Monday, May 31, 2010

Holiday and Family

This Monday was a Canadian Holiday. It was Victoria day. People were off work and school, and the city was alive with people wanting to enjoy the day. We went to a park with some friends and had a cookout. We ate some great food and the kids had fun picking the wild flowers. It was a great time of fellowship.

At one point during the cookout, we could hear a buzz sound. It kept getting louder and louder almost like a lawnmower. We looked up and saw the largest swarm of bees that I have ever seen! The wind or something had agitated the THREE hives about 30 feet above us. As the hives swung back and forth the bees were not happy. They kept getting lower and lower, and needless to say, we got out of there. They eventually settled down and went back up to their home, but we decided that we didn't like that particular spot anymore.

This park also had a free petting zoo. I just wonder what Lauren is saying to the goat. We saw goats, bunnies, pigs, and even a peacock (not to pet).

Besides the holiday, we also had family come in for a visit! Granddad and Mammy arrived on Thursday. They have been experiencing public transportation with us and seeing all the sights. Well, as much as we can. It has been rainy here the entire time they have been here.

We were all excited for them to get here, but especially the kids. It has been so good for them to see some familiar faces from the States. You can't tell that she is happy, can you? The kids picked out their clothes for that day and decided that they HAD to wear Tennessee stuff because it was Granddad coming.

They got a nice surprise of Skittles when the suitcases were unpacked. YUMMY!

We went to Granville Island, which Benjamin really enjoys. He likes the birds. They have a market and some little shops there.
This was my favorite place that we visited. We went to Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge. It was beautiful and lots of fun. Granddad couldn't stand to watch all of us go across, so he took Lauren and went for a walk. :)

Benjamin was being a little photographer here. He said he that he needed to take a family picture before we went to Chinatown. He posed us exactly where he wanted us. I thought he did a good job. I'm not sure what Katherine is looking for in Mammy's hair.

Regan was wearing her Chinese clothes to Chinatown. We got many smiles (even in the rain). One shop owner even gave us "gifts." Benjamin got a stone necklace with a "real" scorpion inside, Regan got a bracelet, and I got a hair clip. I'll have to go back and visit this lady again. We had been in this store a month before, and she still remembered us.

We went to eat at an Italian Restaurant called Anton's. It was about two blocks from our house, and we have always seen a line out the door. We figured it must be good. It was great. It was more food than we could ever imagine trying to eat. Katherine was sitting on her knees while at the table and ended up getting stuck. It was quite a chore getting her out.

This was just one plate of food that came out. We ate and ate and ate and it looked like we hadn't touched it. The kid's portion was ridiculously large as well. Lauren got a "baby bowl" and it would have been plenty of food for my big kids.

Benjamin just couldn't hang in there any longer. He fell sound asleep. I woke him up to eat. It was the funniest thing. He popped up from the table, grabbed the parmesan shaker, and started shaking it like crazy. I'm sure you had to be there for it to be so funny, but it still makes me laugh.

Standing in the rain at Chinatown.

We went to Gastown and had our picture taken by the famous steam powered clock. It was neat, but I'm not sure I would go just to see the clock. I did enjoy the shops around the area though.

This was on our way to Lynn Canyon. Aren't those some cute kids.

This was the view from the suspension bridge. I love hearing the sound of the waterfall. We got about halfway across the bridge and Benjamin told me that he didn't think he liked heights either. He seemed to still enjoy it. I think it was more of the swaying back and forth that he didn't like.

My adventurous girl loved the bridge. I told her we would come back one day soon.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Multicultural Festival

This week was here and went before we knew it. We had a pretty typical week...nothing super unusual. On Saturday, we heard that there was going to be a multicultural festival. It sounded like it might be fun, so we decided to check it out. The picture above was actually a common occurance at the festival. The kids were photographed by people, newspapers, and interviewed by a tv crew. It was quite amusing. I just had to get a picture of the random people taking pictures of my kids :)
The best part about this festival was the price...FREE! The kids enjoyed the facepainting and all the crafts. They did have things for sale, but they also had many things that were free of charge. This was a mask that Regan made.

Here ar ethree of the kids with their faces painted.

It's hard to see Katherine's, but she has a small butterfly on her cheek.

Can you guess who Benjamin is?

Oh, we did splurge while there and let the kids buy icecream cones. We didn't get one for Lauren, so Katherine was kind enough to share a few bites.
That was pretty much it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Great Surprise

The kids have been really wanting a bike since we moved here. We have not been able to get them one for many reasons...the major reason being that I refuse to pay tons of money for something we are only going to have for 4 months. I don't know why we didn't think of it before, but it dawned on us, lets try craigslist. After changing the Canadian default of French to English, we were really surprised that we were able to find 2 bikes that were just the right size and for really cheap. The kids were so surprised and excited.

After just one day, they were both riding their new bikes (and with no training wheels). I am really amazed that they learned so quickly. They became confident quickly. The next lesson: learning to stop. Neither one of them could stop which made for some interesting times, but they mastered that on day two. Benjamin now thinks he's a little trickster on his bike.

We also had a second surprise. We were given the day off to be with family. Last week was a very long week with classes all seven days. It is a rare thing for it to be that way, but we REALLY loved having an extra day off. We decided to try out the pool near our house. We saw it the first week we were here. It is an indoor pool with a water slide, sprinklers, and lots of shallow water places for the kids. We had a great time and slept great at the end of the day. :)

This was another first for me. I have never hung my laundry out on a line before. I have to admit that I felt a bit strange putting all of our things out for the world to see, but then again it made me feel like part of the neighborhood. I know, a bit strange. Every house is equipped with a line that goes from the top of their house to a big pole by the road. You can learn a lot by looking at someone's laundry :) I now know where a lot of the kids live (even if they don't come outside to play)

We also decided to go to the farmer's market on Saturday morning. We gave the kids each a toonie (that's $2.00 for our non-Canadian friends) and a quarter to spend as a special treat. Well, we got there and we were a little dissappointed, but the kids still had fun. It wasn't at all what we were expecting and it ws quite small considering the size city we are living in. The kids managed to find a person selling coloring books for $2.00 though, so they were some happy kiddos.

Lauren didn't get to spend her money on a coloring book (she doesn't know the difference yet) Instead, she bought some homemade walnut bread for a Romanian guy there. She loved it.
He actually threw in a loaf for free because he said one loaf was not enough for four kids. How nice.

We went over a bridge while riding the skytrain and I thought that it was an interesting view. No real story behind the pic.

Katherine has really become a great big sister. I found her the other day reading to Lauren in the tent. They were both just hanging out having a good ole time.

This is how the girls look just about every morning. They rarely sleep in their own beds. They just have to be with each other. It's just too cute.

Lauren has learned a new trick as well. She is an Olympic Climber. She loves to climb up and down and all around. She climbed in with Regan for this picture (she also likes the camera) My favorite spot to find her is in her stroller. No, we don't put her in it. She will climb in and get situated and start waving. I guess she wants to go somewhere :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

Today was a good Mother's Day. The kids made me this great little picture frame and gave me a card and some chocolates before we headed to church. Once we arrived at church, I got another surprise. Regan and Benjamin were part of a performance (one song) that all the kids did on stage at the church. They did a really good job. I'm sure some of you can just imagine. I would post a picture of it, but my camera was missing the memory card. Oh well. I have it in my mind and I'm sure we will have more similar experiences to come.

Regan wanted to pose for this picture on our way home the other day.

The girls enjoyed playing dress up this week. They even got Lauren involved in the action. It was so funny to watch them dress her up...she was loving it!

I did have the opportunity to go out with a friend for lunch this week. Again, I don't have any pictures, so words will have to do. We met for lunch at an Ethiopian restraunt. I had no idea what to expect, but when we walked in it smelled wonderful. We decided to order the "sampler platter" (my term not theirs) The food came out on a huge round dish to share and a small plate of Injera. Injera is their bread and it is also used as the sliverware. You only use your right hand, tear off a piece of the bread, and then use it to pick up a bite of the food served for the table, and then enjoy. It really was delicious. I would not mind going back some time. The injera is really hard to explain because there is no American food quite like it. The best I can come up with to describe it is that it look ssimilar to a large tortilla, but it has a sponge-like texture, and it tastes kindof like sourdough bread. Again, that's the best I can just need to try it for yourself sometime.

I'm not sure how I managed to have 3 kids afraid of dogs and 1 kid that is a dog fanatic, but I did. Lauren is absolutely crazy about dogs. We went to the park this weekend and she would not leave this poor little dog alone. The dog actually liked it most of the time. I wonder what they were saying to each other in this picture?

The weather is warming up and the park had lots of families there. This was the favorite spot for the day...the sandbox. I'm still sweeping up sand in my house! I'm not sure where it hides, but it can drive you crazy :)

Benjamin got a kite for his birthday and he finally got to try it out.

Katherine took a turn with the kite as well. She just ran as fast as she could from one end to the next.

Yet again...Lauren with her new favorite friend...Oreo.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Canadian Culture

You wouldn't think that Canada would be that different from the States, but I am beginning to see the differences. The longer we are here, the more I notice. For example, electrical boxes are painted with all kinds of scenic pictures. I guess it is better than the typical gray, and to my surprise, it really does keep them from standing out so much.
Also, the ABC song is NOT universally the same. Here, it is not X Y Z, but X Y Zed. I just can't get used to that one.
I've mentioned before about the grocery bags costing per bag, so bring your own. Well, I forgot to mention that you also have to bag your own. On a busy day you better be quick at this because the people checking you out just keep on going!
Escalators go up but not down. Makes sense to me. Do we really need to ride down? Also, it took me about a week to realize that people rode the escalator in a straight line instead of side by side. Then, I saw the sign: Stand Right, Walk Left.
People listen to music everywhere. Over half the people you come in contact with will have earbuds in. It can make it a challenge to talk to people.
When you get your driver's license, they issue these huge yellow stickers that have a big N on them and they have to be plastered all over your car for the first year (same with learner except they get big L's)
Buses have the right of way. Really, they do. If you are in a car and a bus is turning, merging, or whatever, you better get out of the way.
There are red lights that flash green all the time. That is because they are pedestrian crossings. When you want to cross the street, you push the little button, and within seconds the light becomes a red light and all traffic is stopped for you. I guess the days of just stepping out into traffic on UT's campus and hoping that cars will stop are gone :)
The last one for today is that there are no school buses (with the exception of a very few private schools). Kids either walk to school or ride public transit to get there. I've also been told that the kids eat lunch in their classroom with no teacher supervision. Can you imagine that working in the states? I think the room would be a disaster when the teacher returned.

We went to the park this week. Katherine is still enjoying the idea of dressing herself. I thought she was kindof cute.

Another bit of culture that we are learning is that kids don't just get out and play. They make friends through school and activities. So, we let Benjamin sign up for a trial class of Taekwondo. He is loving it! After we arrived (ie after this picture) someone showed me the correct way to tie the belt. He really loves the kicking, punching, hitting, yelling, and the not getting in trouble for it :) Regan also got to try a gymnastics class. They had a little break for water and I asked her how she was liking it. She said, "Mom, I've made some friends!" The response was all I needed to know that we made the right decision in letting them do some kind of activity here.

We had a little get together with some friends and Lauren ate some pizza. I really just liked this picture because of all those curls!

Oh, and this. THIS was highlight of the week for the kids. Not only did they get mail, but they got all kinds of goodies. Cereals, candy, and goldfish, and a movie too! They had so much fun. There wasn't much posing to the picture. I just had to move them around to get them all in one picture.

Katherine has made friends at church. Her teachers were very excited today that Katherine spoke. For those who may not know Katherine very well, she is very shy. It usually takes weeks or months before she will get comfortable enough to talk. She was even singing the songs today, waved bye to her teacher, and then gave her a big hug.