Friday, June 8, 2012

A Family Vacation

I grew up in a family that didn't go on vacations. Ever. My dad was (is) a rancher, which meant he never really had time off, and then add the expense of travel, and we just simply didn't do it. Instead, we went as a family to State Volleyball and Basketball tournaments to support one another, something we all loved to do. We went on one family vacation my whole life--to Yellowstone--and had a great time together (that is, until the ride home, when we kids fought incessantly the whole way). So, I didn't really even know what a family vacation should consist of when I got married and started having children.

Well, this year we were so excited to get away and do something together as a family, we left two days after school ended. Our destination? St. George, Utah. Doesn't sound very exotic or amazing, I know, but for us, it was perfect. For one thing, not too far to travel in a car, and for another, most of our children hadn't ever been to southern Utah, so it was a new adventure. Lastly, it was rather inexpensive. What could be better?

Dreading the long car ride, I tried to plan ahead. After all, I the last thing I wanted was for our vacation to start off on the wrong foot. I bought a $5 movie I knew my kids loved, a coloring packet of felt pictures, snacks, and some great reading material and shoved them in what I lovingly called, a "Grab Bag," then explained my plan to the kids. If they could ride peacefully for 30 minutes, we would choose something from the bag to do. It worked! So often, my hair-brained ideas fail, but this one was actually effective. My kids were entertained the whole way there and didn't start asking, "How much further?" until we were nearly there. Here is a shot of the wall of pictures my kids colored on the way.

We arrived on a Sunday evening, so after moving in to the condo and going on a walk to scout out the premises, we snuggled into bed and hoped for sleep, despite our uncontained excitement. The next morning, we woke up and the fun began! I'm warning you, lots of pictures follow (and these are only a fraction of what I actually took). I just kept loving the moment so much, I had to snap a picture of it.
Nate, flexing his muscles by the pool

Hallee, lounging by the pool, shooting self-portraits of her beautiful face . . . and her feet apparently:)

Berkley wasn't too sure about her new swimming apparatus

Dan and I even managed to have matching swimsuits. Are we cool or what?

Kids PEACEFULLY playing games at the condo. Had to snap that.
Monday night we went to Tuacahn to see Aladdin. It was so awesome! I am so sad that my phone is having problems and I can't get it to send me the pictures I took that night. This was the first showing of Aladdin, a preview night, so we got in for a discounted rates and had great seats. It was completely full of people but so worth it. The only problem was that the show didn't start until 8:45 p.m. and it lasted for 3 hours, so by the time it was over, Regyn and Boston were so exhausted they could hardly stand it. The Genie was fabulous! It was truly a ton of fun.

Now, on to more pictures . . .

If there is one thing I have learned as a parent, it is this: kids love it when you're crazy! Seriously. My kids thing I'm a rock star when I let loose a little bit and act like a kid. And I just have to say, I enjoy it quite a bit myself:) I've gotten pretty good at it, too, I might add. Here are a few photos of me at the pool, acting even crazier than my kids. It was so much fun!!
Not exactly sure what I was going for in this one.

Or this one. I just needed someone to kiss and it would have been the perfect "kick back kiss." LOL!

Even more pictures of our fun:

Love this picture of "the Guys." Boston may need to work on his muscles just a bit.
While there, we spent an afternoon at the LDS Temple Visitors Center and watched a short but touching movie on families (I bawled my eyes out, as usual, but that stuff just hits me to the core). We saw some beautiful art on the Martin & Willie Handcart companies, then took some pictures outside the St. George Temple. These are my favorite. There is just such a special spirit around the temple, no matter which one it is.

This picture was too precious to not share. Love it.
Then we went to tour Brigham Young's winter home. So interesting.

Had to throw this picture in. The kids took the lenses out of our 3D glasses from Tuacahn and decided to sport the "nerdy" look. I love it!

On our last day, we visited Zion's National Park. We had a good time, but in truth, we should have probably not waited until the last day of our vacation to go. The kids (and Dan and I) were pretty exhausted from the week of fun and were less-than-enthusiastic hikers. Still a good experience though.
Berkley loved riding on Dan's back.

Loved this. I couldn't help but think to myself, I hope I can always teach my children to look up--for answers, for help, for guidance. They were looking at the "Weeping Rock," a beautiful structure of rocks that trickles of water fall from constantly, but seeing them all holding hands and looking up seemed so symbolic to me. Glad I caught a snapshot.

When we pulled in the driveway last night, Boston (5) said, "I"m sure glad to be home." I was surprised. We had just immensely enjoyed our time away together and I wondered if the kids would feel disappointed at being home again. "I love home," Nate (10) said, and he sounded almost giddy. My heart swelled within me at these simple comments. They meant more to me than my kids could have imagined. I work constantly at creating a family culture that is full of love and acceptance and forgiveness and happiness--one that is stronger than any other outside influence--and to hear my children express their gratitude to be home again made me feel like my efforts are not in vain. I love home, too. There is nowhere I love more. I hope my children always feel this way about coming home.