Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Birthday weekend

Eric and I just celebrated our birthdays. They happened to fall on the weekend of a swim meet so we didn't celebrate officially until the following weekend.

Not to be dissuaded from making the day special, since I was coaching all day at the meet on my birthday, Dennis and the kids brought me a Mylar balloon that I was instructed to carry around all day at the meet. I probably was wished happy birthday more times that day than ever before!
Eric's 14 th birthday followed mine and he found a box of goodies at the bottom of his swim bag. He had fun opening that in front of his swim friends!
So this past weekend he and I cooperated on a birthday breakfast and dinner menu and enjoyed a family celebration together.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Science Fair

Bay and Leah participated in our local science fair this year on a project they did together. We weren't even planning on it since we were gone over Christmas but they had done an experiment as part of their science and really got into it. Next thing I know they are telling me they want to enter the fair with it! How could I say no to that enthusiasm!
They had a good time sharing their work with adults and friends, however leading up to the night Bay was feeling nervous. I overheard their conversation and Leah shared with her brother that he did not need to be worried because she had already prayed about it and God would help them do fine. I was blessed to hear this interaction and see that God is so real to Leah!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Christmas Trip

Not that we haven't had enough travel in our lives so far this year, but we just had to add one more big trip to the tally for 2012!

I am just now finally writing about our Christmas trip, even though it has been several weeks ago and seems like ages ago-I still want to chronicle highlights and a summary for posterity! 

We really didn't initially plan on any type of big trip over Christmas, but things kind of fell into place, and my very generous parents gifted us a large portion of the trip,  so how could we refuse?

It started out with Dennis' work-related trip to Seattle the week before Christmas. I always jump at any chance to accompany Dennis when he goes anywhere interesting, and we had some airline points to take advantage of, which made my portion of the trip virtually free. Our plan was for Dennis and I to be in Seattle for the week and then my parents would fly out with the kids at the end of the week to meet us out there. My brother, Andy, was also flying out during the week. Once we  were all together, we would travel by train to Vancouver, British Columbia, and then from there, rent cars and drive up to Whistler, BC to go skiing for the Christmas week. It was a rather complicated plan, complicated by lots of baggage-skis, board, boots, bindings, helmets, ski clothes and everything else for 8 people. It was further complicated by having to get from hotel to train station to rental car facility and back to the airport with bags and people. In hindsight, we would do it all much more simply next time. 

Dennis and I had a nice time in Seattle, once he got his root canal out of the way! Yes, a root canal on the first day we were there! He had an emergency dentist appointment right before we left and our dentist said it could not wait-good thing too-he was in pretty bad shape. By God's grace we found an endodontist Monday morning who could take him that same day-and located right next to our hotel too. Dennis felt immediate relief after the procedure, though it took the rest of the week for his infection to clear up, the extreme sensitivities were gone right away. In fact, he celebrated by going to get a milkshake right afterwards! He and I spent the rest of that afternoon in north Seattle at a hilarious novelty shop called Archie McPhee's. We then went out to Discovery Park and watched the sun set. 
Some of the crazy type stuff at Archie McPhees!
Of course, he had to work the rest of the week, so I spent the rainy days exploring the area, and lounging by the fire at the hotel knitting to my heart's content. We had some very enjoyable nights out together-we spent one evening, one very rainy and cold evening, in Bellevue, watching a Christmas parade (in the pouring rain-they still parade every night, rain or not) and then a special dinner out to Ruth's Chris. We also got to take the ferry one evening over to Bainbridge Island where we met my old high-school friend and field hockey teammate, Wendy. She and her husband met us for dinner, and it was so fun to re-connect after many years!

 Sun setting at Discovery Park-it was cold, but clear! So glad we took advantage of the clear day-it rained the rest of  the week!

 Knitting by the hotel fireplace
 Seattle at night from the ferry
 My friend, Wendy and me at dinner on Bainbridge Island
 At the hat shop in Pike's Place Market, Dennis got this crazy hat, and he and Andy convinced me to get the viking hat. Yes, I wore it every day while skiing! I got many comments and funny looks!
 We caught a ride on the Great Wheel at sunset-it was a little scary at first, but we soon got over that and enjoyed the view

Andy took a picture of us in the ferris wheel
The pouring rain in Bellevue-yes, they had a Christmas parade in this weather-kids in toy soldier costumes and drums parading up and down the street-singing, dancing-it was quite neat!

By Thursday, we were ready to see the kids and eagerly awaiting their flight out west with my parents. Unfortunately, their layover in Kansas City coincided with winter storm "Draco", which shut down that airport for about 2 hours. They had arrived at BWI, checked in and were ready to board when the announcement came through that their flight was cancelled. This was a difficult situation, not only because my parents were caught at the airport, close to Christmas, with 3 children, but also because Southwest did not have another flight that wasn't completely booked until 4 days later! Needless to say, it was a little distressing on our end-feeling helpless at the moment to be able to do anything. It was a good opportunity for God, however, to show himself faithful in calming my anxiety. Prayer, and some fast fingers on a computer at the Apple store at the mall we happened to be in at the time, found a flight on another airline, flying out of Philadelphia the next evening.

To add to the confusion and complications, we had to change our train reservation to a bus ride from Seattle to Vancouver. We contemplated just renting cars and driving the whole way, but were looking forward to the kids getting to ride the train on the way home.

Once everyone made it to Seattle, and we boarded the bus on our way to Vancouver, we breathed a collective sigh of relief! It was good to be on our way, together, to Whistler, for Christmas and for skiing!

Whistler was phenomenal-the snow, the surrounding mountains, the village, the Olympic history, and the skiing itself. Our condo was minutes from the slopes. Whistler is actually two mountains-Whistler and Blackcomb. They are joined midway up by the Peak 2 Peak gondola-the world's longest stretch of unsupported cable. Since our trip was cut short by 1 day up at Whistler due to the flight delays, we skied 5 days out of the 7 we were there. Bay and Leah had ski school on the first day, which always helps them tremendously. This was Bay's first time on a snowboard, and he picked it up very quickly. Dennis was on his snowboard for just the second time, so he also took a lesson the first afternoon, and by the end of the week was actually carving using both edges of his board going down the mountain!

Bay cruising-pretty much fearless

We found out that Whistler is a great place for families and other activities besides skiing as well. The base of both mountains is connected by an entire village of shops and restaurants, an ice skating rink and playground.  We spent several afternoons and evenings just browsing the area-it was all pedestrian only. One night there was a free show put on by the ski school instructors called Fire and Ice. Snowboarders and skiers went off a ramp through hoops of fire and did tricks. The whole show included other bits of excitement and prizes-Bay even won a gift card to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for answering a question!

At mid-mountain-the main gathering place for hot chocolate and meeting up from the 2 mountains when we would get separated

walking through Whistler Village

Heather in her Viking hat probably showing off

One of our favorite things about spending Christmas away from home, and specifically at a ski resort, is not only the almost guarantee of snow on Christmas, but also getting away from all of the busyness that can distract from Christmas and being free to celebrate simply. We enjoyed on this trip a very simple Christmas celebration. Christmas Eve there was a caroling service at one of the mountain hotels put on by a local church. The conference room in which it was held was packed out. What was particularly neat about this service was the congregation of people there-people from all over the U.S., Australia, England and many other areas of the world, all gathered together worshiping God on the night that we remember the birth of his Son. I was struck by how glorifying this must be to God-in time zones across the world, every hour of the eve of Christmas, groups of people gathering together rejoicing over his gift.
We spent Christmas morning opening our stockings-that was all we did for gifts this year (the trip itself was quite a gift already!) and having a special breakfast of pastries from the local market, Nester's. Then we went out skiing for the rest of the day. It was a beautiful way to spend Christmas day!

Waiting at the train/bus station. The luggage pile was enormous! 3 ski bags with boards and skis, 4 boot bags,  10 more bags of regular luggage and then everyone's carry-on backpack
The front of our condo-the piles of snow were such a welcome sight!
At the fire & ice show
Eric, Gramps, Granni on the slopes in the morning light
Riding the Peak 2 Peak gondola
clouds rolling in
Peak 2 Peak gondola-there were actually 3 gondolas on the mountain, but this one was the one with the spectacular views
Andy on his snowboard-he is much more accomplished on skis, but he did break out the board one day
Andy and Eric
Granni-no knee problems at all this trip!
Eric chillin at the base after a long day on the slopes
The street our condo was on, just makes me happy looking at it
Dennis and Bay
Leah tearing up the snow
Bay and Andy riding a gondola
Hot chocolate break---every day
Bay and Leah
Eric is standing next to the Olympic Rings on the Dave Murray Downhill Slalom run
Views like this coming down all of the slopes

In the villages next to the skating rink, they had the Olympic Rings medal award platform

For our trip back to the states, we had anticipated the train ride from Vancouver, south. However, a mud slide along the tracks had completely derailed a cargo train and the tracks were shut down. We ended up, once again, on a bus, wishing we had just rented cars and driven the entire trek north in the first place. Hindsight-well, anyways, nothing else we could do except learn our lesson for next time!

Along the Sea to Sky Highway-from Whistler down to Vancouver-it was a beautiful drive

Once in Seattle, our family of 5 had decided to stay in the city for another 3 days while the Serb crew headed for the airport and home. We had a hotel downtown, and got to take the kids to many of the places that we have enjoyed on our (Dennis & my) trips to Seattle before. We took them on the Great Wheel (giant ferris wheel on Seattle's waterfront), Pike's Place Market, REI, and a ferry ride over to Bainbridge Island. The weather cooperated and was very un-Seattle-like. It was sunny, but cold both days we were in the city. We rode the monorail, city bus and did lots of walking since we didn't have a car! New Year's Eve we were treated to a wonderful surprise-our hotel bedroom window overlooked the Space Needle where they shot fireworks off at midnight! The kids stayed up and got to watch the fireworks from the comfort of our room!

 On the water ferry heading towards North Vancouver
 A street entertainer in Vancouver-his act was all about balancing-and he was very funny too!
 The kids in front of the Space Needle-along our walk to City Center from our hotel
 Of course, the market
 Leah looking down at the fountain
 on the ferry to Bainbridge-Leah is looking a little smothered
 The sun is almost shining on the ferry ride!
 View of Century Link Field, Safeco Field and Mt. Rainier in the distance
 on the Great Wheel

Eric looking cool waiting for the bus to take us back from REI to our hotel

The next morning we took a shuttle ride down to the airport and flew home-no weather related delays at all. In fact, the morning of our flight was the clearest morning yet, and we could see Mt. Rainier clearly on our ride to the airport!

We arrived home and jumped full-swing back into our routine of swim, school, swim, church, swim! However we are always so thankful to look back on the time spent together on these trips and the many places we have been.