Should I leave the lights on?

Recently in the New York times they had a piece on the light pollution in New York City, and about a bill that seems to have caused a bit of discussion on light pollution. On one hand, having fewer lights in the New York skyline would be more beneficial to the environment, and the migratory and mating habits of birds and animals. Another upside to having dimmer lights would be a greater possibility to see what is actually up in the sky in the middle of the night in NYC.

This photo is by Thierry Cohen, and awesome artist, click the photo to be taken to his page!

This photo is by Thierry Cohen, an awesome artist.

However, New York is big and it is filled with crime – fewer lights would mean more cover for unseemly and horrible stuff to take place. It is a good idea, but in they end, they should take a deeper look into the different possibilities and scenarios surrounding the bill in question.

This photo is by Thierry Cohen, and awesome artist, click the photo to be taken to his page!

This photo is by Thierry Cohen, an awesome artist.

The reason that this story caught my eye was because it made me think of a road trip Joe, Elena, and I took up north to Sudbury and down and through Manitoulin Island. After about four to six hours of driving in the middle of the night, Elena told me to pull off to the side, we woke up Joe and stepped outside the car just to stare at the naked sky.

This photo is by Thierry Cohen, and awesome artist, click the photo to be taken to his page!

This photo is by Thierry Cohen, an awesome artist.

Now, I have lived in the country and have gotten some pretty epic views in my life of the night sky, including one birthday of mine in which the Northern Lights appeared above our house.

I have also seen beautiful pictures depicting the night sky without light pollution, and, let me tell you, the real thing…it is even better than you could have imagined.

I wish we lived in a world where we didn’t need lights on all the time and that we could look up at any moment and just see the Milky Way. I wish that everyone would get to experience the ethereal beauty of the night sky unpolluted, with the lights that we have deemed so necessary. I ultimately wish that we could have a world so full of peace and love that lights weren’t so necessary.

This photo is by Thierry Cohen, and awesome artist, click the photo to be taken to his page!

This photo is by Thierry Cohen, an awesome artist.

It is something to work towards, and something to aspire to. Hopefully it will be so…one day.

~ Andreah

Are we home yet? – Baltimore Trip Pt 3

We did it…. well they did it, but I like to think our specific cheering squad helped boost morale. If you could HEAR the screams from Ben, and how Toni almost lost her voice, then you would think the same too.

I don’t even know how to write this seeing as we are no longer in the play offs as the Patriots defeated us. Isn’t sports lingo great – defeated – how extravagant!

I was placed with the task of writing about our way home – but I didn’t want to.. I still don’t want to. I want to still be there, still walking around with the rest of the fans, basking in us winning, us still being in the playoffs, still seeing Ben jump down the streets with so much energy that he had to do push ups in the hotel room in order to get some energy out.

However, we came home…we drove…for forever…and ever. I almost got sick – seriously I suck at car rides. I had Gravol, fresh air and I am sure everyone was thankful for that.

There were some highlights of the way home, so maybe I should just let you know about those. Because I wouldn’t personally like to read a sad blog about coming home from a vacation where we were stuck in the car for hours on end!

In the morning, the bakery attached to our hotel had chocolate croissants that were FRESHLY made that morning. As everyone was packing up and getting ready for the day, and to sit in the car, I went to the bakery and got coffee and croissants and brought them back to our meeting point of the trip, Julia and Ben’s room. Now do I have pictures of these delicious amazing, goooooeeeyy flakey yummy pastries? No I do not – because we ate them before I could get a picture of them. They were so good – so darn good!

JUST KIDDING!!! Of course I have a picture – jeeze this isn’t amateur hour, we bought more!

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Yum-O look at those eyes!

We even bought more for the drive home, so the beautiful picture you see above is our second batch of delicious treats.

Another highlight of our whole trip was how friendly everyone was – even as Mike was setting the GPS for home, a man who noticed Mike walked up to the open window and asked if he needed help to get any where. He then proceeded to tell us the completely wrong way to get home, but that was not the point. The point was he wanted to help – he told us to go from his house, which we were no where near, to get to Canada.

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The way home was long, like I said before. But with a great seat partner, which I had, and a request to go SHOPPING – it was made more bearable!

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Seat partner extrodinaire – who even held my hair when I thought I was going to throw up!

We stopped in Pennsylvania to stretch our legs, get food and to get some shopping in. We stopped at Victoria Secret where Julia found the love of real bras again since she has stopped nursing, Toni also bought little goodies, and I bought comfy pj’s. I also had my first Macy’s experience where I found and bought a dress for my wedding shower, and Julia and Toni tried to figure out how to steal a very large mirror that was sitting in the change room.

seriously ... can't take them any where!

Seriously…can’t take them anywhere!

After we were thoroughly scolded for wanting a car break from the men who failed to book off the next day, we were scurried to Subway where the option for “double meat” was asked very cordially. I declined…and I am happy to report for all our heart and waistlines’ sake, no one got double meat.

We were then shoved back into the car and whisked back to the border. The car ride home was uneventful – we tried to get home as soon as possible for fear that the rental fairies would turn our Tahoe back into a pumpkin.

The rest of the trip was a blur of…

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And this…

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With maybe a little bit of this…

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All in all it was a great trip – and I leave with you this amazing entrance picture of the great Suggs. Seriously, how bad ass is this picture!?

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It was a great trip, an amazing trip – and by far the best present I have ever given to Cody – even though the picture evidence that I have doesn’t really show it.

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This was after we won…I swear he loves me! Just kidding, love you babe!

~ Jacqui

Game Day! – Baltimore Trip pt. 2

Waking up in Baltimore on game day was a bit surreal.

We were actually going to an NFL game! A critically important-for-the-home-team-game. A game that both of my brothers-in-law and man had only dreamed about before this Christmas present plan was hatched. A game that a few short months before had been just that – a plan.

The sisters BBM’d our good mornings, agreed to meet shortly and got to getting ready for a hearty breakfast in preparation for an afternoon of beer and football.

Gathering in the hallway outside of our well-accommodated rooms in a row, conversation covered the beds in The Lord Baltimore hotel receiving mixed reviews, with the sirens and interesting screams from the streets below gaining a collective dislike. We were clearly in need of coffee and sustenance.

We decided to try out The French Kitchen, one of the in-house offered restaurant choices, for breakfast and quickly fuelled with coffee, eggs, steak, bacon, and of course carbs in the form of croissants, pancakes and lemon cake.

The internal entrance from the hotel

The internal entrance from the hotel

Our waitress was awesome and extremely friendly, we had the restaurant to ourselves, and even better the food was quick and delicious (and for the record did not have the side effects as the Hardee’s excursion of the day before).

Our fantastic waitress!

Our fantastic waitress!

The French Kitchen was a win in our Canadian books!

It even had this amazingly placed bush...

It even had this amazingly placed bush…

At this point containing the men’s anticipation for getting down to the stadium was next to impossible, so with a few last minute preparations to outfits to get game ready, we headed out on the short jaunt to Raven’s Walk for paraphernalia purchases and our first exposure to tailgating.

I would like at this point to revel in the fact that we were wearing t-shirts and jeans – IN DECEMBER – and at one point I even broke a sweat. In a t-shirt. In December. Best weather for game day, ever.

Best Ravens' fan vehicle, ever.

Best Ravens’ fan vehicle, ever.

We were quick to locate a vendor that sold the jerseys the boys wanted and one carrying the sweatshirts and must-have Raven’s face tattoos that the ladies desired and then headed towards the stadium with the growing swell of energy-filled fans.

All geared up!

All geared up!

This is my nightmare...

This is my nightmare…

Such an awesome moment

Such an awesome moment

Seats and beer acquired, kickoff was one cheerleading and one big-band performance away.

Now, here is where I am going to lose the part of our reading audience that came here hoping to read a play-by-play of what turned out to be a thrilling, once in a Ravens fan’s dreams type-game, however my ability to recall these details is lacking. Also, there are many websites dedicated to such a task.

What I do remember were the giant smiles on all of our faces as kickoff took place, and the cheers, screams and bellows that came from our row of 6.

These people <3

These people ❤

I remember the Browns’ fans in our section taunting us, the confused fan not knowing what team his loyalties laid with, the hot dogs that made Jacqui so happy and the beer that gave me the giggles.

Browns family, Raiders hat, Ravens jersey.... So confused

Browns family, Raiders hat, Ravens jersey…. So confused

Stadium dogs - cheers!

Stadium dogs – cheers!

I rememebr being worried in the third quarter as we lagged and it didn’t seem a win would be in our corner on our mini-vacation.

Worried in the third...

Worried in the third…

And mostly I remember the screams, cheers and excitement that came in the fourth when Flacco started throwing and we made a run for the win.

The best moment though came when the Ravens did win and it was announced that Kansasa City had defeated San Diego, meaning the Baltimore Ravens were headed to the playoffs.

They did it!!!

They did it!!!

The sound and feeling of the crowd of 72, 000 hometown fans erupting in celebration will forever be ingrained into my brain and heart – what a feeling! Even more to that, I got to experience it and celebrate it with 5 of some pretty damn important people in my life. Amazing.

Fans celebrating, players and families rushing the field

Fans celebrating, players and families rushing the field

Even writing about it now, I can feel the rush that came with those moments.

The walk back to the hotel was filled with play-by-play recaps of the most exciting movements both on and off the field and of course a pit stop for coffee. The satisfaction of the day still fresh on our faces, we returned to our weekend home-base and quickly decided on an evening in to cap it off.

We split off shortly to change into our comfies and reconvened back in Julia and Ben’s room (as it was most conducive to community hang outs) where we settled on taking a chance with room service.

Once dinner concluded, we were treated to a royal rumble between Jacqui and…well, everyone that she could egg on. The wresting match between Julia and Jacqui – which ended in a throat jab and face slap delivered by Julia – turned into a wrestling match with Cody, followed by a double threat gang up attack on Ben, which his injuries might lead most to believe Jacqui and Julia won that match. Ben even treated us to handstand push-ups at one point due to a bought of pent up energy wherein he expressed his desire to wrestle again…

Our evening consisted of a lot of this:

The throat jab

The throat jab

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….this went on for some time…

Cody got sucked in too

Cody got sucked in too

Poor #7 nipple....

Poor #7 nipple….

And even more laughter than we thought possible.

We all went to bed satisfied and happy that evening, well-prepared for the long drive home the next day.

~ Toni

Leaving, in a Tahoe! – Baltimore Trip Pt 1

When Ben and I first got together I knew less than nothing about football (American, that is…not to be confused with footie (Australian football), or soccer, or any other iteration). I knew it included a football, but that was it. I distinctly remember “playing” football in Grade 8. Our teacher put us on the field and then expected the magic to happen. For every other kid there, it did. For me, I stood in the middle of the field, completely lost and confused.

Imagine my delight and surprise when I discovered my boyfriend, a.k.a. my now husband, LOVED football, LOVED the NFL, and LOVED tackling people. Yay! (Insert sarcasm here…and there…and above…everywhere, really.)

Over the 11 years of being together and the 8-almost-9 years of marriage, I have learned A LOT about football. I still can’t tell what kind of play the offense is going to run, or the defense is going to set up in answer, but the fact that I know who the offense is, who the defense is, which direction the ball is going, what down it is, and how many yards they have left until they get a fresh set of downs, is incredible…and is the result of hours and and hours and hours of watching football with my man. Also, bugging him incessantly with questions (like, why is it called the first down when it’s the 80th down they’ve had…or they ‘get a first down’ when they were just on a second down…and what the hell is going on?!). I can proudly say that I can hold my own in conversations about the game, that I have a favourite player (Hi, Peyton!!) and that I can cheer alongside Ben confidently, although I still pick the team he’s not cheering for just to be a pain (old habits, dying hard, you know).

So when Toni and Jacqueline hatched the plan to take the boys to a Baltimore Ravens game for a Christmas gift, it was an easy HELLS YEAH! The Ravens are Ben’s team and, in a funny coincidence, also Cody’s favourite team. Mike loves the NFL period, so it was a win-win-win (Andreah and Joe couldn’t come because of monies…and because none of us are rich, we couldn’t swing the coverage for them…it SUCKED that they couldn’t be there, but life is life, regardless of the NFL and the Ravens, and ROAD TRIP!).

A road trip means FOOD. And to kick it off, I baked a few treats…some scones, some delicious cranberry oat muffins, some healthy banana oat cookies, and, of course, some terrible for you but SO YUMMY milk chocolate chip cookies. Snacks were COVERED.

OH YEAH

YUM

For us to go, of course, it meant finding a babysitter that would be willing to hang out with our crazies for THREE DAYS. We have three kids under 6…that is not a small thing to ask. Luckily, we’ve got points with the mothers, and between our mom and Ben’s mom, along with some uber support from Grandpa Mike, we were able to leave our babies and embark on the 9-hour trip to Baltimore, Maryland.

The willing victims...I mean ROCK STARS.

The willing victims…I mean ROCK STARS.

We left at crazy-o’clock in the morning…can you see the clock in the above picture? That says 4:50 a.m., people. We mean business. Toni and Mike picked us up and drove the white Tahoe that they rented for the trip – it was the only vehicle big enough for everyone (all 6 of us) and our STUFF (Mike couldn’t see out the back, but that’s not THAT important…) – to get Jacqueline and Cody. Mike had actually won the rental at his work Christmas party the weekend before, which was a stroke of luck that saved us OODLES of money, considering we were taking the rental over the border and putting 837487436750 km on it. Even the Christmas party gods wanted us to go! SIGNS, BABY!

Jacqueline had never driven as far as we were driving, or traveled for as long as we were travelling, so she didn’t know what to expect. She DID however win the ‘best seat partner’ award from me, because she brought 14 pillows and 56 cozy, thick, soft, fuzzy blankets.

Hello, beautiful.

Hello, beautiful.

Our backseat was tight, because we have the shortest legs, but it was the most comfortable seat ever. Take your shoes off, put your head down, close your eyes, and voila! Road trippin’ naps.

The cool kids sit in the back

The cool kids sit in the back (our view)

Mike was driving, which he preferred AND it was what the insurance on the rental covered, Ben was his front-seat passenger, because this way he could hear conversations (otherwise, it’d be an isolated trip for him), Cody and Toni were in the middle, and Jacqueline and I were in the waaaaaaay back. Cramped, cozy, ROAD TRIP.

The middle trying to sneak into the back...everyone wants to be the cool kids.

The middle trying to sneak into the back…everyone wants to be the cool kids.

The first stop was for coffee. Exactly 15 minutes away from Jacqueline and Cody’s house. People peed, caffeine and breakfast were obtained, and then we were on our way.

The border was by far the most nervous part of our trip and happened within the first 90 minutes of driving. The border guy, who we weren’t dumb enough to take a picture of, was full of tight-lippedness. He couldn’t see Jacqueline and I in the back seat, so we had to pop up and say, “Here!” just like during attendance at school. He asked why we were going to see an NFL game…to which we had trouble answering because the answer was obvious. Mike said, “Entertainment.” Everyone held their breath. Then the super serious border guy relented and said, “Yeah, but why Baltimore?” Ahhh! Breathing can commence – he’s being FUNNY. (So scary). Big hump hurdled, onto the next!

Our first gas stop was called the Fractured Prune. Can't make this stuff up.

Our first gas stop was called the Fractured Prune. Can’t make this stuff up.

The next hurdle was crossing through New York state into Pennsylvania. While we were in the great state of Pennsylvania, we witnessed a car accident – the guy turning left decided to go regardless of the fact he had a red light…and the guy going straight through slammed into him, surprisingly. Moments after we left that intersection, we were almost hit by someone else running a red light, again trying to turn left. We decided to get out of that city and stop for some lunch. At this point I’d already had TWO naps (a Canadian side one, and a New York one…all in all, a GOOD DAY).

We decided to go to Hardee’s, a burger place that Mike had heard of and wanted to try. The hamburgers were just all right and the fries were CRAZY salty. In the end, it wasn’t anything special, and we all got the gift of fun pooping later that evening (TMI? TOO BAD).

Never heard of it. Made everyone POOP.

Hardee’s: Never heard of it. Made everyone POOP.

The best part about the road trip so far (you know, besides the lack of children and the napping)? The fact that it was SO warm. We left Ontario with winter coming at us, negative temperatures and lots of bundling required. We got to the States and discovered temperatures that required no coat and no boots. It was like springtime. SO AWESOME.

I had another nap (OH YEAH) and we made it through Pennsylvania, land of the no-stop-red-lights, and into Maryland, land of everyone-honks-while-driving. Our hotel was right downtown Baltimore and a mile away from the stadium, meaning once we got there, we could park and not have to drive again until we headed home.

You must say the name of the hotel in a British accent, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

You must say the name of the hotel in a British accent, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

The hotel was beautiful – it had just been redone, so everything was clean and new and the staff were lovely. They originally booked us on two different floors, but then totally switched us all to the 12th floor so we could be near each other. Even though it must have been a pain, they were so kind about it.

Branded sheets? Fancy!

Branded sheets? Fancy!

Our room was lovely. Spacious. Had lots of room to sit on the floor, a huge king-size bed (we are queens here at home), comfortable chairs, a closet and bathroom. The only trouble? No fan in the bathroom. So all of those Hardee’s poops? Fodder for everyone. BLEH.

After we had settled in, we decided to go exploring and find some dinner. The first order of business was figuring out where the game would be the next day.

The Baltimore Ravens play at M&T Bank Stadium, which is right beside where the Baltimore Orioles play at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. They share a parking lot, they’re so close to each other.

(From top left, clockwise): Home run landings marked by bronze baseballs in the concrete; the stadium lit by the Baltimore sunset; entrance to the stadium; A.L. East Division Champions banner

(From top left, clockwise): Home run landings marked by bronze baseballs in the concrete; the stadium lit by the Baltimore sunset; entrance to the stadium; A.L. East Division Champions banner

To get to the Baltimore Ravens’ home, we had to walk through the Orioles’ stomping ground. Did you know that Babe Ruth was born in Baltimore? We didn’t either!

The boys posing with Baltimorean, Babe Ruth.

The boys posing with Baltimorean, Babe Ruth.

A beautiful war memorial right after Oriole land and right before Raven land. It reads, "Time will not dim the glory of their deeds."

A beautiful war memorial right after Oriole land and right before Raven land. It reads, “Time will not dim the glory of their deeds.”

And then, once we were steeped in Oriole and baseball lore, we made it to Ravens Walk, M&T Stadium, and all things FOOTBALL. Ben (and the boys) were in HEAVEN.

We MADE it.

We MADE it.

Statues of Ray Lewis and Johnny Unitas

Statues of Ray Lewis and Johnny Unitas in front of the stadium

Ben v.s. Ravens' football helmet garbage cans - who will win?

Ben v.s. Ravens’ football helmet garbage cans – who will win?

M&T Stadium, empty and gearing up for the big game

M&T Stadium, empty and gearing up for the big game

After getting our fill of Ravens’ pregame show, we headed off in search of dinner. We were all starving and tired (regardless of the 4587634 naps we had on the way down).

Who can name the sitcom this references? Anyone? Bueller?

Who can name the sitcom this references? Anyone? Bueller?

We settled on 17 Light, which was a restaurant in another hotel on Light Street. We had tried another restaurant, but the host didn’t seem too keen on doing his job (he answered the phone right after saying “Hi” to us), and then told us it was a 45 minute wait to be seated, even though it looked empty.

This restaurant, the one that served us delicious food, had a bartender/host who greeted us warmly. When he found out we were from Canada, he instantly said he had started watching a Canadian show and LOVED it. All of us were bracing for it – Corner Gas? Red Green? Nope. Trailer Park Boys. We told him that it wasn’t entirely indicative of what life in Canada looks like, but it was the perfect ice-breaker.

Our dinner spot...where we left our mark.

Our dinner spot…where we left our mark.

After dinner, we got some beer, some wine, and hung out in Ben’s and my hotel room, decompressing after the loooooong day. We watched the tail end of Fast Five, where Paul Walker was alive and Vin Diesel still had no neck (it was a no-neck off between him and The Rock…ripped, big, and neckless).

It was heaven to be away from home, to hang out with (some of) the sisters, and have no babies to care for. It was the perfect start to a vacation much-needed and football-filled.

Tune in tomorrow when Toni will regale you with tales of GAME DAY!

~ Julia

Perfecting the art of car dancing

I hate road trips – there I said it! Everyone is all “let’s go on a road trip!” And I am over here by myself smiling and nodding my head along with the plan…when really I want to scream, NOOOOOOOOO!

However, if we must make a voyage, there are some must-haves for a long car ride: comfy clothes, snacks, coffee/water… and tunes – GOOD tunes! When ever we make the trip to visit our dad, I seem to always be the DJ for the car, which is made up of myself, sometimes Cody if he can get the time off work/hunting, Toni and Mike.

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I tend to lean towards the 90’s, 00’s or pop/hip-hop genre because they are crowd pleasing and danceable, which is the best way to pass the time. But car dancing isn’t easy – it’s mainly hand gestures and arm movements with some head nods that are completely laughable if you are viewing them from a passing auto. If you too would like to become a pro at car dancing, then there are four main techniques you must master:

The hand pump
Much different from its cousin “the fist pump,” this movement is more car friendly! The fist pump requires unlimited space above ones head, whereas the hand pump is more of an up and down motion, with an open palm facing down. This move can be used for pop, hip-hop and R&B. I would not recommend this for rock and roll, as the biker to your right is currently looking at you as you are pumping up and down to Ozzy’s Crazy Train – you sir are the one who will need to be put on the crazy train if you don’t cut it out!

The hand pump

The hand pump… ignore Toni… she didn’t get the memo…

Two-handed seat shimmy
This is a move that takes some control and can only be mastered by the most seasoned car dancers! It can be used for most genres, but again be mindful of your surroundings! This move uses two hands and hip gyrating. Be sure if you are in the backseat you have at least one seat between you and the other passengers. For your viewing pleasure, an instructional video has been provided.

Head down groove
Step one: Let down your hair!
Step two: Close your eyes.
Step three: Raise your arms and loosen your shoulders.
Step four (the most important): Feeeeel the music!

This move requires confidence, you can’t be afraid of what others think of you! The cars passing you will think that medical attention is required, but do not fret! Just let the notes shower over you as you and the music become one.
No, but seriously, this one is the best for slower EDM and Bryan Adams songs. Shake your head and let your hair wash over your face.

All smiles while car dancing - CONFIDENCE

All smiles while car dancing – CONFIDENCE

For the final move…..

The air banjo
This is not to be confused with the air guitar, which is played at the hip, but rather played up on at the breastal region! The strumming is more aggressive, and faster. This is not a move for drivers, as both hands are required – safety first, smart ass! I find the best genre for this is country. I mean come on…. banjo…country…they kinda go hand in hand! Don’t worry if you missed arm day this week, as the the workout you get from this will be more than enough to tide you over.

There you have it – combine these moves and before you know it that three hour car ride will have come and gone in no time! Just let it hang and groove it along! You will become a pro – now if only I could figure out a way to make money off of it…

~ Jacqui