Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Niagara Falls (part 2)

Here is the (much anticipated ;) second half of our vacation to Niagara Falls.

On Thursday morning we decided to drive over Rainbow Bridge and visit the American side of the falls. We did this for 2 reasons. The first and most important, was for Dan to be able to check his voice mail and make some much need phone calls. International calling is not part of our cell phone plan and at 99 cents a minute, we decided that the $3.50 toll charge to cross the bridge was better than a $30+ cell phone bill. While Dan sat under a tree and made a few calls, the kids and I explored the sights (the second reason).
The American Falls in the foreground and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls in the background.
The view from Luna Island looking at the American Falls. Blake is taking his morning nap.
Rebecca found a cool spot up in a tree on Luna Island.

After our time back in the US, we drove back into Canada to the Americana Hotel in Niagara Falls for the Cadet Counselor Convention. Dan has been a Cadet counselor at our church for the past 8 years and is now also on our area's Cadet Counselor Executive Committee. We did not intentionally plan our vacation to Niagara based on the fact that the convention was there. It was a nice coincident, so we decided to sign up for the convention, which was very family friendly.

While at the convention there were workshops and speakers for both the men and women and activities for the kids. Dan did workshops related to leading Cadets, geocaching, and reflector ovens. My workshops were cupcake decorating, card making, and we both took scroll sawing.
I made turtle toppers out of fondant. I will definitely try using fondant for the kids birthdays in the future.
I made a few pretty cards.
Here is Dan scroll sawing. We both did pretty well and will also have to try this again at home.
Rebecca and Blake spent their days playing in the hotel water park, visiting the Niagara Falls zoo, and generally having a lot of fun with the other kids. They both were exhausted in the evening and had a hard time waking up in the morning.

On Friday night we went back to the falls with the Cadet group to watch the fireworks.
The American Falls illuminated.
The Canadian Falls illuminated.
Waiting for fireworks.
Ahh! Worth the wait!
The final thing we did before leaving on Saturday was to play a little bit in the hotel water park as a family. Rebecca is fearless in the water and loved the body slides and tube slides, which she had to go on with an adult.
Rebecca and Dan after the tube slide.
All smiles!
This was Blake's first swimming pool experience and he seemed to like it too.
After leaving Niagara we drove to Jenison, MI and spent the night with friends Cara and Jamie and their adorable kids Owen and Emrey. We finished our drive home on Sunday afternoon. We had a great time and made lots of great memories.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Niagara Falls (part 1)

Last week we enjoyed a great family vacation to Niagara Falls. It's a little overwhelming to sort through over 150 pictures and try to capture our vacation in a blog post, but I will try. Here is the first half of our vacation to Niagara Falls.

We left Monday afternoon and drove part way to my brother's house near Chicago. We had a good visit with them and Rebecca had fun running around with her cousin Josh. On Tuesday, we drove the rest of the way to Niagara Falls (about 9 hours). The kids did really well in the car and it was a pretty easy drive. We stayed on the Canadian side of the falls and checking into a Days Inn for the first two nights. After settling into our hotel, we took a walk down Victoria street and Clifton Hill. We had a fun supper at Rainforest Cafe.
Rebecca with the Rainforest Cafe frog.
The next day we walked down to the falls and went on the Maid of the Mist boat ride. Decked out in blue ponchos, we enjoyed the beautiful views and felt the powerful mist of the falls. We all got a little wet, some more than others. Although, on a hot sunny day, no one complained about it.
Maid of the Mist boat ride.
Rebecca sporting her blue poncho.
View of the falls from the boat and the seagulls having breakfast.
All wet, but happy :)
View of the falls from the Maid of the Mist store patio.
Later in the day we did some more walking down to Table Rock, which has a large visitor center and the Journey Behind the Falls experience. We took an elevator down a few levels and walked through tunnels to see out of portals drilled behind the falls. We took some pictures but it's hard to imagine from a picture what it was like. The water is pounding powerfully in front of the portal and if the wind blows the water would pour in like a rain storm. It was a neat experience. There was also a lot of facts posted along the portals explaining more about the history of the falls.
Walking around Niagara Falls.
Getting closer to the falls. Journey Behind the Falls is in the lower right.
Dan and Rebecca in one of the portals. The falls are thundering right behind them.
Blake and I trying to stay dry in the mist of the falls.
View of the Maid of the Mist from the deck of Journey Behind the Falls.
View from the boardwalk. Rainbow bridge is in the distance connecting Canada and the US.
Family photo in front of the falls.
This is one of my favorite pictures! Just taking in God's beautiful creation!
Stay tuned for Part 2 of our vacation - coming soon!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy 4th!

This last week has been full of fun summer activities. Despite the hot, hot weather, we have had a lot of fun. Here are the high lights in pictures.

We got to go out on the lake for the first time last Saturday. Our friend Scott took us out. Don't pay attention to the look on Rebecca's face in this picture, she loved the boat! Dan and I both skied and Rebecca and I also had a ride on the tube together. She is still not ready to try the tube on her own.

Every time the boat stopped Rebecca wanted to jump off and swim!

She also enjoyed a noodle fight with Scott.

On the 4th we had lunch with some friends near Brooklyn. The Caddens are a great family and have a large hog confinement with a bunch of new piglets. Brian, who is the same age as Rebecca, was very excited to show her the pigs. 

Rebecca had no problem jumping in and holding the pigs too!

Is a hog barn in our future too?

In the evening, we got together with a bunch of families from church and enjoyed a BBQ, water balloons, a dunk tank, sparklers, and fireworks in Pella.  
Here are the girls getting ready to hit the boys with water balloons.
We all enjoyed the fireworks, including Blake who watched them very intently. 

And just for kicks, here is a picture of our very healthy, happy, and well fed baby boy. 
Blake is almost 6 months old now.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Almond Bars

How long has it been since I posted a Tuesday recipe? I'm guessing it's been at least a year or more. Well, here is a good one for you if you've been waiting...

Almond Bars

3 sticks of margarine
3 cups sugar 
4 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons almond extract
3 cups flour

Blend margarine and sugar. Add in eggs. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Spread batter into a greased 10x15 pan. Sprinkle with sugar and sliced almonds. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes. 

These bars are delicious! They are moist and have a great almond flavor. I got this recipe from my mom, who helped make them every year for Orange City's Tulip Festival. The Christian school sold these yummy Dutch treats at their food stand. I'm guessing they still sell them, but I haven't been back home for Tulip Festival in a few years.

Try them yourself. They are so easy and so good!