Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Moving Helpers

A family in the ward is going to Toronto for a year and we are going to house sit for them! We were looking for a cheaper and therefore probably smaller place to rent for the next year but wasn't having any luck finding one in our ward, let alone stake. So we feel really blessed to have this work out so well! A nicer and maybe bigger place for less than we pay now! We won't have a garage to park our car in but most people don't have one here so we'll survive the winters like everyone else. (although we'll maybe need an engine block heater installed).

Here's to the 4th move in the last 3 summers.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Birthday, Family and Friends

While Chris was at a conference in Toronto, I spent the week in Herriman at Tiffany's house.  I actually arrived at their house 12 hours before they did and after finding a Sacrament Meeting with the kids, and settling in at Tiffany's, the kids and I had Sunday dinner at Chris' parents house.  I wondered if it'd be weird being there without Chris and the whole time I just felt right at home.  I love it there.

Tiffany and I chatted, did laundry and unpacked from our camping trip for the first few days. For Pioneer Day we did a morning "hike" up to this big boulder at the base of the foothills near their home. At the boulder we told the true pioneer stories of our Great, Great, Great, Great Grandfather, John Pidding Jones (Or is his Hyrum? We never did figure that out). His trek from England to Cedar City was so exciting and tender. I'd love to put together another kids book about it.


Later in the afternoon we went to the Herriman Reservoir with all the kids and played in the water.  It rained and thundered on us, but we stuck it out under towels and had a nice time once it cleared up again. I loved playing frisbee with Sarah, Jared and Tiffany.  We finished off the day by bringing Grandma Dixie some chocolate dipped strawberries for her birthday!

I've decided if you're going to be away from your husband during your birthday week, the best place to be is at your sister's.  Tiff, Todd, Jared, Ashley, Sarah and German spoiled me the whole week by watching my kids for me at various times, making a yummy dinner and cake and just spending lots of time with me.  I honestly hardly felt the burden of single parenthood.  We had a yummy family dinner with my cousins Emily and Carli: smoked salmon, rice, salad, rolls and fruit. Also I couldn't decide what kind of cake I wanted and Tiffany humored me and we made two! Coconut cake with lemon filling and cream cheese frosting, and Coconut cake with Chocolate Mouse filling/frosting.  They were both super good, but I think my favorite was the lemon.

Gwen was afraid of Todd for most of the time until he won her over by offering to help get her nails painted!  One afternoon I tried to take my kids and Andrew for a bike ride and we went to a shaved ice stand (Hawaii has forever changed my definition of this treat and set a SUPER high bar of tastiness) that ended up being almost 3 miles from Tiffany's house, 1 way. The return trip would have been ALLLLL uphill. I called Tiffany and she rescued all the kids and their bikes and drove them home. It was all I could do to pull an empty trailer back. I'm not sure what I was thinking in the first place.


Ashley and Tiffany were perfect shopping and pampering buddies as I got ready for the kidless Hawaii trip Chris and I were taking the next week!! (pictures and details coming on the next post).

Chris did his best surprise for me by organizing my first ever professional massage! He got in from Toronto the day after my birthday in the morning and he told me he'd like to give Tiff and I a break from our kids for a bit later that day before the family birthday dinner. Maybe we could go shopping. I happily agreed and really loved the fact that he was so happy about doing this for us. Especially since he wanted to do it for Tiffany too.  He was just SMILING so big about it and a couple of times as it got closer and closer to dinner time, said, "shouldn't you guys be going now, if you want to get back before dinner?" He was so helpful in getting us out the door and was just so darn happy about it all. I chalked it all up to his being gone all week and missing my birthday and he was just probably happy to do something for us.  Maybe he was going to set up a surprise at the house while we were gone.

Tiffany was so sly about it all. I told Tiffany we should invite Ashley to come shopping with us and she dutifully called Ashley (who knew about the massage) and Ashley had to make up an excuse of why she couldn't come.  In the car, I saw Tiff pull out a piece of paper with writing on it, but kinda trying to hide it between her and the door as she drove (it had directions to the place). I thought it was just her shopping list and that she had to hold it funny since she was using one hand to drive.

I continued to jabber on about exactly what kind of things I wanted to get and I called Chris to ask him to check what size of shoe Charlie has since I was going to get him new ones and He asked if we were at the store yet. I told him no, we're still driving but he could just text it to me. Which he did. :) It wasn't until Tiffany slowed down and was driving like she was looking for something in the middle of this older residential area that I asked, "Where are we?"

"Surprise!" Tiff says as she pulls up to some random old house. "Chris paid for you and I to get an hour-long massage!"

I couldn't stop laughing. Chris actually managed to pull off a surprise! It probably helped that he only had 4-5 hours of being with me before it. The massage was awesome and sooo relaxing. I almost fell asleep once.

The fun week was topped off with a weekend with our dear friends, the Katz and Lewis Families. It was strange how normal it all felt even thought its been a year since we've all hung out. The Katz's still have the same furniture and the kids quickly fell into old habits of favorite games like flips onto the love sac. :) Amanda may hate me forever, but Chris and I introduced Peter, Joni and Aaron to Ninja Destruction. We had so much fun playing it for, what felt like hours the first night. Blood was definitely drawn on most people and I bruised my wrist...Peter and Aaron hit hard! We made our signature Chocolate Almond Cake and spent a day at a really beautiful lake, hiking around it, fishing from it and playing on Peter and Amanda's slack line.  I can't tell you how many times we've explored some type of nature with these people. It gives me that feeling of "everything is all right in the world."

Our last day together we went to a big splash pool with two water slides. Then Amanda, Joni and I went to a Zumba class together. Again, "everything is all right in the world" when I'm exercising with those girls. I love them tons and hope we can make time to spend some days together like that again.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Betteridge Family Reunion

Whitefish Lake, Montana. Ever heard of it? I hadn't, before my dad told us that's where we were all going to camp for our reunion because it was about as equidistant as camping goes between Tacoma, Salt Lake and Edmonton. Looking it up on google maps led Chris and I to believe we'd be at po-dunk campground practically in town and we tried to lower our Fun Expectation Meter.  But apparently Whitefish is one of the premier vacation spots for these parts, including southern Albertan's because EVERYONE we mentioned it to around here in Edmonton said things like "we LOVE Whitefish Lake" or "I learned to swim in that lake" or "I went there every year as a kid" or "I'm going there this summer, too!"  Every other car we saw there had an Alberta license plate.

It was SUCH a fun place and the campground was perfect. 4 out of the 5 sites we reserved were all touching and we didn't have to cross any roads to get to the bathrooms/showers or even the lake! There were 31 of us all together: 16 kids from 4 weeks to 9 years old, 14 adults and 1 teenager.

Camp cooking for this specific group size and age pool was daunting but Tiff and I were in charge of meals and tried to plan simple meals, and then simplify them some more. I assigned small groups of adults to be in charge of each meal and clean up. I think it turned out pretty well except I didn't assign Todd enough meals to help with, but he rectified the oversight and helped with every single meal. We had costco pizza; pancakes, eggs, and sausages; cheese, crackers and tuna; hawaiian haystacks and smores; muffins;  PB&J sandwiches; hotdogs, salads and dutch oven cobbler; french toast and bacon; bagels; cheesy shells, salads and berry crisp.

The circle of camp chairs in the picture above extended allllll the way around the fire pit back to Charlie and there were many periods of every chair being used. Ashley and Radene brought some activities for the kids. One was this cute paint and rock turtle mosaic.

Our first full day we just hung out at the lake/beach. We rented two paddle boards and had fun trying them out.  It was amazing how even the little cousins got the hang of it...although they hardly weigh anything and probably couldn't tip the paddle board over if they tried.  There was this 11 year old girl hanging around our group, which was fun at first, but as she vied for and usurped turns on the boards and raft and other toys it got kind of old. It was pretty funny. 

pictures coming soon

The next full day we wore our matching shirts that Todd and Tiff designed, took family pictures and drove 45 min East to Glacier National Park to do a little 1 mile hike. 

Jared and Ashley's family

Justin and Radene's family

Tiffany and Todd's family

Our family

Sarah and German, Hailey, Mom and Dad, Jordan and his gf Stefi

In Glacier National Park we went to Lake McDonald, ate lunch and skipped rocks while we waited for everyone to get there. With such a large group our attempt at a caravan quickly fell apart and at least one car was bound to get lost. We skipped rocks for a long time.

It must be stated the Chris did the MOST AMAZING ROCK SKIP that eyes have ever seen.  It was incredible. The rock seemed to never leave the water's surface for more than an inch and yet traveled at LEAST 100 feet. Seriously. Everyone who saw it was speechless. It was unbelievable.  It inspired a sort of rock skipping competition with categories ranging from longest, most number of skips, longest skip, highest jump, longest pre-skip distance etc.

I love these pictures of my dad, so I had to put them on here.

The less than 1 mile "hike" was a wooden platform  that looped through the forest passing by a waterfall and pretty weeping rocks. It took over an hour with stops for pictures, crying kids, and a bathroom break.  In the middle of it, Charlie says to me, "When are we doing the hike?!" I replied, "This IS the hike, isn't it pretty!" Charlie astutely whines, "This isn't a hike! A hike is a hard thing up big mountain. This is not a hike"  hahaha. Funny boy, he's thinking of the hikes I took the kids on in Jasper the week previous. 

One of my favorite parts of the reunion was getting to spend more time with Jordan and his girlfriend, Stefi. She seems really nice and fun and teases Jordan a lot...which he totally deserves. He also totally deserves a sweet girl and Stefi seems to fit the bill perfectly. Aren't they so cute?

After the hike we drove a bit further through Glacier park on this really pretty road called Going-to-the-Sun-Road. It was such a nice time to have the kids buckled, still and sleeping and it was the perfect chance for Sarah and German to get Gwen to warm up to them! She's shy around people she doesn't know(especially men) and it takes some effort but a good relationship with her is SO rewarding. She can be such a cuddler and is very affectionate. 

We got back to camp in the middle of thunder storm and although we knew it might rain and tried to get camp ready for it as much as possible before we left, it still got some things a little wet.  There was a break in the rain for a half hour or so in which we erected some tarps to provide relief as we made and ate dinner. It was actually a really fun experience and didn't dampen anyone's happy mood. (har har)

The next day we rented a speed boat, tube and wakeboard. We took turns going out in small groups and staying behind at the beach. Charlie was brave enough to try tubing with Chris! This is one thing we can check off our boys too-often-whined-about-list of "We've never ridden in a... -airplane, -helicopter, -train that goes choo choo, -speedy boat"  

(pictures coming..)

Most of the evenings were spent trying to get the kids to sleep! After that happened we maybe had some energy to sit around the fire, or in one of the screen tents to try and keep out the bugs. (They mostly worked but there still were plenty of targets for the electric bug zappers, Jared brought....often the most victims were Daddy Long Leg spiders...those things were everywhere!) We passed around brown paper bags with different kinds of black licorice like some adults would of liquor. "Lemme have another taste of that kind from Denmark..."  We also played games like NINJA DESTRUCTION (so fun), risk, horse shoes and card games.  

It was SUCH a fun reunion, despite the hardships of camping with little ones. I don't think I would've changed anything. I'm such a cheese ball when it comes to being together with family especially siblings.  I don't think I could ever get enough of them.