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.



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


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


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.


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.


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


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!


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.




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.


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 😊


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!




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.


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


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.



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



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.




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!


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


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.


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.



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.



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.



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!


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



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


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!


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.


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



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.



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!



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


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.


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!


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.


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.



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.


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?



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.


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.


The Healing Process

I have to say, this experience has been a major eye opener and has really taught me some life lessons. It’s given me a huge admiration for people who suffer incredible losses. I see people in our community, even in our close circle, who have gone through this, and worse, and think “look at them going on with life, they’re amazing”. Let me tell you, going on with life without a loved one is the hardest things anyone will ever have to do. For the weeks leading up to the funeral I did mediocre. My family was around, we had so much to do and everyone’s lives were just kind of on hold. Everyone I spent time with was in the same grieving boat. Once that was all over, the funeral was done and one of my uncles left for his home a couple hours away, reality hit and it hit hard. The week after was by far the worst. Life was going on and it was going on without my mom and hated every minute of it. I found myself somewhat holding it together at work but as soon as I hit the highway home, I sobbed for the whole 30 minute drive. So many things were happening in my life and I couldn’t tell my mom about a single one of them. The shower, the car, days off at home or any time spent alone were sad times so I’ve been doing my best to keep myself somewhat busy and I think it’s actually been helping.

The funeral was closure for our family and it was really a beautiful service. With the help of friends and family, we managed to give Shirls a send off she would have been proud of.



I’m sure glad my aunt thought to take pictures.

Afterwards our family and my moms life long friends gathered at her house for one last hurrah in her honour just as she told us to do. A night with people I’ve loved my whole life and some faces I haven’t seen in years was exactly what my heart needed.



A few days before the funeral, my sister in law had a brand new baby boy! I’ve gotten some baby snuggles in when I’ve been able to and it was nice to have that excitement. Plus he’s ridiculously adorable!


Welcome to the world Tynan Richards!

We’ve also rebooked our missed Mexican vacation and the first week of June we will be hitting the beach with some of our friends that we roped into coming with us haha we are VERY much looking forward to that get away.

In memory of my mom, I got myself a new tattoo that I’m totally in love with! I found a card she gave me years ago and had her hand writing duplicated, with an owl because she LOVED them. What makes this tattoo really special though, is I actually took some of her ashes and the tattoo artist mixed them in the ink. I will literally always have my mom with me. My kids think it’s absolutely disgusting (except Reegan, she wants to do the same when she’s 18) but I think it’s awesome!


Last weekend the girls and I had a shopping day at the mall so we weren’t just moping around. We got some new summer clothes and had lunch together. I had lots of those kinds of days with my mom as a kid and I hope they cherish them like I did.


I really stepped out of my box this week when I went to a paint night with my cousin Amanda and some of our friends. I have zero artistic ability and painting was soooo hard!! There were tons of swear words from all of us and threats of quitting but the company was fantastic!


Coincidentally the theme of the night was owls

They say grief never goes away, you just learn to live with it. I fully believe that. There’s no way this pain will ever leave me but I am most definitely learning to live with it and I know one day I’ll get to a point where I’ll get through a day without tears in my eyes. For now I’ll just continue to lean on my husband (who has been AMAZING through all of this by the way. He’s really gone above and beyond to make this as easy for me as possible), spend time with my family as much as possible, and count my lucky stars that I have the friends and family that I do.


My Worst Nightmare

I’ve contemplated for days if I should write this post and if my mother knew I was about to post all about her, she’d have my head. But this is a blog about my life and my family and it doesn’t get more real life than the last month. It’s literally been a living hell.

On March 2nd my mom gave us the news that she had been diagnosed with cancer. I was shocked, and yet in a way, I wasn’t. Cancer has certainly made its rounds in our family and my grandma and great grandma both passed away from breast cancer. My mom had it on her left kidney but her doctor was hopeful that with surgery they could get rid of it. I was devastated for my mom, I spent most of the weekend crying or trying NOT to cry in front of people.

The following week my mom went for another scan and it had spread to her back. Surgery was still an option but more tests were needed.

The week after that (2 weeks after we got the initial news) my mom went for a bone scan, her legs were weak, she could barely walk and she had fallen the night before. Her neighbor and good friend who was driving her, decided to take her to the hospital in the next town over. The hospital admitted her and she spent the night until she was sent to a bigger hospital in the city for an MRI where they found more cancer in her spine which was causing her not to walk properly. She was immediately admitted into that hospital.

Within days the cancer had compressed her spine so badly it had pinched a nerve and caused total paralysis in her legs.  It had also spread to her lungs and was in her bones. She was sent 2 hours away to another hospital to see a spinal surgeon but after being told there really wasn’t much they could do, she was sent back to her regular hospital.

Our family was in utter turmoil. I am an only child and my mom was a single parent for a lot of my life. Her and her 3 brothers have always been very close and we are a very tight knit group. Watching someone as strong as my mom get weaker and weaker was so unbelievably hard on all of us. We did the best we could to spend as much time as we could with her so she wasn’t scared or lonely. She eventually was given an epideral to localize the pain so she was alert and could actually have conversations without falling asleep and it seemed like she took a turn for the better after this.

A family meeting was held the following Sunday with one of her doctors, and she was told the damage to her spine was irreversible and she would never walk again. This was totally devestating news. My mom was the most independent person I’ve ever met, the idea of having to rely on others was horrifying to her.

She was doing daily radiation and there were talks of chemo and moving her to a different care facility, we knew we didn’t have years left with her but we were keeping hope our hopes up for atleast one.

During all this, Brad and I were trying to decide what to do about our upcoming trip. We didn’t want to throw away thousands of dollars but we sure didn’t want to be out of the country if things turned for the worse. It was extra stress on an already stressful situation.

On Good Friday I took the kids up to visit and they decorated her room for Easter. She seemed to be a little worse for the wear that day and slept the whole time we were there except for a few minutes she woke up to look at the decorations and tell me to take pictures.




A nurse pulled me into the hallway and told me not to go on the trip as my mom only had hours left. I held myself together as much as I could with the kids but I was completely distraught by the time I got home to Brad. He took action and called the hospital demanding to talk to the dr. The dr told us completely opposite information! She told us it was more than reasonable to go on our trip and worst case scenario, my mom had MONTHS left. I felt a little better but I wasn’t totally at ease. Something was different about my mom that day and I knew it.

The next morning a nurse called me at 5am wondering if we were coming in that day, I told her yes we had planned on coming in around lunch time, she told me my mom was asking for us but she would let her know we would be there in a few hours. As I was getting ready later that morning, the dr called and said she was worried about my mom as there had been a drastic change in her and scheduled a meeting time with us. We left our kids at home (as we had for pretty much 2 weeks) and when I got into her room, I could see an obvious change in her. She wasn’t very awake, her speech was slurred and she was very flemmy. My mom called me over to the bed and told me to call her brothers because she was done. That was far more than my already breaking heart could handle. The dr then came in and told us not to leave on our trip as my mom definitely did only have hours left, days if we were lucky, and to start calling in anyone that should be there. My moms neighbor/friend was there with us and the 2 of us immediately started making phone calls while Brad ran home to get our kids. The next 24 hours were spent with family members and loved ones crowded in a tiny hospital room saying their goodbyes and bawling their eyes out. Some had to leave at different times and I sent Brad home at 3am because the next morning was Easter so I didn’t want the kids to wake up alone, Me and 2 of my uncles (David and Rick) spent the night with my mom. We tried to get as much sleep as we could in the uncomfortable chairs until I got fed up and made myself a bed on the concrete floor out of heated blankets. It was the worst night of my life.

The sun came up, David went and got us breakfast because none of us had eaten in 2 days and the visitors started rolling in again. It went like this until about 2:30 in the afternoon when my my aunt noticed moms breathing was really slowing down and we new this was the end. We once again made emergency calls and my mom passed away peacefully with her family and friends around her.

I didn’t even know my heart could hurt so hard. I knew she wasn’t suffering anymore and I was relieved for that but my heart tore in 2. It broke not just for me who lost a mother, but for my grandpa who lost his only daughter, my uncles who lost their only sister, my kids who were robbed of so much time with the best Gran around and for her friends who lost a life long partnership.

We didnt always see eye eye to eye but my mom was my rock. It was just the 2 of us for so many years of my life and no matter what I did I knew she was there if I needed help. I feel like we barely had time to accept the fact that she was sick and now we have to accept that she is gone. One short month from beginning to end and we are now left with a pain and sorrow I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. She decided at the beginning that she wasn’t going through what she watched her mom go through and she sure followed through. In true Shirley fashion, she made up her mind and she did it on her own terms. IMG_5770