When we had landed in UT (back in part 1), the rental car place tried to convince me to upgrade to an SUV for only a little bit more. No thanks. They tried to convince me to upgrade to a luxury car for only a little bit more. No thanks. Then they confessed that they didn't have the car I ordered and outfitted us with a minivan at the same rate. Now, I've had a favorable switch pulled on me plenty of times, but this was the first time I experienced someone trying to be underhanded about it. Between that and the fact that they charged extra for Joy to drive it too so that there really was no price difference between them and their competitors leads me to decide we aren't going to rent from Dollar again.
But because of this fortuitous fluke, we loaded our stuff, plus Joy's cedar chest, plus my brother and his wife into our van and drove off to St. George the day after Thanksgiving. My mom's mom lives there and we had a friendly second Thanksgiving dinner there. This is the expression on the newly minted great-grandmother's face the first time she saw her great-grandson.
Steve showed Mom the Wii's capabilities (some of them anyway). Before leaving, Steve decided to also show us just how commodious Mom's cape is, and what he thought of my picture taking.
Because there were too many of us to accommodate at Grandma's, we took Hy to a hotel. That was a miserable night. Hy was up and crying until well after 1am with us locked in the bathroom so that we wouldn't prevent him from falling asleep eventually. On the other hand, Joy and I had some nice time chatting and getting some reading and some projects done in the bathroom - Joy could work on her new calling as branch music coordinator, for instance.
Saturday we ran a couple errands (and bought a disappointing cannoli) before we did something I've always wanted to: complete my set of four-generation pictures. I had dreamed of it being 5 once upon a time, but great-great-grandma Straw passed away just before I met Joy.
Then we drove to Las Vegas where my aunt (Dad's side) lives. Steve and Em drove Mom since Dad was flying back from CA that day, so Joy and I had some time to ourselves. We found some bad traffic on the freeway once we got to Vegas, so I bailed, called my uncle, and got directions on the city streets. We arrived just after the other car, but had been 10 minutes behind before, so I probably caught us up a bit. Dad also beat us there.
This was the first time since I moved out to NY that I got to come to the family Thanksgiving (which they had put off special so they could meet Hy). It was sad that Grammy couldn't be there, but Dad reassured us of her progress. We had a wonderful feast and Hyrum was a wonderful source of everyone's entertainment (once we gave up on his taking a nap after half an hour, that is).
Joy invented a new game with him of saying "aaaaaaa" a gravely sound in the back of the throat and letting him mimic the sound. (That's what he's doing with Cousin Laurel in the upper-right picture.) He gave up when Dad gave out a deep bass version, though. He happily played in everyone's lap. One of the funner parts for me was listening to Dad's family tattle on him, confessing just how Excited he is to be a grandpa and how he's always talking about Hyrum. Go, Pop.
Hy is also fascinated by my brother who is part of a male a capella group. Steve has been learning how to do vocal percussion, which he would practice on Hyrum to entertain him. Hy is ... not sure what to make of this, but appears willing to practice with him in this picture. That, or he's using a Jedi pinch on him. We're not sure which.
After dinner, we got lost (bad, google maps! Go to your room!), called Joy's uncle on the other end of Vegas, and finally found our way to their place. We got to go to church with the Tritsches before tagging up with the other Watsons again and driving back to Provo on one giant tank of gas we had filled up the night before. Cha-ching. It was pretty late when we got back, so Hyrum was a willing sleeper.
We spent Monday with my brother again, though we took a couple hour detour to spend time with some goods friends. He was in 10+ classes with me at BYU and Cornell and their oldest son was in our nursery class. We missed them a lot, so it was nice to spend some time together. Son #2 (no names are being given to respect their privacy, so if you recognize them, you must already love them; and if you don't recognize them, you would love them if you knew them) enjoyed letting me throw him in the air, and I wrestled with them a good while. Their dad got some nice pictures I'm sure he wants to send my way....
I don't know if I've mentioned Hy's affinity for "technology" much. He WANTS to play on this computer. He wants to play with remote controls. He wants to play with fax machines and cell phones and cables and the VCR and anything else with buttons. Emilee cleverly distracted him with a spare keyboard they had laying around. Sister Fran also gave him his very own keychain gadget (a ninja remote that had been washed and dried in the dryer) that doesn't work anymore, so he can happily push buttons and play with a remote. Here's Hy playing with another cell phone, rather triumphantly. "I must interject here that there is an amazing reason why so many people enjoy visiting the these friends of ours. They have a talent of making you feel that you are so important when you spend time with them. S and A I just want to say that we had a really enjoyable time visiting with you. It was as good as visiting with family which we also loved and felt at home with"
"On of my favorite things about that Monday was when I did some errands that day, buying a few Christmas presents and dropping off presents at my brother Doug's home. He and his sweetheart Shannon were home (surprise) and so I was able to spend some time with them. I sure so love my bro."
Hy was not quite as magnificent a traveler on the way home as he was going out to UT. We chalk that up to his inconsistent sleep during this last leg of the trip. Since coming home, he has needed a midnight feeding regularly, although not tonight despite my staying up waiting for it. Hm. Go fig.
We're keeping Hy on UT time for now since we'll be rejoining my parents in January for some Christmas in CA action. Why January? Because leaving again in two weeks is just too soon for him "and for his mommy," Joy chimes in. So we'll get to be here, together, for Christmas and put those traditions we worked on during our first Christmases to the test on the actual Christmas Day.
What a wonderful time we had in UT! Being that close to so many family members we love so much made it seem like a much nicer place to live and raise our family than I had imagined when I was at the Y. Joy has noticed a decided positive swing in my comments about her home state. Will we go back there? Hard to say at this point. Right now, it sure looks it would be a wonderful thing ("warm happy smile").
Thank you so much to everyone who let us into their homes and hearts. "I'd like to add a special thank to Lala, Fran, and Steve and Emmy for putting us up so many nights. We can't wait to come back." Thanks for putting us up, for putting up with us, for food and shelter, for loving our son, and helping us have a wonderful two weeks. We miss you all and felt every time we moved on to the next family that we wished we could have spent more time with each of you, and we wish we could have gotten to see other friends out there, if only time and illnesses had allowed. Take care, everyone, and keep the state warm for us! Next I reckon I'll turn the time over to Hyrum for his favorite memories and pictures.