A Weekend in Utah to See the Lights and Meet Someone Very Special

We had been planning this special trip down to Utah in mid December for weeks.  The best part about it all is that it came with a special surprise at the end that both Bron and I were busting at the seams with excitement about!  It was so hard to keep it a secret from Jed and Levi.  We love making memories with our boys.  I hope they remember exceptional weekends like this one where everything we planned and did was for them.  It sure helped bring the magic of Christmas to life.

The kids played hooky from school and we left on a Friday morning.  First stop: Grandma's house!  (The boys' Great Grandma!)  I have so many fond memories of my great grandma that I wish for the boys to have the same.  Grandma Smith is the sweetest woman.  She has a unique talent for making everyone around her feel loved.  She says positive things in a way that just bring people up.  Grandma hugged the boys multiple times saying, "You kids are so precious!"  I think they believed her.  I know I want to believe her when she says, "You're such a neat girl, Jessie!"  Aww.  Grandma is the best.  It was just a short visit.  We ate lunch and chatted for a couple of hours.  I didn't want to overwhelm Grandma, but it sure is good to see her.

^^Checking out the vintage snowman that hardly sings anymore.  Conrad was enamored.^^
^^Reading stories with Great Grandma.  She's such an expressive reader.  She got a kick out of The Wonky Donkey book we brought in with us!^^

Nostalgia.  The décor in Grandma's home hardly changes; the same items have been on display since the beginning of my memory.  I find comfort in the unchanging.  But I know it's not permanent because Grandma will not live forever.  So I found myself taking pictures of it all: still frames that will freeze time and memory.  This scene below has grown and multiplied over the years and is a particular favorite of mine.  A wall covered in the familiar faces of my aunts, uncles, and cousins accompanied by Grandma's hand written notes that she tapes up all over the place.  These next snapshots probably won't mean a thing to anyone else but me, but to me, they're gold.  

Next, we drove north and checked into the Double Tree Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.  We bundled ourselves up in preparation for a chilly night on Temple Square seeing the lights!  We were also meeting up with Bron's parents!  

But first, the kids' first public train ride:  

Temple Square!!!  The lights are so incredibly pretty.  The place just glows at Christmas time.  We snuck into the old tabernacle and heard a high school group perform a few numbers before moving on to the nativity display and the reflection pool.  Finally, we warmed ourselves up with some comfort food at the Lion House Pantry.  While eating, I looked up to see a familiar face I'd only seen on social media walk out the door.  He was the husband of one of my best friends from high school!  I ran out the door to track him down.  Sure enough, there was Sianny!  She cried happy tears and we hugged.  Words don't do justice how good our little run-in felt.  I wish we had more time to talk!  Anyway, it's a wonderfully small world sometimes.      

^^Bron with our hooligans three.^^
^^Grandma Nelson with Jed and Levi!^^
^^Grandpa Nelson being silly with the boys.^^

The later it got into the evening, the faster and wilder Conrad became.  Bron pretty much just chased him around.  He's getting too big for me to carry and wrestle around like that!  My patience with him was ice thin.  But overall, it was a fantastic evening soaking in all the Christmas hustle and bustle in the city with the sparkling lights.

We woke up the next morning ready for one of the best parts about hotel life: breakfast!  We ate a delicious meal in the hotel restaurant that included an all-you-can-eat plate of bacon for Jed!  Haha.  That much bacon had to be documented.  Then we explored the hotel a bit.  It feels overwhelmingly grand from the inside.  I think the boys could have ridden that glass elevator up and down all day.  

We spent a few minutes in Grandma and Grandpa's hotel room where they spoiled us with a few Christmas gifts.  Then we checkout out of the hotel and headed north again for our second annual visit to Crystal Hot Springs!  I can't sing enough good praises about that place.  It has an old school attitude with some updated pools and two giant tube slides.  We did laps around the slides.  Conrad kept signing for more!  He's such a funny little adrenaline junkie.  We spent a few hours there splashing and relaxing in the pools til our fingers turned to prunes.  It was a blast.

We parted ways with Grandma and Grandpa Nelson and hopped back into the truck for our last leg and final activity of the weekend: our grand surprise!  The boys had no idea whatsoever.  They fell asleep on our hour long drive back South until we pulled into a driveway.  A woman opened the door and there inside her home was a puppy dressed in a sweet red bow.  Jed and Levi were in shock.  I'm not sure they knew what to think.  Yes, boys, you're getting a puppy!  They were all smiles from there.    

^^Playing with some of the other puppies from the litter.^^

We named our Australian Shepherd Misty and she rode either in my lap or in the back of the truck all the way home.  She's the fluffiest, prettiest little dog I've eve laid eyes on.  Honestly, I'm a little nervous about what's to come but I know that between three little boys and Tyke she will be well loved and entertained.  Wish us luck!  Christmas came 10 days early!!!  

^^Welcome home, Misty!^^

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