Sunday, October 12, 2014

more summer adventures

Fall may be in the air, but I am still reliving some of our wonderful summer memories. It's hard to believe everything we jammed into the girls' summer break. There was never a dull moment. Soon after returning from our first summer getaway to California we all packed our suitcases again to prepare for Toronto. This was going to be the first trip out of the country for Olivia and Cecilia, and this time we were traveling by car. It was a long, long day in the car before we arrived at our apartment in the heart of downtown Toronto.

The great thing about staying in the middle of downtown is that there is so much to do in walking distance. We spent our first day just exploring the city. We walked the waterfront and enjoyed lunch on Lake Ontario. The kids played while we explored a flea market and the kids got to take a ride on a miniature train.

Each morning we would get up and explore a different part of the city. One of my favorite experiences was leisurely walking through Chinatown. The streets were lined with authentic goods and yummy foods, and just one delicious Chinese restaurant after another. I think one of our best dinners during our trip was at one of the little eateries in Chinatown. We also spent time exploring Greektown and Little Italy villages, with food equally as delicious!

To say the food was to die for is simply an understatement. Second best meal of the trip was in Little Italy, and I think Cece would agree. The messy face says it all. As full as we all were we could not leave Little Italy without divulging in some gelato. Again...the face says it all. Simply delicious! Exploring all of the ethnic parts of downtown Toronto was by far the most interesting part of our trip and visiting these little communities was a neat cultural experience for the kids too!

One of Toronto's biggest attractions is the CN Tower. It is considered the tallest building in the world, so of course we had to take a trip to the observation deck. The top of the tower is a needle, so you are not able to get all the way to the top, but we sure were up high. It was super chilly and windy up there, but it was neat to get a 360 degree view of the city so high off the ground. Touring the tower was a very cool experience, but seeing it all lit up at night was even more impressive.

Our average day in Toronto would consist of lots of walking...exploring different parts of the city on the way to said destination for the day. We would often stop for a nice photo front of a nice fountain, a cool statue or the hockey hall of fame.

Because the kids were with us many of our activities centered around our trip to a small animal farm in the middle of the city. This free public animal park was delightful and fun for the girls to explore.

One of the must-sees while visiting Toronto (according to every tourist website) is the St. Lawrence Market. This multi-level market consists of more fresh-food, produce and flowers than one could possible imagine. The smells, the colors and eclectic mix of was amazing!

After spending many days walking around the city we decided to venture to a small zoo in a small city outside of Toronto. It was a bit of a drive, but we wanted to do something for the girls since we had them walking all over the city most everyday. This little zoo was simple, but cute. There were some interesting animals for the girls to see and some fun things to explore.

They were most excited about the train ride...the second one of our trip. I mean, who doesn't love a miniature train? And who doesn't love a splash pad? The zoo had a wonderful water area for kids, and the girls never miss the opportunity to enjoy a splash pad to the fullest! It was fun to take a little road trip and spend some time outside of the city for the day.

If you had to ask the girls what their favorite part of the trip was they would probably tell you it was our trip to the Ripley's Aquarium. I just might have to agree with them too. The aquarium is a one of the biggest attractions in downtown Toronto, and rightly so. It was amazing!

We decided to go at night. The crowds were lighter and admission was, win! So, we had dinner and made it a late night at the aquarium. The girls were able to get up close and personal with so many different types of sea life. It was definitely one of the highlights of our visit to Toronto.

On our last night in Toronto Todd and I enjoyed an evening out while taking in a Blue Jays game. What a cool stadium and literally just down the street from where we were staying. It was fun to just relax and enjoy a ball game. Listening to the fan sitting in front of us heckle the outfielder most of the night was pretty entertaining too.

Our first visit to Canada was a blast! We explored the city to the fullest, taking in all of the sights and ingesting a ton of great food. Most importantly, the girls had a great time. Hopefully those passports will get more use before they expire.

Once returning to the States it was time to get back into our summer activities. Olivia gets a break from her dance classes during the summer months, but I found her a drop-in ballet class at another dance studio in town to keep her busy. It was different from the ballet she is used to...more disciplined, but she enjoyed it. One week I was able to observe and I was so impressed by how much her technique had improved. Such a prima ballerina!

When she wasn't taking ballet classes, or hanging out at the pool, Olivia was on the soccer field. She had an opportunity to play in her first little soccer tournament with the kids she played with on a recreational league throughout the summer. Her team was by far the youngest out there and they didn't win, but they sure enjoyed themselves.

Back in the Spring Olivia tried out for a travel soccer team. We were thrilled to find out that she and her other little soccer pals all made the team. Soon after summer soccer wrapped up Olivia started practicing with her new team. Moving from recreational to competitive play was a big change for the girls but they all seemed up for the challenge. Within weeks of the first practice the girls were thrown into their first tournament. We were warned that the first year was going to be tough for them. Being the youngest team with little experience means wins are rare. It's the experience they need to focus on as they get used to competitive play.

It was a busy weekend of games and the girls played their hearts out. They walked away with one win out of the four games, but they were not disappointed. They were proud of how hard they played and so were we. It was an eye opening experience for me realizing that I was officially a "soccer mom". I was so nervous for the girls as they fought through each game. It was nerve racking and exciting at the same time. Many more travel games ahead for these girls!

Cece's summer was filled with exciting moments transitioning out of a crib into a big girl bed. With multiple trips over the summer that involved sleeping in regular beds, we decided it was the perfect time to remove the front of her crib and starting sleeping like a big girl. She transitioned beautifully and seems to enjoy having the freedom of getting out of her bed once she wakes in the morning. When greeting her in the mornings I often find her sitting with books and multiple stuffed animals strewn all over.

We kept the girls busy over the summer, but there was downtime too. Many of our weekends were spent just lounging by the pool. Olivia's social calendar was by far the fullest, often dashing off for play dates with friends. Olivia has a ton of wonderful little friends, but her friend Aleah is one of her closest. They had many adventures over the summer. There is nothing better than watching your child develop that type of friendship that you just know will last a lifetime.

But summer fun must come to an end. The first day of school was upon us and the girls were excited to get back in the swing of things...well Olivia was anyway.

It was a rough start for Cecilia. The morning went great. We eased right back into our school morning routine with no trouble. But then it was time for 1st day of school pictures. Cece was obviously not in the mood to have her photo taken, but that did not stop me from taking them.

Her mood improved during the drive to school and I even got big smiles out front, before going in. Things fell apart once we approached Cece's new classroom. She did not want me to leave her and asked if she could go back to the "baby class". I left her in tears but was assured that the crying did not last long. It took her a few weeks but she eventually became comfortable with her new classroom. Almost 3 months in and both girls are having a great school year!

Summer was a blast and flew by in a blink of an eye. Not sure we could have squeezed much more in. I miss the days by the pool, but I sure am loving Fall. Changing leaves, picking apples, Halloween...we've got lots to do!