Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What's Up Wednesday: May 2017

Once again, I'm linking up with What's Up Wednesday. As I've said before, I LOVE reading these random posts, so you should play along too :)

image from here

What we're eating this week... Last week I was a part of hosting a volunteer appreciation night and I offered to bring two desserts. I love any excuse to make Earl Grey Tea Cake and then I searched Pinterest and found these delicious Raspberry Lemon Bars. But I couldn't just serve a new recipe so we had to test them out. And the Earl Grey Tea Cake icing always makes enough for two cakes so I made an extra one to split with Tim and Janice. Janice always lets me borrow her round pans to make this cake and I try to repay her in cake. So we've been eating lots of sweets (which is unusual).
Also, yay for Pinterest where is where I found these two recipes. I always okay, often get great ideas from there.

What I'm reminiscing about... Well, I'm super excited to see these friends again (in Kenya, for those of you who might be visiting or not caught up on our lives), so I've been reminiscing a lot about three years ago, when Sam, Aaron, Ella, and Rachel were more a part of each other's lives.
May 2014

What I'm loving... I'm loving that all our activities are winding down. I love how much Rachel loves dance, how much Sam loves piano, and how much both kids love Logos (our weekly church night), but I also love how not having so many activities means we get to spend more time at home or doing what we want. (And by September's What's Up Wednesday I'll be loving how all the activities are ramping up again. Ha!)

What we've been up to... Watching grass grow. Literally. You can read all about our hedge transformation here, and it was super exciting to come home on Saturday and see the mist of green. Whoo hooo!!!
 left: our weed patch; right: our weed patch one week later

What I'm dreading... Will I sound like a spoiled brat if I say "jet lag?" I realize it is such a privilege to travel but oh, the jet lag. With kids. Yuck.

What I'm working on... Trying to catch up on work. My whole family was sick a few weeks ago and I got behind at work and am still trying to catch up. I'm also working on teaching myself to be a bit more of a morning person because my summer work schedule necessitates me working for an hour early each morning (ideally before the kids get up around 7), so they don't have to spend the whole summer in camps. We'll see how that goes... (Also, how many times can I use some form of the word "work" in one paragraph?!?!)

What I'm excited about... There are so many things I'm excited about right now!!! School is almost out for the summer (only fifteen days left for us!!!), and I'm looking forward to the lazy days of summer! Rachel is turning six in a few weeks and her excitement is contagious!!! And we're going to Kenya in three weeks!!! Life is just exciting these days :)

What I'm watching/reading... I'm not reading anything particularly exciting right now but I did love this book and highly recommend it.
image from here

As for watching, well, we've been watching grass grow, as I mentioned above. Ha!

What I'm listening to... Right now, I'm practicing getting up early, so it's really quiet as I write this. I think my favourite sound this month has been listening to the kids play outside together. (I hope you weren't planning on reading this for advice on good shows to watch or good music to listen to, because now you're sorely disappointed!)

What I'm wearing... I've loved being able to pull out my capris this month. I've also traded in my flannel pajamas for a sleep tank and shorts. It's exciting to reconnect with my summer clothes again.

What I'm doing this weekend... Maybe going swimming??? Our pool opens for the season on Friday night and if it's warm enough I'd love to spend some time doing this again:

What I'm looking forward to next month... Rachel turns six on the 17th and then five days later we're going to Kenya! There's a lot to look forward to in June! Plus the kids will be done school so school lunch packing will be finished. Whoooo hoooo!!!!!

What else is new... I can't think of anything else right now.

Bonus question: What is your favourite vacation spot?

Asking me this is like asking me to pick a favourite child, or a favourite book. They're all my favourites! However, I am partial to New York City. I'm not a big city person but New York is one place I could visit over and over again and never get tired of it. I'm fortunate in that Dave has family living just outside the city so we've been able to visit it quite often in the past few years. There's always something new to discover. Or something old to meet up with again!
Us on The High Line, left: October 2012, right: October 2016

You can read about (more) about my love of New York City here, and here, and here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

It'll Always Be The Skydome To Me

One of the things we've been wanting to do for awhile is take the kids on a tour of the Rogers Centre Skydome, the home of the Toronto Blue Jays. We found out that the dome was unnamed for quite a few years and then they had a contest to name it. Over 2,000 people suggested "The Skydome" -- due to the fact that the roof retracts and opens up (which is the best way to watch a ball game, by the way).

They put all the entries with Skydome in a draw and the winner got two free tickets for life to every single event held there. Yes, the winner can go to Blue Jays games whenever they want. And concerts. What an amazing prize!

However, a few years ago, Ted Rogers bought The Skydome and renamed it The Rogers Centre. I have an issue with rich people being able to throw their name all over things although Dave reminds me that Wrigley Field and Fenway Park were also named after people, we just don't remember that.

Anyways, this all goes to say that I still call it The Skydome because it is the coolest name ever. And 2,000 people (or more) agree with me.
We picked Good Friday to do our tour because we were going to our first Blue Jays game of the season the next day and we stayed overnight with friends. As there was a game scheduled for later that day, we got to see some practicing going on, which was pretty cool
This is the Level Of Excellence and they are all Blue Jays players except for Tom Cheek. He was a longtime Blue Jays radio announcer and the number beside his name, 4306, is the number of games he broadcast without missing a single one. You all know how we love listening to the Blue Jays on the radio and we are so thankful for our Blue Jays radio voices -- Jerry Howarth, Joe Siddall, and Mike Wilner.
More pre-game practice

We got to check out the radio announcer's booth (although it was a secondary one, as the main one was being used for that night's upcoming game already). There are a bunch of really neat seats to watch the game from in The Skydome. Maybe someday we'll have to migrate down from the 500 level (the cheap seats)! Ha!
Every time we go to a Jays game, the announcer welcomes someone to the Jays Care Community Clubhouse. Supposedly this tradition started back when Roy Halladay pitched for the Blue Jays from 1998 - 2009. From Wikipedia: "While he was a member of the Toronto Blue Jays, Halladay and his wife invited children and their families from the Hospital for Sick Children into 'Doc's Box' at Rogers Centre during Blue Jays games." The Blue Jays have continued this tradition, not just with sick kids, but also with underprivileged kids who wouldn't have a chance to attend ball games otherwise, and it's a two piece luxury suite with serving tables at kids' levels and a cool baseball glove chair.

We are so thankful that we can take our kids to ballgames and know that it's not something every family can do. A few years ago, for his birthday donation, Sam raised over $150 to donate to the Jays Care Foundation, which supports the Community Clubhouse among other things.
It was so fun to get an inside look at The Skydome and find out about some things we hadn't known before.

And since then, we've been able to attend two games. One was on April 15 against the Baltimore Orioles. The Jays won with a walk off home run from Kendrys Morales so that was very exciting. And the kids ran the bases afterwards.
Sadly, it was kind of cold so the dome was closed. And please note, Sam always, with a great deal of hope, brings his glove, but since, as I mentioned, we sit way up in the cheap seats, a ball has never come near us. But he keeps bringing it!
Every Saturday the Jays host Jr Jays Saturdays where they have games set up for kids, 14 and under. This past Saturday Rachel won not one, but two, cereal bowls, which was really exciting. The kids have also won about fourteen key chains and seven bookmarks. A few years ago they each won a place mat which they use almost daily. And this past weekend, Sam won a scoring place mat, where you can keep score of the game with chalk as you listen. This was basically the perfect prize for Sam.

If you've been reading here for any length of time, you know we love our Blue Jays. We always have a good time when we go, and we love our annual tradition of going with friends, with our care group, and as our own family of four.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

To The Hedge Of Insanity: Part 2

This past weekend was a long weekend in Canada, celebrating the birthday of Queen Victoria who died 116 years ago. It basically kicks off summer in Canada. We decided to spend all day Saturday doing some major yard work.

Last year, we got this hedge removed, professionally. We'd tried to tackle it ourselves and hadn't gotten very far.
Dave made a valiant attempt at weeding it last year, but honestly, it was just a mess. Our plan had always been to replace it and Saturday was the day. Unfortunately, Dave woke up with a bad back on Saturday (and we have no idea why), but since it was supposed to rain for the rest of the weekend, we tackled it anyways.
My first priority was to get to Home Depot by 7am to rent a rototiller. I was the second person in line and by the time I left there were fifteen people lined up to rent tools. The early bird gets the worm, or the rototiller, in this case! Ha!
The early bird also has a small car so had to drive home with the trunk open and the four way flashers going. I didn't go any faster than 30km/hr (18mph) which was probably annoying as I was driving in a 60km/hr (38mph) zone.

Dave thought he could rototill but it turned out you need a good back to steer this awkward thing. It was a feat of insanity, but I put my back into it.
After about an hour and a half, the weed patch was more of a churned up dirt patch. Oh, funny story -- Dave couldn't help me lift the rototiller out of the car so I called our friend who lives around the corner to help. He was heading out of town, so when it came time to lift the rototiller back into the car, I walked halfway down the block to where two of our neighbours were talking. I explained the situation and one of them came to help. I can't remember if his name was Dean or Brian but it turned out he was killing time until he had to leave to catch an airplane to France to get married. Thanks Dean (or Brian) for helping us out on practically your international wedding day.
Rachel picked up weed piles and Sam took pictures of Dave holding the yard waste bag. This was about all Dave could do. Ha!
I returned the rototiller back to Home Depot. Unfortunately, we were not professional loaders of the rototiller and it was sliding out the back a bit so I ended up driving with one hand holding the rototiller in the car and the other steering -- still going quite slowly with the four way flashers on. It was a bit of a disaster but everyone (and everything) survived. Yergks.

Then I picked up eight cedars to plant a new hedge. Dave provided moral support (and went to pick up three of the cedars, a sprinkler, and more yard waste bags) while I dug holes. He also took pictures. And made lunch. And fixed the hose. And cleaned out the back of the car.

But I dug eight holes.
Finally the cedars were all planted and it was time to fling the grass seed. We all got in on the act.
Then we set up the sprinkler to water our newly planted trees.
And that is the story of how we went from a weed patch to a hedge, with hopes for grass eventually, in about nine hours. It's also why I spent most of Sunday on the couch. I was sore in places I didn't know I could be sore. But every time I managed to get off the couch, I looked out (through the rain) at the newly planted hedge and told myself it was worth it.

Next time I might wait until Dave can help. Ha!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kenya Believe It?!?!?

It's a stat holiday here in Canada and I normally wouldn't blog but it is also ONE MONTH until we are leaving on our summer vacation and I wanted to share.

When we moved from Edmonton to KW five years ago, we already knew a lot of people, but a new family we met fairly early on was Kurt and Carla and their three kids, Ben, Aaron, and Ella. Carla was also a stay at home mom and Aaron is a year older than Sam and Ella is right between Sam and Rachel. We spent a lot of time together.
Carla and I traded childcare. We drank tea together and talked while our kids played and played.
We went to the same church so the kids saw each other in Sunday School and on Logos nights and at our Monday morning playgroup.
We even discovered a little bit of Ontario together at Thomas' Day Out and with a trip to the beach!
And one year we celebrated Christmas together when both of us were here without extended family visiting.
We were so excited for them, and so sad for us, when they announced they were moving to Kenya, permanently. Both Kurt and Carla grew up there, and had spent a lot of time there since, so it made sense. But we were sorry to lose some really close friends. However, I promised, "We'll come visit you someday!" And ever since then, it's been on my bucket list.

And I'm so excited to share that "someday" is this summer!!! That's right, we're going to Kenya for two weeks and we leave in a month!!! We're looking forward to some fun, unique adventures. We want to go on safari and spend some time at the coast. But most of all we're looking forward to catching up with these really good friends and getting to spend lots of time with them.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

#tbt: Che-Cheemaun Ferry

Today is the final post wrapping up last summer's road trip. And I thought blogging about our road trip would get me back into blogging. Ha! At least I've managed to get back into blogging, and I have now blogged about our entire trip, so I guess you could say I've succeeded. (As long as you have a (very) broad definition of "success.")
At the end of our very long road trip, we decided to take a break and instead of driving around Georgian Bay (7 hours and 46 minutes), we drove across Manotoulin Island and took the Che-Cheemaun Ferry across Georgian Bay. Taking the ferry took two and a half hours and the views were gorgeous.
We were soooo happy to be out of the car, even if it was a little windy.
I think Rachel took these pictures! The kids hijacked the camera and we ended up with A LOT of... interesting... pictures!
The ferry was so pretty. And did I mention it was windy?!?!?!
We bought the kids captains hats as souvenirs and they LOVED them. We also had a little snack.
I loved seeing this little island with a lighthouse. I would love to spend part of a summer here. It was so isolated.
There's just something about being on the water that I love. And I think one of the kids (Sam?) took this picture of the gull winging over the water. Taking the ferry was such a fun experience and a good end to our long road trip.

And that's the end of my Summer Vacation 2016 Throwback Thursdays. Thanks for reading along. My next few #tbt posts will be about a few things that happened in April so they're much more recent :)