Friday, January 31, 2020

Vacation to Utah Part 3: Happy 11th Anniversary

Our 11th anniversary came while we were at Bear Lake with my family.
We are almost always travelling on our anniversary,
so last year I determined that in the future we would no longer attempt to do a half-baked celebration, but rather just do something bigger to celebrate the anniversary of our first date which is conveniently the day after my birthday.
So we didn't do much to take note of the day, aside from having my sister snap a few pictures of us (Thanks, Breanne!).
The Bear Lake backdrop was just so beautiful and Sam was so kind to humor me with a little photo shoot.

These two pictures came about because I tried to get Sam to pose with me in a particular way and I did not communicate what I had in mind very well. He picked me up as if I was a toddler and I was dying of laughter! Ironically, I like these pictures even better than the ones I initially planned on.

Here I'm trying to explain what he should do...

...and we got it!


Sometime in mid-December,
I had a video chat with some of my old college roommates.
As they were trying to arrange a roommate reunion, I said, "I love you guys but...I haven't ever even had a night away with Sam before!"
All of them (with the best intentions) began chiming in, telling me why I needed to go on a getaway and how it would be so amazing and my marriage is worth the investment.
I came away feeling really picked on and frustrated.

Of course I believe my marriage is worth investment--I am one of the biggest advocates of spending time with your spouse you'll find!
But in our years of grad school our budget was so tight we had a $5 limit for gifts, so we CERTAINLY didn't have a few hundred (or thousand) extra dollars to get away for a while...not to mention the fact that our kids were coming rapidly and we lived many states away from any family.
Then we moved close to family for Sam's postdoc, but, again, were on an incredibly tight budget (I once read an article that called postdocs America's smartest, poorest people, and that feels pretty accurate).
By the time we had money for a getaway, we once again lived many states away from family and had 5 young boys, including a newborn.

I was still grumpy the following morning and I called my mom, knowing that if anyone understood my frustrations, she did.
My dad's grad school years lasted until my oldest brother was 11 and she, too, had 5 young children at that point and didn't have a "getaway" of her own until her 25th wedding anniversary!
I called her and immediately there was something going on in the background.
"Sorry," she said. "I have Jocilyn's (my sister's) kids while she and Ryan are away on a getaway for their anniversary."
OF COURSE that would be the case!
(Don't worry, Jocilyn, I'm happy for you--truly, I am!!)

That night Sam and I headed out on a date, and I started explaining the irony of the situation to him.
"You poor thing!" he started to say sympathetically.
"Noooo!" I replied. "Don't pity me! Tell me all the reasons why we don't need a getaway!"

Sam is the smoothest, so it only took a few seconds for him to switch gears entirely.
He started telling me about an article that he'd read about how marathon runners don't get as many health benefits from running as people who consistently run shorter distances because it is so hard on their bodies.
"We're doing the shorter distance runs!" he said. "We put time into nurturing our marriage every day!"

And that was all it took for all most of my self-pity to vanish.
Because he's so right.
And he's SO. GOOD. at the everyday.
The second he gets home, he is working tirelessly to ease my burdens and strengthen our family.
He dotes on me constantly and heaps lavish praise on me non-stop.
He writes me the sweetest notes and poems, makes time for a date weekly, and insists that our boys treat me with the utmost respect and express gratitude for my efforts.
And most importantly, he is trying his hardest to emulate the Savior's example and that touches EVERY ASPECT of our marriage.

That's not to say I don't still have my sights set on an overnight getaway sometime very soon--
I'm determined to make it happen in the very near future!
BUT, I will forever appreciate the fact that the small, simple things we do on a daily basis to strengthen our marriage are the things that make the biggest impact.
And those are things we can do regardless of where we live, the number of children we have, the stage of life we're in, or the dollars that pad our bank account.

Happy 11 years, dearest.
My heart is forever yours.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Vacation to Utah Part 2: The Cabin at Bear Lake

We were SO excited to make it up to Bear Lake and see our family!
It was a pretty amazing few days...
I tried to only pick the best pictures to share, but there are still over 100 here.
Whoops.
That's what happens when two of us in the family are maybe a little too picture-happy. :)
Some of the highlights:


Playing in the Snow
The driveway to the house went down from the road and was steeeeep and covered in snow,
so it made the perfect sledding hill!
There was a cute playground right by the driveway, too, that had such a whimsical feel.
Last year Maxwell HATED the cold and snow,
but this year he was so content--especially to eat as much snow as he could.

This gives a pretty good idea of the set-up--here I'm standing about halfway up the driveway.


Enjoying Beautiful Views
Everywhere we turned there were stunning views of the snow-covered mountains and misty Bear Lake below.
(One morning the snow was blowing off the roof and it looked just like a cloud of glitter right outside the door!)

Playing Games
I loved playing the candy bar memory game with my grandma every year when I was a kid, so I like to bring it for the kids to play at Christmas.

My dad brought a mystery solving boxed game. It was a fun challenge the adults did one night after the kids were in bed!

My mom brought a big ball of saran wrap filled with trinkets for the kids to take turns unwrapping.

My parents brought a set of fake snowballs and the kids had a pretty epic snowball fight with Sam. This picture cracks me up! Sam's dramatic death and Peter's absolute delight at his charades.

Family Talent Show and Nativity Re-enactment
Drawings, dances, poem recitations, music...the family talent show is always a highlight. And the kids are very...um...enthusiastic actors.

Annual White Elephant Gift Exchange
I always laugh so hard my face feels like it's going to break at this annual event.
(Donut soap and a cheese printer prank box...the real present inside was the t-shirt below)

(Star Trek cookbook and the weirdest quacking duck push toy)

(Dr. Who mug)

(Elephant socks and a Baby Shark puppet that sings "Baby Shark" faster and faster when you move its mouth)

(Weird Frozen braid clips and an air plant)

(Redneck "bubble bath" and a Chewbacca mask that roars when you move your mouth

(Basketball hat game)

Eating Lots of Yummy Food
When you have a family as big as mine, lots of food is a natural element in gatherings.
The snack table!

...and about 17 different kinds of hot chocolate, ciders, and herbal teas


Family History Stories
My dad had a big chart with pictures for everyone to cut out. We all picked an ancestor to research and present about.

Opening Presents
We had the annual $5 cousins' gift exchange and also gave my parents their Christmas present from all of us...tickets to "Fiddler on the Roof" at the Eccles Theater!

Just Hanging Out
The kids' sleeping room had bunk beds made to look like hammocks hanging in the trees and had a slide, rock climbing wall, and an air hockey table. The kids had so much fun playing up here!

Calming a few tantrums is to be expected on long vacations away from home...

Benson, who seems to have no fear of heights, also kept trying to climb through the banister rails.

...and Aunt Breanne's annual cousins' birthday party!
She went on a few African safaris this past year, so she had a safari theme and the kids got to search for animals, make animal rolls with bread dough, make animals out of pipe cleaners, play an animal sound game, and break open a zebra pinata. She brought decorations she bought in Mexico, too!

Maxwell LOVED collecting little animal toys and would always put his hand over his eyes like this while searching.

Lincoln was making the BEST faces when he was hitting the pinata.


Phew! You made it!
It was an amazing start to a fabulous vacation in Utah!
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