Blame it on the Casa Loma (Part 2)

Continuing my post from yesterday on our visit to Casa Loma… without further ado, some photos from the interior of the castle.

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Inside the great room. This organ connects to a massive set of pipes set into one of the adjacent walls.

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Looking out of the library

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Peeking in on wedding photos in progress inside of the conservatory

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Ceiling in the library

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The space between the dining room and the room for musicians to play in during dinner

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Inside the study

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Secret passageway inside the study. Each side of the fireplace had a door disguised as a wall panel which lead to a set of stairs, to the left you could go upstairs to the bedrooms and to the right brought you downstairs to the basement.

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Since Casa Loma was built after the advent of the ‘modern’ bathroom, the castle has many of them (I think over 30)

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Mike and Uncle Scott listening to their audio tours in one of the bedrooms (which now contains military artifacts on display)

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Drawing of a chandelier

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The sitting room inside Sir Henry’s wife’s bedroom

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The Windsor Room – Sir Henry always hoped he’d host royalty at Casa Loma, but alas he did not

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Uncle Scott, Aunt Kelli and Mike listening to their audio tours while looking out on the lawn

 

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Blame it on the Casa Loma (Part 1)

Now that you have ‘Blame it on the Bossa Nova’ stuck in your head… I’ll continue 😉

I’m sure that Sir Henry Pellatt and his wife were definitely blaming their fate on the Casa Loma. The cliff notes version of their tale is that in the early 1900’s Sir Henry had a bunch of money and decided that he wanted to have a castle built for him in Toronto. Some unfortunate business happenings + the cost of maintaining/living in a castle drove Sir Henry and his wife deep into debt, so much so, that after 10 years of living in Casa Loma they were forced to move and most of their belongings found their way onto the auction block (many of which were outed as fakes). Eventually Casa Loma was finished and now is a historical spot for tourists to explore, many films to be shot and weddings to be had.

Mike, Aunt Kelli, Uncle Scott and I wandered the grounds with self-guided tours – sometimes running into each other and other times exploring on our own. Eventually we all found each other in a room atop one of the towers – but we didn’t mingle there long – Casa Loma is without air conditioning (obviously) and it took many flights of stairs to make it up to the top (5 or 6 flights I think).

Part 1 of this post consists of exterior (or views to the exterior) photos.

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Mike and myself in the gardens

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View looking up at Casa Loma from the street-level gardens

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Looking out of one of the tower windows at the stables across the street. Sir Henry tried to get the city of Toronto to close the street to make it easier for crossing, but when the city refused Sir Henry resorted to building an 800 foot tunnel under the street, connecting the stables and the castle.

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View of the Toronto skyline from the tower inside the castle

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Looking down into the gardens from one of the bedrooms

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Mike listening to the self-guided audio tour

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Roaming the ROM Part 2

After spending a portion of our visit viewing the insides of dinosaurs – we transitioned to viewing the outsides of taxidermic animals. For those of you who know me, I thoroughly enjoy taxidermy and find birds to be absolutely fascinating. So a whole room of taxidermic birds ‘caught’ in flight, stunning.

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The bird room transitioned into a combination of mammals and under-the-sea creatures. The ‘Bat Cave’ was overrated – but everything else was really well done. We stayed until the museum started ushering everyone out at the end of the day.

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“Bye Buddy, Hope you find your dad!” – Mr. Narwhale from Elf

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Roaming the ROM Part 1

The absolute number 1 thing to do in the Top 10 Things To Do in Toronto guidebook suggested a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum (otherwise known as the ROM). I suppose you could equate it to Chicago’s Field Museum – but if memory serves correctly (I haven’t been to the Field Museum in quite some time), the ROM is much, much bigger. After viewing a fantastic exhibit on Mesopotamia (no photos allowed, boo!) detailing the various civilizations that inhabited that region, we found ourselves upstairs in THE BIGGEST DINOSAUR EXHIBIT I’VE EVER SEEN! While I’m no dino-fanatic (like my good friend Meg happens to be), I can appreciate a good skeletal re-creation. The ROM’s dinosaur exhibit blew me away – it just. kept. going…. I appreciated the sheer quantity of dinosaurs on display as well as the quality of the overall exhibit. The majority of the skeletal structures were labeled in a way to show the viewer which bones were legit, and which ones were re-created to complete the overall picture. Below are some of my favorite photos that I took while touring the dinosaur exhibit (photos were allowed in this part of the museum).

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Pre-historic Moose *I think*

Pre-historic Moose *I think*

Pre-historic sloth. The overall species seems to have become increasingly laid back looking over the centuries...

Pre-historic sloth. The overall species seems to have become increasingly laid back looking over the centuries…

"Ah yes, the little known pre-historic species, the Dasani" – Mike

“Ah yes, the little known pre-historic species, the Dasani” – Mike

 

 

Moving My Buddy to College

Packing

On Thursday, while my dad was in California with Tory helping her settle into her new home – Mom, Mike and I helped Ian pack up his belongings into the truck before the four of us started the 3 hour drive out to Eastern Illinois University. This marks a major milestone for my parents: they’re temporarily empty nesters until Summer Break when Ian and Tory return home from their respective adventures.

While Tory and I both went to Dominican University, a small private college close enough to home that we could easily come home for the weekend to hang out or grab something that we’d forgotten – it’s weird to think that Ian will be 3 hours away, so coming home (and unfortunately forgetting his tempurpedic pillow) will be more of a 12-hour production. Move-in day at DU usually consisted of taking things straight from the car to our dorm rooms, with plenty of parking and carts available. It was a vastly different experience moving Ian out to EIU. When you arrive in the dormitory parking lot you are instructed to unload the contents of the car onto the nearby grass and move your car to another lot prior to moving things up to the dorm rooms. It was certainly a well-oiled machine, and it would have to be to get over 700 freshmen moved in. Ian brought a fraction of what Tory and I ever packed for school, so it only took him and Mike a few quick trips before the pile on the grass had been transferred to his new digs.

Ian’s roommate’s parents showed no signs of leaving (we assumed incorrectly that this was their first kid to go away to school) so after a quick peek at his dorm room, he walked us out to the car for good-byes before we were on our way back to the ‘burbs. Mom slept most of the way home while Mike and I chatted in the front seat. I was grateful that we were both able to take off of work to be there for my mom. This way Ian would have some extra hands, and Mom would have company for the drive home/could take a much-needed nap. Something that I try never to take for granted is the fact that I married someone who values family as much as I do. In the words of Michael Bluth from Arrested Development, “Family First”.

It sounds like both Ian and Tory are adapting well and enjoying their new homes. For me, it hasn’t felt too weird just yet – I’m used to the two of them being out and about with friends and work – but I’m sure that at family dinners or when I’m home alone and hear something go bump in the night – their absence will be obvious. I’m already looking forward to their holiday breaks when the seven of us will bantering around the dinner table once more (well, Hans won’t be bantering so much as sleeping, but he’ll be there too).

It’s a*

 

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While at the post-20 week ultrasound appointment yesterday, my doctor asked Mike and myself if we’d like to know the gender of the baby. Like she even had to ask! So she moved the ultrasound towards the nether regions and said that she thinks it’s a boy because there appears to be a scrotum. She was quick to follow up with the comment that due to hormones, what we were looking at could be temporarily puffy lady parts (she used more technical terms) – but she was going with boy. I asked if there were perhaps anything else visible in that region that might indicate boy, but she said that the baby’s position as well as the size of such things relative to the baby’s age would make seeing anything else very difficult.

Several “tried and true” old wives tales also have suggested boy (not that there is any science behind those haha). So the party line that Mike and I are going with is “we think we’re having a boy”. To be on the safe side, we’re not going to remove tags from/wash any gender-specific clothing until after the baby arrives and we’re going to try to keep colors of clothes and nursery decor to navy blue, soft or medium greens and various grays (we figure that we can add pink accessories to all of those colors in the event that Hans turns out to be a Helga). We’ll also be sure to have a girl name (that isn’t Helga…) in our back pockets as well. Thankfully, we’ve got a strong ‘short-list’ of girl names that we both like, so that shouldn’t be an issue. Now, agreeing on an actual name for Hans the baby boy, that’s going to take some more figuring out (and apparently Hans is off the table as an out-of-utero name).