(Thank you thank you to all of you who shared pictures with us – I can only take credit for a few of them here :)
We went to Utah on Tuesday July 10. We found a direct flight from Indy to Utah early in the morning. We left the house at 5:15am EST and arrived in Utah around 10:30 PST. I felt pretty amazing when the three kids and I walked into the airport with two rolling suitcases, three carseats, and a stroller while Andrew parked the car. It was the EASIEST travel day ever (having Andrew with us and not being pregnant certainly helped!).
We hung out and played at Grandma and Grandpa Jackson’s house in the morning. For dinner we went to Chick-fil-A dressed as cows. The kids LOVED it. Grandma Jackson has legitimate cow costumes so we all went in full costume. The best part was that they stayed warm in the cold air conditioned building with the extra layers. Mindy came with us and it was great to have a little time to just chat with her – she was also super helpful in navigating a restaurant with three hungry little kids.
On Wednesday we woke up early and went to Provo so I could take engagement pictures for Sam and Erika. This was the first time I met our future sister-in-law and I loved the chance to spend time with both of them. We walked all over Provo Center Street looking for shade and made ourselves at home borrowing chairs to match them with the best location.
Andrew and the kids walked around Provo City Center Temple and then hung out at a park until we finished. We headed to the Nabrotzky’s and hung out for a bit with my Aunt Michelle and the kids played with my cousins. It was so wonderful to spend time with them since the in-person moments are few and far between. We do facetime a bit so the kids were really excited to play together and it was so hard to pull them apart (for me – it was so fun watching them). My Aunt Michelle also did a bit of reading to the kids and watching was so interesting for me because I remember being Emily’s age (and she was a teenager) and hanging on her every word while she read me books and did my hair.
I was surprised at how painful driving through Provo was without my grandma there. It took me by surprise at how deep that grief still is.
We made a Jamba Juice stop on the way back to Salt Lake. I took a nap while Andrew and the kids went with his mom to Costco to get food for the family reunion. That night Mindy and Kimby stayed home with our sleeping kids while we went to the temple with the Snows. This was a big highlight of the trip for me. We did sealings for large families all together at the alter – all the kids at the same time. It was a powerful experience.
On Thursday morning we got up and packed up Hannah’s car for our drive to Moab. Hannah arrived in the middle of the night from Logan and graciously let us borrow her car with EXCELLENT air conditioning. She also played with the kids while we got ready to go – including being part of the “ant party” Emily and Nathan discovered. We listened to Mr. Poppers Penguins on the way down and the kids thought it was hilarious. So did Andrew. We all enjoyed it (and the kids listened to the book probably a dozen times after that on their own).
We were some of the first to arrive at the mansion house. We did some exploring and unpacking before jumping in the pool for a swim with all three kids. It was so hot in that unheated pool that I was sweating while in the water. The temperature was perfect for Laura who happily floated while Emily and Nathan both got the hang of their puddle jumpers. By the end of the reunion they were both jumping into the deep end of the pool on their own and swimming all around.
After everyone arrived we had pizza for dinner and then began the adventure of having all five of us sleep in the same room. It was an adventure every night. We also tried something different every night. On the last night Laura was sick and she slept in my bed with me because she was miserable and that way I could get in a few naps without waking everyone else up. First time I’ve co-slept!
Friday morning we left early for Arches National Park so we could hike around before it got too hot. We joined the large Snow hiking group and went on a few leisurely kid friendly hikes. We drove with Grandpa Jackson who is a fabulous guide. Ariana also jumped in with us so we had four kids four and under – and four car seats! The kids were so cute driving all around together, singing primary songs or pointing things out to each other as they drove.
The first place we stopped was a viewpoint for the arch. It was probably the most strenuous hike we did. It was great to have a chance to catch up with so many Snows from all over the country while we walked. Nathan made a pile of sand so that it would turn into a rock – they were kind of getting the lesson.
The next hike led to a beautifully sandy spot. We stayed in the cool shade for a bit while all the kids played in the sand. It was so fun to watch everyone just enjoy being at the waterless beach.
The last spot we stopped was a double arch. It was getting really hot by that point so I sat with Laura and Nathan in the shade with lots of cousins while Andrew and Emily went adventurously crawling all over the rocks.
We came home for lunch and naps. In the afternoon was more swimming and playing around the house and lots of chatting. In the evening we had the Snow Family Talent Show. Laura was laughing hysterically through the whole thing – biggest talent show fan around! Andrew went climbing that evening with Aimee and Patrick at a great spot right along the road (so no kids allowed) while I stayed back and did interference in the bedroom.
Saturday morning we played Snow Family Feud and ate lots of snacks. The kids got in the pool for a few minutes but then a thunder storm rolled in so we hung out with Hannah, Sam, Mindy, Kimby, and Erika. We did our annual family pictures. For the first time in years and years all of Andrew’s family was there (parents, brothers, sisters, in-laws). We capitalized and did individual pictures of everyone as well as group shots to update the family wall. Emily and Ariana stayed occupied with rock climbing on the back drop with Uncle Patrick. It started sprinkling some pretty big drops but it never completely down poured.
After dinner and kids tucked into bed we listened to Lance teach about financial planning to the millennials. It was a fantastic class and gave us all lots to talk about, think about, and do.
We spent the last hours of the night chatting with family and packing up. On Sunday we loaded up the car and went to Sacrament meeting in Moab. Our kids were sick so we jumped in the car after the sacrament to head back to Salt Lake. We started listening to On the Banks of Plum Creek.
We got to the house first with Aimee and Patrick close behind. We made a plan for dinner and cooked it so that by the time Mike and Jenny arrived (they did all the final cleanup and checking out at the reunion house) we were pretty much ready to eat and tuck the kids in bed. Emily, Nathan, and Ariana jumped right into playing with toys and made themselves right at home. The kids also worked through their fear of dogs with Patrick able to help them get adjusted to Roxy and Pepper. By the end of the night they were playing outside with the dogs for hours.
Monday we hung out at the Jacksons house with all the kids. It was so fun to have a day together where the cousins could play and we could chat with siblings. First thing in the morning Aimee and Patrick took us climbing at Cottonwood Canyon. Emily immediately took to climbing and made it higher than I did on the wall. Nathan was terrified but still gave it a go. Andrew climbed to the top, along with Hannah, Patrick, and Aimee. I spent most of the time with Hannah and the kids further down the mountain so they could run and explore. Nathan built up some serious confidence walking up and down the mountain for fun.
We went to great- Grandma Jacksons house for a visit. Emily and Nathan remember and love going to visit her house and have favorite toys they look forward to playing with. We have all heard Andrew’s stories about the apricot tree outside her home and this trip Emily spotted it with fresh apricots. She asked great Grandma Jackson if we could pick some and we got a huge bagful which we ate our fill of and even brought some back to Indiana with us. I always love and am so grateful for the time we get to spend with her. I also think it’s fun that every picture we have with us on the couch includes one more child.
That night Sam and Erika came up from Provo to play a game and chat a little before we all went home. On Tuesday morning Aimee and Patrick flew out pretty early. I had really wanted to try out a cargo bike while we were in Utah. I looked around that morning at a bunch of different brands and locations. We called the Madsen warehouse to see if we could stop by for a test ride and we had it scheduled for about an hour later. I biked it with two kids. Andrew biked it with all four of us in the back. I biked it again with Emily. Andrew biked it with Emily. It was so fun. I’d say it was a highlight – but every single day of our Utah trip was beyond amazing.
When we got home we ate lunch, finished packing, and headed for the airport. We had an afternoon flight for MST and a night flight according to EST, getting home around 11pm. When we got on the plane the kids were able to go up and meet the pilot. Again, highlight. This trip was a dream.
We unanimously agreed that this trip was too short. One week is enough time to have a lot of fun but not enough time to be ready to go home yet. We also spent the next six weeks trying to get our kids back on eastern time instead of two hours behind on mountain time. So grateful for this wonderful week and the chance we had to get to know Erika before she and Sam were married in August.