Monday, 11 November 2013

Surprise - Its Elder Norton

On Friday 13th April we joined up with some family to watch Elisha Garrett star in a local production of Saturdays Warrior.  I remember watching the movie as a child so it was really interesting to go and see it live. It was a really really fun night and Elisha was great. Some of the other preformers not as good but of course it was only an amatuer production so for what it was it was fabulous.

On Saturday 14th April Michael and Jason went snow skiing all day which they loved except it was a little blowy.  The rest of the children and I went indoor swimming with the Garrett Family which seemed a little crazy as it was snowing outside.  We had loads of fun though.  Every half hour though the life guards blew the whistle to get us out of the pool to put more chemicals in.  I am not sure if that was a good thing or not!

With Jayden Garrett at Indoor Pool

Anyway that night I had arranged with Shane Farr an elder from our ward back home to meet up again with him and his family.  We knew we would meet his wife Erin and their 1 year old daughter Alice  (I dont think she is named after Alice Springs but it would be a nice coincidence) and also meet Shane's parents and some siblings.  Jason and I can remember mentioning to each other a couple of times when he was serving in our ward that he and his companion Elder Norton were really great missionaries.  They seemed to be really hard workers, very happy to serve others and helped our children feel the joy of the gospel which is always a bonus.  Our children loved it when they would come over for dinner and they also introduced us to scripture baseball which this day we muck up the rules but we still have fun!

Unfortunately we were running a little late which of course puts me in a little tizz (as I really dislike running late) Anyways I cant control everything hey??? So things were a little rushed and then we all excitedly went to the door and were greeted by Elder Farr and as I saw most of the children hugging him I could hear they were a little excited about something else which I thought may have been because of Alice, but further down the hallway I could see another taller figure ....it was Elder Norton!!! Yeah what an absolutely lovely surprise for us.  Thanks Andrew for coming up that way to see us.  Turns out the Farr family sort of just adopted Andrew whilst he had been at BYU (as he is from Arizona) SO he had just become part of the family!!!

It was such a lovely night catching up with these guys and meeting their beautiful family.  Alice was adorable and very friendly which my girls loved! My children enjoyed karaoke and checking out some of the guns they had in the basement and Daniel went absolutely croppo over Shane's mums homemade yeast rolls as he ate 6 and took one for the road.  (Very friendly accomodating people!!!) We found out Andrew was definitely part of the family as a few of them were teasing him about any prospects for marriage and I think he was considering two options at the time but I can now offically say as of November writing this post he is engaged and getting married in January....Good for him.

And of course we finished off the night with a game of scripture baseball which I think everyone totally striked out BUT of course had lots of fun!!!

 

Joanna and Alice
 
 
 


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Friday, 25 October 2013

Mum hits Park City!

Before we left on our trip to America lots of people talked about how much shopping we could do over there!  How cheap everything was and how great the outlet places were!  And Park City Utah did not disappoint.  I am not sure if Jason planned it this way but we ended up only having the afternoon there...where if possible I would have spent the whole day there! 

In the back of my mind I knew we actually didnt have much luggage space for our return trip and we were here for memorable experiences not 'stuff' BUT having time to shop at great places is memorable isnt it???  I knew I was going to buy everyone a pair of Nike's but was amazed at how cheap they were and with the exchange rate at the time it all seemed surreal to be looking at the prices.  It got a little crazy with all of us trying on shoes and wanting everyones opinion but it was so much fun!  Some of us even got two pairs as it was such good value.  Best pair...Michael's $13...cant beat that!!!

Our Nike purchases (mum went back and got three more pairs the day before we left)

Daniel entertaining himself at the Nike outlet store!

 

I was really glad there was a playground (even if it was a little frosty) as the kids could play and relax whilst Raechel and I had lots of fun shopping!  I didnt go too crazy because it was only week 3 into our trip but I do regret leaving a handbag from the Coach Outlet store, as I didnt find another that I liked on the whole trip but hey that's life. I wasnt going to do the same thing in New York!



That night we had a great time catching up with Deb and Matt Pope and their beautiful family!  Matt and Jason and even Deb to a degree grew up with Jason in Adelaide and I got to know them really well in YSA.  Amazing to see how far along everyone has come (and we all still feel 21) and Debbie was pregnant at the time with number 7...amazing! My sister Sarah is actually married to Debbie's brother Andrew which actually means we are related by marriage!  And because of this match we are related to everyone in Adelaide and Tasmania or seems like it anyway.  I can remember being on YW camp growing up in Tasmania and feeling a little jealous over the big families in the church and wanting to be part of it or related to them in some way...and now I am woohoo!  (Very far removed but I am still counting it!)  It was so lovely to reminisce and catch up about old times and life in general.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Ellis's learn to Ski ...snow ski that is!!!

Wednesday 11th April 2013 we all drove up to Alta Ski resort where we were eager to have the children try snow skiing!  I had dreams of tobogganing with children on the slopes of Utah but unfortunately not all of the resorts offer the hire of the toboggans or do they allow free tobogganing rides and as Alta was the cheapest places to 'have a go at skiing'....I knew that dream was not going to happen (this trip anyway).

Jason was so glad that we were able to have the loan of Robert and Cheryl Laumer's 8 seater car.  It was pretty steep and slippery driving up to the resort!  We were so blessed to have a different vehicle than the huge RV....I doubt we would have even got up there actually.  This was the absolute best day of the week that we could have possibly chosen.  Officially the snow season was to end on Saturday 14th so we were lucky enough to go up that day.  The sun was shining and it was so glorious.  We found the beginner area and went into the hire place to gear up for our day of adventure.  It never ceases to amaze me all the polite stares of amazement we receive from others who may actually be a little shocked that we have 6 children and we are still sane and they are actually pretty well behaved.  The people helping us with the equipment in one word were just 'cool'.  Very trendy young men who made a fuss of all the children and made them feel cool and special as well and after talking with them a little about our trip and our day ahead the children were so pumped to get out there and have a go at skiing. 








 

I had no idea how well everyone would go...we all tenderly went down the first hill to get to the small beginner slopes.  Michael, Jordyn, Matthew and Joanna just went for it and went so far ahead of us so Jason had to go off with them whilst Daniel and Raechel and I took it a little slower...I think I went 20 metres and fell straight onto my backside!  Not a good start. It wasnt long before Daniel was getting really frustrated but unfortunately I couldnt really help him as I wasnt really getting the hang of it either so we sat down together in the snow watching everyone else skiing their little hearts out.  I couldnt believe how brave they were.  Michael, Jordyn and Matthew seemed to get the hang of it really well and even after some really nasty falls just kept getting up and trying again!  Jason spent most of the time going back and forwards between all the children - he was amazing! He came back and got Daniel for some skiing which was so cute to see...Daniel loved it.



Unfortunately my equipment wasnt the best (I am going to blame the equipment anyway) ...and the boots were killing me especially on my left foot which gives me alot of grief - so I gave up pretty early and played with Joanna and Raechel making a small snowman which was loads of fun but of course freezing!  Closer to the end of the day Raechel took the little ones to the car whilst I filmed some action on the slopes....Matthew amazed me so much.   He often shys away from sport but loves outdoor adventure and this was suiting him soooo much!  Jason and Michael decided to brave some of the regular slopes so off they went up on the ski lifts for adventure.  They got a couple of rides in before it was time to go BUT enjoyed it so much Michael was determined to come again which they arranged for the Saturday!  (Mark and Jared Knight joined them as well as Rolf Lawrenz and some of his children so they had a fabulous day!)

                                        

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Miracles do happen!

Week 2 in Utah of course started in the snow which is hard to beat but we sure loved staying with Mark and Andrea Knight for a couple of nights as well.  When we came back from Logan we found out that unfortunately the winds the night before were so strong that it blew down some of their fence and also some of the trampoline.  Some of the neighbours also had some of their roofs missing!  So I would much prefer to wake up to snow than the damage of the wind.  Anyway so most of our play on Tuesday 10th April was inside!  Andrea and Mark have three children Jarrod, Esther and Pheobe who had school but came home to have some time with the 'Aussies'.  Esther and Raechel and Michael got along really well and went to mutual that night which they were excited about!

Joanna and Pheobe got along soooooooo well!  It was lovely to see.  Pheobe introduced Joanna to all their animals.  They have a cockatoo and a bunny rabbit and of course Joanna's least favourite animal a DOG.  So Jordyn was elated to play with this gorgeous terrior type dog named Matilda (named after famous Australian folksong -Waltzing Matlida).  As we were staying in Matildas home we try really hard to encourage Joanna and myself for that matter to not be scared and be respectful of the animals as we are the guests.  For all of Sunday night when we had the Aussie reunion poor Andrea or the children had to put Matilda outside.  However on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday Joanna was trying really hard to walk with Matilda and also pat and play with her.  I was really proud of her.  Matilda was such an easy going dog and very soft natured that she would rarely jump or play and she walked so slow it was adorable.  Joanna surprised herself I think and really began to love this dog and kept saying she wasn't scared anymore! Amazing considering a month prior to this she jumped up into my arms on the beach when we saw a pup.

As we travelled around and around she was happy to ask if people had a dog in their home and if so she was like goodie!  (usually she wont even go inside some peoples homes)  In St George when we stayed with one family they even had a fierce looking bull dog (who was actually very tame but still scary to me)  that Joanna patted.  All along our holiday she was saying she was totally not scared - I was amazed but I knew the test would be when we came home to Adelaide to visit her best friend Emily and play with their dog Ned.  Joanna said she would be fine...so when the time came to go around to visit we were all a little anxious as he is not small....But to my amazement Joanna did so well.  He came up a little excited and we thought she was being cautious and she talked and patted him ... it was a miracle.  I am so proud of her that I have to try to overcome this fear myself. It has been easy with Ned but other dogs still scare me especially dogs without owners....but that's another story, this is all about Joanna!

Joanna and Ned - July 2013
 

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

The Ellis's touch SNOW

On Monday the 8th April we took an hour trip up to Logan Utah to visit with Boyd and Joan Humphreys.  These wonderful octogenarians served one of their three missions in Melbourne Australia and spent about 10 months in Launceston when I was about 15.  I can remember that my parents and the Humphreys became really great friends. When Jason and I were newly weds we were fortunate to take a trip to America where we saw the Humphreys again.  They made us sleep over using their pyjamas.  Jason had to wear a 'onsie'  (this was in 1997 when they weren't popular)... a very unforgettable night.  Anyway 17 years later it was so great to catch up with them again and visit with them and have our children meet such a lovely couple. 



After a very warm snug nights sleep we were so amazed and astonished to arise and see snow every where!!! Apparently snow wasn't forecast all! It was a dream come true for our cherubs.  The excitement and chatter they made as they talked about the snow and telling each other to come and check out this window or that window....then we saw quite a lot of deer run through their front garden.  It was amazing!  So after sooooo much begging and pleading I finally agreed for everyone to go outside at 9am!  (they had been asking since 7am)  I will never ever forget that precious freezing 15 minutes we spent outside together playing and running around in the snow!  It was glorious to see the children having so much pleasure.




 

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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Reunions

During Conference weekend some missions from all over the world get together and have mission reunions.  Officially anyone can attend as it is just like a fireside but most likely it is people who have served in the mission or maybe people living in the area who happen to be in Salt Lake for general Conference.  On Friday the 4th April we attended the New Zealand Missions reunion.  Jason served in the Wellington/Christchurch Mission but they combine the reunions with Auckland Mission as well.  I was surprised and happy to hear that starting this week (July 2013) there will also be a third mission in NZ - the Hamilton New Zealand Mission and the new mission president and his wife were in attendance.

Close to the beginning of the meeting new members of the 'New Zealand Mission' society were asked to stand and introduce themselves.  Jason was to chicken.  I thought he would have introduced himself especially from coming so far away.  A couple of others from Australia also stood and I obviously wasn't listening too well as Dawn Sayers from Hobart Tasmania stood and talked for awhile.  (Her daughter Amy and my brother Matthew used to be married and have three gorgeous boys)  - After the meeting I was really surprised to see Dawn, Keith and their son Joe. Joe and I had some great activities together in the youth program.  It was so lovely to see some friendly faces as Jason couldn't find anyone he knew! Dawn seemed to be related to everyone there :)


The actual meeting overall, was a little boring, maybe because I haven't served a mission in New Zealand.  However one of the speakers was the son of Matthew Cowley who was a missionary in the 1914-1918 and later as an apostle, who spent loads of time living in New Zealand loving and teaching people.  There are many recorded miracles that happened around his time over there.  So it was really humbling and spiritually uplifting to listen to this mans testimony and his experiences of love that flowed from his father for other people.

Then on Sunday after the morning conference session we were fortunate to meet up with Nathan Hepworth.  He served in Adelaide Australia Mission and had just returned home from our ward about 6 weeks from the day we saw him.  The children were really excited to meet him and Joanna spot him first amongst a huge crowd.  He looked well and happy to chat about a few members with Jason.  I think is was really great for the children to see him home from his mission and still a happy church attendee (even if he is still very newly home).


THEN on the Sunday night of Conference we were able to have an 'Aussie Reunion' of sorts at Mark and Andrea Knight's family and loads of other friends who were mainly from South Australia but there were some other Aussie links there as well.  It was such a great evening and I am really grateful for everyone who made it happen.  One of the best things were just listening to everybody's accents....well lack of American accents really.  Felt like we were at home.  Paula and Rolf Lawrenz moved over to America over 8 months ago so it was so nice catching up with them and their beautiful children. We also saw Michael and Tracey Kemp and 3 boys.  On this night they were preparing for a round trip back to Australia as there visa's were about to run out then a week later back to America where Michael has landed a job at BYU thankfully.  I hope they are happy and safe.  I was so happy to see Josh Smith and his lovely wife, Josie and their three gorgeous little children.  My girls had lots of fun helping, cuddling and playing with these cherubs.  We also caught up with Victoria - who Jason and I knew as Vicki Baker and her husband and two children.  Lovely family!!! She may not know it but she taught me how to say positive things about people even if it is difficult sometimes!!! Victoria also had some friends there from Queensland and during the night Greg Wilson and his cousin, Phil Baker also turned up which was loads of fun!!!

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Conference


So as mentioned in a previous post one of our main purposes for this huge trip was to attend General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In our orginal plan we were going to be here for Young Women Conference held the Saturday before April General Conference but I had to let that dream go as we would have missed out on Northeren California and it may have wasted alot of miles. So I planned for the three girls and myself to go to the Saturday Morning session and then go out for lunch and shopping....then Michael and Jason could attend the Priesthood session and then the older 5 and parents could attend Sunday morning.

On Wednesday previous Uncle Bob took us to the area to pick up the tickets (which are totally free non member friends), we were pulling into a car park and I saw this lovely looking couple with a young one and said that looks like Mel and Peter Watt (I knew they were coming to this conference as well) and we all thought yeah right!  As I got closer I thought oh no its not them, I am losing my eye sight in my old age!  Then lo and behold as we went to pay for our parking ticket it was them!!! It was so lovely to see them and their son Will and Mel's brother as well.  Then on Saturday after the morning session we ran into Mel and Peter again at the City Creek shopping mall.  Then on the Sunday morning session Jordyn told me she saw Mel in the ladies restrooms....CRAZY but always great to see a fellow Aussie!  Now lets hope they move back to Adelaide one day and into our ward (haha).

So on the 5th April 2013 my beautiful girls and I got up around 7am to get ready for Conference.  They knew we were going shopping afterwards so they all wanted to pack there trousers or jeans....little did they realise at least half of the people shopping would have been in their skirts anyway.  As I didn't want to take in too many bags as I was under the impression they may refuse entry to larger bags - we had a few tense moments in the morning trying to work out where we could fit all their change of clothes!  It was like shopping was becoming more important that attending the conference.  After removing myself from the situation (which is hard in a RV) and calming down we worked a few things out and in the end ladies were really allowed to take any sized handbag in with them so if I knew that it would have relieved alot of pressure (next time....maybe).


As the girls and I walked up to the Conference centre we knew there would be some anti-mormons shouting at us and holding signs against our beliefs so we were prepared for that...but I didn't realise or remember from last time that a lot of members line the streets with signs asking for tickets to enter conference.  It actually made me cry to feel as though they may be missing out on something sooooo special!  Obviously they don't miss out on conference itself but miss out on being in the conference centre with the prophet and 20,000 others attending!  I really enjoyed Elder Packer's talk where he began with a poem.  Fabulous ! (usually I fall asleep with Elder Packer's talks).  I also felt really privileged to be in attendance when Sister Dalton gave her last talk as the Young Women General President.  As I served in Stake YW she was the leader for most of the time and I really really admire this woman and the themes she introduced to the young women and her encouragement of young women worldwide to 'Return to Virtue'.  The spirit was extremely strong with me as I listen to her speak.  I used all my tissues for her talk. 

After this session we did indeed go shopping which was absolutely fun!  First of all we took time at Deseret Bookstore to visit with John Bytheway!  A fabulous motivational speaker and author for youth of our church or anyone really.  He was extremely genourous with his time and talked with us for ages as noone else was really lining up yet.  And of course he loved listening to the Aussie accent.  He kept telling the girls he had three boys as well that they could marry after their missions .... weird! 


Then that night was Priesthood session for males over 12.  When Michael came home he looked as though he was lit up from within!  How special.  We had a great moment talking about what he felt about what he just experienced and I will always be grateful that he was able to have that opportunity.
 

Then on Sunday 7 of us attended the morning session.  Daniel stayed with the Garretts as you need to be 8 and over to attend.  I was so overwhelmed again.  You can get so caught up with the emotional high that you think about attending every couple of years or so....but then of course reality sets back in.  I was thinking of how easy it could be to move to Utah to continually have these experiences (but then again if we lived there we wouldn't get conference tickets so regularly).  I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to do this with our children and I hope and pray they felt as good as I did. 

Before the Sunday morning session we were privileged to listen to the Mormon Tabernacle's - Music and the Spoken word.  It is a half an hour show they do every Sunday morning.  It was absolutely beautiful.  So soothing I had a 5 minute nap!  (which was actually great as I didn't nap during the conference session which usually happens for me)

President Monson's talk was soooo fabulous for us to hear as a family because as he described his experiences as a young boy and with fire he was using so much body language and facial expressions that the children and I were probably laughing a little too much. It was such a special moment to see the children relating to our prophet.

At all the sessions we were also happy to see other Aussie's attending which makes home feel a little closer....

When we were walking out of the Conference Centre Matthew said to me after I asked him how he felt, 'Its just like at home mum only bigger'.  Glad you were so excited Matt (not), however it may be a good thing that he feels watching General Conference at home on a small screen is the same as watching it live.  Hopefully he feels the Spirit whilst listening to any conference!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Salt Lake Temple

On Friday before Conference Jason took Michael and Raechel to the Salt Lake City temple to participate in a baptismal session!

When they returned I think they were in a little state of shock actually.  Just to have the opportunity to go to such a well known temple and then enter in down the side of the temple where it looked as though you enter in through a secret entrance! Maybe just a tad overwhelming but they said they had a great time.

Michael - going here to this temple was really different but also one of my best experiences whilst in America!!!

Raechel - It was a wonderful experience to be inside the Salt Lake Temple and to feel the Spirit whilst being baptized for those who have passed.  I am so glad we had the opportunity to actually be there and go inside!

Then on the following Friday 12th April Jason and I were able to attend the temple together!  It was such special day!  This day will definitely be one of my highlights of the whole trip.  To have that whole day together by ourselves and be still and calm serving my Heavenly Father was priceless.  About 17 years ago I attended this temple and I found the actual inside a lot smaller than I rembered it to be BUT all the surrounding areas had been added onto and it seemed sooooo busy.  A smaller building had been added off to the side of the temple where people could sit and rest and wait for people so after walking through the entrance one can go downstairs along an area and then back up into the temple itself.  I found this truly bizarre but obviously this temple is so busy they needed to cater for this whilst keeping the inside special.


Reflection of temple in water




Then after visiting the temple we did a lot of shopping over the road at City Creek which is one lovely shopping area....then we went out for lunch at one of the restaurants in the Joseph Smith Memorial  building where we could eat our meal and look out over to the temple.  I have seen these restaurants on some church movies before so it was really really cool for me to be there.  All I kept thinking of was that if a guy wanted to ask his girlfriend to marry him this would be a great spot as it would be highly likely she would say yes (or maybe too much pressure for her and it may backfire). Anyway it was really romantic there and I am so glad we had this day together!


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Garrett Family!




All the Ellis and Garrett children!
Whilst staying in Utah, it never ceased to amaze me how generous people were even though they had never met us before! Obviously loads of people like Australians, but to be asked to feed a family of eight or to look after a family of eight is a tough ask for anyone, especially if you don't know them. 

On Thursday the 4th of April, we met the Garrett family from Sandy, Utah. Andy and Lori are the parents of Elisha, 15, Kylie, 8, and Jayden,4. Andy is Bob Johnson's ex-brother-in-law, so that makes us family somewhere along the line!  Later that cold night they took heaps of time to help us set up the RV and organise a few things.  We really only needed the electricity and very grateful we didn't have to pay a fee to a campground.  We don't expect anything from anyone as we are pretty self sufficient in our RV so the next morning when I woke up and went inside there was an absolute feast inside for us for breakfast.  - I know how much we love our food but I was still amazed at how much they had out for us. About 5 cereals to try, cinnamon donuts and chocolate donuts and bagels and custard and pancakes and brownies that I am now hooked on.... way too generous but we were very grateful!  

The children spent time getting to know each other and then all the girls went shopping which often helps with bonding and we went a little crazy!  Raechel has become obsessed with a clothing store over here for young women called Forever 21 and in her defense it is really a fabulous store with such great bargains especially when comparing to prices in Australia. We also got some shoes from Vans that the girls were super excited about.

Anyway for Sunday General Conference session the Garrett Family watched Daniel for us so the rest of us could go together!  During the following week they also babysat everyone so Jason and I could have a day to ourselves and attend the Salt lake temple and do some touring as well.  We also had an opportunity to attend  a play called Saturday's warrior that Elisha was in!  It was fabulous.  Not only did I get to introduce this classic church play to the children but we were able to support Elisha.  The children had an amazing time catching up with all the actors after the show. They were a young cast that volunteer their time through a theatre group and I thought they did a really great job.  Then most of Sunday some of the younger children were watching Saturday Warrior on video (yes VHS) from when it was first preformed in the 80's.  Really corny but it was fun to watch the children reacting to parts they liked or recognised from Elisha's play.

On the weekend we relaxed and also went to a indoor swimming area which was brilliant but it felt weird that outside temperature was really really cold.  Then on Sunday we were able to attend church with the Garrett family and then said our goodbyes.  The children were really really sad as they didn't want to leave their friends and I am sure they loved being spoiled as well!  We are so grateful for this lovely family and i am sure we will be friends forever!

Jordyn, Kylie and Joanna



Daniel, Jayden, Jordyn and Matthew enjoying themselves at indoor pool in Utah!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Utah

So one of the major reasons we took our family to America was to attend General Conference for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Well I feel the the whole effort just to get here to attend one session of General Conference was worth every penny and every complaint from children we have had along our short way!  I was in awe just walking into the first session on Saturday and my emotions just got the better of me!  The girls and I planned to attend the morning session and then go shopping....I am not sure what they were more excited about....conference or shopping?  Anyway as we walked outside to be ready for conference I asked someone to take our photo and as she was taking the shot I started crying. I was just sooooooo happy to be there!

Later in the afternoon on Monday the 2nd April we drove as far as we could from Fresno and camped in Nevada in the Sierra Mountains.  It was so eerie and beautiful at the same time.  After the drive through the beautiful scenery in the morning for about an hour, the rest of the trip was so boring and flat!  This drive reminded me of driving through the Hay Plains in Australia.  Hours and hours of same flat scenery.  For awhile Jason and I were playing spot the 'prisoners' because at least 5 different groups were out that day cleaning up the highway.  I am glad the RV didn't break down there! Mind you they probably would have all helped us!  - We also stopped in Nevada for a $2.99 breakfast which was FABULOUS - 2 pancakes, eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and sausage....so we just got 6 meals as there was heaps to share.

Then around 8:00 pm that night we drove into Utah! Very exciting....it took another hour and we came through the side of Salt Lake City and could see all the buildings lit up and some beautiful small spears shooting through the middle of these concrete building was the spires of the Salt lake temple....it was exciting in the RV trying to get everyone to see the temple for the first time! It was a real buzz. We stayed near Uncle Bob (Mary's brother) in Murray Utah.  It was so good to see Bob and he really enjoyed seeing Jason! 
                                                                             
                                                                  


The next morning we woke up to see the magnificence of the Rocky Mountains all around covered with snow.  It was soooo wonderful to view them.  I nearly tripped over four times on my morning walk as I was looking up all the time!  Throughout the couple of weeks in Utah I couldnt believe how many people actually complained about these magnicant mountains and how they could get sick of that view....I suppose it is just perspective.  (However there were still others who loved the amazing view and could never tire of it!!!) We spent alot of time that day in Temple Square.  It was awe inspiring but of course at times a few children were tired and complaining because of all the walking so food always fixes that and had some dinner with Uncle Bob - then off to a playground where the children never cease to amaze me with all the games they come up with, even Michael wanted to join it, whilst Raechel and I walked down to the nearest Deseret Industries Thrift store to have a little look (of course there were a few bargains there we just had to get :)  ) That night we all went to the Utah Jazz basketball game which I thoroughly enjoyed except for the fact Utah lost ....grr.  I thought they gave up in the end against Colorado.  The children had a pretty good time as we caught heaps of give-aways like soft basketballs and blow up bees and Jason even won some sun glasses outside with some basketball shots....games at home must have helped. It was loads of fun.



An example of the rooms inside Salt  Lake temple




Daniel and Michael playing at park in downtown Salt Lake City!
   

Treats for everyone at the Basketball!!!


Some of the magnificent mountains around Utah


Jordyn on the right with Julia Barrett in the middle and a neighbourhood friend on the end with Julia's dogs
Then on Thursday 4th of April we drove about an hour south after breakfast to and area called Eagle Mountain where Caitlin Johnson lives.  At one particular point in the estate we stopped at an intersection and we saw eight LDS chapels or the spires....it was just soooooo unbelievable to the children. Growing up in our religion you know that there are loads of members in Utah it was just freaky to see all those chapels together and then amazing later in the week we stayed with some extended family where we could see three temples from one spot.  Uncle Bob took us down to meet the Barrett family where Caitlin lives with her older sister Lindsay and her husband Nathan (they adopted Bob's girls Rachel and Caitlin ...long story but really great they could do this)  and their children Isaac, Julia, Ian and Owen. It was so much fun meeting everyone.  It was a busy week as the children had the whole week off for Spring break and also Lindsay as she is a teacher but they had been packing their home ready to move about 1 mile away. So we rocked up on a great day to help.  We had our huge RV and loaded up all the boxes in the lounge room and started shifting boxes for the family and moving to their new home.  All the kids pitched in and it was lovely to see them bonding so well with each other when they had only just met!  Working side by side always helps.  After pizza we said our goodbyes which were harder than I thought as Daniel didn't want to go at all.  He really enjoyed being with the younger boys and playing with them.

Bob then took us to Costco which of course I have heard about but absolutely adored when we walked in.  Alot of bulk items so much cheaper than usual and of course being in Utah had some church pictures and other items as well.  Unfortunately they didn't carry one thing I wanted but everything else was fabo!  - Then that night we drove to Sandy Utah to stay with Bob's ex brother in-law, Andy Garrett and his family Lori, Elisha, Kylie and Jayden.  What a treat for us to meet this wonderful family! 

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Lets Chill with the Speil's!!!

We love the Speil Family!  In 2012 they lived for awhile in Adelaide Australia near us which meant they were in our ward. They helped our ward heaps!  The parents are Adam and Annie who are young and cool and probably make Jason and I feel a little younger but really seem to enjoy similar things as we do (mainly travelling!) - At the moment their children are Ryan 6, Natalie Jo 5, and Jason 2.  They are soooo gorgeous.Over the past 6 months since they left Australia we have been talking to Daniel about going to see Natalie Jo again which he has been really really excited about and saying her name a lot (just as much as 'Lightening McQueen') so where ever the Speil's are we were going to visit them!

Anyway Easter morning 2013 we parked outside their Fresno home and because we arrived pretty late after a packed full Saturday Annie kept texting me to let me know they were awake and waiting for our children for an Easter Egg hunt! So the children and I went in to say "G'day" and let Dad have a sleep in!  It was so lovely to see everyone. The children were excited to see each other and were ready and raring for the Easter Egg hunt which was FUN.  - However loads of chocolate and candy here in America is filled with peanut butter which sort of grosses my kids out!  It seemed as though Jason S ended up with loads and loads of candy which maybe isn't the best idea but the children had heaps of fun.

We were able to go to church with their family, which is great as I really enjoy attending with people you know so it is not too strange.  That night we had some yummy pork and other dinner with Annie's parents and then on Monday we were able to spend most of the day relaxing with their family checking out the Fresno temple and also playing 'Football'  - just a casual game of touch like one often seems to see in movies but I felt fab playing in America!!! Of course the guys thrashed us but towards the end of the game Adam said next touch down wins and Annie, Raechel and I got that touch down so GIRLS won - yeah!!!

I really love the positive side of Facebook and internet so we can keep in touch with such great people across the world where ever we are.  Annie is such a great role model for my girls and it is easy here for to touch base every now and then through Facebook - Thanks. Also during the Monday Annie took some time to teach Joanna - 'the cup song'.  This is a clapping game that Raechel and Jordyn learnt off the internet through a popular movie. The four of them practiced together and made some really great rhythms together.  So of course for the next week in the RV all the girls have been doing is clapping!!! Great memories.