Saturday, August 30, 2014

Herriman Time

Not many hours after the Harker's left, we met with some Betteridge family to go bowling at BYU. The kids love doing this and are getting pretty good! My mom and Hailey were still in UT from our Heber Reunion and so we spent some time with them too. We packed up all our stuff from the Archibald's (where us and the Harkers had stayed) and we camped out at Jared and Ashley's up in Herriman for a couple of days to get in some more time with my family. We were all kinda exhausted from everything that we took it pretty chill there and just basically played around the house. 

The little girls loved having a baby (someone younger than them?!) to play with and were happy to give Freddy toys...after toy, after toy. To me, Clara and Amelia still seem like little babies themselves! They enjoyed playing with the toys as much as they seemed to enjoy placing them by Frederick. 

For the most part, Frederick enjoyed the attention.

We did make it over to a neat store where they have an indoor Ferris wheel, which was fun to ride. I kept thinking we would play outside more and go to parks or the reservoir or something, because i thought UT would seem so much cooler after being in hot and humid MS and TX, but it still felt pretty hot. Inside stuff seemed the most appealing. 

At the moment, I can't think of anything else we really did...I guess we painted nails, watched movies, played with bubbles... Chris had to work most of those days, I think. Oh! Anthony and Amberly stopped by one day and we got to see them and their cute kids. We played a fun couch game where every person picks a famous person to 'be' and writes the name down on a paper. Then one person reads all the papers, only once and then everyone takes a turn making one guess at someone's name. Then if the guess is correct, the revealed person sits by their reveal-er and they become a team.  Also Anthony flew one of his remote controlled airplanes for us. Fun times. 

Harkchibalders Reunion

The evening after our Betteridge reunion ended, we met up with our good friends from Canada, the Harkers! They happened to be in UT for a family reunion the same time as us and were able to stay around an extra few days to have a little Harkchibalders reunion with us. It was their first time meeting Frederick the Cutie Pie and our first time meeting little Layla, less than 2 months old. Obviously there is a match set in stone between the two and we decided to take some betrothal pictures:  (we honestly didn't stage any of the touching... I guess they agree with the arrangement!)

At least Freddy seems really happy about it.

We had fun taking them to see things around Provo. I thought it would be easier to wing it, but it turns out Provo has changed a lot and I don't super know lots of good kid-places. Whenever we're there we usually just hang out at Dixie's. We took them to the newly remolded Bean Museum and ate at the Cougar Eat on BYU campus.  We tried to get some ice cream from BYU's creamery but with all the EFY kids there, it was CRAZY packed and busy.. we decided to just go to a splash pad and get some ice cream from another place.  

Christy made us all these shirts. She's pretty cool like that. 

Christy and I were able to go on a run the morning they left (and my running buddy, Amy from MS who also happened to be in UT the same time came too!) but all too soon it was time to say goodbye. We've really missed this family and many of our other Edmonton friends, it was so good to see them. 

First car accident

On our last day in Texas, we were driving back to Thom and Brittany's house from the bike rental store, when a tiny little dog started to dart out in front of the car in front of us. The lady immediately slammed on her breaks, and we did the same. Simultaneously the dog had second thoughts and turned right around to jump back into the bushes.  So we let off the brakes but unfortunately the lady driving the little smart car in front of us didn't see the dog's retreat and continued to break even harder to a complete stop on a busy 5 lane road.  By the time we realized she was stopping even more, it was too late and we rammed into the back of her car. That crunch of metal and plastic was unmistakable and I was surprised we hit her so hard/loud... I didn't think we were going that fast. All of our kids started crying and we immediately pulled over to the right. Everyone had seat belts on and no one was hurt, Charlie had a little red mark where his seat belt (not properly in the little slot on his booster seat) had rubbed his neck. While I was checking and calming the kids Chris walked over to the lady to see if she was ok. She immediately apologized saying she knew it was all her fault, but she just couldn't hit that little dog. She seemed pretty shook up and I tried to calm her down. Our car looked worse than her little smart car (go figure!) and we exchanged information. Apparently this was her first car accident which was kinda funny since it was our first one too. I'm glad Chris and I could both experience our first accident together, it would've been so much more stressful for me without him there.

Blessedly this all happened literally in front of a Geico and Honda partnered collision-repair body shop and Rental car center! Our van was leaking something from the hood so it was deemed undrivable.  The kids and I waited in the lobby while Chris worked out the details with the rental car people and the body shop people and Thom (who had driven over to help) unloaded and reloaded all of our things from our van to his van.  Luckily they were minutes away from a rental car hub so they could get us minivan within 20 minutes.  They said it would probably take about 10 days to fix our van, which would work out just fine since we were going to be in Utah for almost 2 weeks then instead of driving directly to MS from UT, we would just swing by TX again to pick up our van. Although the whole experience seemed really annoying to me in the moment (like really annoying), in hindsight I can see many blessings and am just grateful things went so smoothly... it could've been a lot worse! The $500 collision deductible wasn't too bad but combined with the $1000 for a rental car...ouch!

We had a new Chrysler Town and Country for the rest of our trip. The satellite radio was fun and the fold down captain seats were pretty cool, but we both missed our Odyssey.  

Friday, August 29, 2014

On the road again... Texas for the 4th!

We left for another big road trip, TX for the 4th of July and then on to UT for a Betteridge reunion and the Shakespeare festival.  We got on the road fairly late since it took a while to clean out the car (there was a really nasty smell that I could never find the source of!) and Chris had to go to work. We left around 6:00 pm and had an 8-9 hour drive ahead of us. We had some flies in the car at one point and we unrolled the windows to get rid of them. The kids weren't expecting so much wind to blast their faces: 

We arrived at Thom and Brittany's around 3AM or so and then got up early to make it to the McKinney Texas 4th of July parade. A small town American parade was a great start to celebrating the birth of our country. We saw fire trucks, boy scouts, veterans, old fancy cars, horses etc. 

Then we hit up a splash pad and park for a hotdog roast dinner with really yummy cupcakes. 

Chris wanted to get some practice in for the magic show he was thinking of doing at the Betteridge reunion and the kids were more than happy to oblige him.  His made up Land of Mysterioso and the magic words, "abra ca-da-myrioso" made the kids smile and laugh. 

Anxious to explore their new surroundings, we decided to go on a hike at a nearby nature preserve with mountain bike trails. We found a tire swing and of course HAD to try it out, over and over and over again. It was so much fun. The dads decided to rent mountain bikes on Monday and come back to actually ride these trails. 

The only down side to the hike which we didn't really figure out for a day or two was that we didn't adaquately guard against chiggers. Charlie, Alec, Graham and I got SERIOUSLY munched on. I counted 40+ bites between my knees and my navel. Eugh. Those huge, raised, red bumps were terribly itchy, painful and so ugly.  Poor boys had them all over their groin...wherever their underwear was tight against their skin. 

But we didn't realize what had happened so we obliviously enjoyed the rest of the day at a delicious, Texan BBQ house -- where they're so chill they don't even use plates, just a square of wax paper-- and then off to Brittany's parents house for a swim. 

This was the first time we went swimming this summer and Freddy's first experience with his swimming suit. Gwen tried out her swimming-by-herself-with-a-lifejacket skills and did AMAZING. I love watching my kids be so independent in a swimming pool (with life jackets still, but it is nice to not have to be the human island for all three of them all the time...their toes can really pinch and scratch!) 

Monday we went to the Dallas Science Center. It was so big. They had this cool interactive displey where you stood in this special spot and flapped your arms or leaned this way or that and the projected screen in front showed your flying movements as an eagle or hawk or something. Also there was this cool device where you program into the computer a picture and then a wheel of lights spins so fast that it makes your picture blur together - hard to explain. 

Chris had just as much fun as the kids figuring out how all the robotics stuff went. It was a really fun science center. 

Whew! a fun fun weekend. It ended kinda crazy with our first car crash, but more on that later.  It was really fun to see Chris' brother's beautiful brand new house and let the cousins play while the adults talked. I love our family. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Betteridge Heber Reunion

First off, we all just love this boy. He's so good at eating and will eat ANYTHING. He loves to much on onions, pickles, celery, green onions, apples, watermelon, pizza, cucumbers etc. Mostly he loves breads and crackers.

Our Betteridge reunion happened to be in the house next door to the one we rented for the Archibald reunion the previous month. Kinda funny. It had 8 bedrooms, a huge game room with ping pong and pool tables and a theater room, and a playground, firepit and flat grassy area outback.  It was just about perfect for our size of group (some of the things were falling apart in the the sink, hottub, grill ... but the home still had an open luxurious feel to it). Again we lucked out with the pick of the rooms and were given the master suite. I felt pretty guilty about it at first but then got over it. I think because we have the youngest baby and the recovering cancer patient people were being extra nice to us.

Our first day we celebrated the Birthdays: Gwen, Dyln and Lynae with cake and ice cream and just explored the place.

We also held our first official meeting and talked about the schedule and activities for the reunion. It was kind of a Survival/Emergency Preparedness theme reunion. My sister and brother organized this weeklong game of performing or learning about survival skills and getting points for each thing you do. Then the points can be redeemed for prizes. It was supposed to just be a filler activity that you take a few minutes to do in between meals or down time or whatever, but the kids were so motivated for the prizes that they were like survival nutjobs for the whole second day, running from adult to adult asking them to help them learn/do then cross off some skill. It was kind of exhausting but also pretty interesting. I learned how to do lots of knots, find North and South using shadows, use a HAM radio, make a tepee, identify edible plants, update our family's emergency plan, build a fire, make a bow and arrow, find animal tracks etc...

 We also had one of my sister's friends come up to Heber to take family pictures. Its fun to document the kids and family at various ages. I always love having a recent family picture.  The kids were pretty good champs about it all and lasted longer than they should've been expected to.  Grandma and Grandpa were prepared with "encouragement" in the form of fruit snacks and tic tacs. :)

All the grandsons: (we tried getting a picture of the granddaughters, but we had some young, strong-willed sweeties that had been asked to smile and hold still for too long...understandably so!)

All the grandkids:

We can never have too many pictures of our Frederick. 

The kids really enjoyed the wild area above the hill in the backyard. They built their own forts and tepees and had lots of unsupervised cousin time - which is good for them.

The adult fun began when the kids went to bed, strictly by 8:00. We had lots of tournaments: pingpong, pool, washer-toss, ladder ball, and spike ball. We also spent a portion of each evening taking turns sharing about some spiritual insight or lesson we had this past year. I really enjoyed doing that and connecting with my amazing siblings and parents in such meaningful ways. Chris and I were in charge of the evening activities and had MSU tshirts for tournament prizes. We also played lots of games and watched a few movies. We stayed up pretty late many nights just enjoying being together. 

One morning we went on a 'hike' that got downgraded to a walk around the neighborhood. Euhh... you can't win them all. We practiced making some survival knots on this big long rope thinking it would help the kids be safe as we crossed roads etc... but after only 100 feet or so, we realized all the kids had let go of the rope and were running up ahead while all the adults held onto the looped rope. Ha!

Other activities included an all-inclusive game of missionary tag before bed and a day trip to swim at a cool Rec Center pool with water slides and lazy river. Chris did a magic show for all the kids (all the adults watched too) Sunday afternoon. It turned out pretty good and his orange trick with the ripped card was very impressive. 

Monday morning was check out and clean up. We did a paper airplane throwing game to give out the last of the survival prizes.  The meals were all really simple but yummy and we rotated on a schedule for cooking and clean-up. It is always nice to gather as an ENTIRE family even if its a little crazy with so many kids. We love our Betteridge family so much and feel blessed to know all of them. Seriously, every sibling and spouse is really nice and fun to be around we all just enjoy being together. Can't wait for next year.