Annual McDonah Family Christmas Card, version 2013

Merry Christmas 2013 from the Belgravia McDonahs!

If you follow our blog at all, you know that these greetings are coming to you from beautiful Portland, Oregon, where we are spending some quality family time together, accumulating memories instead of things. I didn’t get to send Christmas cards before I left, so we’ll send some postcards and post our yearly Christmas letter here. And what a busy year it has been!

D’Arcy and I are now both teaching with permanent contracts in Pictou. He teaches Grade 7, and I am faculty in the School of Business at the Nova Scotia Community College. I teach communication, Entrepreneurship, Contemporary Business Issues,  Psychology, Sociology, and Tourism electives. I also run the “Payday Pub” for faculty every other week. We commute together and enjoy the two hours we get to spend alone with one another each day.

Evan is 15 and in Grade 9. He had a huge growth spurt this year, and is getting close to six feet tall. He recently got his braces off and the girls are wondering who he’ll be taking to prom this spring. This is the first year he had a report card with percentages and his lowest mark was a 90 in Child Studies. He & Alex curl together six days a week. Their team qualified with five others to be in the 2015 Canada Games qualifier this Spring. They’ll have two weekends of competition between the qualifying teams this winter, and Team Nova Scotia will be decided in March. Go Team Spinney!

Alex is 13 and in Grade 7. In addition to curling with Evan, he plays clarinet, saxophone, and piano, and still takes voice lessons. I was very proud in June when he sang “O Canada” in English, French, Mi’kmaq, and ASL at my campus’ convocation. He did very well at the Truro Music Festival in the spring, earning two major awards at the final concert.  He also had parts in two musicals this year. He is excited to be participating in a student exchange to Sao Luiz, Brazil, in March with D’Arcy’s school and has raised most of the money for his ticket himself. We’ll have a boy from Brazil with us in January. D’Arcy was asked to be a chaperone, so they will be traveling together. I am so jealous!

Sarah is nine and in Grade 3. She is constantly dancing, taking ballet, jazz, and highland. This month she had a role as a Sugarplum Fairy attendant in “The Nutcracker”. She also curls and plays piano and trumpet. In June, she and her cousin Neil had their First Communion together and were fortunate to have all their grandparents in attendance.

Olivia is seven and in Grade 1. She also dances ballet and jazz and was one of the youngest performers in The Nutcracker. (The cutest field mouse you ever saw!) She started curling last year and had a beautiful slide her first time on the ice. A lifetime of hanging out in curling clubs watching her brothers, perhaps? She has been outgrowing a number of her allergies and is now “only” allergic to peanuts, some treenuts, eggs, and soy. Her doctor feels she will outgrow her treenut allergy, but will probably live with her peanut, egg, and soy allergy for life. Olivia has a pet guinea pig, Caroline, whom she adores.

Some of the highlights of our year included:

  • D’Arcy & I each getting permanent positions at our schools in Pictou
  • Evan & Alex qualifying for continue on in the 2015 Canada Games Process
  • Anne finished another course at Cornell Universtiy in Ithaca, NY. (Strategic Financial Management for Restaurants and Hotels). Just one more course to go to finish up!
  • We hosted Theresa’s 40th surprise birthday party – and managed to actually surprise her! The planning & deceit leading up to it was Oscar worthy!
  • D’Arcy turned 50 in November!
  • Alex became a teenager in PEI this summer. He & Evan attended curling camp at UPEI in August.
  • D’Arcy spent three weeks in Moncton in July marking the National Science Exams – 32,000 of them!
  • Evan was chosen to take part in a “Podium Project” where he spent the summer getting extra athletic training, nutrition training, and sports psychology training. There were 48 kids involved and he came 11th out of 28 males.
  • We have an above-ground pool, a gift from our friend Ruth.
  • Sarah & Olivia ran the 4.2km kids run at the Bluenose Marathon for the first time this year. Their brothers ran it too, and the four of them held hands the whole way.
  • D’Arcy ran his first half-marathon in May, with the encouragement and support of his sister Erin who ran it with him. (They did not hold hands that I’m aware of.)
  • Belgravia Bed & Breakfast won “Best B&B” at the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce’s Best of Colchester awards for the fourth year in a row.
  • My father built a bunkhouse at our property in Tatamagouche, and we had the opportunity to spend a cozy night camping inside in a rainstorm.
  • Olivia is progressing with her allergies, having outgrown pineapple, almonds, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, pecans, and walnuts this summer. Our hope is that she will outgrow all treenuts, and just remain with peanut, egg, and soy allergies for life.
  • The girls donated their ponytails this summer for “Locks of Love”
  • Our niece Meghan was married to Rob in Halifax, and our nephew Pat was married to Jackie in Santorini, Greece. Our nephew Chris & his wife Lisa welcomed baby Hannah into the family. The love continues to grow.
  • Our annual McDonah family Thanksgiving dinner found 37 family and friends around our table.

We had some sadness in our lives this year as well, losing our dear friend, Gerry, to pancreatic/liver cancer, and our beloved Uncle Dick (my mother’s brother) to a heart attack. We are reminded to live each day to the fullest and to laugh and love as hard as each of these special men in our lives did.

We wish all of our friends, family, and guests a very Merry Christmas and that each of you experience faith, hope, love, and joy in 2014.

D’Arcy, Anne, Evan, Alexander, Sarah & Olivia

In no particular order, some of our favourite photos from the year:


Dinner with our B&B friends. Gerry, to the left of me, passed away in July. We miss him terribly.


All four kids brought medals, trophies, and certificates home from the curling banquet this year.


I was served breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day, complete with guest feedback form.


Olivia had two bouts of pneumonia that landed her in hospital – one after running the Bluenose Marathon kids’ race, and the second after her spring dance recital.


Alex as the police officer in his school’s production of “Annie” with his friend Myles.


Sarah’s First Communion.


Sarah with her best friend and cousin, Neil.


Family photo, June 2013


Dancers after their spring recital. Olivia has pneumonia here.


Best B&B in Colchester, 2013


Alex and me at NSCC Pictou Campus convocation before Alex sang “Oh Canada”.


Summertime fun in the sprinkler. We had a beautiful summer.

Alex, Sarah, and Olivia perform "So Long; farewell" at the Truro Music Festival

Alex, Sarah, and Olivia perform “So Long; farewell” at the Truro Music Festival


The “Before” Locks of Love photo


The “after” Locks of Love haircuts. Olivia had hers straightened and Sarah had hers curled.


A mini-reunion with my university roommates this summer.


Boating in New Brunswick while visiting the Roses.


Evan had quite an experience tubing with his mother and Theresa. This photo makes me laugh. Every time!


Sibling fun in the Tatamagouche bunkhouse during a thunderstorm.


Our property in Tatamagouche is finally getting more use.


Dad and the kids on an early morning canoe ride.


The wedding of our niece Meghan to her husband, Rob.


Family canoe trip along the French River.


A beautiful Nova Scotian summer day in the canoe.


PEI vacation 2013; Alex’s 13th birthday


Setting up our pool on Labour Day weekend.


The first dip was a little chilly!


Picking carrots. All of the vegetables for our 37 person Thanksgiving came from our own backyard.


The table set for our annual Thanksgiving dinner. So much to be thankful for!


Our Thanksgiving Dinner guests before we went to the table.


Team Spinney: Coach Chuck, skip Drew, mate Evan, second Adam, and lead Alex.

Alex selling his homemade Christmas cards at the craft fair to raise money for his trip.

Alex selling his homemade Christmas cards at the craft fair to raise money for his trip.


The girls’ fan club came to see them at The Nutcracker: Aunt Erin, Aunt Shannon, and Grandma McDonah


A pre-Christmas visit with their McDonah grandparents before going away on their trip.

Our family with my parents; June 2013.

Our family with my parents; June 2013.

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