We arrived in Vancouver late in the evening on Canada Day. We saw fireworks from our airplane windows when we were taxiing on the runway, and my brother-in-law drove us to his house through neighborhoods decorated with Canadian flags. It was something like 2 a.m. EST when we arrived, so my sister pointed at our pillows and we fell into bed.
The next morning I woke up and looked out the window and saw a bald eagle — the first bald eagle I’ve ever seen in my entire life.
Well played, Canada.
The sighting was an appropriate way to begin what would be a trip full of adventure, fun, and jaw-dropping views.
My sister and her husband prepared a week of outings, but cushioned the itinerary with “home days.” These days were exactly what they sound like: we stayed at her house. We ate at the table, and let the baby take a long midday nap while the kids built a ramp in the driveway.
In hindsight, I think these days were the key to a great week. They made the difference between a trip that is fun and tiring and a trip that is fun and restorative. They are also evidence that my sister and her husband are seasoned parents. These days without plans gave us a cushion, which is important when dealing with the unpredictably of kids, plus a baby that inconveniently needs to sleep for several hours smack in the middle of the day.
To further argue for the importance of home days, on our second day in Vancouver we were planning to spend all day at a coastal park. But then Thomas woke up with a fever and everything came to a grinding halt. As I fell into despair over our entire trip slipping down the drain (because I’ve been through this before) my sister reminded me, “This is ok! Remember!? Home days!”
We reshuffled the schedule (and when the forecast didn’t cooperate, we reshuffled again), and at the end of the visit we didn’t miss out on anything.
If the adventure days were the high points for the trip, our home days served as the foundation. They allowed for long, lazy mornings, bagels and eggs and multiple cups of coffee. The unstructured hours gave the cousins a chance to play and get reacquainted, and gave the adults time to do a load or two of laundry and talk. We checked out local playgrounds, went for long walks, and meandered through the neighborhood. We tagged along for grocery store runs, went to their favorite ramen restaurant, and go to be a part of the mundane, wonderful things that make this part of the world home for my sister’s family.
This is the reason we visited Vancouver. We did not tire of the mountains or the coast, they were just icing on the top of the real reason we traveled — to see family.
These are just a few of my favorite pictures from our home days. Which, now that I think about it, this entire post is a misnomer. When you have eight kids, even home days are adventure days.
(Most of these pictures were taking in/around my sister’s home. The pictures of us on a walk were taken on the West Dyke Trail, which is a short walk from her house.)
Eight kids is bound to be an adventure! Nothing like spending time with a sister! Mine are hours away, but I hope as our kids age we can put in a few gatherings like this!
P.S. – I love your writing style! So easy to read!
Canada has 2 languages. The French speaking provinces, who don’t speak real French, have one. Hence, bi-lingual everything everywhere except there. It is annoying to most manufacturers, as it creates packaging headaches.
I hope you did have fun in the grocery store. Things migrate north, but not as many things migrate south. Wendy’s bought Tim Horton’s, which introduced the best doughnuts and hot chocolate it to the US. Even companies with strong markets in both countries don’t often have the same product line. In Canada, find Dill Pickle Doritos, Lays Ketchup Potato Chips, Pepsi (made with real sugar), ice cream (higher required fat content), and a variety of other items. I used to bring back Ziploc steamer bags because the larger size was eliminated in the US, meaning using the smaller size, which was one bag/ear of corn. And, there are uniquely Canadian things such as butter tarts and poutine.
Now that you have passports, plan a trip to the Falls and Toronto. It is an area brimming with history.
For me, when we travel anywhere, a grocery store is a tourist destination. There are always regional favorites, like CoCo Wheats, which should be in EVERY grocery store, that are fun to find and try. The emphasis on supporting local companies has increased these