Kenner Family Vaycay 2012: The Early Days

So, basically since our last family vacation, we'd been planning our NEXT family vacation. We were so excited about it because it would be the first one with everyone there--the brothers would be back from missions and it was planned far enough in advance that no one would have to miss out because of work. Plus, we chose to go to Disneyland, and we're all big Disney lovers so it was a total win all around. My parents booked their timeshare, so our lodging was free; they bought our Disney tickets in lieu of Christmas gifts (in fact, all of us decided to mostly forgo Christmas gifts for this trip); so we were responsible for the cost of getting ourselves to CA and any money we spent on food or souvenirs for ourselves. 

Since the parentals abandoned us for greener surroundings in OR (I jest!) we chitlins had to figure out how to get ourselves and our gear to sunny south CA. We wanted to minimize costs, so we jammed ourselves into our van and Stephanie's car. Good thing Cole is an expert packer and car-arranger, because 8 adults and 4 children have a lot of crap stuff! We managed to get it all in and even had a little room to spare! 

We also decided we wanted to leave late in the evening on Friday, Dec. 14. I think the hope was for the little ones to spend most of the car ride sleeping. So, Friday night, we ate a fast dinner together, filled the cars with gas, said a prayer, and hit the road. Since we were driving overnight, we planned on stopping every 3 hours or so to switch drivers, stretch our legs, gas up, and use the facilities. It was also in part to pace ourselves, because we found out (after we made our travel plans, natch) we couldn't check into our rooms until after 3 pm, so there was really no need to rush. The first three hours were fairly uneventful. South of Nephi, though, we drove into a pretty crazy snowstorm. Visibility was pretty bad and I was really glad I wasn't driving. :) We stopped quickly in Scipio (which is named after some distant ancestor of ours, BTW), where it was still precipitating pretty heavily. After stocking up on "stay awake" snacks we headed south once more. Our next stop was in St. George, which is quite a ghost town after 1 AM. We hit Las Vegas sometime after 3 (and after changing time zones) and took a little detour up the strip. Las Vegas at 3 AM could not have been more different than St. George! Apparently it really is a city that never sleeps. Cole geeked out at all of the hotels, we stopped for a quick potty break, then I took a turn driving.


Cole rarely lets me drive on road trips. I don't think it's that he doesn't trust me; he just really likes driving for long periods of time. Usually I'm happy to let him do it because I'm absolutely NOT a fan of driving long distances, but I took my turn so Cole could try and get a little rest. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Matthew woke up and was NOT THRILLED at still being in his car seat, so Cole...*ahem*...(avert your eyes if you are a member of law enforcement) took him out of the car seat and snuggled him back to sleep. This worked for a little while, but unfortunately, Matthew needed me. We switched back so I could nurse Matthew, who promptly fell back asleep and went back into his car seat with no trouble. I got to drive over the pass just before the NV-CA state line, though, and it was snowing a bit. It was almost comical how serious everyone was about a tiny bit of snow--it wasn't even sticking to the road! They had snowplows out and everyone was going about 30 MPH...

Our next stop was in Barstow. I remembered from our last trip to Disneyland (six years before!) there was a McDonald's that looks like a train, and I figured our boys would go crazy over it. We got there around 6 AM, and it was COLD outside. We headed inside the "train" for some breakfast, and our choice paid off: the boys went crazy! For some reason, though, the workers told us they didn't turn the heat on in the section where we were sitting until later, and they told us we could go sit in another area where there was heat. Unfortunately, that area didn't have any lights on. So, we could sit in the cold, or in the dark. Their explanantion didn't make any sense whatsoever.
Kyle, Lucas, and their cousin, Jack--breakfast buddies
After a quick breakfast we got back in the car for our LAST stretch. We were on schedule to get to our destination around 10 AM, which would give us around 5 hours to kill before we could check into the resort. Mom and Dad were a few hours behind us, so we decided to head to the beach to kill a few hours. We chose Huntington Beach, and it was beautiful! It was still on the chilly side, but that didn't stop the boys from playing in the sand and wading into the ocean.

Cole was a pretty good sport about being buried in the sand.
The boys thought it was awesome.

Even Matthew got some time in the sand. He didn't even try to eat
very much! :)

After hanging out on the beach for a while, we took a stroll up the pier.

The fam at the end of the pier
This crazy pelican was just sitting on that little perch. We actually
got pretty close to him...he must be used to spectators

Then, we walked over to Jamba Juice for some refreshment.

So, funny story about this dog. We were sitting outside Jamba Juice and this guy parks his bike and goes inside. A few minutes later, a different guy came up and tied his dog to the first guy's bike! We thought this was absolutely hilarious--who ties their dog to someone else's bike?!? Turns out the guys knew each other, but we were already too far gone. That's what sleep deprivation and 12 hours in a car does to you, folks.

After we had our fill of the beach, we decided to head towards the resort, just in case there was a small chance we could check in early (PS: my sister-in-law is incredibly persuasive...and I mean that in the nicest way possible. She is not mean by any stretch of the imagination--she's just assertive and convincing, and I'm pretty sure the whole world would do what she wanted if she asked it to). The nice front desk people gave us a key to the clubhouse and pool area so we could at least have somewhere to hang out until check-in. Shortly after that, my parents arrived, we checked into our rooms, and got comfortable. Most people took naps; I went to the grocery store with my parents to stock up on food for the week. After a late dinner, we hit the sack.

The next day was Sunday. My dad found a ward that started at 11 and we attended Sacrament Meeting. My parents and a couple of my siblings stayed for the entire block, but our kids were in serious need of a nap (and, come to think of it, so were we) so we headed back to our rooms to rest. We borrowed a movie from the resort front desk, so we had popcorn movie night (a Kenner family tradition) and took it easy that evening...because on the morrow...



Wordless Wednesday: Hands

Lucas' new favorite thing is to hold my hand while he falls asleep.


A Trip Downtown--12/4

We took a trip to Temple Square to see the Christmas lights the first week of December. We met two of Cole's brothers and their families, and even though it was SUPER crowded, it was fun for the kids to see their cousins and to see Temple Square all lit up.

(as a disclaimer, all but the last two photos were taken by my brother-in-law and poached from his instagram feed. See? Why should I take pictures when I can "borrow" them from my awesome family?)

Kyle and his best buddy (and cousin), Riker
They had paper lanterns surrounding the Main Street plaza with Christmas
scenes and holiday greetings from around the world.

Gorgeous picture of the temple from the plaza. 

Artsy straight-up photo of the temple

The night was unseasonably warm, which was good. It's not fun hauling tired AND cold kids all over downtown SLC. In fact, it was so warm that we stopped at Farr's for some frozen yogurt! On our way back to the TRAX station, we took a peek at the candy windows at Macy's. I remember going downtown to see the candy windows at ZCMI when I was younger, so I was especially excited that this tradition was reinstated. Kyle and Lucas loved that one of them had a train, and we had to practically drag them away.

Of course, the boys loved riding the train to and from Salt Lake. Lucas loved it so much that he decided to show his appreciation in a new, strange way.

Pole dancing--too bad he didn't get any tips

Incidentally, he tends to do the same thing anytime he encounters anything resembling a pole. I'm not really sure why, but it provides us with alternating bouts of humor and embarrassment when we're in public.

Matthew was all tuckered out after the excitement, especially since we were out WAY past his (rather strict) bedtime. He crashed in the stroller and stayed asleep until we put him in the car at the end of the train ride.

It's always fun to go downtown during the holidays, and it was nice to experience it with Cole's family. We have always gone with my family in the past and it was cool to mix it up this year.


What I Made Monday: Owls

My beautiful friend, Devri recently had a sweet baby girl. I wanted to do something personal and handmade for her baby shower gift, so I asked her what her nursery "theme" was. She told me she liked owls and she told me what the nursery colors were. I wasn't really sure at first about them (I'm doubly critical about my work when I'm giving it as a gift to someone else), but I think they turned out really cute! The best part is, the paper I chose matches little Rachel's nursery really well!

Even though I stress about it more, I think I enjoy crafting for other people far more than for myself. I feel like I can convey my love for the recipient better when I take the time and effort to make something for them. Devri is one of my closest friends from my freshman year of college (incidentally, she married another of my close friends from college, which makes my visits to their house twice as fun), and even though we haven't been able to spend a lot of time together recently, I still love her with all of my heart.

(Whew! Sorry for the sappy detour there.)


A Long Overdue Update

Blogging has obviously been low on my totem pole as of late. It's mostly been because my weekdays are a little crazy, but a little because my life is pretty routine and mundane, and I don't feel like I have anything of worth to add to the WWW. But, there is a distinct possibility that I'll turn this blog into a book one day, so I would be remiss if I left anything out...even if my out-of-state mom is the only one who really reads the posts.

Anyway, I have a back-log of posts to get up, but I'll start with an update of what we've been up to lately.

Matthew is now 10 months old and growing faster than I'd like. He cut his first tooth just before Christmas (on the way home from CA, incidentally--THAT was a fun car ride) and the second one popped through shortly after. He started army crawling around Thanksgiving and full-on crawling at the beginning of December. He really likes the stairs for some reason--he's quite good at going up but hasn't mastered going down yet. He does, however, crawl right to the edge of the stairs and give me a heart attack at least 20 times a day. He routinely pulls himself to standing and has started to cruise around on the furniture. I wouldn't be surprised if he walks before his brothers do. He's still a tiny little guy--he weighed just under 18 pounds at his 9 month appointment. But, that was a 3-pound gain from his 6 month appointment, so I'm happy with his growth. He thinks he needs to eat ALL THE TIME, and he'll eat practically anything (except broccoli. It was pretty comical how fast he spit that out when I gave it to him). He still growls all the time and now thinks it's funny to make gagging sounds. Cole and I are less than amused about that. He loves bath time, especially because his big brothers are in the tub with him. Matthew is very much a child of habit. It's amazing how he has set his own little schedule--and how he becomes extremely cross when we depart from it. He's not the GREATEST sleeper, though. Rarely will he take a nap for longer than an hour at a time, and he practically refuses to sleep anywhere but his crib and someone's arms. He will sleep from 7:30 pm-7:30 am, only getting up once to eat, so that's not too bad. He has the sweetest face in the world, and when he smiles, he looks just like my mom.

Matthew "helping" me fold laundry--his favorite chore

Lucas has turned into our little chatter-box. He wasn't much of a talker for a while, and I was starting to get a little concerned with how little he said. But, his vocabulary exploded seemingly overnight, and he talks all the time now. He is pretty good at counting to 20 (he gets a little confused in the teens), he loves to sing the ABCs, and his favorite color is yellow. He loves to hold my hand when he falls asleep and really any time he needs to be comforted. He is a great snuggler. He climbs into bed with us in the middle of the night most days of the week, but I'm too lazy to take him back to his bed most nights. Kyle did the same thing at that age and he eventually grew out of it, so I'm not worried. He loves to say his prayers before bed and it's adorable listening to him. He has a love-hate relationship with Kyle--sometimes they are the best of friends, and other times it seems like all they do is fight. Lucas is developing quite a sassy attitude, but he hasn't progressed into full-on defiance, for which I'm extremely grateful. He also has quite an opinion on music. When we're driving in the car and I change the radio station from one that was playing a song he likes, he'll tell me to go back to it and protest until I do. He is still my ray of sunshine, and it melts my heart when he tells me he loves me.

Lucas, as seen from Kyle's photographic eye

Kyle is 5. Sometimes I think he is bipolar as well. Have you ever heard the nursery rhyme about the little girl with the curl right in the middle of her forehead? You know, the one that says, "and when she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was HORRID." Yeah, that sums up Kyle quite nicely. He can be the sweetest, most loving little boy in the world. But, he can also be a demon. Fortunately, the good days are more than enough to get me through the bad ones. Kyle goes to preschool 3 days a week and he absolutely loves it. He asks me every day if he gets to go to school that day. He has learned how to write all of the letters up to "O" and will continue to practice one letter every week until the end of the year. He has learned so many things, and it's amazing to me how much preschool has increased his curiosity about EVERYTHING. He has questions about so many different things, and I don't always know the answers. I'm afraid I'm going to have to go back to school to keep up with his desire to learn. He loves to draw and color, and he's starting to write words to accompany his pictures, which is ADORABLE. Kyle has quite an imagination as well. The other day he pulled all the couch cushions and throw pillows off our living room couch, told me they were "rocks", and played in the "ocean" for hours. Even though sometimes he has bad days, he tries so hard to be a good big brother, and I'm so proud of how grown up he's getting.

"Kyle {heart} his best friend Riker." I was so proud--he
sounded that out all by himself.

Kyle and Lucas swimming in the "ocean"

Cole has been busy working his tail off getting the hotel open. They finally went live on Monday, January 14, and we were so excited to have him working (fairly) regular hours again. He still has days where he stays late, but they aren't as frequent anymore. He's totally rocking it, too. In addition to his revenue management duties, he's also the resident IT specialist, and he steps in to help wherever else he's needed. He's got a performance review coming up, and he SHOULD get a hefty raise. I told him if he didn't I'd march in and give the GM a piece of my mind. I'm pretty sure it would take at least 2 and maybe even 3 people to replace him if he left. I'm not too worried, though--I know he's appreciated. We had the opportunity to eat in the restaurant gratis last week (they were doing trial runs before officially opening) and no fewer than 5 managers stopped to rave about how awesome and appreciated he is (I already knew he was awesome, though). Now that he has a little more free time, Cole has been chipping away at his "house projects" list. Today, he framed and put drywall up around our furnace, which he's been wanting to do since we moved in. He has also been pretty awesome at cleaning the boys' playroom, which is the bane of my existence and all too often is ignored.

I'm obviously the most boring of the family. I spend my days driving to and from Sandy (for Kyle's preschool), breaking up fights, and occasionally cleaning my house. It's hard when I really only have two weekdays to get house stuff done, but I'm managing. I've started doing the Brazil Butt Lift workout on the days I'm in Sandy, and it is pretty hardcore. I'm hoping I'll soon pass the pencil test (apparently my butt is saggy enough to hold a pencil, but I think it's partially due to the way I was standing). I've been reading like crazy, and I'm ashamed to say that THAT is probably the real reason why nothing gets done at my house. I'm also planning our 3rd annual Super Bowl party and bemoaning the football off-season (I think I enjoy football more than Cole does sometimes). I'm definitely looking forward to nicer weather, in part so I can go running outside again (I know--I'm as surprised as you!). I'm just not brave or tough enough to run in the cold, with ice and snow all around. I would probably slip and break something.

Anyway, to sum up: life is good, boys are growing, Cole kicks butt, I am boring.


What I Made Monday: Snowflakes

To me, January in Utah is quite possibly the ugliest and most depressing month of the year. You're free-falling from the high of the holidays; it's freeze-your-nether-regions-off cold but it doesn't snow; what snow still lingers from December has turned rock-solid and gray; and there is a perpetual grimy haze settled over the valley (affectionately dubbed the "inversion") that makes your eyes water and your lungs burn if you're outside for more than 15 seconds. 

Obviously I can't sing the praises of January in Utah enough.

Oh wait, yes I can. In addition to the lifeless, gray outside, my house looks drab and lonely after all the Christmas decorations are taken down. I needed something to combat my January doldrums, so I made a set of snowflakes (or what snowflakes SHOULD look like in January, if the world were just). I love them and they seem to chase away my winter blues, at least for a few minutes.

You can't really tell from the picture, but this snowflake
 is all sparkly.

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