We left early in the morning on Christmas Eve to fly to Salt Lake City. We thought we would have plenty of time to get through security and make our flight, but we had no idea how crowded the airport is on the morning of Christmas Eve! We ended up running full-speed through the Logan airport and made it to our gate as they were closing the doors. I yelled to the flight attendants to wait for us as we came panting up to the gate and were extremely grateful that they let us on. The doors closed immediately behind us–what a stressful beginning to our vacation!
The Kelley’s picked us up from the airport on Christmas Eve and we headed straight to Grandma Barbara’s house in Draper to have our Kelley family Christmas party. We had a great time eating and opening gifts with the whole Kelley clan. Later in the week we met up with them again at Brian and Amy’s cabin, where we enjoyed skiing, snowmobiling (not Hailey’s favorite activity), chatting, eating, and playing lots of fun games. Mom and Dad Kelley gave us one of our favorite Christmas gifts by taking us to Café Rio for our Christmas Eve dinner—yum! Ty and Bri stayed at the Kelley’s with us on Christmas Eve and, after church on Christmas Day, we enjoyed a yummy Christmas dinner and gift-opening. Grandma Cathy and Grandma Barbara both joined us for our Christmas Day celebration. It was so cozy to have everyone together to open stockings and gifts.
The following day we went downtown to have dinner at Tucanos. Talk about delicious! Although I we all left feeling like we might never be able to eat meat again. We then drove up to This is the Place State Park for “Candlelight Christmas.” In spite of the cold, we had a great time visiting all of the buildings and seeing everything decorated for Christmas. Hailey’s favorite thing was petting the sheep in the live Nativity.
We loved having everyone together at the Kelley’s house and seeing Hailey interact with everyone. It took her a little while, but she warmed up to the new faces and everyone had fun playing with her.
Surprising the Cutler’s on the day after Christmas was possibly our favorite part of our vacation. They thought Kristen’s parents were visiting us in Boston, so they were completely taken by surprise when we rang the doorbell as they were lining up to go in to open their stockings. Katharine and John knew about our visit and helped to make sure that they Cutler’s celebrated their Christmas morning the day after Christmas. We will never forget the shocked looks and excitement that greeted us that day. After opening stockings with the Cutler’s, we drove to the Dibb’s house in Bountiful where we had a holiday breakfast with many of our friends from BYU—Tim, Hayley & Kate Bahr; Bert, Catherine & Sam VanUitert; Russell, Libby & Wayne Dibb; Adam Bahr and Michael Doxey. It was so enjoyable to be together again and to hear about all of the amazing things everyone has going on in their lives. Most of us are married with one child and the husband in graduate school, and three of us live out of state.
We headed back to the Cutler’s house on Thursday afternoon to spend almost a week with them before Mark had to head back to Boston. Mark’s dad treated us to a “Big Kid’s Day,” since there were no kids around who were old enough to enjoy a traditional “Kid’s Day” with Grandpa. We had a family tennis tournament and then went to Midway to go ice skating and have dinner at Dairy Keen (Hailey loved the trains and having her first kid’s meal). We carried “Big Kid’s Day” into two other days by playing Ultimate Frisbee, rock climbing in Sandy and mountain biking at “The Bobsled,” which is above the avenues. We couldn’t believe the beautiful weather! It was nice, but Mark was a little bummed that he never got any good skiing in.
We got to spend New Year’s at the Cutler’s where we celebrated Jane’s second birthday. Katharine made a great dinner and a yummy birthday cake. It was especially fun to spend some time with Grandma and Grandpa Johnson.
Mark flew back to Boston on January 4th so that he could study for his PhD qualification exams, which he’ll take a the end of January. We spend our last day together by having Jane Cutler and her boyfriend, Kesler Tanner, over to the Cutler’s for breakfast. We went to a temple session together and that evening Mark’s dad treated the whole family to Cafe Rio–yes!
Mark has spent the past two weeks studying as much as possible, as well as preparing a research presentation that will be part of his exams. Hailey and I, on the other hand, have just enjoyed being with family and friends in Utah. We spent our first week with the Cutler’s. I loved being there and spending so much one-on-one time with Mark’s mom. She is an amazing woman and I feel so blessed to have her as a mother-in-law! She helped me sew a really cute handbag, went to a temple session with me, and, when everyone in the family had something going on Friday night, stayed home with me to play Scrabble and eat ice cream. She also took Katharine, Jane, Hailey and me to the zoo and, later the next week, to the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum. While staying with the Cutler’s, I got to go to Hanna’s first performance as Mrs. Potts in Bountiful High’s production of Beauty and the Beast. She is such a talented actress and has a beautiful voice! She did a great job as Mrs. Potts. I also enjoyed a fun date night with John & Katharine, and Jeremy & Lizzi. We had a cook-off and then played games while we ate chocolate fondue. My last hurrah with the Cutler’s was heading back to Bountiful the Sunday before flying home for Megan’s birthday dinner.
Hailey and I left Sunday morning to drive to South Jordan to spend the rest of our time in Utah with my family. It was so nice to spend time with my parents and Nate, and Ty and Bri were even able to stay over for a couple of nights. Here are some of the highlights of our time with the Kelley’s: taking Hailey swimming, seeing The Game’s Afoot at Hale Center Theatre, visiting the new Museum of Natural History at the University of Utah, eating at some fun restaurants, and visiting the outlets in Park City. While staying with the Kelley’s, I also got to have lunch with Grandma Barbara and Grandma Cathy; drive down to Orem to have dinner with the Olauson’s (one of my mission presidents and his family); enjoy a girl’s night with my close friends from high school; and spend time with three of my best friends–Cami Moore, Kristina Helland and Aleisha McEwan.
It was wonderful to have so much time with friends and family, but by the end Hailey and I were anxious to get back to Mark and our life in Boston. It was a very happy reunion yesterday for all three of us!