot of wealth- the locals obviously excelled at stone carving, and hence, Petra was born...


We rode these camels around the facade of Al Khazneh- or the treasury.  You can't go inside, unless you're a local bedouin, so we took in as much of the grand exterior as we could.  It was massive and the scope of it was as overwhelming as you can imagine.  I wore my Nikes for ease of walking and leggings under my dress.  The combo was perfect and so comfortable.

Kissing camels...


The bedouins would take you on the shortened 10-minute hike, if you paid them a little.  Worth it to avoid the 1.5 hour hike and catch the morning sunlight! We hiked up/tried to keep up with a little boy that took us to a tent up above the treasury here.   From up high, you got an excellent view of the site, but could also see the many bedouin tents set up for actual residents right on the top of the mountains.  I cannot wrap my head around living up here- it was fascinating to see.    

We then walked by the theater, followed by the loooong walk to the Monastery, or El Deir.  The locals told us the walk was about an hour and a half and we were asked many many times along the way if we wanted to ride a donkey to the top instead (for a price).  We were tempted because my heel had a massive blister on it, but I took my shoe half off and we ended up walking the entire way.  I am sooo glad we did.  The walk was really beautiful and passed so quickly.  I always feel like earning a view makes it that much more valuable when you reach it- this was definitely the case with the monastery.  It felt like it was in the middle of nowhere- peaceful, quiet and stunning.  


We climbed a rock overlooking the monastery and just sat and relaxed and took it in.  Favorite moment for sure.  And we were almost entirely alone- there was hardly a soul around!  We stopped on the way back for a quick drink and then finished the walk back.  I didn't even know Brian was snapping these pics behind me as I was going- I'm so glad he caught the feeling of this magical place.


After Petra, we went back to a local restaurant and ate a late lunch.  Then, we waited for our tour bus to come and take us to our next stop...the Wadi Rum, or The Valley of the MOON.  "The Martian" was shot here, and you can see why.  It looks like another planet, quite literally.  We stayed in a funky little hotel with permanent tents for rooms.  They had a small hike to the top of this huge rock on the grounds, where Brian and I hiked up and he was able to catch the night sky with all of its amazing stars- a sight you don't ever see in NYC.  


The next morning we woke up and Faris, this totally awesome bedouin and tour guide, showed us around a small part of what his family has called home for many generations . Faris lives in a tent with no running water or electricity and only a camel for transportation, which he rides to work 2.5 hours every single day, and he wouldn't have it any other way.  You could really feel his love for the desert as well as the simple life he leads.  We talked a lot about his life and it was incredible to hear.  He was the nicest guy- by his own terms, he was a "good"ouin (not a "bad"ouin).  He took us to a cave where locals go when its too hot, showed us the echoes off the walls of the stone cliffs, wrote our names in Arabic in the sand (with a heart around it, no less), and showed us where they shot some famous movies.  


The pictures do NOT do this view justice.  The shapes of these mountains were so unique and went on and on and on in the distance.  It was quite the sight.  Faris offered to take a picture of Brian and I, that is not a mirage. ;)  Haha!  He did about as good as I would have done behind the camera.


From Wadi Rum, we drove to the passport control in Aqaba, walked across the border into the Israeli city of Eilat, where we had to undergo another INTENSE security check.  The Israelis do not mess around.   We basically had to unpack our entire suitcase and answer a million questions anytime we wanted to leave or enter their country.  But, I get it.  We got through and got on a plane to Tel Aviv so we could spend one more day in Israel before heading home.  We got a last-minute hotel and decided to spend the evening in old Jaffa- which ended up being another total highlight of the trip.  Old Jaffa was gorgeous- like a comfortable old beach town which also happens to be the oldest port in the entire world!   We walked around the charming city and then ate a slow dinner at the cutest little restaurant that sat right on the water.  They opened the huge windows and we sat and relaxed and watched one of the most gorgeous sunsets I've ever seen in my life.  It was amazing.  The meal was delicious and it was the perfect ending to our trip.


I've said this already, but I cannot wait to get back to Israel- even if I am sweating through their intense security checks-totally worth it.  What an amazing country!!

In Jordan, Part I

We woke up bright and early (6 AM Israel time, 11 PM NYC time on my travel-weary body) on Sunday morning to meet our driver that would take us over the border to Jordan.  It was a 2 hour drive from Jerusalem, past Jericho and the Dead Sea (only seen from afar). It was interesting to see the country that must have been where Nephi and his family traveled after leaving Jerusalem- it was a desolate place and made me realize why Laman and Lemuel may not have been the best sports. ;)

The border crossing was quiiiite the event- our driver dropped us at border control (with zero explanation at any point along the way), where we met our tour guide, who walked us through passport checks and payments, then left us to board a charter bus (for 5 sheqels), which then took us approximately 300 feet around the corner and dropped us off at the actual border, where we got in a taxi that drove us about half a mile over the border and back to our tour guide and his driver in a sedan on the side of the road in the country of Jordan.   Wow.  It was the weirdest experience, but I was glad we didn't have to manage it all on our own.  We drove first to the ancient Roman ruins in the city of Jerash.  Excavations have found remains dating all the way back to 7500 BC here!  All things considered (especially that this area was conquered and destroyed on many occasions), these ruins are in incredible shape.  They're not closely monitored either, so you could pretty much go wherever you wanted inside.


An oval forum, colosseum/theater, government buildings, and a colonnaded street make it a pretty impressive collection in what feels like a modern city, about 45 minutes from the capital, Amman.


Just as we started our walk down the Colonnades, the cutest group of school students came out of nowhere- they must have been on a field trip.  The kids and teachers were so nice and friendly- as was our experience with everyone we met in Jordan.  Very warm and welcoming.

We stopped for a quick lunch in Amman, then drove on to Madaba.  Madaba is especially known for their Byzantine mosaics- our tour guide told us they were the oldest in the world!  The main mosaic was a map of Jerusalem, dating back to the 6th century, on the floor of the Greek Orthodox Basilica of Saint George.


I was soooo tired from jet lag and while we were between stops, I was totally passed out in the backseat of our car.  Literally, mid-sentence, our tour guide would ask Brian if I was awake because I was sitting up, with my sunglasses on, but completely asleep.  Ha!  I couldn't, for the life of me, keep my tired eyes open.

Next stop...Mount Nebo.  This is where Moses, after wandering in the wilderness, was granted a vision of the Promised Land, but was told he wouldn't ever make it there. He died on this mountain and is buried somewhere closeby, although no one knows exactly where.  On a clear day, you can see all the way to Jerusalem, but when we were there, only the Jordan Valley and Jericho were visible.

Can you notice the total desolation all around?!?! I can't imagine walking around here for a full day, much less 40 years!


More mosaics in this updated church on the top of the Mount.


We drove from Nebo to Petra, but arrived late at night to our hotel.  We tried to go to "Petra by Night", but it only happens on limited days in the winter, and unfortunately, it wasn't happening on the one night we were there.  Jordan has been a fascinating, old, and very friendly country so far.  Everywhere we went, the locals questioned if we agreed with Trump or not. :) Also, our driver was quick to point out that the Jordanian dinar is worth more than the US dollar, so things in Jordan were pricier than what you'd expect.  On to day 2 and Petra...

In Israel

Brian has been working in Israel a lot lately- in Tel Aviv, to be exact.  So, he planned a birthday trip for me to join him for the week of Dec 7 after he finished a week at the office.  I flew into Tel Aviv, he met me at the airport, and we got a taxi to our hotel in Jerusalem, the American Colony Hotel, right outside of the old city.  We set our things down and then went out to see the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath at the Western Wall.  As the sun sets on Friday evening, the Sabbath begins and most people on the streets can be heard saying "Shabbat Shalom" and rushing to the Western wall to beat the sunset.   It was a fascinating sight to see the Jewish men dressed in their Sabbath best and the woman looking beautiful and modest in their best.  I was truly in awe to witness their dedication and appreciation for their holy day in such a holy place.   We watched the beginning of prayers and then climbed the walls to get a higher look over the gorgeous city as the sun set and the evening glow began.  The higher we got, the more we heard the competing voices of the Muslim call to prayer with the prayers at the Western wall.  I've never seen two such devoted religions in such close proximity with each another.  I couldn't wait til tomorrow get a closer look in the daytime at the history of this great place, that truly feels different than anywhere I've yet been.


We grabbed the most delicious dinner at a little cafe, called Tala, right outside of the massive old city market.  Hummus, falafel, pita, grilled chicken, french fries, and tabbouleh.  Sooo good!  We walked back home afterwards and got slightly lost, but eventually made it back to our hotel, where we crashed- me from a really long day of travel and Brian from a really long week of work.  


We woke early the next morning in order to make our Sabbath meetings at the BYU Jerusalem Center (or "Mormon University", as the locals call it).  They hold meetings on the traditional Jewish Sabbath, which is Saturday in Israel.   It was a gorgeous day and we arrived on campus just as the meetings were beginning.  This sacrament ended up being one of the highlights of our entire trip- the room was filled with such an incredible spirit as we sang Christmas songs...about events that literally happened right outside of this room, in towns not too far distant.  It was amazing to be so close to what we were singing about.  I was getting really misty-eyed because music just does that to me, and this was a really special moment that I hope I can always remember.  We heard incredible talks- the current bishop was being released and a new one was called, so they and their wives spoke.  All of this was done in a beautiful room with massive arched windows overlooking the old city on a exquisite day- it was just the best.   Then, the current student choir (this was their last week in Jerusalem), sang a gorgeous song called  "Gethsemane" about the most sacred event in our human history, and which literally happened right outside of the building.  It was a touching moment that I can't describe with any sort of justice- so moving.  


Gracie Berrett was in our trek group 3 1/2 years ago, when we lived in Texas.  Brian and I were her "Ma and Pa" and she's since served a mission and lived a semester at BYU Jerusalem, where we ran into her at church.  I remember being so impressed with her maturity and sweet spirit even back then- she's such a great woman and we loved seeing her again after so long.


After church, we walked down the backside of BYU Jerusalem to Orson Hyde Park, where Orson Hyde dedicated Jerusalem in 1841 for the return of the Jews.  It has a beautiful well-maintained trail that leads to the Garden of Gethsemane (the traditional site).   We walked through the garden for a few minutes.   This entire area is so special-  it really does feel like holy ground.  We grabbed a taxi back to the old city to explore more there.   As soon as we got in the car, the driver asked if we were Mormons and I asked how he knew...he said he could tell by our faces, which was pretty incredible.  Not that it was us specifically, but the light that we carried- especially after being in a special sacrament meeting and then the Garden of Gethsemane.  


We walked into the market and smelled the most heavenly things being prepared.    We grabbed the yummiest lunch-  it was at this little stand, pictured up above.   They shove all of these delicious ingredients into a fresh pita- falafel, tomatoes, pickles, sauces, french fries- I don't even know, but it was amazing.    We sat on the corner and ate while watching the sights and sounds of the bustling market and eager salesmen trying to unload their produce.   Such an ideal experience.    


We visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, in the Christian quarter.   This is where its believed that Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected.   There are 6 Christian denominations that share control over the church, so the interior activity is fascinating with each religion jockeying for time and space.


We also picked up a TON of gummies at the market- two big bags.  One was for us, and the other was supposed to be for the kids, but Brian and I polished off both bags during our weeklong trip- they were so good and too hard to resist.  Sorry, kids!!  :) 


There had been a clash the night before at the Damascus Gate, so there were a few reporters out, either reporting or waiting for more action.  The clash stemmed from Trump's announcement earlier in the week that recognized Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel.  You could tell that it wasn't a popular move, on either side of the debate. 


We then walked over to the alternate location for what is believed might be the sight of the Crucifixion, burial and resurrection.  A much quieter location, for sure.

We ended here, at this pretty overlook, which is part of the West Bank- designated for Palestinians.   We covered a lot of ground in and around the Old City today and saw a ton of really memorable things.  (I also wore new shoes, which subsequently wore a hole in my heel).  We left early the next morning for Jordan, so we just had one full day in Jerusalem and it left me with a huge hunger to learn more and get back as soon as I can.

A Day in Oahu

For our 15th anniversary, Brian and I (but mostly Brian- I'm one lucky wife!) planned a trip to Hawaii.  We went to Kauai for our honeymoon, so its a really special place for us.  We haven't been back since then, so once Brian planned this trip, we were both so excited to be back there and celebrate.  We flew into Oahu for one night and stayed at a hotel on the beach.  We woke up early to go on a long run because I'm training for a half marathon, and Brian usually goes with me for the better part of my runs.  I had 10 miles to do this time; we ran the first 3 or 4 together, after which Brian had to turn around to check out of our hotel.  Around mile 5, I was running through a gorgeous neighborhood and got really caught up in looking around and didn't notice that the sidewalk severely shortened in front of me, causing me to miss the edge and roll my ankle really bad.  I had to sit down for a few minutes and breathe through the pain.  I had no way to contact Brian and really no way for him to come and help me anyway because we didn't have a car. My only choice was to run or walk back the 5 miles that I'd come up.  I was really worried about it, but after limping a bit into the run, I was able to pick up speed again and actually ran with little to no pain.  It was pretty miraculous because as soon as I stopped, my ankle became extremely swollen and bruised.  I iced it and hoped that it was less severe than it looked so that I could do my half marathon in 4 weeks.  We got our car and drove to meet up with our pseudo-daughter, Elle, who is at BYU- Hawaii.  It was so fun to see her again (she lived with us in London when we first moved there) and have her show us around the island a little bit.  It was a wet day, but we wanted to do a hike that would really pay off.  Elle took us to Three Peaks, or the Olomana Trail.  Didn't take us too long to realize this wasn't a hike for beginners, or us city-folks. ;)  Elle pretty much jumped up the mountain and made it look so easy.  Whatever the work to get up here, the views were most definitely worth it- even with a total bum ankle!! 

Crazy beautiful views.  We chatted the entire 3 hours up and down and it was so fun to catch up and hear all about her adventurous college life in Hawaii.  Life is pretty good for these lucky BYU-H kids that get to live in such a beautiful place.  On another note, we didn't bring a drop of water or a single snack, so by the end, we were famished and so thirsty.  Not smart.  Brian and I really had no idea what we were getting into...haha.

We were literally scaling rock cliffs with sheer drop-offs that made your stomach do flips.  It was by far the hardest hike Brian and I have ever been on.

Afterwards, we got a drink, went back to Elle's apartment, rinsed the mud off of our bodies, and then went to grab the best burgers at Seven Brothers with her roomates.  We also drove around the temple there- which was so gorgeous.  Loved spending time with Elle! Next to Maui!

Spring Break, Florida Pt. 2

We spent the better part of an entire day at St. Andrew's State Park, right down the street from our beach house.  It was gorgeous water and perfect white sand.  The kids had a ton of fun jumping off of the sand bank and measuring who nabbed the longest leap.  We also rented a paddle board, which provided a TON of fun and even some hilarious attempts at surfing.  

These 3 girls are the best of friends and spent lots of time together.  Also, lots of pictures of Jane...because she's so cute.

Pretty sure Caleb nabbed the first prize for longest jump.

Ha!  I love that my dad is always up for a little challenge.  The cousins (and adults) were cracking up so hard to see him up on the board.  

We drove down to Rosemary Beach one day to grab a delicious and indulgent breakfast at the Donut Hole Cafe.  We explored Rosemary Beach for just a little bit--that place has become so popular that its lost a little bit of its appeal, to be honest.  It was totally packed.  Despite that, Brian and I rented bikes and pedaled around for a bit, with Hannah and Tessa in tow.  We rode all over Rosemary and then our favorite, Alys Beach.  So pretty.

The girl cousins spent a few hours on the last two days setting up a really impressive lemonade stand on the beach.  They had Poppy buy them lemonade powder at the Dollar Store (legitimately his favorite place to shop) and they made signs and set up shop right on the beach in front of our house.  Unfortunately for them, the area we were staying was pretty sparsely populated so they didn't have many customers.  But, they had a lot of fun planning and setting it up.

Our farewell picture below...this is our group for the week and we had SOOOO much fun together.  My kids have asked to have a repeat of this trip every year.  I agree.

3 weeks in Utah

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' 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 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 day we will.