Thursday, March 29, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

Play Doh

Just thought we'd share some pictures of Gracie playing this past weekend. She loves play-doh!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Steel City

Last weekend, Jason and I traveled to Pittsburgh. Jason went to a conference for the International Baccalaureate program (it's a program being offered at his middle school). Edmontonians know what I.B. is, but this is new to most Fresnans. The best way for me to describe the program in a nutshell is that it's global. If someone is a part of I.B. in Fresno, moves to Edmonton, and enrolls in an I.B. program there, it'll be the same methodology. It's designed to develop higher level thinking. Anyway, I went along because... well, why not? I'll probably never have an actual reason to visit Pittsburgh, so I decided to just go ahead and do it. Jason and I left on Friday morning. We got to the airport at 6am to discover that his school district (this is Fresno Unified for you) had booked the wrong date on his ticket. The agent would not let me transfer my ticket to Jason. He made Jason pay for another ticket (of course to be reimbursed), only to leave after me (since my flight was full), and make connections in 2 other cities. I left on the first flight, completely anxious because I didn't know if the hotel in Pittsburgh would let me check in since everything was reserved in Jason's name. I was fearful that I'd end up having to wait in Pittsburgh's airport for 7 hours until Jason's flight came in. Luckily, the person I sat next to on the Pittsburgh segment was also going to the same conference. She let me join her in the taxi (since her district was paying for it. If I had gone on my own, it would have been $40 to get to our hotel). The taxi driver was a maniac, and it was worse because it was rush hour. If you know me at all, you know that it doesn't take much for me to get nauseous. He wove in and out of traffic, and was constantly slamming on the brakes. When we got to the hotel, I was so glad they let me check in. I went right to bed and was miserably nauseous, waiting over 7 hours for Jason to arrive. I threw up minutes before he walked in the door at 1am. What a day!
The next morning, Jason went to his conference and I set off to explore Pittsburgh on my own. I spent a good portion of the day at the Heinz History Center, taking my time through all the exhibits. I particularly enjoyed learning about Pittsburgh's history, seeing Heinz ketchup bottles and their interesting labels (imagine what a Heinz ketchup label looks like in Korea!), a glass exhibit (I'm completely fascinated by glass), the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum (I was hoping to see a lot more about hockey- it was disappointing), and the Smithsonian Institute's "First Ladies" exhibit (this was packed with people). When Jason and I met up later in the day, we walked in the rain to get to Fort Pitt Museum. We got there with only an hour left- one of the workers guided us around and gave us an in-depth lesson. It was so fascinating. Just a few weeks ago, I had taught my 5th graders about the French and Indian War- now I was learning detailed information about it! There's so much history in Pittsburgh- we both loved that! Next, we walked to the Strip District for dinner, an area known for its eclectic mix of shops. On Sunday morning, Jason once again headed off to his conference and I set off to explore Pittburgh's downtown on foot. I did so much walking! The city has done a good job of preserving its buildings. When Jason was finished for the day, we took the subway to Station Square, across the river. We looked through some shops, and then walked along the river to get to Duquesne Incline. It went up Mount Washington and provided awesome views of downtown. I was so tired from all of my walking that we called for a cab when we got to the top. The cab took us to the South Side, an area known for its many restaurants (it reminded me of Edmonton's Whyte Ave.). We found this small Greek restaurant that served gyros (donairs). Yum! We haven't found any place that sells great gyros in Fresno... (Let us know if there's a good place you know of). To get back to our hotel, we took a bus. The next day, while Jason was at his conference, I took a taxi to the University of Pittsburgh to see the Cathedral of Learning. It's beautiful- built in the 1920's, is designed in a gothic style, looks like a European cathedral, is over 40 stories tall, but is actually full of classrooms. Some of the classrooms have been completely redesigned to reflect different cultures. They are called the Nationality Rooms and I must have seen over 20 cultures, including Sweden, Austrian, German, African, Indian, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Greek, etc. It was so cool! Jason decided to leave his conference early to join me. From there, we walked to Heinz Chapel (lots of things are named for the Heinz family in Pittsburgh). Unfortunately, the chapel was created only as a memorial to some Heinz family members, not really as a church. Jason and I walked on Craig Street where we found Lulu's, a noodle restaurant (similar to Edmonton's Oodle Noodle). We're bummed that Fresno doesn't have this type of restaurant either. (I've often told Jason that if I wanted to open up a restaurant, this is the kind I'd want). After lunch, we took the bus back to the hotel to get our bags, and headed for the airport. Thankfully, the trip home was uneventful.
I hope you've enjoyed reading about our experiences in Pittsburgh! We had an awesome time- we both loved that city and are glad we had the chance to visit it. There were so many things about it that reminded me of Edmonton... Can't wait to visit "home" this summer!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Day Trip to San Francisco

We were able to do a quick getaway to San Francisco this past Saturday with Don and Lavonne. We are so grateful for our friends, the Lees, and the Sieberts, for allowing Grace to join them for the day!
The first stop we made was at Emeryville's IKEA. I love that store! We had so much planned for the day that we skipped the showrooms, and went straight for the goods. Afterwards, we went to Pier 39 for lunch. Jason and I have visited San Francisco so many times, in particular, Fisherman's Wharf, yet we had never actually been on the pier. We stopped by the candy store for some saltwater taffy, went to see the sea lions, and then had lunch on the pier.
From there, we walked to Ghiradelli Square for dessert. Yum!
The rest of the afternoon was spent at the Exploratorium. Don and Lavonne had never been there. It was fun, being little kids again, exploring, and playing around. We only wanted to go there to have fun, but left actually feeling like we "learned."
After it closed, we went for a walk on the grounds.
The Palace of Fine Arts is amazing. We found a bench and just sat- it felt so peaceful. This was the perfect way to end our visit with Don and Lavonne. They're heading off to Pismo Beach for one more week of relaxation before heading back up to the "Great White North." We truly are grateful for such wonderful friends, and already miss them greatly!