Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving in Montreal...

Well, this year we decided to do something different for Thanksgiving and take the kids up to Montreal for an "international" experience.

It was definitely an experience!

On Wednesday we drove from home to Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It was about 250 miles and about 5 hours driving. We hit one snow storm on the way, but it didn't slow us down too much.

The boys were SO excited about getting to use their passports for the first time. The Canadian Border patrol was nice enough to stamp their passports even though it wasn't necessary. (I'll post some pictures when I find my camera cord).

Montreal roads are VERY confusing! Very long french named streets and poor signage! We kept getting lost and that's rather unusual for us - we're normally very good about reading maps and getting where we want to without trouble. It was rather frustrating.

Wednesday evening we just relaxed in the hotel and went swimming. (The kids LOVED that part).

Thursday (Thanksgiving day) we went to the Biodome in Montreal. It's a very large and incredible indoor museum with 5 different ecosystems. We loved it!

We then went down to the old town Montreal and got REALLY frustrated with their roads, parking, and less than pleasant hecklers. Our first attempt at parking ended up in a tight spot at a parking garage where it was literally a bumper to bumper tight squeeze. Some guy yelled at me so I turned around (a nice 6 point turn) and promptly left. The second attempt we circled around this town block several times trying to get into the parking lot. When we finally got in the lot, this really nice lady gave us her parking ticket with several hours still valid on it (that's all we really needed). We thought - that's a great deal, the people here aren't too bad. Then the scariest looking bum guy came up to us and started heckling us about not paying for parking. I told him that I have a valid parking ticket for this lot good until 7pm (it was only about 3:00 at the time). He kept saying that I needed to pay at the machine for a new ticket (even though, the ticket I had was valid - not specific to any car). Rich and I both got the same "this man is creepy and evil, let's get out of here vibe" and we left! He really creeped us out and the kids too! The third attempt at parking we found a more secure lot down the street and when we went to pay in the machine it said that it was going to cost 2 canadian dollars per 15 minutes, 19 canadian dollars for daytime parking, or 8 canadian dollars for evening parking that started after 4pm. So here's the new dilemma. It's now about 3:30pm. Do we pay the stupid over-priced 19 canadian dollars to park for just the 2 hours we want to spend walking around the old town Montreal or do we wait 30 minutes until it's after 4pm and pay only 8 canadian dollars? Well, being rather frustrated by this point we were going to bag it all and just go back to the Hotel, but we knew this would probably be our only visit to Montreal (not so impressed to come back when there's a whole world of other places to explore), so we went back to the car and ate a snack and waited in the car until 4pm. Finally we paid for parking and were off to see the old town.

It was bitterly cold (only to be expected in Canada at the end of November), but luckily we were prepared with hats, glove, coats, scarves - the winter gear. By the time we walked the couple of blocks to reach the points of interest, it was dusk and hard to see much! They did have some lights up around some of the old cobblestone streets and there were some fun shops to walk around in. However, being really prepared for winter with all of the winter gear presented another problem when in the shops trying to maneuver around without knocking something over. Yikes!

Anyway, we survived our little jaunt around the old town and were done within an hour and a half. We were able to give our parking ticket away to a nice woman - without any hecklers!

We had our Thanksgiving dinner at "Scores" a bright and cheery restaurant with a big chicken for it's logo. I had roasted chicken, Rich had "Texan" kabobs, Jordan had Linguine, and Trevor had chicken tenders. Not quite the traditional Thanksgiving meal, but we were glad to be together and we went around during dinner taking turns telling about things we were thankful for. It was fun to see what things we are thankful for that you don't always think about. For example... Boogers - they catch the yucky stuff that tries to get into your body!

We ended the night with swimming and a movie on Rich's computer.

Friday we drove home! It's always nice to come home!

Our trip was a good learning experience. When traveling with kids to a new place, keep the activities simple and plan the time spent somewhere to their attention span. Don't plan on "nice" meals - they'll just order the chicken tenders whether it's at BK or at a really nice restaurant. Always stay somewhere with a pool! If you're going somewhere where you want time to leisure and time to relax - don't bring the kids.

Thanksgiving in Montreal sounds glamorous, but I think next year I'm going to just stay at home and relax!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Yes... More Snow!

I guess my life is not that exciting... I just talk about the weather!

We're in the perfect spot for lake-effect snow! Lake effect snow if when really cold arctic air from Canada passes over the "warmer" waters of lake Ontario, picks up the moisture from the lake and then dumps it on land down wind from the lake. The lake-effect snow bands are generally small and only affect a small area - if you're in that area, then it's like a blizzard - if you move just a couple miles out of the area it's clear.

So from Friday morning to Saturday evening we had some lake effect snow. Here are some pictures to see what we're dealing with.

Friday Morning - driveway clear, some snow from the previous day (about 6 inches on the car).

The snow started about 12:00 noon on Friday and this is the first burst of snow... about an inch or two...

We drove down to Rich's sister's home about 30 miles southeast of our home and the roads were yucky... we saw 4 accidents on the way down and it took us about 1 hour and 15 minutes to get there. It was a slow drive, but we made it safely (It was our nephew's birthday - otherwise we would have stayed home).

When we got back home that night at about 9:00pm there was about another couple of inches of snow.

Friday night the snow machine was cranking and when we woke up it was piled up - time to shovel!

All done! It looks great! We left the blue car covered (it's our 2nd car, so we didn't want to do the extra work at that time).

Here are some other pictures of the snow piled high! I love the mailbox - it makes me giggle seeing the large snow tufts! Also it's funny to see the huge mound of snow on the bushes! Those are some tough bushes!

We live in such a snowy area that this storm was no big deal - oh look - just another 12-15 inches of snow! Ha ha ha!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

1st real snow!

Well, It snowed the other day, but it all melted by lunchtime! Yesterday is what I would consider the first official snow of the season. It's cold enough to stick and it was about 3-4 inches. The boys are excited to get out there and freeze their butts off playing around in it. I prefer to see it's beauty from inside my warm house with a cup of hot cocoa!

Here is a picture of some trees right outside of our neighborhood. I love how the snow is on every little branch and twig on the trees! It's a winter wonderland!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cold and Snowy!

It's cold today! We hit a high temperature of 31 today! Yikes! I find that the initial transition into winter is kind of a shock to the system. As soon as my blood thickens up by about January - feeling "cold" doesn't happen until about 5-10 degrees and 31 would feel balmy! It's funny how our bodies adapt to their environment.

Anyway, it's lake effect snow so it's funny to see where the snow falls. Just north of us about 15-20 miles they got 15+ inches of snow and we have about an inch! Funny!

It's beautiful - definitely gets you in the spirit of Christmas!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

You've gotta love those "brilliant" moments!

So, just shortly after writing the last post about the gorgeous day we were having and how great it was to get the "winterizing" done around the house, I had a "brilliant" stupid moment!

I realized when I was calling the kids in for dinner that I still had the hose out for the front yard. I thought... oh that's easy enough to put away, I'll just go put it in the shed. I got to the shed and thought that I would hang it up over the shed rafter so the hose would drain out. I did it last year and it worked great. So the sprayer nozzle was still attached and I had my "brilliant" thought that if I left the nozzle on it, the weight of the nozzle would help to launch it up and over the rafter. My plan would of worked great however, when you actually hit the rafter dead-on, the nozzle comes shooting back at an alarming speed and hurts really bad when it whacks you right between the eyes. It was a "brilliant" stupid moment. After the seeing-stars bonk, I was thinking how stupid that was and how I'm sure no one would find me (if I blacked-out) until after everyone was starving looking for dinner. Luckily the hit was directly between my eyes and it didn't hit either eye socket or my nose. I have this silly 1/4 inch cut between my eyes to remind me of my brilliant stupidity.

I thought for sure all the kids in Primary today would notice the silly cut on my head, however another Sister in Primary had a really bad black eye from an elbow hit during a basketball game and she got all the attention. Luckily I didn't have to tell people about my facial blemish origins. I guess the Lord blesses us in strange ways! :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Is this November in NY?

Well, I would guess that it's early October with the wonderful day we've had today! The kids are outside playing enjoying this rare warm November day! It's actually in the upper 50's to low 60's and it's really pleasant.

Rich and I were able to work on clearing out the garden a bit and getting the trampoline down for winter. It's amazing how much work you have to do to get ready for each season. I see why people love the year-round comfortable living - a lot less work.

Anyway, winter is just around the corner! Cold front working it's way through and we'll be getting snow soon! It's fun to sit in the warm house with hot cocoa and watch the snow fall!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Trevor's costume...

By the way, I made Trevor's costume (with his idea in mind). Salvation Army is great for finding just what you need. I actually cut two pants and two shirts and then sewed them together. (Mom should be so proud of me). It was fun!

Looking back to Halloween!

I just wanted to post a couple of pictures of the kids and their costumes! We had fun with Trevor's creativity this year. If you can't guess by the picture, he's Two-Face from the Batman movies. Jordan was a simple but "scary" costume, he's a grave digger haunted yucky thing (it's a 10 year old boy thing). Anyway - Enjoy!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Okay - I'm getting in on the action!

I guess it's time to follow everyone else and get a blog going. There are so many options for keeping connected, but most of my family uses this blog site. I'm hoping to keep up with family and friends this way. We'll see how well I do!