Brazil

March 11, 2014

Hello!
First of all, if you have helped me get to Brazil in any way, such as; letting me collect your recyclables, buying things from my fundraisers, or any thing else that you can think of… I can’t thank you enough! Brazil has been a blast already and today is only our second full day here! I can’t wait to see what will else will happen over the rest of this wonderful adventure.

The total travel time was somewhere around 17 hours. Which was kind of boring but at the same time, was also really fun! The first thought in my head while landing in Brazil was, “WOW!” Because the city that we landed in (São Paulo) is the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere!!

After ten hours in the São Paulo airport we finally made our way to São Luíz with one quick stop in Brasilia. It was a great feeling to know that this would be the last plane that we would be on before starting our wondrous adventure!

So far we’ve gone to a barbecue, toured the school, and had an orientation at Viamundo which is the travel agency that is helping with our trip.

Once again thank you (Obrigado) to all that have helped me over the past few months to get me where I am now. I can’t wait to update you more as the trip goes.

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I started a post back on March second which was titled “Welcome to our Great Niece!”

That was as far as I got.

Our loved nephew Chris & his wife Lisa had their first baby – a girl on March 1st.  Her name is Samantha Grace and she is beautiful!  Chris, Lisa & Samantha live in Calgary so we haven’t had the chance to meet her before this past weekend.  It’s much too far and we have told them that many times!

On Sunday, we went to “the city” for Samantha’s Baptism and it was beautiful.  I was immediately in love!

It was a beautiful day and we wouldn’t have missed it!  (Unless one of us was sick, because people who go to social events when they are sick – especially around babies – drive me crazy!!  Luckily, we were all healthy!)

Great Auntie Anne, holding Samantha for the first time!

The girls, meeting their new cousin (once removed)!

Olivia couldn't wait to get her hands on Sam!

The Baptism

Lisa & sister Melissa with their daughters, Samantha & Avery - born one month apart!

Mike, Kim, Lisa, Samantha & Chris

Samantha, her aunt, her grandparents & her great grandparents on her father's side!

Olivia had Grandpa's camera for entertainment. Here, she's showing Uncle Mike the photo(s) she took of him.

Olivia & Grandpa

Sarah & Samantha

Olivia with her safe "Picnic" during the reception

And we have a photo of Sarah at Olivia's Baptism in pretty much the same pose...

"Nanny" Kim, singing Samantha to sleep at the reception...

And she's out!

The loves of my life!

Bluenose Marathon 2011

May 23, 2011

For the past few years, the long weekend in May has become our mini-vacation before the season begins in earnest.  We normally close out, head to Halifax and stay in a hotel for a night or two.  This year, D’Arcy’s parents have been on a cruise of the Danube River, so we stayed at their condo instead of a hotel.  I was worried that the kids would be disappointed that we didn’t stay somewhere with a pool, but since they had never stayed at Grandma & Grandpa’s before, it actually turned out to be quite a novelty!

We headed to the city on Friday night, just as soon as we could get away.  We were able to pick up our race kits until 8 p.m. and arrived at about 7:40.  The boys had both outgrown their running shoes, and D’Arcy had received an email from Erin to say that we should stop by to see Luke at the Aerobics First  booth at the Expo.  We were pressed for time and I was going to blow it off, but we did go.  Luke took a look at their feet and produced a pair of sneakers that he fit on Evan.  He handed me the box and said, “These are a gift because of your sister-in-law. She does so much for me and won’t ever accept anything. She spends half a day with the youth group at least 32 weeks of the year.  Come back tomorrow and I’ll bring shoes for Alex if I have some.”  I couldn’t believe it!

We went to Grandma & Grandpa’s to get settled in.  We were so tired, we just watched tv and chatted together before heading to bed.

Morning came far too early and three kids were awake before seven.  The other was having a good, deep sleep and didn’t stir until after 8:30…

We left for the Youth Run to get there in lots of time.  As we entered the starting area, the kids (except Sarah) had their noses painted blue and we had the yearly photo with Myles.

We had gotten the kids to wear their shirts for the Sunday run on Saturday so that we could identify them among the other 2998 runners.  (Sarah wore mine and Olivia wore one of the boys’ from two years ago.)

The one thing that strikes me in all the photos is how happy the boys look!  Sarah will probably run for the first time next year.  We remarked that if Olivia runs in the Youth Run until she is 15, we have 11 more years to go!  Evan finished the 4.2 k course in about 19 minutes and Alex was just a couple minutes behind.

At the start of the Youth Run

Evan, about half way along the 4.2 k course

Alex, at the same spot

Angie (and Dean & Scotia) came to meet us and cheer the boys on!

Olivia, cold and ready to leave

Finished another great run!

Mom and her boys!

Family photo - Olivia showing her four-year-old true colors!

After the run was over, we met up at the Metro Centre and then went down to the new Halifax Seaport Farmers Market.  It was D’Arcy’s, Evan’s & the girls first time there.  We wandered around, looking for the friends we knew.  We split up and D’Arcy took the boys to get crepes while I took the girls to have their faces painted.  This way, everyone was happy.  Sarah got a heart with a rainbow and Olivia got Hello Kitty.  D’Arcy was happy to find a Granite Brewery stall and purchased a bottle of beer to take home with us.  (A 2L bottle – we figured later that it was equivalent to a six pack!)

We made a pit-stop at the grocery store and I picked up some pasta, sauce, ready-made salad and ciabatta bread so that we could stock up on carbs for supper.  The kids were especially happy when they realized I had also bought a package of safe ice cream sandwiches!  We went back to the Expo to find Luke and pick up Alex’s new sneakers.  Luke gave the boys some great advice and told them not to run 10k until they are 15.  He told them to spend the next few years running short – but fast -races.  D’Arcy entered just about every contest going and bought me a new light blue sports bra for my upcoming birthday.  I only add that because it plays into a story from the weekend…  We saw some nice running gear, and some fun t-shirts for young girls that read, “Some girls chase boys.  I pass them.”

We went back to the condo, made supper and ate together.  It was delicious!  After supper, D’Arcy did some school work, Alex went on the computer and the girls went to bed.  Evan & I played a game of crib.  We hung out together, but had an early night because we knew it would be an early morning.

The weather said that Sunday would be sunny and fourteen degrees, but when we woke up it was cloudy and six degrees.  I had a terrible time to figure out what to wear, because I’m cold at the best of times.  I changed into about three different outfits.

As I put on my new bra, Olivia looked at me and said, “If you had one of those poles, you could just wear your bra!

It took us a few minutes and some probing questions before we realized she was talking about the pole vaulters we had watched at the track meet the day before!

Erin came over and met us around eight and we went downtown.  It was cold.  Olivia was definitely under-dressed and luckily we had taken extra clothes for her which she put on quite quickly.  I had my number in a few different places because the chip was on my bib and it couldn’t be covered.  I ended up with it on my shirt and kept my jacket open as we started running.  I wish I had left my jacket behind as I took it off about one kilometre into the race.  It was fun to see so many people we knew!  D’Arcy, Angie & I ran together for the first couple kms. Before we got to the first waterstop, I told D’Arcy to go ahead without me.  I hadn’t really trained for the race this year the way I did last year.  In fact, I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I’d only been running about 5k for the last two weeks.  I told Erin that I thought it would take me about and hour and ten minutes to finish because I didn’t feel “in shape” since my surgery in February.  If worse came to worse, I figured I could run 5k and walk 5k.

I was able to keep up with Angie quite well (although I think she was running at a leisurely pace for me!).  We ran together until we got over the bridge.  When we got to the hill at Nantucket, I was ready for my first walking break and she kept going.  I was surprised that I didn’t walk as long as I thought I would.  It almost felt better to run than to walk.  I was thankful for the people lining the race route, cheering us on.  The adrenaline definitely kept me going!

The Bluenose races end on a slight incline.  (Which I think is torturous!) I had been doing really well, but that slight hill was awful!  I saw the people cheering, but was concentrating on getting to the finish line.  I finished just as the first marathon runner passed for his split time.  I wasn’t sure where the boys were, or when they would finish, so I went directly into the Metro Centre to our meeting place and found Erin and the girls who were freezing!  As it turned out, the boys had finished just behind me!

Our times were as follows:  Alexander (5k) – 29:42, Evan (5k) – 27:10, Anne (10k) – 1:03, D’Arcy (10k) – 59:35.

Erin stayed with us for a short time and then went out to watch her friends finish the half and full marathons.  We stayed for about an hour, watching on the big screen and then went back to Grandma & Grandpa’s for baths and naps!

So much for the sun - it was COLD!

Mom & kids (The boys stayed dressed until the last minute!)

Family Bluenose Photo 2011

Half marathoners

D'Arcy at the start

Angie & I at the start. (Olivia picked out my outfit!)

The boys at the start of th 5k

On your mark...

Some of the crowd - before the half & marathon races were finishing!

Heading back to the van...

Dance show

We met up with Erin in the evening and took her out to supper to both say “thank you” and “happy birthday”.  We went to Boston Pizza, probably not her restaurant of  choice, but safe for Olivia and the kids were happy and therefore – well behaved!

Happy Birthday Aunt Erin!!

D'Arcy & Erin

Olivia, Evan, Alex & Sarah

We dropped Erin off to meet her friends, then took a tour of D’Arcy’s old neighbourhood.  We went back to the Condo where everyone was ready to crash pretty early!  When we got up this morning, I was a bit sore, but not as much as I thought I’d be.  I was surprised that my belly was the most sore – just under my ribs.  D’Arcy reminded me that it was probably an after effect of my surgery.  D’Arcy & Alex ran in Point Pleasant Park while Evan & I packed up. When they got back, the six of us played Monopoly and had lunch while we did all the laundry and cleaned up.

It was a wonderful family time – we’re already talking about next year’s Bluenose weekend!

Happiness Is…

May 15, 2011

As of last week, I’m on summer vacation!  It was a long year…

For my return to blogging, a video of our four children performing together in public for the first time.  (Sunday School Closing.)

My heart grew four times its normal size:

I love the fact that Olivia sings the first verse and then a word every now-and-then.  (When she’s not playing with her dress or picking at her fingernails!)

I love that Sarah, despite normally being so shy, just belts out the whole song and looks like she’s having fun doing it.

I love how confident and strong Alex’s voice has become.

I love how Evan joined them to both play and  sing, despite being a “background” type of kid.  He doesn’t look comfortable, but he did it!   I especially love the flip of the drumstick at the very end.

This video gives me happiness!

Defeated!!

February 5, 2011

Last night was a milestone for our family that I some times thought would never happen!  D’Arcy defended his Thesis and has now completed all the requirements for his Masters of Education (Administration).

Yiiiiiiipppppppppppppppppeeeeeee!!

Forgive me my excitement, but he started this program back in 2006 when I was on bed-rest; pregnant with Olivia.

It feels like a lifetime ago.

(This program has encompassed almost a third of our marriage!)

To say I am proud of him is an understatement.

When he found out that yesterday was the date to defend, he asked if I would accompany him.  I immediately called my parents and they offered to take the kids to their house for a sleepover so that I could go.

The timing of yesterday wasn’t the best, as his students wrote their last exam on Monday and he had to turn in his end-of-semester marks on Tuesday.  Luckily, he had “storm days” when school was canceled on both Wednesday & Thursday so he was able to get some work done.  (Not so much on Wednesday when I still had school so he was home with the four kids!)  Nonetheless, he got his power point presentation designed and ready.

I taught yesterday morning, then left straight after class so that we could head to the University.  I drove while D’Arcy practiced and I have to admit, I was really nervous for him.  His presentation in the car was awful!

We got to the university with just under an hour until the time of his Defense.  We met up with his advisor and the dreaded APA woman.  (At the third reading of his Thesis, it was discovered that he had improperly cited some of his references, so he had to go back through his entire paper (123 pages) and fix all his references so the paper would not be considered to be plagiarized.  This involved getting copies of all the books, journals, etc. and going back through them all – hence the “dreaded APA woman”!)  It was the first time he had met her in person and she actually turned out to be very lovely and supportive!

Because the third reader and external reader were in Ontario, D’Arcy presented his Thesis through Elluminate.  There were eleven people present in total, either in the room or through the computer.

I was able to snap a photo with my phone before it started:

He began at 4:00 and spoke for 40 minutes about his work.  Then his advisors/readers/audience asked him questions for another hour-and-a-half.  (The presentation and the first 45 minutes of questioning were really interesting!)  It was enlightening for me to be in the room.  My husband is SMART.  Not that I didn’t know that, but listening to him talk to me and listening to him present in that situation – there’s a difference.  I hung onto every word.

Finally, his advisor shut the questioning down and told the audience to leave the room.  She looked at me and nodded; at that point I realized I was considered part of the audience.  When we all were outside the room, D’Arcy was speaking to some of the other faculty and I called the restaurant where we had 6:30 reservations to tell them we would be late.

Everyone else left, with the exception of his two advisors and the two readers on Elluminate.  We were invited back in and one of his advisors shook his hand and said, “Let me be the first to congratulate you for earning your Masters of Education!”  His other advisor went on to explain that there were very few changes needed; just some spelling/typographical errors.  “Very Minor”  we were told.

In fact, we learned that he had earned a “Category A” rating which is the highest rating you can get.  The written comment:

“This thesis is very well written.  The purpose of the study is clear and the research questions are clearly outlined.  The student did a great job using mixed methods and using appropriate statistical analysis tools.  The data analysis is complete and a comprehensive description of the findings is provided. Implications for the study and relevant further areas of research are provided.  Congratulations for a job well done!”

When it was over, D’Arcy called the kids to tell them it was over.  The best reaction was when Sarah asked, “So you mean you did it? You defeated your thesis?”

Yes Sarah, Daddy certainly did defeat his thesis!

We invited D’Arcy’s advisor to join us for a small celebration, but she declined, telling us to go out and enjoy our evening alone together; she wants to put a celebration on for D’Arcy at graduation.

I now am starting to plan the graduation party in the back of my mind.  It is so hard to imagine that this is finally over.  I started my Diploma in Adult Education last semester and expect to take at least two years to complete the program.  D’Arcy’s advisor made a comment about building on his thesis for his Doctorate and I was quick to tell her – not for quite some time! It’s my turn right now!

We went out for dinner to celebrate and had a wonderful time.  It was as if a weight had been lifted off our shoulders!

We’ve marked May 1st on our calendars!!  It’s going to be a big day!!

The Big Day is Here!

February 4, 2011

I can’t believe it, but the big day is here – D’Arcy is defending his Thesis this afternoon at four o’clock!!  Please keep him in your thoughts!  My parents are keeping the kids overnight and I’m leaving right after class to tag along for moral support.    Wahoo!!

Family Time

December 28, 2010

I can’t believe that the last time I posted here was on October 2nd!  Since I have started teaching, there doesn’t seem to be a spare moment in our days.  This Christmas was one of the most magical I can remember in awhile – perhaps because I was too busy to do many of the normal things I feel I need to do.  D’Arcy & I went shopping on the 22nd while Rachel babysat, and we did all cooking/baking on the 23rd.  My brother was only here for a short time, so we had supper with him at my parents’ on the night of the 23rd.  We spent Christmas Eve with D’Arcy’s family, and Christmas Day here at home.  More to follow, but right now, we’re too cozy hanging out with one another at home, recharging and getting in lots of hugs…

Milestones

October 2, 2010

We’re hitting a number of milestones around here – Evan’s in Junior High, Sarah started Primary, Olivia’s started Preschool, D’Arcy’s on the (hopefully) final edit of his Thesis…

I promised some photos recently and haven’t come through, so here are a few:

First Day of School, September 2010

The whole family is at school now - D'Arcy teaches Gr. 9 & 10 Science, Evan is in Grade 6, Alex is in Grade 4, Sarah is in Primary, Olivia goes to Preschool and Mom is teaching Tourism Management at the Community College

First time on the School Bus!

Olivia walking Evan to the Junior High bus on his first day!

She loved it!

Olivia, ready for her first day of Preschool!

Walking to preschool!

And this weekend, Sarah started riding her bike without training wheels:

Getting started

Almost there!

And she's off!

My birthday was on Saturday.  It was a great day, all-in-all.

It started off early – very early – when Alex delivered breakfast-in-bed (and D’Arcy said he tried to hold him off!) at 6:30 a.m.  D’Arcy had been up shortly after five to feed some regular guests before they left for their course.  All this activity, of course, woke Sarah & Olivia and the day began sooner than I had anticipated.

We fed the second room their breakfast and the kids gave me some very special home-made cards they’d made for me.  D’Arcy took the boys off to their baseball game at the Park and I stayed home to clean the guest room.  (Birthdays over the age of 21 are so glamorous!)  On various trips through the kitchen, I would check in on Facebook to discover birthday greetings from around the world – that was fun and made me feel special!

We were invited to my parents’ house for lunch.  The girls were very cranky & tired after being up so early, but Sarah got dressed up and Olivia put on a pair of pretty Capri pants  and a nice shirt.  The boys arrived home, D’Arcy had a quick shower and we got ready to go up the hill.  As we started herding kids out the door, I noticed that Olivia had changed into jogging pants and a t-shirt.  Sigh.  She told me that she had “spilled drops” on her pants and it wasn’t worth the battle to get her to change again!  She later told us that the drops she spilled were “invisible”.

I got into the van and discovered a package in my seatbelt from D’Arcy & the kids – opal earrings.  Evan spilled the beans that “Dad told us to look for something pretty, but cheap!”  D’Arcy laughed and teased him, saying, “Evan, what happens at the jewelery store is supposed to stay at the jewelery store!”  I told them that it’s the thought that counts and they are really pretty…

We had a glass of wine and then went to the table for lunch.   My mom had made lobster chowder for the grown-ups and tomato soup for the kids which everyone normally likes.  Sarah & Olivia had an argument over who got to sit by me, then argued over who got what coloured straw!  Eventually, we got those issues sorted out and they both announced that they didn’t like tomato soup which is so not true!  Olivia did eventually drink hers dry, but Sarah pushed hers away and pouted.

Second course was tuna buns on homemade rolls for the kids and a roasted-tomato and pesto tart on puffed pastry with a green salad for the adults.  It was delicious even though mom had been fretting that the temperature had been too high and they were brown on the bottom.  Meanwhile, Alex, Sarah & Olivia whined about the tuna buns and all gave them to Evan who managed to eat three and loved every bite!  The others ate veggie sticks and plain rolls with molasses.

For dessert, my mother had made banoffee and put candles in it.  When she & Alex served it to me, one side fell and Olivia started to cry because she didn’t get to blow out the yellow candle.  The tragedies just kept coming…

We finally got everyone back on track and both Sarah & Olivia announced they had to go to the bathroom, but Alex was already in there. Neither of them wanted to go to the one downstairs and started to fuss.  Again.

D’Arcy quipped, “Well, it is that kind of potty –  a potty party!”

Groan.

Such a cheery face!

A fleeting moment of happiness...

... before some one feels she was wronged and didn't get to blow out the yellow candle!

D'Arcy & Evan, stuffed after lunch!

Sarah even put on an impromptu dance performance after lunch for me:

We came home and D’Arcy & I both fought to stay awake because we were so full.  I thought I should automatically be allowed a nap since it was MY birthday!

Our guests who had eaten so early in the morning had invited us out to dinner and we were expecting them to arrive back to the house around six.  Because of the rain, they arrived home mid-afternoon and asked to move the time up to go out earlier.  I quickly got ready and we sat around in the living room and had a glass of wine with them.  We went out for dinner at 5:30 and had a lovely meal.  The food was good and the conversation was easy.  We came back to our place and had some sparkling wine which had been fortified with icewine.

When the guests turned in early, I took the Evan & Alex upstairs and cuddled for a few minutes before D’Arcy came up to tell me that one of my childhood friends, Chris, was on the phone.   Chris made a huge life-change last year and left his job to go through RCMP training.  He is now posted in British Columbia and has moved there with his wife & kids.  We talked for almost two hours before hanging up, even though we hadn’t spoken in a couple of years. (Lots to get caught up on I guess!)  We finally realized it was time to go when Chris commented, “I can hear D’Arcy snoring beside you!”

All in all, it was a great day and even though I had some very tired & cranky girls, I definitely felt very loved & spoiled!

Tomorrow is June and I can’t wait to turn the page.  The past couple of weeks we have been busy running from one activity to the next, wrapping things up for the end of the school year and marking special occasions.  The June calendar page has far less on it than the past few months!

To-do lists have been long and sleep has been short.

I was in Digby at a tourism conference on Thursday & Friday.  It was beautiful & fun.  I was interviewed on camera about how the proposed new convention centre in Halifax would be beneficial for our business.  (1/3 of rooms in May were people traveling either pre or post convention!)  With many people feeling the outlook for tourism this year is going to be bleak, it was energizing to network and share ideas.

On Friday morning, I met up with the incoming Chair of the Board and we went for a morning run from the Digby Pines to the Ferry Terminal.  There was a beautiful rainbow over the water  and the sun had just come up.  What a way to start the day!

Morning Run from the Digby Pines to the Digby - Saint John Ferry Terminal

I arrived home just in time for D’Arcy to pull some reuben sandwiches out of the oven to go with a salad he & the boys had made for a late supper. (The girls were having a sleepover with my parents!) I immediately got started on the preparations for Alex’s First Communion Dinner. He had asked for spare ribs and I was making him a cake. I also had to make some cookies for Sarah’s dance recital celebration. Her grandmother let me know that she was wondering what her cookies would look like this year.  Apparently, I unknowingly started a new “tradition” last year after her first recital.

This year's ballerina cookies, to match Sarah's costume

Olivia came home first thing in the morning while Ginna took Sarah to her dress rehearsal in full costume and hair. We took Evan to his pick-up baseball game at the park, where there weren’t enough kids, so both D’Arcy & Alex ended up playing as well. Olivia & I ran errands and every time we went back to the park to check if they were finished, Olivia wanted to play on the playground. Evan was very pleased that he got three hits and Alex got two. Hopefully that’s a good sign that this season will go better than last!

We were expecting our guests to arrive for Alex’s First Communion Dinner at 3:30, so we got home and rushed around to get ready. D’Arcy was just finishing mopping the floors when my parents arrived with Auntie Ruth. Shortly afterwards, Theresa, Jeff (Alex’s godparents) and the boys arrived. We were a little bit rushed because we were trying to eat before Alex had to be at Mass at 5:30. Just as we sat down to supper, Grandma, Grandpa & Aunt Shannon arrived. We were happy to pull up a few more places and we all had a nice meal.

At one point, Sarah told me that she was kind of “scared” of Alex having his First Communion.  I reassured her that there was nothing to be afraid of when Evan interjected, “Unless Olivia goes into anaphylaxis and starts throwing up at Mass like she did at my First Communion!”

Um, right…

Luckily that didn’t happen this time!

The food and conversation were plentiful and the kids were all well-behaved at Mass.  We came back to the house afterwards for cake, cookies and photos.  Theresa, Jeff & the boys stayed overnight and we sat around watching the hockey game & talking (& laughing!) until after midnight.

Relaxing on the deck while the ribs were on the barbeque

All the Grade 3's after their First Communion

Alex with his godparents, Theresa & Jeff

Tyler, Aidan, Alex, Sarah, Olivia, Evan, Brendan

Our family

Alex with Aunt Shannon

Alex with both sets of grandparents & Auntie Ruth

Time for cake!

Sarah sees her ballerina cookies

Alex with his first watch - a gift from Theresa & Jeff!

On Sunday, we were all up shortly after seven and had breakfast before Theresa, Jeff & the boys had to hit the road for home and we had to get Sarah ready for her recital.

She had her make-up done at home, but then went to her grandparents’ to get her costume on and her hair done.  They took her to the auditorium so that we didn’t have to get there with the other kids too early.

Getting her make-up done for her dance recital. Sarah will rarely take her glasses off (even when she sleeps!) because she sees double and everything is blurry. It is amazing how straight her glasses keep her eyes!

Our beautiful ballerina!

With Katerina, her best friend

Visiting with her godparents at intermission

On the stage!

Chloe's group at the finale. Chloe is on the far left.

I love this one - Katerina is turned around talking to Sarah during the finale!

Sarah & Chloe

When we got home, Sarah carefully arranged her flowers in a vase and commented that her dinner guests would love her flowers.  When I told her we weren’t having any dinner guests this year because of Alex’s party the night before, her face fell.  A quick phone call later with her godparents and to the pizza place, a party was born!  It’s amazing what a pink table-cloth, candles, wine glasses and flowers can do to make a party!

This year's less-fancy-but-still-special-last-minute-ballet-dinner

And of course, the leftover ballerina cookies topped off the celebration!  I love these photos as she looks so pleased to be handing them out to Martha & Stephane!

I’m exhausted.  I just hope I don’t have to make dancers with kilts for her highland dance recital in two weeks!