Phillip's parents plus 5 of his siblings and their families were all getting together for a family reunion over 4th of July weekend, and since we were flying out to Utah for the thing we were going to get our money's worth and stay for a good long while.
And now my kids and I have had more fun over the last two weeks than we will for the rest of 2016 combined.
I can prove it, using only one picture a day.
Behold, our mountain of crap at the airport! (And this was after we checked the car seats and one suitcase.)
We did our best to look inconspicuous while trailing through the airport with 6 rolling carry-ons, 5 backpacks, 2 duffel bags, a stroller, and a bazillion kids but somehow I think we still drew some amount of attention to ourselves. Go figure.
The flight was unfortunately at a hideous time of night. We'd hoped the kids would fall asleep on the plane. They did eventually, but the toddler moaned for 2 hours first and the baby cried unless he was eating (so he'd probably gained 5 pounds by the time we landed.)
We'd already reserved and paid for a rental car at an off-site place, but when we landed at 11:30 (which felt like 1:30 to us with the time difference) the shuttle had already made its last run for the day and the rental place was closed. (Thumbs up to us for reading the fine print on our rental agreement!)
Luckily, Phillip's mom came to our rescue and picked us up so we could just go to bed and sort it out in the morning.
The next day we headed to the swanky pool at Phillip's grandma's apartment complex, where my kids tried their best to drown their aunts and tired themselves out thoroughly.
That was after we'd already worn them out at a gigantic park nearby with a playground and a splash pad. There are splash pads everywhere in Utah, probably because it's 95 degrees every day and you'll burst into flames without them.
And don't give me that nonsense line about it being "a dry heat." That just means the sun's faster at bleaching the bones of people who drop dead in the desert sands.
Another day, another water park. We had lunch and played at Liberty Park in Salt Lake City that has not one, but two water areas. The second, pictured above, was my favorite. It was like a giant maze of running water, with some small waterfalls up at the top and an intricate system of concrete canals and bridges down to a little pool that was maybe a foot deep.
My kids discovered they could float their sandals down the canalways and probably would've done it all day if it we hadn't forced them to leave.
Grandpa then took everybody ages 8 and up to the shooting range for target practice with pistols and rifles. I'm not entirely sure how that's all legal since my 2nd-grader certainly doesn't have his firearm permit, but I wasn't there so it wasn't exactly my problem.
After Phillip went out for dim sum with his siblings for lunch, we took the kids and hiked up to Cascade Springs.
It started out as the flattest, brownest, boringest hike you ever imagined, but once we started hearing the water things got more interesting.
At the top there was a group of young adults taking turns rappelling down the waterfall. They were clearly mentally unstable individuals. I was cringing just watching these guys get pummeled repeatedly in the face with freezing water on their way down.
"Well, it's something new, I guess," my mother-in-law said, reading my mind.
"So's waterboarding," I replied.
Church at my in-law's congregation starts at 8:30. In the morning.
Considering we have a hard time getting anywhere before 10:30, I was pretty thrilled to be only 15 minutes late.
Anyway, we had a nice Sunday and it ended with the best surprise in the world for my two Harry Potter-obsessed girls.
About a year ago, we hatched a plan to send them to Harry Potter World with Phillip's similarly-obsessed sisters Megan and Jenny. (And yes, historically it's been very confusing to have two Jenny Evanses in the same family, which is why I was known for many years as Big Jenny because I'm older.)
Jenny and Megan showed the girls a Harry Potter World commercial, and after the last frame they inserted a picture of themselves saying, "Want to come to Harry Potter World with us?"
Spontaneous joy ensued.
We spent the day on Temple Square. We ate lunch in front of the Salt Lake City temple while the big kids used my phone to look up the symbolism of the temple exterior and the little kids tried to dive headfirst into the reflecting pond.
After visiting every restroom within the entire 35-acre complex (I'm not even joking about this,) we went across the street to the Conference Center, where a big worldwide broadcast from our church leaders happens twice a year. The kids thought it was cool to actually be in the auditorium they've seen on television every 6 months since they were born. Kind of like visiting the set of your favorite TV show.
Before going back, the kids cooled off at (another) splash pad inside the City Creek shopping mall, where we got politely rebuked by the world's nicest security guard because the kids were playing in the fountain they weren't supposed to play with (which, for some reason, was located right next to the fountain they were supposed to play with.)
Phillip took the older three kids on a day hike to the top of Grandeur Peak. It was face-meltingly hot, as per usual, and a the climb was long and hard. But Phillip bribed the kids with ice cream and somehow they found it within themselves to make it to the top.
Before I saw pictures I asked, "Was it worth it?" The kids furrowed their brows and considered carefully, clearly thinking back to the ice cream. Then I saw pictures and just about fell over dead at the beautiful view. Ice cream was the highlight for them, really?!?
That afternoon Phillip and I left the kids with his parents and went on a belated overnight trip (we did bring the baby, and that's as close to alone as we get these days.) We try to do one every year around our anniversary.
|The mango lassi was to die for.|
It was a pretty awesome end to the week... and our trip was only half-over!
To be continued... (Click here for Week 2.)