Advantages Of Utah

From Russia, Colombia, Philly and NYC, almost all of the Jensens gathered to play with our nine bundles of Jensen energy under five years old. Sometimes we complain that my parents no longer have a house in California and we have to gather in hot, beach-less Utah, but we found many advantages to vacationing in this state. Like the reception we got coming off the plane, which included Samoan chanting and dancing.


Ok, that was actually for a planeful of missionaries that arrived at the same time, but we got an even better welcome – Nonna! Leading up to the trip Max kept talking about getting on the plane (going through security and folding the stroller is extremely exciting) and giving Nonna a hug and kiss when we arrived.


Other strong points of Utah – kid-friendly attractions like the dinosaur museum at Thanksgiving Point. The kids adjusted pretty smoothly to the time zone change and their night owl cousins’ schedules. And of course those cousins, who all live close to each other in Utah now that Courtney and her kids are living in my parents’ house while they are in Russia, are Utah’s biggest selling point. Julie and Max had so much fun with them.
Having fun at the Museum Of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point


Maya liked posing for the camera - and wanted to see every picture



Digging for dinosaurs (once Sidon accepted that it was ok for the animals to be ‘dirty’ and stopped making me clean them off).
In Utah, people have backyard pools they generously share with cousins of in-laws of neighbors. We got the girls matching ‘My Little Pony’ shades but Julie had no interest in wearing them

Julie had matching shades but had no interest in wearing them

Julie was pretty enamored with her sweet, helpful cousins.




In Utah people have trains in their backyards. Amazing.


Plus lots of uncrowded open space so Julie could walk and walk and walk – still holding someone’s hand like Uncle Eric, who made it from Colombia.
We have tons of very nice family in Utah and we had a lovely picnic with some of Max and Julie’s many second cousins (PS Jeff the beard and the binky – not sure which is worse)


Julie loved my cousin Melanie’s sweet daughter Amelia (and my camera was on some weird setting that made everyone glow).
Some of the grandkids (and kids) of two brothers (my dad and Uncle Doug) – 14 grandkids are missing and 2 are in tummies.
Some of our wonderful first cousins – there are 17 on my dad’s side (and Sophie photo bombing). We had so much fun growing up together and I’m glad we still get to see them sometimes.
More second cousins – from the other side. One thing we miss about visiting Irvine is seeing my old friends who still live there, but my friend Ashleigh who married my cousin happened to be driving by on the way to California from Wyoming and stopped in with her five cute kids. There will be a quiz on how everyone’s related later (that Mark will never pass).
So great having so many kids around to play with. We stayed at my Mom’s/Courtney’s big house and Max and Sidon had lots of time to play (and occasionally fight over) trains.
In Utah people get crafty and creative with birthdays. We celebrated Sidon’s with homemade donuts, initial letter pancakes, and an adorable fruit train and cars made by Aunt Courtney and Aunt Ashly (it’s a lot more work than it looks like on Pinterest).



Julie got a J pancake

And so much fun to be had on the spacious mountain-framed blocks! Like looking for frogs and rolie-polies in front of Nonna’s house. Max captured an ant. (And no, that is not Utah fashion, but dress-up clothes).

Breanne found a rolie-polie
Max captured an ant

So much outdoor fun. Maya thought the statue in front of the house was crying, Max told it ‘that’s ok.’ And we got to play in a nice neighbor’s sandy playset.
Maya thought the statue was crying, Max told them 'that's ok'


In Utah, Julie can be a bigger kid for once – she could get a little rough with her cute twin cousins Eli and Soren, but most of the time shared nicely.



Trampolines are everywhere in Utah, including Jeff’s basement.
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More fun in Nonna’s front yard. Julie loved all the pretty flowers.
39-IMG_2685Julie loved all the flowers in the front yards
We tried to get a photo of the 8 cousins that were present Sunday evening.
Papa’s request for a photo of his five kids was easier to fulfill. Sad he was in Russia instead of with us.
Mom and her kids
In Utah, at least in our family, there are a lot of twins. People used to mix up Courtney and me even though we’re six years apart. Now we’re trying to fool people by dressing our look-alike daughters the same.



In Utah, there’s time to play (and eat) games, like an Israeli card game like Uno that Aunt Ashly brought back from her recent trip.
In Utah, there are lots of photo ops – these are the highlights from only half the pictures we took. To be continued…

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