It’s a GORGEOUS day in Halifax today.  In fact, the weather has never been so good for Bluenose Marathon weekend!

We’re just back to the hotel after watching Evan & Alex run the Doctors’ Nova Scotia 4.4km Youth Run.  They did great – Evan finished in about 18 minutes and Alex finished in about 23 minutes.  It was the first year that they were both able to run it non-stop.

A highlight of the morning was discovering that the girls are on last year’s Blue Nose Youth Run video!  You can watch it (they’re about 2 1/2 minutes in) while we go for a celebratory swim!

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Privileged

February 23, 2010

We collect Delta Privilege points.  Between Chris & Lisa’s wedding & the Tourism Conference among other events, we were eligible for Platinum status this year.  As a Platinum member, we get free room upgrades, free internet, turn-down service, etc. at each stay.  The best bonus is that we “earned” $300 which could be used toward room and/or dining charges.  The only catch is that status in the program may vary from year to year, depending on how often you stay and the year expires on February 28th.  We love the atmosphere & the staff at the Delta Barrington, as well as its convenient location downtown.  We’ve not been disappointed any time we have stayed, and even wrote a glowing review on Trip Advisor for them after our summertime stay.

We got a letter in the mail last month, explaining that the expiry date was coming up, so we looked at the calendar, chose a date, and booked two rooms for Saturday night.  (As a family of six, we no longer fit into one regular hotel room.)  We just put “Surprise” on the calendar for the kids, in case it fell-through, and booked out on Saturday night.  The kids had a wonderful time trying to guess what the surprise would be.

On Friday at suppertime, my parents took the girls to their house for a sleepover so that we could watch the Olympics and get ready in peace.  We lit a fire in the tv room, ate store-bought pizza (a novelty with Olivia out-of-the-house) and pulled out the couch.  D’Arcy marked and we all watched the curling & the skeleton races.  We told the boys what we would be doing the next day and they were happy to hear that we’d decided to dedicate the weekend to our family.  We turned off our computers and just hung out.

Both boys play basketball on Saturday mornings and usually D’Arcy takes them while I stay home with the girls.  Since the girls were with my parents, I planned to go watch the games.  On our way to Evan’s game, we dropped some clothes & snowpants off so that they could go outside & play while they waited.  As I rushed in the door, I discovered a pale-looking Sarah, wrapped up in a blanket on the couch.  My mother informed me that she had been throwing up in the night, but she wasn’t sure if Sarah was sick or had just eaten too much too fast.  I told them I would be back to pick them up in an hour when the game was over and we would decide what to do from there.

Evan’s game was great and he scored a couple of really nice baskets.  Alex was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to watch his game, but I explained that by going home, it would give me time to make lunch and be sure that everything was ready to go.

We got on the road close to 2:00, packed up with more than enough “stuff” for overnight!

Belongings for six of us for 24 hours! It may be the first time in 11.5 years that we've traveled without a stroller!

We had to stop at Canadian Tire along the way to buy water-wings for the girls, the only thing I forgot to pack.  We got to the hotel right at three and got checked in to adjoining rooms.  The concierge remembered us from our stay when Chris & Lisa got married, but I suspect we’re not an easy group to forget!

We got settled in and the girls immediately put their bathing suits on!  We tried to hold them back for a few minutes while we waited for our “welcome tray” of cheese, crackers & fruit.  (Another perk!)

After what seemed like FOREVER, I'm sure, to them, we were ready to head to the pool!

We were too busy having fun to take any photos while at the pool.  We decided that it was the perfect time-of-year to have an overnight (as opposed to March Break) because there were only two other families with similar age children, rather than the teenagers who seem to over-run the place during school holidays.  One family was from here – their little boy had on the same t-shirt from last summer’s basketball camp that our boys did!

After swimming, we all had baths & showers and got ready for dinner.  We peeked into the bar hoping to be able to watch Olympics while we ate, but there were so many reserved tables we headed to the restaurant downstairs instead.  As it turned out, they were expecting a large group, so the dining manager got us a table in the bar afterall!

We had taken the game “Science Diction” with us to play while we waited and all went smoothly.  We had one blip when our kids ordered “Shirley Temples” and I didn’t think to ask what was in them.  Just as Olivia started to sip, I thought to ask if there was pineapple juice in them and of course, there was!  Olivia wasn’t too impressed when we took it away from her, but the server came right back with a safe one and there was no harm done.

It is nerve-wracking to eat out when your child has food allergies, especially at a new place.  We explained her allergies to the server who was very understanding and cautious.  We didn’t ever feel like we were putting her out.  She discussed with the chef what Olivia is allergic to and they sent her a “safe” plate with cheese pizza & cut veggies.  It turned out the dip for the veggies was ranch dressing (egg) – eek! Luckily, it was in a ramekin, so we took it off her plate.  Evan was quick to share the ketchup from his fish & chips and all went well.

The boys, snazzed up for dinner

All four, ready for dinner

The three boys, waiting for our food

The girls weren't quite as co-operative about posing...

Olivia's pizza & veggies

We went back up to the room after supper and got into our pyjamas.  We all piled into our room and watched Olympics while playing “Lotto” (a bingo-type game the girls love).  Although we didn’t take many pictures, Alex got most of the action on his video camera!

Sarah put herself in charge of handing out game pieces, thus rigging the game!

When the time came for Olivia to go to sleep (about 9:15), she wanted me to lie down with her.  I took her into the kids room and we cuddled.  Of course, I fell asleep.  D’Arcy woke me a couple of hours later when he was bringing the rest of our sleeping children into bed!

They were all up bright & early on Sunday morning and were raring to go for a swim.  We swam, got cleaned up & packed up and went downstairs for breakfast (also included as a Delta Privilege members) .  I had taken a safe muffin, some oatmeal & some grapes for Olivia because breakfast is especially nerve-wracking for us.  (Peanut butter & eggs everywhere!)  While the rest of us ate from the buffet, she insisted on Froot Loops (like her sister) and yogurt with apple juice to drink; she had half her muffin from home.

It was about 11:30 by this time, so we checked out and headed to Costco for a few things.  The boys really wanted to use some money they’d saved to buy the Winter Olympics game for their wii, so we thought we’d look there first.  The girls were asleep by the time we pulled away from the hotel, so D’Arcy stayed in the van with them, marking while the boys & I went shopping.

We didn’t have luck with the game at Costco, but did at the second store we tried.  We then went in to see Grandma & Grandpa to have a visit there.  When we arrived, the girls were cranky from just waking up and the boys (Alex) were cranky from being overtired.  They whined & bickered until D’Arcy & I laid down the law and got them set up playing monopoly.  They all came around and we had a good visit, with a delicious ham dinner.  We ate until we were stuffed, with Erin, Brian & Morag all arriving before we left.

A little reading with Dad

While Grandpa gets his first look at the Thesis (well, the first part of it!)

He insisted he was "NOT TIRED"!!!!

Monopoly got them all cooperating again - eventually...

D'Arcy "wasn't tired" either...

We got home about 7:30, unpacked the van and got everybody tucked into bed.  I went to sleep while D’Arcy tackled the laundry and watched the hockey game.  He woke me at midnight to watch the ice dancers…

The kids were still reveling in the weekend yesterday morning and the boys thanked us profusely before heading to the bus stop.

When the mail came yesterday afternoon, I discovered a letter from Delta.  Inside, was a note saying that because of our loyalty, we’ve automatically been reaffirmed as Platinum members for next year!  Thank you Delta – we feel very privileged indeed!

End-of-summer-barbeque

September 8, 2009

Each Labour Day, D’Arcy’s brother Stephen & his wife Kathy, host the whole family for an end-of-the-summer barbeque.  Unless there is a special occasion, the family generally all make an effort to get together for this party and on Christmas Eve.  We didn’t have any guests booked for Sunday night, so D’Arcy said that he thought wanted to go.  Never one to turn down a social event, I was happy to go!

He worked on the basement door all day (the sill was rotten, so he’s replaced the whole thing, rebuilt the door, poured new concrete for the stairs, etc…) while I hung out with the kids and waited.  The barbeque started at 4:30 and we left town (an hour away) at 5:15.  Needless to say, we were a bit late.   So late, that D’Arcy’s mom was calling us on the cell phone as we pulled up!

Everyone was there and having a great time and Stephen was still a fixture at one of the two barbeques so there was lots of food.   D’Arcy’s sister Seana bought & moved into her condo well over a year ago and we hadn’t had a housewarming for her yet.  She still has a few things on her wish list, so we all took up a collection so that she can buy herself something fun and called it a housewarming!  I’m pretty sure she was surprised and pleased!

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D’Arcy’s father has been asking us every time we see him whether or not we’ve bought tiaras for his princesses?  As soon as the presentation to Seana was over, he called the girls over to present each princess with their new tiara!

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Stephen had some burgers that were so thick, we were told he’d been barbecuing them for close to an hour to make sure they were cooked.  Alex decided that rather than have a hot dog, he would wait for one of Uncle Stephen’s burgers.  And he waited…

And waited…

And waited…

Much to the rest of the family’s surprise, he ate every bite!

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And then had a full plate of dessert!!  Growing boy…

Olivia was also thrilled to have some leftover birthday cake that we had brought with us, and Aunt Kathy had safe ice cream for her!  Oh, how being able to have milk makes life so much easier!!

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Phinn thought her ice cream looked pretty good so she shared some with him!!  I see these two getting into some serious trouble toghether when they get older!!

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After supper was over, the “kids” all got together in the street for a game of basketball.  Boy-oh- boy is it fun to have older cousins!!

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Olivia even got up close and personal with a dog for the first time under Uncle Stephen’s guidance!  Later, she even got brave enough to feed him a piece of cheese!

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Phinn had fallen asleep by the time it got dark, so Sarah & Olivia had Emily’s undivided attention to play ball and star-gaze.

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We called my father, who had been house-sitting, to find out that the phones had been quiet all night.  We went back inside with the rest of the family for awhile then took our time gathering a few last cuddles before getting ready to go home.

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The next family gathering is at our place for Thanksgiving when D’Arcy’s sister Kathleen is home from Ottawa with her husband & four children.

I think I had better start cooking now!!

PEI Vacation 2009

August 25, 2009

We had such a FANTASTIC time, I don’t even know where to begin describing it.

I didn’t know what to expect when I “won” an RV Rental in the TIANS Silent Auction in December. We’ve always talked about how we thought it would be fun to travel with the kids that way, so this gave us a chance to try it out at a discount to see if enjoying it would be fantasy or reality. We booked my parents to come and take over the B&B and started planning our vacation in PEI.  (THANK YOU!!)  We booked into a Campground called “Twin Shores” in Darnley, PEI and it has spoiled us for all other camping!! Movies, kids activities, a playground, a store, Karaoke, Shuffleboard, Bocce Ball, a Baseball Diamond, and a Private Beach are just SOME of what they had to offer. Four nights was just not enough!

D’Arcy & the kids picked up the RV outside of Halifax on Monday morning and brought it home to pack. Not knowing what we would need, it took us awhile to get everything together. D’Arcy looked at me funny when we got everything in and I asked him how we were going to take five bikes (two with baby seats) & a tricycleplus the double stroller. Being the resourceful man he is, he found a way! We left for the Island shortly after one and took the Confederation Bridge to get there. We stopped in Summerside, near where we had rented a cottage last year, for groceries, and got to the Campground around suppertime.

We immediately set off exploring our new home. I’ve put our photos into slide-shows, chronologically for each day, with captions. If you click on them, they should start automatically.

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: RV Trip Day1
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Day Two, our first full day, was Alex’s 9th Birthday. Nobody slept very long and Alex was anxious to open the gifts & cards we had brought along for him. We had breakfast of waffles with strawberry butter & bacon (Alex’s request) then cleaned up and headed for Mill River Fun Park, on the West Coast of PEI. (Also Alex’s request!) We discovered this fun park through our friends who are PEI natives, when Sarah was a baby, and have gone every year since. It is reasonably priced ($9/person over the age of six) and has water slides for every age/level of comfort. We spent the day there. It was so convenient to be able to go to the RV at mid-afternoon and have a snack (cheese & crackers & jalapeño jelly, olives, yogurt & drinks), clean up and go back to the park! Alex took the time to call my parents then too because he was “officially” nine!

We stopped for lobster on the way back to the campground and fed the kids nachos (Alex’s request) as the lobsters cooked. We all went off to Karaoke then came back and had a bonfire. The evening was topped off with sparklers & a waterslide cake that Evan made for Alex with minimal help from his mother… All in all, it was declared to be and “AWESOME” day!!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: Day 2 - Alex's birthday
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On Day 3, when we woke up, D’Arcy told me, “You have to bid on this RV Rental if it’s at the Silent Auction again this year!”  We had made a decision to stay at the campground and not go touring around the Island.  We went running, flew Alex’s kite, rode bikes, spent time at the beach, played bocce ball, had a bonfire, etc.  It was so nice not to be on a schedule!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: RV Trip Day 3
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Day Four was more of the same.  We built sand castles & hung out together.  We ran into a number of people we knew, including our former neighbours!!  As it turned out, one of our favourite guests from the B&B had been at their campsite visiting just the night before.  I wish we’d known!!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: RV Vacation Day 4
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Our last day found us getting up and pulling everything together to check out of the campground by eleven.  I think we pulled out at about 11:05 (story of our lives!)  We went into Cavendish and played Mini-Golf and toured the "Ripley's Believe it or Not" Museum.  It was great.  We went to "lunch" at Boston Pizza in Charlottetown. At some point, I asked D'Arcy what time it was and he told me it was 3:50.  We realized that there was no way we could make the 4:30 Ferry, so we changed our plans and took our time.  We caught the 6:30 Ferry and tried to find a campground in the Pictou area, but they were all full.  (Our original plan was to spend the night on my farm in Tatamagouche, but taking the 6:30 Ferry meant we wouldn't get there until after nine and if things didn't work out, we'd have quite a drive to find another park.  We finally decided to camp at a campground within a half hour of home so that we could unload everything in the morning and get the RV back to Halifax by 11:30.

Once we made that decision, everything was great.  Sarah wasn’t happy on the Ferry (she doesn’t like the noise!) although she insisted we take it, rather than the Bridge!  Once we bought them all drinks, they were happy.  When we got to the campground and parked & hooked up, we were able to set the girls up with a movie while we played a game.  We had a blast, although I’m sure we were all very aware that this was our last night of freedom for quite awhile!

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow: RV Vacation Day Five
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While Olivia conked out, Sarah managed to stay awake, watching her movie until midnight.  We got the RV unloaded and back on time.  Well, we were five minutes late, but there were other people in front of us!   “Their Last Breakfast”:

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It was an amazing vacation, one that our boys say is second only to Disney World.  That’s got to be saying something…  We made many great family memories last week and I’ll be sad to have school start again next week.

From the words of one of the songs in “Anne of Green Gables – the Musical”:  “Why can’t it always be summer?”

Pole Dancing

August 3, 2009

Caught your attention, didn’t I?!

Our nephew is getting married this coming Saturday, so I attended a party for his bride-to-be this weekend.  It was hosted by the sisters of the bride & groom and the party was made up of mostly relatives & close friends.   I wasn’t sure what to expect, so went dressed like this:

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I picked up my sister-in-law, Erin, and we went over to the hotel where the girls had rented a suite for the party, together.  One of our other sisters-in-law was already there when we arrived, along with a couple of girls I had met before.  Everything was decorated with pink, the colour of the wedding, and looked great.  They had a great spread of sushi & other nibbles.  The “shower” was supposed to be a surprise for Lisa, while Chris (our nephew) was having his bachelor party in Montreal!!  I have a feeling she knew about it though…

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Once Lisa arrived, it didn’t take long for things to get down to business.  First, everyone was given a drink called “The Lisa” (a take on a cosmopolitan) and then there was a knock on the door.

In walked a very pleasant woman who said she needed to “find a stud”.

You can just imagine the quips that started going around that room full of women!!

Turns out she needed a stud  – literally.

She got out her stud-finder and proceeded to set up her dancing pole so she could start instruction!!

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We had so much fun & laughed so hard!!  Once Lisa got past the fact that her mother & future mother-in-law were watching, she got into it!  In fact, her birthday is on Friday and I hear she’s asked for a pole of her own!!

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Most of us had a turn, including the mothers of the bride & groom.

I felt inappropriately dressed for pole dancing (see above photo) but was dragged out to try (did I mention I was sober because I had to drive home?!) and declared a natural!  I’m not sure if I should be proud of that or not…

I suspect my husband was happy that we had pole dancing lessons instead of an   s-t-r-i-p-p-e-r, but that was probably short-lived when he saw Sarah practicing some of the moves I showed her on the clothesline pole!  😉

High School Reunion

July 29, 2009

I graduated from high school in 1990.

19 years ago.  Where did the time go?

Oh right:  university degree, marriage, four children, Bed & Breakfast…  It’s funny, but I still feel like High School was just a year or two ago.

I was part of the “A Class”  (I think I was Treasurer, but I can’t really remember.)  I couldn’t have realized at the time that part of the job description was not just planning Graduation activities, but also planning High School Reunions!  We haven’t had a reunion yet (slackers!), so since next year is 20 years, the former “A Class” got together here for lunch and started making plans while everyone was in town.

19 Years Later...

19 Years Later...

We’ve set a date of July 23rd – 26th, 2010 and are looking into options such as a run, a golf tournament (raising money for a scholarship in the names of those classmates no longer with us), a wine & cheese, family activities at the swimming pool in the park, and a dance.  We’ve decided to invite the classes of ’88 – ’92 since so many friendships overlapped the years.

We had a ball getting caught up over lunch (I don’t think I’d seen Heather since graduation!) and pouring over our old yearbooks.

The Class of ’89’s reunion is being held this weekend, so we’ll be interested in seeing how that goes.  We hope we’ll have a great turnout.  If so, maybe we won’t wait 20 years until the next one.

A little too much fun

February 16, 2009

We went to our friends’, Janice & Blair, for supper on Valentine’s Day with Colin & Suzana and Karen & Kevin.  There was way too much food and drink and conversation and laughter.  Well, I’m not sure there is such a thing as too much conversation & laughter, but we definitely overindulged in the food & drink category.

D’Arcy & I had made pomegranate martinis, and took along vegetable samosas and Chicken-pine nut dumplings with Chili-Chili Dipping Sauce.  Colin & Suzana had brought along a caramelized onion tart and three kinds of sushi, and Janice (being the great hostess) had made smoked salmon pinwheels.  (Really, did we need supper after that…)  We sat at the table and had a gingered carrot soup that Karen & Kevin brought, then Janice had made chicken breasts stuffed with mushrooms, provolone, ricotta & Parmesan cheese, cous cous, beets & asparagus.  The meal was topped off with a three layer chocolate cake & fresh fruit and we got up from the table around 12:30 am!  Getting up to serve breakfast for me yesterday morning was not much fun, but D’Arcy stuck to his resolve not to drink, so he was in good shape.

We had a pretty lazy day, considering all the things we should have been doing.  I spent most of the afternoon reading a book (Firefly Lane), The boys did some skating on the rink with Maddie & Tanner, and we had a surprise visit from D’Arcy’s oldest brother Brian and his wife, Morag.

For supper, we had all been invited to my aunt & uncle’s house.  We normally go on New Year’s Day, but this year, between the weather & my grandmother’s death at Christmas, it didn’t happen.  It was a real treat to go at this time of year instead!  Aunt Jill had checked with me about feeding Olivia, so we had roast pork, squash, mashed potato, broccoli & bean salad.  She kept out Olivia’s portions before doctoring up the rest, so the only thing Olivia didn’t get to eat was the broccoli salad and the biscuits.  I had taken a couple of safe valentine cookies for dessert for her and the rest of us had strawberry shortcake.  Life is getting so much easier now that I’ve made the leap of faith to let other people feed her and keep her safe.  

We got home and put the kids into bed then watched The Amazing Race while folding laundry.  Today, my job is to get the house cleaned up and organized before this guest arrives for the next month, and get caught up on some of my work for the Bed & Breakfast Association.  My parents are coming for supper tonight so that we can exchange Valentines with the kids.  They worked very hard on theirs, but we haven’t had a chance to sit down and exchange them yet.

The fun next weekend will be of a different kind when the six of us head to Halifax for the Doodlebops Concert!