i had been looking forward to this vacation for months. when we all separated at thanksgiving, we knew this memorial day weekend would be the next time that we are all together. when we depart, we have to know when we are all going to be together again. for a close-knit family such as ours, being a part is hard!
when i had finally showered and was ready to come downstairs on friday morning, i found all the little cousins playing on the tramp, one of their favorite activities. and i got the warmest welcome. london and lincoln, who i hadn't seen in six months, yelled my name and came running at me and hugged me tightly. it melted my heart and made my aunt heart soar. the other cousins followed suit because they thought it was the cool thing to do and their other cousins were doing it!! i couldn't believe what was happening!! it was like a dream come true for an aunt! i had 4 of my babies in my arms and yelling my name, so happy to see me! what a dream!
my dad has had a plane for about 4 years but has yet to take me up in it. it has taken him a while to fly family members because he wanted to have a few years of flying before he took those he loved up in his tiny tiny plane 10,000 feet in the air. but as this weekend approached, i made it clear it was my turn to go up in the plane and this was happening!!
i took a ton of pictures and videos but only on snapchat. which now i see was dumb because they are gone now. i should have taken them both in my gallery and on snapchat. but now i don't have those pictures forever. like an idiot.
that bit of blue water is sand hollow, the lake we visit each weekend in the summer time, and you will see us visiting later on in the post. we flew over that and flew near zion national park. it was truly incredible and made me think my dad was cooler than he already was. and with a band and a plane and boat, i already thought he was pretty cool!!
on the drive home, we stopped to buy some lemonade from some cool kids. it was so sweet and reminded me of the days when i had a lemonade stand with my friends when i was their age!
something about the cousins getting together, but they play in the water a lot and end up stripping down to their underwear or birthday suits when they are all together. just something about being together i guess..
we went to the city center where there are water falls and little rivers where kids splash and play in. the kids had a blast as always and i struggled with my self confidence to believe that i am just as beautiful as my sisters. they are all so incredibly gorgeous. i often times feel i can't even compare.
that night, as a family all 10 of us adults went to mystery escape room and tried to escape from the houdini room. it was incredibly difficult and you remember when i posted on instagram that taran and i did the escape room that was moriarty themed. this room just about as hard. with all 10 of us working on it, we thought that we would get out with time to spare. but noooo!! we were so far away from solving it when time was up! it was so difficult!! but really fun.
the next morning, my siblings made the insane and perplexing choice to go to zion national park an hour away from our hometown to hike angels landing. i've done this hike several times and there are several things that are no bueno about this. first of all, it is really really high up. like, 14,000 feet high up? and the only thing separating you from life and death is a tiny little chain you hang onto for dear life as you climb. and also, because it is so high, it is really steep so it is really hard to hike it. and it takes a really long time.
my siblings went at 6 am and taran, my dad and i went to meet them at like 930. we missed them and because there was no cell reception, it turned out they had been home for an hour and a half by the time we left the park. but we decided to hike just a bit of angels landing, the beginning and not near death part.
then we decided to put our feet in the river. and admist the intense peer pressure to come into the FREEZING cold river from my dad, i slipped and cut my hand on a rock. so my hand still hurts. yay. for those of you who know the basics about me you know how much i HATE nature. but this is zion national park. it gets 3 million visitors a year. even i can't deny it's gorgeous. and i grew up going to zion, since it is so close to my hometown. but you can appreciate how un-Laurenlike this was for me. i mostly did it for taran because he loves nature and all that crap that i hate. and he never really gets to go hiking or "be in nature" and he was having a lot of fun with my dad. and i wanted to fulfill his needs like a good wife. plus i had gotten like four hours of sleep the night before because our room hot and taran was snoring and the room was making annoying noises (turns out our room was so hot because our vents weren't open!!) and i wasn't going to go in the first place, but i went for taran and also not to be terrorized by my siblings who give me a hard time about how much i hate nature ("it's God's creation!" "stop being such a brat!") i guess i was glad i went and thought it was cool how we were flying above it in our private plane yesterday and then we were hiking it the next day and what a cool life that was, and i was happy about how many calories i burned hiking. but then it all ended with me cutting my hand so i just got really crabby. the end. nature is stupid.
when we got home we went swimming at the neighborhood pool with all the babies and it was some of the most fun to ever happen so that made up for morning's events. i love swimming, especially with kids.
the next day was my birthday!!! yay!! you can read about how i feel about turning 26 here. it was a really, really good birthday. my parent's church hour is at the horridly early time of 9 am, so i didn't get to sleep in on my bday, which wasn't cool. but taran did wake me up way late which was nice of him. he made me waffles with strawberries. yum!
as it was a family weekend, all 18 of us were together. my niece london's birthday is may 31 but since we were all together, her birthday was celebrated with mine. what an honor to share a birthday with that firecracker. i was asleep, but taran told me when she came upstairs, she yelled "it's my birthday!! i'm the birthday girl!" later i told her happy birthday and that it was my birthday too. she said "no, no it's my birthday." so i asked her permission if it was okay if my birthday was that day too, and she said "it will be my birthday, and then it can be yours." okay, cool, londy, cool.
but we liked taking birthday girl pictures just the two of us. my sister and her mother, jessica, decorated the kitchen and had gotten little crowns for us that said happy birthday on them. we loved wearing them all day long!
this picture really had no story behind it, just that june is adorable and i love her. and on saturday morning, taran woke me up while carrying june so she played with us for a while in our bed and it melted my heart it was such a sweet moment. i wanted to bottle the moment up and save it for later.
after lunch i wanted to have a fruit ninja battle with taran on my ipad, but then the kids of course came over and thought it was oh so very interesting and that they had to play. and before i knew it they had taken over and were playing against each other and i was being the referee making sure everyone was being nice and waiting their turn. and that they were making their best ninja noises.
londy was so adorable opening her presents. she got a doll and purse and a bracelet and necklace and rainbow skirt and best of all, a princess bike with training wheels!!! my goodness! what more could a 3 year old girl want? she was soooo happy and excited. and all the other cousins were just loudly crying around her because it wasn't their birthday and they were jealous.
i asked my dad if we could jam, and he obliged by learning a new song i requested: caged bird by audrey peeples from the tv show nashville (a must watch show). i love jamming with my dad. he is such a good guitarist, i gave him the song and within two seconds he had learned it and had no problem playing it.
then it was time for my presents!
i was very blessed to get a lot of beautiful presents. a lot of people have very little.
my mom and taran got me some beautiful things including some necklaces and this super comfy pairs of shoes.
and in particular, i loved these rings taran gave me. granted, i am such a control freak that i give him a very specific list whenever it's my birthday and these were on it. but i loved them when i put them on. so beautiful.
i never ask for cake on my birthday, i ask for fruit pizza. because my mom's fruit pizza is bomb and NOBODY makes one better than hers. do you see the candles spell my name?
the next day was memorial day, and we went took our boat to the lake, as is tradition. that's taran and i on the tube. i asked for a smooth ride but because it was memorial day there were so many boats on the water the water ended up being really, really choppy. it was a super uncomfortable ride and i was not in a mood to go dare devil so i let go of the tube and immersed myself in the freezing water and proceeded to feel like a navy SEAL in training and the water is just that cold in may.
my sister who is the bravest and strongest out of all of us, was like "oh, i'm a mother. i'm scared. i don't know if i should wakeboard! oxytocin! my baby just took a nap in my lap!" we pressured her to get out there and then she was killin' it like she always does. her husband said "oxytocin my butt."
we had the best weekend!!! i was sorry to see it end. and have been having major post vacation blues all week long. i looked forward to that weekend for months and it was as awesome as i expected. yay for family time!!!