Vacation Favorites: Ottawa

I’m back from my lovely little vacation, and finally recovered enough to put a blog post together!

planeMy older sister, Karla, and I flew out to Ottawa to visit our younger sister, Kim. It’s been two years since I last went to see her – last time we spent most of our time getting her new home set up, but this time was all about relaxing!

Kim met us at the airport, and whisked us away to a spa in Quebec.

Nordic spaWe spent the afternoon lounging around in bathrobes, eating, getting massages, and trying to decide which pool or sauna to try next. Such difficult decisions…;)

The next day, we went to a tea house in Quebec, and walked around the grounds for awhile.

tea housesaladgardensgardensgardensgardensOn Sunday, we drove to a little town close to Ottawa to try out another restaurant, and to check out a bunch of little shops.

lunchBest food I’ve ever eaten in my entire life – seriously. If I could only eat one meal for the rest of my life, it would be this – Asian Ginger Salmon on rice noodles with squash jus.  I’ve never been that passionate about fish, but that was before this meal…

flowersbus tourThe next day, we went on a bus tour of Ottawa and Gatineau.



In between all these delicious fun things, there were manicures and pedicures, much more food, movies, talking, and more food!

Kim and meAnd one last photo with Kim, to record the fact that I wore the necklace Anika gave me as a going-away present!

We had a wonderful time, and then it was wonderful to come home to my sweet family! But now I’ve got mountains of stuff to catch up on, and a birthday party to plan, so I need to get to work!

I hope you’ve been having a fantastic week!

Best Part of the Trip

My sister Kim just moved to Ottawa, and invited me to visit her for a weekend. What a busy, full trip! We did some sightseeing, but most of our time was spent shopping and setting up her new townhouse.

We worked and shopped, and worked and worked…and now I can present our Before and After pictures! (I love those!)


And After!

After working like crazy for two days straight, we finished up with decorating/setting up house, and went sightseeing.

Our family went to Ottawa when I was 10 years old, so it was really neat to see some of those sights again, and appreciate them more as an adult.

Ottawa is such a beautiful city. It is green and lush, with majestic views all over the place. I could totally see why my sister is loving it!

It was so much fun to see Kim’s new home, and spend a ton of time together. It was fun to shop like mad with money that wasn’t mine, and it was fun to get creative and share all of my ideas with her. It reminded me of all the things I enjoy doing, but don’t always have the time or opportunity to do.

But on my last night in Ottawa, a card from Anika fell out of my Bible, and I opened it up to read it again. Inside it said, “Roses are red, violets are blue, you are my Mommy, and I love you.” And I thought to myself, “It is time to go home and hear my girlies calling me ‘Mommy’ again!”

It was the best kind of trip – I loved my time away, and I loved coming home to my family.

I kept smiling out at the clouds through the airplane window because I was so happy to get back!

All By Myself

I am in Ottawa.

This is the very first time I’ve ever travelled by myself. I’ve only been gone a day, and I already miss late-night talks with Ben, and hugging our girls, but I’m still quite excited about this mini vacation.

My sister recently moved to Ottawa, and bought this fantastic townhouse which needs some decorating, so she asked me to come invade Ikea with her, shopping and decorating to our hearts’ content.

We will also get some sightseeing in, which makes this an absolutely amazing little holiday for me. Can’t wait to get started!

While travelling, I was reminded of an item to add to my 34 Days of Favorites: Overcoming Fears.

A few years ago, I went through a stretch of time when I was absolutely freaked out about flying. I used to love flying when I was younger, but then the whole World Trade Center thing happened, and we were reminded that all kinds of people ride on airplanes, sometimes with very bad intentions. We were reminded that sometimes people leave, and don’t come home.

Obviously, I knew these things didn’t happen very often, but I allowed my thoughts to linger in dangerous territories, and before I knew it, I had developed a fear of flying.

I didn’t have to fly much during those years, which probably caused my fear to grow.

But Ben and I were dreaming of a vacation, and so, when Anika turned four, we flew to Mexico. It was quite terrible for me.

I remember looking out the window, and seeing land verrrry far away, and suddenly feeling so full of panic, I didn’t know what to do with myself.

We flew as a family a few more times after that, and I knew I had to keep my act together, in order to put up a good front for the girls. But inside, I was still in a panic, and did not enjoy the experience.

This last January, I flew to Florida with the girls while Ben went on a missions trip to Belize, and I knew it was time to deal with this whole issue, once and for all. I was the only adult responsible for those sweet girls, and things would be a lot easier if I wasn’t freaking out about getting into an airplane.

I knew it all went back to my thoughts. I had to get control of them, and be extremely disciplined about what I filled my mind with.

Years ago, I saw a counselor in an effort to learn how to deal with anxiety. The most important technique I came away with was learning to identify the fear, and replace it with a calm, logical thought.

For example, whenever my brain started to think about plane crashes, I replaced this thought with statistics about how safe flying actually is.

It’s very easy to let our thoughts unravel quickly, and before we know it, we’re in a state of panic, and our thoughts are out of control. At that point, it’s hard to get things back under control, and our bodies have already begun to physically respond to the stress.

A few years ago, Ben’s family planned to go skydiving together, but his sister was quite nervous about the whole idea. She wanted to go, but she was also afraid to, which is understandable when you think about jumping out of an airplane.

In an effort to help his sister, Ben looked up safety statistics on skydiving, and found that more people die in a year from falling off donkeys than they do from jumping out of airplanes.

His sister chose to focus on the donkeys, and went skydiving.

Sometimes I have a deep, secret wish that I’d also chosen to think about donkeys, and joined them. Only sometimes.

Anyway. The point is that we get to choose. I’ve written a lot about how choosing our thoughts and attitudes can make us happier. It can also make us braver.

I had fun yesterday. Flying was good. There was a turbulent patch which had me clenching the arm rests, and left me feeling a bit shaky, but otherwise, I enjoyed travelling. It’s become fun once more.

Do you have any fears you’ve faced? How do you get control over your thoughts in difficult situations?