Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Cedric is 5! {and 4 too}

I just spent a few hours looking through old posts of my kids growing up.
Doing so gave me a renewed sense of just how important documenting a few of our moments is.
I do love sharing but love reflecting even more.
So here we go, I'm documenting Cedric's 5th birthday.
Which was at the beginning of March. 
Not too bad, only 1.5 months late.
{But wait for it.}
 I was determined to dial back with the themed parties.
Then Cedric asked for a lego birthday and I just couldn't stop.
The cake was fun to make but the candle holders put it over the top if you ask me.
 Dollar store plates made for good lego blocks and dollar store cups were easily made into lego heads.
The kids got those lego storage heads for Christmas and they became the perfect snack bowls.
 Ced has long dreamed of an outdoor party which proves challenging with a March birthday in Edmonton.
We decided, however, to commit to the idea and ended up with a beautiful balmy winter day.
We loaded up the wheelbarrow and headed down to the creek to roast hotdogs.
We also took our piñata down.
We usually buy one at bulk barn but this year had a homemade lego block.
 I made it by gift wrapping a box that I had weakened a little and putting card stock circles on it.
I was a little worried that we'd end up having to rip it open but on the second round it literally exploded and sent the kids running and screaming to the candy, perfect.
 After lunch, the party was moved to our house for cake and more birthday fun.
 Cedric stated after that it was the best birthday ever.
But he said that last year too of course.
So here's what you've been waiting for, Cedric is 4!
{And was for a whole year, in which I neglected to share.}
Last year was hands down a Paw Patrol theme.
This one I did keep pretty simple with minimal decor {streamers and balloons not pictured}.
Dog bowls filled with puppy chow naturally.

And my kids have somehow decided that it's not a party without a piñata.
They are a nerve wracking part of each of our parties but who am I to deny this dangerous fun?
Happy birthday x2 buddy!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Fiona is 7! {Today!}

 {Oh but this post is also about her turning 6.}
I'm feeling super on top of it today.
I am posting about this amazing girl's birthday in a timely fashion.
{There is that little matter of needing to share last year as well though.}
This year there was no doubt that Fiona wanted a fairy birthday.
We've done the fairy theme before but she has a new-found love for fairies.
She recently built a fairy house you see, and has been getting occasional visits from her fairy pal named Fliona who leaves messages and a trail of fairy dust behind.
So of course her cake needed to be a fairy house.
This baby needed six layers to get the desired shape.
There was no shortage of cake for this party.

 Last time we did the fairy theme it was all about floral and vines.
We even made floral crowns.
This time we found other ways to make the room whimsical mostly involving twigs, yarn and beads.
Below is actually Fiona's hundred day project for school and served as our inspiration.
This hanging will stick around for a while.
For the "craft" the kids made wands/fairy sticks but many ended up making fishing rods.
I use the word craft loosely since I don't really direct them, just put out supplies and let them at it.
Ok now for catch up time.
Last year Fiona wanted a woodland theme so we dreamed up a sweet little cake.
This was take one.
We ended up cancelling Fiona's party since Daddy was stuck out of town in the hospital.
He ended up coming home 2 weeks later and missing the actual day.
In an attempt to keep it special we still had a celebration with family and close friends, all the while knowing we would reschedule once Jeff made it home.
So here's the real deal.
We turned this into a birthday/thank you to all who helped me stay sane while Jeff was gone.
The weather was fantastic {not like this year's snowstorm} so a BBQ felt just right.
 Happy birthday twice over my sweet babe.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Hicks in Istanbul {and a little Germany} Part 3

{Only 2 years late}
In preparation for another great vacation to come with some of our most fabulous friends I thought I'd grace this space with a photo dump.
It has been two years since we made the trip to Istanbul and somehow I didn't get around to sharing the rest of these photos.
Our second last day was a rainy one, perfect for a day {inside} the Grand Bazaar.
Grand bazaar bowls
 I came pretty close to having one of these beautiful lamps mailed home.
Grand Bazaar Lamps

Grand Bazaar spices
 We managed to exit with only turkish delight for family and friends, a spice grinder and these super fun turkish slippers.
Grand Bazaar slippers
 We had much nicer weather on our final day and decided to spend it on the water.
 These boats are set up to serve the most delicious fresh fish sandwiches.Istanbul fish sandwich
 Next we boarded a ferry to head to Asia.
Little did I know before this trip that the city of Istanbul spans both Europe and Asia.
Istanbul ferry
 We had a chill day on the other side of the water and even had ample park time to keep the littles happy.
kids on swing istanbul
 At the end of the day we just had to capture a set of these beautiful stairs.
You can see the exhaustion in these babes.
Istanbul rainbow stairs
 Before heading back to Canada we spent a few more days in Germany.
I was so happy to see these roadside tulips.
With spring almost here this photo is inspiring me to beautify our own ugly curb-side patch.
 The bonds these kids made was so fun, we really can't wait to see them again.
 I loved how the big girls insisted again on matching hair.
Just a little chat by the Rhine pictured here.
Rhine river
 And finally, on our trip home, our layover dreams came true.
Instead of sitting in the Frankfurt airport for 5 hours we took a train in to the city to see the sights. 

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.


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