Xplore Eco Park (Mayan Riviera)

As I mentioned in a previous post, Explore Park deserves its own blog, so here it is!

It was the only excursion we did on our trip and it was well worth the nearly $400 (Canadian) that we paid for the 2 of us. At first I thought that was pretty pricey but it was an all day excursion and included our ride to and from our resort, a buffet lunch and a photo package. Our group of 6 booked all together and then split the cost so that everyone could take advantage of the photo package. It was sooo worth it! Prepare yourself for a post of mostly pictures because they’re all so great and I had a hard time choosing just a couple. There’s cameras set up everywhere in this park and all you have to do is scan your wristbands barcode and strike a pose. We turned into the biggest posers around haha Xplore is one of many eco parks in the Mayan Riviera which means it’s very earth friendly and they check your sunscreen and bug spray upon arrival to make sure it’s environmentally friendly. Even the dishes they use are all glass and real silverware as opposed to plastic so they can be washed and reused.

As soon as we got checked in and given our helmets we were off to the “heart” of the park. This is the very Center and every path in the park eventually crosses here. It was also our first photo op

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It took us a few tries to figure out where we were supposed to be looking for the cameras and there’s more than one picture of us looking in the wrong direction haha8A94C10A-9415-4EF4-9289-F72BD66D047AThere’s handy boards telling you which activities are open, full or just moderately busy. We decided on the amphibious vehicles first and had to wait in a little bit of a line up before we were loaded into a glorified golf cart made to look like an ATV. Ours seemed to be the slow one of the pack but we still had a blast driving through the jungly paths and through the watery underground caves.

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Couldn’t resist a chance to ham it up for the camera

The trail ended sooner than we wanted but we were excited for the next activity. We quickly decided on the zip lining. It was pretty much the whole reason we chose this park. We got a quick lesson in how to hold on, which way to lean safely and how to land on the other side and then we were off! Unfortunately it required a lot of walking and hiking and stair climbing which we were not prepared for. Let me just point out, I am TERRIFIED of heights so I did my best not to freak out or look down until I was safely at the top. The views and the adrenaline rush were one hundred percent worth the heart palpitations!

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Even scarier than the zip lines, was the suspension bridge, for me anyway. I did not like it one bit. I waited for everyone but Bradley to cross before I would step foot on it. I stopped long enough to take a couple pictures and then I had to hurry off. I’m a huge chicken, I know hahaD4496FA3-7D72-4F2C-AAC8-16E5C2F5353E

The last zip line of the circuit was my favourite. We sat in little hammocks and zipped into some incredibly refreshing water. After hours in the hot Mexican sun, this was sweet relief.

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By this time we had worked up an appetite so we went to the buffet for some of the best food I have ever had! Oh. My. Goodness. We ate ourselves silly. We also had started overheating again so we were totally ready for the last 2 activities that were water based. We walked and walked for what seemed like an hour, and finally made it to the under ground paddle rafts. We could choose double rafts or single rafts and we each chose single. We strapped little paddles to our hands and off we went. It quickly turned into a little race between Adam and I. I made sure to gloat as I pulled in the lead. We spent the next 20 minutes or so paddling through the caves and hitting all the camera spots. Every single one of us had sore arms by the end of it and I happily pointed out that I arrived to the ending point ahead of every one else. I may or may not have gently nudged the raft of an unknown couple out of the way to get this title haha

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Last but not least was the cave swimming. I loved every minute of it and was so excited for it that I belly flopped right into the water. Some parts were lit up by underwater lights which made the water look really cool. We also saw quite a few bats on the ceilings! We took our time splashing around, drowning each other and of course, posing haha at the end of the caves we swam through a water fall into a huge opening that looks waaaay up to the zipliners, then another waterfall and we were out. This might have been my favourite part of the day

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By the end of the day we were exhausted! We still had a few hours to kill so we did the hammock zipline again, hit up the all day smoothie bar (included in the price) and took a nap in some hammocks. I couldn’t wait to see the photos from the day. There were so many different places with cameras set up, I knew they were going to be hilarious

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Overall, this excursion was well, well worth the money. The price included everything we needed (except water shoes, we brought our own) and there was so much to do! I probably could’ve done without the rafts but still a fun experience. The zip lining was totally different than the ones Brad and I did in Peurta Vallarta a few years before and I found myself constantly comparing Xplore to those ones. Xplore is very touristy and commercialized with crowds everywhere. The ones we did in PV  were literally on an island, in a jungle, with about 10 other people. It was more authentic where Xplore was more amusement park.  However, don’t let that discourage you, I still had a fantastic day and would totally recommend it to anyone!

C

Beaver Mines Weekend

Camping is Brad’s very favourite summer activity, mine, not so much. Unless it’s 30 above and there’s a lake. This past weekend had a lake and a lot of rain. Needless to say, it was not my ideal weekend getaway.

We arrived about lunchtime on Friday with Brad’s parents and our friends Cody and Cara. It wasn’t terrible weather but it wasn’t as warm as I like. We set up camp quickly and headed out fishing. Mostly just the men fished and ya woman sat around gabbing.

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After a while of nobody catching anything we went back to camp for some bbq burgers and a fire. As the weather got colder, we went into my in laws camper to spend the night playing dice and card games.

Saturday morning we woke up to clouds and rain. My worst camping nightmare. Cara and the boys headed out for more fishing and Viv and I hunkered down in our campers where we spent most of the day reading and napping. Eventually everyone else came back with a couple fish in hand! Just as we were cooking up fresh fish and smokies, Ryan and Rachel arrived with a new nephew Tynan.  We ate lunch (I finally tried fish!) and we loaded up for a drive to castle falls. My father in law tried some fly fishing but the falls were going way too fast for any fishing to be done.55E82D67-41D9-44D5-AC99-4DB5E7981BA2 Instead we started a debate of who should jump into the freezing rapids first. Before we knew it, Cody just took a leap! That started it. In went Brad. Rachel and I had been debating it but neither of us had swim suits. Next, Cara went with Cody (his second time) so we decided we better go too. We both took off our bras and pants and took the blind leap in just shirts and underwear.

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This was by far, the coldest water I have ever been in!!

As soon as I hit the water I regretted it haha I don’t know what we were thinking jumping in fresh mountain water on a cold rainy day haha I almost couldn’t catch my breath enough to get out of the water it was just that cold. Despite the probable hypothermia, it was totally worth it, we had so much fun! We tried and tried to convince Ryan but he wasn’t having it so back to camp we went for bbq steak and potatoes and an evening of visiting around the fire.

Sunday morning was my day! It was sunny and hot! Ryan and Rachel had vanished in the night, which we found out later was due to sleeping issues, but Cara and the boys were up early to try their hand at fishing again. Unfortunately they once again had no luck. Brad’s Dad came back not feeling well so while he napped, Brad, me and Cody and Cara set off on a walk to take in the gorgeous mountain views.

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Cody and Cara had to leave soon for Cody’s work and my in laws left so Bob could be sick in the comfort of his own home, so that left Brad and I a few hours to ourselves which we filled with fishing and floating on the lake. This was what I had been waiting for all weekend! I was so sad when it was time for us to leave.

The rain sucked but the company mixed with the fresh air and breathtaking scenery made up for it. I never get tired of the mountains.

C

Mexico 2018 (Day 7 & 8)

The ending of vacation is always so bittersweet. By the last couple days I was ready to head home, I missed the kids and I was pretty exhausted, yet at the same time I did not want to leave paradise. Who really ever does though?

Sunday was our last actual day there and it was pretty much the same as the last 2. Brad, Paula and I headed to the beach after breakfast for one last ocean swim.

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Then it was back to the pool for an afternoon at the swim up bar and floating around.

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We did switch it up a bit by going to the buffet for lunch instead of the snack bar by the pool haha

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We found a stage set up outside the buffet that made for a great photo op!

Adam had been dying all week to participate in the 4:00 crazy games at one of the other pools and he finally got his chance! He was totally hilarious to watch in the dance competition and he even won the belly flop contest haha the rest of us had a great time hootin, hollerin and cheering him on.

That night we had our last a la carte dinner booked at the Mediterranean restaurant, but it wasn’t until 9:30 so we decided to go to the hacienda one last time to finish our souvenir shopping.

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Then it was off to dinner! I’ve never been to a Mediterranean restaurant before and it was pretty interesting how they come to every table and cut your meat right off the skewer. I tried just about every kind of meat there was including lamb, which was surprisingly delicious!

We all called it an early night after dinner because we were beat and had a long day ahead of us.

Monday morning we grabbed breakfast on the buffet and boarded our bus to Cancún at 9am. I was a little sad to be heading home but enjoyed the scenery on the hour long drive.

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By the time we checked our bags and got through security it was lunch time and Paula and I realized we had spent a week in Mexico and had not eaten one taco! So we sought out a burrito bar for us 2 and Brad and the rest ate ate a burger joint next door. We thouroughly enjoyed the biggest burritos of our lives! I had seen a sign for a margaritaville and vowed I was not leaving until I found it. It took a little searching but Jess and I eventually found it and my husband was not entirely thrilled I spent $40 Canadian on a beach towel. In my defence, it was $26 American haha

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Isn’t it cute though!?

Soon after we wee on our plane heading home (a Disney “Frozen” plane actually) and around 6pm we were back in Calgary. I’d like to say safely but because it was so windy, we had the scariest landing! I definitely swore and panicked to which the couple next to me thought was hilarious, but we managed to land without injury so I was happy. Jess called for our shuttle while we were still on the plane and they said they’d be out front waiting in 30 minuets. It took us about that long to get through customs and pick up our baggage and just as we were walking out, our shuttle drove away with someone else it it! We were ticked. We ended up calling 2 more times and waiting for an hour for the guy to come back. By the way, when you leave plus 40 temperatures in shorts and then land in cold windy Canada, it’s a bit of a shock haha. By the time we made it to our vehicle at the hotel, we had to turn the heat on.  We hit the first McDonald’s we saw and then high tailed it for home. We pulled in our driveway at about 11:45 Monday night. With the time change this made for about 15 hours of travelling, I was totally over it.

We had a great time away and made amazing memories, we’ve been home almost a week and I’m ready to start planning another getaway haha it’s true what they say, once you catch the travel bug, good luck getting rid of it!

C

Mexico 2018 (Day 5 & 6)

After 2 busy days, day 5 was spent in the pool just drinking, floating and making new friends. We met so many people from all over the world and lots from the European regions.

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Jessica found one of the resorts staff members and had them cut open some coconuts that had fallen off the tree so we could drink the milk inside. It was terrible haha but now I can say I’ve tried it.

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After some afternoon siestas, we headed to the Italian a la carte that we had booked for that evenings dinner. This was by far my favourite one, everything was delicious!

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I just love this guy!

After dinner we did a little shopping at the hacienda while the boys went to the casino and then we went to an evening show that was being held in the resorts theatre. Turns out it was an acrobatic show with entertainers from the show “America’s Got Talent”. We were totally amazed and impressed, and spent the whole time watching in awe.

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On day 6, I was ready for some more beach time and Brad wanted to snorkel so after breakfast, we loaded up on a trolley and headed for the ocean. I loved every minute of it. I’m positive the beach life is really what I was made for. We spent a couple hours playing in the water and taking pictures. Brad and Matt saw some cool fish so Paula and I decided to take a turn with the snorkels. This is definitely not my thing. I immediately felt like I was suffocating and I think I lasted maybe 5 minuets before I had to take off the mask and continue with normal swimming.

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Eventually we headed back to the pool for an afternoon of more floating and relaxing before we hit the buffet for dinner and then another evening show. This one was a circus themed show and was almost as cool as the first.

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A couple night caps and we were off to bed. It’s amazing how exhausted you can be from just laying in the hot sun all day. I don’t think I made it past 11 o’clock any night but I’d much rather enjoy the sun all day instead of the night life.

Bear with me, there’s still a few more Mexico posts to come 😊

C

Mexico 2018 (Day 3 & 4)

These we’re by far our busiest days which, unfortunately, made them fly by.

A couple weeks before we left home, we booked an excursion online to save some money on it and Wednesday was our day to go. We loaded on a bus at 8am and headed to Xplore eco park about 30 minuets away. I’ll be posting in a separate post for this because it was sooo fun and there was so much to do that it needs the spotlight. We spent the day zip lining, driving atvs, and swimming in caves. Such a blast!

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We arrived back at our resort in time for dinner at the buffet and then headed to the shopping area and casino. Us girls did some browsing while the boys went to do some gambling.

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Met this guy in our travels

We met up at the casino and played the slot machines while we waited for the guys to finish at the black jack table. I managed to win myself $20! Not much and it sounded way better in pesos, but I’ll take the extra spending money haha

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Me and my winnings 

Thursday morning the boys got up bright and early and headed off to our resorts golf course for their 9am tee time. I was pretty sure they were going to melt in the heat. Us girls were smarter about things and decided to spend the morning at the beach. We picked a spot down the shore at Akumal hotel where there was no sea weed and set up camp. The water and sand was so beautiful and we had a quiet, relaxing morning.

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I couldn’t believe all the pretty fish that literally swarmed around us.

Eventually we had to leave our loungers because they were reserved for guests of akumal and we technically weren’t supposed to be on them, so we packed up and headed to our pool to wait for the boys so we could head into the town of Playa Del Carmen.

We paid a little extra cash and got a private bus to drive us the 40 minutes into town. He also waited the 3 hours for us a drove us back. Money well spent I’d say! We walked down the main drag of 5th Avenue shopping, snacking and drinking until we hit our destination of Senior Frogs. I can honestly say, I’ve never been offered drugs so much in my entire life! It seemed like every m2 minutes we were approached. I almost needed a sign that said “sorry, not my thing” haha

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Playa Del Carmen Beach

THis is where things got a little crazy, we ordered drinks and the waitress came to our table and just started pouring shots into our mouths. We all left a little tipsy to say the least.

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We got back to the resort and hit the buffet again and then it was bed time for me because I was was totally exhausted.

We have been making some of the best memories on this trip!

C

Mexico 2018 Day 1 & 2

Well we made it to paradise! What a crazy first couple days.

Monday we were up early to catch our 9:30 flight and we were soooo excited. We breezed through check in and security and the 2 hour wait  to board flew by. Brad and I managed to land a window seat so I was pretty happy about that

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We set up our snacks and  iPad that we had previously downloaded movies on to and tried to enjoy the flight. I’m a pretty nervous flyer and I the five hour flight was only slightly painful for me haha finally we landed in cancun! I couldn’t get off the plane fast enough. We gathered our friends and baggage and headed for our bus for the hour long ride to our resort the Grand Bahia Principe Coba. We had some drinks and made some friends but by the time we got off the bus we were so done with traveling.

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It was pretty late by the time we got there that all we really got to do was check in, set up our reservations at the a la carte restaurants and eat at the buffet. We all hit the hay totally exhausted.

Tuesday was our first full day and oh boy, it was a good one. We got breakfast at the buffet and headed to the beach. We were totally disappointed to see our beach and water completely covered in seaweed. Turns out it’s been overrun for a few months now. Luckily our resort is three in one so we headed one beach over so we could snap some pics and Paula and I took a quick swim. The water was unbelievably warm, like a bath tub.

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We headed back to the pool and this is where things got more than a little rowdy. The husbands hit the swim up bar, and they hit it hard. Our relaxing pool day turned  into a full out rock show provided by Brad, Adam and the live band. I certainly wasn’t innocent, but I was in better shape than all 3 men.

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By 2pm the boys were in serious need of food, water, and naps. Trying to wrangle them into this was like herding cats.

3 hours later we were ready to start fresh and head to our Mexican a la cart. It was super fun to get dressed up and head to a fancy dinner.

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A couple night caps and we were all ready for an early bed time.

Get ready for the next few days because they were busy ones!

C

Vacation Mode

Its been awhile since I’ve posted anything but honestly, all we’ve been doing is going to funerals and visiting Brads Dad in the hospital (he’s out now btw) Nobody wants to read about doom and gloom all the time. That’s about to change though as Brad and I leave for Mexico today!!! So get ready, because the next few posts will be about our tropical adventure!

After months and months of waiting and an already cancelled trip, we FINALLY get to run away for week. We are heading for Calgary today with our friends Adam and Jess, and Matt and Paula. We will be staying in a hotel over night and flying out tomorrow morning, I am so excited I can barely sleep, hence why it’s 7:30am and I’m up writing a blog haha

Traveling to new places is always so exciting but so is the preparation leading up to the actual trip. I’m not even kidding, I LOVE the packing, the organizing, the shopping (according to Brad I’ve done too much), and getting the details in order. Not to mention the fun things that are obviously “necessary” for a trip. For instance Jess and I had a wonderful evening of side by side mani/pedis to get ourselves beach ready

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Aren’t they cute!? My toenails even match 

As I’ve spent the week being way too excited, the kids have spent the week starving to death and complaining about the lack of food in the house. I don’t know about you guys, but the week before a trip, our groceries take a serious back seat. I buy very minimal and we live off leftovers. Everyone hates it but no way am I wasting food, or worse, coming home to rotting food. Yuck!

Does anyone else hate coming home to a messy house after vacation? I sure do, so that means it’s a cleaning frenzy around here. I’ve been totally on top of laundry, messes and dishes this week just so I can make sure I have time to run those last loads through the washing machine and the dishwasher. Seriously, my family hates me this week haha

Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats the excitement of the last few days before leaving when I actually get to put my stuff in my suitcases. It makes it feel real and it’s by far my favourite part. My OCD just loves checking my lists (I’ve made several) and organizing those bags.  My uncle Dave was here while I did this and he was a little horrified at my need for 7 bathing suits. Ummm one for every day, helloo haha

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Oh the satisfaction 

We get asked a lot what we are doing with our kids when we travel and it always makes me laugh a little and I usually reply with “well they have other parents” haha It’s a little easier for Dylan and Robyn because nothing really changes other than they miss their 2 dinners at our house that week. Briggs and Reegan however, have to be driven from 30 minutes away and spend the evenings in the city at their dads. I’m very grateful they have a grandma who is willing to do this so we are able to leave.

I don’t think I have ever needed a vacation more than I do right now. I feel like I’ve waited years for this one and I can not WAIT to get on the road today! Stay tuned for my up coming posts about our Mexican getaway!

C

Mother’s Day In Waterton

My first Mother’s Day without my mother was a bit of a kick in the pants but Brad was a gem and did his best to make it a good day for me.

After work we took advantage of the spring weather and hopped on the motorbike for some dinner in Waterton, one of my favourite places.

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The closer to the park, the prettier the drive gets!

Just as we turned off the main highway into the park we saw a bear! Only one lane of traffic away, I managed to snap a pic before it went down the embankment to the the lake.IMG_6072

It was the first time we had been there since last years devastating fires and I was so sad to see how much of the park had been destroyed. Many of the hiking trails were closed and I could still smell the charred trees

We hit up one of the restaurants on the main drag called “Trappers” and I was surprised to see it had been redone in a very cute, rustic theme. Brad and I both ordered the daily special of a smoked beef sandwich and it was delicious and so big, I only ate half. Brad teased me when I asked for a to go container to throw in a saddle bag. No way was I leaving that tasty sandwich behind haha

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We had plans of getting a famous Waterton ice cream after dinner and walking around the town but we were both too stuffed, so we settled for just a walk to try and burn off some calories. The weather was perfect for a romantic little walk down by the lake and roaming the streets taking in the gorgeous scenery and fresh air.

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More wildlife!

We took a quick drive passed Cameron Falls on our way out of the park and I couldn’t believe how fast the water was coming down! It was absolutely raging!

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It was a perfect Mother’s Day evening, thank you Bradley for making sure my day was special!

C

Grandma Still’s 85th Birthday Weekend

Brad’s grandma is the sweetest, kindest, most wonderful woman anyone could ever have the pleasure of knowing. I’ve been lucky enough to know her my entire life. We lived in the same small town when I was a kid and she was the classroom aid when I was in kindergarten and first grade. Her and Brad’s grandpa were also our visiting teachers in our church ward and my parents loved them so much, they refused to have anyone else. For years. If that doesn’t tell you how great she is I don’t know what does.

This past week was Grandma Still’s 85th birthday and her kids planned a huge party in her honour. Family came from Utah, Texas, BC, and all kinds of other places. This meant we got to spend a few days with family members we barely ever see, it was great!

On Friday Brad’s cousin Jess and her other half, Martin (from Utah) picked our girls up after school, met up with another cousin (from around here) and spent the afternoon at trampoline world letting all of our girls have some good quality time together.

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Afterwards, they all came back to our house for dinner, drinks and a fun evening of beersby. Brad and I were totally disappointed in ourselves when the American first-timers beat us at our own game!

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We had all the girls sleep over that night and had to pull our girls mattresses out onto the living room floor just so the other 2 could sleep on couches. I was exhausted the next morning when I got up for work but when I saw kids everywhere and what a mess the house was in, I was not even a little sad to be leaving for the day haha

Saturday evening was Grandmas party and it went perfectly! I met lots of family members I had only heard about, caught up with some I only see once in awhile, and chit chatted with the ones I see regularly. Of course I took advantage of the new babies that were there and got in all the baby snuggles I could. Yes, I admit, I did my best to hog our nephew Tynan but ultimately had to share him.

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Baby Rivers is the cutest little chunk!

Everyone took turns at the photo station with Grandma and I might be biased, but I think ours were the best, even though all our daughters took off to the park and 50 percent of the brothers and their families are missing.

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We ended up bringing our nephew Joey home for a sleep over and then allowed the girls to have our niece Ryan sleep over as well, so back to the living room went the girls beds. To our surprise there was a knock on our door and our niece Jasmine walked in! Obviously we invited her to sleepover and again, the next morning, I wasn’t heartbroken to be leaving Brad at home with a messy house and 7 kids haha

Sunday I came home to a spotless house (my husband is the best) with every intention to relax and do nothing but that took an unfortunate turn when we received news that my kids Grandpa (on their dads side) had a massive heart attack and passed away. My heart crumbled for my kids as they spent the night sad and now grieving for two very close grandparents.

Just when I thought we were a making some progress, life threw us another curve ball. Our little family has had some pretty extreme ups and downs lately but I’ve learned we are a pretty tough unit and my kids have nothing but love and support to help them get through.

C

Finally a Carefree Weekend

Speaking of keeping busy around here, Brad and I had finally had a weekend to ourselves that was not full of hospital visits or funeral plans. For the first time in months we actually got to make some fun plans on a kid free weekend!

Friday afternoon/night we headed out to our friends farm that’s just this side of the Canadian/US boarder to do some gopher shooting. It’s a pretty popular past time around here, it’s super fun for us Alberta rednecks and it cuts down on the rodent population in the farmers field, really it’s a win/win for everyone haha we literally drove in circles around a field drinking adult beverages a shooting guns. Sounds totally responsible right?

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You can’t really beat the view either

After a few hours of this we went in for some pizza, guitar playing, and cards. It was great to get out of our little town and enjoy some time with friends we actually don’t get to spend a lot of time with.

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These 2 and their music ❤️

Saturday Brad and I decided we needed a day just the 2 of us and we planned a whole day date. We headed to the city where Brad drug me to a couple garage sales (not my forte) and I drug him to the mall haha We had lunch at a new Mexican joint called Mucho Burrito and then shopped until our feet couldn’t take it anymore. Brad managed to get himself a whole new wardrobe for our upcoming trip and if you’ve ever seen Brad’s wardrobe, it was much needed! We grabbed dinner at the food court, wasted some time at the arcade (don’t tell our kids) and hit a 7:00 movie. These are seriously my very favourite kind of days!

We spent Sunday relaxing and doing small chores around the house trying to prepare for the upcoming week with all 4 kids at home.

It felt like I actually got to sit back and relax for the first time in awhile and I thoroughly appreciated it.

C