To kick it off, here's Annika, showing off her patriotic side in a positively adorable outfit from Grandma Susie and Grandpa Charles.
Brooklyn joins her for a sisterly moment. Where are they going with that egg carton?
To meet the chickens, of course!
Susie's great friend Robin let the kids come and feed the chickens.
They even got to gather eggs (some of which may have been strategically placed since most of the hens hadn't laid yet.)
Brooklyn holds a hen while Talia and Eli offer some food.
Brooklyn's so great with kids that it's easy to think of her as our mother hen.
Eli's turn. This one-eyed hen happens to be named Susie, not because of her pirate vision but because of her gentle nature, just like our Grandma Susie.
Even Annika took a turn with Susie. This little gal is afraid of nothing. (Except the lake, as we later discovered.)
This isn't the greatest picture, but here's a glimpse of the Logan temple as seen from Grandpa Charles's office. It also happens to be right about where Jason was born before the old Logan hospital was torn down. Grandma kindly babysat so that Jason and I could do a session together. It was lovely to look back and reflect on all that has happened since we were married there.
We even got to pick the season's first peas from the temple garden. Yum!
Back at home, the kids had a blast playing with all of Daddy's old toys. This set-up is entitled Traffic Jam.
Not that we stayed home long! Here are some more details from our quick trip up to Idaho. The first night we stopped by John and Diana's farm to watch them bring in the sheep.
It was so fascinating that I wished we had more time to come back the next day and watch the shearing.
Brooklyn and Talia immediately found a sweet black kitten they dubbed "Snowball."
As sad as they were to leave "Snowball," they were immediately greeted by two other sweet balls of fur when we went to spend the night at Aunt Connie's home. Here's Talia loving on one.
By the time we left, I'm quite sure my daughters would have happily swapped me for any other Mom in the world, as long as she wasn't allergic to cats.
Well, maybe not Annika, but that's just because I have a magic kiss that heals ouchies.
We didn't stay in Rupert for too long the next day because we needed to get to our next destination, Sun Valley, Idaho. We were some of the very first guests to stay in the newly renovated lodge. So gorgeous!
Even Jason was seriously impressed with the quality of construction and attention to detail. I kept hearing random comments like "Their mechanical systems are spot on!"
Brooklyn was impressed by the summer ice skating.
A group photo from our picnic spot outside the lodge. Not the most scenic with a parking lot in the background, but we were in a rush. Plus, we could leave Annie sleeping in the car.
Why the hurry? Susie needed to get to rehearsal with Dr. Craig Jessop. The American Festival Chorus performed again, along with the Aggie Alumni band. As lovely as their performance was the first time, it was even better with the amazing acoustics at Sun Valley.
Talia thought the structure was more for playing than for listening. (Dad saw and took pictures. Mom saw and made her get down.)
Annika had so much fun all day that she promptly fell asleep for the evening's performance. Quite a miracle, since we were concerned about our wiggle worm making too much noise.
The Susie Wheeler Cheering Squad. Not only was Grandpa Charles there, but Great-Grandma Hansen, Connie and Bob all drove up too. Well worth the travel!
One last funny picture from our trip to Idaho. Annika decided to use the big potty at grandma's house (a good thing), but I had a hard time convincing her to put her clothes back on.
Back to Logan, during our last days we attempted our most ambitious hike yet as a family--White Pine Lake. Believe it or not, we made it all 8 miles, thanks to Grandpa Charles's strong shoulders that toted Eli about half the way.
Here's our little man, hiking happily along...
...then stopping for a snack
...and a bit of a drink too.
Looks like Grandpa Charles spent quite a bit of time toting Annie too.
Beauty everywhere you look.
At last, White Pine Lake. Stunning, huh.
Grandma Susie seems delighted about our arrival.
Perfect spot for a picnic.
Never too old for PB&J.
One last look at the lake before heading back. We passed a lot of backpackers trekking in to spend the night. Hope they all found a place to rest!
No spot could be more delightful than under God's canopy.
Back on the home front, our "rest" days were nearly as eventful as those we spent hiking. We played hard all day long...
From yummy breakfast...
To tasty dinner.
We got in touch with our wild side by visiting the Suisse's goats. Here's Kenlie showing us the new babies.
Brooklyn and her Utah Bestie.
As if goats weren't enough, we came face to face with some horses too.
Our surrogate aunt, Kate Taylor, took us to "the farm" in Bear River to meet the horses.
Here's Talia demonstrating how to keep your hand flat when feeding them baby carrots.
The white horse seems to be pondering what Eli is up to.
A gal who knows no strangers, Annie Mae somehow manages to wriggle her way into everyone's arms. Fortunately, Farmer Rich is as friendly as it gets.
Kate takes the kids for a very short spin on the four-wheeler.
Right after visiting the farm, we kept on traveling south to Ogden to greet some other familiar faces: the Porter family! These fantastic friends from St. George were on their way home from Canada and made it all the way to Salt Lake before backtracking to meet us! While we don't feel deserving of such friendship, we were delighted to have a few hours to catch up in person. Their family now consists of Jay, Lanelle, their daughter Elsie, their son Eli (outstanding name choice), and another babe who will be arriving soon.
Brooklyn blows bubbles for Eli II. Isn't he a cutie?
Annika and Eli share a hug. I think Annika was surprised to meet someone who likes hugging even more than she does.
Lanelle and her sweet Elsie. Momma's can make almost any hurt feel better.
While sorting through some old notebooks yesterday, I found a draft of a thank you note that Brooklyn composed to Mr. Porter, Jay's father and former principal of Dixie Sun Elementary.
Silly or not, we think the Porters are the best and wish we were still neighbors.
The only thing that could make us feel better after saying farewell was ice cream at Charlie's in Logan.
Back at home, our goofy munchkins enjoyed more playtime with Kate, especially as they prepared for our watermelon eating contest.
Here's Kate all decked out and prepared to attack her watermelon wedge. This girl can seriously conquer an enormous slice of watermelon in less than ten seconds. It was amazing! I've never seen anything like it, and I promise, neither have you. Watermelon carnage of the highest caliber; an unforgettable weapon in the arsenal of skills she'll bring to Georgetown Law School this fall.
Fortunately our own voyage back went smoothly, even if it was lengthy. Between the new doodle books from Grandma Susie and Harry Potter audiobooks, the time passed fairly quickly.
Utah, we miss you already! Thanks for the terrific vacation.