Friday, October 26, 2012

Family, family and more family (and friends!) in Utah (part 2 of 2)

Here we go again! The rest of our Utah trip which was dominated by time spent with family and friends. We do love our time in Utah for the simple opportunity to reconnect, face-to-face with so many people that we love. We're grateful for things like Facebook, texting and video chatting for easily keeping in touch, but my goodness a real life hug beats all!!

After Willy headed to Louisiana, the kids and I hopped from house to house, loving and appreciating all the different welcome mats being rolled out for us. I think I spent a total of three nights at Sarah and Adam's, three night's at Ashley and Jed's, a night at Mindy and Damon's, a night at Kari's and a couple more nights at Willy's folks'. Also, Brady got to spend a couple nights at his cousin Cole's house, and Ben got to spend a few nights with the teen cousins, Cameron and Courtney. We all had a BLAST!! Late nights, lots of games, lots of go-go-go as well as lots of sit-around-and-gab. It was perfect! Here comes the rest of the Utah picture parade!
We spent the first night without Willy staying at Mindy and Damon's. We "treated" the kids
to an Ikea excursion (that ended badly with Molly falling off a chair and earning herself
a doozy of a goose egg on her noggin.) We made sure to do other fun stuff with the kids though
like going to the pizza buffet and playing at our old favorite park. Molly & Ellee made great
roommates for a couple nights. Molly LOVED Ellee's sassy dancing and little girl haven of a bedroom.
Best buds Cole and Brady
Best buds Toby and Luke
Wanna know how to easily entertain 5 boy cousins? Turn on Minecraft. Good grief! Look at their focus!

We decided that the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon without our own ward to attend was to
visit my parents who are volunteers at the Conference Center and take a tour of the amazing building! We all really enjoyed the Arnold Friberg gallery of Book of Mormon stories paintings, the sky lights, and the fountains. It was really special to hear my parents share so many neat stories about the Conference Center and church
history. I love that they're having such a great missionary experience and seem to truly love doing it!
One of my fav pics of the day! Grandma taking the kids to the roof of the building where we got to see the
fountains and rooftop gardens. I was having a wee panic attack because of the height, but Grandma was great about enforcing the hand-holding rule for my benefit :)

View from the top
After visiting Grandma and Grandpa at the Conference Center we headed to
Temple Square and explored the Visitors Centers.
When we were leaving Temple Square the kids looked up and spotted Grandma
giving a tour to a group of visitors!! She's the shortest one in the group of
five people on the roof to the left of the Conference Center tower :)
I promised my kids a trip to the movies. We went and saw Brave which was super fun! Cousins Ruby and Emma came along for the fun! (And I loved cuddling Emma when the movie got a little intense for her taste.)
We had a great time visiting the Hogle Zoo with all the Campbell cousins!!
We all rode the train together at the zoo
Watching the elephants
Ignoring the elephants LOL (Kiki, Molly and Layla)
Best buds, and almost birthday buddies (just 6 days apart), Miller and Toby
All the little Campbell girly cousins at the zoo
Brady and best bud, Parker rocking the carousel at the zoo
This picture makes me giggle. Kari was such a sport to go on the  carousel with her Bubbas hehehe.

After the zoo my parents invited us to a mystery location... which turned out to be Bruges Waffles!! I'd heard
that a true Belgian Waffle place had been opened in Salt Lake City but I forgot about it when we got to town.
My parents apparently visit there frequently and just knew I'd be in heaven with the authentic Belgian Waffles and "frites" (fries). Oh. My. Gosh. They were soooooo right!!! Talk about blast from my past. There's nothing
quite like a hot gauffre with creme fraiche. Yum yum!!!
Ahhhhh. Heaven!
The frites were amazing too! With Andalouse sauce, of course :)
One of the fun activities we did while in Utah was attend the Pioneer Days Parade Float Preview Party. Gave us a chance to see all the cool floats up close and personal, without having to actually go to the parade LOL. There were clowns and giveaways and treats and all sorts of fun. The best part for me was meeting up with my dear friend Kim and my sis-in-law Kari. Kim and I know each other from college and have reconnected in the last few years. It was GREAT to see her! (And she and Kari had met online through my little weight loss competition so it was fun to introduce them to each other face-to-face for the first time!)
Brady and Molly getting to play on this crazy zeppelin float with cousins Kiki and ... uh... one of the Bubbas LOL
The kids were all about the balloon art!
All about the balloon art... until they found the Lego inspired float. Ben volunteered to wear the Lego minifig costume and drum up some interest for the float (there was best-in-crowd float voting going on and Ben told them he'd voted for them so they let him try on the hat and costume). Within moments crowds of kids were gathering and Ben hammed it up BIG TIME! He was shaking hands with kids, posing for pictures, dancing, etc. It was a riot! Brady got to get in on the action a few minutes later, too, and together they really drew in the crowds and had a blast!
They kind of felt like rockstars with kids wanting pictures with them LOL.
The theme of the parade had something to do with dreams. The kids liked this children's parade entry.

Got to go to Zumba with Ashley, Kari and Sarah. This is one of those forehead-slap moments when I realize we didn't get Sarah in the shot! I wanted a pic of Ash, Kari and I working out together since we were all competing in my weight loss competition and Sarah wasn't at the time, but it was still such a fun sisters/sisters-in-law night that I definitely should have had Sarah in the picture too, duh!!
One of our trip highlights was discovering a park in Saratoga Springs and spending a bunch of time there (We went back three times!). The first time there was meeting up with ALL of the Romig cousins (except Courtney who was at v-ball camp)! They're not all pictured here since we snapped the shot after a few left but here's almost all of them :)

There were some REALLY fun playground equipment pieces at the park! Here's Ben spinning a whole lotta kids on a variation of a carousel. (Looks like Brady, Emma, Ellee, Ashlyn, Whitney, Alyssa, Ruby, Toby and Luke are all on it... plus a bunch of strangers LOL)

Have to share this one because how stinking cute are my twin nephews Brevin and Brock? I mean seriously!! Way to grow 'em Teresa!

Grown-ups did a lot of chatting and visiting. And then we temporarily lost our minds...
See the giant climbing pyramid (With Ben and Brady up at the top?)
Yeah... my sisters and I decided to climb to the top. We look happy and calm here.
This is a better representation of how we felt. We were all sorta basket cases climbing up. We were all having major second thoughts about letting our kids climb up it any more LOL. The experience was a little terrifying (plus the photo caught me in a really horrifying pose ... uh. Oh well.)
It's crazy how the kids just zipped up and down this thing like it was nothing. It was no small task making our way to the top!! Coming back down was no picnic either.
Got to have a Girls Day Out with all the Romig ladies at Zupa's (I think? Maybe that's what it was called... it was yummy regardless! LOL. And FUN!!!)
Last time seeing Teresa on this trip since she was heading out of town that afternoon. So good to see her!!! (Can't tell we're sisters at all, can you?)

During a different visit back to that same park (LOL) I got to meet up with one of my dearest friends, Tanya, and her lovely family. Heavenly Father meant for Tanya and I to know each other. She's a great blessing to me! It was fun to see her and her growing belly... surprise! Her #4 is on the way! YAY!
Also got to meet up with Sara and her kiddos at the (same) park!! Toby and Max are really close in age and Sara and I met in an online expecting club when we were pregnant with the boys. We've been friends for about eight years now and  I just love everything about her!

I'll never hear the end of it if I don't include the picture of Kari meeting up with Sara and I LOL. Last time the three of us got together I had Kari take a shot of Sara and I and didn't get one with her... d'oh! Way to snub family, Ang. Way to go!
Toby and Max may be the same age, but Molly and Ruby
had a great time playing together at the park too!!

Another highlight of my trip was meeting up with a few of my Scrap Girls friends! It's always great to see Joann, Ro and Wendee! I was so thrilled that they could take some time to get together for lunch while I was there! (And even more thrilled that they were still at the restaurant when I got there a full hour late because I'd completely botched up my calendaring and had our meet-up time recorded wrong. Whoops.)
We stayed one night at Kari's place. The kids all packed into one room... there wasn't an inch of extra space to be found LOL. Two on the bunkbeds, one on the luv sac, Toby on a queen size airmattress (folded in half so he was raised up high LOL) and poor Molly abandoned on the floor. It was pretty hilarious how they managed the space on their own.
Toby on his high rise air mattress while Molly sleeps on the floor hehehe.
On our last Sunday in Utah we got together with most of the Romigs one more time for a family dinner at Josh and Kami's house (T and Chase and their family were out of town). We ate and jumped on the trampoline and played the Wii and celebrated Ashley's birthday and just had a great time together as family. The kids did NOT want to leave. (So Ben stayed the night hehehe while the rest of us headed to Sarah's for one more night. We didn't get much sleep that night! Ashley came over and she, Sarah and I had a very VERY late game night! Such a blast!)

This picture cracks me up. Cameron, Courtney and Ben were all trying SO hard to be the tallest.
Court climbed on Josh's back, Ben jumped, Cameron climbed on the arm of the couch. In reality, Ben has
grown taller than them both now (last time we visited he was the shortest of the three.)

All on tip toes LOL

Molly couldn't get enough of Uncle Josh during our time together!

And Grandpa, too. Pretty sure she was missing her main male squeeze (Daddy)
and was finding a way to get her fix!

Saying good-bye to Grandma and Grandpa (they were leaving town the next day).
Love my parents!
And then I got a little snap happy and needed shots with my sibs, too! My "little" brother Josh.
Me and Mindy. Sisters? What makes you think that? *eyeroll*
"Baby" brother Jed

"Baby" sis Sarah (the next morning... after a really late night of crazy game fun). I also have a picture of me and Ashley from the game night, but my sister hasn't sent it to me yet... hint hint!!
Toby and Ruby... inseparable for days! On our way out of town we had to swing by their house one last time to say good-bye so I hurried and snapped a shot of these two best buds!
We visited GG one more time before leaving town. The kids were delighted to get more Tootsie Roll Pops. I was delighted to watch my children lovingly interact with this woman who means so much to me!

The kids and I also went and visited G-Pa's gravesite for the first time.
We missed being able to visit with him on this trip.
In keeping with my goal of participating in one race a month for all of 2012, I talked Kari into joining me for the Deseret News Pioneer Day 5K. It wasn't a timed event, which was good because oh-my-gosh I thought I was going to die when I tried running. I was only able to do a handful of running intervals because the altitude tried to kill me. I had NO idea that the 5K route would go right down the center of the actual parade route before the parade started. So we unwittingly found ourselves running (or mostly walking in my case) down the middle of the road with thousands of parade watchers lining the streets waiting for the parade to start. I felt like such a spectacle. It was pretty cool to have people cheering for us the majority of the distance though! At one point I heard someone yell "Keep it up lady in red! You've got this!" It was pretty sweet. It was also extremely emotional for me, to see so many Polynesian families camped out for the parade. Made me miss "home".
Nana had trained the Campbell cousins in advance of our arrival that they were going to have to help her "take Ben down" since he's grown so big she didn't think she could do it on her own. The last morning we were in Utah the cousins that had slept over (Parker and Miller) helped her take Ben down indeed!
We all love Nana and Papa! It's hard to say good bye knowing it may be a while before we spend face-to-face time together again.
Molly couldn't get enough Papa love before we left!

I originally planned to stay with the kids for two full weeks and then make the road trip to meet Willy. But after just a day on his own in Louisiana, I could hear the stress and loneliness in Willy's voice and it made my heart ache to be with him. It wasn't logical to leave too early because we hadn't budgeted for hotel costs for the whole family so soon, but we did end up leaving several days earlier than originally anticipated. It was a long time apart, and even harder for Willy than for us. We at least had family and friends distracting us and keeping us busy. He was all alone and felt really disconnected from us and was feeling all the stress of trying to find us a home to rent or buy all while settling into his new job and a new town. We didn't have a laptop with us (he took it with him) so we couldn't video chat daily like we did when he business traveled. So our contact while apart was limited and it made it especially hard to be apart. It did, however, make it easy to make the decision to leave a few days earlier than originally planned. We packed up the car on July 24th and hit the road early the morning of July 25th! Just me and the kids on the open road for 2000 miles. Wheeeeee! A small entry with pics from that trip coming soon :)

Hitting the road! Look at that Tetris packed van!!