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


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 we just got 6 meals as there was heaps to share.

Then around 8:00 pm that night we drove into Utah! Very 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 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 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 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.