Banff Douglas Fir Family Vacation

Banff | Just Rhonda

A few weeks ago the kids had some days off school and so Dad took some days off work and we took off to Banff. I love Banff. It’s such a beautiful place and we love the rockies!!! We stayed at the Douglas Fir. We’ve stayed there three other times and we are fans! It’s especially good for families and in the winter too. It has big rooms that can work for a family of our size (it had three bedrooms and sleeps 10) and it has a big indoor play place and waterslides. So much fun!

These cuties in the lovely light in our bedroom.

Douglas Fir Banff | Just Rhonda

Little snack time in the tub.

Douglas Fir Banff | Just Rhonda

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The play place is lots of fun!
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The view out our window…. Banff | Just Rhonda

Love these hooligans, so much fun.

Douglas Fir Banff | Just Rhonda

And of course since it’s Banff there is lots of lovely beauty outside to see. I got up one morning and watched the sunset.

Banff | Just Rhonda

 

Banff | Just Rhonda

Love this family of mine.

Douglas Fir Banff | Just Rhonda

So much fun!!

Edited to add: I’ve had a  few emails about the rooms. This time we stayed in Mount Rundle room. Everyone had a bed and tons of room for our family of 7. In the past we stayed in an A-Frame Chalet  as well as the 3 Family suite. So many options.

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Pain Au Chocolat Aux Amande

There are lots of things I had read about and wanted to try when we went to France. Besides all the lovely architecture and the museums and art and the history, really I went to eat. And I did. And I could talk a LOT about why I loved all the food and all we ate. It really did live up to all of its hype. And the funny thing was we didn’t spend a lot of time at the super high end places. We did eat at one really fancy place the night before we came home (at my request) just to try it. And it was SO good. So, so good.

And then there was that time when we were in the town called Valance and there happened to be a fancy food street market where they were celebrating food in France. We were walking around meeting high end chefs (and taking pictures with them) and trying some crazy expensive food that was so out of this world! Oh my heck, I was literally in pain when we were walking away because I had eaten so much. And I didn’t regret any of it 😉

Pain Au Chocolat Aux Armandes | Just Rhonda

Yesterday after I had made a salad inspired by France for lunch and given it to Regan, he turned to me and said “I guess it did change things.” I have always loved good food. And I do spend more time in the kitchen than some other moms, I know. I do it in part for my kids, but really in a lot of ways its totally selfish. I love good food. I like making it, I like reading about it, I want to eat it and feed it to my kids. And trying so many different things there opened my eyes even more to good food. Regan learned french as a missionary years ago. And missionaries do not eat out at fancy french restaurants. So some of the food was really a surprise as to what we were getting. And that was totally part of the adventure of our trip.

While we were there I noticed a few things about their food.

  1. They used local, fresh, unprocessed ingredients. (Benefits you can read about here and see a chef who is trying to start movement for more of this) More real food. More of what actually grew in the ground onto our plates. And lots of their dishes were not complicated. Some of it was really simple food. But it was made with yummy ingredients. I think this totally makes a difference. When you buy those strawberries at Costco that were flown in from wherever around the world in December, think of those and then think of the ones picked at a local U-pick place. Completely different taste. All the way. Ingredients matter.
  2. They aren’t afraid of intricate things either. I don’t know if I will ever be able to think about bread and pastries the same way. Oh my heavens, biting into a freshly baked warm pastry from the local boulangerie. Unexplainable tastiness. Like amazing flaky loveliness. The breads and baguettes and boules and all the other lovely things in the beautiful windows. Those are not made in one day. They are all made from good ingredients and then folded and cooled and then done over and over, rolled out by skilled hand. It was not bread baked from a mix. It was good butter and good flour and 2 days of work. And in the end SO WORTH it.
  3. Eating is an event to be enjoyed, not a rushed stuff your face. The courses of salad and cheese and appetizers and entrees (which over there an appetizer is called an entree and an entree is called a plat – which totally messed up my brain for a few days ;)) They want you to sit and talk and eat and enjoy the food and the atmosphere. It is something to be savored. I think there is value in that. With our kids (as long as you can do it), with friends and co workers and family. Eating and being together and enjoying it together. Now I don’t know how it works in their homes obviously. Our dinner table is not always a peaceful place. It is some days a war zone with crying and fighting and someone peeing on the chair. But there is value in being together and savoring your food for our bodies and our relationships.

Pain Au Chocolat Aux Armandes | Just RhondaOne of the things I had made in the past with some frozen puff pastry from Super store were called Pain Au Chocolat (chocolate bread). It was my attempt at something that Regan had loved in France. Our first morning in Paris, we go out of our apartment and cross the busy street filled with bikes and busses and crazy drivers into a clean, cute little boulangerie. There were people lined up getting things ahead of us. On the back of the wall was a row filled with breads of all shapes and makes. Ones I had read about and some I had attempted to make myself and so many I had only seen in books. French chit chat was going on around us, a few people sat on stools eating their morning pastries and drinking their morning chocolat chaud or cafe. I was mesmerized by the beautiful counter covered in amazing pastries I had only read about. I had no idea what to pick. I could have pulled up a stool and eaten all day until I was sick. Regan thankfully helped me pick a pain au chocolat and i LOVED it. First bite and I realized the things I had been making at home weren’t even in the same atmosphere as the gold I was eating.

Almost every morning in Paris after that we did the same thing and I tried so many different varieties. And one of my very favorites was the Pain Au Chocolat Aux Amandes. Our whole trip I was making a mental list of foods I was going to research when we got home and after eating one of these it definitely made the list! I already owned a few cook books about french food before we went and one of them is a total baking book. I’ve tried some things in it along with other baked goods in other books. Low and behold there is a recipe for Croissant aux Amandes. And an explanation about how they came about:

“The almond croissant is an example of the patissier’s ingenuity. A bakery invariably has croissants left over. So, how to sell those the next day? Turn them into something almost better than a fresh croissant. Split the croissant, fill them with almond cream, and top them with more almond cream and sliced almonds then bake them. So good.”

Pain Au Chocolat Aux Armandes | Just Rhonda

Well I gave them a shot and they worked out. And I’ve had a couple people ask me about the recipe. Now it’s long. But its not really that complicated. Its more of a time commitment, but in the end I can not stress enough – it is so worth it. I’ve thought about it since we gobbled the last ones up. These are totally gonna become our Christmas breakfast treat. Something for a special occasion. Although I plan to make them on Saturday for thanksgiving so my mom can try some. I might eat one or two myself. 😉

I found a few recipes online to try out and ended up combining of a few of them to make what I tasted in France. The ones we tasted in France were all shaped in rectangles like this. Which I liked more than wasted the corners of the labour intensive dough that took 2 days when I made the croissants. (I made those the first day and then the immediate next day I made the pain au chocolate ones.) The ones Savuer shares are the croissant variety.  And the first recipe I found online for the almond ones was from Chocolate and Zucchini. Which then made me think of the cookbooks I owned where I had I already had one. I used parts of that and then mostly the Martha Stewart one.

Go read those links and see if you want to give it a try. I promise they are soooo worth all the work. I’ll dream of them tonight and think about making them this weekend for my family.

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Living a Life 9/15

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Well today I’m here to share another entry in our monthly habit of living a life. And since I am still in France this week, I’ll share some pictures from here. I have so so so many images I’ve taken here in France that I’ll try to keep it to a whole lot less (and we still have a week here!) I’ll pick one picture from each day we’ve been here so far. My favourite image from each day.

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This has been SUCH a cool experience. So very very cool. And I love that I am doing it with my love. That makes it even better.

Now… go on to see these other lovely ladies that I am doing this monthly habit with: AndreaErinNaomiKinsey &  Brooke

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Wateron Lakes National Park

Living a Life: 8/15

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A week ago we had some family come and stay with us. And we took them to Waterton to experience and explore and have fun. So today I’m sharing some images from that lovely day when we played and explored outdoors.

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And my favorite of the day:

Wateron Lakes National ParkNow… go on to see these other lovely ladies that I am doing this monthly habit with: Naomi Kinsey

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Sunday Afternoon Waterton

The other Sunday we had early church and so we headed up to Waterton right after we came home. We packed out picnic before church and headed up there. It was a little windy, but SUCH a nice lovely day up there. Obviously we weren’t alone in thinking that because there were a LOT of Raymondites up there! This was how we spent our time 😉

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My kids love being here. And this is totally one of our usual stops. Especially on windy days. It’s warm and shielded from the wind a bit add in the creek and rocks to through and it’s a perfect place to go.

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Family time in waterton | Just Rhonda

My kids LOVE just throwing rocks into the water. Lucy spent a lot of time identifying wildflowers with her dad. The boys and Norah just threw LOTS of rocks. Lots and lots.

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I like to keep a coat for everyone in our van and even sometimes extra pants too. Because sometimes it ends up a little cooler than you thought or someone gets wetter than they hoped (that didn’t happen this time but it totally happens!) Keeping a picnic blanket always in is a good idea too!

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We saw four different bears that day so it was a GREAT bear day!

Bear in waterton | Just Rhonda

Family time in waterton | Just Rhonda

Cutest baby cub walking around.

Bear in Waterton | Just Rhonda

Family time in waterton | Just Rhonda

I asked some guy on the docks to take our picture and I’m really happy I did. (And isn’t Alden becoming a GIANT?! He’s almost as tall as me and he’s only 12! He’s defiantly got those Davis genes kicking in!)

Family time in waterton | Just RhondaFamily time in waterton | Just RhondaFamily time in waterton | Just RhondaOne of my very very very favorite spots in Waterton. I love this road!
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Really it is one of my favorites. I’m excited about a whole summer ahead for lots of time to explore!

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A little getaway to Arizona

Last week I was lucky enough to take my mom on a little trip. She had never been down there and lucky me I have in laws who have a place. So we booked some cheap tickets on Allegiant. We had to drive down to Great Falls and then fly out from there. We really didn’t have a lot planned other than I wanted to go into the Becky Higgins headquarters (which we did and I got to meet some of the team but Becky was out of country – so I’ll just have to go back some time! ;)) We swam in the pool and read books and ate out at a LOT of really yummy places and did a little shopping and just hung out together. One day my mom said to me “I can’t remember the last time it was just me and you for a long period of time.” I don’t know if we’ve ever really had it. It was great in that way! We did some sightseeing and i lugged my big camera around cause that’s how I roll. I did share some pictures on Instagram while we were there, but here is a WHOLE lot more. I’m contemplating how to make a mini album out of these all – one for me and one for my momma.

Arizona trip | Just Rhonda

One night we got to go to a cool urban farm where there were two food trucks which I’ve wanted to try for a while. Waffle Luv and Tia’s Tacos.

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Really we ate a LOT of reallllly yummy food!!

Arizona Trip | Just Rhonda

I also went into the Project Life / Becky Higgins headquarters. And that was awesome.

Arizona trip | Just Rhonda

Saw a few temples.

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Sunset at Sunset point.

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Arizona trip | Just Rhonda

Arizona trip | Just RhondaA couple of times my mom commented that she thought the desert would be void of color. But there is tons of beautiful things to see. It was really a great place to visit!

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Martin’s Cove

A few weekends ago I went with the youth in our Stake to Martin’s Cove. As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it has special meaning to us because of our pioneers who travelled the plains and suffered (and many gave of their lives) to cross to Utah so that they could live with freedom of religion. If you don’t know much about the pioneers and their travels there is lots of information about the place like here and here. For me, I’ll just say that it was deeply moving experience I won’t soon forget. Two experiences were the most dramatic. 1. the crossing of the sweet water river – where young men carried others across the river to represent those rescuers who carried whole families across a frozen river and then those same rescuers eventually died from the exposure. 2. The women’s pull – where the women pull heavy carts up the hill to represent all those women who lost their husbands and had to carry on across the plains alone.

I’ll share the way I do best, with pictures. I’m sharing more of the landscape and a few of the youth because they are going to have a slideshow made and I don’t want to give them all away!

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These are actual Pioneer names carved into the rocks. So cool to see.

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This is the path the pioneers used to mark the way.

Raymond goes to Martin Cove | Just Rhonda

There was a little square dancing.

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Raymond goes to Martin Cove | Just Rhonda

It was a very moving emotional experience that filled me with more  gratitude for all of the sacrifices that were made that now benefit my life. And i love doing event / travel photography more and more. It’s a lovely way to get to experience places and events.

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Waterton in the Spring

I usually post food on Wednesdays… but it’s been a busy week and I just haven’t gotten around to photographing anything I cooked or baked. So instead, I’m sharing a whole bunch of pictures from Waterton. It’s such a lovely place. And yesterday I woke up thinking about when the next time I would get to go to waterton. So I decided to head up there while all the big kids were at school and Regan was at work with just Norah and Oliver. We took a picnic and it was seriously SO nice. I love love love days like it was. We just enjoyed all of the beauty and watching the mountain goats was totally amazing too. They were totally performing for us. Such a good morning.

First up though, on the way there i had to stop just outside of Magrath because this shot seemed to sum up southern Alberta to me. Mountains, Fields, Grain elevators and windmills all in one shot.

Southern Alberta | Just Rhonda

And of course Old Chief and a gravel road. Classic Southern Alberta!

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Now on to Waterton!
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Have i mentioned I love that place?

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Telus Spark Center (aka the Science Center)

Last week was Easter and Regan had to work a lot of it so it was a of just hanging out at home. But we did want to do one day of something. So on Wednesday we went up to Calgary and stayed over in a hotel the night before and the next day we went with cousins to the Calgary Telus Spark museum. I didn’t take a ton of pictures but here few. 😉

They have a really cool moving mechanical metal dinosaur exhibit right now. It’s REALLY cool!

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They also had a fire show that we got to watch which everybody loved too.

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And a new big outdoor play area.

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It is a really cool place. The good thing about it is that there are separate places that appeal to different ages. Part of the time Regan had Alden in the older area and the rest of us hung out in the smaller kid area. I think one of the downsides of the place is how expensive it is! It is NOT cheap! (And I think if they lowered the price they’d get more people going – but that’s just my opinion! ;))

It was mostly a fun time. Well except the whole sleeping in a hotel room with kids. We stayed at the Hi Express and that was great. They even had two adjoining rooms so we could put most of the kids in one room and just Norah and us in the other. We played in the great pool before bed and had lots of fun doing that. But Oliver spent a great deal of time mad that we were there and so he was in the bathroom screaming his brains out. It was….. annoying. (to put it nicely) He finally went to sleep around 1030 on the floor because he was NOT going to sleep in these beds. He was a bit of a mess.

At least he's sleeping

I would say that traveling with the size of family we have is hard. I wish more hotels offered either bigger rooms or rooms like this that attach. I looked around on the internet for a while trying to find one with adjoining rooms and I never even knew this one had it. I just ended up renting two rooms. And then the desk guy offered this to us and I was very pleased! I like staying at a place that has a breakfast. That is a whole lot easier with kids. Breakfast and a water slide.

Other than the sleep depravation it was a great little family trip.

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Waterton in March | Just Rhonda

A Family Trip to Wateron

I really love Waterton. I love being surrounded by the beauty there. I am always shocked when someone from Southern Alberta tells me that they rarely go. That is completely sad to me. It’s an amazing place and some where that kids can explore and be free and be in nature. It’s been on my mind lately how kids are growing up now without as much exposure to nature. I think that’s terrible. Nature is part of us and we are a part of it. I feel better and more like myself when I am able to be in it and experience it. I’ve had people ask me what we do in waterton. We let the kids explore. We build dams in the water and throw rocks. We see animals and wildlife. We walk trails and do hikes. We ride bikes and build fires. We race and play hide and seek. We drive the roller coaster road back and forth. We watch for bears and talk about the times we saw this or that animal. We eat picnics and get ice cream. We rent big bikes and tour the town. We drive by the waterfall and climb around in the wooden teepee at the point. We build creations with logs and rocks and branches. We sing songs and marvel at the beauty God created. We be together without distractions. And of course, we take lots of pictures.

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Get outside and explore. That’s what we do. And what a great place to do it!

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Sledding in Waterton

A few weekends ago we took the kids to Waterton to go speeding. It was fight to get them there and finding enough gloves and shoes and everything for everyone took quite a bit of effort. And a bunch of them didn’t even match. But we went and we had fun and we made memories.  And we even got to see some animals too.

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It was a lovely day.

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SnowShoeing in Waterton

Just before Christmas Regan and I were lucky enough to get a day to go snow shoeing in our favorite place, Waterton. A year or so ago I gave Regan snow shoes for Christmas. And then for my birthday this year, he gave me a set. And finally we had time to go out together and use them. It was a great day. Not a lot of people. Just beautiful scenery.
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We are total photo nerds together. 😉 Him with his iPhone and me with my big camera (and sometimes my iPhone too!) And we stop and enjoy the beauty around us lots as we go. It’s a lovely way to enjoy nature.

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I love that we can go do outdoor things together. Hopefully when our kids are a little bigger we will be able to take them too, but for now it is a fun thing that we can do together. I think one of the ways to keep a marriage healthy and strong is to do things together, when we are able to find time to just be together and remember that we are a couple in love and that’s how our family began.

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And why wouldn’t we want to enjoy the beautiful creations all around us too!

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The older I get the more I find peace and fulfillment in nature. I love it outside and especially in the mountains.

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Such a good day with such a great guy! How lucky am I?!

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A fun little Getaway

So things worked out that Regan and I got a little get away to Arizona. It was a bit last minute but it worked out awesome. We had a babysitter and we had a free place to stay and we used points to fly so it was a really cheap vacation too! All in all fantastic. Here’s my picture dump about the whole thing. I had never been to the desert before. The beauty of it was amazing. And man, I loved how in Arizona the mountains just seemed to pop up from the earth without any rolling hills like we have around here. We did a great hike, thanks to my friend Jill’s recommendation. And really got to see the beauty of the valley that way. It was awesome. And tiring and totally worth it.

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And um… cactus’ are weird.

RLS_4569RLS_4541RLS_4545RLS_4550RLS_4555RLS_4630Here we are at the basin in the Siphon Draw hike in Lost Dutchman State Park. We decided to keep going a bit and ended up climbing up about to the top of the middle of this frame. Amazing views. (And I am annoyed that my timer shot chopped off our legs… but whatcha gonna do ;))
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RLS_4609RLS_4600RLS_4626The sun peeking over the mountains? Fantastic!
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Lucky me, that I got to meet two online photography friends while I was down there. And they were awesome. Ashby and Jill. Jill was out food tour guide and gave me a list of lots of yummy places to eat. (Which we did.)

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A couple people have asked me about the places we ate out. So I’ll make a list of my favorites. Seriously there were so many places and more I wanted to try.

1. Postinos It’s a wine bar (which doesn’t help us out since we don’t drink ;)) But the food was SO GOOD! They have these fantastic bruschettas! Amazing!!! You pick four kinds and they all come out on this fantastic wooden cutting board. (My phone had died or I would have taken a picture!!) We tried the Bie & Apples with Fig Spread, Fresh Mozzarella with Tomato and Basil, Warm Artichoke Spread and Ricotta with Dates & Pistachios. Oh my heck, seriously so stinking good! Warm, crispy fresh bread with these toppings? Heavenly!! Then for dinner we got a soup and half a sandwich. The soup was a smooth Roasted Red Pepper and Gouda soup. Creamy with a little bit of a bite. Oh my. My sandwich was  Prosciutto with triple cream brie, fig jam and arugula on a lovely thick fresh Focaccia bread. I could eat that sandwich for the rest of my life. Regan got the Autostrada sandwich that had Sopresatta, Italian ham, cappicola, Mortadella, Provolne, Argula and Tomatoes with spice pepper relish on ciabatta. I would have tried his but then he might have wanted some of mine…. and I wasn’t giving any up 😉

2. Republica Empanada  Jill and Ashby met up with Regan and I here. Sooooo good. Totally going to get all crazy about empanada’s and learn to make tasty ones after that place!!! I tried the Republic Chicken and the Bean and Cheese with the Fig, Cheese and Caramel for dessert. Which were so good I ordered seconds. Seriously had a stomach ache when we left cause I couldn’t stop eating the food!!!! Go there if you go to Arizona!!!!!!

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2. Le Grand Orange: A Pizza place connected to a cute little grocery place. We had Shrimp Ceviche for an appetizer and then the Avocado Pizza with prosciutto. The thin crust sour dough-ish crust was Chewy and so good. Such a great place!!!

3. Sweet Republic Ice Cream: Oh my this was soooo tasty!! I tried their Toffee Banofi Sundae and couldn’t finish it but it was freakishly good. Best waffle cone I’ve ever had!

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The others that were on my list that we didn’t get too….

  1. Ranch Market (Los Altos): It’s a Mexican grocery store with a restaurant at the back. Totally got there too late and they had closed the restaurant place.
  2. Liberty Market 
  3. Crackers & Co
  4. The Farmhouse
  5. Joe’s Real BBQ
  6. Grimaldi’s

Next time…. 🙂 There were some friends I didn’t get to see and food I wanted to try, so yes, we will be back!!!

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Waterton Lakes: Bertha Falls Hike

Close to the beginning of the month Regan and I went to Waterton for the weekend. Just one night. It was great. We did a hike on the Saturday up to Bertha Falls. I did share some night pictures from the Friday night for my 5 on the 5th but I wanted to share some more from our hike on Saturday. And I just wanted to say again how much I love being out in nature and capturing the beauty of it. The colors and the light. The creatures and flowers. All of it, I love it. And I especially love doing it with Regan. And especially in Waterton!

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If you’ve never been to Waterton or it’s been a long time, go! You’ll love it! As you can see…. we do!

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5 Favorite Utah Activities

We just got back from a ten day trip to Utah. It was lots of fun and lots of work! We’ve never taken our kids on that far of a car trip. But it worked out. Mostly because we let them watch movies the whole way 😉 Well everyone but Norah who wouldn’t really watch movies anyways! I thought I just give an overview of my kids favorite things. Our kids are 11,8,6,2,18 months. That’s a wide range of ages and it makes it a bit tricky to keep everyone happy at the same thing!  Here we are all at the Conference Center. (I wish Norah was in focus too…)

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While in SLC we stayed at a hotel with two rooms beside each other. That was … okay. In St. George we stayed at a great condo where the kids really enjoyed the pool! v

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These are the 5 favorite things of our kids.

1. Thanksgiving Point: We did two different things in Thanksgiving Point. And the kids loved both of them! We didn’t know for sure how busy it would be because it ended up being Pioneer Day . But it worked out just fine. There were a TON of people at the museum and not that many at farm country.

  • Museum of Curiosity: This was probably all of our kids very favorite thing we did in Utah. They loved it! There were so very many neat exhibits and I think the kids could have played there all day. Norah got really tired and finally fell asleep in the stroller (which made me happy). The whole museum is filled with fun interactive displays that teach. Really really awesome!

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  • Farm Country:  Our kids also loved this. Alden wasn’t as into it as the rest of them. He seemed almost a little old for it. Norah and Oliver LOVED the animals especially. And all the kids loved riding the ponies!

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2. The Living Planet Aquarium : My kids loved this too. We actually ended up doing this whole place in one and a half hours. Mostly because Eli. He was all over the place. But they all had fun!

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3. Jump on It: Basically a big place filled with trampolines! The kids loved it! Especially the older ones.

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4. The Little Mermaid Play  I took the older two kids to this. It started later in the evening and no kids under 3 are even allowed in the place. It was an outdoor theater. It was so so so good. The acting, singing, the effects, the fireworks. All of it. Amazing.

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5. Zion’s National Park:  We love to explore nature as a family!!! This whole place was amazing and so different from anything in Alberta. We loved it! So many beautiful things to see!

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It was a lot of driving but such a fun place to go. We also stopped at a lot of temples and took a lot of pictures. I’m sure I’ll be sharing more of our trip sometime in the future. But for now these are the 5 things our kids loved the most!

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Family Reunion in Fairmont Hot Springs

This past weekend we gathered with some family members in Fairmont for a reunion of sorts. There were lots that couldn’t go but we still had lots of fun! If you’ve never been to Fairmont it is a great place to visit. It’s beautiful and not to far away from Southern Alberta. I thought I’d share lots of pictures and some of the things we did with a pros and cons list of doing a reunion there.

The view from Fairmont Resort

Since I have always at least one early riser I am often able to be out taking pictures when the sun first comes up. The light here was magical at that time in the morning!

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At Fairmont you have a few options for staying. Some of the family had trailers and they pulled them and stayed right in the Resort RV campground. Some of them tented and those aren’t allowed anywhere on the Resort so those tough families had to stay at the tenting campground down the hill and across the river. We rented a cabin for our family. It was good but a bit pricey. My parents and grandma were supposed to have one too but they got bumped into the main building which was really frustrating. There also really wasnt a gathering place for all of the family to get together. We made due and still kinda found ways to gather.

IMG_4256There was lots of time for hanging out.

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There are a few kids activities right at Fairmont. One of them was a set of three huge jumpy castles. One was an obstacle course, one just a jumpy castle and another was these huge slides. They were fun but they cost $9 a child. So when you have 5 kids it adds up! We did get a little bit of a discount because we were staying in the cabins but it was still expensive! There were quite a few other kids activities we did not check out.

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And of course we spent a LOT of time in the pools. The pools are naturally warm and really nice. There are three pools. A hot one and two coolish ones. One is just for the diving boards. Our kids had a blast in the pools! Our entrance to the pools was covered because we were staying in the cabins. Everyone else had to pay each time. And their family rate only included 2 kids which means you have to pay for anymore kids that than. And there was no ramp to get into the pool so we did get grandma in one day but it was really hard for her to get out and she didn’t try it again. It is not wheelchair accessible at all.

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Pros to having a Family Reunion at Fairmont Hot Springs:

  • Great swimming
  • Beautiful surroundings
  • Nice playgrounds on the resort
  • Kids programs available
  • Tennis courts and other activities were available too
  • Most of the staff was great

Cons to having a Family Reunion at Fairmont Hot Springs:

  • Expensive
  • No gathering place for everyone
  • Ordering food at the pool took FOREVER (as in 45 minutes for 4 hot dogs)
  • Not really wheelchair accessible
  • Not really large family friendly

All in all it was a fun reunion and the best part is seeing family you haven’t seen in a while!

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O Canada

One of my very favorite things about living in Canada is the beauty of it. And one of the best places around where we live is Waterton!  We had a family trip there this past Saturday and since it was Eli’s actual birthday we had some cake and celebrated that too. I love this place!

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5 on the 5th

I’m up again with a 5th on the 5th.  We went to Waterton on Monday right after school. And wouldn’t you know it we were there literally 10 minutes and my camera battery died. RLS_1160 IMG_4037IMG_7583 RLS_1162 RLS_1168 Now go on to see Liza’s Pictures.... footerweb

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Hawaiian Coastline

One of my favorite spots in Hawaii was while Jodi and I were waiting for our hubbies to do (run) their hike. The light was just so magical and perfect.

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Hawaiian Hindu Temple

I was looking through my Hawaii pictures last night and seeing that I still have lots of other things to share. One of my favorite things we did happened when we stumbled across a Hindu temple. I love checking out Religious places like churches and temples. Religion plays such a big part in my own life, that I love to see how other religions practice and live. This place was totally cool and so beautiful!

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All over Kauai you can see these neat trees called Banyan Trees. They were by far one of the coolest things to me. You can read more about them here. Essentially the trees sends out piles and piles of prop roots that spread the tree further and further. Each one of these little and big roots also goes to the ground and form roots. They make the tree wider and stronger. The biggest one in Kauai I think they said was 14 feet wide. The statue in the pictures below was completely inside a tree. We could walk into it. It was the coolest thing. And I as I sat in those trees and saw them over and over to me they had spiritual representation. The more experiences we have with faith the stronger and more “rooted” we become. It was just the coolest!

banyantreeI really really loved the beauty and peace we found in this little stop on Kauai. Do you like to check out different religions from your own to see how they worship?

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5 on the 5th

I’m back at it again this month with my circle of friends doing a photography share of 5 photos. (Here was my first entry.)  This month I’ll share 5 different sunsets and sunrises from our trip to Hawaii. The sky was amazing. And I loved it.

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Now go on to see Liza’s Pictures....

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Hawaii Adventures

Regan and I haven’t done a ton of traveling. And if we have gone places we book a hotel and flights and call it planned. One time I think we booked a car ahead of time. We just kinda get there and then find things to do. The couple we went to Hawaii with are much more about planning to make sure you can do the things you want to do. So we had some fun things planned for when we got there and they did lots of research to find the best of things on the islands. It was great for us (they did all the work) and we benefited from it! 😉 We did the helicopter ride the first day we got there. A few of the other things we did over the trip that were lots of fun:

1. Zipline with Just Live.  I had my camera with me and I took lots of pictures, but one of the guides had a Gopro camera on his chest and he took pictures and videos and we got those too.

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This was one of our guides….. he was hilarious… and a pretty sweet photo boom-er. 😉

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Along with the zip line there was also a huge swing you could go on. This is Regan on the left going up and on the right swinging down.

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Jodi on the way up and on the way down.

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2. Paddle Boarding: Regan, Mike and Jodi all  tried this. (I laid on the beach and took pictures and read a book….)

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3. Tubing Adventure with Adventure in Hawaii: This was SUPER fun!!! You wear helmets with lights on them and then you ride through underground tunnels with a whole group of people. After the ride they feed you lunch at a great lunch spot and swimming hole.

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4. Snorkeling:

RLS_5265 5. Kalalau Trail: Regan and Mike decided last minute to do a hike on the coast of the Kauai highway. When they first got there the guide at the bottom told them there was no way they would have enough time. But they went quickly and made it up and back the 6 hour hike in under 3. They were really muddy and messy when they got back. And we were going right to the plane.

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RLS_6185 So many many fun adventures were had in our 10 days!

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Hawaii Flowers and Trees

Just so you know, I like the word vegetation. And I really like taking pictures of it. I love my Macro lens and Hawaii was an amazing place to take pictures of all kinds of growing things.
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I think one of the neat things about traveling is seeing how God created the world all over. It couldn’t be more  different in Hawaii that it is in Southern Alberta. The colors everywhere. It all reminded me how powerful the creator is. And really how much of an artist HE is.
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It reminds me of one of my favorite children’s songs.

“Whenever I hear the song of a bird
Or look at the blue, blue sky,

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Whenever I feel the rain on my face
Or the wind as it rushes by,

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Whenever I touch a velvet rose
Or walk by our lilac tree,

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I’m glad that I live in this beautiful world
Heav’nly Father created for me.

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He gave me my eyes that I might see
The color of butterfly wings.

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He gave me my ears that I might hear, The magical sound of things.

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He gave me my life, my mind, my heart:
I thank him rev’rently

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For all his creations, of which I’m a part. Yes, I know Heav’nly Father loves me.”

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I am also glad that Regan (and Jodi and Mike) were willing to go slow as I took everything in with my eyes and my camera.

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We also found this collection of cool fruit was awesome too sitting on a table at the farmers market. We missed most of the market cause we were off having adventures, but this was all sitting out on the table. We tried the fuzzy looking red ones.

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The view from up high

We just got back from 10 days in Hawaii. And it was wonderful. Just Regan and I (the kids had fun with their grandmas & grandpas at home) and another couple Mike and Jodi. We did lots of adventurous things. And on our first day there we did something I don’t know that I would have normally done. It was VERY adventurous! We flew with Jack Harter helicopters in an open door helicopter on a tour around Kauai. I am not normally afraid of heights. But I’ve never been up like that! You have to tie back your hair and you can’t have anything in your pockets because of the wind. I was so freaked out! hahaha! I was beautiful and amazing, yes. But oh my was I freaked out!

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This was just the beginning and I was like, ok, I’m ok…. ok…. They do this all the time…. I’m strapped in here….

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And I kept talking to myself like that the whole time…. Yes it was amazingly beautiful. It was really cold. They tell you to wear pants and before I went I was like this is so dumb. Nope. I wish I had a warmer jacket on too!

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We saw soooooo many waterfalls. Amazing.

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I brought my AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens and it was great for zooming into things. Part of the time I was wishing I had a short lens length on so that I could get wide views. But there certainly was no lens changing up there.

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The fog really added to the beauty of it all.  And funnily enough, our pilot was from Alberta. 🙂

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It really was an amazing experience. Yes, it was expensive. But it is a chance of a lifetime kind of thing. And even though I was pretty scared I am glad I did it.

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I’ve got lots more to share about our trip and a LOT more pictures too. I’ll be sharing for the rest of the week all about it.

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Have you every ridden in a  helicopter  like this and if you haven’t would you give it a shot?

Vancouver

Regan, Norah and I all went to Vancouver last week. (Grandma watched the other 4 kids. THANK YOU grandma!!) Regan was getting smart at his conference and Norah and I were hanging out. 🙂 We got to see family out there too. So it was great. Here is a photo overload.

Waterton Oct 2013

We love Waterton. We try to go often. It’s so close and it’s so lovely. Well Thanksgiving Monday was all the things we LOVE about Waterton! Before we went I made quick little “journals” for the kids to do on the way and there. I literally took 5 minutes. I just folded some paper in half and then sewed down the middle to make a little book. One for Alden, Lucy & Eli. Here’s a picture with Alden’s cover and one of the pages from Lucy’s already done.

Here are some favorite pages from the inside from Alden & Lucy’s. It took me 5 minutes to make (our printer was out of ink or else I would have made them on the computer quick to print out… but maybe that’s good cause I could have spent more time making them and instead I did it fast and we just used them.)

Here are the kids using the books…

And here are some shots from my “real” camera and both Regan & my iPhones. (Let’s see if you can figure out what comes from which phone 🙂 )

 

One of the kids favorite parts is ALWAYS roller coster road. Here’s what it looks like outside…..

And here’s what it looked like inside the van…

Truly one of my very favorite places on earth with my favorite people.

 

 

 

Eureka Montana Vacation

So we went on a great family vacation. (Get prepared for a photo overload!) It was a beautiful location on the Wilderness Club Golf Resort in Eureka Montana. I’ve been telling everyone they should rent the lodge were we stayed! It sleeps 25 people in beds! Plus tons of room for people to sleep on the floor and a huge kitchen and dining room. And man it was just beautiful around there!

There are a lot of babies. And we started calling them the baby gang. 🙂

These three are each a month apart and they had sooooo much fun together.

The light was so lovely in the house.

We did face painting one day.

And bubbles provided fun too.

Hannah did lots of posing for me 🙂

There was lots of water involved. There was a waterslide and pool & hot tub and then we spent a day at the lake with the boat and the beach and there is a big hot tub right at the house too.

Lots of fun cousin time.

 

So one night we were just sleeping and then all of a sudden we heard the LOUDEST noise. We had no idea what it was. And then we woke up and  found a tree had blown over and hit he house. Right where me and Regan and Norah were sleeping! Crazy hey?!

One day we went to Kalispell & tried out the alpine slide on the Big Mountain just outside of Whitefish.

We drove home over Logan’s Pass.

It was a fun, tiring, exhausting trip where we made lots of memories.

 

Mexico – A recap

Well there is lots of say about our trip. But even more importantly lots of pictures to sum it up! 🙂 A few short thoughts about it.
1. It was lots of fun. And especially super fun to travel with some good friends.
2. It was super fun to see Regan and hang out with him (he’s in a busy rotation right now)
3. I never realized how many people take their families to Mexico! There were a ton of kids!
4. I was only really sick one day. (like throwing up sick) Which is pretty good for me being pregnant!
5. I wish I knew how to speak another language.
6. Shorts with your swimming suit are the BEST.
7. Food all made at any time of the day is AWESOME!
8. I like mocktails. mmm mango tango.

Day 1
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Day 5
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Other various shots I loved…
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I am especially glad for those who helped us out with watching our kids!!!