Saturday, July 9, 2011

Utah Vacation July 2011 - DAYS FOUR THRU EIGHT

Tuesday we went to Lagoon Amusement Park with my cousin Shelly and her kids. I love my cousin Shelly and have such a great time with her family.  We had a blast!  But I also learned that the older I get, the more nauseous I become on rides...and I'm not even talking about the twisty ones!  I have always LOVED scary roller coaster rides, but now I'm finding my stomach can't handle them.  I do it anyway, but I always end up regretting it.

My kids absolutely loved it though.  And that made it all worth it.

From there we drove up to the beautiful town of Logan in Cache Valley to stay the remainder of our vacation with Mark's sister, Jen, and her cute family.  I absolutely LOVE being with their family.  Jen is one of the reasons I love to cook so much.  When Mark and I were first married and at BYU, we would drive up to Logan to visit his sister and her family.  I was amazed at how well her little kids ate absolutely everything she made them - and she wasn't cooking your typical kiddie foods.  She made gourmet meals and was always trying new things.  She had lots of fun cookbooks I loved perusing.  I asked her why her kids were such good eaters, and she said they really didn't have a choice.  What she made was what they got, and if they didn't want it they weren't going to be getting anything else.  They learned very early to try new things...and they learned to love it.  I decided I wanted to be able to cook that way for MY family.

Now when we get together Jen and I share both a love of cooking and of photography.  It is so fun to talk about different methods of photography and editing, the newest cookbook faves, exchanging recipes, and also about our kids...what is working and what is not.  They have 6 kids, with her oldest being about 8 years older than my oldest.  Mark and I love to hear how they have dealt with this problem or that problem so we can get ideas on how to help our own children get through stages.  It's a lot of fun.

Wednesday we had a lot of fun just hanging out.  They have a beautiful home right at the base of the mountains.  In fact, their backyard goes up the mountain.  The weather was beautiful so we spent a lot of time outdoors...

Jen had found a used commercial shaved ice machine on ebay.  She pulled it out a couple of times while we were there to make the most AMAZING shaved ice.  We all had so much fun combining different yummy syrups and ADDING CREAM. That last little detail makes all the difference.  Oh my goodness was it ever yummy!  We also loved all the delicious meals they made.  We all share a love of food, so that is always fun.

One night we played a card game called Mafia that their family had been playing a lot lately.  My kids now want to play it all the time.  It was so fun!  Depending on what cards you were secretly dealt you became either a doctor or a member of the Mafia (trying to kill other players off).  The other players had to figure out who the Mafia people were before they themselves were killed off.  There was a lot of pointing of fingers.  It was pretty hilarious...

Jen, Kyle, and Jace...

Alexis and Mark...

Colton and Madison...

Thursday the kids set up a homemade slip and slide on the side of the mountain coming down into their backyard.  They were going down pretty fast!  The splash at the bottom was pretty fun to watch...

Can you believe the view behind them?

That night Mark and I went out to dinner with Jen and Jace at some fabulous, yummy restaurant.  I don't remember the name but he food was to die for, and the conversation was even better.

Friday we went to the lake and out on their boat.  My kids had so much fun using the knee board.  They haven't had a lot of experience with that kind of thing, so they weren't quite ready to try anything more than that, but oh my goodness did they have fun with that knee board!

That night we drove back to the Hamel's so we wouldn't have to go far early the next morning to pick up the boys from EFY.  We were pretty excited to hear how their week had gone.

Saturday we were up bright and early so we could pack up the car to pick up the boys by 7:30am.  The smiles on the faces of Bryan and Chase were priceless.  As we started the all day drive back to Phoenix we got to listen as they went on and on about the different speakers, what they had learned, the dances they attended, the GIRLS they met (and intended to keep in touch with), the music they heard, the food, the games they played, their awesome could tell they had such an AMAZING time!

We had such a great time that we decided this particular get away needs to be a yearly occurrence for our family.  We will definitely be back this same time next year!

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