Happy Birthday, dear Sarah

Yesterday our daughter, Sarah, turned 12. The years are passing so quickly! Unlike their brothers, who have late summer birthdays when things are busy at the B&B, but not with school activities, we have to fit the girls’ birthday celebrations in when we can!

Olivia has had a countdown going for awhile:


I am going back to Tanzania soon – only for nine days! Evan likes to pull his sisters’ chains!

Sarah’s birthday happened to fall on provincial inservice day for teachers this year, so none of the kids had school, and D’Arcy & I were both attending professional development seminars in Truro. We rushed through our traditional gift opening in the morning (it is tradition for our kids to give one another sugary cereal on their birthday – which is shared between the four of them). She had asked for a “challenging Perplexes” game for her birthday (she loves Science & math) so we got her the “Epic Perplexes“.  I will buy this type of toy/game as long as they will ask for them!!

My parents took the girls to a new indoor playground in Halifax for the day and they had a ball. The cut-off age to play is 12, so this was a one-and-only experience for the girls.

We all met at one of our favourite pubs, the Nook & Cranny for a celebratory dinner at 5pm, before Sarah had to be at Jazz. Unfortunately, Evan wasn’t able to join us because he was playing football in Dartmouth, but my parents and Alex’s girlfriend, Claire, joined us.

Dinner was wonderful and our service was great. There was one moment of anxiousness when Olivia said she thought her wrap had mayo (it did – and she has an anaphylactic egg allergy). Luckily, she is really good about checking before ingesting, so we brought it to the server’s attention and the wrap was replaced with a safe one quickly and with much apology.

They were happy to serve our safe cake (homemade egg-free cinnamon bun cheesecake) before Sarah ran across the street to dance.

Sarah has a highland dance competition this weekend, so Plan “A” had been for her to sleepover with her grandparents. However, the birthday girl knew some of her family were planning to go to Evan’s football game, so she wanted to join us. In the end, it was POURING a cold rain, so Alex & D’Arcy went to the game while the three girls had a sleepover, tucked in together watching the curling.


The score was 28-0 for the Cougars!! Dartmouth forfeited at half-time.

Although it was a busy day, with lots to fit in, I think Sarah felt her day was special. The rest of the weekend features a highland dance competition, a B&B get-together, appointment for Olivia, Hallowe’en party, Nutcracker rehearsal, curling, and guests.

A few of my favourite Sarah photos from over the years:


So thankful

We had our 8th annual McDonah family Thanksgiving celebration yesterday, and it was quite possibly the best celebration yet. We had 52 McDonahs around the table, including D’Arcy’s parents and my parents. Our kids countdown to Thanksgiving with more enthusiasm than they do for Christmas. I think it’s safe to say that Thanksgiving is the favourite holiday for each of the six of us.

Prep happens early. Pies were made with Sarah’s and Olivia’s help last weekend and put in the freezer. D’Arcy made the bread for the stuffing. I do the planning. The boys mowed the lawn and helped with the physical setup.

I verbalized to D’Arcy on Saturday morning as we were a beehive of activity, “Do you ever think about how lucky we really are? Not only are we fortunate enough to have the skills, the space, and the resources to host our large family for this dinner, but we have fun while doing it!” There is very little – I can’t say there is none – stress.

We did have one of my students here at the beginning of our celebration to take some photos, which I will post later. However, in the meantime, here are some of the candid/phone photos from our weekend, plus our first time lapse of our setup.

Our candid Thanksgiving photos.

A few details (to remind me for later years…):

  • 52 people, aged 8 months to 89 years (BIG birthday coming up in December)
  • 62lbs of chicken/turkey
  • “Kathryn’s” potato casserole; squash casserole; zucchini casserole; dressing; frenched green beans, peas, peppers & basil; bean salad; rolls; orange jello salad; gravy; cranberry sauce; apple pie (3); apple crisp; pumpkin pie (4).
  • 2.5 cases of wine; keg of Uncle Leo’s Beer; non-alcoholic punch
  • Score of Evan’s Saturday football game: 54-7; #82
  • Brian & Morag biked the 102km to be with us
  • All six of us went to Mass together, so the table was set after we got home
  • Evan made me cry at church when he leaned in and said, “So this is my last year at home for all of this…” (break your mother’s heart!!!)
  • Things members of our family our thankful for: being present, not on military tour; family; friends; uncles; new babies (expanded family); food; where we live; health;  good grades; good times; freedom; travel; family gatherings; our health care system; clean water; connections; we love AND like one another.
  • Largest food bank contribution to date – all going to the NSCC Pictou Campus food bank (You can’t learn when you’re hungry!)
  • Karaoke party is part of the new tradition

So much to be Thankful for!!! (Professional photos in a separate post.)