Friday, June 26, 2009

History Doesn't Repeat Itself

As of today, Chance and I have been married for eleven, blissful years. Well, mostly blissful anyway. How lucky we are to have the life we enjoy together.

About 9 or 10 years ago we took a weekend trip together to Vancouver, B.C. Chance found a great internet deal on a boutique hotel in downtown so we drove up on the spur of the moment. We stayed at the Hotel LeSoleil Vancouver. The hotel was tiny and adorable and very elegant - like nothing we had ever experienced in our very financially challenged few months together. We strolled the downtown shops for hours, shopped, ate some amazing food, discovered some one-of-a-kind chocolates (Tiger Bombs!) and had a really wonderful weekend together.

A major highlight of the trip included a fabulous dinner. Our internet deal included a gift certificate to a local restaurant of our choice. The concierge highly recommended a place called Hy's, located a mere 5 minute walk from our hotel. It took us much longer to find it. There were no signs or address numbers or any markings that we could find for the place. There was simply a door in the middle of a brick wall where we felt the restaurant should be. We passed the door 4 or 5 times until Chance pointed to it and said "I think its in here." I was unconvinced. Who ever heard of a restaurant without signs to mark or advertise it? I shook my head and Chance pushed open the door. He had found it. We entered a dark, dimly lit restaurant filled with people. It was lovely and very romantic. We ordered the chateaubriand and experienced the most amazing meal of our lives that night. And we have both savoured the memory of that meal for the last 10 years.

Take Two

This year we decided to return to Vancouver in an attempt to recreate that memorable weekend. This time we stayed at the Vancouver Hyatt instead of the LeSoleil. I think this was a mistake. Our room was fine, but nothing elegant or magical like before. We found that Vancouver in general has grown significantly more expensive over the last 10 years. At every turn we were alarmed at the prices we found. Our Tiger Bombs cost an astounding $5.00 each! We returned to Hy's and found that this time there were numbers above the door. For some reason, that small thing took away a lot of its charm. We were unable to order the chateaubriand as patrons now have to order that item 3 days in advance! The server did his best to recreate a meal similar to our desires, but it fell short of our expectations. History truly doesn't repeat itself. We still managed to have a nice anniversary. We stopped at a spa and found they had last minute appointments available for massages and pedicures. What a great way to relax and save the weekend.

As I think about our trips, I realize how much has changed these last several years. Leaving the kids behind was relaxing in some ways, and difficult in others. I continually complain about needing a break from them, but then my heart aches the moment we're apart. Our 1st trip to Vancouver was beautiful. There was just something about it that I can't explain. This year's trip was a just a nice break from our day to day work to celebrate an anniversary. And while I enjoyed it, I think next time we'll bring the kids along and show them some of our favorite places and have new experiences with them. Create new memories instead of trying to relive old ones. Chance and I will have to find magic in another part of the world. And I'm looking forward to that.

PAUL: "Is this what life's going to be like for the next 50 years?"

CORIE: "Is that all were going to be married? 50 years?"

~ Robert Redford & Jane Fonda, Barefoot in the Park

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dirty Work

I am the oldest of my siblings. When I was young, I usually got my way when things went sour between us, I got to ride in the front seat (back when riding in the front seat was safe), I was the banker for Monopoly, did everything first and I made all the rules when we played together. I also had more chores and stuff, too, so it was fair. But quite often I played at my Grandma Gleaves' house without my siblings and with my cousins Mark and Sarah. I loved playing there for many reasons, most especially because I was the youngest. Mark and Sarah are 2 and 4 years older than I and always did the coolest things. Unfortunately, that meant I didn't get to be banker, or make up all the play rules when I visited. They were in charge. There was a particular cherry tree that we used to climb together and Sarah (the oldest) got the highest branch, Mark the next and I wasn't even allowed (according to their rules) to really climb it until I was older like them. Every summer, the required age limit increased and every summer I sat on the lowest limb while they climbed to the highest peak. Inevitably when happened, I would pout and run to my dear grandmother for comfort. Her usual response was to bring me inside with her and make me a slice of toast with homemade strawberry jam. Somehow, I always felt better after that.

I grew up making jam with my mother. Every June, we scrambled to get the freshest fruit and spent hour after hour washing, slicing and cooking berries. It was heavenly. I have carried on this tradition and every summer we do the same. And when I say "we", I mean ME. I'm the captain here. I'm living that story ... The Little Red Hen. I'm the Hen. (sort of)

Noah, Emma and I took on berry picking together this week. They were thrilled to go to the berry farm. I explained what kind of berries we were looking for - nice red ones, not green, not black, no bugs, etc. We each got a bucket and got to work. Sort of. Emma couldn't "find" any. Noah literally asked me about every single berry he came upon. "Is this a good one?" "Is this one OK?" "What about this one?" Then we had to take a potty break (thank goodness for the on-site restroom.) Next we explored the farm house and jumped on the buckets and looked at the spiders. At this point, Emma had 4 strawberries, Noah had 16 and I was insane! Pretty soon they gave up the pretense of berry picking altogether and found a small patch of dirt to play in. While I picked berries they rolled around like pigs and covered themselves head to toe. The farm hands were stunned at their skills. Noah was just like a truck rolling down an old dirt road kicking up dust. A dirt cloud followed him wherever he ran. And when the work was done, they proudly loaded up the berries and took most of the credit.
Even though I'm doing all the work, I realize they are enjoying this tradition, too. Just in a different way than I did.

My favorite shot of the day.

"The jelly - the jam and the marmalade,
And the cherry-and quince-"preserves" she made!
And the sweet-sour pickles of peach and pear,
With cinnamon in 'em, and all things rare! -
And the more we ate was the more to spare,
Out to old Aunt Mary's! Ah!" ~ James Whitcomb Riley, American Poet

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Noah's Preschool Grad

Today was Noah's preschool graduation. I tried to get a video of him walking to "Pomp & Circumstance" but my A/V skills were lacking today. (In truth, I did get a video but a clueless parent whipped out their iphone right in my camera's line of sight.) Noah pretty much hated it. He doesn't like crowds of people looking at him - even if they aren't really looking at him. He spent most of the time looking like this:

Sunday, June 14, 2009

He Can Be Taught!

Tyler taught Noah how to ride his bike this week. He just decided it was time and took off Noah's training wheels with a pair of pliers he found in the garage. He's handy like that. Sometimes its kind of nice to have Tyler around. Congrats to Noah!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Emma completed her pre-ballet class with a dance recital on Saturday. She was adorable! It took her a few minutes to get going, but then she did really well considering she's only four. You can see the video here. Emma is the 2nd from the left for most of the video. I love it! I've been trying to upload it to blogger, but blogger and I don't get along very well.