Monday, March 30, 2015

Girls Weekend

Alice and I have just got back from a couple days at The Hills Health Ranch in 108 Mile House.  We went up with some friends from work and their kids. Sacha is back in school now and after taking him out for Disneyland and Family Day, I didn't think he should miss any more class time. 

We spent every morning swimming and hot tubbing. Alice was too young for trail rides but we did get to meet their donkeys and she did get a quick lead around the paddock on a very big horse by a very nice trail guide. We closed out each night with a campfire. One night we made 's'mores and another night we roasted hotdogs. 

We had a pack of kids, ranging in age from 4-10.  They explored the countryside for hours in a big group, it was great. 


I even got a chance to finish a book I've been reading since October, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks.  I liked it in the end but I had a hard time getting into it. I really liked the main character, Hannah's story but lost interest when it shifted perspective to a different group. As I kept reading, I started to enjoy the jumping around through history but it made it easy to put down and pick up another book before continuing on.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Family Day VI

Sacha's spring break ended on Friday and my spring break started on Monday, so we pulled Sacha out of school for the day to celebrate Family Day all together.  We've been pretty lucky that most years March 24 has fallen on days that we don't have to work. 

Knowing Sacha's love of history and that Family Day is all about our family history, we thought it would be fitting to spend the day visiting Fort Langley.  The kids loved it! We actually ended up buying a season pass because it was only $10 more than the family day pass anyway. 


I hadn't been since I was little and the kids had never been there before.  It is a great museum. Everything is hands on and interactive. They got to practice building walls on a house, the blacksmith had Sacha help make an iron hook and then traded it for ticket stubs (it is a trading post after all).  They got to test their strength carrying bundles of "furs" and in the big house they got to dress up, practice writing with feathers and play with dolls and checkers.  


Alice really got into the dressing up. Old fashioned children are very demure. I hope they didn't get lice from the hats. 

They also got to pan for gold, Sacha found two pieces.  We didn't get to see the musket demo because that didn't happen until later in the afternoon and we decided to get some lunch, but the kids would have stayed for hours more. We will definitely be back and probably sooner than later. 


I think we had a pretty good celebration for the 6th anniversary of adopting Sacha.  We will end the evening with a Beavers Campfire tonight with hot chocolate and singing songs. Sacha wants to tell ghost stories at the campfire. Should be fun. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Eda

With Family day coming up next week, I've had Russian cultural awareness on my mind. About two years ago, I found Russia House restaurant in Coquitlam and have been wanting to take Sacha ever since, but have never had the chance until this last weekend. Part of the reason we never went before was because it is not open for lunch and it's pretty far from home for us for dinner with kids. 

We got there right as it opened at 2, like right when it opened, the host turned on the lights for us. The ambience is perfect, just as we remember Russia. Very fancy, we got to sit in a liitle booth surrounded with curtains. You could even pull a curtain across for total privacy. We didn't though because we were the only ones there.  There was also a dance floor and disco ball. I think it would be fun to go back for dinner another time, but with out the kids. 

We all shared three main course dishes, Pelmeni, Beef Stroganoff and Pierogies. Pierogies aren't really eastern Russian food, they call something similar Varenyky but it was a house speciality and they were good! Everything was delicious. I especially liked the Pelmeni that are big meat filled tortellinis covered in butter. Yum. 

Sacha was excellent at trying everything. He gave all three dishes thumbs up.  Alice wasn't to keen to try the new foods but liked them when she did eat some nibbles.  Next time we will branch out a bit more, maybe try cabbage rolls or borscht.  And there will definitely be a next time. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

This is why

We can't have nice things.  

Andrew took the kids to the new Terra Nova Adventure park on Wednesday. It's a great park, for "Off Leash Kids", as one if the signs states.  The kids loved it so much that we went back to play today.   

I remember seeing articles when the park opened that it cost one million dollars to build. I was hoping that it would be a park as cool Discovery Park in Spokane.  (I can't hyperlink on my phone - http://www.spokanevalley.org/discoveryplayground)  I'd say it's pretty close, a bit more spread out, the play structures are more organic and BC themed, like the log boom climbing structure.  Discovery park has more variety and just more items to play with but Terra Nova is an excellent park. I'd love it if something similar to either Discovery or a Terra Nova was build out here in South Surrey. 

Unfortunately, one of the biggest and coolest structures at Terra Nova, the three story fort and curly tube slide, has been vandalized.  The slide is tall, towering as tall as the huge horse chestnut trees around the park. There is a central, circular rope ladder that goes up the centre and the whole thing is enclosed with netting so little kids don't give BASE jumping a go.  Someone has cut away the netting on the top level.  At best, the motivation to cut the netting was to ruin some liitle kid's day, being disappointed that they couldn't use the slide. At worst, some horrible person wanted kids to get hurt by falling 30ft off the top level. 

On top of the big slide, on Wednesday, there was a tandem zipline, today there was one zipline. In 3 days, one was either broken by accident, on purpose or stolen.  

Who are these "no-lifes" that have nothing better than to wreck public property. It makes my blood boil. A million dollars is a huge investment in a playground, but it is a great playground that thousands of kids can enjoy. Money definitely well spent. But if jerks are just going to ruin it because they have nothing better to do with their lives, then why would any other community invest in anything similar?  So disappointing. 


Monday, March 09, 2015

Massage Therapy

About 10 days ago, I was in a car accident. It wasn't the worse accident I've ever been in by far but I got a bit of whiplash and have been stiff and sore on the right side of my body since the accident. I was rear-ended getting onto the highway. 

My doctor told me that I could choose between physical therapy or massage for my treatment, and decided on massage. My first appointment was tonight. Before this session, I had only ever been to spa massages, which are nice enough but I don't find I stay relaxed after I get in the car and drive home. 

Tonight was different though. Apparently my right side is all tensed up. The massage was definitely not relaxing but I'd rather be in pain as he digs his fingers into my messed up muscles than just be rubbed gently but ineffectively.  I'm feeling better and hoping that it lasts for a while. I've been waking up at night and having a difficult time finding a comfortable position to fall back to sleep. He did say I will probably tense up again. I've got another appointment booked for next week. 

On another note, I'm so glad it's daylight saving time again! I don't even care about waking up an hour earlier. I love the extra sunlight after work.  If I were ever to run for office either provincially or federally, it would be my major platform position.  I just found out today that DST has nothing to do with farmers! Thank you, John Oliver!  Sorry farmers for cursing you every year.  

Daylight Saving Time has been a fun 100 year experiment but seriously, it's time to move on. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Disneyland!

We surprised the kids on Tuesday morning with the fact that we were going to Disneyland.  We filmed the reaction but because Sacha does not do well with surprises, he was not an happy jumping up and down reaction.  He first declared himself too old for Disneyland, thinking he should go to Disney World instead.  Then he wanted to know how far he needed to drive to get there (fair question after 3.5 days in the car) but it was just 2 blocks away.   It’s hard not to take his natural reactions personally but I know it comes more from his extreme anxiety rather than just being a brat. However, his anxiety sure brings about some eye-rolling bratty reactions.  And his non-traditional reaction was still better than having to listen to “are we there yet, are we there yet, are we there yet” a million times in the car on the drive down.

The first ride we took the kids on was Autopia, pretty tame and the kids had lots of fun.  Alice is a terrible driver.  The second ride was Space Mountain.  It was intense.  Very intense for two little kids and they were pretty gun shy to go on the third ride but we pushed them on and it was a nice tame one and then they were off and running.  Their hands down favourite ride was Thunder Mountain Railway, we went on that ride at least 10 times.  Sacha pointed out the goat holding a stick of dynamite EVERY TIME. 

Out of the three days, we only spent about 6 hours at California Advenutre Park.  Alice saw the ferris wheel and demanded to go on it repeatedly as we walked across the park to get to it.  She, Andrew and Sacha lined up and when they got right to the front of the line, she looked up and said, I don’t want to go to the TOP of the ferris wheel! and so they turned around and walked away. Oh Well.  I was never going to get on that crazy thing.  Way to high.  Sacha did go on the giant roller coaster that goes upside down.  He was very brave.  Alice wasn’t tall enough for a lot of rides in that park and there seemed to be a lot of really high ones that I wasn’t going to go on.

This was my fourth trip to Disneyland and there were still a couple rides that I went on for the first time, Haunted Mansion, Indiana Jones and Star Tours.  Sacha was a bit too old for most of the characters.  I don’t think he believes they are really who they are dressed up as anymore.  But Alice fully believes and she got to meet 6 princesses, two fairies and so many others.  She got big hugs from every one of them.

Alice and Andrew left on Thursday to fly back for Alice’s kindergarten observation day.  That was a little tough, they had to leave the park at 3pm and wave goodbye to Sacha and me, who did not have to leave.  

My feet where worn down to the bone every day.  It felt like there was no cushioning left, just bone hitting cement by the end of every day but we almost shut it down on Thursday night, we were there from 9am to 8pm and then I was completely done.  It was fun being with just Sacha for a little bit.  I probably would have done better at the beginning of the day though, renewed energy and fresh Advil coursing through me.

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10 Years

I knew it was coming up and was going to write about it but then I spent the majority of Saturday driving between Sacramento, California and Eugene, Oregon,  my blog is now officially 10 years old.  Looking back at the first line of my first post, I had a spelling mistake.   I am not normally to concerned with typos and won’t always go back and fix them, but I don’t think it was a typo, it was a straight out spelling mistake. Sweet.  My life had changed so dramatically in the past 10 years, it is quite amazing.  My accident and following anxiety, Sacha’s adoption journey from start to finish including 2 trips to Russia, my pregnancy with Alice and her birth, moving 4 times, the break down of a marriage and divorce, new relationships, changing jobs, multiple trips around the world and I don’t write about it often, but working on reconciling things with Andrew.  It’s kind of satisfying that I started in a happy place and are back through a roller coaster of tumultuous times to a happy place again.  Let’s see if I can keep this going for another 10 years.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Action Packed Adventures

don't even remember what day of the week it was that Sacha was sick. Saturday?  It was that day that I was seriously questioning our choice to drive this trip instead of fly. It was pouring rain. Deluge would be a good word to describe it. San Francisco was fogged in, we couldn't even see Alcatraz and there was no point stopping at the Golden Gate Park or Wharf so we pressed on through and had lunch in rainy Santa Cruz. 

  
One of the stops that I was most excited to see was the Monterey Bay Aquarium and it did not disappoint.  The best part is the Open Sea tank with huge blue fin tuna, hammerhead sharks and dolphinfish.  They had a really cool kelp forest as well.  We spent 2 hours there and the kids probably could have spent another hour playing longer in all the interactive exhibits. We were planning on spending the night at Monterey but because it was rainy and gross, I thought it would be fun to stay in a hotel with an ocean view to storm watch. All of those rooms were pretty pricey so we decided to press on  to Big Sur. I had a different image of Big Sur in my head than it was in reality. I was thinking it was a beachy/resort town.  Instead, it is a tiny tiny town in the forest on a river. We ended up staying in the Big Sur Lodge which is run by the State park. It was pricey but below average cost for the area (and probably just as expensive as the hotels with ocean view back in Monterey). Our room was a cute little cabin with a fireplace that came with a bundle of logs. We woke up to two wild turkeys roaming outside of our room. They are a gorgeous colour up close, shimmery browns. 

One of the info packs that they gave is at the hotel was talking about California Condors and had a website about tours and the 20 mile stretch where best to see them.  I hate heights and this stretch of road was very high with very steep drop offs but between the Nepenthe restaurant and pfeiffer state forest entrance, my eyes were glued to the cliff sides.  I almost couldn't believe my eyes when I stopped one with out stretched wings on the side of a cliff.  There was a car on a pull out it above so I assumed that they had seen it too and pulled over to take pics but when we pulled up to the spot, it was a family from BC that had just pulled over to let their kid puke on the side of the road. Not only had they not seen it, they didn't know what it was. I explained to them how there are only 425 of these birds in the world, in the wild and in zoos. This is a once in a life time sighting. I ended up getting amazing photos of it from about 15 feet away. I was giddy for pretty much the rest of the day, it's not often that you see one of the rarest birds in the world. We saw #34 (they are all tagged). She was a female, born May 18, 2009 in a zoo in Portland. 

As we made our way down the coast, we stopped to see the elephant seals in San Simione and Hearst Castle. We were supposed to meet up with our friends, Grant and Arianna in Santa Barbara but unfortunately two of their kids were sick and we ended up just meeting up with Grant at the hotel he works at. That was really cool too because not only did we get a tour of the hotel grounds and the professional kitchen tour, we stayed for dinner and had an amazing Italian feast.  The kids were so well behaved in the fanciest restaurant that they had ever been in for a three course dinner. The dark chocolate soufflĂ© for dessert was fantastic!!

We pulled into our hotel in Anaheim late Monday  night with the secret destination still intacted. I am 100% glad we drove in the end.