Friday, January 23, 2015

Vancouver Aquarium

After this weekend, I feel like I'm on a West Coast tour of Aquariums. In the last year, I've been to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Seattle Aquarium, Aquarium of the Pacific (post coming behind on this! We were there in October!) and now the Vancouver Aquarium. The only aquariums that I'm missing are Seaside Aquarium, Oregon Coast Aquarium, Monterey Bay, Morro Bay, Santa Monica and Cabrillo... Bucket list for 2016? ;)

So our weekend in Vancouver started off with a two night stay in Whistler. On Monday Adam had a meeting with a supplier in Vancouver so the girls and I spent that time at the Aquarium, which I haven't been to in about 15 years. I remember seeing the orca the last time I was there. In the emergence of the movie Blackfish (and my feelings towards cetacean capture in general), I was happy to learn that in the early 2000's Vancouver had created a bylaw preventing the Aquarium from displaying wild caught cetaceans and only obtain cetaceans from other facilities if they were born in captivity, captured before 1996 or were rescued and deemed un-releasable after this date (source). Since 2001 they haven't had an orca but currently have two belugas (one was the first conceived and born in a Canadian aquarium) and two rescued Pacific White Sided Dolphins. They do put on a show for both of these, but it's more of a walk through of their daily health check and training with a big emphasis on education of these animals. I whole heartedly agree that animals in general should have the freedom to be wild, but that's not the case every time and at the very least..I am thankful that institutions put forward the effort to education and conservationism. When I was younger, children would see the orcas and want to become trainers at Seaworld. Now this current generation will learn about these animals and hopefully want to be scientists who study them in the wild. 

My favorite part about aquariums is that the animals are always visible. Now that Penny is a toddler I take the time to stand in front of most of the tanks and talk to her about what's inside and have her describe as well. 

 My favorite animals to photograph are jelly fish!
Penny truly enjoyed the beluga show. She is too young to understand what the narrator was discussing, but it was so cool to see her finally realize that there is such a creature as a beluga (we sing the Baby Beluga song to her every night, since she was born). Penny kept shrieking "It's a BABY WOOOGA!" They did only one or two "tricks" but even as someone who has had an interest in whales all her life, I learned a lot! 
We also watched the dolphin show, which had a lot more acrobatics. Unfortunately..there's something about the dolphins jumping very high and the loud clap as they hit the water that just really upset Ruby. Poor baby just cried so hard whenever they did that! So we left the show early and I got a few very strange rude stares as we left. ? Sorry guys, yes I have to inconvenience you as I push through, my baby can't take it anymore. So strange.

Catch the moment: Days 16-22

Nurse Loves Farmer

Well, this week was all catch up because I didn't spend any time on the computer while on vacation (imagine that?!) and then the rest of the week was a battle between recovering from the explosion of post-vacation and the girls and I got the crud that's been passed around. But I did manage to take my "real" camera out more!

Squirt has come a long way with the kids. When Penny was born he kept his distance because rather than petting him, she preferred to yank his fur. With baby #2, I think he's learned that they're not all so bad and sometimes they make decent companions. Typically when I'm done cooking I lay the bowls, pots or pans on the floor and let him get a taste (and do a little dishwasher prep for me). This evening Ruby came over to check it out too, and he bravely stood his ground and allowed her to peer on while he cleaned up.

I took this picture because it was Ruby's first day of going into childcare at MOPs. Until now she's snuggled with me in the Boba and napped for most of the time. Nowadays she has little tolerance for the Boba if I'm just sitting down so she'd prefer to crawl. I decided that we were both ready for her to be in the care of MOPPETs while I got my mama break time. The girls were so darling that morning; Penny dressed herself (in a dress that I absolutely love and kind of wish they made it in my size) and I ended up putting Ruby into this little tunic dress that I remember Penny wearing a lot. As it turned out, poor Ruby had skipped her 20 minute power nap before MOPs and while she put in a good effort, this time was not meant to be so she returned to spend the rest of the morning with me. 

We finally took the getaway vacation that I have been whining longing for. Adam had a supplier meeting in Vancouver BC scheduled on a Monday, so we drove up the weekend leading up to it to Whistler and stayed at a great condo. It was located right by the Whistler walking trail and it was a less than 5 minute walk to the ski lifts and sledding. No skiing for us this time around, but it was so much fun to get to play in the snow multiple times in one weekend. Read more: Whistler weekend

I am not a football fan. I really can't even convince myself to jump on the Seahawks band wagon...yea, I've got Seattle pride and I understand it's a huge accomplishment. But to step up onto a soapbox for a moment, I *hate* it when teams are called "brave" or "heroes." Really? I'm going to quickly step off the box before I get into too much trouble and instead tell you about how we spent a part of our vacation having a quiet afternoon, warming up from a morning of sledding (and rain) to snuggle and watch the Seahawks win the NFC championship. Maybe it wouldn't have been my choice of what to watch on TV, but I'm blessed that we got to do it together. 

The afternoon that Adam had his meeting in Vancouver, he dropped us off at the Vancouver Aquarium so that the girls and I had something to do. I just love aquariums! I had not been to the Vancouver Aquarium in probably 15 years and much has changed. My favorite animal to photograph is always jellyfish and seeing Penny discover that a beluga whale is in fact a real creature (not just one we sing about) was pure magic. Read more: Vancouver Aquarium

These little hens of mine. I try not to get too gushy and put them up on an honorable pedestal, but really...these girls rock. When you think about what an intense and intricate process it is to create and lay an egg (almost daily), you can't help but be thankful for this seemingly simple gift that they give my family daily. Chickens are easy to keep and will surprise you with all the benefits they provide. I'd like to remember to take a page from their book; because a chicken lays an egg regardless of whether her day was crappy or awesome. Whether she got the extra attention or if she snagged a juicy worm. Without fail she'll still do her job and be sure that the whole world knows about it with her egg-song of triumph after.

This girl's imagination is at full speed. She loves to pretend and this time I caught this little conversation: "Come on little ducklings! Stay with your mama and you will be just fine. The daddies are at work but they will be home soon. Let's go swimming. The water is not too deep, it is just fine. Stay close to your sisters and your brothers."  more: A Penny for your thoughts

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Whistler family vacation

I've got a dormant monster inside of me. It's called wanderlust. I love to travel. Near or far, whatever it is I love seeing new places, eating new food and just seeing what else is out there. It's amazing to me how little we know of the great places so close to us. Wanderlust doesn't mean traveling across the globe. It's just being somewhere new.

Well, this past year has been a quiet year for us. It's been spent majorly focusing on this whole transition of one to two kids and the craziness that it ensues. We've also been cutting back on expenses in order to maintain staying a single income family and honestly that's way more important than vacations. Truly. However, sometimes we just need a change in pace.

The last few months I've been somewhat obviously hinting that I'd like to take a weekend getaway with just our family. "Oh look, did you see that That Mama Gretchen escaped to the coast?" Oh man, my husband got sooo tired of all my weekly updates of everyone's travel plans during the holidays. Well, it got the point across and last week he got invited to meet with a supplier for work in Vancouver, BC and he nonchalantly asked via email "hey, would you and the girls like to come up with me to Canada? ...We could make it a weekend in Whistler."

It wasn't even a minute later that I was on Air BnB looking up condos. I even found the perfect one that fit into our budget and right in the village. Alas, that didn't work out because of some kind of techno glitch and I was ready to throw in the towel because who has an available condo on the cheap on MLK Jr weekend. Then on my last ditch effort search I FOUND ONE. It was perfect! So I snapped it up and we prepared for our trip to the north. Squee!!!

We only live about 4 hours from Whistler and with all of our stops along the way (yay for Penny in taking her first long road trip in undies!!) we got there in about 6 hours. The border crossing was a breeze for us old pro's, took a stop for lunch and groceries and thoroughly enjoyed the drive out of Vancouver up to Whistler. My camera was packed away (!!) and my cell phone was dead (!!!!) so I couldn't document the absolutely gorgeous drive out there. We talked about going up again during the summer and hiking along the way.

We checked into our cozy little condo, which was at the Marquise and just across the street from the Whistler Walking Trail. A few minutes down this trail brought us to the back of the Whistler Fairmont, which is at the base of Wizard and Magic lifts. There was a bit of sledding behind the Fairmont but in the early evening when the lifts stopping running, many people came out to sled that part of the run.

The condo

We spent the next two days alternating between snow play and warming up in the condo. Unfortunately it poured rain all day on Sunday and that was the time that we decided to take the trail from the condo to Whistler Village. Normally it would be a 15 minute walk for an adult, but when you're pulling a sled with a toddler (who wants to get out half the time) and/or wearing a baby (both of you are bundled up in your snow gear), it takes like 45 minutes. Add that it was raining and creating huge puddles, and your toddler just LOVES puddles, which means their non-waterproof snowboots get soaked before you get to the village. Oh, and for some reason a ton of the restaurants and shops were closed! On a weekend during the winter season. So weird. But, we made it to Blenz for some coffee and cocoa, warmed up and started the trek home. Along the way, our brave all weather warrior passed out. Yes, those are pink gloves on her feet. We couldn't bear to put the wet boots and socks back on..
daily photo challenge for 2015
But no complaints here - it was exactly what this family needed. We are so project driven, between house renovations or whatever other project the hubs has going on, we very very rarely aren't "working" on a weekend. So it literally took us hopping the border to get a break.

On Monday, when Adam had his meeting with his supplier, he dropped us girls off at the Vancouver Aquarium so that we'd have something to do while he was busy. Read more about our Vancouver Aquarium adventure tomorrow!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Same outfit, two babies.

This is one of my favorite parts of having two girls almost exactly two years apart. Their birthdays are a week apart and sometimes I'm able to get Ruby into the same clothes that Penny was wearing at that same age. It's a little tough; Penny is such a petite gal and Ruby is a little above average. For example, Penny wore this adorable bear outfit from 10 - 13 months. Ruby is 10 1/2 months old and probably won't wear this same outfit again.

Penny, December 2012
Ruby, January 2015

Friday, January 16, 2015

Catch the moment 365: Days 8-15

Nurse Loves Farmer
This working out the kinks. Ideally I would love to take these pictures with my dslr, but the phone is just handy to capture the small daily moments that catch my attention. 
So perhaps this year, instead of capturing my day with an artistic eye, 
it'll just be a straight forward / this is my life / unedited glimpse. Follow along with my year.

My favorite Christmas present was my 10" cast iron skillet. I've ditched my non-sticks and have taken the cast iron dive. Totally loving it. I will never bake corn bread any other way, ever again.

This little miss turned 10 months old today! I can't believe how time as flown by.

The one time this week where I was able to grab my camera to take a picture. Even though we have conversations about missing naps = grumpiness, and she agrees that both mama and Penny are no fun when we're grumpy. But some days naps don't happen and after enough sassiness, she was requested to stay on the couch until her attitude improves. "Go away, Mama!" "I'm so tired of you!" "I am so disobedient." "Oh, COME ON mom!" This is a 2 year old. She claps her hands very aggressively when she is upset.  Motherhood is not always fun, easy, and sometimes it is a truly thankless job. Sometimes you get that glare and you feel like the worst person ever.

 The following day was Sunday and I managed to convince Adam to take a break from a shop project to go for a quick family walk. It had been raining and we finally got a sunny break. Penny loves to jump in puddles! It's so funny to see her do it because it wasn't too long ago where she didn't know how to jump yet.
 I'm all about food hacks. We don't go out to eat often and if I can figure out the ingredients, I will try to make my own version at home. Mama Chia pouches are one of my splurges if I'm at the grocery store and hungry. A couple weeks ago I snagged a few bags of organic Chia at Grocery Outlet and started jelling it in the jar. Except I left it on the counter for a couple days and forgot.. so when I opened it up, let's just say that this batch of jelled chia went to the chickens. Trying again this week!
 Today we visited a friend in Bellevue, which was also a 10 minute drive from Adam's work. So after a morning of playtime, we visited him for lunch. Then I realized that it was nap time and it would be less than 30 minutes before we get home. But that's enough time for the kids to fall asleep on the ride home, and they haven't been transferring well. So I took the long way home and enjoyed the sunshine as I drove through our valley.
We watched Cinderella for the first time last week and one of the scenes that stuck out in Penny's mind was when Cinderelly was feeding the barnyard animals by throwing cracked corn. So I picked up a bag at the local farm store and this is Penny's chore after her nap each day.

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