We arrived back in the UK on Saturday morning. We're all jet-lagged and grouchy. Jack is struggling getting his sleeping pattern back to normal.
We had a great time. When we got there my Mom showed us her color coded activity calendar which Helen promptly re-arranged completely.
Our biggest concern about the trip was being able to keep Jack entertained on the plane. 13 hours trapped in a seat must seem like a lifetime for a 3-year-old. But wouldn't you know it, the little guy came through. He was patient and happy throughout the whole trip. He got a little grouchy in Atlanta airport, mostly because he'd fallen asleep at the end of the first flight and had been woke up to make the connection. But he even managed to get through that with the help of some snacks. At one point he looked at me through teary eyes and said, "I'm trying to be patient Daddy, I really am."
When we got to SLC airport he was asleep and had been for a few hours. I carried him most the way to the baggage claim before he stirred and asked to be put down. I put him down and gave him Dylan, he staggered about 15 feet, then plopped Dylan onto the floor and declared him a mattress.
We landed on Saturday night at 8:30. Jack was understandably grouchy after 13 hours on a plane but my mother was armed with a tootsie-pop which put him in a good mood for the drive. He chatted a little bit, but mostly sat quietly in the back seat. He fell asleep the moment we put him in bed.
Jack met all of his cousins on the first day, which was no easy feet, he's got 15. On Sunday the whole family set upon my mother's house for dinner, after dinner we headed out to the local amphitheater for a family photo. It became suddenly very obvious to each of us just how long it had been since we were all in the same place at the same time. I'm not really one to get all soppy about family but it's been 5 years since I've seen any of my brothers or sisters and it's likely to be another 5 years before I see them again, so even I couldn't deny that it felt special.
This was a trip of firsts for Jack, as well as Helen. We traveled into American Fork Canyon where we wandered around and explored for a while before we built a campfire and ate S'mores at 11 in the morning. Jack played in the river and reigned for a short time as King of the Trees...
We also took the opportunity to see Toy Story 3 as it was released in the US nearly two months before the UK. This was Jack's first time going to the cinema so we went all out. We bought pop corn and soda had a great time. Jack loved the film, he sat entranced looking at his favorite characters on the big screen.
He Saw his Grandparents, all 4 of them. His grandparents are the only members of my family that Jack had meet before, only it was when he was about 9 months old. Jack professed that he remembered them, but I doubt that he really did. He warmed up to the instantly, and after just a few minutes Jack was treating them just like grandparents.
The wave-runners on Deer Creek were the highlight of the trip for me as far as activities go, Jack didn't like them much. I managed to talk him into getting on it with me, but after only about 10 feet out he decided that it was too wavy and told me to take him straight back. He happily spent the day playing with the other kids in the sand while we blasted about on the wave-runners.
And he met his half-sister. We picked Sam and her little sister Austin and took them to the Aquarium. I was quite nervous about this particular part of the trip. I haven't seen my daughter since she was 5 years old, I know very little about her and wasn't sure what she knew about me. We knew that she'd been told all about Jack, so by proxy that meant me as well.
Sam and her little sister are very typical girls. Giggling and pestering each other endlessly. During the drives to and from the aquarium they took turns sitting the back with Jack and entertaining him. Jack had a great time playing with them.
I've come away feeling like I've got to know my daughter a bit. She's a very sweet and dynamic girl, frighteningly we have a lot in common, starting with independently locking distal interphalangeal joints... Much to my delight Sam asked for some details so that she could maybe write me and/or Jack a letter. My mother quickly provided her with everything she needed, including paper. So I also come away from Utah with the hope that I will have some contact with her.
So now we're home, the flight back was long and two of our suitcases were damaged. The house was still intact, the cat and dogs were alive and waiting for us, there was even a live pigeon in the fireplace as well.
It's the first time I've been back from the States since moving here that left me feeling homesick. Both Helen and I have already pretty heavily researched the job and housing market.