Saturday, April 24, 2010

First Steps

We titled this blog first steps for many reasons. The first reason is that last night, Lauren took her first steps. She was so excited and so were we! (We have a video of her at the end of the blog!) The other reason for the title is that we seem to be taking lots of first steps ourselves. We feel like we are starting off with baby steps...they are small, and unsteady, but the more steps that are taken the more confidence we gain and the more excited we become.
An example of the kids being more confident in this urban city of ours is public transit. Regan and Benjamin continually ask to sit "in the back of the bus" (no strollers allowed in the back). They are becoming very familiar with things here and even know when to "ding the bell/pull the cord" to get off at our different stops. We do not ride the skytrain nearly as often as the bus, but when we do, the kids like to try and snag the seat in the very front. They feel like they are on a roller coaster and even hold their hands up in the air when going around curves. One time, we were racing to get that prized seat and soon realized (when the train started moving) that we were actually in the back of the train. So, we watched from behind.

We took this picture of the track while we were waiting on the platform to get on. I have really been impressed at how well public transportation can work if it is done properly. I just didn't grow up in a city that depended on it, so it has been a change. We have ridden a few times in a van with a friend here, and (didn't think I would ever say it but..) I think I prefer transit. Katherine still thinks our van is parked in one of the mall parking lots here. I'm not sure when she will figure it out. She just assumes that one of those vans is ours.

So, we have had some requests to see our house. We rent the upstairs of a house. We have three bedrooms, one bathroom, a living room, and a kitchen. We share the laundry room with the people that rent below us. It did take us couple of days to figure out where the washer/dryer was. We have to walk out the back door, down the steps, use a key for the door going to the downstairs apartment, and that is where it is. There is another door (with another lock) going to the actual apartment, but we would not have figured that one out on our own. Thankfully, we met our downstairs neighbors quickly and they filled us in on some things. Anyways, this is our living room. Behind the couch, we have made it a play area. I really like it because it gives us a central place for toys where they can have fun and it doesn't make the house look like a wreck.

This is the girls' room (Katherine's bed to the left and Regan's bed to the right). They love sharing a room.
And this is Benjamin and Lauren's room. One of Benjamin's prized possessions has become this little UT scarf that is around his puppy's neck. All his stuffed animals get to take turns wearing it. He said that it reminds him of his home in Tennessee. I would not have pictured that as his "keepsake" from his "old home", but it makes a lot of sense now. I mean, we did live in Knoxville...the place that thrives on big orange football. Even the choir wears orange on gameday weekends :) Ahh, those good ole days. We really stand out when our Tennessee apparel is worn here. People in Vancouver like to wear blacks, grays, and some browns. It can be a good conversation starter though :)

Regan took this picture and wanted to add it to the blog. We walk out our front door, down the steps, down the walkway, take a left, and catch the bus at the corner every day. The yard isn't very big, but we still have fun in it. Jonathan played tag with the kids the other day. I thought it was funny because I haven't seen anyone playing in their yards yet. Lots of people walk and ride bikes, but not just play. I guess they go to the parks for that or maybe they stay inside, but who can stay inside on a pretty day?

Katherine playing tag with Daddy. She made it safely to base.

We didn't want to take up every picture with a picture of every room/view of our house, but I did want to share my new favorite picture. It really makes our house feel like home. This was a last minute purchase just four days before we hooped on the plane. We went to get a picture of all the cousins together and in the process they snapped these. I couln't resist :) So, we had it shipped to Canada and I'm really glad we did. We have had some requests to "store" this for us when we move again, but we are still trying to figure out if we can take it with us. Thanks for the offers! :)
Enjoy the video below!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Settling In

There are not many places in the world where you can walk outside and see cherry blossoms blooming and just behind them see snow capped mountains. That is what everyday has been like here. Vancouver is a very "green" city in all aspects of the word. There is green all over the city and it's beautiful, but it is also environmentally friendly green. They pride themselves in this fact. You are required to recycle and certain items are not allowed in the trash. They prefer that you don't use plastic bags at the grocery (or any store), so you better bring your own or you will be charged per bag. If you buy something that is in a can or glass or plastic bottle, you are charged an extra fee and tax on it. So, I have noticed that things, like spices, are typically bought in little bags instead of containers.
We have filled this last week full. We have been exploring and learning our new city, and we have had fun finding things. We have gone to many of the "main attractions" for the city including Lonsdale Quay, the totem poles at Stanley Park, Granville Island, and some other places. The picture above is a view of Vancouver as we were crossing the inlet to Lonsdale Quay (pronounced "key"). Don't mess that one up or they will definitely know you are a tourist! :)

Here we are riding the seabus over to the Quay. It only takes about 10 minutes to cross the inlet and we had some pretty good views in the process.

We are still trying to find out the best places to shop for food. We have found a store called Zellers that reminds me of a Target. It seems to be the closest and the cheapest for many things. The kids are becoming quite the experts in public transit. I took just Katherine out the other night for a quick trip to the store and she looks at me and says, "Are we going to get on the 130 bus?" I couldn't believe she got the bus number right.

The kids were quite fascinated at the ability to buy an octopus in the market. I must say, I have never seen this either. Any takers?

We went to Granville Island which is a nice little market by the water. There are little shops around, a market for fresh foods of all sorts, and this little open area (where the birds gather) and entertainers perform hoping to get some spare change. The view is nice just about everywhere in the city, but here you had the water filled with boats, the city, and the mountains all together.

Mmmm. This made our mouths water when we saw this little display. We might have to make a trip back for a little splurge. We let the kids get a cookie while we were there, but that was all for this trip.

Since we have been here, we have heard just about every language. I thought it was funny because Benjamin just seemed to fit right in to the poster. We have talked to MANY people since we have been here. I always like to ask, "Are you from Vancouver?" I have yet to get a single person to respond, "Yes." We have met people from Hungary, Palestine, Iran, China, Korea, Japan, England, Australia, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam, and one lady (now that I think about it) that was from Surrey (a suburb of Vancouver). I suppose that is supposed to mean something to me, but she was very clear to me that she was not from Vancouver. I'm sure there are other countries, but those are the ones I can put faces to right now.

There was a fallen tree at Stanley Park, so I took advantage of the photo op. This park was the busiest out of all the parks we visited. People here were riding bikes, walking, rollerblading, etc. This is the place where we found the totem poles.

This is also Stanley Park. I guess it really reminded me of what I always picture how Central Park in New York would be. Maybe it's just me. I did like all the artists paintings.

I took this picture for Regan. This is not the only wild animal we have seen here. Yesterday, we saw a coyote running across someone's lawn. I guess they adapt to big city living, too. We watched this racoon climb right next to a person on a bench. The lady on the bench didn't even seem to notice. I don't think I would have let it get that close, but then again, it probably didn't want to get that close to us either with all our kids :)

Ok, this sign just made me laugh. This is the building that we had church in on Sunday. I really don't think you would see this sign back in Tennessee! Again, just made me laugh.

We walked up to Queen Elizabeth park. It was the most beautiful park I have been to. Even on a "cloudy/not so clear" day, it was breath-taking. This picture doesn't show it, but you could see the entire city and all the mountains from here.

Two of my girls posing at this same park. They have decided to "surprise us" in the mornings by getting themselves dressed before breakfast. It's been kinda nice and they haven't picked out anything yet that I just couldn't live with.

Here's a cute one of Lauren. She still isn't walking yet, but if you ask her to sneeze, she will pretend to. She just smiles and waves at everyone who gets on the bus. She's a good little baby.

And finally, this has been the favorite toy of the week. The kids have really loved having all their toys back. We have enjoyed watching them play with them again. Please, keep remembering us as everone continues to adjust to new surroundings.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

We're In Vancouver!

We have arrived and have internet again! People kept asking us before we left if it was going to be as pretty as it looked on tv during the Olympics. Well, we did not see the Olympics, but we can say this. It is absolutely gorgeous. This first picture is right by our house. You can see the mountain tops from inside our home, but if you walk two houses down, this is what you see.
Pretty much everywhere you are has a great view of the mountains. I can see why so many people come to visit and then end up living here. We do not have a car here. We ride the bus and the sky train and walk. It is actually not too bad. We are told that it can be quicker to take public transit than to drive yourself.

This is a park we found about two blocks from our house. It has a nice playground, lots of playing room, tennis courts, a splash pad (when it warms up) and lots of other things to do and see. We even watched a little girls lacrosse team practice. Regan wanted to play. Are you surprised?
I really do not feel like we are living in such a huge city even though I know we are. I thought that it would be really crowded everywhere and all the time, but it hasn't been that way for us yet. Maybe when the weather warms up all the people will start coming out of the woodwork.
One thing we have discovered is that groceries are very expensive (ie $8.00 for a small box of cereal, etc) and that stores close at strange times. Well, strange to us...for example...many stores close at 6:55 Monday-Thursday, 5:55 on Fridays, and 4:55 on Saturday and Sunday. Also, we had a microwave that had all the buttons in French. The only one we could read was pizza.
Now, you have heard about our first few days here, we'll backtack with the pics and let you see some of the things that lead up to this point.
This was all of our luggage at the Atlanta airport. Jonathan was carefully counting the pieces to make sure we had them all and I was carefully counting the kids to make sure we had them all :)

The views from the plane were also incredible. Apparently, it snowed out west. I love seeing all the different scenes as we were flying.

The kids did great on the plane. We had two flights to get here. Lauren took a little nap as you can see. On the second flight, they had put the four kids on row 20 and Jonathan and I on row 7. Needless to say, the people in row 19 agreed to switch seats with us, so that they were not babysitting the kiddos.

Before we left, we visited lots of family and friends, had Lauren's 1st birthday, celebrated Easter, had Benjamin's 5th birthday (several times). This is a picture of his older cousin and their matching shirts.

Benjamin and Nathan at his Super Hero birthday party.

Lauren at church. She finally gave up and fell alseep under the exersaucer. She was so funny.

Lauren loved her cookie cake!

The kids enjoyed their time with Auntie Em also. Here they were watching the clouds and the planes go by. You gotta love it!
I'm sure we will have many more pics and stories next week. We plan to go exploring tomorrow!