Terra Nova to St. John’s

August 15, 2011

Part way from Terra Nova to St. John’s, we ran into rain.  We saw five bald eagles between Terra Nova Park and Goobies, but no moose.  We stopped for gas and noted that we were at the 1800km mark.

Carl, at Frenchman’s Cove Provincial Park had told us about Salmonier Nature Park so we made sure to stop there.  The park has a beautiful two kilometre circular boardwalk where animals are kept in as close to their natural habitat as possible.  We had a great walk, seeing owls, geese, caribou, lynx, Arctic fox and other animals. The two moose put on quite a show for us, grazing nearby.

Caribou

A leisurely walk in the rain - the boardwalk was beautiful and ran the whole circuit of the park.

Bald Eagle

Watching the Moose

Arctic Fox

It was close to suppertime when we finished the loop, so we went back to the van and left a message for Sandy & Dave now that we had cell service.  As we drove into town, we check availability at various hotels.  It turned out that there were three festivals taking place and very few rooms to be had.  Because we knew that we could get Olivia something safe to eat, we went to Boston Pizza for supper.  By this time, Dave had been in touch and called around for us as well.  The only places we could find would cost $200, so we decided that we would tent one more night.

As we started to eat, Sarah exclaimed, “My tooth!”  and held out her hand with her tooth in it.  When I looked into her mouth, I realized that it wasn’t the tooth we were expecting to fall out!  It was her second lower front tooth!  The upper one was still hanging!  She was traumatized and didn’t want to eat anything else.

A happy Sarah at supper - before losing her tooth

Fun at Boston Pizza

When we left the restaurant, we went straight to Pippy Park to get our tent set up while it was still light out.  We knew we were going to Dave’s mother’s house the next night, so only got the bare essentials out – sleeping bags, etc.  We were in a hurry to get to Sandy & Dave’s to meet baby Brianna.

Dave was out when we arrived, but we had visited for about an hour with Sandy, Nate and Brianna.  Not quite four weeks old, she was so tiny!  Sandy had been to the walk-in clinic earlier in the day and had been given a prescription for antibiotics to clear up mastitis.  She wasn’t looking very perky.

We had an early bedtime in the tent.  Sarah put her tooth in “Twinkle the Tooth Fairy” and set her beside her head.  It was raining, but we were cozy in the tent under the trees.  The kids were all asleep within moments.  Olivia had kicked off her covers and at one point through the night, and woke up cold crying that she wanted to go home.  I bundled her up and cuddled her in to me and she went back to sleep with a smile on her face.

Sleeping in the tent with Twinkle the Tooth Fairy

It was around 8:30 when we woke up, but D’Arcy had already been out for a run and had been geocaching.  We had breakfast and got packed up before we all went geocaching.  One of the caches was hidden near the playground, so Sarah & Olivia were more interested in playing.  Evan had a wipe-out off the slide and scraped up his knee.  We never did find the cache and eventually gave up and moved on to the next one which was hidden nearby.  We found that one really quickly, under a bridge along a walking path.

The girls amused themselves with the binoculars and their hot chocolate while we packed up...

This photo needs a creative caption!

I love this one!

Playground fun!

Another found geocache!

Statues!

We left the campground and went to the Fluvarium, a nature centre which explains the importance of streams & rivers.  The bottom floor has windows which allow you to look into the stream outside and observe the ecosystem.  It took us about an hour to go through, and when we went to leave, we found the Pearces waiting for us at the exit!  I asked Sandy how she was feeling, and she put on a brave front.  We took all the kids mini-golfing and I ended up taking the little ones to the playground when they got tired of the game while Sandy nursed Brianna in the car.  After they got tired of the playground, we went to feed the ducks & pigeons while D’Arcy, Dave & the boys played the full 18 holes.  None of us had had lunch, so we went to McDonald’s, knowing it was safe for Olivia.  There, we tried to make some plans and we decided that we would go to Cape Spear next.

A trout in the river at the Fluvarium

D'Arcy giving Sandy a hand

Sarah, Olivia & Nate explore the golf course

Brianna, oblivious to the activity around her

The boys were having fun together.

Bird-man Nate!

It was a beautiful day to be at Cape Spear, the most easternly point in North America.  Sandy stayed in the car with Brianna, to feed her and hopefully get a bit of a nap.  The weather was overcast and cool, but there was no fog, so there was good visibility.  We found a geocache right away and climbed up to the lighthouse.   Dave and Nate went back to check on their girls while we searched for one more cache, located near a whale watching rock, off one of the lower walking paths.  I kept Sarah & Olivia with me on the path while D’Arcy and the boys searched.  The boys climbed up on a rock on the cliff while D’Arcy searched at the whale watching rock.  The boys were talking & laughing, and I tried to get some photos of them.  I only found out later that Alex was actually trying to use the bathroom without anyone noticing!   We were getting nervous watching D’Arcy, so pleaded to him to give up and we went back to meet the Pearces.

The family at Cape Spear, the most Easterly point in North America.

We found another geocache!

The waves were spectacular!

Searching for another cache.

Dave & Brianna

From there, we took the scenic route back to St. John’s through Bay Bulls and went to Dave’s mom’s house where we would be staying.  D’Arcy kept busy unloading the van while Dave & the boys played crib, the younger kids played and Sandy & I visited.   When they left at 8:30, we started baths and laundry.  It felt so good to be clean!  Sleeping in a comfortable bed with fleece sheets felt like heaven!

Olivia & Brianna

Olivia & Brianna

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Our Newfoundland trip has just begun and we’ve already had our fair share of adventures & misadventures!

Our first adventure began the week before we left, when we took our ten-year-old Toyota Sienna in to the garage to get it tuned up before leaving.  They had hardly begun to look at it when they called to tell us that the frame was rusted through on the front passenger side and in their opinion, we shouldn’t take it on the trip.  Thus began our search for a new vehicle.  Having four children (two still in booster seats), a van was our only option.  We did look at a used Honda Pilot, but it just didn’t have enough space.  Long story short, we ended up buying a 2010 Honda Odyssey with 22,000km at 4:45 on Friday afternoon of the long weekend, planning to leave on Monday.  Nothing like the 11th hour…

Sunday night, we had two rooms of guests who were both up and out fairly early.  We scurried around, cleaning rooms, washing bedding, and getting packed up.  We had a goal to leave the house between 1 – 2 p.m. and we pulled out of the driveway at 2:30!  Evan had sold tickets for a baseball fundraiser that had to be dropped off on our way out of town and away we went!

Our next stop was a visit to D’Arcy’s aunt & uncle, Myles & Alice, in the Monastery area. That was a highlight of the trip so far!  D’Arcy’s cousin Paul was there from Ontario with his family and pet bunny.  Olivia had a grand time petting the bunny.  Paul’s kids showed the girls a fun came of loading up a toy dump truck with bouncy balls and dumping them down the stairs!  They were protecting themselves with pillows and laughing & squealing.  So much fun!

Olivia & Robinson

Most fun game ever!

Sarah made my day when we were driving in Cape Breton and she announced, “I’m watching the Nature Channel out my window – and it’s in 3D!”

We got to the ferry in lots of time and I was very impressed when as we checked in, the girl (another St. FX grad!) commented, “Oh – you’re traveling with a peanut allergy!”  She told us to feel free to take our cooler with food on board. We got in the line and the excitement in the van was palpable.  The girls decided that they needed to go to the bathroom just as the announcement was made to return to your vehicles to prepare for boarding.  Sarah decided that she could wait, but it soon became apparent that she couldn’t.  We were in lane #9 and were watching the other vehicles board in order.  We decided to risk it, and D’Arcy ran her to the bathroom.  The rest of us started to panic when they skipped over from loading Lane 6 directly to Lane 9!!  Luckily, we were farther back in the Lane, so just as we would have to move, Sarah & D’Arcy came running back!

We got on board and checked out our very tiny, cramped, 4-bearth cabin. After some finagling, it was decided that Evan would sleep on one top bunk and D’Arcy & Sarah would sleep on the other top bunk.  We’ll switch it up on the way back.  We went out on deck to watch as we set sail and then after a quick tour of the decks went back to our cabin for stories and bed.  (It was after 11:00 p.m. by this time.)  Olivia was so tired that half-way through her story, she asked if we could finish in the morning.  The swaying of the ship put us all to sleep very quickly.

Luckily, the kids all seem to have inherited strong “sea legs” from their parents and none of us had problems with our stomachs on the fourteen hour ride.  In the morning, we showered and went out to the Lounge area to have brunch and play games.  The ferry has a games room where you can borrow different board games so the boys played Battleship while the girls played Snakes & Ladders and then D’Arcy & I joined them for a game of My Little Pony Memory.  The girls were so happy that the ship was fitted all over with “ballet bars”!

Leaving Nova Scotia

Brunch on the Ferry

Battleship!

The ballet boat!

This takes me back to my days as a crane operator on the MS Scotia Prince!

Fun times on the ferry

So bright - and hot!!

The kids and the moose at Goobies, NL

It was a beautiful, bright, but cool day when we arrived in Newfoundland.  We disembarked from the ferry and headed towards our first destination – Frenchman’s Cove Provincial Park on the Burin Peninsula.

We made a couple of stops along the way – one in Goobies where we got gas and took pictures with a statue of a moose, then again in Marystown.  We realized that we hadn’t brought a flashlight and we wanted to pick up a second air mattress for the tent. We tried a couple of Home Hardware stores, and Canadian Tire was closed, so we had to go to Walmart.  We picked up what we needed and proceeded to the cash.  The air mattress rang in $15 more than the sticker on the shelf.  The cashier called the girl in the outdoor section who couldn’t find the sticker on the shelf.  I ended up taking the air mattress back to her.  It was no wonder she couldn’t find the sticker – she was looking at a totally different product!  I got the sticker and took it back up to the cashier.  She had to call a supervisor over and the supervisor told her that she should have done a price override.  The two of them started arguing about what the proper procedure was, rather than ringing it in.  The lady behind me told them that their behaviour was inappropriate.  The supervisor stormed off, but didn’t complete her procedure, so I couldn’t pay until she came back and pressed some more buttons.  She wouldn’t even look at me or at the cashier, and pounded the keys on the register before storming off again.  The cashier looked at me and said, “After ten years of doing this, I think I know when I can do a price override or not!”

We finally arrived at the campground at about 7:30 p.m., 29 hours after leaving our home.  D’Arcy & the boys got the fire going and started setting up the tent while the girls explored and I started supper.  We had steak, and new potatoes, carrots & onions cooked over the fire.  It was delicious!!  We sat around the fire and realized that we were exhausted!  We decided to put off making s’mores and went to bed and were asleep in no time!

In the tent

I’m a Teacher!!

July 12, 2010

If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been posting much lately, one reason is because I’ve been busy with summer activities, home renovations, planning my 20th High School Reunion, and because – I’ve had a secret!

I applied for a job in April and was asked to interview for it on the last day of school.  Since then, all of our summer plans (and beyond!) have been in limbo as we waited…

And waited…

And waited…

This morning, the phone rang and when I answered it, the voice on the other end asked, “So are you ready to start teaching?”

I wanted to scream!!!

Out of 33 applicants, I was chosen to teach Tourism at the Community College in a special 20 month program for First Nation Learners.

I can’t wait!

The job will run August (yes, in three weeks!) until April, at which point the students will go out on their work terms and I will be laid off.  This works well, as we’ll just be gearing up for our busy season at that point.  I’ll be “rehired” in September when the students come back and the program ends in March 2012, giving me the summer with Olivia before she starts school.

At my interview, I was told it is a class of 19, and they’ve all been interviewed and selected specifically for the program.

What will happen with my family and B&B and volunteer activities?  My parents are going to step in and take over with the house/B&B side of things during the week.  I intend to continue my positions with the Boards I sit on, and will see how I can make it work.  The one piece I have trouble reconciling is my ability to volunteer in the elementary school the same way I did.  I’ll just have to find other ways.

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to be a teacher.  (Or a librarian.)  When I was a teenager and started working as a waitress, (before the days you were called a “server”) I remember telling my father, ” I love this, I could do this forever.”  He counselled me, telling me to get a degree first and then if I wanted to be a waitress, I’d have something to fall back on. (Thanks Dad!)  I switched schools and got my Bachelor of Tourism & Hospitality Management and love being part of the Tourism Industry.

In the middle of the night, almost four years ago when Olivia was a baby, I had an inspiration while nursing her in the dark.  Since D’Arcy will be eligible to retire while we still have two children in post secondary education and two in Junior High School, why don’t I go back to University when Olivia goes to school and become a teacher?  Then he can retire, and I’ll continue working.  We even went so far as to talk to our financial planner and put money aside to make this plan work.

In April, a friend sent me the job posting for the College and told me I would be perfect for the job.  I hate to sound self-assured,  but I just knew when I read it that this job was mine.  I researched, wrote a resume (I haven’t applied for a job in over 11 years) and picked anyone’s brain I could think of.  Luckily, it all paid off .  I’m so excited and my family is all thrilled for me! I told D’Arcy that we can nod-off together now as we stay up late to mark papers!

To be sure, I realize that this is going to have a huge impact on our family and way-of-life, but I hope it will be in a good way.  I hope it means that when I have time with my family, I will stay in the moment with them because it is time with my family, rather than working on “one more project”!

Tonight, I’m just giddy with the news that after all these years, I’m a Teacher!

School Girl

May 18, 2010

Yesterday, Sarah got to go to the school for Primary orientation.  How exciting!

She had received her invitation in the mail last week and had been carefully guarding it from her siblings.  She put on her prettiest princess dress for the occasion, even though I suggested that she might be over-dressed for her fire-hall tour with the preschool, immediately following! How could I argue with the logic that it was a very special day, so she needed to wear her special dress?!

We got to the school with all the other children – there are currently 70 children registered in the school for English Primary, and 18 in the French Immersion class.  She was put into group “1” of four with one of her best friends, Katerina, and with Kaylee and Ella, whom she knew from dance class.

At the first station, they listened to one of the Primary teachers read them a story and answer questions, the second was to play with play-dough (building fine motor skills), the third was following directions (print their name at the “top” of the paper, draw their favourite foods, then cut and glue some other pictures from the flyers), and the fourth station was identifying lower case letters with magnets.

Sarah & Katerina

At each station, they met a different teacher and were given a bag of goodies at the end.  The bag contained three books (one in French), construction paper, scissors, glue, crayons, a pencil, a container of play-dough and some magnetized upper & lower case letters & numbers.  Sarah was so excited by this, she has carried it everywhere and even slept with the bag last night!

We met some of the other children who will be in her class and know two-thirds of them already.  We were interested to learn that the class will be made up of an even split of boys and girls!  She will get a call in another couple of weeks with a time that she can go to school and spend the morning with the primaries while they are in class.

The hardest part now will be waiting for September for school to start!

Valentine’s Day

February 10, 2010

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day?

Years ago, when I was in elementary school, my mother made hot milk cake in individual heart-shaped cake molds for my brother & I, topped with cream cheese icing and cinnamon hearts.   This is a tradition I’ve kept up with my own kids, although since Olivia’s food allergy diagnosis a couple of years ago, it’s been individual heart-shaped peanut-treenut-egg-soy-and-dairy-free cake with icing made from palm oil, icing sugar & rice milk.  She is allergic to cinnamon and you can’t find those cinnamon hearts that aren’t packaged in a factory without peanuts & treenuts, so decorations have been Enjoy Life’s peanut-treenut-egg-soy-dairy-free chocolate chips.  (AKA the “golden chocolate chips” because of their cost!)

You do what you have to do.

This year is Olivia’s first since passing her dairy challenge, so I’ll make peanut-treenut-egg-soy-free yogurt cakes in a heart shape, topped with cream cheese icing.  I might even go wild and decorate them with pink & red Smarties, made in a peanut-free factory!

I got an idea from Chris & Gwen’s blog for exchanging Valentines among the family.  They give out five color-coded post-it notes per person.  Each member of the family has to write an array of “I love you because…” messages for their family members on the color-coded notes and they get hidden around the house to find.  I’m totally stealing this idea this year!  (this is a step up from my normal cut-out construction paper hearts with loving sentiments…)

We’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day here on the 15th because the kids will be at my parents’ for a sleepover while we host our annual Chef’s Dinner at the B&B.  One of the things we learned early on when working in the hospitality industry is that you have to make your own holidays!  After all, shouldn’t we appreciate our Valentines each day of the year?!

Ten Years Ago

January 5, 2010

I noticed as the new year turned this week that many people were reflecting on the past decade. We rang in Y2K with some of D’Arcy’s siblings at Michael & Kim’s. We had worked the earlier evening at “The Fireside” being host & hostess, leaving 15-month-old Evan with Meghan. After work, we had a bite to eat there with our friend JoAnne, including a raspberry kuchen and then joined the family. Because we were hoping to be pregnant, I had only a few sips of champagne and was the DD when we drove home to Waverley in the wee hours of the morning.

Ten years ago today, we found out that we were expecting Alex. I know this because today is Aunt Seana’s birthday and coincidentally enough, with both boys we found out we were expecting on January 5th. (And until an ultrasound said differently, they had the same due date!) I remember being at D’Arcy’s parents’ house that evening and pretending to sip my champagne because we weren’t ready to share our secret yet!

Wow, what a lot we’ve been through in the past decade: added three children, lost three pregnancies, hosted two exchange students, sold a home, bought a home, started a business, and won some awards. We’ve welcomed over 3000 guests – from every continent (except Antarctica) – into our home. D’Arcy has changed schools, the boys have changed schools, and I’ve changed jobs (The Fireside, CCRA, The Palliser and now running the B&B). I had a trip to Newfoundland, D’Arcy had three trips to Toronto; our family has taken trips to Quebec, Disneyworld, and countless trips to PEI. We’ve been to a number of weddings, welcomed a number of our babies into our circle of family & friends, and sadly, said goodbye to a number of loved ones, including our two dogs. We’ve celebrated D’Arcy’s 40th birthday, my 30th, our 10th wedding anniversary, our parents’ 40th & 50th wedding anniversaries and a number of other milestones in style. We’ve learned more about eyes & allergies than we ever wanted to know! We’ve learned the fear & horror of sitting in a hospital room while watching a child struggle to breathe. D’Arcy started – and has almost completed – his M.Ed. We have made many new friends, while cherishing our old friends. We definitely haven’t had very many quiet days or full night’s sleep! We’ve worked hard, played hard & loved hard.

I can’t wait to see what the next decade will bring!

Christmas 1999

Open Wide

December 11, 2009

Evan had a dentist appointment on Monday for a cleaning.  Olivia & I walked him over while my mom took Sarah to Highland Dance and Alex to choir.  Evan doesn’t like going to the dentist (who does?!)  but was fairly upbeat & chatty on the way there.  When we got to the door, he started acting reluctant, and then was fooling around, pretending to hide so that he wouldn’t have to go in.

The hygienist, Wendy, came out to get him and he said that he wanted me in the room with him.  I asked her if that was okay and she assured me that whatever made it easiest for him, we could do.  When Olivia & I got into the room, she asked us to go out in the hall before we got settled so that she could take his X-rays.

I realized that it was taking a long time, so I poked my head in to check on them.

Evan was sitting in the chair, mouth firmly closed.

Long story short:  I talked, cajoled and threatened, but he wouldn’t open his mouth.  He sat in the chair with his mouth shut and tears rolling down his cheeks until there was no time left because another patient was coming in.

As he was getting his coat on, the staff told me to take a deep breath and give him a hug.  They said not to re-book for six months to give him some time to put this behind us.

It was a pretty frosty walk home in every sense of the word.

When we arrived home, I told Evan to go straight to his room where he would stay until I calmed down supper.

We talked to him at supper and asked what he thought the consequences of his behavior should be?

We decided that he would lose all technology and he had to write a letter of apology which he then took to the office and read to Wendy:

“Dear Wendy,

I am truly, positively sorry for the way I behaved at my appointment yesterday.  I did not intend to waste your time.  The part I do not like about the dentist is the polishing part.  It makes me want to gag.  I did not mean to be disrespectful to you either.  Is there another kind of polish I could use so I don’t get that feeling?

See you in June.

Yours truly,

Evan

p.s.  Next time I will open my mouth”

Wendy thanked him and they decided that when he gets his teeth cleaned next time, they will use regular toothpaste for him instead of the polish.  He seems okay with that.

Ugh.  And we haven’t even hit the teenage years…