Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Hicks in Istanbul Part 2

For our second day in this bustling city we headed back to Sultanahmet square to take in Topkapi Palace.
The grounds were a breath of fresh air with a large lawn area and towering trees.
 There was detail in everything, even the walkways.
Our girls could have played in this meadow of clover for hours.
We have learned that sometimes travel with kids means taking your time and giving them a chance to run.
We eventually did convince them that a palace would probably also be pretty fun.
 I came out of this day with hundreds of pictures, there was beauty at every turn. 
Some of it seemed opulent like this ceiling.
 And others felt clean and simple like these mini skylights.
 When going through the pictures I found I was more drawn to the simple, even run down, aspects of this centuries old building.
I wouldn't say this surprised me as that usually seems to be my taste but at the time I don't know that I realized it.
I was awed by the intricate designs and over the top marble and tile but now find it falling short so am sharing very little of it.
I find that many europeans live with less than perfect architecture.  
Coming from a place where building code is strict and homes are built on sweeping expanses of land to fairly unoriginal specs, I find this refreshing.
It could, however, be that I feel this way to excuse my own home's imperfections.
Here is a little taste of that marble.
I wasn't originally going to share this picture since it shows my sweet Fiona mid meltdown.
"I don't want our picture by the tap, I want it on the stairs!" she cried.
Living in close quarters can make for a disagreement or two but it quickly resolved.
And yes Fiona did eventually get that picture on the stairs but it was much less interesting.
 And just look at this handsome boy sucking on his bottom lip.
This is Cedric's soothing method of choice.
I see braces in our future.
 In all our travels this is the first time we had the whole gang in a photo.
Next time maybe we'll get one with the whole gang smiling and looking at the camera.
 From Topkapi we headed to the Blue Mosque, first getting a glimpse of it out the window.
 It broke my heart to hear of the recent attack in this area.
 We felt very safe here and spent some time walking around the area.
I have been asked since if we would have gone to Istanbul had the attack happened prior to our visit.
I must say that when in Istanbul I had moments of doubt and my inner fear bubbled up time and again.
I try to appreciate my fear as a mechanism to keep me alert but wouldn't want it to rob me of such a beautiful experience.
So in the end the answer is yes, we would absolutely have gone.
 The Blue Mosque was beautiful of course but what sticks out in my mind about it was the glimpse at the Muslim rituals of prayer.
There were taps lined up outside for the ritual of purification.
We were also required to remove our shoes due to their retention of impurities.
 We were constantly aware of the 5 prayer times as we heard to call throughout the day.
The direction of prayer was made obvious since mosques had been built or retrofitted to face Mecca.
 Another ritual we were able to participate in was covering.
Men are required to cover from their navel to knee so no challenge there.
Women on the other hand are required to cover all but their face and hands.
Tourists were held to slightly different standards but were still given a head covering if needed upon entering.
They also had long wraps for those with short skirts or tight pants.
Children were excluded from the rule but Fiona was eager to participate.
I actually found that the kids were excited by the unfamiliar.
Quite different from at home where if I cut their sandwich at the wrong angle you'd think a fairy died.
Travel seems to bring out some adventure and a little bit of malleability in them.
Which begs the question, why have we not booked a trip yet this year?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Hicks in Istanbul Part 1

It's the time of year when we start to daydream about getting out of town.
Christmas is such a magical time and we had a great one.
We feel pretty thankful to have had a white Christmas since most of our friends and family outside of Alberta did not this year.
Edmonton has some amazing winter attractions going on this year. 
We can't wait to check out the Freezeway, Ice Castle and even just ski and skate right here in our neighbourhood.
Having said that we still love to have a trip on the horizon, a little escape waiting for us.
Well, all this has got me thinking of last year's getaway to Istanbul (via Düsseldorf) with the Eichelbergers that I have yet to share.

We got into Istanbul in the evening and walked through the narrow cobblestone streets with four kids, two strollers and all our luggage.
Good thing we pack light.
No doubt that it was worth it for our beautiful apartment with this view.
I just love these guys.
Day one started out with our usual graffiti photo shoot.
New and improved with our fourth member, Adeline.
Next time we'll get her in on the action shot too.
These kids were so happy to see each other and fell right into comfortable play (and, of course, bickering).
Next we got into the heart of Istanbul and loaded up with our first round of Turkish Delight and baklava.
We ate more of these beautiful treats than I care to admit.
We knew there were at least 5 main attractions that we wanted to see but with kids we had to have our strategy down.
Our recipe for success seemed to be a lazy morning, breakfast in, out by 10 or 11, one site/activity, lunch out, second site/activity, back to the apartment, guys go grocery shopping, dinner in, kids to bed, wine.
Something for everyone right?
On day one our morning activity was figuring out transport and wandering (you always need a little wandering in a new city).
So with one site left to see we went to the top of our list and made our way to Hagia Sophia (aka Aya Sofia).
We had been warned that from the outside this almost 1500 year old structure was underwhelming.
I disagreed, seeing beauty immediately.
I understood the statement though when we did enter.
You had the feeling of walking into a different building.
There was so much to take in, all of it over the top.
And then there's these sweeties, a whole other level of beauty.
And this handsome boy.
It was here that we first experienced the fascination that other travellers had with our kids.
Coming from a country where multiculturalism is taken for granted we were not expecting that their blond heads would attract so much attention.
For the most part the kids loved it but this first experience was a little startling.
I mean if a group of 10-20 tourists started furiously snapping pictures of me I would also be taken aback.
As our trip progressed we were able to embrace this cultural difference. 
I was particularly touched when young men turned to mush and would do anything for a smile and high five from our littles.
Back to Hagia Sophia though.
I honestly couldn't capture it all, eventually I stopped taking pictures because documenting it all was impossible.
There was much restoration work going on as 1500 years tends to take it's toll.
Hopefully that means this gorgeous structure will be around much longer than it already has.
I would definitely suggest putting Istanbul on your bucket list if it isn't already there.
As I said this was only day one of five, I will attempt to share the rest in a timely manner.
Who am I kidding though, we made this trip in March 2015.
Yep, 10 months ago, nothing timely about that.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Welcome Baby Frankie

I'm home with a pukey Cedric today so have a little unexpected blogging time in between laundry and Konmari'ing our dressers.
It doesn't get much more glamorous than that folks.

Our dear friends added a fourth to their family in June.
And she is a doll.
We had a situation with a proud Auntie here from England for a short time period so ended up throwing together this party in 8 short days.
Thank goodness the kids were in yoga camp.
 In an hour at Fabricland I acquired most of the decorations.
These fabric covered balloons hung with fishing line added some whimsy to our plum tree.
 Never underestimate the power of ripped fabric strips and twine.
I also gave my Gram's tea cart a real workout as the drink station.
We kept it simple with some pink lemonade punch and lemon water.
I can take credit for about 10% of the food.
My co-host Grandma Shirley was amazing at putting this spread together.
I did, however, bake that cake for the sole purpose of using that Hello World cake topper from Confetti & Sparkle Shop.
 Ribbon and fabric served as drink identifiers but also ended up looking very sweet.

 I have no pictures of Mama and Mom but found this one of Prince Charlie in his shower throne.
 We had a second food table with quick grab kids food which gave me an excuse to hang these lace curtains that I purged from the cabin.
 You always need bike parking right?
Instead of a guest book we had everyone write a message on a strip of fabric (I had ironed a small piece of fusible interfacing on each for this purpose).  
Afterwards we tied them all on a stick and the resulting art piece is now displayed over Frankie's crib.
The guest of honour was the sweetest little thing through the whole party.
And has been ever since.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Life Update

I have so much to say about these two amazing creatures.
Of course when I finally have a minute to write, much of it has left my head.
Worth a try though so here we go.
 One thing I will never forget is this conversation.
Me: {Reading an article about a woman who is dying of cancer and has two young children with tears streaming down my face.}
Fiona: "You ok Mommy?"
Me: "You know Mommy loves you guys so much right?"
Fiona: "We know Mommy."
Me: " And you know that Mommy would do anything for you and your brother right?"
Me: "If there was anything I could do that would make your lives better I would do it, ok?"
Fiona: {Pause} "You're doing it Mommy."
 As we prepare ourselves Fiona for kindergarten I'm noticing some pretty big bravery.
The babe that I wasn't sure would be ready I now have no doubts about.
Cedric on the other hand is a huge personality contained in a tiny {yes still} body.
He has an obsession with underwear and has been known to change into a pair of his playdate host's undies from time to time.
He loves singing along to Annie.
He calls all cranes "Cranky" from Thomas the Train.
As in "Whoa Mommy look at that big Cranky!"
He will often approach me and say "Twoo {true} wuv's {love's} kiss" and plant a big smooch.
Him and Bunbuns are still semi-attached and can usually be found nose to nose.
He has a wicked sweet tooth.
He has also had two black teeth from his many falls.  
Did you know teeth can fade back to white? You do now.
His nicknames are Ced, Cedced, Mr. Ced, Ceds and Super Dave.
The latter is probably the most fitting.
The lake has given us some great moments as always.
Though we wish there could be more of them.
It seems wrong that the summer is half gone.
 We still have the cabin listed as we're hoping to become lake neighbours with our besties.
This summer we watched them welcome another member to their family {more on that later, no promises on a timeline}.
Our desire to share those lake memories became even more apparent.
Our Alberta prairie day trips to see them will have to do the trick for now.
And they are.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Last Weekend in Pictures {and some words, but mostly pictures}

School of Alberta Ballet Edmonton Studios
 Pride parade with some of my favourite people including this one in the womb (can't wait to meet this one Kerry).
Pride Edmonton 2015
 We paraded down Whyte Ave into the heart of Old Strathcona.
I've always loved Pride but pride in our neighbourhood was the icing on that cake.
Pride Edmonton 2015
 Please keep these rainbow cross walks Edmonton, they're too good.
{If you think so too you should sign this petition.}
Pride Edmonton 2015
Immediately after this pic was taken we raced home and got these two off on a road trip with the grandparents.
After that we had beers with friends then dinner with friends then more beers with friends.
And even after all those beers we woke up for a great brunch date at Bluechair Cafe.
If you live in Edmonton and haven't been it's a must.
The weekend delivered the perfect balance of time to rediscover why we like each other so much and time to miss the kids.
And of course be reminded why we like them so much.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Fiona's Five" a Fairy Fête

It's happened.
I have a five year old.
And she's fabulous.
But you already knew that.
Fairy Party
Fiona decided on a fairy theme after a heart to heart discussion about too much of a good thing.
We still love you Frozen but I just can't anymore.

I may have added a little "woodland" to the fairy mostly so I could grab 90% of the decorations on a cabin nature walk.
Some ripped fabric added some whimsy to this branch.
This ended up being one of my favourite decorations and has gained a permanent spot in Fiona's room.
Fairy Party
 These pre-bud willows will also take up permanent residence in our home.
{Sans pink flowers.}
Fairy Party
 Fiona couldn't even handle this cake garland.
As I was making it she showered me with positive reinforcement.
Fairy Party
We did flower crowns and woodland elf hats.
I found this foam covered gardening wire at Dollarama and wrapped it around itself to create places to stick flowers.
The flowers and ribbon were also all Dollarama.
After the girls were done decorating I went over the ends with flower tape to prevent my-flower-crown-is-falling-apart meltdowns and secure the sharp wire bits.
They all looked precious and had fun making them but I may have enjoyed it even more.
This craft will have to make a comeback.
Fairy Party
 Flower garlands...
Fairy Party
 And mossy wood hanging from the light fixture.
Fairy Party
 Our picture frames were filled with pink and purple fairies.
I also changed up the chalkboard but neglected to photograph that with the real camera.
I refer you to Instagram if you just can't handle not seeing it.
Fairy Party
 Make a wish baby.
Fairy Party
 There are the little hats I mentioned before.
They took approximately 1 minute each to sew on the machine with little pre-cut felt pieces.
Fairy Party
 As always we had so much fun decorating and preparing but our fabulous friends make the magic.
Thanks to all who celebrated with us.


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