Friday (9th): Left Gilbert around 1:30 pm. Drove to Las Vegas for the evening. We loved the fun pit stop at Wikieup, AZ. Looks like a fun place to explore in the future. Had dinner at Burger King, Josie loved her paper crown, insisted on pushing it down near her eyes. Made her eyes squish down! After much discussion, one highlight of our trip (according to the kids) was our drive down the Las Vegas strip. Amelia had her tablet out snapping countless photos of all the incredible views. Justin tried to avoid the advertising vans with near naked ladies while I redirected the kids view. We slept near the strip in a largish hotel room. The trundle bed mattress was terrible, the floor was more comfortable than that wire infested spring cushion. Everett woke up with a bad headache and a temperature near 101.
Saturday: Enjoyed the landscapes as we drove the Vegas route. Stopped at Cove Fort, UT to tour the site. All the kids were surprised to see Grandpa and Grandma's name on the plaque of descendants. Our tour guide was Sister Bat(e)man. She had Phillip try to swing the massive fort doors open, Everett got to swing the door back. We could not even imagine the door weight when filled with sand. I think 6 rooms lined the east and west walls. The east walls contained the business side of the fort, most importantly the telegraph office and the kitchen. The fort was built and inhabited by the Hinckley family for 10 years, as a way-stop for travelers and a telegraph station. At the end of the tour the kids got to close their eyes and pick a Book of Mormon in a different language, could be where they serve their missions! Amelia and Phillip got Portuguese and Everett got Estonia. Course they played the game several times until getting their choice. We froze our tushes off! We arrived to the Lances home around 6 pm. Miekka had pizza ready for us all. Yum. Everett ate pizza then threw up. He went to bed with a high fever and nasty cough. Rough night for us all. Got to meet baby Charlie for the first time at 10 months old. He is about the cutest fella I've ever laid eyes on. That hair curl kills me.
Sunday: Everett, Evelyn and Josie went with Justin back to the house after sacrament meeting. We had a family dinner to celebrate Dad's 64th birthday. Only Joe and Kat were missing due to a trip. It was a crazy evening! Kids everywhere. Jared had all the older kids organized and playing some involved role-play game. I caught him in the act lecturing the kids and having them share feelings and thoughts. He should start a business keeping little people busy with imaginative play. Mom had us all make oriental food, it was delicious! I made hot and sour soup. Josie started to get a fever that evening. Rough night again.
Monday: Two sick kids! Luck of the draw. Miekka and Marrisse arranged for us to visit a lady with 16 or more baby goats. The kids were in heaven! They sat in the pen with the mothers and all their babies. Baby goats chose their humans and set in to explore. Amelia's goat enjoyed sampling her jacket and nipping her hair. Jacob was the goat whisperer, 4-5 goats on his lap at a time! Josie and Evelyn got to pet the goats for a bit. Everett stayed in the van to rest. After lunch I took Everett and Josie to an instacare. We should just schedule visits to a clinic in advance. Seems like it happens every time. Josie had influenza B and Everett a viral cough. Everett got a breathing treatment and dosage of steroids for his lungs. Josie got tamiflu. Justin wanted to pack up right then and leave for home. I insisted the damage was already done. John supported my opinion, we stayed for better or worse. Poor Everett mostly lounged around with his precious tablet and took baths. Josie was terribly cranky and clingy. Another rough night. Lia and Mia spent most of their time making cute anime style squishies! Aka, paper decorated and colored, cut out, taped together, stuffed with bags/tissues, taped together. I think we now have over 20 of these cute creations. Evelyn had the time of her life playing with Penny, running between the houses visiting here and there.
Tuesday: visited BYU Art Museum to see the MC Escher exhibit. Got t-shirts for the kids at the Bookstore. Josie slept most of the time in the stroller. Justin and I went on a date, courtesy of Courtenay and Miekka watching the kids. Josie did not even notice we were gone until the phone battery died. Amelia and Phillip learned to roller blade with Lia and Everett (1) at the church parking lot. Phillip and Everett (1) played hard! Jared came to play with the kids again! Justin and I went to a Middle Eastern restaurant suggested by Jeremy and Jared. The food was terrible, just terrible. The meat was rubberized by a long bath in Balsamic vinegar bath, the tabbouleh was unflavored and soggy. Yuck. We had nothing to do and several hours to burn! We walked around the Provo mall for a bit. Justin was excited to buy me some new shirts and a skirt at Down East! I was excited to get some new clothes for spring. We topped the evening off with delicious ice cream. Came home, Phillip went to bed at 7 with a headache and fever. Rough night
Wednesday: Let the sick kids rest. Let the tired mom rest too! Phillip woke up fever free, phew. Miekka, Courtenay and I went to Draper around 5 pm. We did a bit of thrifting, picked up Cafe Rio for dinner. I left to meet Jana at the new Hale Theater to see Hunchback of Notre Dame. Holy smokes, the new theater is so amazing. The play was based on the Disney cartoon with a few song additions and a plot twist. Jana and I got to sit down and talk after the play while post-play traffic cleared out. I am singing Notre Dame songs now after a 15 year vacation.
Thursday: packed up and headed to Mom's home. Dropped Amelia off to play with her friend Stella for the afternoon. I loved visiting with Meagan for a bit. We took the other kids to Apollo burger for lunch. Burgers and Keto eating is the best way to eat out. We invaded mom's home, quickly tearing toys out of the closets and settling right in. Jana and I went to Hobby Lobby for ribbons and such, she needed coordinating hair clips for Hannah's Easter dresses. We picked up Mia on the way back. Amelia sewed a darling owl with Stella. I added the wire leg later so it could perch on Amelia's finger, she had the idea...I helped design it. Best night of sleep all vacation.
Friday: Toured Scott's renovated home. My Dad and Scott poured hard work and sweat into making the house habitable, including saving the back of the house from ripping off and sinking into the ground. My parents have terrible luck with buying crappy houses. Amelia petted Scott's cat, and had an immediate allergic reaction. Her nose and eyes poured non-stop the rest of the day. Scott let the kids choose a fun otter photo to take home. He took a drone photo with his set up! How fun! We went to see Grandma Baerwaldt at her new home. She has a nice view of all the goings on. I think Grandma seemed more animated than she ever was at my parent's home. I savored a nice hug before we left. We grabbed some lunch before visiting Charity. Amelia's allergies got worse since Charity has 2 cats. Poor kid curled up on the couch and slept after getting double dose of benedryl. Raquel also came over for a few hours. Mason is such a big guy now! Handsome football player with a new job to boot. Reagan is in full-blown teenage mode, attached to her phone and music. We had a relaxing afternoon talking and trading stories. We even got a short visit with Kenny! Hoorah. Around 6 we drove up to Joe and Kat's home in Clearfield. Joe made a delicious Thai dinner for us. He showed us all the improvements made over the past year or so. They revealed their secret to life: If they laugh over something for more than 30 seconds they have to do it (like secretly getting married, or a ceremony in Ireland...etc). I think if we did that with 5 kids life would get pretty, darn interesting. Amelia's allergies got even worse since Joe also had two cats. She was simply miserable.
Saturday: we headed home with our van full of sick kids. We made it to Bryce Canyon for a tour around several of the look outs. According to Justin as we hiked the second loop, Phillip reached into his pocket for cold fries to snack on.
[Napoleon has snuck tator tots out of the lunch room and is eating them during class out of his pants pocket]
Randy: Napoleon, give me some of your tots.
Napoleon Dynamite: No, go find your own.
Randy: Come on, give me some of your tots.
Napoleon Dynamite: No, I'm freakin' starving! I didn't get to eat *anything* today.
Randy: [Kicks the pocket with the tots, crushing them]
Napoleon Dynamite: Ugh! Gross! Freakin' idiot!
Freakin' hilarious! It was freezing outside, even snowing a bit. Evelyn got to taste a few snowflakes. I was amazed at how the hoodoos look like a bad stamping effort in Photoshop. Josie just snuggled in a blanket and tried to keep warm. Amelia was miserable with her nose and eyes leaking. Everett seemed to feel a bit better, he was in his own world with ninja moves. All the kids wore some sort of green to protect their tender bums from my pinches. Happy St Pat's day. We spent the night in Kanab. I mistakenly booked two rooms instead of one, stupid internet was spotty so it refreshed with a previous inquiry. The hotel refunded the mistake, phew. Finally had a decent night of sleep.
Sunday: woke up to find 3 inches of fluffy snow! The trees looked so beautiful! We hurriedly dressed and ate breakfast so we could attend church a couple blocks away. After church we changed and headed towards the Grand Canyon. Too bad the North rim was closed, we were forced to drive the southern rim, that added a few hours to the drive. Everett got carsick after he was playing on his tablet while we drove around winding roads. I am so happy he was carsick in the parking lot and not the van. We had lunch at a super cool American Indian restaurant. The kids got to choose dream catchers for their bedrooms. We saw Desert View first, got to climb up the watchtower, which offered a stunning view of the canyon with the Colorado River nestled far below. At the viewpoint several polished basalt slabs were set into the wall at an angle, when you look down at the slab the canyon pops into view with stunning clarity. This trick was used by artists to cut out the fog and sharpen the views. Amelia started crying before we got to the main visitor's center. All she wanted was to go home! She wrapped up in her blanket and unwillingly shuffled along with us. We watched the last show of the day at 4:30. The kids all shuffled reluctant to Mather Point our final stop before heading south. They loosened up once seeing the fun rocks to climb over and the impressive canyon view at sunset. Evelyn lost one of her gloves so used a sock to cover her bare hand! Nice use of that brain! Josie got carsick just an hour before we arrived home. Gross. It smelled terrible in the backseat area. We made it home around 10:30 pm. Walking into our home felt so nice. Stiff and ready for bed! I told the kids to sleep in since we were all so tired. Everett was the only kid to take my advice, he slept in past 8:30. Amelia and Phillip made it to the bus. Amelia did not want to miss seeing Chloe after 6 weeks of Chloe in Vietnam.
**Amelia's "friend" Abby texted her obsessively during our vacation. She wanted Amelia to decide and report on who was her best friend: Chloe or Abby; Abby or Brooklyn. So annoying. What kind of friend makes another friend make choices like that. Apparently, we need to have some talks about the meaning of friends.
**Jared was impressed with Amelia and Phillip's depth of creativity and understanding during his sessions of role play with them. I am impressed with Jared's dedication! Amelia impressed Jared by taking her assigned character and creating her own, adapting it to her desires. Phillip surprised Jared by answering questions with answers that were deep and well-thought out.