OK, so two weeks away from the Arizona heat to spend time with family sounds like a lot of fun right? You bet it was! And now for a little recap of the vacation:
Day 1: Traveling to Utah. 10+ hours in the car with 5 kids. Not getting into an accident when some idiot forgot to tie down his empty blue water barrel? Priceless. As a side note, the spin created on the blue barrel was quite a site and the reactions of the motorists to not only avoid the barrel but a 10 car pile up was amazing. Of course the driver who lost the barrel had no idea the panic he caused and deserved every gesture every driver gave him passing by.
Day 2: Sunday meant baby blessing. The newest addition to the extended family was blessed by his father and was a great day for all family involved. A short luncheon was held afterward and it was good to see everyone. Later that day we had another family reunion where we visited the birth-father of our 5 year old. It was great because we didn't get to spend a lot of time with him when the adoption occurred. We got to visit with him and his mother and got some great stories. We also got to see where some of the traits of our 5 year old originated.
Day 3: Hiking Mount Timpanogos. My Brother-in-Law gets full marks for carrying the one year old up the mountain in the backpack. She fell asleep at least twice. The caves were amazing. I think the kids were in awe of what this world can create. Of course there had to be some excitement and using the emergency potty pouches qualifies for that. For some reason boys have to go when they get cold. Who would have thunk it?
Day 4: Golf and the Ropes Course. Doing team building exercises was a lot of fun. Everyone had ideas and nobody chickened out. Super high marks go to our 6 year old who had to do the rope swing twice. The first time the catchers missed her and she swung back to the pack. But leave it up to her to get right back on that rope and swing again. The most thrilling part of the ropes course? The 40 to 50 foot swing. You get harnessed in and then pulled up to the top where you have to let go of a rope to free fall about 10 feet and then begin to swing. All the kids did it at least once (so did the adults) and most of them did it twice. The rock wall was more of a challenge and not all of us made it to the top.
Day 5: Lagoon. Roller coasters, Blast Off and Reentry, Scramblers, and various other rides. What more needs to be said? The kids and adults had a blast. A lot of sun was gotten as well. Best ride? Reentry (even if I did close my eyes for the first drop).
Day 6: Up. Movie day. I stayed with the toddlers so they could get a nap (and not waste money on a ticket to a movie I wouldn't have seen). According to all who saw it "Up" is as good as it gets.
Day 7: Down time and reunion with 6 year old's birth mother. It was good to have a day of resting after the first few jam-packed days. We met up with our daughter's birth mother at a park where she was able to meet her half-siblings as well as her birth grandparents and uncle.
Day 8: Extended Family Picnic and Date Night. So we had an extended family picnic where we met up with my in-laws families. They're a good bunch and fun was had by all (even if volley ball wasn't up to our usual Olympic standards). Later that day the adults went out to dinner. Our first choice had a 90 minute wait and so we went to Red Fish. As usual the food was good and the conversation as well. Best line? Mother-in-Law: "If I looked like you I would be able to eat like that as well." You can imagine the jokes and other lines that this sparked.
Day 9: Church and Reunion with Oldest's Birth Mother. Going to church with five kids is always an adventure. Somehow we survived without interrupting the reverence too much. Later in the afternoon we met up with the 8 year old's birth mother at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. He was able to meet his half-siblings and talk about what they liked to do (his is swim, his half-brother's is run). At the end of the meeting it started to rain and was quite refreshing as the heat and humidity were starting to get annoying.
Days 10 and 11: Mostly down time. We did go to the Farm and Dinosaur Museum at Thanksgiving Point. The kids got to touch different animals, ride a horse-drawn wagon and look for gnomes amongst the dinosaurs. The best part of the Dinosaur museum is the erosion table. Here the kids can see what water can do to soil and how it can bury animals to create fossils. Golf was also played at the Rances. The low score was 103 for 18 holes, not bad, but we could have done better.
Day 12: Reunion with Youngest's Birth-mother and Girls get away. We were able to meet in West Jordan with our youngest's birth mother. It's amazing to see how similar the two of them are. Again there were half-siblings there and all the kids played on the play sets. It's great to get caught up on the lives of these incredible birth parents and find out how well they are doing. Later that day the "Girls" went shopping and I watched the kids (yes all 10 of them). Grandpa did come over to enjoy the site of cousins playing together. There was very little (if any) fighting that occurred. A lot of sun was gotten by the kids (not enough sunscreen duh!).
Day 13: Another Movie Day. We went and saw Ice Age 3. Well that is all but Cheryl and my Sister-in-law. See we didn't get a babysitter for the toddlers and so all four of them sat outside while the rest of us were in 3-D heaven. Later that night a different group of us went and saw "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince". I was very impressed by the film even though it did have some omissions I thought were critical to the story. The movie ended at midnight which meant a short night's sleep.
Day 14: Friends and Dinner. This was our last day and we had made arrangements to have lunch with friends who were also in town. We hadn't seen Jared in about 4 years so it was good to meet them at Ruby River and catch up on old times. They are moving to Virginia so who knows how long it will be until we get to see them in person again. The adults were able to get out one more time sans children for dinner at Famous Dave's. Trash Can Lid Feasts for everyone! Literally you can order the Feast and it comes out served on a garbage can lid. Ribs, Brisket, Chicken, Pork, Corn on the cob, French Fries, Coleslaw and Beans. Did I mention we had to be wheelbarrowed out of the place? Well worth it.
Day 15: Time to head home. The trip back is the hardest part. Everyone is tired and traveling 10 hours in a car and returning to 110 degree heat is not something people look forward to. However my wife, (did I mention she is the best mother in the world?) had a brilliant idea. . . Cooperation Dollars. It works like this. If you behave, you get a quarter for every 15 minutes we are in the car. At the end of the trip you get the money earned. If you misbehave a quarter or more is taken away. We didn't have any negative balances so I don't know what would have happened. Personally I think it would be great if my kids would pay me. All of the kids made good money which means we didn't have very many incidents on the way home. Also there were no signs of Blue water barrels joy-spinning on the highway so we didn't have to worry about that.
All in all a great vacation. Next up? All of us on an airplane to Buffalo for my Brother's Wedding. We may need a lot of cooperation dollars. . .