Thursday, July 26, 2012

Jasper/Banff

I have a few minutes ahead of me while the kids finish watching a movie before we put them to bed, so I thought I'd take this time to blog about our time in Jasper/Banff:

Chris went with a group young men/ boy scouts to ride almost 300 kilometers across 5 days from Jasper to Banff.  The divided into 3 groups (fast, medium and slow) and had one leader at the front and back of each group to prevent boys from going too fast or too slow or being too stupid.  There was only 1 head-over-handlebars wipe out and so I think most people consider the whole event a success! Chris switched roles and groups but mostly stayed with the fast group.

The kids and I drove out just a few hours after Chris and camped in Jasper for 4 nights. My friend Terri and her son who is Alec's age, Jonathan, invited us to "camp" with them in these new canvas tents/cabin things and stayed with us for the first 3 nights.  We saw this huge elk on our drive out.

Our first night there we took a gondola up to a high mountain outcropping to see most of the valley and the town of Jasper, shaped in a J.  It was sooooo fun. There was snow still on the boardwalk at the top and we got brave enough for a short excursion along the rim for a bit.  Then we went back to 'camp' and Terri and I figured out how to get a fire going for smores.

Bright and early the next morning (Gwen's birthday!) we drove down the Colombian Ice Fields Parkway - the gorgeous rode Chris and the boys were biking down - to find and bring them ice cold lemonade and popsicles.  It was SUPER hot, in the 90's.  We brought cupcakes and a present for Gwen to open to try and  celebrate a bit as a family on her actual day.

Then Terri and I took our kids back to Jasper to swim at their Rec Center pool. They had this big waterslide and all the kids went down it! I sort of tripped a bit coming off my first ride and was holding Gwen and Charlie and sorta dropped Gwen and in my scramble to pull it together I scraped my knee pretty bad on the SUPER spiky pool floor. It was a bummer and prevented me from walking straight and swimming in any of the glacier lakes for the rest of the trip.  But its all good because Gwen didn't drown! We finished off her birthday with ice cream cones.

We saw some waterfalls that I can't remember the name of, and drove up a steep, hairpin-turn road to hike a  short bit on Mount Edith Cavelle. We saw a glacier up close and the pool the kids through rocks in still had ice burgs floating in it.

We were lucky to have the weather be so warm so that the swimming in the glacier lakes felt awesome. The kids swam like little fishes (with lifejackets on) in Lake Annette. They are so proficient with their life jackets on it is so nice not to worry too much about them in the water.

To finish off our whole extravaganza with Terri and Jonathan we went white water rafting! I've never been before and we asked lots of questions to the bookers and guides to make sure it was safe enough. It still was a bit scary to make the decision but I felt good about it and it sounded like lots of fun so we went! Gwen cried on the first big splash and our boat driver was TOTALLY AWESOME and expertly maneuvered the raft to shield our side from any big dips/splashes. The boys were the most obedient they've been all week by holding on tightly to both ropes and leaning in whenever I asked. Little Charlie holding onto my shorts with his head practically between his knees is a memory I hope I never forget. The river was pretty swift with a lot of extra water but Gwen actually managed to fall asleep for the last 30 min half.  (I was too focused on holding onto my kids AND the raft that I didn't get any pictures but Terri did and I'll get them and post them here soon)

I wasn't too ambitious after Terri and Jonathan left us. We took a long drive to Lake something or other and ate out for dinner.  I had to switch camps due to some reservations glitches for the last night, but I actually really liked the second canvas tent.  The kids and I all had showered to take up even more time before it got close enough to dark around 11:00pm to put them to bed.

The next morning we checked out and drove the WHOLE parkway to Banff in a hurry so we wouldn't miss Chris finishing! We did make one little stop when we spotted a brown bear off the side of the road. I tried to not copy the other tourists by getting out of the car but we all still wanted a better look, so we climbed out of the sunroof and stood on the van.

Finally a family reunion with Chris!! We missed him some incredible amount and were so please to see him round the corner and come riding up.  Even more happy to hear that he wasn't hurting anywhere, not even his back.  We hurried home in hopes of finding our house NOT flooded, unlike so many others in our ward, due to the heavy rain/hail storm the day before.  (it wasn't)


The only bad thing about this whole experience were the mosquitoes. We got eaten alive!! Seriously.  Our first day we spotted a guy with bites all over his calves and felt so sorry for him. Well, that was us by the second day. Poor Charlie had it the worst, I think.   All the kids were not in their best moods being so sleep deprived by the bright, late nights that during most dinners the amount of mosquitoes flying around their faces (even during the day) made them burst into tears.

Regardless, I think I would do it again....I think.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Gwen's 2nd Birthday!


My little baby is no longer a baby. She turned 2 last week! She is SUCH a talker and has a broad vocabulary and perfect intonations for whines, mad phrases, pouts and baby/sweet talk.  She is extraordinarily loved by all who know her.  She even has a little following at church with many of the youth in the ward.  Her Nursery Leader mouthed to us just last week, "I'm not supposed to have one, but she's my favorite!" She loves to kick balls, make awesome plane/car/buzz lightyear sounds, run around the house, jump up and down, and sing (hymns at church, songs at bedtime, especially Popcorn popping and I love to see the Temple). She is almost constantly hungry and wants a snack or any type of food at any time of day.  She likes to play Hasha-Pock-a-Rosie (Ring around the Rosie) and wear her brother's shoes. 
We celebrated her birthday a few days early, so we could party as a family before we separated for Chris' bike trip and the rest of us camping.  So it was Sunday morning that we sang her the birthday songs, surprised her with presents on the table and a banner in the morning. Chris and I didn't give her many presents this year but the two we did give her were home made with love. We built our first wood project together and made her a little doll highchair.
And I put together some tutus and fairy wings for her. 
 She ran around the house in them saying, "to the rescue!"
Alec wanted to give her a ball and some princess shoes. She loved both, and put on the shoes right away and ran all over in them while kicking her ball. Quite talented in heels. :)  Charlie wanted to give her a soccer uniform and we walked all around the mall trying to find the right one. Its not quite a "uniform" but its close.
 We made her a lady bug cake and had our adopted Grandma, Sister M, over for cake and ice cream. 
I'm afraid for most of the day we were busy getting ready for our bike/camping trips and I feel a little bad for not being able to focus only on her birthday. But I know Gwen doesn't even notice or care so I'm trying to do the same.  

Gwendolyn is the sunshine in our family and we love her "farther than the edge of space" as Alec put it in the car today.