Thursday, April 20, 2017

#tbt: We Had A "Superior" Time

One of the most unexpected treats of our trip home was our stop in Terrace Bay, Ontario. We basically stopped there because I wanted to dip my toes in Lake Superior, and there was a sign saying, "beach."
Terrace Bay was such a fun little place to stop. We definitely enjoyed getting our feet wet.
You can tell we all enjoyed the break from the car.
We had planned on making this a quick stop but then we discovered we could climb a lighthouse. Can you see Dave, Rachel, and Sam at the top?
We ended up eating lunch here and just enjoying a couple of hours in this cute, little town. I was just glad that no bears ended up visiting while we were eating. Yikes.

And to make this a legit #tbt, here's a picture of me in Lake Superior almost ten years ago, from when Dave and I moved from Waterloo to Edmonton, and drove out west. I look pretty much the same, right?! Hahahaha :)
August 2007

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Adventures In The Big City

A few years ago a friend of mine posted about a trip they did to Toronto using only public transit. Ever since then, I have been dreaming about doing the same thing. We were originally planning on doing this over March Break but then I got sick so we put it off until a couple of weekends ago.
We had to wake up at 5:30 to leave our house by 6:15. We walked to the train station and caught the GO Train into the city. The kids were total troopers this whole trip, especially on the early morning walk in the snow flurries (in April, thank you very much).
Once we got to Union Station, we needed Starbucks to recuperate. Rachel cracked me up with this very grown up pose.
Our friend works at Google so he let us store our luggage at his office for the day, and he invited us for lunch. It was really fun!
There is an indoor PATH which allows you to walk all over downtown Toronto while staying inside. We got lost a few times but it was much warmer than being outside so we didn't mind.
Sam wanted to spend his birthday money so we headed to the Eaton's Centre, a big shopping centre in downtown Toronto. I loved this "Canada" wall at Indigo. We also checked out the famous geese!
After lunch we walked to TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) to check out the digiPlaySpace. Our friends told us about this and we enjoyed it so much. It it twenty-three digital installations which we got to interact with. Sam, especially LOVED it.
This domino game was a lot of fun to play.
Rachel and I enjoyed petting a fox, as just one of the things we could "do" in this installation featuring some of Canada's National Parks.
Sam really enjoyed programming this computer...
... and we want to make drawbots (a wireless drawing robot) for the school science fair.
We all enjoyed trying to figure out this logic light board.
Sam really liked this interactive story.
And to be honest, so did I!
And we had (too much) fun flight painting with a flying ball of light.
Finally, Rachel and I had a lot of fun walking the red blue carpet in advance of the Smurfs premiere which was happening that night!
To end off our exciting day, we took the subway to our friends' house and got caught in the stink bomb attack. Thankfully, we were two stations away when it occurred, and so we ended up getting off the subway and walking for a bit to avoid the station where it actually happened (which was on our original route).

I will never forget being so crowded on the subway that all I could see of Rachel was her face looking up at me. The kids thought it was a great adventure, and Sam commented quite loudly, to the amusement of many around us, "I've never been on the subway when there's been a stink bomb before!" I hope it's an experience we never repeat.

So that was the exciting beginning to our adventures on public transit.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

#tbt: Still On The Road

This is another #tbt to our road trip this past summer. I'm going to take the next three Thursdays (or so), to write about our trip home. This post takes us from Saskatoon to Sault Ste Marie, ON (minus our stop in Terrace Bay, ON which gets its own post). This is a distance of about 2,200km (1,400 miles) so the fact that this post only has sixteen pictures is pretty good :)
First of all, we said good-bye to the beautiful flatness of Saskatchewan. The sky is so amazing when you can see such a huge expanse of it.
You know that I couldn't not stop at the World's Largest Coke Can. After a nine hour driving day, I was wishing it was real. Ha! This is in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba. (If you want to follow our route, check out the map here.)
We stopped for the night in Winnipeg, Manitoba and I was really excited to meet my friend, Jodi, the next day. She and her wife, Alicia, invited us for brunch. We also got to meet their adorable son, Felix. Jodi was one of the people I hoped to meet someday in this post, and I'm so thankful it worked out.
After we left Winnipeg, we basically spent two days driving around the perimeter of Lake Superior. Northern Ontario is a lot of trees and rocks and lakes and rocks and trees.
 Rachel took this picture at one our rest stops.
There was a big exhibition (a fair type thing) in Thunder Bay, which we didn't know about, and all the hotel rooms were booked. We ended up getting the last suite at Lakehead University. The kids LOVED it. Dave and I were just thankful we didn't have to drive any further.
I've written before about Terry Fox. This monument, just outside of Thunder Bay, commemorates where he had to end his Marathon of Hope.
Some of my favourite parts of the trip were when the kids did this! Hahahaha!
Since we spent so much time driving around Lake Superior, you get lots of different views of it.
You may have heard of a somewhat famous bear named Winnie-The-Pooh?!? Well, Lt Harry Colebourn bought him on the way to fight in World War 1. He bought him in White River, Ontario which was on our way. All these pictures were taken by Rachel :)
And this is one last view of Lake Superior, as we were driving into Sault Ste Marie, Ontario. We had just finished two hours of driving with "no services." Yes, there was absolutely nothing for two straight hours. Except for rocks, trees, and lakes, of course.
You don't realize how large your country is until you spend three days driving and make it across about one third of it. I'm so thankful the kids were excellent travelers, even if we did end up sleeping in university dorms :)

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sam's Traveling Birthday

When Sam started talking about his birthday, he wanted a Minecraft theme, but since I am one of those parents, I said, "No." I don't know much about Minecraft and wasn't feeling excited enough to try and plan a whole party around it. So I suggested an international theme (an idea I blatantly stole from Tim and Janice), which is what Willem had for his 8th birthday. Since Sam loves Willem and he also loves to travel, he was definitely on board, as it were!

Here is everywhere we "traveled" to. It looks like a lot of places because I couldn't figure out how to crop the picture so every country just showed up once.
The kids started by checking out our itinerary on the computer and trying to figure out where all my old coins were from. Unfortunately, our travels started with a glitch when our suitcases were accidentally sent to Russia and labeled in Cyrillic. So the first task was trying to figure out which suitcase was whose :)
After that we headed to Hawaii. We watched this video of a woman doing the limbo under a car. (You really should watch the first 45 seconds or so, as it's pretty amazing.) Then we tried the limbo ourselves. Since Dave and I were both holding the limbo stick, we have no pictures of this.

Then we headed out to Australia. First, however, we watched a video and learned a little about kangaroos. And what do you do when you're in Australia? You have kangaroo races!
Note: Most of the pictures for this post are just of Rachel because I don't want to post pictures of Sam's friends and he was in the midst of them most of the time.

After Australia, we went on safari in Kenya. Can you spot the two animals hiding in the picture above? (There are actually three animals in this picture, but even I can't find the third one, and I know where it was!)

After Kenya, we traveled to France and visited a parfumerie. All of these containers were covered with foil and the kids had to guess what they were smelling.
I had chocolate chips, pencil shavings, coffee (I was surprised how many kids guessed this correctly), vinegar, ketchup, cucumbers, lemon juice, and vanilla. Most of the kids thought the vanilla was maple syrup so then we had to do a sniff taste with that as well.

After France we went to China and transferred gummy worms from bowls to a Ziploc bag using chopsticks. And then it was time to eat. Sam was thrilled with his globe cake, although I wouldn't use it to teach world geography! Ha!

We kept the food really simple and enjoyed the cupcakes, chocolate croissants from France, and pineapple from Hawaii.
After we'd had a food break, we headed over to Mexico where we all got moustaches and swung at a pinata. (This is the point where I wish I could show you the group photo of all the kids wearing moustaches. It's hilarious!)
And then, because this is Sam, we ended up in the United States playing baseball! I just love our 8 year old, moustached pitcher!

As the kids traveled, they picked up various souvenirs for their suitcases. Each suitcase came with a flag pencil, a blow up ball with the Canadian flag on it, and two Ziploc bags. The two Ziploc bags were used in China (to transfer gummy worms into) and in Mexico (to store candy from the pinata). Here is the list of souvenirs each kid picked up along the way:

Russia -- their name in Cyrillic
Hawaii -- a flower lei
Australia -- a sign with Australian wildlife on it
Kenya -- a little plastic animal
France -- a little fleur de lis sword thingy (I admit, this souvenir was a little lame.)
China -- chopsticks and gummy worms
Mexico -- fake moustache and pinata candy
USA -- baseball cards

It totally made Dave and I laugh when, at the end, one of Sam's friends asked, "Do we get treat bags?" I guess he missed the point of the "suitcases!"

All in all, this was a really fun party and I think all the kids really enjoyed it. I know Sam did!