Monday, December 21, 2015

2015 in Review~The Travels

Reflecting on our 2015 as we approach 2016... 
Wasn’t it just Y2K?

This year has been one of travel, adventure and being with our family for us.  We figured out that one or both of us were out of California for some part of all but three months.  It was exhilarating as well as tiring and our November and December have been a time to relax a little bit and get organized and back into a routine.  

One thing we have discovered is the travel seems to make things slow down.  Not that we aren’t on the run, but each day is different which makes them more memorable.  Our big trip of nearly five weeks in England and Wales that was sandwiched in-between time on each end in Rhode Island was extraordinary.  During that time we spent quality time with both Chris and Laura’s families.  We enjoyed splitting up the long plane ride that way too.

Rhode Island is always a fun place to visit.  It was in May and the blooming trees were spectacular.  

Their neighborhood is just so pretty and peaceful and quiet.

This house is so picturesque!
Just down the street from the kids.

We were able to be there for Spencer’s 16th birthday party and his ordination to the office of a teacher in the church.  That was really neat.  Spencer said, "This is the happiest day of my life!"

 We were able to watch Ross with his new kitten Cheeto which was so much fun.  He loves their kitties (Cheeto and his mom Autumn) and nurtures them in such a sweet way.  They are strictly outside cats and he spends a lot of time with them.  The kitten was tiny in May but has grown to this size already.  The boys have grown up some more too!

Ross and Spencer

We went to Boston and that was really exciting.  We toured The Old North Church in Boston which was incredibly beautiful and the history is so impressively preserved.  The inside was beautiful as you see. This is the choir loft below.

"One If By Land, Two If By Sea!"

We also spent a delightful day In Lexington and Concord, MA.  Very Historic and learned all about the Minutemen..the mascot for Concord High in CA.  We love going where the things we've learned from the past actually happened.  

Lexington Square

We toured the new Museum of WWII in Boston which has over 7000 artifacts from that time period.  It is a private collection and there is a lot of hands-on encouraged.  This is a must see for anyone interested in WWII.  The best part was just being with our family and enjoying their home, their activities, their friends, and I must say discovering the best Italian restaurant e.v.e.r. in Providence, RI.  Zuma's!

Zuma's Dessert with Laura and Robert
Better than Italy itself.
The Boys thoroughly enjoyed it too.

We will truly miss their home in Rhode Island. 
 The above short video is my last memory of it.  
A wonderfully peaceful haven in a very crazy world.

These guy moved to Virginia in mid-summer and are now enjoying life in a new place for the first time in 5 years.  Everyone is settling in to their new school, work and ward family.  The neighborhood is fabulous and all is well.  Their family is remarkably adaptable to military life.

There are no words to describe our time in England except to say that being with Chris and Missy and the kids was a dream come true.  Living in a house and experiencing a country that way is spectacular.  We've been able to do this in three countries now; Scotland, Italy and now England.
The kids really had the time of their lives there and they shared it with us in the best way.  We traveled around England a bit and fell in love.  The countryside is like no other.  Just lush and green and quaint and lovely.  

Our rental car and the guy who tackled all of 
that backwards inside out driving and won!

The Backyard of their House in England
Loved that sun room!

Our first few days in England were so great.  We got a royal reception from Chris, Missy and the kids.  The kids still had some school left before vacation so we took off on an adventure of our own. The driving adventures were both frightening and funny in retrospect.  Jim clocked 2150 miles with not even a scratch on the car.  He was incredible.  I could have never done that!  The two of us took a side trip to Wales where we did some discovering of 'places past' for my Welsh ancestors.  We stayed in the Carmarthen area in a great BnB cottage.  Oh my, those few days was so rewarding and enlightening and too short.  We plan to go back.

We did a lot of churchyard exploring in Wales.
It is such a beautiful part of the UK
We spend time in Rhandirmwyn talking 
to people and seeing where my ancestors lived.

When we returned to England we met our kids in Canterbury for a fabulous time there. 

Canterbury Cathedral

We visited castles and museums and little towns, various wards for church, libraries, famous places like the Grand House-Chatsworth and Sherwood Forest and ordinary spots and had a ball the whole time we were in the UK.

Zach, Owen, and Aynslee
Rope course and zip line in Sherwood Forest!

A scary high adult zip line for Conner and 
his two friends visiting from America.

We also went to Chester and visited with my long time cyber friends Marie and Todd.  What a delightful day we had.  We had our first authentic pub meal with them.  Of course we did not miss London (I saw the airport and the rest of them did London one day.  

Chris and Jim on The Eye

This was pure Eye Candy during our drought at home.

For me the countryside was the best.  I did copious amounts of writing while on the trip about our experiences which I have yet to finish and publish.  And Jim loved everything we did, especially Dover Castle where they had a live reenactment of the WWII going on.    We went to the movies, ate in fun places but the very best place by far was Chris and Missy’s house.  Missy is a gourmet cook and she did English cooking like no other!  What a gem she is!  Their whole family made it so much fun for us.  It was hard to leave them all and come home for sure.

Aynslee, Connor, Owen and Zachary on their trip
 to Holland during the year they lived in Loughborough, England.
They took advantage of many of their weekends and 
school breaks to travel throughout Europe.

Almost all the rest of our travels involved going to Utah.  I had the privilege of attending RootsTech in February with my great friend, Carol.  We had a wonderful time and we are already gearing up for this coming year's adventure.  In July I attended the BYU Genealogy Conference.  It was definitely a highlight in my year.

 We were able to spend time with Jen and Lowell’s family also in April at Easter time.  That was really fun.  They always do such a super job of making holidays fun for everyone.  Easter was no exception.  Nobody makes an Easter Basket better than Miss Jen.  Lowell had been to Scotland the week or so before and brought back treats and sweeties from Scotland.  The British do some very cool and unique candies.  She creates the fabulous baskets and then makes tags for each of the girls.

Jen and Lowell

Girls and their Easter Baskets and 
Grampa cooking breakfast on Easter morning.

They had some of Lowell's family over for dinner on Easter.  They are great people and just part of the family for us too.  It was a beautiful day and great to be together.  We had a day downtown on the Salt Lake City inter city train system.  Of course it included a visit to their new fancy mall.  We did a lot of cooking one day to stock up the freezer for Jen.  It was just fun to hang out and be with them. And to love up these girls of course.

Hazie in her very fancy dress!

Julia Got Braces!

Piper and Chloe~Sweet Sisters!

We got together with the other kids and cousins and shot this fun photo that day in August. I was there for the BYU genealogy conference and then Jim drove out with his Mom for Owen's Baptism.

 Back row:  Julia, Zachary, Chloe, Piper,
 Front row Connor, Aynslee, Hazie, Owen

Owen's Baptism Day
It is so nice to have them back in the States now!

The Stewarts also came to visit us this summer in July.  We love it so much when the kids come to visit.  We found a spot for everyone to sleep and we just had a great time.

Hazel's the corner on the window seat in the family room. 
 She loved sleeping there.

 We went to San Francisco twice, the beach, the aquarium, Santa Cruz Boardwalk. We had a big backyard party so that they could catch up with everyone.  We went to Muirwoods and Muir Beach Lookout Point.  It is just the best to have them come home.  We find that no matter where you go in the world there is so much beauty right around home to enjoy as well.


The Little Sisters!  Chloe teaching Hazie about the redwood trees.

Fort Point View of San Francisco Skyscape

We also did fun things at home like making peach cobbler!
Hazie loved making this but never tasted it...
she is not liking peaches apparently!

The Big Sisters!
We are so happy you all came to visit!

Our final trip of the year was to Washington state in September for a family reunion with our beloved cousins, the Hallsteds.  It was so much fun and something we hope to do again soon.  We love car trips and enjoyed the north coast of California and most of all seeing all of them for a relaxing several days!

California Coastal Redwoods 
Simply Breathtaking!

Our Beloved Cousins,
My Dad's Sister's Kids.
These are some very fine and loving people!

We're going to travel far less next year but we would like to go to Virginia and see Laura and Robert's family and new home.  Then there is a Family Reunion in Utah someplace.  And at least one Conference in Salt Lake.  So the beat goes on....Life is good.  


  1. Loved reading about Jen and Lowell and Hazie and Julia and Piper and Chloe and Owen and Zachary, and Connor and Aynslee and Missy and Chris and Laura and Robert and Spencer and Ross . . . and the Hallsteds and Carol and cyber friends Marie and Todd. And about your handsome chauffeur in England. But kindly never type the word "Rhandirmwyn." It takes three minutes to stare at the word to try to pronounce in the head!

  2. That is good, Steve! Ok here is the Welsh lesson. Rhan=Ran as in he did run-Dirm=derm as in dermatologist-Wyn=win as in you win!
    Accent on the first syllable...Ran derm win. Piece of cake. Hehe!

  3. That is good, Steve! Ok here is the Welsh lesson. Rhan=Ran as in he did run-Dirm=derm as in dermatologist-Wyn=win as in you win!
    Accent on the first syllable...Ran derm win. Piece of cake. Hehe!