Monday, December 17, 2012

A Christmas Letter

Dear ______________, (I have left this blank so you can personalise the letter, to make it seem like I wrote it just for you!)

Merry Christmas! I hope this year has treated you well and you have lots of fond memories.

So. I was trying to convince Leah that she needed to write a Christmas family letter, like grown-ups with families write. But she didn't. So I decided I would, despite the fact that I am family-less (hmm actually I have family... more like... decendantless) & I am yet to feel like a proper grown up I thought I'd write a letter to you, my dear friend, to tell you about the happenings of 2012.

I started 2012 in Seattle (after 2.5 weeks of travelling LA, San Fran, Vancouver & Vancouver Island) with my friend Mindy. It was a white New Years which was pretty fun!

For the next 4 weeks I travelled around Canada - Whistler, Edmonton (where I nearly died of cold), Toronto (where I bought an "I love Toronto" shirt) & of course Vancouver. It was a cold adventure, but filled with many highlights like Niagara Falls, an ice festival, ice skating outside, skiing (or an approximation of skiing) and such. (The underlined word are hyperlinked to the posts I wrote about them earlier in the year, so it's like I'm writing a super detailed letter to you... but only if you want to read it)

On January 20th I moved in with a family of strangers - a mom, a dad, 3 boys and a dog. Since then they have become my Canadian family (and there are also now 2 frogs), who I am going to miss dreadfully come next month. For the past 11 months I have worked as their nanny, cooking for, cleaning up after, crafting with & entertaining an 8 year old, a 5 year old and a super smart 2 year old. They are such a lovely family and have spoilt me a lot over the year. I seriously consider it a blessing to have ended up with such an amazing group of people.

Although I have had many many fun adventures with the family, it is impossible to write about them all, so I will summarise the year...

The first few months were cold. And wet. We spent a lot of time at the hockey rink as L plays (E does too now, which is super super cute to watch). It occasionally snowed, which was suuuuper exciting! But the only day the snow actually stayed on the ground was the day I arrived (which tricked me into thinking this was an everyday kind of thing).

The next few months were still cold. And super wet. Spring was absolutely gorgeous. It was like "POW!" colour! EVERYWHERE! So so pretty. The down-side was the rain. In June it rained 25/30 days. That's a lot of raining. I spent Easter with lovely Mindy in Seattle & her siblings. I also popped down again at the end of May for another American hit.

May and June were the months of baseball and also lots of visitors!
Both L & E and their mom play ball. It was fun to watch them all play!
In May mum, dad & Lauren came to visit. It was so good to catch up with them and do some touristy things.
In June Aunty Nel & Uncle Pete popped in for a cup of tea. It was lovely to hear about their adventure!
Later that month Katriny came. We did an amazing road-trip together to Banff and Jasper National Parks. It was so exciting to see some wildlife and the gorgeous scenery of the Rockies!
After Katrina left I turned 30.
The family went away for 2 weeks so I did too. I spent a few days with Jackee and Larry on Vancouver Island, and even saw some orcas up close! And then I spent a few days with my Year 11 English teacher in Yakima. It was so nice to catch up with all these people & have a chance to relax.

The next 6 weeks was still Summer Break (it is pretty long over here). It was fun coming up with activities to do with the boys. It even got warm, and didn't rain! So nice! Daylight savings here means the sun is up till 10pm! Such nice long days! We built a patio. There was a fireworks festival. We picked berries. And we built a scarecrow.

At the end of August I had some pretty bad stomach pain and bought my most expensive souvenir - a $930 hospital bracelet. After another few hundred dollars and a few more tests it seems there is nothing wrong with me, maybe I had a stomach ulcer. But at least it's not gall stones, which is what they originally thought. (And this is where my last blog post left off...yep slack.)

September meant E started Kindergarten. Full day kindergarten is a new concept over here. Most pre-schools only have a half day program too. E still finds the full days long.
At the end of September L had his 8th birthday party. It was an 'Angry Birds' theme. I  got to make a bunch of different decorations for the occasion.

October brought with it all things orange - Autumn arrived! Canadian Thanksgiving is in early October. It was fun to do the whole family thing with turkey and pumpkin pie.
The Cranberry festival was another highlight of October. It still amazes me that a town can put on a whole festival celebrating a berry! I love it!
At the end of October was Halloween, so we went 'pumpkin patching' to find our perfect pumpkins for carving.Pumpkin patching includes a hay bale ride and a corn maze!! So fun! And so like the movies. I love all the family traditions and school activities based around fall and halloween - pumpkin carving (oh so fun!), baking things, family events - like at the fort and cupcake shop, and of course trick or treating :-) I dressed up as a fairy. The boys were iron man, batman and a 'black & white dinosaur' (who looked a lot like a skunk). Because it was raining we only stayed out for an hour. But the candy still lasted us a few weeks.

November was pretty and Autumny! At the end of the month we celebrated Cristal's birthday Mexican style, and the next day she and Ryan headed to Mexico for a week. I learnt that being a single mother is super hard. I had lots of fun with the boys, but it was also a lot of work taking care of everything! Especially with 5am wake ups for hockey and a sick 2 year old. (The following week I was sick. Bleh!) November also brought with it an unforseen bathroom renovation and another toilet replacement. For a few days the 6 of us were down to 1 bathroom...

December has probably been the funnest month so far, actually it's just the most recent in my memory. So many good months!!!
We cut down our own Christmas tree (they look smaller in the wild (of the tree farm). Our tree is nearly 10 feet tall with the star on the top! Everyone has Christmas lights up and there is a radio and tv channel dedicated entirely to Christmas carols. Everywhere is dressed up. We have been busy baking and crafting and decorating. The boys are super hyper about Christmas!
I am yet to ski again, but I did spend last Sunday up Grouse mountain with my friend Anita! It was so gorgeous up there! We even met reindeer.
Today was the Sunday School Christmas production. It was so cute. J was a sheep. His class danced and sang a cute little song. E's class sang Silent Night, whilst waving (furiously in the case of E) sparkly stars which Cristal and I had made. L was Simeon in his group's play. At the end where he says "And a sword will pierce your own soul too" he decided to add a bit of impromptu drama and fake stabbed himself in the chest and fell to the floor, dropping baby Jesus. Boys :)
Yesterday it actually snowed, at one point I actually felt like I was in a snow globe as the huge flakes swirled around outside. I am hoping for a white Christmas (again), but we'll see. E has PROMISED me that it will snow for Christmas. But apparently it's not that common here.

I have 19 days left here in Canada. I'm so sad to be leaving, but at the same time so excited about seeing my people back home! I already have my souvenirs and gifts suitcase packed.
I look forward to catching up and hearing all about your 2012.
Much love! Say hi to your family for me.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Adventures of August (including that time I couldn't eat cheese)

 Hello once again!

So I'm two-thirds of the way through my adventure now... four months today and I shall be landing in Sydney! There's so much to do before then though... like pumpkin carving!!! and a REAL Christmas tree!

I had to go back through my photos to remember what happened in August... it was a super busy month apparently! And it was also really beautiful! After 25/30 days of June were rainy, it's been almost perfect weather since then! Canada does Summer well!

On the 31st of July, Cristal and Ryan went on a trip to Seattle so it was just me and my boys for 30 hours or so. They were so lovely!! And even went to bed without any dramas. The very next day we went on an "Adventure Day" to Science World in Vancouver. We spent most of the morning in the 'Eureka' exhibition, which is a whole bunch of hands on experimenty things with water and balls and things that light up and play music and spin and such. Soooooo fun! We saw the show on 'Air' and L even got to be a volunteer on the stage. Cute cute! We caught the SkyTrain downtown for lunch (maccas). It was their first time on the train so they were so excited! The SkyTrains don't have drivers. Which, like my dad, the boys found amazing. They sat right up the front and pretended they were driving the train, a passenger even thanked them when he alighted.

The next afternoon we went raspberry picking! I also ate my 2nd ever raspberry, the first being the one Lauren made me eat when she was here in May. It was heaps of fun picking raspberries with the boys! J's raspberries didn't actually make it home... he had more of a "pick, smoosh, eat" method... he was covered from head to toe in the sticky red "jam" he had created in his container. Ryan bought a bumbleberry pie...which is basically a dessert pie covered (like literally 15cm deep in the middle) with berries - blueberries, strawberries & raspberries. It was pretty tasty.

A few days later Canada had a long weekend. (this is not super unusual because Canada has a long weekend every month) This long weekend was Cristal and Ryan's build a patio weekend! It was so fun!! We spent the Saturday laying pavers & on the Monday (I think) they hired a concrete cutting machine and we cut all the tricky bits to make the fancy edges. I loved cutting pavers! The element of danger and the power and the 'I just cut a paver' bragging rights!
This is my edge (well one of them, I did some other bits too)

That same weekend was the final fireworks display of the international fireworks festival (The Celebration of Light) that is held in Vancouver every year. It was Italy's turn. Anita, my new friend Monica and I journeyed into downtown Vancouver with 300,000 of our closest friends to see the display on English Bay beach. We got there several hours early to stake out prime viewing - Anita and Monica had done this before, so they knew exactly where to sit so that we would be super close to the front once the tide came in and washed a few rows of people away (or just made them move).
The show was fabulous! (apart from the smell of pot & the annoying drama queen that was sitting behind us)

I think most of this week was swimming lessons and such.

The weekend of the 12th the family went to Seattle to spend the day at the zoo. I went to Vancouver. I caught the train into town and walked a few kilometres along the south side of False Creek to Granville Island.
Granville Island has a whole bunch of markets and cute shops. I bought lunch and a bear puppet for Cass.

I walked a bit further to the Museum of Vancouver, which was a pretty interesting look at the history of the city. They were having a special exhibit on neon signs which was not something you often see an exhibit on. It was fun to look at, but the buzzing of the signs was boring holes into my brain so I didn't stay there too long.

On the way back I decided I needed to catch one of these cute water taxis. So cute! I got my own private trip!

The next week Cristal and Ryan had a bunch of family things, so I got to hang with the boys some more. One afternoon we went to a free 'Family Night' at the Langley Demonstration Gardens. It was so good! There were free (organic) hot dogs and snacks and the boys got to paint a brick, make a pine cone craft and we built our very own scarecrow! I can't believe the exciting things you get to do in this town. There is seriously something happening all the time!

Oh! Then that week Ella also came back! It was fun to catch up with her for a few days before she flew home to New Zealand.

So, this brings us to August 23rd. It was a Thursday. That night I had the second worst pain I've ever had in my life. After two hours of my whole insides hurting Ryan got home from work (at like 1:30am) and took me to the hospital. There I bought my most expensive souvenir of my whole trip - a $930 hospital bracelet, which entitled me to a consultation with the doctor and blood and urine tests.
By the time I actually got to see the doctor I actually felt fine (except when she poked me really hard on different parts of my belly). She said I probably had a gall-bladder attack which happens when you have gall stones in your gall bladder (I really don't like the word gall) (I also really don't like that I probably have an old people thing... thirty is a ridiculous age! I am falling apart!). So she gave me some Tylenol #3 for "next time" (ooh can't wait for that), an order to get an ultrasound and strict instructions to stop eating cheese. SERIOUSLY?!?! I actually said "but it's my favourite food!!!!" (in the kind of tone you can only muster at 4am) and she replied "yes, there are reasons that these things happen." pfft. So my cheeseless existence has begun (actually I have found absolutely tasteless cheese that has a tenth of the fat of normal cheese... so I have decided that that counts as not eating cheese).
Apart from the horrible pain and the horrible hour, it was kind of exciting to have my first ever emergency hospital visit with a proper hospital gown and arm band and such.

The next day I slept. Oh and I watched The Dark Knight.

The next day I went to Vancouver to hang with my Amy Adams friend Andrea (who becomes a real lawyer today! Yay Andrea!!). We watched The Dark Knight Rises. It was such a good movie!
After catching the train and a bus home I was bored of public transport so I skipped the last bus and walked the last few kilometres. But my new shoes made my feet bleed, so I just wore my socks. Needless to say my feet hurt for several days after this.

A few days later we went for a walk at Campbell Valley Regional Park. It was so beautiful! Cristal and L both held out bird seed so little chickadees came and landed on them.

Before August was over we went to the PNE. Which is just like the Easter Show, but not at Easter and without show bags. There were a lot of different shows and displays and animals to look at. It was heaps of fun! It was so fun to watch the boys' faces as they watched the Chinese acrobats and the Superdogs. They also like the motorbikes (there was even a snowmobile doing flips and things...that was a bit ridiculous really), except for the pirotechnics - bursts of fire that came out when the riders did a crazy jump, it scared them a bit because you could feel the heat.
There were even deep-fried poptarts! Crazy! It is tricky trying to eat low fat when you are at the PNE. And they had one of those lottery houses that you could win. The house was actually set up there so you could walk through it, then afterwards they move it to the location.

That's pretty much how I spent my August. How about you?

Oh wait! I also built a yellow bird pinata for L's party - which isn't for another 2 weeks yet, I was ready so early!

I hope things are going swell for you wherever you are.

Happy September!

PS sorry about the photos being everywhere... I really wish I knew how to make photos behave on blog posts.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


July was a month of fun! Of course July started with the end of the Katrina visit, which I'm sure you read about. If not you can click here!
The very next week I turned thirty. Arrgh!
It was a fun day of hanging with my boys. We went shopping where the boys picked out things for my birthday dinner (aparently this isn't what you're meant to do when you live with people, it's probably actually considered rude... but I'm so used to throwing myself a party every year it was a hard habit to lose). The boys picked out: a #30 candle, pretty colourful candles, pink balloons and mickey mouse plates. hehe so thoughtful! They also wanted to get me angry bird napkins and a dora pinata...but the budget didn't stretch that far.
We then went to the water park. It was almost 30 degrees and super sunny! My first ever summer birthday! It was fun!
As we were leaving the water park to head home I ran the stroller into the gutter and the wheel fell off... it wasn't meant to do that. After a little bit of a cry, some panicked texts to Cristal & also some laughter when the boys asked me in all seriousness "Kaye, was that part of the plan? Because I don't think it was a good plan!" we headed home. I didn't trust the 3 wheeler stroller with the 2 year old in it, but it was still helpful for carrying the million swim related things, library books, shopping & diaper bag things, so J had to ride his balance bike...eek!

It is about 2km home from the water park & the trip included a steep hill, which was the point when J "needed a hug" (ie can you please carry me up the hill while you push the stroller in the crazy heat?). At the top of the hill E decided we needed to stop for a picnic "Kaye was this a good plan? Your plan wasn't a good plan when you broke the stroller, but this is a good plan". So cute! I was so blessed to spend the day with these kids!
Cristal and Ryan bought me Mary Poppins tickets!!!!!!!!!! And Cristal made me 4 layered chocolate cake! Mmmm so tasty!
My birthday was extra special by my friends & family who sent me/brought me/skyped me/facebooked me presents and special messages (and ate my birthday cake in front of me...thanks family :-) )! Thanks lovely people! I really have amazing people in my life!

The very next day I spent 6 hours on public transport - bus, train, bus, bus, ferry & bus to get to Victoria on Vancouver Island! I spent the afternoon in a zodiac boat on an orca whale tour. Oh my goodness! It was amazing! I have been on so many dolphin tours where you might see a dolphin in the distance (or none - remember that day Leah?), but this tour! Wow! There were so many orcas! One whale even did 3 full breaches in front of us which is very rare, he then bobbed up right next to our boat! Seriously he was like 3 metres away. And huge! I had goosebumps! (If only I was better at capturing whales on my will just have to see it for yourself!) |

I stayed on Vancouver Island with my relatives Jackee and Larry, who you may remember from Christmas. They also have a cute pup these days names Max.
It was so good to spend some more time with them! Jackee was a fabulous tour guide and showed me lots of fun things on the Island. We went to Fort Rodd Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse. Both of these are set up really well with interesting displays. The Lighthouse was super cute. & the Fort had a plotting room. I think every building should have a plotting room for plotting and scheming... mwhahaha. We spent that afternoon with Jackee's grandkids. It was fun to hang with Sydney again. She showed me...everything! ha I love that about little kids!
The next day we drove north with Jackee's grand-daughter and her friend. We visited Port Alberni & the amazing huge trees of Cathedral Grove. On the way back we stopped at Coombs, which is famous for its "goats on the roof" - a shop/restaurant/market that is famous for being covered in lawn and being home to a bunch of roof dwelling goats! Such a crazy sight! We ate a bit of lunch and bought presents for my boys. We also stopped at Nanaimo so we could eat Nanaimo bars!
It was a brief visit, 3 days, but it was lovely to spend time with them both, I am so grateful for their hospitality! And for the stash of craft supplies Jackee sent me home with! So many craft supplies! We will be in craft for the rest of the year & probably beyond then!

Back in Langley I had a few days on my own while the family was away.
One of these nights was Mary Poppins! I went with my fun friend Anita! It was brilliant!!! Oh I love that musical! And Anita bought me fancy dinner for my birthday at a restaurant that had tvs on the back of the toilet doors. (also I had cute stick on nail polish thanks to my twin)

The next day I hired a car and drove to America. It's not actually to far to drive to America and the trip should have taken less time then I spent on public transport getting to Victoria... but of course I got stuck at the border crossing for 2 hours. bleh!
The purpose of this trip was to catch up with Mrs Steen, who was my Year 11 English teacher back in 1998. She was an exchange teacher and one of the 5 most influential teachers of my school days. It was so lovely to spend time with her! We talked school and education and kids late into the night! Her and her husband were ridiculously hospitable, like chocolates on the pillow & parfait and beef tenderloins for breakfast!
She lives in the Yakima area which is in South East Washington State. The landscape was so different to the coastal rainforests! There weren't trees. The ground was brown and the weather was hot and dry. But it was beautiful! It was great to see the sights - like the mural town, the Yakama people's museum, the Mary Hill museum, the Stonehenge & we even popped over to Oregon so I could say "I've been to Oregon!"

When I got back to Canada it was so good to see my boys again! E didn't let go of me for the first hour! Oh I love those kids!
Here are few other highlights from July...

I went to the Creature Care open day - it's a place that cares for native animals that have been injured or orphaned. 
E drew this rainbow for me while they were on vacation.

I got cute new pyjama pants thanks to birthday money from mum and grandma! (and dad and pa)

I labelled all of the boys' toys. I get bored sometimes when I'm home alone.

The boys painted the cat masks I bought them at the goats on a roof store.
L's is half cheetah, half caracal (I had never heard of a caracal until this year. Thanks Wild Kratts)
E's is a "white tiger"
& J's is a "howling mouse" from a game the boys play on Cristal's phone.
Cute Cute Cute.

Cristal and Ryan had their 13th wedding anniversary so the boys and I decorated with lace (13th wedding anniversary = lace anniversary) and the boys made magnets. I love the pun L came up with! He is a tad Angry Birds obsessed...

We decorated the front window for the Olympics! (Katrina was there when we made the rings!)
Things that are hard to draw properly = maple leaves, stars. Our window was the prettiest in the whole street! (and also the only decorated one, pfft!)

Lots of bike rides!
It's been so fun to have all three boys off for summer holidays (it's less than 3 weeks till they go back to school). We have done a lot of bike riding! They are so good on their bikes. I can't believe how fast J is on that balance bike & I love that he needed to put it in the rack with his big brothers' bikes.

So there you have it. A post about things I did. Maybe you got bored, but it was fun for me to look back at the fun that was had. This year is going ridiculously fast! I can't believe I'll be home in 5 months. Well 5 months tomorrow. The days are even starting to get shorter again... today it was even dark by 9:15! that's crazy!

Anyway, keep in touch! I miss you!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

That Time Katrina Came (part 2)

So. (if you haven't read part 1 this may not make as much sense... read it here if you want to)

After we saw bears we continued to Lake Louise! We ate dinner and I emailed Louise (because you have to when you're at Lake Louise) and we lamented a little about the fact we had to walk across the hallway to use the showers.

The next morning was LAKE LOUISE DAY! This is one of those places I have wanted to go ever since I knew it existed! It's sooo pretty! The silt from the glacier water gives it its blue colour which is gorgeous! We could've canoed for a ridiculous amount of money, but instead we took the advice of the hostel desk girl & did the 3.4km "walk to the Agnes Lake Teahouse" bahahaha! This is on the list of easy walks...ahem. It wasn't easy. We nearly died. Well not quite as much as I nearly died that time in Edmonton...but it was uphill the WHOLE way and at a high altitude. It was tricky. Other people on the walk had walking sticks (like ski poles really), hiking shoes, bear bells & water.
We didn't.
Silly Aussies!

Was it worth it? YES! On the way up we got absolutely gorgeous views of Lake Louise, saw a smaller version named Mirror Lake & then at the top we met Lake Agnes (sometimes Lake is at the start of the name and sometimes at the end... I don't know the rules about that). There was still snow and ice up there (and a chipmunk)!! We sat for a while, while we remembered how to breathe. Meanwhile some grannies powered past us to higher heights & some CRAZY Brits (I think they were Brits...but maybe I'm making that bit up) waded into the lake as promptly lost the feeling in their legs. Oh boys!

The teahouse up there gets one helicopter delivery per year, the rest of the supplies and the garbage are hiked up and down by the workers. Despite this they have a very large selection of teas (of which we had none). So if you happen to be in the area and would like a fancy tea...

After our descent back to Lake Louise, we drove to Moraine Lake. We had learnt the day before that a moraine is the mounds of dirt and debris that are formed by the force of a glacier. So maybe that's how this lake was formed... we only stopped there for a few minutes because it was really windy and a bit cold and our legs still felt a little bit like falling off after our tea house adventure and we also hadn't eaten lunch. It was REALLY pretty though! A different blue to Lake Louise... bluer I think, rather than the turquoise of Louise... it would've been nice to hang there a little longer, but we didn't.

We ate some lunch.

We ended the day with a drive to Banff for some Spaghetti & then hit our hostel in Canmore.
The hostel was nice, we even had secret curtains on our beds, so we could hide in our own little forts. We also had mountain views from our window! Arrgh I love the mountains!
The secret that we didn't know, though, was that the train line was directly behind our room. haha. Location, location, location!
We vibered John Lucas and skyped Simone... and thus ended that day.

The very next day we spent in Calgary. I have decided that Calgary is not my favourite place to drive. They have some weird rules and road lines and such that were new to me... we avoided (causing) two accidents.
We managed to find the Olympic Park from the 1984 Winter Olympics. Of course I don't remember these particular games, and Katrina was yet to be born, but this was the Olympics made famous by the Jamaican Bob Sled team (which you may remember from the movie Cool Runnings). We tried to find the Olympic Museum... but it seemed to be hiding, so we just got a photo in a bobsled and hopped back on the road with our pocket map.

Using our 5-by-10cm map Katrina managed to navigate us to downtown Calgary. In the spirit of Mindy's & my quest to see every fort in the world and because we had a voucher, we stopped at Fort Calgary. I think this is my favourite fort so far (sorry you weren't there Mindy). The displays were awesome! Such attention to detail. We got to dress up as mounties and paint plaster bison as part of an art installation! We found another Aussie bison for ours to be friends with.

We then decided we needed to get an animal fix, having not yet seen a moose (or a mousse :P) we headed to the Calgary Zoo.
Unfortunately there were no moose at the zoo.
We did see bears, prairie dogs, bison and these crazy animals called musk ox. Musk ox look a little bit like a skinny cow wearing a ridiculously huge furry coat. Ha I liked them.

I think mostly we then ate pizza and watched Big Bang Theory and Katrina wrote in her journal... maybe I would remember more about what we did if I had kept a journal.

The next day (it was Saturday, incase you're wondering) we ate Timmy's bagels for breakfast (we also did that a few other times...they are good!) & headed up to the Hot Springs. On the way we took a photo of the Fairmont Hotel, where my parents stayed in fancy! The hot springs I swam in were mostly just a pool fed with warm spring water. It was nice! An old guy there had been in the water too long and was having heart palpitations. I think he survived.

Most of the day rained. But that was okay because we drove all day! We were going to stop at Johnston Canyon, but it was raining and we also didn't like the idea of walking having lost faith in Banff's rating of their "easy" hikes. Next time gadget.
We stopped at Emerald Lake, which was pretty. They even had flower baskets hanging from the bridges. Canada likes flower baskets.

We ate A&W. I have decided A&W have the best cheeseburgers.
Don't tell McDonald's I said that.
Eventually we arrived at Revelstoke!
We were so blessed, because Cristal and Ryan own a condo in a fancy hotel up there right on the ski fields & they liked us enough to let us stay. EVERYTHING was soooo fancy! I felt very under-dressed and didn't want to touch anything. It was all so pretty! And there was free lipbalm!

July 1st was CANADA DAY! Luckily we came prepared with our matching shirts and tattoos! Nothing was open in downtown Revelstoke so we had to eat Maccas pancakes!
The day was a driving day. Katrina even drove a bit! (there is video evidence somewhere)
We got home sometime in the afternoon & took a stroll through the trails with the dog. Eventually my boys got home! It was so lovely to see them again!!!! Oh I missed those kids. And they loved Katriny straight away.
When it got dark (at like 10pm) Katriny, Cristal and I played with the 70cm sparklers! Cos that's what you do on Canada day... well that's what I decided when I saw them.

Our final road trip day included returning Harold Henry to Vancouver. On the way we stopped at Maxim's bakery. Probably named after Katrina's nephew. Then we were shouted an amazing lunch by Sue, our principal, who just happened to be in Vancouver that day... as you do. It was lovely to catch up with her and hear the happenings of back home.
After lunch we drove around Stanley Park (it was raining) & were stopped by the traffic police and a convoy of buses. Apparently the Prime Minister was in town... I'm not sure why he needs 4 buses... but that was a bit exciting. It was more exciting later when we saw them again (well I did, Katriny was having ATM dramas and missed the whole event) at a major intersection downtown, where they stopped traffic in all directions with whistles and waving and motor bikes and pomp and drama. It was fun!!!

We also spent some time being tourists in Gastown. I found some cute artworks that I like and also fell over when I was crossing the road.

We public transported home and watched the Bachelorette while minding the boys (it was the one with the home visits).

Hmm is this post too long? Probably.

Ok quick summary of the rest of the week....
We minded the boys for the next few days. Our biggest adventure was a trip to Fort Langley - a 5 minute bus ride. The boys loved running around the fort. I love the way the workers just act like they live there and include the kids in activities they are doing - like weeding the garden and feeding the pigs. We bought Katrina her first ever Nanaimo bar and then walked down to the old railway station. A guy there gave us a personal, very animated, tour around the place even though it was not officially opening hours!

 We ate cranberries and bought the boys pin wheels (it was just a pin wheel kind of day).

On our last night of fun together we had dinner with the lovely Snellgroves...who of course happened to be in Vancouver this week too... seriously, everyone was in Vancouver that week!

It was sad to drop Katriny at the airport after such a fun visit!
Thanks so much for spending your school holidays over here Katriny & for coming on a crazy adventure with me! You are amazing (and really good at pretend scared faces)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

That Time Katrina Came (part 1)

So. Today is the last day of July... so it's about time I wrote about the time Katrina came to visit in June. Arghh! I'm sorry for the lateness. I have had computer dramas, and have also been busy holidaying (more on that in another month or two...or hopefully sooner!). Okay, let's begin...

Way back at the end of June, Lovely Katrina came to visit! I still can't believe she travelled all this way to hang out for 11 days. We definitely made the most of our 11 days.

Around 8am I fetched her from the airport, within the next few hours she had a fantastic introduction to Vancouver's public transport system as we made our way to Grouse Mountain via train, ferry & bus. We made it just in time for our Ziplining adventure! It was a lot of fun zipping across valleys. The views up there were incredible. Such a great start to our adventure.
The bus dropped us at the Capilano Suspension Bridge on the way back down the mountain. Wow this place is busier in summer! When I went in winter I was the only person on the cliff walk, but at this time of the year wow! There are people by the bus-load arriving constantly! It was pretty though, and fun walking through the tree tops.
We ate poutine for dinner (for you twin) at a place where you can buy a $100 hot dog (if you call 12 hours in advance). We ended the day watching the Bachelorette... back when I was sure Jef with one f was not going to be around much longer.

The next day we met Harold Henry the Hyundai (which you prounounce hun-day over here) who joined us for our road trip! We stopped at White Spot for lunch in Kamloops & got to Valemount by dinner time, clocking up nearly 700kms... which was more than I had driven in the previous 6 months. We B&B'ed it in Valemount. It was a super cute little town, with really wide roads, a giant cup, a really cool sign & surrounded on 4 sides by mountains! I think they had 2 ATMs, but no one had eftpos (mostly because they don't know what 'eftpos' is in Canada, but they also didn't have 'debit' which is the same thing). And they were having a water issue because of the flooding, so we had to drink bottled water.

The B&B owners cooked us up a big English breakfast. Mmmm!
We did alot the next day. Alot Alot Alot.
We started by trying to see Mount Robson, which is apparently really impressive... but it was hiding behind cloud cover, so we took photos in front of the poster on the wall.
We then crossed into Alberta & entered Jasper National Park (warning: this costs money). We found the Maligne Canyon and were awestruck! The canyon is so deep & the water moves so fast. As with most of the things we saw that day, photos don't do it justice! On our way back into town we saw some...animals. We couldn't decide if they were deer or moose... they weren't. They were elk.
After lunch we headed down the Icefields Parkway. I am fairly sure Katrina got sick of me getting excited every time I spotted a mountain. You have not seen mountains until you have been on that road! They are HUUUUUUUUUUUUGE! And beautiful!

We stopped off at the Athabasca Falls. Wow! Again! Wow! The falls move so fast! It's like a mini Niagara Falls, but less touristy & you can get closer to the falls (without paying money I mean). We walked down through the old channel that the river used to use before it carved a new path. Water is so powerful!

We forgot to change our clock forward an hour when we reached Alberta, so when we got to the Columbia Icefields at 3:45 it was actually quarter to five... luckily we weren't too late for a trip onto a glacier! We road in one of those bus things with the big wheels (I forget what they are called) down onto the Athabasca Glacier. It was cold...we didn't dress warm enough for this adventure. It was amazing to be standing on it though! AND I tasted the glacier water... my fingers almost fell off, but I can say I tasted glacier water.

Just as we had given up all hope of seeing anymore wildlife beside the road (we had seen the elk, another elk and some sheep/goats (it's really hard to tell the difference between sheep and goats here)) we spotted a convoy parked on the side of the highway... and there was a little grizzly bear! Sooo cute! I wanted to hug him! After he wandered off we started to drive on, but there were cars pulled over another few hundred metres up the road... yep another bear! It was a black bear this time, with a cute little cub! It was crazy to be so close to bears! Real bears!!

Ok... I need to pause here because I am taking the boys on an adventure in the morning (we're going to Science World AND catching a train from there into the city for lunch...don't tell them though because it's a surprise! At the moment they think we are going to the ballet & then robbing a bank...long story) and I need to sleep... but feel a little bit updated, part 2 coming...sometime! I already have the photos ready to upload!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Few Fun Things

Hello again my neglected blog!

Next week Katriny is going to be here and we are heading on a grand adventure to the mountains. So before that has already happened, I need to update you on the last few months.

In the last 2 months and 2 days...

- I have continued to look after three super cute boys (& also sometimes, like today, the girls across the street). They are so fun! I really love hanging with them!
Mr Almost 8 can talk about animals, angry birds or lemmings (remember that game from the early 90s? yep I got them addicted) endlessly. Like literally endlessly.
It's been fun to watch him play baseball this season. His team made it to the grand final & came in as the silver medalists. Sport here seems pretty intense - for baseball he would usually have 2 practices and 2 games a week, sometimes more & in hockey season he even has 6am practices. Is that normal at a 7 year old level? I'm not a mum so maybe it is, just seems like a lot.

Mr 5 is getting ready for Kindy. He has 2 weeks left of pre-school and then starts Kindergarten in September. I'm so impressed with the preschool he goes to. The stuff he gets taught there is amazing! Preschool here is half-days & Kindergarten used to be too - this September will be the first time all BC schools have full-day kindy! It's interesting to see parents' reactions to that, when it's been normal at home for...well I don't know how long, longer than my life.
A few weeks ago E and I went on an adventure to the Vancouver Aquarium & Grouse Mountain for the day. It was so fun! I mean I went to the same places with my family and really enjoyed it, but when you have a five year old who is so excited to see frogs and fish and hagfish (look these up. they are grossssss!) that he can't stop bouncing, it makes the day feel like Christmas! I even surprised him with a trip on the Miniature train & lunch at Subway. Best. Nanny. Ever. ha not really. but it was so fun! 

Mr 2 is learning to use the potty. It's exciting times.
He is super smart. It amazes me the connections he makes between things! (Which of course I can't think of any off the top of my head... but just trust me) He has a crazy big vocabulary & so much energy. He is also super cute. If you ask him how old he is he will tell you he's 5. I'm pretty sure he thinks he's one of the big boys. He is learning to ride on one of those balance bikes. Sooo cute! He is pretty fast when he's focused. The problem with being two, though, is that life is never about the destination, but rather the journey. (not always a problem, unless you have a deadline, dinner to cook, 2 big brothers waiting or it's raining) Any flower, leaf, bug, sign, car, drain, um those metal box things that have cables in them, puppy, person, driveway, piece of garbage or other interesting thing must be stopped for, admired & discussed before moving on (and there seems to be no rushing this process).

Other things of significance:

Mum, Dad and Lauren stopped by a month a go (a month tomorrow actually). It was really lovely to see them & spend some time in Vancouver with them!
We checked out Gastown and Chinatown, went to Grouse Mountain to see the bears & the view of Vancouver, visited the belugas at the aquarium (& Jack the Harbour Porpoise. He is my favourite).
We spent a day in Langley, so I could show off where I live & the Fort. And my families got to meet.
Mum & dad are heaps more posh these days after their Fairmont, 5 star treatment adventure. I hope they are coping back in normal life.

After mum and dad left, Lauren and I spent a few more days in downtown, we went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge & did the seawall bike ride around Stanley Park. The weather was strangely really good while they were here! It was so nice to explore Canada with them all!

I went to Seattle.
I got to hang with the lovely Mindy again for a weekend. I'm sad that Mindy is moving to Mexico, because it's been so fun to have someone to visit in Seattle! We watched Men in Black 1 & 3. Ate at a drive IN restaurant (oh that was fun!). Got our toe nails painted really pretty (mine still look cute!), saw a waterfall & watched a baseball game! America was REALLY American that weekend, it was Memorial Day weekend. They were even more patriotic than usual. AND at the baseball game they actually sang "take me out to the ball game!" ha! I seriously felt like I was in a movie that weekend!
I guess I may have to pop down to Mexico before I go home...

Aunty Nel & Uncle Pete came to visit.
Last weekend Aunty Nel & Uncle Pete were driving through Langley so they popped by for some Tim Bits and Nanaimo bars (& weird vanilla flavoured coffee I found in the cupboard) on their way past. It was so good to catch up with them and hear about their adventure to the far north!

It's Birthday Month.
As a countdown to turning 30 (eeeeek!) my twin and I are celebrating the thirty days between our birthdays with thirty presents! It was so exciting to get a really pretty box of presents in the post (or mail as they say here... people think it's weird when I say post. but I like saying post. like when I say "you got a message!" and they say "you mean a text?" um yes, it means the same thing.)! I get to open a present a day! The boys are really helpful with this. I like that they say "Kaye, it's day 4 today! Which means it's 26 days till your birthday!" (fyi it's actually day 7 today) See, inbuilt birthday countdown! Also fyi I am not turning 30 until it's July 9 in Canada. This was part of my sneaky plan for getting an extra day (well 17 hours) of being 29. It doesn't quite make up for being away from my friends on my birthday though. I was sad about that the other day. But I am in Canada! Oh I like Canada! AND I have a twin. If you are going to turn 30 it's best to have a twin so that you can celebrate together even when you are far away!

So that's a wrap up of the last few months... It is nearly half way day. Argh I can't believe how fast this year is going!!!!
I miss you guys!

Also. Do you like my photo montages? I can't take credit for all the pictures. I stole a few from mum, Lauren & my twin.