Sunday, August 11, 2013

Edmonton 2013

Every summer, it's a given that our family visits Edmonton.  However, this past trip was the shortest time we've spent there!  Since it was so short, I'm going to try to sum it up with one post.

Travel to Edmonton
Traveling to Edmonton was horrible this year!  Our Fresno flight was delayed three times, and as a result, we had to run from one side of the San Francisco airport to get to the other side to catch our Edmonton flight.  They had already closed the gate by the time we arrived, out of breath and exhausted.  "Luckily" for us, the Edmonton plane had to be delayed as the crew checked the plane's tire, so we were allowed to board.  When we finally arrived in Edmonton, we found out that our luggage was no where to be found (despite us talking to the luggage handlers in SFO who said they were putting our luggage on the plane).  It would take 30 hours before we'd see our luggage.  By the time we arrived at my sister's place, it was 1am.  What a start...

Taste of Edmonton
Despite feeling icky and gross due to not having our luggage (we did get some basic hygiene items to hold us over), we still went out the next day.  I know that some might say it's overpriced, and yes, it's crowded... But I still look forward to a Taste of Edmonton whenever we visit. Most unique dish I tried was quail- tastes like chicken, lol.  I could only take one bite because I kept thinking of how cute they are.
Our kids have never been mini-golfing, so when my brother and sis-in-law flew up from Calgary to visit for the day, we took our kids for their first experience.  I just want it noted that Jason beat me by only one stroke!  HAHA! The kids had so much fun that my sister took them again later in the week.

Family Dinner
Since my brother and I don't live in Edmonton, it is rare when my whole family can have dinner together.  It is always a Chinese feast!
The highlight of the meal was the Peking Duck, where the duck is prepared in three different ways.  De-lish! 
My "Sisters"
Since childhood and for always... These girls have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I am so deeply grateful for them and the bond that we have despite the distance.  We had such a great time together- we laughed so hard (we could barely take this picture without cracking up!)
the Tong and Tran sisters- clockwise: me, Thao, Binh, Linda, Sarah

My "sister," Binh's husband, Neil, preached at Beulah Alliance Church while we were there.  He shared about their infertility journey and the process of IVF.  We were so happy to be there to show our support.  I broke my "6 month rule" of not holding newborns!  I held Binh and Thao's babies since this will be the only time I see them until next summer.  We also celebrated my "nephew's" 4th birthday.
 Here I am with Taylor (Thao and Peter's daughter)
Here I am with Zachary (Binh and Neil's son)
Here's Jeremy with Ethan, who is four (and not a baby anymore! This is Linda and Ethan's son)

West Edmonton Mall's World Waterpark
Every year, we seek out something new to do in Edmonton as a family.  Our kids have both proven themselves to be fish, so this year, we took them to the World Waterpark.  It is the world's largest indoor waterpark with 17 slides and play features.
Even I went on some waterslides (shocker, I know)!  Grace also had her first experience on a zipline.  She loved it (I can't get the video to load on here)!  We had a very fun visit to the waterpark and will definitely visit again.  We'll wait a few years so Jeremy can go on more slides.
Sea Life Caverns
I took the kids to Sea Life Caverns in West Edmonton Mall.  I've always wondered about it, and at least now I can say that we visited it.  There wasn't a whole lot there- penguins, stingrays, a sea turtle, sharks, fish...  It's a cute area, but definitely not worth what we paid to visit.
 Memory Lane
I took a walk down memory lane and took our kids with me.  
 Here's my elementary school! We walked around it and peeked in the windows.

 The rain ponchos remind me of my years as a crossing guard (it was a big deal- I almost got to represent Edmonton at a leadership conference in Ottawa for crossing guards).  Also, in this picture, you can see the shoe racks- I distinctly remember having indoor and outdoor shoes! Every class had an assigned rack.  Every time you entered the school, you had to take off your outdoor shoes, put them on the rack, and put on your indoor shoes.  This is because of Edmonton's weather...  I can not imagine that happening here in Fresno!  Shoes would definitely go missing!
Every school has an open playground and ice rink.  I was telling our kids about getting to bring ice skates to school for recess time.  I can't imagine that happening anymore... There are no gates around the schools and playgrounds.  In Fresno, schools lock up their grounds when school's not in session, including the playgrounds.  We love getting to try all kinds of parks when we're in Edmonton.  (I have to add that even the playground equipment is different- I could see people suing for all kinds of things if the same types of equipment were here in Fresno).
 Since my mom worked at this daycare center for years, I went here for lunch and afterschool until I was in grade 6! (another difference- kids can leave school for lunch)
Here's my childhood home!

Auntie Dates
My sister always has an Auntie Date with our kids.  She lets them choose how they want to spend their special time with her.  Jeremy may be 5, but he still loves stuffed animals.  He chose to go to Build A Bear and got "Thunder."

Grace chose to go paint ceramics at Crankpots.

Such wonderful and special memories with their Di Dao!

Ropes Course
Grace tried the ropes course at West Edmonton Mall last year and couldn't wait to do it again this year.  Jeremy was tall enough to try this year, so we let both of them do the course. 

Alley Kat Brewery
For years now, Jason has wanted to take a beer tour of an Edmonton brewery.  We finally did it this year!  We got to have a tour of Alley Kat and then beer-tasted afterwards.  My favorites were the fruity ones, of course- ApriKat (hint of apricot), and Summer Squeeze (hint of grapefruit).  Jason enjoyed the Alley Kat Amber Ale and Charlie Flint's Lager.

So I spend a lot of time visiting my favorite places when we're in Edmonton...
 This is my fave Vietnamese dish called, Bun Bo Hue (spicy noodle soup). I haven't found a good place to get it in Fresno, so it's truly savored when I get to have it in Edmonton.
 I used to have bubble tea often when we visited Edmonton in the summer, but now that we can get good ones here in Fresno, I didn't go crazy this year.

I have a new favorite to add to my "must-do" list for next summer:  Duchess Bake Shop.  I got to have breakfast there with my college friends, Suzan and Minna (I haven't seen her since our wedding!)

 Had my first macarons!
Travel back to Fresno
On our way back, we woke up at 3am to make sure we gave ourselves enough time to get through customs.  As a result, we were reeeaally tired.  When we got to Phoenix, we found out that our flight had been overbooked and the airline was looking for 4 volunteers to go on a different flight.  We inquired about it, and they assured us that they'd book us on the next flight, leaving at 1:45pm (instead of 10:15am).  We decided to just go for it- in exchange, they gave us four $275 flight vouchers with no restrictions/blackout dates.  It just meant waiting around when we were already so tired.  Our kids did great during the wait- they each have a backpack full of things to keep them entertained.  Before boarding, we discovered that the flight actually didn't have enough seats for us.  The airline asked if it'd be ok if we sat in first class.  Um, heck ya!
Sooooo... That was our Edmonton visit in a nutshell.  We always get to do a lot of fun things and we have plenty of time to relax.  Unfortunately, there were also some serious issues to work through on this trip.  I'm not around during the year to help my mom out, so timing-wise, I'm glad that I was able to go with her to a pre-surgery appointment for her upcoming knee replacement.  I'm also glad that I was present to help her make some important decisions regarding her future. 

I am thankful that our family is able to visit every year, and I'm so grateful for the life I have in Fresno.  BUT, after all these years, I can honestly say that I still leave a part of me in Edmonton every time I leave...  Until next year, Edmonton!

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