Friday, July 31, 2015



Josh and I will be spending two weeks in Australia (Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Cairns, The Great Barrier Reef, Daintree Rainforest, Uluru, Ayers Rocks, Kings Canyon, and maybe Darwin) and four weeks on a cruise to New Zealand and Fiji!


 I can not even explain how excited we are!

Goodbye California - My Parents Moved

Sadly, my parents have sold their beautiful Newport Beach Condo and decided to move to Ohio to be closer to family. I have mixed feelings about this. I am really going to miss visiting them at the beach, getting Balboa bars, going to Angels, Lakers, and Chargers games, eating In-n-Out, and going to Disneyland. BUT I completely understand wanting to be closer to family.

They sold their condo right before our Family Reunion in Canada so that they could drive up there and then after the reunion head straight over to Ohio.

Along their way they stopped in Chicago and then northern Indiana to see Josh and I. We took them to dinner at our favorite place in town, Meditrina Market Cafe. It was delicious! The next morning we took them to one of our favorite breakfast places, Suzie's Cafe. We ordered a giant cinnamon roll to share which was a good idea because the rolls are the size of your head! 

I'm so glad my parents stopped by and we will see them, along with the rest of the siblings, at Christmas time in Ohio!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Family Reunion in Canada: Part VIII - Waterton Lakes National Park


I didn't want to hike Bear's Hump again. I've done it before and yes, the view is pretty spectacular at the top, but it's hard, and I'm tired. Oh well! Peer pressure! Plus Missy promised we would get ice cream after so off we went!

[Luke carried baby Dane]

The hike consists of steep switch backs with boulders and large wooden rail road ties to help with erosion. You climb 738 vertical feet in just 0.9 miles. Needless to say, we took plenty of beaks and drank a lot of water.

[Mom, Brady, Missy, cousin Cheryl, and Andie]

Okay, fine, it was worth it!

[Mom and Brady so happy they made it!]

[Luke, Missy, baby Dane and my photo bombing second cousin :-)]

Brady walked the whole way up and the whole way down. He was such a trooper and he definitely deserved ice cream!

[The kids]

After we descended the mountain, we headed to Cameron Lake! My favorite place in Waterton!

Can you see why?! It's gorgeous!

We walked out to the end of the pier and took a few pictures before finding a nice place on the beach to set up chairs and relax. There is a walking trail that runs along side the Lake and a few other hikes you can do from this location. As we were setting up the chairs we heard someone on the water (paddle boat) say that they saw a bear. A few of us took off walking down the trail and there he was!

He came down out of the mountains to get a drink from the lake. In order to get back home he had to cross over the hiking trail and that is what he did, right in front of us! We backed away to give him some space and he didn't give us any trouble. I showed my uncle the picture and he said he was a black bear (don't let the brown coat fool you) and the was probably just a few years old.

After our bear adventure we went back to the beach where we enjoyed the beautiful weather and scenery.

Even though it was glacier water, the kids loved to play in it!

You see those glaciers in the background? Well you can't really see it in the pictures but they are melting and creating a waterfall. That water that the kids are playing in is straight from the glacier! Those kids are crazy!

The family started a debate about whether that mountain and glaciers on the far side were part of Montana or British Columbia (we were in Alberta). I got out my map and started chanting "USA USA USA!" That far side is actually Montana! So even though we were IN Canada for the 4th of July we could still SEE the United States! 

[Brandon and Cheryl]

[Mom, Janice, and the baby]

[Luke, Andie, Me and cousin Cheryl]

After Cameron Lake we went back into town and got some ice cream! Two scoops since we made it to the top of Bear's Hump!

We walked across the street to an open field where we ate our ice cream. Then Ryan started picking on his younger brother so they decided to rumble! Watching two 6'9 guys wrestle was very entertaining. And Luke was victorious! :-) After the boys fought all the little kids wanted to get involved so the match continued with Ryan vs The Kids. Of course, Ryan won. He was a lot more gentle on the kids then he was on Luke though!

After ice cream we walked down the road to a park where the kids ran around and the adults talked. The trip would not come to an end without some bumps, bruises, and scrapes! Poor little guy! He was okay though.

[My dad playing with Brady and Dane]

The next morning we all got up, said goodbye to the family, and headed out on the road in various directions. Most headed south to Montana but we went north to Calgary to catch our flight. Ryan, Missy, Brady, Dane, and I were all on the same flight from Calgary to Chicago so we were able to go though customs together and hang out at the airport before our flight left. 

We only had a 3 hour and 45 minute flight to Chicago and I slept the whole time. It was great! When we landed I said goodbye to my brother and his family.

I had not seen Josh in two weeks so we decided to meet up at a Starbucks that was on my way home and on his way back to his apartment in IL. It was so nice to see him even though it was just for an hour or so! I'm so sad he was not able to come with me! Next time for sure!

Thanks to my amazing family (immediate and extended) for making this trip so great! Everything went extremely smoothly and I look forward to our next reunion in Utah in two (or three) years! Love you all!

Family Reunion in Canada: Part VII - Waterton Lakes National Park

On July 3rd we slept in (as much as we could) and then headed out the back door of the Lodge and over to Cameron Falls. This time we hiked to the 
top of the falls (which takes about 4 minutes). Brady kept running up and down the trail collecting rocks that he could throw in the water.

[Andie and I are excited to be hiking]

[Me with some kids that I kidnapped... by mistake... honestly. I thought someone was going to tell the parents I had taken the kids to the Falls but my message never got relayed. There was a little bit of panic but all was well in the end! Sorry parents!]

[Awkward slanted pictures from the top]

[View from the top with Upper Wateron Lake in the background]

After our short hike we regrouped and headed towards Upper Wateron Lake. On our walk there Brady kept giving me rocks to hold so he could throw them in the Lake. I told him that there would be PLENTY of rocks there (since the beach is gravel) but he didn't believe me.

[Everyone (minus the guys that were golfing) hanging out on the beach]

My cousin thought it would be a fun idea to line all the great-grandchildren (minus three) up by height and get a picture. It wasn't too hard except the two smallest ones kept trying to run away!

The kids all loved playing in the glacier cold water!

[Mom and her sisters]

We went back to the Lodge after the wind started to pick up at the Lake, to have some lunch. Then we went to Red Rock Canyon. Last time we were at this location we saw a herd of mountain goats and a mamma bear with her cubs. We were not so lucky this time.

[Road Trip... again!]

We arrived at a very busy Red Rock Canyon so we decided to hike to Blakiston Falls.

Hiking to Blakiston Falls

Blakiston Falls

[Ryan, Luke and Andie]

We hiked back from the Falls to find all the kids playing in the glacier water! It was hot outside so I put my feet in but it was COLD!

[Brady climbing on the rocks]

After Red Rock we went into Waterton town to get the best ice cream!

After ice cream we all met back at the Lodge for dinner. 

Then it was time for Girls Night! We left the kids with the men and went down to Upper Cameron Lake. Each woman brought one of their favorite things that was under $10. The first woman would get up and give a little talk about the thing that they brought. Then they would draw a name out of a hat and whoever they drew would get their present! It was a cute game and we learned a little bit more about each other. I brought an exercise band and I got a flip flop hanger and a pair of size 7 flip flops. At the end of the game you can trade so I traded away my items (which were too small for me) and I ended up with this amazing foot cream! 

After the game we walked into town and got some Starbucks. Meanwhile, back at the Lodge, the men and kids were having a dance party! 

[The deer in town are NOT afraid of humans so you can get pretty close to them. They will even try to steal your food if you aren't careful!]

[Dance Party!]