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Friday, August 6, 2010

Pioneers, Paint & a Princess

If it feels like I'm always in Utah, that would be because I am. Or so it seems, anyway, between our May trip for family pictures and our June trip for a couple weddings. Then July 24th rolled around with its festivities that my sister was reigning over and I just couldn't stay away. (July 24th is Utah's state holiday to celebrate the pioneers' arrival in the Salt Lake Valley back in 1847.) A friend of ours needed help driving her five cute kids to Utah so I jumped on the opportunity to be there for the party.

We kicked off our celebration on July 23rd with a family hike up Big Mountain in Emigration Canyon. This hike follows the original trail the pioneers first traveled on... wait for it... July 23rd, 1847. We're cute and commemorative like that. My dad and grandpa stopped the group at various points along the way to share journal entries by pioneers describing their experiences on that very trail. The culminating point on this hike is when you reach the top of Big Mountain and can see the Salt Lake Valley through the rolling peaks. It was really neat to listen to what the pioneers said when they stood in that same spot so many years ago and, after many grueling and heartbreaking months on the trail, caught the first glimpse of their new home.
After nice, refreshing showers, we loaded up the cars again and headed to Sundance for a family party at my uncle Brian's amazing cabin. Yeah, we have it just a little easier than the pioneers. The biggest event of the evening was getting to meet sweet Kaylie, who is my cousin Kyle's first baby and the second grandbaby in the family. Kyle and Michelle are such cute parents, and Kaylie is such a pretty little girl! I could have held her all night. (PS-Many thanks to my rockstar of a cousin, Angie, for this picture!)
Pioneer Day began bright and early as we met up with many of our aunts and uncles to cheer Coley on in the big parade. Also joining us that morning were Jordan's mom and his two sisters, who had come to Utah on a whim to support Nicole in her Days of '47 royalty activities. Yes, they are basically the best future in-laws on the planet!
Nicole looked beautiful on her float! Every little girl on the parade route was so excited to see the royalty, and it was cute to see how happy she made these girls just by smiling and waving at them.
She made a certain boy pretty happy as well :-) Coley and Jordan are so cute together.
And lest you think this royalty business has turned Nicole into one of those refined pageant girls, check out the nails on our pretty princess:
Yep, that's Nicole for you!

That night, we switched gears as the princess turned into a cowgirl at the Days of '47 Rodeo. The rodeo was fun, but didn't hold a candle to our beloved Strawberry Days. And though I admit a complete bias, I thought the highlight of the evening was seeing the royalty come out. (Bull riding would have taken the cake had a single cowboy been able to stay on for the full 8 seconds. The rodeo events were rather disappointing.)
Of course, the festivities continued even after the rodeo with fireworks in the driveway. You have to love any holiday that gives you an extra excuse to play with fire.
Ah, and then it was time for the true purpose of my trip. Remember the wall of many colors from this post? It wasn't even the only one--there were many mini-camo walls throughout the house to test the colors against different pictures and in different lighting. My mom put up these paint swatches clear back in August of 2009. Shortly afterward, Heidi was diagnosed with her brain tumor, the basement flooded, and school started.

Needless to say, painting the house was put on the back burner. And with 30-foot ceilings in our entry and family room, it was too big of a job for my mom to just pick up on her own when she found a spare minute. (Does she ever find those anyway?) So when I found out there was a chance I could come to Utah again, we decided we'd make painting the top priority.
I neglected to take pictures of us 30-feet up, cutting around the crown molding on what felt like a terribly flimsy ladder from way up there. Take my word for it when I say it was an adventure! I did, however, document the big moment when after two days and more than thirty hours of teamwork, we finally rolled over the camo wall at two in the morning. Hooray!
... And then I forgot to take "after" pictures. Oops! I guess I'll just have to give the update in November when we're go to Utah next. In the meantime, just imagine my parents' home looking beautiful, warm and inviting with crisp white trim. A labor of love, I tell you.


  1. fun, fun, fun, & fun.

    I love Utah, even if sometimes I can't stand it:)

  2. Yeah! the paint is done! Except for maybe the living room which I hear is going to be burgandyish. Amazing that all the Graf men are finally letting color onto their walls.

  3. So much fun! I love all the pictures you got. Sigh.... Utah is the BEST. Nicole looked gorgeous and I'm so happy to see how much support she had for all her events. And I must say you looked very natural holding little Kaylie! ;) I don't know how you guys were able to paint with those vaulted ceilings but I just have to say, kudos to you. I'm sure it looks great!

  4. Oh, I've been waiting for someone to post pics like these from the parade and rodeo and nicole!! I loved this whole post!!!

  5. Wow! What a fun trip! Congrats to Nicole! That must have been so exciting for her! And I bet your parent's home looks wonderful! It is a beautiful house regardless, but a new, fresh coat of paint always makes it feel a million times better!

  6. Wow! I am going to miss the wall of many colors! Nicole looked so amazing and we had not been so exhausted from our killer hike, tee hee and BBQ, we would have joined you for the parade. Oh what a perfect princess Nicole is and she is so sweet and darling even with all this attention!

  7. Yep, I have the best family ever. Love you all :) And love you Ash! So glad that you came.

    P.S. Yay for painted walls! Never thought the day would come.

  8. Hello Beautiful!
    So I came across your blog from Alicia H. blog and OMG do you have the dream life or what!? Wow you and your hubby get to do so many fun things, I'm so jealous, where do I sign up?? Anywho, you probably don't remember me I was Kami Graff at Lone Peak and we both told everyone we were related...anywho, Just wanted to say hello and to let you know I stocked your blog. Have a fun fabulous day!:)


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