Friday, September 6, 2013

Party, Live and Learn Vacation

Marriott Center~BYU

A few weeks ago we went to Utah for what is known in our Church as Education Week.  I spoke about it briefly in my last Daybook entry a week or so back.  This is held every year between summer and fall semester at BYU in Provo, Utah.  It runs from Monday to Friday for that one week.  When our kids were teens we had a long standing tradition of going back and letting them have a feel for what college might be like at BYU.

There they hold lots of wonderful youth classes on the Savior, dating, music, etc.  All the classes are geared to uplift the kids and helping them make wise decisions in those most crucial years between 14 and 24.  And they also have many classes for adults.  Over 1,000 classes offered in all, with classes running all day from 8:30 am to 9:00 at night.  They also have a variety of plays and concerts in the evening that are delightful if you are not too exhausted from the day.  We did attend the Scarlet Pimpernel production one evening with Robert, Ross, Spencer and Laura.  It was pretty fun.

Most members of our church pay tithing, ten percent of our increase to the church.  This maintains and pays for all of our chapels and temples, and many other programs of the church including a substantial amount to our church universities to help families better afford a top rated, wonderful and more reasonably priced education for their children.  We also fund a perpetual education fund to help young people in struggling nations attend colleges and universities in their nations and to receive vocational training in many aspects of life that they might better support their families later.  The monies also support our humanitarian aid all over the world to people and places when disaster hits.  There is more, much more but you get the idea.

 Education Week is very reasonably priced to attend so I would imagine the price we pay only covers a portion of the cost to the University.  There are usually about 30,000 attendees.  It is one of those deals where a lot of the locals hide out at home until the throng of visitors goes away at the end of the week.  Can't blame them...just the traffic alone is overwhelming.

One night we thought we'd go here!
Mistake, there must have been 100 Ed. Week
Attendees in front of us in line.

Anyway, Education Week this year was special for our family because Spencer got to go all week and Piper accompanied him on Monday and Tuesday.  Her time was cut short as she started high school on Wednesday so it was a pretty exciting week for her all the way around.  It was fun having part of three generations there attending classes.

A class by Randal Wright that Carol and I
 attended on Happy Families.

I have been attending Randal's classes over many years.  He is like an old friend. This is the immense Ballroom at BYU and holds about 800 seats for Ed Week participants.  (Best part~being with Carol!)
And that is saying a lot as the class was excellent!  But there is nothing quite like being with a wonderful friend doing something so uplifting.  I wish you all could know her like I do.

Richard Eyre~another excellent and 
long time friend and teacher at Ed Week. 
 Love this man for his wisdom and faith.
Jim and I and Carol and Laura attended his classes.

The teen kids had so much fun being set free all day to attend classes they chose in a wholesome and safe environment.  Robert was out in Utah at the same time taking a class for his work and so all of them came out.  Kids under 14 are not permitted to attend so Ross spent time with Aunt Jen, Aunt Missy and Robert's parents so we could do this.  We could not have done it without all their help.   Jim and I and Laura and Spencer stayed in the college dorms as I had also previously mentioned.  Spence loved that!

Spencer and Piper having a ball?

At 14 it must be irrevocably decreed that when your mother is taking the photo you are not allowed to smile and act like you are having fun.  But if it is someone else it is OK?   Spencer did have a great time, I promise you because I witnessed it!  And he confessed to it when no cameras or recorders were visible from his vantage point.  Sheesh!

So even though it was not our official year for our family reunion it turned out to be a mini one anyway.  Anytime we are all in one place we call it that anyway.  Some of the family had not seen Robert since August of 2011 before he deployed to the middle east. 

The first Sunday we were there after church in the late afternoon we went up to Mt. Nebo and had a BBQ with Jen and Laura's family at a camp grounds near Payson Lakes.  Talk about gorgeous.  It is about 7000 feet in elevation and the forest is just remarkable the air is fresh and the view spectacular.

Auntie Laura and Hazie reunion!

Chloe Jo and Uncle Robert


 Ross getting his Grampa group hug with Julia

Hazie and her Grampa.  The lighting was so weird
 up here with all the shadows and the setting sun in our eyes.

Julia and Piper sharing Girls' Camp songs~ 
While Piper plays the ukelele.

Chloe, Piper and Spencer around the campfire

Uncle Lowell tending the BBQ
while Chloe and Hazie watch at a safe distance.

Cooking and keeping a nice hot fire
 for S'Mores after dinner!

Sadly Chris and family could not be there but we had a great time with them the next weekend at a BBQ they held in their beautiful backyard.

It was just a great week with the family and with our friends the Holladays.  It completely wore both Jim and me out but we loved it.  All the walking and the altitude takes its toll on this old lady as you know. I'll be fully recovered about the time I go back next Saturday.

Jim took a day and spent it with Ross (because all the other kids had started school) and they rode their bikes for 20 miles.  He is one amazingly physical person.  All that and needing a hip replacement in a couple of months.  He claims though that riding does not hurt his hip at all.  So good deal.  Ross says his Grampa wore him out.  I could only smile and nod and think I get it one hundred percent!  Been there, done that with Grampa!  He was also able to squeeze another trip in with Spencer on the Saturday before we left.

Good job Rossie!

A rest along the way~20 miles is not easy!

Alpine Coaster at Park City

 They went to Park City for this particular ride which was extremely fast and fun.  3 hours in the car for a 180 second thrill.  But Jim's says the driving conversations were robust though.   One topic...How Life is Like a Chess Game!  That is Ross in a nutshell.

Spencer ventures back onto a bike.

He did great but his leg was sore 
for a few days, particularly his ankle.

It was Spencer's first time riding a bike since he broke his leg last spring.  That was one nasty break he is still wearing a brace on his leg.  That brace, by the way, is most intriguing to Hazel!  If she ever saw him without it she would admonish him to get it on!  So cute.

They stopped along the river at the big swing so
 Spencer could rest and put on his brace for awhile. 
 Hazie would be so proud! 

We have learned one thing for sure...we need to travel less between May and September in the future.  Since that is basically the only time we usually means traveling less in any given year.  This whole year has been a big blur, if it wasn't for my occasionally blogging about what we do I would be hard pressed to recall it all.  Far too many days living out of a suitcase.  They were good days though, nonetheless.

The new North Heritage dorm 
where we stayed ~ #25 on campus!

The Invention Prototype

The dorms are very new and very modern and extremely industrial to maintain their niceness as long as possible.  One things about Spencer is he is a born engineer.  He is always thinking of things that people need to improve their living environment or life style. He and Grampa had a little project going on the entire time we were there and this was what they invented for the showers in the dorm.  There is no place within the shower stall for a bar of soup.  So they got some PVC pipe and created this.  Actually it was quite awesome.  Now Spencer and Connor are thinking of marketing it at BYU for the students.  It will be very inexpensive and quite serviceable.  And the best part...a new crop of students every semester!  Sweet entrepreneurial opportunity for two young teens.   I am sure they won't have too much trouble finding a willing backer/investor.

We had to be out of the dorm by Saturday so Laura and her kids and Jim and I moved over to a Comfort Inn for a few nights which was barely a hiccup in our fun with family. That same day Jen had planned a surprise party for Julia, our granddaughter, who turned 13.  Funny she was surprised out of her mind considering she had been asking for a surprise party for three years.  Isn't that so cute?  It was special to have all her cousins from our side of the family and many friends too.  It was a bit crowded in the condo as it was threatening a big thunder storm that night.

Julia's Birthday table display.
This is kind of what I use to do for
 our kids when they were growing up.
  It is fun to see Jen has kept that 
tradition from her youth.

The sky after it rained cats and dogs!


Finally we got a chance to go outside and have
 cake and ice cream which helped keep 
some semblance of order in the condo.

Jewels in the goofy glasses her
 Mom bought her for the party!
  It was "condo cozy" but very fun and everyone
 was dancing and it was just perfect for her.
They are actively looking for a new house now.  Yay! 
Space is the ultimate luxury Jim and I have discovered.

The Whole Bunch

For some odd reason when we all get together we usually do end up dancing at some point.  I am forbidden to publish those videos on punishment of death from Jennifer.  I believe her threats are real, but oh how I do want to!    The dancing is usually brought on by our hilarious daughter, Jennifer.  She can make our grandkids laugh like no body else.  She is usually doing some funny antics when we take their group pictures and it is the only way we can guarantee all of them laughing (not necessary in a synchronized way...note above) not just smiling to the clicking shutters.

We had fun with every one of our grandkids and you know what?  It had only been a few weeks since I had seen some of them and they still all seemed older and more mature for some reason.  Maybe a new school year??  Even Hazie seemed more grown up but then she did start kindergarten after all.  Can you believe she will be SIX on September 24th?  Me neither. Sigh...

My next post will be about some of our time with Chris' family and his new book and his award from President Samuelson at BYU the day before we left.


girlsmama said...

So enjoyed reading about your visit! I think of the Stewarts often. I was so sad to read abut Hazel getting lost at school! I was facebooking with Jen about her class placement a couple weeks ago. Best wishes!

Sister Susie Says said...

What busy people you are! I'm so glad such enjoyable times occur in today's world!

Your cookout looks yummy! I remember the times of our cookouts! They were yummy too!!

I love the birthday glasses!
I hope all is well now with Hazel at school and going home on the bus!
Love to you all, Susan