On July 6 (Thursday) we packed up the car and headed for the airport in Chicago from my parents house. We arrived just in time to get through security with Andrew’s help (he got a buddy pass because of my being sick), get everyone to the bathroom and water bottles filled up, find our gate, and 5 minutes later walk onto the plane. The kids have been looking forward to eating fruit snacks during take off and landing for weeks, so they were quite cheerful now that the moment had arrived.
Nathan shouted with joy at the planes and other vehicles he could spot from his window. After the fruit snacks I pulled out the $1 wipe boards Christine and I found at target. They occupied the kids for about 30 minutes and then turned into a mess when both the marker lids were lost. The flight landed 30 minutes early and the kids were fantastic. I was really glad we had a few weeks before we had to fly again though. Emily really had to go to the bathroom when the plane landed and I told her she would have to be patient and get off the flight first. An older couple who sat behind us offered to watch our bags and Nathan so I could run her to the bathroom at the front of the plane. They helped us get off and to our stroller before running off to meet their friends.
It was so good to be in Utah. As soon as we saw mountains I just had overwhelming emotions of excitement and being home. I forgot how much I love it there. The first few days we spent with Andrew’s family. The kids played outside in the backyard in the mornings before it became way too hot. Nathan was content to sit and watch the airplanes taking off from the airport while Emily collected potato bugs and put them in a shell she found. Aimee came over with Ariana and the cousins jumped right in playing together with chalk. When we couldn’t stand the heat any longer we moved inside to play with toys and games.
Aunt Kimby works at chick-fil-a and she gave us the heads up we could see a fire truck on Saturday morning. We got everyone up to take a tour of the fire truck and then catch little cows being dropped with parachutes from the top of the extended fire truck ladder. The kids were a bit skeptical but Grandma and Grandpa Jackson and Aunt Mindy and Kimby took them around to enjoy all the action while I sat in the shade (I was feeling, surprise surprise, sick).
The kids and I went with Grandpa Jackson to see Great-Grandma Jackson. I have making sure I get the kids there each year the last few years. As soon as we walked in Emily remembered where all the toys were in the basement that she wanted and set about making herself at home. I was impressed at all she remembered considering she was two at our last visit. Nathan found little chairs to sit in, a bowl of popcorn to eat, fish to watch, balls to throw, and an xylophone to play. I love being in Grandma Jackson’s home. She sets the tone for the entire Jackson family and is full of love.
We tried to facetime Andrew every day. Bonus of being two hours behind – we could talk at 3 or 4pm and Andrew was eating dinner.
The kids were so exhausted that they both took super duper long naps. Nathan woke up after two hours so I ran in and got him so he wouldn’t wake up Emily. For the first time EVER he feel asleep right on me moments later and slept for another hour. With all three of us sleeping in the same room we also had our first experience with co sleeping. I discovered Nathan takes up the entire area given to him.
Sunday afternoon we headed to the annual Snow Family Reunion in Heber, UT. We stayed at a new house this year and it was amazingly huge. Every bedroom had its own bathroom and a walk in closet. The kids and I shared a room with Grandma and Grandpa Jackson and it was the perfect size for all of us to be comfortable. We took the group picture the first night we were there. Instead of looking at the camera, Nathan followed Ashley push the shutter and then jump across the counter and sit down to join us.
We went swimming in the pool once a day and the kids went from screaming and hating it to Emily swimming around by herself with a life jacket and pool noodle. Nathan was fine as long as he had a ball to throw or a squirt gun to shoot. Grandpa Jackson and Aunt Aimee were hugely helpful with helping me tag team kids in the pool.
There was a little man made lake you could paddle around in. I wasn’t feeling great and the little boats were easily tipped so I told Emily she wouldn’t be able to go out on a lake because she was still learning how to swim. After all the big kids left and the play calmed down, Andrew’s cousin Carrie paddled her around. Emily grinned from ear to ear and sang as they went. She was out there a good long while and the second she returned to land she ran up to me and said, “Mom do you want to take me on the boat with me so you can see how amazing it is?”
Lots of games and challenges were played throughout the three days there (team challenges and the Newlywed game between siblings then couples). We had a family history class, a college age and above women self care discussion, a family home evening about the ten virgins, and lots of great talk time with family. Every night Emily went on an adventure of some kind with Uncle Sam and Uncle Patrick while I started getting Nathan ready for bed. We are excited for next year’s reunion, and hopefully Andrew can join us this time!
On Wednesday at the reunions end Sam took us with him back to Provo to stay at my Grandma Blomquist’s home. My mom also happened to get into town the night before and it was fabulous to be in Utah with her. The kids settled right in with the toys in the children’s room (Emily has been talking about it for a year). Throughout the week they also turned the kitchen into their bed or house because they loved the fuzzy rugs. Nathan learned the joys of babies this trip and started saying “Baby”. He and Emily took care of many babies and bears. Nathan also became very interested in lining things up, especially cars.
Over the next couple of days we enjoyed going to BYU and seeing where Uncle Brian works (Special Collections, so he asked his boss to bring out an original Book of Mormon and revelations from the doctrine and covenants), chatting with the Nabrotzky’s and picking loads of raspberries with my youngest cousin Linsey (photo cred: Sarah!), getting our stroller tire a new inner tube after one of the prickly weeds popped the original, a cafe rio family dinner, trying out Brian’s hammock from Mexico, and being in Grandma’s backyard sanctuary. The kids played loads in the little cabin and took charge of all of the responsibilities of opening and closing the windows and putting everything away.
Emily really really really wanted to hike a mountain while we were in Utah. Carrie came and picked us up so we could go on a short hike. When we got to the overlook and started taking pictures (or trying…) Emily said she wanted to keep going to the snow. She was in it for the long haul! Nathan fell and scraped his knee at the beginning so I held him the entire time because he refused to walk.
On Saturday we had the Forbush Family Reunion at the Paxton property. We ate lunch, chatted, looked at photo albums, and played with the kids. The weather was perfect in the canyon. We were all pretty tired by the end of the day, but I’m so glad we were able to attend.
Nathan loved Uncle Brian. He even started saying his name,”Bi-an!”.
My mom left in the middle of the night on Saturday/Sunday. The kids and I walked to church and had a quiet afternoon at Grandma’s house. Brian and Katie joined us in the evening at the Nabrotzky’s. On Monday we packed up and headed back to Provo with Andrew’s family. Kimby had to to work so we went to chick-fil-a for dinner with Aimee and Ariana to see her a little more.
We flew out Tuesday morning and we were all thrilled to see Andrew again. This flight didn’t go quite as smoothly with the kids and I’m grateful we are done traveling via air for awhile. Andrew finished his prelims two days later and I’m glad he was able to be alone for the majority of the two week exam and work. PLUS I started feeling better the week we came home for the first time since MARCH!!!