This is a snowy, wet, windy weekend in the Lower Mainland. Thankfully, that wasn't the case just last weekend when we hosted Adrian and Kathleen, Kiera and Thea at our house for a whirlwind weekend of good times under a fabulous sunny sky. But before I get to that, I must back up and tell you how it all started in the first place....
When Hannah was 18 months old our little family moved across the city to a quiet little Crescent in St. Vital. We unpacked our stuff and set up our lives and slowly began to observe the life and people around us. One day, little Hannah and I were walking around the yard when I noticed a woman on a blanket underneath an apple tree just around the corner from our house. On the blanket with her sat two little ones, side by side. I mustered up my courage, held Hannah's hand and walked over to the blanket to introduce myself and find out who my neighbors were.
Turns out, those two little ones were adorable chubby cheeked twins named Kiera and Thea who were nearly a year old. Their mom, Kathleen, was wearing a CBC t-shirt, so I had a good vibe about her right away. They had just moved into the neighborhood too. We chatted a bit and would stop and talk outside on the front lawn now and then. A few weeks later we were introduced to Kathleen's husband Adrian. After a while we made plans to get together with our girls. We had lots to talk about. We still do. I'm still finding out who my neighbors are!
It's an incredible gift to have neighbors turn into friends. Not just for Mike and me, but for our girls too. Truth be told, Adrian and Kathleen and the girls seem more like family to us than simply friends. Things are easy with them. When they're at our house, Adrian grabs a beer from the fridge, and pours it into a coffee mug because all of our glasses are dirty. And I'm ok with that. If that doesn't prove my point, then I don't know what would.
There is an ease to being together that is rooted in the amount of time we've spent together - but also things we care about.... music, people, politics, our girls, running, reading, and good food. It constantly amazes me that this family fell into our lap and has stuck around to play such a significant part in our lives.
This past summer, when our girls and Kiera and Thea were in the midst of a photo shoot for a scrapbook they were creating, Thea coined the phrase "Some say Friends, We say Sisters" to epitomize the relationship they all share. I thought it was brilliant. You see, these girls really related to each other that way. Sasha is the big winner because she got two extra doting big sisters in her life that treat her like a queen. When we knew we were moving to Vancouver for this year, it was tough to break up the band of five girls from the Crescent. I made some "Some say Friends, We say Sisters" shirts for each of them to mark the significance of their relationship.
As soon as we announced our departure, Adrian and Kathleen piped up about visiting us. It was never a question, they said. And so, plans were made and dates were set and we all anticipated a whirlwind visit from the Wortley's. With much excitement and anticipation it finally happened last weekend...
The crew arrived late on Wednesday night after a bumpy flight and a drive out to Burnaby. We all stayed up to welcome them - even Sasha! By the time all was said and done, we tucked the girls in at midnight and looked forward to a great time together.
On Thursday morning, Sasha, Ellie and Hannah went to school for the morning. Each of them had something special happening in their classrooms that they couldn't miss. This gave me lots of time to ask Kiera and Thea one million questions and catch up on the past few months. Adrian wasted no time and threw on his running shoes and gear first thing in the morning, as is his passion. Kathleen and the girls and I walked to school to get the girls and take a little tour of the school. We then walked home in the pelting cold rain. Welcome to BC.
After some chatting, the girls settled in for the beginning of their marathon of "Full House". Yes. That "Full House". The one with John Stamos and his mullet. Between us and the Wortley's we own four seasons of the show and it is HUGE in the hearts of these girls. It had been a long while since they'd watched together and if they had sat on the couch the entire time and worked their way through the episodes, the trip would have met their expectations.
Mike got home early and we drove down Hastings to "Anton's". "Anton's" is an Italian restaurant that serves simple food and huge portions. It's a bit of a legendary place in these parts. On any given night you will find a line-up of people waiting to get into the restaurant. The wait is sometimes well over an hour to get in and people will happily stand outside in the rain or the heat waiting for their chance to order an enormous entree. How enormous, you ask? Well, to feed 9 of us that night, we ordered salad and 4 dishes. And there were so many leftovers we had another whole supper of leftovers out of it. They actually give you a token pen if you manage to finish your plate of pasta alone.
We were greeted by a beautiful sunny day on Friday and a forecast that was calling for sun for the rest of the weekend. It was an extra special morning because it was Sasha's birthday. After breakfast and a present, we were off to celebrate by spending the morning at the Aquarium. We've been to the Vancouver Aquarium many times by now and there is always something new to see. We knew Kiera and Thea would love it.
As we were walking out of the "4-D" movie, the craziest thing happened. I spotted Hannah's best friend's little sister Abby and her dad Chris FROM WINNIPEG in the Aquarium. I promptly called their names and we laughed at the chances of running into each other in a city of 3 million people. Turns out they were in Vancouver for a special father-daughter weekend. We had a little chat, a few pictures, then sent them off for their weekend of fun. As we walked back to Adrian and Kathleen, things got even crazier. Adrian asked what the dad's name was. After I told him he asked for his wife's name. After that he announced that Chris and Tiffany were their neighbors on Lipton Street in Winnipeg just before Kiera and Thea were born. Only in Winnipeg.....
"Some say Friends, We say Sisters"
Wearing it loud and proud.
After a full morning we were off to Lonsdale Quay for lunch. The blue sky was brilliant, and after lunch the girls had a ball running around, playing tag and loving being together.
Since we were in North Vancouver, we decided to end the day of activity at the "Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge". It was quiet with hardly any people around. A perfect way to end Sasha's birthday activities. We BBQ'd pork tenderloin for supper and had birthday cake and presents for Sasha. Adrian's favourite gift that she opened was her bouncing "Baby ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE". He says it that way. Many times a day.
Saturday morning was a big one for Mike. He's been sidelined from running for many months due to Achilles Tendinitis. This has been a mentally and physically painful time for Mike. He loves running. It gives him life and perspective. The timing of his recovery could not have been better as Mike had been looking forward to doing some trail running with his running buddy Adrian more than anything else. The two of them headed up to Burnaby Mountain early and got a great run in to start the day. I know he wouldn't have chosen anyone different than Adrian to share his first run "back" with.
After pumpkin pancakes we headed back to North Van to the Cleveland Dam to go on a hike. Again, it was beautiful and sunny and green.
Adrian and Sasha were getting their groove on and she was choosing to hang back with him on parts of the walk. It might have something to do with the way she laughs uproariously when he says "Baby ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE" in his sinister and deranged kind of way.
After Cleveland Dam we headed up to Grouse Mountain and took the Gondola up to check out the view....
.... it did not disappoint.
It still feels so strange to take a gondola up to play in the snow, and then take the four minute ride down to green grass and warm weather again.
I still think the mountain views are spectacular every single day. I don't think I'd ever tire of them.
We left the girls for supper and the evening (oh the great joy of having an eleven year old in the house) and the four of us adults went out to Bombay Bhel for a delicious Indian feast. When we returned the girls were watching, (you guessed it) "Full House". All was well and we were tired and full and ready for another day of action on Sunday.
Sunday was our urban themed day. We took the Sky Train downtown to the Burrard Station and then walked to Coal Harbour.
Adrian was feeling very "big city" that day - looking all debonair as he rode the train.
As we were walking back to the train station there was a large area of downtown roped off for the shooting of the T.V. show "Fringe". We took our chance to pose all New York like with an NYC taxi.
We ended the day with a stroll down Commercial Drive.
We honestly couldn't believe our time together was going so fast. Monday was our last day. We spent the morning at Granville Island where the girls all said they ate the best pizza of their lives. Let me tell you, these girls are cheese pizza aficionados. If they tell you it's the best, it is.
We then split up with Adrian and the girls going swimming for the afternoon and Kathleen and I heading to IKEA to do a little shopping.
We had planned all along to take the Wortley's out to our favorite BBQ place for our last supper together. When I called to make a reservation for nine and the message said "closed Mondays" I was so disappointed. Adrian likes his BBQ. He was disappointed too. Since the girls had been looking forward to burgers we BBQ'd ourselves that night and capped off the evening with gelato.
The next morning it was back to reality. Mike headed downtown to work and I got the girls up and ready for school. We said goodbye as we left that morning - hardly believing that our "Robertson Crescent Reunion" holiday together was over.
It really was as great as I just made it sound.