Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Royal Tyrell Museum

You may remember that I mentioned that we visited a dinosaur museum last week in the Canadian Badlands.

I'm slowly getting around to catching up with my travel posts so it's time for a look at the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller - or the Dinosaur Museum as the girls like to call it.

The girls were both pretty excited about visiting the dinosaur museum. When asked what they were looking forward to seeing in Canada before our trip they'd respond in unison with "Dinosaurs!". This answer was usually met with looks of confusion from others until I'd explain that Alberta is a major dinosaur fossil site. Large numbers of dinosaur bones and fossils have been discovered in the Badlands area since geologist Joseph Burr Tyrell's (the museum's namesake) 1884 discovery of the skull of a large carnivorous dinosaur later named Albertosaurus.

The Royal Tyrell Museum is located just a few kilometres from the location of that first fossil discovery. The girls had been hopeful that they too would find their very own fossils while we were in the area. No new fossil finds for us but we did see a lot on display in the museum, along with plenty of other interesting exhibits. Here's a look...

Dinosaur models greet visitors in the Cretaceous Alberta room

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Drumheller Dinosaurs

The town of Drumheller in Alberta, Canada certainly does love its dinosaurs!

Well, it is located smack-dab in the middle of a dinosaur and fossil rich area after all.

Driving through Drumheller when we first arrived we noticed colourful dinosaurs dotted around the town's street corners. The girls were pretty taken by these so we decided to go on a little dinosaur hunt and see how many we could find.

I wonder who he's waiting for

Vancouver Celebration of Light

Ok, so I'm skipping a little further ahead here but I couldn't wait to share these pictures from tonight.

We're currently in Vancouver, and have been for a few days, however I'm a little behind with my posts about our trip. I was trying to keep them in order but I'll skip ahead just this once...

We've been really lucky that our stay in Vancouver has coincided with the first night of the annual Celebration of Light festival. Celebration of Light is Vancouver biggest event and the largest offshore fireworks competition in the the world. Each year three countries compete for the title over three different nights. Tonight's spectacular display was courtesy of the United Kingdom. Canada and Thailand will also be competing however we won't be here to see their displays.

I've seen some pretty amazing fireworks displays in my time (New Year's Eve 2003 over Sydney Harbour springs to mind) but this was definitely the biggest display I've ever seen and we were lucky to be able to see it so close up. 

Pictures speak louder than words so here's a look at the amazing fireworks from this evening...


Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Badlands

Time for another installment of our trip to Canada...

When you think of Canadian landscapes you tend to think of snowy mountains, lush pine forests, fertile green farmland etc. The image of badlands (harsh, dry environs unsuitable for farming) don't tend to spring to mind. Well, at least not when you think of the southern parts of Canada. But sure enough Canada has badlands and over the past few days we were visitors to such a place.

Now I must point out that what we saw of the Canadian Badlands was much less arid than most farmland we've seen back home in Australia. But I guess that by Canadian standards the land's not so good!

The Canadian Badlands are located east of Calgary. After driving for a few hours through some of the greenest farmland I've ever seen we arrived in the Badlands and the town of Drumheller. The change of scenery is quite sudden. The green and yellow of endless canola fields gives way rocky formations striped through the ages in shades of brown, red, white and black. The scenery is spectacular, quite like something that you'd expect to see in Utah - although on a much smaller scale, I'm sure.

Canadian Badlands

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Welcome to Calgary

Greetings from Canada!

We're currently in Calgary on a visa renewal trip/holiday. Today we carried out the visa renewal part of our trip at the US consulate, and now we're onto the holiday part while we wait for our passports to be returned with their shiny new visas. Hooray for holidays!

We arrived in Calgary on Sunday. As we'd been up since 3am in preparation for our horribly early flight we decided that a fairly low key day was in order. After checking into our hotel in Downtown Calgary we headed to the banks of the Bow River for a walk. We crossed over the Peace Bridge (a modern, photo worthy pedestrian bridge), grabbed a bite to eat in the nearby area of Kensington then made our way back along the river and to our hotel. On our way back we spotted a few squirrels. Unlike the squirrels that we get back home in Berkeley, these Canadian squirrels were black.

Lola and Ava with the Peace Bridge

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Goodbye Mr Pops

The last few months have been extremely hard for our family. While it may appear that we're always up to something fun, the smiles you see hide much sadness.

One month ago today our lives changed completely when we lost our unborn baby girl, Mr Pops. I was 24 weeks pregnant.

At my 20 week scan back in May we received the bad news that our tiny baby was just that; tiny. Too tiny. The placenta had not formed properly and she was not able to get the nutrients she needed to grow. Many tests were carried out to find the cause, followed by an agonising three week wait for a follow up scan to check on her growth.

During this time I had been hopeful that she had picked up growth as my belly had grown substantially, however at my 23 week scan we received worse news. She was now further behind in her growth than she had been at 20 weeks. The flow from the placenta had slowed and it was only a matter of time before it stopped feeding her altogether. Our only chance was to deliver early within the following week or so.

24 weeks is generally the earliest that doctors can successfully deliver a baby. Unfortunately Mr Pops was so much smaller than the average baby. At 23 weeks she weighed only 11 ounces (approximately 320 grams). The average baby at 23 weeks weighs 1.5 pounds (approximately 680 grams). Being less than half the size she was supposed to be, her odds of survival were very slim.

Unfortunately on 17th June Mr Pops slipped away and our world came crashing down.

It's been a very hard time for us all, especially being so far away from our families and friends, but we've been trying our best to focus on the positives in our lives. We know how lucky we are that we already have two beautiful, healthy girls. While we were so excited at the prospect of giving them a new little sister it just wasn't meant to be this time.

As Ava is on Summer vacation we've been trying to keep her and Lola busy with fun activities and day trips. While it hasn't always been easy this has been a great distraction for us all. There are days when I just feel like curling up in bed all day and not moving, however I know that it's not going to help. No amount of moping will bring our little baby back. Staying positive and looking toward the future is best for us all.

With every day that passes it gets a little easier but I know that the pain will never go away.

Thank you to our families and friends for all their love, support, kind words, hugs, help and for just being there for us during this difficult time. Just knowing that so many people care about us has been a great help.

Goodbye Mr Pops. You may not be with us any more but you'll always be in our hearts.



Monday, 15 July 2013

Summer Bonfire Party

Last night we went to a Summer Bonfire Party hosted by my friend Hanna. Hanna always puts on the best parties. You may remember the fantastic Easter Party that she held back in March. You can see it here.

Last night's Bonfire Party was no exception and we all had a great time.

We toasted marshmallows over the fire, we made s'mores, we had a BBQ, we cooked sausages over the fire, the kids had fun playing together and the adults had a great time catching up with friends. A perfect Summer evening.

Pretty party lights

Friday, 12 July 2013

A Fintastic Voyage

One of our all time favourite places here in California is the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

We visited the aquarium back in April last year and we all absolutely loved it. You can see our visit here. It's such a wonderful place to visit and we hope to go back again one day soon.

So when I discovered that Monterey Bay Aquarium has a mobile display here in the Bay Area over Summer we were all pretty excited.

Today I took the girls to explore the ocean in the Fintastic Voyager, an airstream trailer converted into a "submarine on wheels".

Captain Ava and First Mate Lola

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Little Squirrel Friends

One of the things that we like about living in Berkeley is the abundance of wildlife that surrounds us. Unlike at home in Australia where the wildlife that surrounded our home was all of the insect and spider variety, the wildlife we come across on a regular basis here is much cuter and friendlier. 

I'm talking about squirrels. Cute and fluffy little squirrels!

So cute and fluffy

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Alta Plaza Park, San Francisco

Today we headed into the city for the annual Fillmore Jazz Festival.

We enjoyed listening to some great live music, ate greasy festival food and walked up and down Fillmore Street taking in the sights and sounds (and walking off that greasy food!).

After a few hours of music, food and crowds the girls were ready to move onto something else. I'd spotted a hilly park down one of the side streets so we thought we'd go check it out. This turned out to be one of the best calls I've ever made while exploring the city and we ended up in a fantastic playground with amazing views over the city.

Playground with a view

Friday, 5 July 2013

Happy 4th of July 2013

Happy 4th of July!

I can't believe we're already celebrating our second 4th of July here in America. It doesn't seem that long ago that we were celebrating our first.

Today we celebrated in much the same way we did last year. We headed down to the marina here in Berkeley for junk food and carnival rides at the 4th of July festival before heading home to watch the fireworks from the roof of our building.

Here's a look at our day of red, white and blue fun...

Hanging out at Berkeley Marina

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Hand Print Flags for 4th of July

Another 4th of July craft today...

Back in November the girls and I made hand print turkeys and we've been eager to make something similar ever since. Searching through Pinterest for 4th of July craft ideas I came across just the thing: hand print American flags!

Ava's hand print flag

Hand print flags

These flags were really simple and lots of fun to make. Anything that involves covering your hands with paint is always fun!

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