Saturday, January 23, 2016
Huz-zah. I am finally sitting down to write this post. It's been tap tap tapping me on the shoulder nearly every day for the last bit, reminding me to get it in the books. It's a happy one for me -- all about our latest, blessed trip home to UT.

You know, I love living away from home. The dramatic change it has been for us, literally in every way - place, people, positions - has been a challenge that has changed us. One of those changes is the upmost appreciation for home (don't it always seem to go that you don't know whatcha got till it's gone?? Yes'm)! This trip home, Ryan and I found ourselves feeling so grateful for what home did for us as "us." I moved to St. George, Utah, when I was 14, and Ryan Awerkamp was this quiet, SUPER cute, but surprisingly quiet 15-year-old that I liked to tease because he laughed at everything I did. Thankfully, Quiet Ryan only hung around the first few times we were together as those baby 14 and 15-year-olds. He quickly burst into the funnest person I knew - and for a yellow girl like me - we were fast best friends and the rest is a happy history. 

Anyway, not sure who put nostalgia in St. George's water, but it made us love-drunk for our little hometown city. Felt so good. 

On to the stories of those 17 glorious days and kicking it off with a winner: driving, TOP DOWN in a Mustang, to DC for our flight home...

We had red-eye flights out of DC on Sunday night, so after going to church, we dropped off Ryan and my Dad at Charlottesville's airport to grab the two rental cars for the drive up; Ryan had reserved  the cars a few days earlier. Ry reserved THE cheapest economy cars the airport had (duh, that guy doesn't drop his dimes), but the little Cville airport was plum out of economy cars that day, so they offered them the two cars they had: a spicy, convertible Mustang and a muscly red Camaro. As the story goes, Ryan and Dad looked at each other, asked if they'd be charged more, "No, sir," and then "Deal. We'll take them." 

We're not muscle-car people, but sheesh, for a two-hour drive we can be! Especially if we can fit our carseats in the backseat, eh?! Hahah, we got some looks driving up to DC. I'll never forget them. We filmed 15 seconds of driving through Georgetown that night - it's on Ryan's Instagram feed HERE

We landed in Vegas around 2:00 AM (please bless it's the only red-eye of our lives), we made it home by 4:00 AM, and then prepped that day for the reason we went home: our sister, Em, got married! Ryan has one sister - sweet Emily - and six brothers. So this wedding was a big deal and we loved celebrating Emily and our new bro, Cam. Emily and Cam have a similar story to ours -- hometown best friends, turned boy-girlfriend in college, turned married little fools. The day was stunning. If I could go back, I'd only change one thing: I would've snagged the happy couple for a pic (duh)!
A few days after the wedding, we left the girls with my angel in-laws and went on a 24-hour staycation. Just us. Just the two of us (?1?)! For a full day! A full day of meals to ourselves, an incredible sleep-in (didn't get up till 9:00 AM), and all in a stellar location. We stayed here - Inn on the Cliff - and we could not recommend the place more. There are some really great spots in St. George - like Entrada (we've stayed there, too) - but next time you need a hotel there, do the Inn on the Cliff. Being cliffside above STG was simply amazing. Go go go!

For most of the day, we sat down and seriously goal-set and goal-planned out 2016 together. It was amazing. We've always wanted to plan our year together that way, so to finally do it was very much a dream come true. Ryan and I are kind of funny. We're go-getters, and yet we don't like to stress (well, Ryan doesn't stress, but I do and I don't like it). That said, I have to admit that in the last few years, being really serious about setting goals and achieving them has kind of felt stressful to me. What if I don't reach them? Thank heaven, that caution wasn't there for me this year, and we ran with Confidence to grab our little life by the reigns. Felt good to slip into those deliberate shoes, because they really are a fit for me. I've loved running in them since (the goals are still going strong)!  

After our planning meeting, we stepped across the hall and ate at Cliffside (beautiful food below). It's a top-rated, absolutely stellar spot in STG, sooo next time you're there (you know it!), go go go!  :)
Next day -- I wasn't quite done with my Ryan time (can ya blame me?? :) ), so during naps, I whisked us off to run around Snow Canyon. The first time I realized that I could love Ryan - like LOVE him - was while riding a tandem bike together up Snow Canyon. So Nostalgia, I blame you for this date and for rekindling my serious love for the Ry Guy. Felt so good to be back in that spot together. And in SUNSHINE. We were so happy. 
Next day -- back at Snow Canyon. We HAD to. We weren't done with those glorious red rocks, and we had to share the love with our baby girls. We knew they'd love it. IE, Olivia dubbed herself "The Hiker Girl" and seriously scaled those rocks (like we didn't lift a finger for her). She was amazing. Ryan's little brothers came, too, and Mom + Dad A. Such a good day!

In between all of that, we spent time with my family, too -- my brother, Shandon and his wife, Talli, and their three darling boys are living with my parents for a bit so, poor things, they couldn't escape us! Shandon and Tall lived across the road from us at Wymount (stories of that sweet time strewn through the posts on my first blog HERE). We miss them so. Love love loved being with them. 

One day we went down to Grandpa's farm...  
And we met the newest additions to my Uncle Lonne's side of the farm - the PONIES!
Then we got candy at Judd's and spent some time on the temple grounds. Had to give the girls some good time at a temple since it only takes 15 minutes to get there. Ry and I also went and worshipped + served in the temple at the very end of our getaway day. AKA, we took advantage of that temple on this trip.
Movie at my in-laws! Taive + Olivia, me + Blakey...
Cute Taive - one day he made Olivia a vegetable girl - her! Thank heaven he did, because Olivia has loved tiny bell peppers since and she has since made vegetable people for us here at home. Slash, vegetables got even cooler (bless you, Taive Man)!!
An absolute highlight for me was running the Chuckwalla Trail one morning with Tall. Talli is a stellar runner - she always has been. I remember feeling both stoked and relieved about that fact when Shandon was dating her - we could get along!! :) That run with her was refreshing. Our convo was great, the views were amazing. I'd go back to STG this second just to repeat that run with my Tall.
 And then - just like that - we were headed home.

Ugh makes me tear up thinking about it! I really didn't want to go home this time.  I was super ready to get back to VA after Christmas break last year, but not this year. 17 days wasn't long enough. Again, we just loved home! Clearly, right? Hahah, all those red rock pics - good job getting to the end of this post! Anyway, thank goodness our flight home wasn't a red-eye. And the girls were darling + fun. Just a few plane pics...
 Claire's on a selfie kick! She's actually on a "self" kick. I've been catching her staring at herself in all types of mirrors lately (actual mirrors, the oven door, phone screens, ahem). Honestly I love it. The longer my girls love themselves the better. 
Had to snap this one - Claire wrapped in her beloved Solly Swaddles. This is Claire's everyday, this scene. Sister sleeps with both of them all wrapped around her somehow. I spent her entire birthday budget on these babies, so no big party for Claire, but hello, these blankies were worth it. How we love all things Solly Baby.
At one point in the flight, both girls nestled up to me just like so. My girls are cuddly (Claire more so than Olivia), so while this wasn't a novel moment, to my surprise, it felt special. Having them separately gravitate to me to slee filled my heart up. My day-to-day investments as their mother paid out here. Such a simple moment, I know, but I'm learning more and more that those ones mean the most to me.

Sorry, mothering tangent. But those are indeed the feelings I want to remember with that photo - if not that whole flight! 

Till next time, Home. WE LOVE YOU!


  1. I cannot get over Claire in that beret! The freaking cutest. What a wonderful trip!

    1. That old Baby Gap find from Olivia's era is going strong! I love it, too. XO


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