The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. I grew to love it even more during the years that I lived in Utah because we always had a fun family gathering with my mother's relatives, and because that time of year is so beautiful in Utah. Fourth of July in Woodbridge is pretty awesome too, but we decided we could spend one year away.
We left in the evening after Charlie got off work and drove to the Nevada state line. It was nice to break up the drive a bit and to get to Utah earlier the next day than if we had left in the morning. I bought these table trays for the boys to use in the car so that they could eat, play, etc. Isaac loved his and used it a ton, but Luke's car seat was a little too wide for his tray to fit.
Our room for the night had two queen beds, so Charlie, Isaac, and Cracker shared one and Luke and I shared the other. Luke had a huge smile and thought it was the greatest thing ever to get to sleep in my bed. (We didn't trust Isaac to not kick Luke out - accidentally or intentionally - in the middle of the night.)
We rented a van for the trip because we always end up bringing so much stuff and it is nice to have space for Cracker instead of having him on my lap the entire time. The back turned into kind of a junk pile, but it was nice to have all of the snacks, toys, movies, etc accessible.
Before we left I made this map with a sliding van and markers for every hour of our trip. Luke didn't quite grasp the connection between the map and the never ending car trip, but Isaac loved it and was continually asking for updates.
Okay, so enough about the journey. We finally arrived and the boys were ready to burn some energy! We were excited to see Karl & Janelle's new home that they built in Price. The neighborhood where they bought their land is still developing so there is a lot of open space around them. Their home is beautiful inside and out, but the boys much preferred the "out" part of it. They loved the huge open space to roam and explore, and spent hours digging in the dirt and rocks.
Soon after we arrived the clouds started rolling in for a summer rainstorm so we corralled the boys back inside. Chris & Carly and their kids came over for dinner and the cousins all had fun playing together and running around in the basement. Here are Isaac and Lucy attempting to take over Grandpa's recliner.
Janelle set up a little tent for the boys to sleep in, but Luke wouldn't stay in for more than 2 minutes at a time, so he ended up in a pack-n-play. But Isaac loved "camping" every night in the tent.
I think organized races are really fun but I don't run them very often because I usually can't justify spending the money. Especially for short distances since I run 10k a few times a week on my own anyway. But the Woodbridge 4th of July race is super cheap and I love it because it brings out my competitive side and gets me training a little harder in the months leading up to it. I was a bit disappointed when we agreed to skip it this year to be in Utah, but I still got my 10k in while running the streets of Price with Charlie & Chris.
The boys spent all morning exploring and digging in the back yard. Cracker loved being able to roam freely too. I thought he looked funny with his ears flying in the wind like airplane wings.
It didn't take long for Luke & Isaac to notice the construction equipment sitting out behind the neighbor's homes. Luckily Karl & Janelle have very nice neighbors who didn't mind one bit for the boys to climb up inside their bulldozer and push all of the buttons and levers. Luke wanted to do this several times a day and whenever cousin Ginny was over she was always willing to take him out to the "diggers."
That afternoon we all headed over to the wave pool for some swimming. I don't think I'd been in a wave pool since the summer of 1992 when my friend Amy and I had season passes to Raging Waters. I was kind of shocked by how intense this place was. Holy waves! I guess the idea is to be riding on top of the waves in a big inner tube, but instead I was trying to keep my footing while holding on to Luke in his little floatie. We didn't last too long out there. And Isaac preferred to be bouncing around in the waves with his arm floaties rather than inside a tube, so Janelle was my hero because she stayed out there with him the whole time to make sure he wasn't swallowed up. Everyone had a fun time though, and the waves were only on for a few minutes at a time so there was plenty of peaceful swimming too.
In the evening everyone gathered at Karl & Janelle's home for dinner. Carly's parents and her grandfather were also visiting from Henderson so they joined us as well. Before our trip I picked up some crazy red, white, and blue accessories for the kids to wear and play with. Ginny and Lucy did a great job getting all decked out. After dinner Karl took the kids out on another Jeep ride (there were several that week), and Cracker got to help eat up one of the leftover ribs.
The lighting in this photo is bad, but I always like capturing photos of Charlie and his twin brother Chris together. And the view from Karl & Janelle's backyard is gorgeous.
We didn't have any crazy fireworks to play with, just a few poppers and sparklers but the kids thought those were plenty of fun.
After doing our own fireworks Janelle brought down her homemade Cherry Garcia ice cream for dessert and we watched a few arial displays off in the distance.
The next day we piled back into our rental van and drove over the mountain to Utah Valley to spend the day with my family. Isaac and Luke don't see their Stran grandparents as often as the Woods so I was happy that we had time to visit and let the kids play with them. Luke loved getting airplane rides from his Grandpa and Grandma won Isaac over by sitting on the floor playing Ninja Turtles with him.
After lunch we went over to my Grandma and Grandpa Edwards' house (my mom parents). My Grandpa has had a lot of health scares recently and is recovering from treatment for lymphoma. I was so glad to have a chance to see him and my Grandma too. I love going to their home because it brings back so many happy memories.
And don't you just love my Grandma's patriotic Muumuu? She has an impressive wardrobe of Muummuus that she has made for herself in all kinds of fabric. Some are the craziest looking things you could imagine, plus there is at least one for every holiday, and something for everyday in between. She wears them everyday unless she is going out somewhere.
Isaac enjoyed checking out Grandpa's riding lawn mowers that were parked in the garage. I remember taking rides on the back of Grandpa's mower as a little kid and thinking it was the coolest thing ever. Grandma let Isaac play with her electronic game that she had out and he loved that too.
We had dinner at Applebee's with my parents in American Fork. While we were eating we watched as a huge thunderstorm swept through pouring buckets of rain. We were glad to be safe inside for that! And by the time we were finished, the sun was back and the clouds were gone.
After dinner we drove up to Ogden where we were meeting Karl & Janelle (and Cracker) and staying the night. They hadn't eaten yet so while they were at dinner we went out for a walk. The boys loved splashing in all of the puddles from the storm and taking turns holding Cracker's leash.
The next morning we all drove over to the Burdett's house to see our sister-in-law Maren and meet our new twin baby nieces. These little girls have a pretty crazy birth story. Charlie's brother Tyler works for the US Department of Security and he and Maren were in Utah on leave between posts back in October when Maren ended up hospitalized due to complications with her pregnancy. She ended up delivering the girls via C-section at just 25 weeks. They were tiny little miracles, each weighing less than two pounds. It was a long road full of ups and downs before they were finally released from the hospital and able to go home. Meanwhile Tyler had to report for his new post in the country of Georgia, but obviously Maren stayed in Utah and eventually brought the girls home to her parents' house in Ogden. The girls were about 8 months old when we finally had a chance to meet them.
Isaac surprised me with his interest in the baby cousins. I just love this photo of him showing Melody how to play Angry Birds on the iPad. This was totally unprompted and I thought it was so funny and cute and sweet.
Luke on the other hand was not interested in the babies, and especially not interested in having his mother hold one of them! I got some brief snuggling in with little Natasha before handing her back to her mother in order to prevent an epic meltdown from Lukester.
Luke was in a mood that morning and quickly falling apart. I ended up taking him and Cracker across the street to a gorgeous park where we played on the playground and walked down to the lake to see the ducks. Luke was all smiles for that.
Once we were back at the house and Luke was cheered up a bit, we got together for some family photos. Isaac wanted a chance to hold the babies. Check out his face in the picture of him with Melody. He was SO proud to be holding his baby cousin. And Luke finally warmed up to the girls a bit too, and wanted to hold them (he settled for a head). I'm sure when the girls are a bit older the four of them will have plenty of fun playing together.
When it was time for us to head back over the mountain to Price, Karl & Janelle offered to take the boys in their car so that Charlie & I could run some errands and do a little bit of shopping. We first made a stop at one of those enormous outdoor/sporting stores, which I can't remember the name of at the moment. Karl wanted to show the boys the fish tanks and guns and all of that other boy kind of stuff. I waited outside with Cracker.
We eventually made it back to Price and met up with everyone over at Chris & Carly's house for dinner. They had set up the giant make-shift slip and slide on their hill for the kids and everyone had been having tons of fun playing in the backyard.
There was also a light saber battle that evening back at Charlie's parents house. Luke Skywalker (Isaac) vs. Somebody Evil (Janelle). She is such a good sport.
The next morning we all attended church at Chris & Carly's ward. Chris is in the bishopric so he got the view from the stand of our children (namely Isaac) behaving badly during Sacrament meeting. We have reverence problems. Anyway, before church I asked Janelle to try taking some family photos of us. They were - as always - kind of a circus act, but I am glad to have them.
After church it was back to the business of Jeep rides. Luke was totally obsessed with Grandpa's Jeep on this trip. He seriously LOVED riding in the Jeep and would walk around the house all day looking for Karl and then begging for another "beep ride!" I think Karl secretly loved it and they went on at least two rides per day.
Chris and Carly's family came over for dinner again that night. I tried to catch a photo of these four screen addicts, but Carly decided to play innocent (in her defense I'm sure she is the least attached to her phone). Not that I have any room to point a finger. And apparently the same thing was going on in the other room with the younger generation.
At least Isaac and Lucy were having some creative fun. They were funny together. They would play really well at times and then a few minutes later be fighting and crying. They are two strong personalities, but I know they love each other and have tons of fun together.
Here's one last shot of the cousins (minus Asher) before saying goodbye.
And then the next morning we were off bright and early on our way back home. Oreos and iPads saved the day. Or at least kept Luke busy for a few minutes here and there. The drive home always seems soooo much longer. We had a great trip though and look forward to next summer!