Road Trip 2015 – Ottawa

We’re on a road trip!

Which is a little ironic because I hate being in the car.  Seriously.  I have three children 13 and under and combined, they complained less than I did on Thursday.  But for some reason, several months ago I thought this would be a fun trip so here we are:)

Our two week road trip will include a lot of east coast touring and ends with a conference, but for this weekend, we are in Ottawa.  My mother tells me that I’ve been to Ottawa, but I don’t remember a thing, so I was so excited to see our nation’s capital!  And let me tell you, Ottawa did not disappoint!

We left around 1pm on Thursday.  As a side note, I think I will forever try to leave for trips that time of day.  The kids did a day of school, I had the time and clarity of thought to not forget anything, and Michael cleaned the bathrooms while I did the vacuuming and laundry so I will come home to a clean house!  Honestly, you should try it.  Anyways, we got to Ottawa around 9pm which was later than I expected (insert a lot of complaining from me here) but we still let the kids go for a quick swim so that I could hugs and I love you moms from the kids.

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Not the greatest picture, but how adorable do these little travellers look with that bear sticking out of the backpack?

Friday was a gorgeous day weather wise, so we did all outdoor things.  Funny story, since we were going to be in our van for two weeks, and also because Michael wanted to bring his golf clubs (read: this is his fault), we bought one of those luggage carriers for the top of the van.  An awesome investment for this trip.  We took off on Friday morning with pages of printouts, websites, map quests, and water, ready to take on the city.  Only thing is, we live in the country.  Where people park in the open.  Not underground.  After 30 minutes of driving in downtown Ottawa, we finally figured out that the van was not going to fit anywhere with that topper on it.  So we found a parking lot, finally, that was not underground but was full.  I told Michael that he should just “park for a minute” and we would take the topper off.  Thankfully, Michael had gone against my advice and packed a tool kit.  So there’s Michael and I, in the middle of hip and urban Ottawa, trying to wrestle this thing off the top of the van and then into the back.  We managed to get the door closed, although we had a lot of trouble trying to get Jonathan out later!  Thankfully, our hotel has graciously stored it for us for the weekend:)

We then went for a walk around Parliament.  So, so gorgeous!  We took the kids to the Tomb of the Unknown soldier and sat in silence for a few minutes.  We went to see the locks of Rideau Canal and got there in time to see a boat go through a set.  Then we toured Parliament and went up the Peace Tower.  That was one of my favourite parts of the trip.  I’m one of those tourists that’s a big believer in taking guided tours.  I learned so much that I didn’t know!  By this time we were starving, so we took a walk down to the Byward Market area, found a little hole in the wall place, and had the most delicious Italian lunch and bought some fresh fruit.

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We went back to the hotel for a swim and a rest because we had big plans for the night!  My girls are Food Network addicts, watching it every time they’re at my mom’s or the cottage, and they love a show called, “You Gotta Eat Here”.  My mom just happened to have a book by the host, so the girls have been having great fun looking through it and picking out places to eat.  For Ottawa we chose the Smoque Shack.  It was definitely worth it!  We all loved our meals and ended up just putting everything in the middle of the table and sharing all around.  The best way to have a meal!  And I introduced my family to deep fried pickles!  They loved them of course:)

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I was going for an action shot here, but not sure you should do that while people are eating:)

We ended the day with the Northern Lights show on Parliament Hill.  I cannot say enough about this.  I was excited when I realized that we made it here before it was done for the summer!  It was stunning and made me so proud to be Canadian.  At the end, they played O Canada and everyone on the lawn stood and sang along.  It was a beautiful moment.  Walking back to our vehicle after, a bunch of people noticed that a souvenir shop was open.  It was pretty much the only thing on the entire walk back that was.  This guy beside me remarked, “Of course they’re open when everyone is leaving the light show.  Right now I feel so Canadian, I feel like walking in there and saying, Give me one of everything with that leaf on it!” I had to agree:)  An amazing end to an amazing day.

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Today was a little more low key, but still really fun and a learning experience for the kids.  Yes, I’m kind of freaking out about stopping school for two weeks after only doing it for three days!  But I keep telling myself that this is all invaluable!  The kids and I started off the morning by laying in bed watching Netflix and swimming while Michael went and met a friend for golf.  Then we went for a tour of the Canadian Mint.  Did you know that Canada has made coins for over 80 other countries??  And we have produced the worlds purest gold?  We all got to pick up a gold bar and learn about the Olympic medals and so much more.  Loved it.  We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Museum of Nature which the kids really enjoyed.  I think I would’ve liked the art museum more, but I didn’t want to subject the rest of my family to that:)  We had an early night tonight with supper in our room and a movie and it was the perfect ending to a cold rainy day.

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Tomorrow we will spend the day at church with one of my old friends that I rarely get to catch up with, so I’m really excited about that!  Its always fun visiting other churches and I have the privilege of speaking to the ladies Sunday School class which I always enjoy.

If you’re considering a trip to Ottawa, do it!  Its a great, family-friendly city.  The tours of Parliament are free, we found it an easy city to get around in, and none of the above mentioned activities were very expensive.  And there are many more things that Ottawa has to offer that we did not get to.  We might just have to do them when we come again when the kids are older and can remember more of all the important things we learned about our country in the last 48 hours!


Climbing Mountains

Last weekend I had the privilege of getting on a plane and going out to see my brother.  He technically lives in Calgary, but I think he basically lives in the mountains.  He’s always snowboarding, hiking, mountaineering, and probably anything else you can do there.  So I asked him to take me hiking while I was out there.  We had originally thought we’d go out for two days, but about halfway through the first day, that plan changed:)

Look at these views!!

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I’m going to try to minimize how badly I did and how much I whined, but I will share a few thoughts from those seven and a half hours.

“I am soooooo getting dessert tonight”

“I have three children, I cannot die on a mountain”

“Was I absolutely insane??”

“God please just help me not fall down right now”

“I think its good for character building to do some things that seem impossible sometimes”  a few hours later….  “This is what I get for opening my mouth about character building!”

“I don’t know why I thought climbing up a mountain would be easier than this!”

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We stopped on that first peak on the left for lunch and then climbed the second one.  After that was a long ridge walk, which had some of the scariest places but was really gorgeous.

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I tried to take a picture with my shoe so you could see how steep it was here, but I don’t think the picture does it justice.  And while my shoe is in the picture, let me just wander a little and tell you about these shoes.  I’ve always had fairly big feet, but then they grew with each pregnancy.  I ended up with size 12 feet.  Yup.  I can sometimes get away with 11, especially in sandals but really I’m a 12.  I haven’t bought women’s running shoes in at least 10 years, but the men’s always feel wrong.  I decided that I was finally going to get some women’s.  I went to a store in London that specializes in sizes 10-15.  Of course, they only had up to 11 in the store.  Frustrating, but they would ship them to my house.  Ok, I ordered them.  Four days later, my husband texts me a picture and asks if these are really the shoes I picked out.  Imagine the biggest, ugliest, plain white running shoes.  Um, I wanted women’s so that I could have pretty girly shoes.  Oh yeah, and because the men’s don’t fit right, but really I wanted pretty running shoes:)  So, before I ordered with the same company, I decided to try a couple of other websites.  Do you know that I couldn’t find a single other website in Canada that sold a size 12 women’s running shoe?  I thought about writing a blog post about how I feel discriminated against, but decided it probably wasn’t that important:)  After ten days of shopping, searching, browsing, and getting the wrong ones, I finally have cute shoes:)

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I still have a smile here because we haven’t yet tried the very steep downhill portion of the hike:)  But I do have to say, it was absolutely gorgeous.  And although I probably would never have attempted it if I had known what I was getting into, I’m really glad that I didn’t know so that I could experience it.  What a day.

I also must say that I have the best brother.  When I was terrified and holding onto every rock I could find, he was relaxed with his hands in his pockets!  Yet, he had so much patience with me and took the time to teach me and never once complained about the every 45 seconds breaks I took on the last peak.  When my brother comes back to Ontario for a visit I have to share him with the whole family over here, but when I went there for a few days I was able to have him all to myself.  We talked a lot about music and his newfound love for throat singing, I unloaded about a bunch of my problems, we had serious talks, times of comfortable silence, and an entire morning of Netflix and smoothies.  It was an amazing weekend in several ways and I will definitely be going back.  I just may ask for a slightly easier trail.


Chicago

Last weekend I had the chance to jump in a vehicle with two other girls and go to Chicago!  I had the best time.  Its taken me this long to tell you about it because it takes that long to catch up after leaving the hubby and kids home for four days:)  First of all, let me tell you that we had a great traveling group.  They were completely fine with the fact that I’m pretty miserable in the car and had to relegate myself to the back seat with my pillow for a few hours on the way back:)  On the way there, we split up the drive into three hour sections, one after prayer meeting and one the next morning.  So I survived that quite well, but the six hours on the way home was a test!  Thankfully, Krista managed to get off the highway and navigate us around what turned out to be a gas explosion down the road and we only got delayed by 10 minutes!!  She’s my favourite for that alone!  Also, both Margie and Krista are okay with silences, frequent food breaks, and walking everywhere.  We got along great.

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If you go to Chicago you should stay at the Hampton Inn on East Wacker.  It was amazing and within walking distance of everything we wanted to do.  Most things were less than ten minutes walking.  And it was beautiful.  And its brand new!  We found out that it was only three weeks old when we were there.  You should stay there:)

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We made sure that we saw Millenium Park and “The Bean” and took the obligatory pictures:)  We walked down by the lake which was lovely.  We went up the Sears tower.  On a day with zero visibility.  So that was probably only half as cool as it could’ve been!  One of my favourite things was going to the Art Museum.  I never really thought that I would stand in a whole room full of Monet paintings.  That was awesome.  I must say, a lot of the art I don’t really get.  Like the entire room with just a white couch and words being projected on a wall.  Really, I’m pretty sure even I could pull that off:)  But I guess there must be some significance I missed:)  My absolute favourite thing we did was the architecture boat tour with shoreline sightseeing.  It was a gorgeous day to be out on the boat and our tour guide was great.  We did it right off the bat and it was a great introduction to Chicago and some of its history.

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Of course, being a group of three girls, we had to do some shopping on the Magnificent Mile!  Best buy there was THE perfect tank top from Macy’s.  You know my pain right?  The perfect tank top needs to be high enough, thick enough, long enough, the right colour, etc.  Almost impossible to find!  But I found them there!  So exciting:)  And the weirdest thing I bought was culottes.  At the Gap.  Seriously.  They were in almost every store.  Who knew?  If only they were this cool when I was growing up independent baptist!!!:)

Last but not least, we had a lot of great food!  Tried out some local restaurants which were fantastic and of course we had to have some deep dish pizza.  My cousin and his fiance recommended that we go to Giordanos and it was amazing!  I honestly didn’t expect to like it, but it was delicious.  You need to eat there.  The girls also introduced me to Chipotle.  I know, maybe not the place you should go when you’re in a foodie city like Chicago, but after a long day of shopping, it sure was amazing to get something to go and eat in bed in our pjs:)

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Chicago, you were a great city and I had a wonderful time!

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Practical Manifestations

There was one really awesome thing my dad passed onto us growing up.  Well, more than one, but I wanted to talk about one today:)

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When we were growing up, we always knew that what we had was enough and we were well aware that there were many people in the world who didn’t have enough.  He wanted to pass on to us a vision of what the world was really like.  By the time I was a teenager, my dad had made it in the business world, but honestly, I remember hearing about helping others long before we really had what most people would consider enough to start giving away.  When my dad was still asking the church to pray for specific cars to sell, he and our pastor were drawing plans for an orphanage in the Philippines on the church walls in permanent marker.  When I was 12, I was in the Philippines meeting street children, visiting people in cardboard houses, and just generally learning that a lot of the world didn’t have it the same way we did.  In my teen years we traveled a lot and I was very blessed to have that first hand view of the world.  We did some of the touristy things, like travel Europe for two weeks and go to resorts, but my parents also sent me to Africa for a month when I was 16.  All this to say that I grew up with a deep conviction that I am required to look at the world around me and try to make a difference.  Even if just a small one.  Not just because I’m Canadian, not just when I have extra money, but mostly because I’m a Christian and pure religion is taking care of orphans and widows.

I’m trying really hard to have my children grow up the same way.  My husband and I are planning to take them to the Philippines and show them them the orphanage where we met and worked.  We want them to travel, we talk about the state of other children in the world and the need for Christ and practical manifestations of His love.

The way I grew up didn’t just rub off on me and I’m getting some help in this department from my brother!  A few years ago he decided that he wanted to help his nieces and nephew start to develop a love for others and the realization that they can help the world.  So he started giving them some of the coolest Christmas presents ever.  Each year now he gives them a World Vision gift card.  He maintains his awesome uncle status by also asking what their wish list is and still giving them another gift:)  But we get these gift cards.  The kids now look forward to them and we plan a day when we can take our time to redeem them.  We look through the catalogue and talk about how the gifts are useful, how they make a difference to the families who receive them.  We talk about the usefulness of pigs and chickens and moringa trees.  We look at clean water, mosquito nets and warm blankets.  And this day opens up discussions on poverty, missionaries, world views, and so many important issues.  Its just one day a year, but its become a tradition that the kids love and that I’m thankful for.  I think in this age of iPods being considered a necessity, its even more important that we take the time to teach our children that the rest of the world doesn’t all live like us.  That there are people out there who need Christ and that we need to share the Gospel through our words and tracts and Bibles and missionaries but also through orphanages and rice and warm clothes.


Renew

Renew

That was the theme of the conference we went to in California.  The Spiritual Leadership Conference at Lancaster Baptist Church was amazing.  I thought about blogging about the actual conference while we were there, but the true test of a conference like that is if it made any difference in your life after you got home.  Its so easy to be caught up in emotion and excitement and think that you’re going to change while you’re there, but can that be sustained weeks later?

One definition of renew is to make new, fresh or strong again.  My favourite definition though is to begin again, especially with more force or enthusiasm.  Could I take what I learned at that conference and begin again, with even more enthusiasm?

There’s really nothing new under the sun.  No amazing insight in the Christian life that I didn’t know before.  The problem with the Christian life is remembering the basic principles at all times!  So often I know what to do or how to act, but the determination and strength to always do, think or act is not always there.  So it wasn’t that there was some revelation at this conference that changed my life.

No, it was the thought of renewal.  To take what I already know and begin again.  With even more enthusiasm.  To take the reminders of what God spoke to me about and begin each morning trying to change those things with a renewed determination.

Last week was rough.  Two major things in a 24 hour period.  Things that I have spent many hours thinking about, praying about and even crying about.  They were hurtful but so personal that only a handful of people even know that these events happened.  And of course I had just been to a conference so I knew how I should react!  Did I pull it off perfectly?  Nope.  But the thing about investing in your spiritual life in the good times is that it helps you get through the bad times a little better.  Each time I’m learning about myself and how to deal with people in the way God would have me to.  Its hard, but I’m trying to dwell on this thought of renewal.

Mostly I’m thankful that God practices renewal.  His mercies are new every morning.  I think every day God must look at me and think He has to begin again, with even more enthusiasm!  So for a while longer, I’m going to dwell on the things God showed me to work on at the conference.  And I’m going to dwell on this definition of renew, determining to start again each morning with even more enthusiasm for the things of God than the day before.

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(I got to hear Ron Hamilton sing live with a full orchestra and Shelly Hamilton on the piano.  Amazing!!)


Road Tripping Friends

There are several different kinds of friends.

There are casual acquaintances, casual friends, good friends, close friends and many more.  Then there are road-tripping friends.  You need to be very careful who you agree to spend eight days in a car with!  One does not simply drive across California with just anyone.

On paper our friendship with Calvin and Amanda doesn’t work.  They’re almost ten years younger than us.  They have no children yet, we have three.  Its a little strange how we all came together.  But for some reason, it works.  Oh its not perfect.  Calvin can’t eat anything but hamburgers and subs when we’re traveling and after about a day, I hate both.  We give way too much unsolicited marriage advice to them.  We’re pretty sure we’re experts and their marriage should be exactly the same as ours.

But we have a blast together.  This is the kind of friendship where everyone figured out if they even said the word yawn, I would.  I think I’ve yawned a hundred times this trip.  We all ganged up on Michael about his driving.  When we got into LA traffic, we were so fed up with his driving that we just started laughing hysterically.  I was crying.  And almost hyperventilating.  We complained about how many times we had to drive over mountains.  We turned up music loud.  Nobody gets offended when Calvin feels the need to put on his Bose noise canceling headphones.  We all got very, very nervous on that very, very long road in Death Valley.  Sometimes we all talk, other times you could find all four of us ignoring each other and looking at devices.  We play way too much Catan and eat terrible when we’re together.

But these are also our friends with whom we share prayer requests.  We send each other favourite verses from our devotions.  At 4:30 this morning, we were talking about how amazing it was to worship God together at the conference we were at and about what we learned.  We correct each other, encourage each other.  Calvin told me I should go to a workshop about a critical spirit and I challenged him to 24 hours of no complaining with me.  On the day we’re traveling.  I’m having fun with that one.  We take advantage of each other’s skills in the ministry.  Calvin texts Michael asking for sermon ideas.  Amanda and I ran together and talked about how good God is.  We proofread for each other and we all dream together.  We’ve become like family.

I feel blessed to have friends like this.  I miss my kids and my house, but a part of me doesn’t want this trip to end.  But I know there will be more in the future.  I know this because I waited until the end of the trip to make sure that we were still road tripping friends:)  So as we fly home, I thank God for the precious gift of true friends.

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.” – Earnest Hemmingway

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Soul Sighing

Sometimes my soul gets tied up in knots.

I don’t know if that’s theologically correct, but that’s how I feel sometimes.  Life gets crazy and my soul needs a break.  A remembering of what life is really about.  There are things in my life that just make my soul go, “ahhh”.  I first started feeling this the most at my parents cottage.  I would walk down to the beach with my kids, observe them running around, look at the water and just go ahhh.  There’s a magical moment that happens when the sun is setting just enough to make the water sparkle all around the kids, when their laughter carries on the breeze and another day of memory making is almost done.  I used to think that it was the water that untangled my soul, but I started noticing it in other places too.  Some days just walking into my church is enough to do it.  Some days its words from other people, time spent in devotions or seeing the kids face light up when they learn something new in school.

The common denominator in all these events that untangle me is that they are all moments when I slow down enough to be reminded of what’s really important.  To dwell on something spiritual, to be a part of something bigger than myself or to remember that the little moments are really the biggest.

Twice on this amazing trip to California my soul has gone, ahhh.  One was when we went to see the Sequoias.  If you ever get the chance, you should see these amazing trees.  I heard a man, who obviously looked like a preacher, walk by and say, “we need to have an outdoor service here.  Its like a beautiful cathedral.”  I’ve seen some beautiful places of worship, but no one can build them like God!  When you stand beside something so large, you can’t help but think of how amazing God is.  I cannot begin to describe the majesty and beauty of that forest.  Just being there is like being in a sacred place of worship to the mighty, imaginative Creator.  I rubbed my hands on the strange bark and dwelt on the fact that their Creator loves me.  Unbelievable.

My second soul sighing was this morning in church.  We came down here for the Spiritual Leadership Conference at Lancaster Baptist Church.  To walk into a massive church I had never been in before, where I knew absolutely no one and yet feel perfectly at home worshiping together with these dear people made my soul sigh.  The choir sang an amazing song and then we sang “Wonderful Grace of Jesus” together.  There in that room were hundreds and maybe thousands of people who believe the same things I do, worship the same God, fight the same battle.  Wow.  I even got to hear Ron Hamilton, or Patch the Pirate, sing a brand new song he just wrote.  Talk about capping off a song service.  Put together with a great preacher, my soul feels great.  Its these moments that keep me going.  Sometimes I don’t even realize that my soul is tied up in knots.  Sometimes soul sighing comes when I plan for it, sometimes unexpectedly.  Sometimes in the big moments, but most often in the small.  But the reminders are always there.  If I look for them.

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New Every Morning

So yesterday I woke up in Three Rivers, California.  Yes, California:)

Its been a diverse and crazy couple of days, but one of my favourite moments so far came unexpectedly yesterday morning.  (I wanted my blogs about this trip to not be an itinerary of what I did, but a sharing of special moments and memories.)

I had decided the night before that I needed to run in the morning.  I hate running on vacation, well, really any time, but how else was I to combat sitting in the car for long periods of time and fast food.  Michael agreed to go with me in the morning since we were in a strange place.  He was very thrilled when Calvin and Amanda decided to go with me instead.  Even just the three hour time difference has us all waking up between 4 and 5am.  Except for Michael.  He just keeps sleeping until we can no longer stand it and wake him up.  We all hate him right now.  Anyways, the three of us took off.  Calvin had looked up a trail close to our hotel.

It started when I could hear water.  I don’t know why I love the water so much.  I don’t like swimming in it, but I could look at it all day!  We came around a corner and saw massive boulders on the bank of a rushing mountain stream.  We all stopped running and thanks to our jetlag, we were able to watch the sun coming up over the mountains.  Absolutely gorgeous.

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I found a rock by myself and just enjoyed the view.  We were all silenced by the beauty of the morning.  And also the fact that it was 6am:)  But mostly the beauty.  I sat on that rock and just communed with my God.  What beauty He creates!  What a balm for the soul.  These verses came to my mind.

Lamentations 3:21 This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope.  It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.  They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.  The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.

I prayed, sang hymns in my head and just thanked the Lord for this opportunity.  A few tears escaped my eyes.  It was such an unexpected moment of beauty.  After we started running again, Amanda and I talked about the creativity of God.  Best of both worlds, time to think alone and time to share with a friend.  It was an awesome morning made even more awesome by the fact that it was in the middle of a run at 6am:)  God is amazing.

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Family Vacation

Last weekend we took the kids on a mini-vacation to Toronto.

Don’t tell them it was only a mini-vacation, because we passed it off as a real one:)  We’re doing so much traveling this year that we decided a long weekend in Toronto doing all the fun things there would be perfect for the kids vacation.  Up until this year it has been our tradition to go to Florida with my parents.  They rent a house with a pool and it was awesome when the kids were little.  The past few years, we realized that the kids were sort of growing out of this vacation.  Getting a little bored.  And we were hating the drive.  Then last year’s disaster happened.  First of all, the weather was terrible.  We were on the beach and I think we spent a total of an hour there the entire week it was so cold.  Then the promised pool heater didn’t even exist.  To top it all off, we all got sick.  I’m talking really sick.  We didn’t have a single day where we were all well.  At one point I said, “This is ridiculous!  We’re going to the beach!”  So we all put on long sleeves over our bathing suits, wrapped ourselves up in towels and determined to enjoy the beach.  After about 15 minutes, Arianna asked in a feverish, little girl voice, “Have we been here long enough?  Can we go back now?”  So we spent 90% of our vacation sleeping on the couch with the tv on:)  This is what it looked like….photo-13

This year was much better:)  We hit the zoo the first day.  It was an amazingly gorgeous day!  I took this picture of Emma with a Zebra because she asked when we were going to see them about every ten minutes.  Of course they were at the end:)  The zoo was Arianna’s pick and it was her favourite stop.

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We checked into our amazing hotel in Vaughn which had a huge room and a warm swimming pool:)  The next day we went to the ROM.  This one was Jonathan’s pick and ended up being his favourite too.  We took this picture there because it says The Currelly Gallery above their heads.  The Currellys are a family in our church and the name on the gallery is the kids’ friend’s great uncle.  Or something like that:)  Anyways, they thought it was very cool and wanted to save it for last so they could remember all the details and tell their friend all about it:)

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Saturday was the annual Blue Jays game with the Holmes family.  They won so that was awesome!  It was also awesome that it didn’t go 18 innings like last year!! Just my luck to happen to be at the longest baseball game ever:)  Ok, I googled it and according to Wikipedia, it wasn’t exactly the longest, but it was forever!  Anyways, we had a great time with the Holmes family and went to dinner after.  The Blue Jays do a Jr. Jays game when they’re in town on a Saturday so the kids had a blast participating in that.  I think they won about 10 baseball cap piggy banks so they were kind of bummed that they didn’t win the other prizes, but still enjoyed it:)  They got their faces painted and ran the bases after.  It was another gorgeous day.  Which is pretty much my favourite part of baseball:)

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Sunday we went to church and got to visit with some wonderful people in both the morning and evening services.  Monday was Canada’s Wonderland.  We told the kids that we didn’t think we should go since they’re all afraid of rides:)  They begged us to still go since all their friends go so we told them this was a trial run!  I think they went on rides solely so they could go again next year:)  But they did have a lot of fun.  I can’t say too much, since I mostly chicken out when looking at rides too!!

All in all, it was such a wonderful weekend.  I’m completely exhausted, but it was worth it.  It was a joy to watch the kids faces as they experienced all the new sights, learned new things and pushed themselves to try scary things.  Maybe I shouldn’t have forced Arianna to try the new roller coaster that she had to be let off of because she was totally freaking out before we even started…..but other than that, it was great:)  Oh, and there was the time we walked through what I think was a marijuana protest because there were about 40 people all smoking joints outside the convention center.  But, considering we spent five days in Toronto, I thought we did ok:)


Turkey Day 4

This was supposed to be the last day of our trip:)  We spent an unexpected night in Israel because of a flight delay but we are now on the way again.  As we had our connections through Turkey and we walked into the Israeli airport, I had some nostalgia and was sad about leaving Israel.  I even said something like, I wish we were staying.  I regretted those words about 15 min later when we found out we had an eight hour flight delay:)

But back to my last day in Turkey.  We ended the trip spending the day at Ephesus, which they say is one of the greatest archaeological sites in our day.  At least that’s what the guide says:)  It was pretty amazing though.

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This is the facade of the library, one of the three great libraries of that time.  It was so impressive and gorgeous.  It was hard to get a good picture close up, but the detail on the stone is incredible.  This facade has become the symbol of Ephesus.  And for good reason.

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We ended our tour of Ephesus with the theatre.  It could originally hold 25,000 people!  That’s just huge!  This is our last group shot of the trip.  It helps show how big the theatre was.  Pastor Brett Pennell got to preach to us there, which I thought was pretty awesome for him!  He got to speak where Paul spoke.  Then our group went down and sang on the stage.  The acoustics were amazing and the other groups actually clapped and asked for an encore:)

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I never got to finish this post before we left the Israel airport, so it is now a few days later and I’m finishing it up.  The people who arranged this trip were calling it, “The Trip of a Lifetime”, and they delivered!  One of my most favourite things  to do is travel, but this trip was special.  History, culture, politics, they’re all interests of mine, but when you combine that with a spiritual journey, the time becomes amazing.  Throw in a great group of people, some nice hotel rooms, time with my husband and I cannot describe how incredible my time was.  If you’re a Christian, I would definitely recommend that you visit Israel.  When I read through the Bible, go through the stories and see the names of places, I see actual places in mind.  I have a better grasp of the culture of that time.  I have special memories linked to those places and stories.  It was a definite investment in my spiritual life.  I don’t know how else to end, except to say, Go to Israel!!