School starts early in Arizona -- and we started even earlier. A friend of ours offered to come over and take Back to School pictures the week beforehand.
It made that morning so much nicer not having to rush around and take pictures. Especially since it was Luke's first day of Kindergarten.
Of course then the kids all chose to wear something different on the actual 1st day of school so you can totally tell I cheated on their pictures.
All of the kids have great teachers this year. Nate has Ellie's old 4th grade teacher who I love and adore. He ran for class representative. . . and won!
Sadie's teacher is a friend of Dustin's from the gym and we love her. She is just as funny and silly as Sadie and adores Sadie.
Luke has the same Kindergarten teacher that Sadie and Nate had and she is the absolute best Kindergarten teacher around. He loves school, he loves homework and he is learning so much. We were SUPER lucky this year.
I only cried for a little bit after Luke walked into school but it was enough that I totally looked like a crazy woman walking to the car.
I was grateful to have Ellie still at home to entertain me for those first few days without Luke. She even helped me put together the First Day of School dinner.
Luke has been having so much fun at school that I don't even mind saying good bye to him each morning. When he comes home he's a little cranky and tired, but he's trying to earn points to buy school lunch so he's highly motivated these days to be a little nicer.
Since Dustin spent most of our time in Idaho working (much to the delight of my also solo sister aka Misery Loves Company Skinner) he decided toactually take some vacation days. Instead of heading back to the heat we opted for nicer weather of the mountains in Park City, Utah. It's also swell that you can get a smoking deal on a ski condo in the middle of the summer.
First we stopped by for lunch and playtime the Brooks. We grabbed Cutler's on our way up and got some cookies at Michelle's recommendation. They were all delicious, but after our taste test party, I have to say the double frosted PB is amazing. You can make them for me anytime using this recipe: Heaven.
Luke was mainly obsessed with baby Brighton and my girls were too busy being amazed at the amount of American Girl Doll stuff McKinley owns.
I fell asleep on the drive to Park City only to be awoken by the sobs of children. Our car was flashing warning lights about our battery dying and the battery saver automatically turned off all "excess" power usage including the DVD player and a/c.
We were so blessed that our car made it to the condo to drop us all off and then to the car shop before it died just outside the garage. It ended up being the alternator and they'd need to keep it overnight to get a part up from Salt Lake City.
A family of 6 stranded in a new city with no food and nothing to do had me more than stressed out. Dustin took the kids out to walk around the shops and see if he could find anything to eat when he discovered the bus out front was not only free, but also just a 5 minute ride to Main Street. Blessing number 2. Everyone came back happy and loaded with food.
Tuesday we took the bus down to Main Street for breakfast, took a walk and reloaded up for a bus ride out to Olympic Village. The place was surprisingly fun. They have a museum and all that, but they also have zip lines, ropes courses, an alpine slide etc. Dustin and the girls even did Drop Tower, which is a 477 ft zip line to a 67 foot bungee drop.
There is also a bobsled ride with a professional but none of my kids weighed enough for it. Boo. They also didn't want us to sign them up for the day camp where you learn to ski jump off a slope into a pool. I think the zip lines were the biggest hit for everyone. The least favorite? The ropes course.
I cannot even begin to describe how much I hated this thing. I was described as a beginners course, but it was terrifying. Ellie and I kept looking at each other and whispering, "This is stupid. Why are we doing this?" Sadie was the only one who loved it. The only "fun" part was the zip line down at the end. Never again.
While we were at the Park, our car was fixed and I quickly converted back to a car loving lady. We were having so much fun we had forgotten lunch so we hit up Cafe Rio for dinner, and then a quick trip to the outlets where I may have gone crazy trying to find sneakers to make the entire family happy in the Nike store.
I was exhausted and a little sun burnt, but the kids were still up for some late night swimming.
Wednesday everyone slept in, which gave me time to go for a run up and down all the hills around town. I wanted to die except for the gorgeous scenery. I think I could live in Park City.
We headed down to Provo for the day because we love BYU and no trip to Utah is complete without a stop in the motherland.
First up: bowling!
Next we headed to the Cougar Eat. I tried to convince everyone to eat at a real restaurant but they can't resist the food court appeal. Also I never let me kids eat at Taco Bell and they know there is one up there. I sent them all off with $10 and got myself some mint brownies.
Usually I feel like our family trip to the bookstore is about a 12 on a scale of 1-10 of craziness. I am happy to report this time was only an 8!!! I also thought we showed great restraint in our purchasing, but Dustin assures me that we still provided a year's tuition for our scholarship fund. I cannot say no to anything with a Y on it. Case in point -- Sadie came home with a lovely stocking hat (seen below) when we live in Arizona. When will she ever wear this??
We were all exhausted after the book store so we made one last pit stop for ice cream at the Creamery.
I was so sugared up I couldn't even make it to The Chocolate. Our Sugar Coma put us all into a deep sleep on the ride back to Park City.
I then had to wake everyone up and tell them to run to the condo because we were in the middle of a torrential downpour. Dustin had dropped us off as close as he could get and then was going to swing back around to park the car. When he arrived, he was completely dry. Turns out he had just remembered that there was underground paring.
I blew dry my hair and Dustin ordered Chinese food for the kids before we headed down to Main Street for a date at Bistro 412. In a car.
Our friends, Mike and Rickie, came up from Bountiful to meet us for dessert. We met at our condo and then headed down to Main Street (again) on the bus.
8 kids in Park City was a little bit of a spectacle, but probably more so when half were wearing BYU clothes and the other half in Utah red.
Someone actually stopped Mike on the street and asked how our families managed to get along. We walked around and grabbed more ice cream for dessert. Then we went for a little hike up the canyon (as much as you can call it a hike when everyone is wearing flip flops) and back to the condo to hang out until well past everyone's bed time.
And that was the end of our vacation. The next day we drove 12 hours home to the heat and suitcases full of laundry.
We had the BEST time in Idaho. How we all feel in Idaho:
I'm so grateful my sister still managed to take an official boat-load of pictures despite being in her first trimester of pregnancy and a single mother all on the same vacation. She's pretty awesome. Elusive sister photo:
But honestly, everyone in my family is awesome. Without a doubt, everyone's favorite is "Baby Nora" or "Doodle." Please see evidence below:
Luke and Olivia become inseparable whenever they are together and morph into conjoined twins that we refer to as "LukeandLivy."
Funny side note: Olivia was going in to give Luke a kiss earlier when she looked at him horrified. "Eww, Luke, your face is so dirty. You have to wash it."
Plus there's my parents who throw slumber parties every night and make all the runs to Wal Mart for diapers and snacks whenever World Cup games aren't on.
We stayed with my Uncle Dave, who spent his every waking hour cooking for us, and Aunt Beaney who no words can describe. Everyone who meets Kristine wants to BE her, and be loved by her. Kathleen and I get so jealous of the kids when she is spending time with them.
She basically will do anything you ask her do, even it's jumping in a lake fully clothed or pedalling along for miles on end at Luke's turtle speed. She makes everyone feel like they're perfect.
In Idaho, the days all blur together. There's always a lot of swimming, eating, and cousin loving.
And always, always, bike riding. We all have bikes up in Idaho and the kids spent hours on those everyday. We biked to see my mom's Unlce Harold and Aunt Margaret. We biked to pick peas from the farm.
We biked to play tennis at the Matsuura's (our other family in Idaho). We biked to the playground. LukeandLivy biked circles from the driveway, to the car park, over the bridge and onto the sidewalk for hours on end. Nora rode her pink baby quad (modeled here by Luke).
Speaking of quads -- there was a small incident the very first day we got there which reminded us all why my dad is not allowed to do anything even slightly adventurous on the first day of vacation.
Luckily there were no broken clavicles this time, just a few bumps and bruises on LukeandLivy. They made a full recovery.
The Matsuura's built the coolest "barn" in their backyard. It's right next to a lighted tennis court, and has two kitchens, 4 bathrooms, an apartment, a poker table, a piano room, a movie theater, a fridge stocked with root beer float ingredients and cupboards full of chips and candy, a ping pong table, a wii, a pool table, a foosball table, darts, every board game imaginable, a basketball court and an art studio.
My kids were discussing how it had everything except a hot tub when someone pointed out the hot tub off their back deck. We spent a lot of time over there.
We put together puzzles and painted rocks. We went to Wal Mart 4 times a day. We ate junk food and dessert three times a day. Ellie went school shopping and finally convinced me to let her get romperalls (they were on clearnace).
We even used technology to help decide which color shirt she should get. Can you guess which she chose? Also ignore me photobombing. I looked Jake from State Farm hideous.
The little kids all got Paw patrol stuffed animals everytime we needed to bribe them to do something. We filled and threw hundreds of water balloons.
We played croquet and badminton. We got out the trains. We played Clue. We played paper dolls and Hot Dog Tooth Fairy. We ate at Rupe's.
Ellie did over 100 bum sits on the trampoline. We went out on Midnight
Runs. We cuddled, ate ice cream and watched the World Cup.
The kids had "Tramp Camp" (they named it, not me) which meant they told scary stories and slept on the trampoline as long as they could handle it (midnight). Idaho is heaven if you suffer from ADD. There is always something to do and the kids literally bounce from one to the other every 10 minutes.
One of everyone's favorite days was boating day. We drove down to Bear Lake and grabbed some raspberry shakes before hitting the lake. We caravaned down and somehow Dustin, Kathleen and I scored a car with only Ellie.
The trip was suppose to take about 2 hours but in the end I think it took 3 hours. We had to stop to use the restroom once. There was a dirty diaper. One time we stopped to read a sign about Butch Cassidy. Kristine forgot the cheese so we made a quick grocery store stop. Another time we stopped for directions at a gas station and a water fight erupted between all the cars.
Finally arrived, grabbed some raspberry shakes and headed to the lake. This would be the last thing we drank for 4 hours since we totally forgot all the water on shore. Luke sat on my lap and told me, "It's so beautiful here, Mom." The lake was turquoise blue and there was no one out there.
The little kids were not eager to get on the float. Especially after they watched Nate get flipped off.
Although, he handled it like a champ, and just sat there waiting for us to swing back around and get him.
Somehow we coaxed them out there first with a "rope ride," and then eventually with boat actually *moving* as long as we went "really really slow." I think we got to about 9 miles an hour.
After boating we went over to the beach side and had a picnic dinner while the kids played in the water. It was the most relaxing day.
One day we decided to go check out a museum on the ISU campus. It was pretty much a snooze fest except for the kid center. Kathleen and I were pretty pumped that we completed all the giant floor puzzles.
Meanwhile the other kids were actually learning educational things.
Somehow my dad scored a tour of the museum archives and my kids were able to hold tortoise bones that were 13 million years old. It's the only thing that saved the day. Unless you ask Kathleen and Dave; then there was nothing that saved that visit.
The 4th of July was an eventful day. It started out slowly with a drive out to the Reservation to buy more fireworks than we could possibly need. Then a family bike ride.
For dinner Dustin and Dave barbequed ribs for everyone along with cooking a smoked turkey as well. Yuki brought us all some spam sushi and I made all my kids try it.
We did some fireworks before the little kids went to bed because it doesn't get dark until eleventy-thirty in Idaho it seems.
While we were waiting for the sun to set we headed up to the Matsuura Country Club (it has a lot of names, including the Garagmahall) to wait. We were playing a little family game of tennis until the State Tennis champ (Meg Matsuura) showed up with her tennis buddies. Somehow Nate scored getting drafted to their team. It was probably the funnest game of tennis I've ever played even though I played terribly.
From the house you can see three or four other firework displays so we watched those and solved Meg's love life over text while Dustin and Josh set off ours. After the fireworks, we went inside to play games, eat some chips and salsa and watch a movie until Dustin and I were ready to head home. Kristine and the kids had planned to spend the night there, so we kissed them good night and headed home.
Around 2 am, Dave came downstairs to let us know that Nate was really sick. I sent Dustin to pick him up and bring him back home.
Only fast forward to when I woke up at 8 am and saw a text that Dustin and Nate had just gotten home from the hospital! Long story short, after a scare of appendicitis and probably the world's most expensive ER trip, it took 5 hours to find out Nate had most likely eaten too much spicy food too late at night.
On our last "fun" day in Idaho, we headed up to the ponds to swim. We brought rafts for the kids to float around and bikes for the kids to ride around all the bike trails. It was so easy and quiet that it reminded me why Idaho is such a perfect place to be.
We were so sad to say good bye and Luke still cries thinking about how much he loves everyone. Best family ever.