Merry first Christmas, Choo Choo

Sorry, kiddo, it’s been a while since I last wrote. I have no real reason/excuse, other than I just haven’t. That’s bad of me, and I will endeavour to write more often. Maybe one day, years from now, you’ll be able to read it all, too. Certainly for now, you will have no recollection of it, except through the mountains of photos Mommy and I took.
That’s something, incidentally, that you and your sister will never really fully grasp, I think. You’re the first generation where digital cameras are ubiquitous, and almost your entire first few years will be documented nearly daily. It wasn’t that way when Mommy and I grew up, and I can only imagine what your kids will say.
I suppose, as a result, you won’t be able to say your first Christmas wasn’t eventful.
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A rainy train

Every year, the City of Vancouver puts on a light show in and around the miniature train in Stanley Park. Last night, after the kids had gone to bed, Allen, Jean, and I discussed the possibility of going. The catch was tickets. Tickets for the ride are best bought in advance, and usually sell out in November. But that’s only half the rides — the other half are sold the day of, and you need to be present at the booth to get them.
Jean very kindly (extremely kindly? suicidally kindly?) went down this morning, in the cold and the rain, to line up and get tickets for the “best possible” time for us to ride, around 17:30. That is “best” as it’s early enough that we can still have dinner at a reasonable time, and it’s late enough that Nikki can join us from her job.
Tonight, I also remembered how miserable Vancouver can be in the winter.
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A visit to the North Pole

During one of her many perusals of the local newspaper, Jean (aka “Granny”) came across an ad for “North Pole, BC“, billed as a “gateway” to the North Pole via Maple Ridge. (Perhaps not the most obvious place to teleport to the top of the world, but just about as likely as, say, Spuzzum.)
So Jean arranged for us all (having to buy tickets being a big factor) to visit Santa in his own home, and witness a bit of a behind-the-scenes approach to Christmas.
Even if, y’know, it’s above zero, all green, and the only snow to be seen is on the mountains…
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Catching up with a few Radical friends

Not long after our trip out to the Lower Mainland entered the books, I hit up some old friends of mine through Twitter, to see if they’d be interested in a get-together. I hadn’t actually seen some of them in over a decade (even Joel I hadn’t seen in at least three years), and it just seemed a perfect thing to do.
Twitter has become a perfect way of bringing people together. Just as last year, when I met up with my old friend Sonny, I’m finding Twitter to be an intensively useful tool to meet up with friends long-unseen. In this case, it became a catalyst, and we dragged in a non-Twitterer while we were at it.
And it was a good evening, however short.
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Our first family flight

I remember the excitement as a kid on those early mornings where we got up to rush to the airport to fly somewhere. It was a hurried affair that I simultaneously loved and loathed. While most of me vowed to never deal with such mornings as I grew older, I think some small part of me always expected that one day, I would be guiding my children on similar mornings.
Today, that small part got its moment in the limelight. Alex and I had not gotten to bed until well after 1am, having to finish packing, take down our Christmas tree (didn’t want a trying piece of highly-flammable timber being left inside), and making sure all was well with the house. (Oh, and dealing with a sick Monkey. Choo Choo got more sleep than the rest of us, combined.)
And yet, we were off and running in under an hour. Not bad, eh?
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Our last day at the Calgary Farmer's Market

On 23 December, the Calgary Farmer’s Market will close its doors in the old CFB Calgary lands forever. It’s a dark day for the Sowrey family, as the Calgary Farmer’s Market has been a fairly significant part of our lives for the last few years (Costa Rica notwithstanding).
Shortly before Alex and I were married, we moved to a house a mere 10 minute walk from the Market, so we visited frequently. After our return from Costa Rica, going to the Market became a weekly event, to the point where we got to know some of the Market vendors fairly well.
Because we fly out to Abbotsford tomorrow, today was our last day. We just about cried.
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A year in Canada

A year ago tonight, my family returned to Canada from Costa Rica. We had lived abroad for a year and a half, and had done our best to make a go of a new life in a new country. But it wasn’t to be, and we finally came to the reality that we had to move back home.
So, a year ago, we packed up a highly uncomfortable hour of the morning, boarded our airplane, and spend nearly 16 hours travelling north. We arrived late in the evening, with an irate kitty, to the most amazing -18C weather I’d ever felt. Within days, we’d tried to reinsert ourselves into a society that we’d — at last in some part — tried to forget.
A year later, I’m starting to forget that we ever left.
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