Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pack Your Bags

Well, we have been in Vancouver for 4 months now, so I decided to open up with a picture of Lauren. She has become a true Vancouverite. People here are always listening to their music no matter who they are with or where they are going. Some have earbuds and some (like Lauren) have regular headphones. She was really making us laugh with this music. She would NOT give it up. She sat in the chair, walked around the house, ate, drank, you name it.

Regan decided to finally spend some of her money. She is my saver, but she liked the luau stuff at the dollar she still didn't spend much :)

The kids received a special treat in the mail this week....tons of postcards from Tennessee! They loved looking at the pictures and reading the messages from all their friends back in Knoxville. Benjamin just knew all of the stadium/football ones were for him, but they split them as equally as possible.

This is Lillian, Lauren's favorite teacher at church. I wanted to get a picture of them together. If she doesn't have Lauren, Lauren will find her and back herself up into her lap.

After church on Sunday, some of our friends had a going away picnic for us at the park. The kids got to play on the playground, sprinkler park, get faces painted (Regan a butterfly, Benjamin was Batman, and Katherine a pink cat), and they went to the petting zoo. Needless to say, they were tired and ready for bed by the time we got home.

Benjamin got to hold a bunny from the petting zoo. His face just lit up. He has been asking for a pet for at least a year now. A bunny is now on his "that would work" list, but what he really wants is a dog. He even has finally convinced his sisters that it is a good idea...(that's really saying something if you know Regan...she has never been a real dog fan). Maybe one day.

So, as you can guess from the title, we have been packing our bags once again. We leave this Wednesday!!! We are very excited. We will do our best to update the blog as soon as possible, but it may take us a week or two to get an apartment and internet hooked up. Please remember the kids during the long flight and adjusting to a new time zone. We'll see you on the other side of the date line!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Snow in July!!!

So, as a treat for ourselves, we decided to take a day and go to Whistler, Canada, which is about 1.5 hrs away from Vancouver. A friend, who has a van, drove us and spent the day with us. The drive there was just as beautiful as when we got there. Benjamin was the most excited about the snow. It has been really warm here (in the 70's) for a week straight, so we were not sure if we would get to see snow. Much of it had melted, but there was plenty to play in still. It was an odd feeling playing in snow with it being so warm. I thought it would be colder that high up, so I brought gloves and jackets for everyone. In reality, they could have been in shorts and been plenty warm.
On our way up, we stopped for a picnic in Squamish at Shannon Falls. It is officially the biggest waterfall I have personally seen. (I have not been to Niagra Falls yet) The other neat thing, considering that we had 4 kids in tow, was that we did not have to hike very far at all to see it.

I really like this picture of Regan. Some of my favorites are when they are not posing for a pic, but just having fun. The kids enjoyed making snowballs.

So, once we got to Whistler, we rode the sky lift to the peak of it. That is where we saw all the snow. We saw a total of 7 bears, including a mom and 2 cubs! At the peak we rode a second gondala called Peak to Peak. It was fully enclosed and took you from one peak to the adjacent peak. It had great views, but was not for people afraid of heights. I love that kind of thing, but there were times when you looked down and felt a little dizzy. But like I said, I love that kind of thing.

This picture is not from the Peak to Peak, but just the first lift up. During the summer, the ski slopes are turned into bike runs. There was a competition the day we were there, so we saw lots of bikers riding down the mountain. One guy was riding down and jumped off a rock/mini cliff and everyone inside our little skyride was startled because it really looked like he was going to hit us. We looked at the spot he jumped from on the way back down and still can't believe that he made the jump.

And we have finally seen the inuksuk for ourselves. This little guy is everywhere in Vancouver (gift stores, etc) The best explanation we were given is that they are a sign of welcome and hospitality. We got a little one for a souvenier and it came with a card explaining some more. Here's what it said. They were originally created by the Inuit people (1st peoples to inhabit Alaska, Arctic Canada, and Greenland). Reasons to build one include hunting and navigational aids, message centers, to show people where food is stored, to mark the entrance of a landscape, to act as helpers in hunting caribou. So, now you know as much as I do :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mountains and Beaches

This turned out to be a very eventful week. The weather was beautiful all week long! No rain!! That doesn't happen very often in Vancouver. We started off the week by going on a lunch date. Some friends of ours offered to watch the kids while we went out and it was a lot of fun. We went to an area of downtown called Granville Street. During the summer it is closed to car traffic. I thought it was funny that they even put down green "carpet" on the streets and chairs in the middle of the road. I guess it was supposed to make you feel like you are out in the country? Not quite.
The kids had fun dressing up and putting on a show for us. It's been a little while since all of them have done this at the same time, so it was fun to watch the show :)

I went out to eat with a couple of ladies to a "real" Chinese restaurant for some dimsum. I'm glad we just now found this place becaue the food was AMAZING! I could eat there once a week for sure. The menu was in characters so my friend ordered everything (the waiter brought me a picture menu...that was funny) Dimsum is basically appetizers. We ordered 8 dishes for the 3 of us. This was the dessert we ordered. The English translation they gave me was colorful pudding. I wouldn't call it pudding, but it was pretty good. It was not my favorite thing that I ate, but it was the most colorful :) I decided the kids would really like it.

Benjamin has been asking for weeks to go to a beach, so this week, we made it happen. The kids had a blast. The beach was a mixture of rough sand, pieces of wood (the main industry in Vancouver is logging) and these little bitty bugs. I don't think the kids ever noticed, but for some reason they like my feet. I prefer the shores of the southeastern US, but I still had fun watching the kids play.

Benjamin and Katherine would sit near the edge and wait for the little waves to surround them. I was amazed they liked it so much because the water was absolutely freezing. I usually like to walk just on the shores with my feet in the water, but not here. It felt like ice. Yet again, my kids (and the geese swimming by) loved it.

Katherine enjoying the sand. The kids also enjoyed catching seaweed. Who needs toys :)

Miss Regan enjoyng the beach as well.

This is a typical picture on any given day...waiting for the bus. This bus stop, however, had a bench to sit on (not all of them do). We were on our way up to Grouse Mountain, the tallest point in Vancouver. It's been on my "to do" list since we moved here, but the weather has not cooperated and I didn't want to go up if it wasn't a clear day.

Once we rode the bus up to the base of the mountain, we had the choice to hike to the top or ride. We chose to take the 5 minute ride up. The hike is called the Grouse Grind and I didn't think it sounded like fun with 4 little ones in tow.

Once we got to the top, we ate some lunch. We all got a lot of sun even with spf 60 on us. Benjamin was the only one that seemed to tan instead of burn (I told Jonathan we will see how much of the "tan" washed off in the bathtub...turns out...he was actually tan).

We enjoyed the lumberjack show at the top as well. It was fun to watch all the different things that they did. The kids enjoyed it so much, that when we were leaving (later that day) they ran over and sat on the steps to watch the last 20 minutes again.

Once we were at the top, you could also ride the chair lift (i.e., ski lift) to the very top. It takes another 12 minutes. You had to be 1 meter tall to ride, so Jonathan stayed with Lauren while the other kids and I rode up. Katherine was excited that they let her go. She was exactly 1 meter. It turned out that Jonathan tried hiking up the last little bit with Lauren in the stroller. They got about halfway, and still had an incredible view of the city below.

Everyone enjoyed the ride up. It was so quiet. It's amazing how quickly you get accustomed to the noise of city living. We could even hear birds chirping, and we saw a grizzly bear , too! (It was in a cage...don't worry)

We made it to the top! We celebrated by buying a popsicle :)

Similar to the Grand Canyon, pictures cannot do the view justice, but here you go. This is our city.

So, you have the city view on one side of you and the gorgeous mountains on all the other sides of you. I believe this has to be my favorite spot in the city!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Oh, Happy Day

Oh, happy day! Happy Canada Day (July 1), Happy 4th of July (July 4), Happy time off with Grandmommy and Auntie Em, and Happy Double Doozie to me. We had a great week with all of our company. One of the special treats for me was that Emily brought me a cookie from back home...mmmm, I love these things. For those who noticed, yes, I do have glasses on. I have been stuck with my glasses for almost a month now. Long story short...I got pink eye, treated it, couldn't get it better, used different drops from the doctor, those drops temporarily damaged my eye and vision, now on new drops to help restore vision. Hopefully, I can wear my contacts next week. That would be great!
We went to Stanley Park and found a playground there. It wasn't the biggest, but Lauren liked this little tunnel.

At the park, there was a little beach that the kids walked on for a bit. They have really been wanting to go to the beach...especially since Grandmommy was here (that's what they always think of when they think of her...the beach) Lauren was intrigued by the water.

My little boy deep in thought. Here he was sitting on the seawall just enjoying the view.

So, my kids were posing for a picture with Grandmommy on the seawall with the Vancouver skyline behind them when we noticed a group of people video taping our kids (because they have blonde hair). After our kids finished saying "Cheese!" they all ran over and grabbed Katherine (the most shy of all my kids) and put her in their laps posing for a picture. She was not smiling, and kept looking at me as if to say, "Who are these people, what are they doing, and why aren't you doing anything about it?" Just when she thought she was in the clear, the guy taking the picture trades with the other ladies and he grabs Katherine for a picture. It was quite funny.

We went to Lynn Canyn Suspension Bridge and decided to go on the hiking trail. The kids had a great time and found all these really neat places along the way for us to take their picture. On the way back up from the trail, the kids (with the help of Auntie Em) decided to count the stairs on the trail leading back to the bridge. They came up with 258.

And here is little bit trying to keep up with the big kids. Jonathan and Emily carried her most of the time on the trail, but she did her fair share of climbing, too.

Posing on the bridge with Grandmommy.

After the hike, all the kids were hungry and thirsty. Lauren took over the bag of popcorn. It's about as big as she is!

Got this great shot of Regan and Emily. Emily was about to put her arm aound Regan and almost fell off the rock. Regan was laughing so hard. Those can make some of the best pictures!