Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmastime in the Big City

Happy holiday season from (the) Philadelphia (area)! We have really been enjoying our holiday time together here. So thankful that we're more or less settled in--certainly enough to be comfortable in our home now--and beginning to move beyond our little home and exploring our new town/city. Its been a very different Christmas for us, though. Usually we try to fit in visits to both families, taking turns as to whose parents we visit for the actual Christmas Day, but this year we stayed in our own home and didn't travel at all--I realized that I haven't done that since I was 17 year old and in high school.

A few days before Christmas, we decided it was high time to venture into the big city. We hopped on the SEPTA and took the girls to see Santa Claus at Macy's. It was crazy busy at Macy's, but clearly they are used to the crowds because the enormous line moved very quickly. It helped that Santa seemed to have cloned himself in order to meet the high demand of child visitors (I think there were about 4-5 Santa booths?). Honey Bee was just in heaven. When we walked into the little booth where Santa #3 was sitting, she hopped up and down yelling "Santa! Santa! Santa!" and it just felt so magical. What fun to witness the joy of a little girl who truly believes in Santa Claus. Mouse, however, found it slightly less than magical. The instant we tried to put her on jolly old St. Nick's lap, she freaked out. We were fortunate to get a picture of us all in between wails, but she is still eyeing him up with a great deal of wariness.

Our day in downtown Philly was a little chilly, but just gorgeous. Here are some highlights from the day: 

Christmas Village. That's city hall in the background on the left.

Checking out the ships and watching the skaters at Penn's Landing.

Had our first taste of Philly cheesesteaks at Campo's. I thought I'd find them gimmicky and overhyped, but they were actually very yummy. Turns out melted cheese, beef, and bread all taste pretty great together. 


Christmas Eve, we made Santa's favorite ginger cookies--coincidentally, also my favorite cookies to make around the holidays!--and laid out some carrots for the reindeer. I can't get over how grown up Honey Bee looks in this photo. Who is that little lady?!?!?!

Honey Bee has been talking for weeks about asking Santa for a dollhouse for Christmas. We wrote him a letter, told him at Macy's, and she's mentioned it to anyone who would listen to her since we've moved here just to cover all her bases. She was really wanting a particular dollhouse "with a frog and a dog" that we saw at Target, but I had a feeling that Santa could do better. Luckily for all, Santa subcontracted the work out to a very nice man from Craigslist, and this is what Honey Bee woke up to on Christmas morning: 

That face is just to die for. 

Mouse's favorite part of Christmas morning was the chocolate chip pancake brunch.

Dog loves opening presents too. 

And just in case you are thinking our holiday has been all sunshine and roses, I'm including a bit of "reality" too:

Both children crying at Costco. (Mouse looks like she's not, but there's definitely crying/whining going on in this picture. Not pictured: fellow shoppers who looked like they were judging me for laughing and snapping this picture instead of comforting my precious children.)

Crying at grocery store whilst shopping for Christmas dinner.

We hope you're all having a wonderful holiday season and that 2015 is a year full of health and happiness for you all!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Long Overdue Update

Obviously this is way overdue, and so many times I thought "I should be blogging about this," but haven't been able to find the time to sit down and write. Even now, I'm typing this as we watch Season 5 of The Wire on HBO On Demand (YEAH. THAT'S A THING!), surrounded by piles of laundry that need putting away.

But. We moved to Philly in early December. Crossing the border went without a hitch, and although the drive felt long with Huz in the U-Haul and me following behind with all the girlies in our van, we powered through and were so, so happy to arrive at our new home.

We arrived at our new place at around 9 PM, and we already had a very long to do list for the following day (going in person to get hydro hooked up, picking up internet stuff, groceries, etc.), so Huz and I unloaded the U-Haul the night we arrived. This photo is of Honey Bee and Mouse in the playpen, watching the iPad, and eating McDonald's while we unloaded the U-Haul. Rock star parenting.

Since arriving, our days have mainly consisted of unpacking, getting furniture, driving around to meet up with Craigslist sellers of various items, making phone calls and googling stuff to try and figure out the minutiae of moving to another country, and occasionally, doing something fun like taking Dog for a walk or the girls to a playground. (The day we went to IKEA also counted as "something fun," since Honey Bee is now big enough to play in "Smaland" and the ice creams are $1). 

So far, we really love our new house. There are a few fiddly things to sort out, like any new place you move into, but already it feels like we are "home". And even more, we really love our neighbourhood. We actually don't live in Philly itself, but are in an area called the Main Line, which is a group of suburbs west of the city. Its a really beautiful area and it seems like it will be a great place for the girls. Although not nearly as much as in Vancouver, there's still a fair bit of stuff within walking distance of our home, so although we're out in the suburbs, it doesn't feel too suburbany. 

Here are a few shots of the new home:

Setting up our tree. I really don't care for fake trees--since moving to Vancouver we've always had beautiful, real trees--but Huz pointed out that Mouse is particularly mischevious right now, and pulling the tree down is not outside the realm of the possible, and so suggested we go the artificial route, just this once. So we picked this little guy up at the thrift shop. The decorations are spending more time off the tree than on, but its still fun to have a tree, and without the risk of a 1 year old dumping a bunch of tree water on the hardwood floors.

Our living room, including new couch, purchased from Bob's Discount Furniture. 'Cause we're fancy like that. Note the puny little tree with the decorations all on the bottom two feet of the tree (and many on the floor beside. . .). 

Our kitchen. This was the night our couch was delivered, and we decided to celebrate by having a family movie night. We made popcorn with our awesome new popcorn maker--our housewarming gift from Mom and Dad, whose popcorn maker we used quite a bit to celebrate movie night while living in Ottawa). Popcorn and movies are two of Honey Bee's favourite things, and so she is pretty jazzed here. 

Of all of us, Dog seems to have had the hardest time adjusting. Honey Bee loves "our new house," Mouse seems mainly indifferent to the change, but Dog spent the better part of the first week feeling restless and ill. She's no longer sick, but she still seems a little lost at times. It probably doesn't help that her oversized pillow seems to get moved every time we acquire a new piece of furniture (tonight, she was displaced by our new kitchen table). 

A week after we arrived in Philly, I left Huz alone with the girls to fly back to Vancouver (!!!) for a very good friend's wedding. I was too busy crying my eyes out during her ceremony to take a decent picture, but it was an incredible wedding. The bride--and later, the groom--was part of our Wednesday Night Potluck group. This group of friends has been getting together for the past 7 years, just about every Wednesday night, to share an amazing meal, catch up on our lives, and bear witness to all of our major life events. So it was so beautiful for us all to share in our friends' wedding day, and as we often do, we celebrated this momentous occasion with much joy (and a fair bit of wine).

The night before the wedding, I also went out for a Girls' Night with the fantastic women from my book club. I could go on and on (and on and on and on) about the incredible book club I belonged to while we lived in Vancouver and the even more incredible women who belong to it, but for now, all I'll say is that I feel so blessed to have been a part of this wonderful group of kindred spirits, who have touched my life in innumerable ways.

“True friends are always together in spirit. (Anne Shirley)”
― L.M. MontgomeryAnne of Green Gables

Huz did an incredible job while I was away, searching out fun places to take the girls, going to the dog park, grocery shopping, assembling furniture, cooking, etc. I came home to a very tidy house, two happy little girls, and a rather exhausted husband. But I was so grateful for the opportunity to go to Vancouver. I treasured my time with our dear friends and the opportunity to remind myself that even though we no longer live there, Vancouver and our friends there will always be with us, in one way or another. 

One last highlight to report is that Mouse has started walking! She was taking the odd step or two at Mom and Dad's house, but in the last two weeks, she's upped her game and can now make it most of the way across a room before doing a bum drop. She's a squirrelly little baby, getting into everything and making sure we've done a good job of babyproofing the new place, but we enjoy watching her mischevious antics and her adorable little smirk.