Monday, January 30, 2017


The Knighthawks were playing in Toronto this weekend, and we decided it was time for another attempt at a family weekend.  Obviously our vacation there this summer had its fair share of hiccups, but apparently we were delusional enough to think we might be able to get through one okay.  Or maybe I was just that desperate to get to IKEA.  Either way.  We planned on leaving Friday afternoon, so I took a half day from work.  However, I worked in the chance to go to the Memorial Art Gallery here in town to see the M.C. Escher exhibit, which ended this weekend.  I hadn't been to the inside of the MAG in two years, since my visit when I was unemployed.  I'd been to the sculpture garden and to a non-exhibit section for a holiday party, but it had been almost a full two years since I'd seen the artwork inside.  Starting this year, I can also get in there free through work, so it was a no-brainer.

The Escher exhibit was fantastic.  There were so many of his pieces, with a good variety of the evolution of his work over the years.  There were illustrations, optical illusions, impossible landscapes, and some other really neat pieces.  There's so much more to him than the poster everyone had hanging on their wall in college (or that I figure lots of people did--I'm pretty sure that's where I first saw his stuff, anyway).

Much of the modern art had moved around, and it was nice to see some new things, or the same stuff in a different spot.  I particularly liked these works from Wendell Castle, who is a world-famous, locally based sculptor.  We actually had a solicitation for the MAG at work last year that was signed by him, so I have a new appreciation for his work.  The table that looks like it's draped with a wooden tablecloth and the chair that looks like it's supported by a soft pillow that's actually made from wood are both so cool to see up close.  You would seriously never believe the pillow--I wanted to touch it so badly!  It was perfect right down to the creases!

This upstairs section of the gallery is so gorgeous.  The Italian Baroque organ in the back is actually mentioned in our next solicitation!  But it is an amazing, historical piece, and its setting is so beautiful.

The Chihuly fan in me couldn't help but snap a picture of this glass piece.  The color was so gorgeous!

And I loved this's porcelain, but I love the way it just collapses on itself.

Anyway, it was fun to get some time to wander around unencumbered and feel all cultured and stuff.  But I couldn't stay too long because I had to run and get Jacob from school, then go home and finish packing for Toronto.  We got going a little later than planned in the end, but we stopped in Niagara Falls for dinner then made it to our hotel outside Toronto a little before 9pm.  The boys were up a little later than would have been ideal, but in the end they both went down okay.  It's still nearly impossible to have them in the same space like that, though, and it was tough to get them to the point of being ready to go to bed...but once we got there, it was pretty peaceful. 

The next morning, Jacob and Craig took off for the shoot-around with the team.  Jacob loves his ballboy duties so much, particularly his time bonding with the other ballboys, who are in a similar age range and are kids of other people associated with the team.  I can tell how much he loves his time with them and I just wish he had that with kids who live near us!  While Carter and I waited for them to come back, I snapped this quick shot of Carter finishing his "breakfast dessert" (a muffin) in our room.

When the boys came back, Carter was excited to get his early birthday present from Jacob, a Toronto Raptor mascot stuffed animal.  Jacob has one himself, and it was his idea to get one for Carter.  At first Carter wasn't sure, but then he started talking about bringing his stuffed t-rex (from Toy Story) and his dragon (Figment from EPCOT) so they could all be friends.  Well, when the time came, Jacob got a bit cranky about giving Carter the new one since his at home was getting a little beat.  That seemed to set off a chain reaction of rough behavior for the rest of the weekend, unfortunately, but Carter did like his gift a lot.

We checked out and grabbed lunch at Pizza Pizza, Jacob's go-to gluten-free option in Canada.  Around that time the challenging behavior started.  Despite being on his medicine, Jacob was a handful, and on top of that Carter was super high energy and ran all over the restaurant.  It took a bit of convincing to even get him to eat. 

After lunch Craig and Jacob dropped Carter and me off at IKEA, and they went to the mall down the road.  There was a Lego store there and it apparently sounded way more fun than IKEA to them.  Silly boys. 
Jacob built this guy, who he deemed a "lacrosse guy".

Carter and I spent a lot of our time in the kids' section, admiring the many adorable stuffed animals (some were so cheap, but alas...we have so many) and letting him hide in the funny egg chair.  We wandered around and I found a few things I was looking for (and some I wasn't).  I also couldn't find a few things I was looking for, as it appears IKEA has changed their philosophy on a couple things since I was there last.  Boo.  Craig and Jacob found us near the end and we stopped for a snack of ice cream before we left.  Carter took forever to eat his, though, and eventually we needed to speed out of there so we could get to the hotel on time for Craig and Jacob to head to the arena.  Carter and I were going to hang back and take the subway there later. 

The team hotel was right downtown, which was a nice change of pace since we've stuck to the 'burbs for so long (mostly because $50 per night parking stinks--although we were able to find cheaper parking across the street).  Since someone else from the team's management stayed in the room the previous night (we were basically splitting the two nights with them), Carter and I ended up waiting around into the lobby until he headed off to the arena.  While we waited, we enjoyed this view just outside the lobby windows.  Turned out our room looked down on this view, too.
Such a nice little oasis in the city.  There were ducks hanging out there, too!
Up in the room, we were treated to a gorgeous view of Toronto's City Hall and the skating rink in front of it.  You can barely see the rink through the trees.

I took another picture as it got darker and the lights around the area started to become more visible.

I loved this view because as much as I've heard about City Hall all these years, in all of my travels around Toronto I've barely seen it.  I believe I saw it from the CN Tower this summer, but as far as an up-close view like this, it's just never been part of my path!

Carter and I took the subway to the game, which was his first-ever ride.  He was excited to go on a train, and the look on his face the first time the train sped through the station was great.  It was a short ride, but he seemed to enjoy it!  We had a lot of walking to do--through buildings, fortunately--once we got off the subway in order to get to the arena, but aside from him getting a little bored by that, all went well.  We had great seats at the game...

We both ate when we got there, and shortly thereafter Carter started complaining that his belly hurt.  Of course I immediately flashed back to a couple years ago when we took Jacob up to Toronto for a Knighthawks game and got to stay at the Royal York Hotel, only to have him spend the night puking.  That was one of the most miserable nights ever, and all I could envision was a repeat with Carter.  He still seemed to be in decent spirits, though, and was squirmy (in a good way--not the uncomfortable way), so I was hopeful it was just a minor thing.  He had to go to the bathroom a bunch of times, but that was mostly just having to pee...but I sure didn't fight those trips because I figured we had better odds of something happening there (rather than in the seats) if we kept ending up there.  While we were in our seats, I managed to find Craig in the press box, along with Jacob right next to him. 
Craig is in the tie and white shirt, and Jacob is on the right.  The guy on the other side of Craig is his color analyst on the radio, and the guy next to him is a former player who also works for the team.
I was tempted to take Carter back to the room via the subway, but in the end I decided that I was better off waiting for Craig and Jacob after the game and going to the hotel with them in our van.  My concern was that with my phone not working in Canada and WiFi being a little sketchy, I didn't want to get on the subway, take a while to walk back, and not be able to contact him before he started to worry and wonder where we were.  So while it meant a later night, I thought it was probably a better decision.

The big hiccup is that the person who was sharing our room had to come back to the room that night to grab his stuff, and he decided he also needed to charge his phone with Craig's charger because he forgot his and needed to stay in Canada for a couple days.  That turned into a really long wait, and during that time the kids did NOT want to go to bed.  Craig was working, Jacob was out of control, and Carter was playing right into it.  The two of them would not leave each other alone, and it was both embarrassing and horribly annoying.  Carter finally fell asleep around 11:30 and Jacob was closer to midnight.  Right around that time I snapped yet another picture of our landscape view.

Other than Carter kicking me multiple times in the night, everyone slept well and late.  This was the view (last one, I promise) from our room in the morning.  People were still skating when I took the picture above, and they were already skating when I took the one below!

Also in our field of view was the old City Hall, which is a gorgeous building in its own right.  I noticed in the daylight that the very top of the clock tower there were these crazy gargoyle-type carvings.

Here is the front of the old City Hall from down on the street as we were waiting to cross the street to our parking garage.  Notice the beautiful stone arches by the front steps.  The clock tower was gorgeous, and you can see the gargoyles sticking out just below the clock.
There were gorgeous carvings all over the building, not the least of which was this one embedded in a side wall.

Back in front of the current City Hall is the skating rink.

The letters lit up at night.  I wish I would have caught a picture of that.
We wandered around Eaton Centre for a while before walking another block over to a Chipotle for lunch.  By that point we were very ready to get on the road.  On our way out of town, we saw this on the side of the CTV building...I believe the lights were flashing and the wheels spun, too!

We also stopped near the Air Canada Centre so Jacob and Craig could run in and check something out.  Right by where we stopped was this impressive sculpture depicting a bunch of legendary Maple Leafs.  Older goalies on the right, then more modern players heading left.  They were good enough that I could actually identify one without looking at the names!

We drove back and made it home mid-evening.  Aside from the kids' behavior it was a pretty good trip!  Some shopping, some beautiful sights, and a Knighthawks win!  Doesn't get much better than that! 

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