Sunday, December 31, 2017

Utah Vacation (Catch Up Post)

I keep coming back to this picture. Every time I look at it I feel a strange collision of past and present and future all tied up into one big feeling. That tree up there is my parents' tree. And while it wasn't actually the one that we had in our home during my own childhood it somehow feels like the one because it was still set up and decorated by my parents' loving hands; it holds their hearts and it stands in their home and because of that it brings wonderful memories of my childhood straight to the surface. Memories of being home for Christmas. 

And in front of the tree from the past, my children are captured sitting in the present, and I can see that in the future they too will have those memories of home. But of my home. And that is a beautiful thought. 

Right after Christmas this year, we packed everyone and everything up and drove to Utah to spend much of the rest of our vacation with our families.

It's a fun thing to do because Utah not only has our families, it also has snow. And where there is snow, there are snowmen.

And there are snowball fights.

And Throw Each Other In The Snow fights.

(Which, let's be honest, aren't really fights when it's Dad pulling you into the snow. Dads are strong.)

I'm guessing one of my kids' favorite memories as they get older will be of Poppy pulling them behind his four wheeler through the snow on a bouncy tire.

He's gentle and careful with them, and somehow knows just the right speed to give them a thrill and keep them safe.

And then he ramps up the intensity with the adults and we find ourselves flying off the tubes around the corners and banging into fences.

This year, as I sailed through the air into a rather unforgiving fence post, it felt for a brief moment like I was back out on the family boat as a child. My dad was my favorite boat driver, mostly because he was crazy. I'd grip the fabric handles of the tube with all of my strength, I'd grit my teeth and resolve again that this time I'd stay on the tube. But, inevitably, I'd catch the wave my dad created himself and I'd fly through the air, skipping across the water on my life vest like a smooth pebble as the tube sailed away from me.

It felt like that just before I hit the fence post.

Then, admittedly, hitting the fence post felt a bit different.

But the laughter was the same.

Dani was fun to watch in the snow. She felt delighted by all of the excitement of it.

Snow hats! Snow coats! Gloves! Boots! And pants that crinkled when you walked.

Miles wasn't quite as delighted at the newness of it all because, well, it wasn't new for him, but he was just as delighted at the fun. Here he is decked out in his gear, popping that perfect, freckled nose out of his marshmallow coat.

One evening we headed over to the Midway Ice Skating rink to dust off our ice skating skills.

Of which we have many. 

Actually, no, we really don't have ice skating skills unless you count 'not falling' as a skill. I'm pretty good at that one.

Another day we went up to Malad, ID to see Great Grandpa Alder. His health is not great, so we let the kids visit inside for just a little while, and then kicked them all outside. Great Grandpa enjoyed watching us play from his window, and the snowman the kids built in his yard kept him happy and accompanied for days and days after we left.

Dani was a natural in the art of snowman making.

Most of the pictures I have of this snowman building process include Timothy in some form.  And, granted, he did help, but mostly it was Dani and Miles who crafted him. They worked together and laughed and laughed with each other. Miles has such a soft spot for Dani in his little heart.

McKenzie and Carson decided they'd rather use their skills to make a snow fort, which they did.

A cat fort, turns out. Or maybe a ghost fort? Well, anyway, it was quite creative and a very fancy fort, but I'm not sure it would be a good protective fort with those giant holes in it.

Towards the end of our stay in Malad, Dani asked if I could please, please, please take some pictures of her in the snow?

And with her snowman.

While Timothy entertained himself on the swing.

When it was time for us to leave, we traveled back to Grandma and Grandpa's house and shortly thereafter I found Eliza snuggled up in Grandpa's lap with a story. She didn't stay there very long because an eight month old always has more important things to do, but it was a cute moment while it lasted.

Another fun moment while it lasted was this one, the one when many of my best high school friends got together to visit and catch up on each others' lives. 

All these pictured here are living in Utah, so we try to get together around the holidays when I'm in town. I love these people. They were good friends for me then and they're good people now.

Next up on our list of to-do's, bowling with the Alders.

Timothy felt quite accomplished having knocked so many pins down through the course of his game. If only we could all have used that giant ball-director thing he owes most of his points to.

Or, at least if only I could have used that giant ball-director thing. I'm a terrible bowler.

I was much better at walking around Temple Square looking at all the beautiful lights and talking to Dani about what it all meant to me.

The other kids were too busy running and exploring to sit and listen or talk, but Dani wanted to hear everything. She always wants to hear everything. She is a listener, and she loves to hear about what makes those around her behave in the ways that they do. And the temple and what it represents is probably the biggest influencer in my life when it comes to doing what I do.

It was special for me to be able to share it with her.

Eventually the very last day of 2017 arrived and we gave it a celebration, of course. My parents brought out the pinata and the kids all took their best shots.

Dani found the pinata to be much better at taking shots at her rather than she at it.

Nana found she was best at entertaining little Eliza and keeping her away from the swinging bat.

Timothy found a hat as the pinata progressed in its demise.

And Brian found the inner strength needed to bust the whole thing open. To the childrens' delight.

Happy New Year!

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