Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ava {6 years old}

Ms. Ava Vivian Sweigart turned 6 on July 21.
We had fun celebrating her birthday. It has been so very hot, that there isn't much you can do outside, unless it involves water. So, we had some fun with water balloons. Uncle Mitch came a little late..so they saved a couple for him :)
It was pretty good. As Brent chased Mitch around the house with a balloon, Ava went the opposite way with one of her own. Mitch thought he'd take the one she had from her and hit Brent with it...instead the birthday girl PEGGED him!! Way to go AVA!




Now inside..to the butterfly birthday party! We ate food, opened presents, and ate some CAKE! 
Her mama, Alyssa made yet another very cute cake :)




Ava you are such a sweet girl..turning into a fine young lady! 
You are such a little good little cousin ("mama") when you help Christian and take care of the kitties. 
Hope you have a wonderful year being six...we love you!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

From the mouth of Christian...

Here are a few of the sayings, terms, or words that Christian started saying along the trip...he definately is at a whole new level of repeating what he hears...

"Bank-it, pass" = blanket, pacifier. A combo that he would request almost immediately after about the 2nd day of traveling once we got in the car. He would also ask for it when we were out and active, if he got sleepy..which is not usually normal at all for him. He doesn't normally use either one around at home (other than in his crib while he is sleeping), but I guess it gave him a sense of comfort and familarity.

"Boi-ng hot" = while at yellowstone looking at the geysers we would remind him they were boiling hot water..a big time repeater statement.

"might be hot" = when we were climbing up and down the stairs there were some kind of shut off valves that he wanted to call coo-coo clocks because of the circles and numbers. I said, no they weren't clocks, but just said they 'might be hot' cause I really didn't know what they were....so now, anything that he thinks "might be hot"..he uses that line. This later became "might be cold" when it was FREEZING in the tundra near the glaciers!

"retractable awning" = Ben said this at the Italian restaurant in Casper...and Christian was in super sponge mode..and had a really solid attempt at saying this ridiculous combination.

"Anna, Sam, Grandma "H", Da....el, Pete, Kira, Audra, Tucker" = all names he has mastered along the way. Anna sums up all 3 of the 2nd cousin girls that he fell in love with immediately. One of their names is Anna, the others are Olivia and Felicity..and then baby Tommy. Sam, is uncle Sam, and he really knows how to pick him out of a crowd and say his name all on his own. Grandma H., well that who she is, but he has made the distinction of which grandma this is and REALLY pronounces the "H" clearly at the end. Da....el, is Daniel Penner, he just seems to like Daniel..probably because Daniel seems to like Christian and interacts with him at a level that Christian can appreciate. Pete, Kira, Audra, and Tucker were from when we stayed at Pete and Kira's house in Denver. He really liked them, and Audra Shue along with Nathaneal (he couldn't quite get that one down yet) were there and the two dogs that he learned to interact with..one of them being Tucker, who he would say "no, no Tucker" (as he was instructed to do by Pete).

"kime" = CLIMB! Boy, he just thinks anywhere we go, if there is ANYTHING remotely close to a step, or object that looks like it should be climbable..he should be doing it. And if we ignore his request to "kime", he gets louder and adds an "uh-huh" in there to emphasize that he really meant it. Occasionally, if it does involve actual stairs he will say "step", "mama, step". Surprisingly enough, while hiking he hasn't requested to do this when he is in the backpack carrier..which is very nice..because with him on my back is fine, but any squirreling around and my center of gravity gets a little skewed.

"runn-ing!" = when we get out of the car and all systems are a go, I usually ask if he would like to get down and run. He will say this very emphatically and his little legs are just a going, and his little bootie is a bouncin'.

"bu'tt'in" = you must note the "t's" are VERY clear. He loves to push the buttons on most anything, but along our trip it has been a highlight to push the elevator buttons!

"ring-ring"= He will pick up the phone in the hotel room and say this...then say "HI!" even though nobody is there. The hotel phones in the room have been unplugged do to this little guy in fear that he will be calling another room or the front desk..or Hong Kong. (He did find Ben's phone lying on the desk when we've been in Canada, and when we discovered it, it said connecting...so I'm sure I'll be calling the phone company to take care of some charge when we return)

"poo?"= pool, aka, can we go now!?! "swimming", "nemo", "pooh", "boat", "suit", "wat-a"= all words accosiated to swimming as well. Nemo and Pooh are characters on his different diaper swimmers. Nemo is also the only movie he has ever watched, and he has it pretty much down pat. It involves a boat..so he associates that all together with swimming. Suit, swimming, and water are self explanatory.

"Case-dia"= what he was requesting quite loudly at the nice Italian restaurant, he wanted a quesadilla. Our little mexican child apparently likes his mexican cousine! We had just had this 2 night before, so I guess he figured we were sitting down to eat in a restaurant and that's what he wanted.

"dump tuck", "sim-i truck" = he usually has difference between these trucks down. If he calls a semi truck a dump truck, we will correct and then he will nod and say "sim-i tuck"

"bus ride"= heard that ALL morning when we went on the bus tour through High River..he likes buses!

"keem"= icecream, although when we got a special treat, he didn't even want to eat his! He was more interested in climbing the stairs outside...go figure.

"Jer-ki-ko"= Joshua fought the battle of Jericho song..a new favorite song when we are in the car driving. He will ask for this..followed by Bank-it, Pass. He has his routine down to a T!

"might bite"= mosquitos...he doesn't mind getting sprayed with mosquito spray one bit...and explains while putting it on "might bite". Which when they do..he is like is Daddy and gets massive welts.

"shocking and surprising" = yes, both those words together in the same saying...because that's what he heard his mama say about something. He later used both those words on his own together, it was definitely shocking and surprising to hear that come out of his mouth randomly!

Almost always he will great our waitress or hotel receptionist with a "hi", and repeat this until they give the satisfactory "hi" back or any form of acknowledgement. It's slightly embarassing when he does this and they don't say anything back..because he REALLY tries, and it almost seems like he's being a stinker..but all is really wants is to be friendly.

He has his courtesy laugh down..but its just a touch delayed..again, it can be slightly embarrassing because it kind of comes off like he is making fun.

"Chicken out....ookkaay." = literally, "Christian out, okay"..but in his words the ok part is just him answering himself with the idea of getting out of his carseat, and then somehow it makes it happen if the OK part is said. Yes, he calls himself "chicken" instead of Christian.

"all done" = what he was during the long 25 hour drive home...but he was a trooper and really did outstanding for that long!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Jiggity Jig {day eleven and a half of trip}

July 10: We left Lake Louise about 9:45 am, to head home....straight through. Within 5 hours we were out of Canada, but before leaving here was a last view. (It kind of reminded me of KS..except we don't have canola..and it was way greener here.)


We had a few faces like this along the way...but overall he did SO good, considering it was a lengthy drive. 



Here's my sleeping beauties..Ben and I took turns..when it got to the point of slapping myself in the face, I knew it was time to switch.


This was the RIDICULOUS rest area that we stopped at. If it weren't for the fact that I really had to go to the bathroom..there would've been NO WAY I would've wanted to get out! Read the middle sign...that pretty much explains it all!


We stopped in Billings, MT around 8 pm for a late supper. We didn't really contemplate stopping for the night..but the thought of having another 15 hours the next day if we would've was motivation enough for  us to keep going while we were in the mode!

July 11: By the time daylight had come again, we had to rig up a "fort" for Christian to keep the bright sun out. He got short naps in throughout the night, but it was hard for him to stay asleep. We all were ready to get home to our own beds! 


At one of the gas stops, we thought Christian should try out his turn at the wheel. Scary enough he knew exactly what he needed to do to start the vehicle on his own. He was booted from the driver's seat after witnessing that!

Ahhhhh....we made it home at 11:45 am. It was 25 hours of driving (26 hours including the stops). We may have been welcomed back with the 100+ degree weather, but it sure felt good to be home! It was such a fun, fulfilling trip...I am so grateful that we were able to go. Thank you to Grandpa and Grandma Hershberger for allowing us to have a good reason to make such a special trip...and for your generosity in making it more obtainable. I have many special memories and images that will be held in my "happy memory bank" forever!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Banff & Moraine Lake {day ten of trip}

July 9: We ate breakfast with Phil, Diana, and Sam and then headed out for our "last day" of our family vacation. We went to Banff first, which is around 20 minutes away from Canmore. Its a very touristy town..but with good reason...its beautiful, and has MANY shops to check out! So we did just that...enjoyed the beauty and shopped too.



I was the official child carrier with the aid of my craigslist purchase prior to the trip (it ended up being a mighty good purchase in our case!). Ben tried it out once along our trip..and maybe 20 minutes into Christian's ride he was officially done. I think the fit of the carrier isn't meant for manly men like Ben :) Christian's legs were too spread out.
 Anyways,  Christian actually learned to fall asleep in it, which totally surprised me. I normally carried him on my back..but I was trying to protect him from the cold wind during the first part of this day.  




We did ALOT of walking this day. After we had hit up many of the shops, we started walking towards what we thought was the Banff Springs Hotel a.k.a. the castle hotel. We didn't really know where we were going, but it didn't take us long at all to walk into these beautiful gardens. There were at least three different brides getting their pictures taken and an actual wedding ceremony taking place while we were in these gardens. They had very neat looking wood pieces too...



After a quite a bit more walking..some may call it "hiking" as there were trails and such to it. We went by some pretty falls, along the Bow Falls Trail. This trail also led us in front of the Banff Springs Hotel. 




This was the view from what we considered to be the end of the trail, right after the falls. 



There was not a direct path up to the hotel, so we ended up walking the horse trail that was established for the rich folk that stayed at the Banff Springs Hotel to utilize on their horseback rides. It perhaps is not recommended to take this path..but it was kind of like the glacier moment, we're this close, we are going to get there one way or another. Perhaps, I also wouldn't recommend wearing flip flops this entire time. Oh well, you live and learn. We finally got to the "castle" and made our way inside to check things out. I've never been to England or to a castle for that matter...but that's exactly where it felt like we were. Even the "butler" boys were dressed in kilts. It was a very formal hotel..not exactly our type..but it was fun to walk around a bit. Probably the best thing that Christian found was outside a couple blocks away there were a group of extremely tame and friendly squirrels (or maybe they were ground hogs?). It was hilarious to watch him interact with them!



We then went to our hotel for the night..which was about a mile away from Lake Louise. It was beautiful!  The first view is from our balcony..the second is of the outside of our room. We were the second one from the left on the top.


There was still daylight, so we went to check out Moraine Lake which is about 20 min away from the place we stayed. It was AMAZING. I personally thought it was even more beautiful and surreal than Lake Louise. Other than the fact that it was getting pretty stinkin cold by this time..it was just an amazing view! We did walk part of the path that was there, but decided we probably shouldn't go much further because we still had to go back..and we had Christian as bundled as he could be!







We went out to eat (the worst place we went the whole trip...bummer), and then headed back to our "cabin" to enjoy the fireplace to warm up to. It was a great place to end our family vacation for sure!

Friday, July 8, 2011

the Tundra {day nine of trip}

July 8: The parting day of the Hershberger reunion we were treated to breakfast made by John and Chris. It was quite good..of course. Before parting our separate ways we got in a picture of the great-grands with the Great-Grandparents. Christian was in his "cheeese" mode...really nice look for a natural smile, but at least he wasn't crying I guess.


We then spent the day with Phil and Diana. Sam had decided to join the Goertz's and the Penner's in going to the Calgary Stampede (An annual event in Calgary, about an hour away from where we were. To my understanding it involves shows, vendors, and the part that I would really have liked to see is the rodeo!). Don't get me wrong I would love to have gone to this, but I think it would've been a bit much for Christian to appreciate...maybe someday. I guess Prince William and Kate were there the day before for the pre-opening events. They had also been at Lake Louise area the day we were there...but had left by the time we arrived. So anyways, back to our day....we spent it with Phil and Diana! It was a rather gloomy, cool day...so we took it as it came.

We ate in Banff, at a place called Eddie's burger. It was really good. Ben got a jumbo sized burger with all the fixings and then some and I got chili cheese fries...which were not just your typical greesy sounding entree. They were really good..complete with cheese curds!

Next, we decided to head up to the Columbian Icefields..we weren't really sure how far they were away. But since it was cool, and rainy we weren't going to take in any hikes like we orginally planned around the Lake Louise area anyway, and Christian fell asleep...so we took the drive.


This is how crazy cold it got (34 degrees)...and it was SNOWING. Mind you, we did not prepare clothing wise for such weather. I had a paper thin long sleeved shirt and a vest. Ben had a long sleeve shirt. Christian was doing pretty well with lots of layers, and a sweatshirt, and a jacket, AND his blanket! I guess I should add, some of us WERE prepared..Diana was good to go in full on "sherpa" gear!


After about 3 to 3 1/2 hours of driving...we arrived. It was a beautiful drive, even if it was gloomy. There is just something about the massive mountains surrounding you that makes it feel so unreal. It was a totally different feel than any other mountain range I've seen or driven in..it felt so powerful! This was in the lobby of the center outside of the glacier. It was VERY cold when we got out, so we looked around a bit before deciding what our next move was. Christian enjoys this huge animal things..Mr Moose got a high five too.



Here's the glacier..this is just the "foot" of it that is spread out in between the mountains. Hard to explain. It didn't take long to realize just how dangerous it is if you try and "romp" around on the glacier. There were several displays of information and they all included how dangerous it is to walk on them. Several people have died by slipping in "cracks" that are next to impossible of getting out of, and then dying of hypothermia because the glacier immediately sucks the warmth out of your body. Pleasant huh. We didn't have any desire to test this out. And we didn't pay the $200 a person to ride the ice bus out on the glacier either...so we decided we could manage the short hike up to the foot of the glacier. We drove over closer to it, bundled Christian up, and headed out. He didn't mind a bit..he actually wanted to pull the blanket off of his face. IT WAS FREEZING! Oh my goodness. At one point in the beginning, Phil and Ben both said, are you sure you want to do this...my response, "yes, we drove all this way and we're this close to it..we are going to do this!"


"OH MY WORD....LET'S GO BACK NOW!!!!"
Once we got even near the top where the glacier began, it became SO very windy and the snow was biting down! I have to laugh just thinking about how ridiculously cold this was...artic tundra! None of us even went near to the glacier, we couldn't even open our eyes to see it...we went as fast as our frozen bodies could go back down. I was so shocked Christian didn't complain one time..he was entertained with the phrase "no way, Jose" and then by me turning around and asking if Diana was coming...he kept repeating her name very clearly "Diana?"


Ahhh...it was an experience. Can't say I need to go back...but it was definitely a memorable day! I still laugh, especially when I look at our faces in these pictures because it is exactly how it was...no dramatization necessary!

We finished our day with another great restaurant picked by Ben, "The Grizzly Paw" in Canmore ( I enjoyed their freshly "brewed" root beer!). We laid Christian down, I took a super long bath, and then we joined Phil and Diana in their room with the fireplace going! It just makes me smile to think that we were this cold in July and actually used the fireplace to feel cozy. Ahhh..it was a good day!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lake Louise & Canmore {day eight of trip}

July 7: The Hershberger clan left High River and headed to Canmore for the next night together. Some of us took the scenic drive..it was pretty and it had wildlife (mountain goats primarily). We stopped in Canmore to eat lunch with Phil, Diana and Sam and then proceeded on to Lake Louise, which was a little less than an hour away.

We just enjoyed the scenery, and some of the other Hershberger family also were there. Some went on a hike, but we just roamed around..Christian was fine with the rocks and any form of stairs. We walked into the Fairmont Hotel, it was quite the hotel.


Jessica P, Saundra, Sam, Daniel, Ben, Christian and me






We headed back to our hotel at Canmore for supper in Grandpa and Grandma's room. The rooms were very nice, complete with a kitchen, nice bathroom with huge tub, seperate bedroom and nice living room with a fireplace, and a balcony or patio! It was basically a very nice one bedroom apartment. So we ate supper and enjoyed being outside.



Christian enjoyed following his three girl second cousins (Anna, Olivia, and Felicity) around. He fell off the brick wall..but surprisingly enough didn't have any lasting effects other than it hurting. We distracted him with bubbles we had brought in the car. It was a hit for all ages :)


Holding Tommy (Joe and Julie's youngest of four childen..he's 7 months old and weighs one pound less than Christian now...healthy little guy!)

Later that evening some of us went to Joe and Julie's room (or apartment) to talk..we had a good time. We had laid Christian down to sleep in our room. When I went to check on him, I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the door was cracked open..I ran inside, flipped on all the lights, and ran over to the pack n' play. He was sound asleep..so I then thought someone was in the room. It didn't take long for me to realize it was my own fault, I had grabbed my camera after I had laid him down, and quietly shut the door..I obviously didn't pull hard enough to make it latch! Whew...I'm glad God has angels working around the world..they didn't know they'd have to follow us to Canada!

Ben and his Penner cousins...Daniel and Jessica

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

High River & Mazeppa {day seven of trip}

July 6: We had a full day today. Grandpa Hershberger had recently finished a book he had written "That's That" about his life. It was rather interesting to read, I appreciate how honest Grandpa H is..and his sense of humor. I read most of the book on our way up here outloud, so Ben could also enjoy it. It created hours of entertainment and discussion. We had to laugh at the many words that only Grandpa would use!! It made me feel both uneducated (for not knowing what the word meant in the first place) and educated (for learning the meaning within the text)! In his book, he wrote about his growing up years in High River and Mazeppa. So, today we went on a bus tour to the surrounding area to see where Grandpa Hershberger's growing up years were held.
It may not look like it in this picture, but Christian was a HUGE fan of the bus. The whole walk over from the hotel to the church where the bus was, he said "ride the bus?" over and over again...just ask Tim and Faith, they were able to hear his conversation!

We first went by the house that Grandpa grew up in. It was quite interesting to see the house, artisian well, and outbuildings...all original!





Next, we saw the location where the school house was..and the artisian well that is still very much running with perfectly cold water. Christian really liked that water. The only downfall of the day was the amount of mosquitos..yikes, they are really more like birds. I think the ones in MN are pretty much direct descendants of these..both very LARGE in quantity and in size!
Grandpa sharing a memory from his school days.


The last place we got out along our tour was at the church where Grandpa Hershberger's dad was pastor. This is now someone's house, but the cemetery is still located in their back yard. Christian found enjoyment in brushing off the grass on the tombstone..we said "keening..gass, keening..gass" (cleaning, grass). That was nice for the lady that was buried there I guess.


After the bus tour, we went over to a park in town and had lunch. Here Daniel, Ben, and Sam are socializing after the subway sandwich lunch...and getting eaten for lunch by the mosquitos!

The afternoon was relaxing, we all got naps in..and then socialized with each other. We ate at a very nice Italian restaurant for supper..I especially enjoyed the appetizers which surprised me..calamari, shrimp, bushetta, and yummy bread dipped in olive oil/balsamic vinegar. It was MORE than enough food!
After supper, we came back, went swimming again..I even tried out the waterslide several times! Christian again turned quite blue in his lips from it being chilly, so we all sat in the hot tub..he was a fan.
"Hot. Tub." He is very clear with his words sometimes, this one was a repeater.