One of my greatest joys is that through choices I’ve made, I now have the opportunity to empower others to do amazing things while impacting and transforming lives.

What a rush!

Yesterday, the Enactus NSCC Pictou team won the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge and were runners-up of the Scotiabank Eco-Living Challenge at the Enactus Canada (Atlantic) Regional Competition.


To say we were shocked would be an understatement.

We believe that the projects we are doing are making a positive impact, but we are still a new team (18 months old) and were competing against 13 other really amazing projects from other post-secondary institutions.

When the winners for the Scotiabank Eco-Living challenge were being read, and we heard, “runner-up: Nova Scotia Community College, Pictou Campus” we looked at one another and screamed… and hugged… and cried! What? It was unbelievable!

We had our photos taken and then returned to our seats, still shaking our heads in disbelief, when we heard that our colleagues, NSCC Waterfront Campus had won the category!! We were so thrilled for them and the adrenaline was flowing.

The next category being announced was the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Regional Challenge. The second runners-up and first runners-up were announced, and then we heard words along the lines of, “I don’t even need the envelope for this one. They are not going to be expecting this, but they are a very special group: Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge Regional Champion is Nova Scotia Community College, Pictou Campus”! 

Even I got teary at that. We were crying… and laughing… and screaming… and hugging in disbelief. We went on stage as a group and accepted our award. What an absolutely amazing feeling!

The power, energy, happiness, and adrenaline that you feel in the moment is indescribable  unless you’ve experienced it. These awards are validation that the work we are doing is making a positive impact.

Enactus Canada is part of a worldwide organization partnering post-secondary students with community to enable progress in a sustainable way through entrepreneurial activities.

We presented three of our projects in four categories: “Raising the Roots”, a partnership with the youth homeless shelter in our area; Creating A $olution for Her (CA$H), a series of financial education workshops we’ve been offering to women at our campus; and “Delightful Dining” a brand new partnership with Summer Street Industries, working with their clients who have an intellectual disability label to prepare and deliver heathy homemade food to seniors in our area.

The accolades are fantastic, but the projects we are doing are what is important. Through our partnerships, we are not only transforming the lives of our own students, but also the lives of those in our community who are impacted through our projects.

I am so proud of our team (we have other active members who did not join us at the Regional Exposition) and am so excited that this is just the beginning. For eight out of ten students, this is their first year with the team, so had no idea what to expect, but they shone! My goal is to take all ten of our presenters to the National competition in Vancouver in May, so hopefully our fundraising efforts will allow that. We are fortunate to have supportive administration both at the campus level and at the college level.

By being a member of Enactus, the learners involved get a much richer post-secondary educational experience. They build friendships and networks, and learn to push themselves outside of their comfort zones. They learn organization, time-management, report writing, critical thinking, networking, creativity, emotional intelligence, and presentation skills. They become inspired by being part of a global organization of people trying to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Of the ten students who attended Regionals, we had students representing Business, Social Services, and Practical Nursing. One student approached me and said, “I am so happy I joined this team because I would never have had the opportunity to get to know all of you otherwise.”  Another student told me, “It’s not what I learned in the classroom that I’m going to remember looking back, it’s moments like these.”

When you invest in Enactus, you invest in a better world for us all.”



Enactus NSCC Pictou (Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Regional Champions and Scotiabank Eco-Living Challenge runners-up) with Enactus NSCC Waterfront (Scotiabank Eco-Living Regional Champions and TD Entrepreneurship Challenge Regional Second Runners-up) #nsccproud


The Scotiabank Youth Empowerment and Scotiabank Eco-Living presentation team: Kelyn Palmer, Holly Klein, Bethany Ripoll, Emma Spaulding, and Hailey Conley (l-r)

To see a range of photos from our two days at the conference, please click here.

20 years later…

Twenty years ago tomorrow (Monday), D’Arcy & I worked the lunch shift together in the downstairs bar at the Granite Brewery in the Henry House in Halifax. We were friends who had been working together for over a year. After our shift finished, we were counting our cash and D’Arcy offered to buy me a Keith’s (beer) for the first time. It still seems strange to me that it was a Keith’s; at that time, we normally would drink Ten Penny or one of the craft beers that were made on the premises.

We had our beer and were standing side-by-side playing the loonies from our tips in the video lottery machines, which was a common practice for waitstaff at that time. As we were playing, I casually mentioned, “I called of my wedding last night”. He was the first person I’d told, other than my parents. His head turned toward me and I’m sure he had a slight smile as he told me he was sorry…

We still refer to that as our first date, although we didn’t actually start dating until a short time later.

Since I go back to school tomorrow, we celebrated our 20 years together this weekend.

By the time school finished in June this year, we were both exhausted. For numerous reasons, last year was difficult and draining for both of us. As we began our vacation, D’Arcy mentioned to me that he needed to get out of his “funk” and that he wanted to use the summer to get back into shape. I constantly am preaching to my college students the importance of good nutrition and exercise on mental health, so readily agreed to support him.

He chose the Cobequid Trail 10km run this weekend as his motivation to get fit, and I volunteered that I would join him. (Misery loves company? I do not love running, but I do love him.)

D’Arcy has spent the summer moving his body – getting up at 5am to go running before we serve breakfast, painting and doing physical work around the house, and going on 16-24km bike rides with me when time allows us to get away. We’ve been eating our main meal mid-afternoon as much as possible with colourful veggies and a fair bit of fish. He’s stopped snacking and stopped finishing the leftovers on the kids’ plates.

I’m proud to say that my husband has lost over 20 pounds this summer and is down to the weight he was when we were married! He would still like to lose another five pounds, but is looking and feeling so much healthier, both mentally and physically.

Last night, we took the night off so that we could leave for the run first thing this morning and not worry about serving breakfast. It was also nice to have a night as a family before I return to school. We walked to one of our favourite restaurants, Bistro 22, for dinner and it was AMAZING!

Although you will never find our meal in any pre-run training manuals, we did not regret it one bit! D’Arcy had a local beer and I had a martini to start, followed by the most delicious mussels we’ve had in years, and spicy lobster cakes, which were the appetizer special. We devoured them so quickly I forgot to take a photo. We ordered a bottle of Blomidon Winery’s “Tidal Bay” white with dinner. I had ordered the halibut which was served on a medley of fresh veggies and potatoes, and D’Arcy had the pork tenderloin special, served with blueberry and hot pepper jelly, potatoes and local veggies. It was all so delicious! Although we refrained from licking our plates, we did clean them as well as we could! We don’t normally order dessert, and we debated whether or not we should… but ended up ordering butterscotch pie and blueberry shortcake – thank goodness we had the (short) walk home to walk some of it off.

The food & service were fabulous, and we had a chance to chat with Chef Dennis when we finished our meal and the restaurant was clearing out. This restaurant in Truro continues to be one of our favourites, where we know the food and service is consistently exceptional.


Our children were waiting for us when we arrived home (They’d had pizza for supper which they were happy with!) to have a campfire. We lit the fire and sat around, talking, laughing, and star-gazing. It was a beautiful, clear night.


We were up early this morning to go out and run the Cobequid Trail run. We all had goals, and I told D’Arcy I was sure we could finish the 10km in under 1:10, despite the fact I hadn’t specifically trained and we had eaten all that food the night before. I knew I was fit enough to run it since we rarely sit down, have been biking up to 24km at a time, and bend and stretch all the time while cleaning rooms.

The boys were running together and Sarah decided last week that she also wanted to run the 5km since she was unable to run the Bluenose 5km with us when she had mono last year. Olivia did not want to run the 5km so she was able to volunteer at the finish, handing runners water and congratulating them as they crossed the line.

I won’t go into too many details of the run, which would probably be boring for anyone who wasn’t there.  We ran it non-stop (except for when grabbing water at the water stops), we ran it together, and my husband – a true gentleman – allowed me to cross the finish line first. Our 5km racing children were finished long before we were, so were close to the finish line to cheer us along. I loved it, but it also impacted me emotionally (I was already pushing myself) and I found I couldn’t look at them or I was going to start to cry, which made me start to wheeze.

When it was tough for me along the route and I wanted to slow down and walk, I channeled my friend, Kirby Coolen, who is currently hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, on a pilgrimage as he transitions from teaching to retirement. I will miss him so much at school, and figured if he can hike almost 800km, I could dig deep and run 10km!

It was fun to cross the finish line and have Olivia hand me a glass of water and give me a kiss. Our chip times ended up being 1:05:35 and 1:05:36. The boys were disappointed with their times as neither had a personal best. Sarah, on the other hand, was thrilled with her time and her experience running her first 5km.

Alex left us shortly after the finish to go zip lining with his friends, and we capped off our 20 years together celebration weekend by renewing our life-insurance policies for another term. So romantic!

Here’s hoping that at 20 years together, we’re not even half-way!





Give to Live

Over the past thirteen years, we have hosted approximately 10,000 individuals in our home. Of those 10,000 people, a number of them make a special connection with us and become like part of our family. This week we have been delighted to welcome back one of our favourites, Bruce, as he prepares to bicycle the entire Cabot Trail tomorrow (300km with steep elevations) with the Give to Live organization, fundraising for the Cancer Society. As a 10-year Cancer survivor himself (YAY!), Bruce has done a number of rides, all over the world.

Although Bruce has surpassed his personal fundraising goal of $6000, the total event goal of $100,000 is still a few thousand dollars short. Bruce recently posted the following on his Facebook page:

“This morning a couple of donations put us over my commitment to Give to Live for funding $6,000 of the commitment to Dr. Ryan Rhodes’s research into nutrition and exercise and its potential impact the prevention of cancer. I could not be more proud of our donors and everyone who considered it, but had other obligations. Know that every penny goes to this commitment… G2L funds its own admin costs (credit card processing, Web admin expenses, and so on) through corporate commitments and sharing programs with the sponsors it thanks on its website. This is the reason that I am 100% committed to riding with these folks and to everyone who even considers donating. Philanthropy is critical to every human endeavor… thank you for being human… those who would like to, can still donate to my site or to any of my fellow riders who are not over their total… it all goes to the same good cause… thanx again… BRuce”

You can follow Bruce’s blog here: blueknowser.blogspot.ca

One of the teams who are riding, “KMS Crew”, is made up of three of our neighbours/friends (one is our children’s doctor), each riding a 100km leg. They are still $650 short of their fundraising goal.

I do not know of anyone whose life has not been touched by this devastating disease. I encourage you to donate if you are able – whether to Bruce, the KMS Crew, or to any of the teams.

Donate to The Big Ride by clicking here.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

Give to Live. Photo taken from Bruce's Blog (see link above). Photo credit:

Give to Live. Photo taken from Bruce’s Blog (see link above).

Family Literacy Day 2015

Although Family Literacy Day is on Tuesday, January the 27th each year, we celebrated early. D’Arcy is scheduled to have surgery this year on the 27th and when Sarah heard, her first comment was, “Oh NO! He’ll miss Family Literacy Day!” We have been celebrating annually since 2007, the year Olivia was a baby. Each year we have a slightly different format, depending on what is going on at the time. We’ve celebrated at lunch, at dinner, on the weekend, on a week-night, at our house, or at my parents’ house. The constants are that we all attend along with my parents, share books/magazines/newspapers, stories, and food. Sometimes the books we receive are new, sometimes, they are new-to-us, and there have even been years when books were borrowed from the library.

Family Literacy Day has become an event as special and highly-anticipated as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter at our house!

This year, we combined our Family Literacy Day celebration with a celebration of Auntie Ruth’s 86th birthday, and included Mirelle, our guest from Brazil. As the children have gotten older, the day has evolved to include questions that you must answer before receiving your book. “What are your earliest memories of visiting the library?” (My first visit was to story-time at six days old, but I don’t have a memory of that! 😉 ) “Where is your favourite place to read?” “What was your favourite book as a child?”

We had many laughs as we ate munchies, then assembled sandwiches from a recipe. We celebrated Auntie Ruth’s birthday with “Mud Pie” and discussions about technology.


Mirelle’s new book about Nova Scotia. She can take it back to Brazil to show her friends and family.


Auntie Ruth answers her question before opening her book.


Some sister-love for Evan. “What’s the most awesome thing to ever happen to you?” “My siblings.” ❤


Olivia and Beanah


D’Arcy reads his book while Alex answers his question, “Is there a book that you’d like to, or feel you should read?”


Sarah answers her question, “What was the best thing to ever happen to you?”


Sarah took forever to open her book of trivia.


Auntie Ruth chose the book for Ginna


Some time to enjoy our books between courses.


Family Literacy Day 2015


Happy 86th birthday, Auntie Ruth!


Fun together


Happy Birthday!


The perfect gift!


The whole family 2015

Evan drove us home, much later than we had intended, and way past bedtime. However, nobody wanted the evening to end.

For me, I’ll be reading my book, “The Blue Tattoo” by Steven Laffoley, a novel about the Halifax Explosion, on the actual date of Family Literacy Day while D’Arcy is in surgery. I’ll be happy to have a story to occupy my thoughts and help me pass the time. He’ll be happy, I’m sure, to have some new books to read during his recovery.

We’d love to know about other people’s Family Literacy Day traditions. Please tell us in the comments!

Recognition of Excellence 2014

My invitation to the 19th annual Recognition of Excellence Dinner

My invitation to the 19th annual Recognition of Excellence Dinner

On Wednesday of this week, tourism professionals from around the province gathered to celebrate at the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council’s (NSTHRC) 19th Annual Recognition of Excellence Certification Dinner at Casino Nova Scotia. As I’ve blogged before, this event is my favourite of the year. This is the event where front line staff from tourism businesses around the province get dressed up, mingle with industry leaders, and are recognized for their experience and dedication to tourism in Nova Scotia.

With Jennifer Falkenham, TIANS Membership Co-ordinator and newly certified Tourism Trainer

With Jennifer Falkenham, TIANS Membership Co-ordinator and newly certified Tourism Trainer

Some of my favourite Tourism People - Danny Bartlett, past TIANS Chair and VP Finance of Bay Ferries, Belgravia B&B, Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency, Ruth Mailloux, Suncatcher B&B, Ann & Larry MacCormack, Tulips & Thistle B&B and president of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association

Some of my favourite Tourism People – Danny Bartlett, past TIANS Chair and VP Finance and Administration of Bay Ferries; D’Arcy & Anne McDonah from Belgravia B&B; Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency; Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B; Ann & Larry MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B and also President of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association

The Casino is a lovely setting for this dinner, and it was fun to get caught up with friends at the opening reception, overlooking Halifax Harbour. We enjoyed an opening performance by John and Samantha Gracie before dining on a beautiful meal. The menu included a salad of baby leaf lettuce, flat leaf parsley, shaved carrot, garlic & shaved parmesan cheese, drizzled with a lime-corriander vinaigrette. This was followed by an entree of roasted chicken breast on soft polenta with green olive & sherry tapenade and seasonal vegetables. For dessert, we enjoyed triple chocolate mousse with fresh fruit.

John & Samantha Gracie perform at the beginning of the evening

John & Samantha Gracie perform at the beginning of the evening

The evening was especially special for me as I formally received my certificate as a Certified Hotel General Manager. This credential is recognized across the country, and it was announced last week that it will also be recognized by the American Hotel and Lodging Association. At the dinner, Wendy Swedlove, President of the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) announced that soon, they will have a partnership signed which will mean this credential will be recognized internationally.

Wendy Swedlove, CTHRC

Wendy Swedlove, President of the CTHRC

Recieving my pin from Joachim Stronik, representing the Nova Scotia Government.

Recieving my pin from Joachim Stronik, representing the Nova Scotia Government.

Hugs from Glenn Squires, CEO of Pacrim Hospitality and Chair of the NSTHRC

Hugs from Glenn Squires, CEO of Pacrim Hospitality and Chair of the NSTHRC

There are currently only ten of us who have earned this credential in Canada, with five of us being from Nova Scotia. My other colleagues who received this credential on Wednesday were Jamie Bolduc from the Radisson Suite Hotel in Halifax, Phyllis Stephenson from the Best Western PLUS Chocolate Lake Hotel, Wes Surrett from Pictou Lodge Beach Resort, and Bernice Theriault from Drumlin Hills. Congratulations to each of you – I’m proud to be in such company!

I would like to thank Emerit, the CTHRC, and most of all the NSTHRC for your continued support and encouragement of all tourism professionals, but especially for the support you have shown to me.

My biggest supporter

My biggest supporter


With Scott Travis, General Manager of the Prince George Hotel in Halifax. Thank you Scott for your encouragement and mentorship!

With Scott Travis, General Manager of the Prince George Hotel in Halifax. Thank you Scott for your encouragement and mentorship!

With Lisa Dahr, Manager of the NSTHRC

With Lisa Dahr, Manager of the NSTHRC

The Truro B&B girls - Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B, and Ann MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B

The Truro B&B girls – Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B, and Ann MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B

With Danny Bartlett, VP Finance of Bay Ferries and past-chair of TIANS. This was his last event as part of the TIANS Board and he will be missed!

With Danny Bartlett, VP Finance of Bay Ferries and past-chair of TIANS. This was his last event as part of the TIANS Board and he will be missed!

The beautiful flowers I was given to take home at the end of the evening

The beautiful flowers I was given to take home at the end of the evening

 Belgravia Bed & Breakfast

Real hands-on learning

One of the core values at NSCC is hands-on learning. Rather than just teaching the learners in our classrooms how to do something, we actually get them to do it. Last night was hands-on learning on a grand scale. Our tourism and culinary teams fed 292 people at a Tribute to the Honourable MP Peter MacKay, with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (or “Ben’s Dad” to some of the students) featured as keynote speaker. Tickets were $300 per plate and it was an event that many of them may never experience the likes of again.

One of the things we teach in our program is confidentiality, so I won’t go into too many details, but I will say that it was a lovely -but long – evening. The Final Touch in Stellarton did a beautiful job of transforming our campus gym into a ballroom, and the tourism class set the tables in blue & white. Attendees began the evening in the cafeteria where the volunteer fire department ran a bar and we served hors d’oeuvres with some live jazz setting the mood. Dinner was a mixed green salad with balsamic vinagrette, boneless cornish game hens stuffed with cranberry rice pilaf and a wild mushroom sauce served with tomato veggie baskets, then lemon meringue cheese cake with creme anglaise and raspberry coulis for dessert.

Some of us did get to meet the former Prime Minister (he came over to me and shook my hand!) and both Jamie Baillie and Peter MacKay were kind enough to join us upstairs in private after the celebration to chat and take photos. Each student will receive a letter from Peter MacKay to put into their Portfolios.

When people ask me what the best part of running a B&B is, my answer is always the people we host. We never know who we will have sleeping in our home, or having breakfast at our table. Over the past 11 years, we’ve had many interesting and accomplished people stay with us and we welcome each and every guest with equal enthusiasm. We had the conversation with our learners that regardless of their own political stripes, each guest needed be treated with respect and discretion. We needn’t have worried. The event went very well and the team rose to the occasion.

Hands-on learning at its best!

Nostalgia in Central Nova

Nostalgia in Central Nova


The lights are up and Kelsey adds final touches to the tables before the guests arrive.


Chef Gilles Godin oversees his learners.


While tourism was prepping the dining room; culinary was prepping the food. (I couldn’t believe how calm it was in the kitchen – what a team!)

Margaret (Office Admin), Heather (Business Admin), Samantha (Office Admin) at the coat check. Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau, Business Admin

Margaret (Office Admin), Heather (Business Admin), Samantha (Office Admin) at the coat check. Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau, Business Admin


Table settings before rolls, salads, dressings, menus, etc. were added. The culinary students made NSCC chocolate bars as a take-away favour for each guest.

Michaela, Tourism Management, gets ready to serve. Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau, Business Administration

Michaela, Tourism Management, gets ready to serve. Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau, Business Administration

Plating 300 desserts

Plating 300 desserts (Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau)


Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, had to leave after his keynote address, but took the time to come and acknowledge us.

Part of the Tourism and Culinary team with Jamie Baillie, Leader of the Provincial Conservative Party

Part of the Tourism and Culinary team with Jamie Baillie, Leader of the Provincial Conservative Party and Senator Tom McInnis


Most of the Tourism & Culinary team (along with Business & Office Administration volunteers) with the Honourable Peter MacKay, Senator Tom McInnis and his wife, Brenda. I made it into this one!


Chef Gilles Godin and the Honourable MP Peter MacKay


Chef Gilles Godin with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney


We are a learning facility. It’s unconventional, but we manage to get the job done. Students, faculty and the Academic Chair working on getting the dishes cleared! (The automotive shop became the dish pit!)

Random Tuesday thoughts in April

In the drafts section of this site, I have a number of unfinished posts. I start to write with good intentions, but then don’t end up publishing them because I don’t have time to write them with the detail I’d like to. It occurred to me tonight that life is busy for everyone, and sometimes snippets are fine.

I’m at the end of the semester at school and we’re all feeling the stress of being down to the wire. With the weather this semester, everyone seems behind and we’re all scrambling to get outcomes finished and work-terms secured before the last day of classes. My 2nd year Business Administration students filled out their “intent to graduate” forms today. These students are special to me because they are my first class from Pictou. I’ve had them for Communications in 1st and 2nd year, Contemporary Business Issues, and some of them in Intro Sociology and Intro Psychology. I’ve gotten to know them pretty well and will miss having them on the campus next year. I’m nostalgic already, so can only imagine how I’ll be by the time graduation rolls around!

I found time in my day to meet with a 1st year BA student and be interviewed about what it’s like to own a bed & breakfast for her Management Principles course. I think the interview was good for both of us. It’s always fun to reflect back on your beginnings and where you’ve come …

We celebrated 50 Years of Learning at Pictou Campus this afternoon and the event was wonderful! We had former staff, faculty, principals, and students attend from over the years. The student council president from 1963 made a speech that was a delight to listen too – everyone was laughing and smiling. Chef & his culinary students had cooked up an amazing variety of foods and four of us who teach in the Tourism Management program provided tray service. I absolutely adore serving people and had a lot of fun!


My “work husband” Rankin, ready to serve. My only photo of the evening as I had no pockets and left my phone in my office while serving.

It was so nice to celebrate all the good things that happen at our campus!!

D’Arcy came to pick me up and we drove home through teaming rain. We’re looking forward to Spring. My mother had fed the children and we had eaten at the reception, so it was an easy supper night – love those!!

I counted my blessings as I listened to the girls reading in their beds and Olivia was spelling the words she didn’t know so Sarah could help her with them. Then, after lights were out, they told knock knock jokes and giggled. I giggled listening to them.

Life is good. Back to work…





Little Rocks – the next edition

Team Hennigar - all younger siblings ofcurlers at the Truro Club.

Team Hennigar – all younger siblings of curlers at the Truro Club, with coach Chuck Patriquin.

Following in their siblings' footsteps...

Following in their siblings’ footsteps…

After dropping D’Arcy & Alex off at the airport for their adventure in Brazil, we got ourselves geared up for the girls’ first Little Rocks Curling Bonspiel. The girls have been at many of the clubs around the province, watching their brothers over the years, but have never been in a competition themselves before. (For Olivia, the first draw was her first-ever game, but I’ll get to that in a minute…)

The girls started curling in “Little Rocks” at the Truro Curling Club last year and loved it. The rocks are the same size as regular curling rocks, but only half the weight. At practice, they learn some of the rules of the game, how to slide, and some of the etiquette that goes along with the sport.Unfortunately, part way through this year, practice had to change from Fridays to Thursdays to accommodate the coaches’ schedules, but our girls dance ballet & jazz on Thursdays. They were disappointed, but stopped attending to continue with dance.

We heard that the club’s team was looking for another player for the Under 11 Provincial Bonspiel being held in Halifax and Sarah was quick to volunteer. This upset Olivia, wondering why she didn’t get to be on the team since her brothers play on the same team, therefore the two sisters should as well… As luck would have it (?!) one the boys on the team was also involved in hockey the same weekend, so Olivia joined the team as a 5th – just in case. The past two Sundays, D’Arcy has taken the girls to the Truro club and practiced with them and make sure they could get the rock from one end of the ice to the other.

We made arrangements to stay with Aunt Erin, packed our gear, and headed for Halifax. Sarah has had an awful cough, so I was worried she would be too sick to play. She & Olivia arranged to switch off and play every other game. They were so proud of themselves!! All 23 teams were piped in to the ice shed during Opening Ceremonies, and Team Fay (Nova Scotian Bronze Medalists at the National Juniors and Team Nova Scotia for the 2015 Canada Winter Games) threw a ceremonial rock through the “honour guard” of curlers.

I wish that I had appreciated at Evan & Alex’s first Little Rocks experience just how adorable this bonspiel is: it takes almost as much luck as it does skill to win a game, there’s not much hurrying happening, and sweeping? Let’s just say the ice was well dusted – when the sweepers were paying attention! There are lots of falls, a few tears (not from any of ours), and lots of smiles. I love seeing the kids shake hands both before and after the game, and love watching them interact with the other teams.

As exciting as it was for them to win their games, the teamwork and sportsmanship I watched was what made my heart burst. Before Olivia’s first game, she worried about how she would know when it was her turn to throw? Evan H. (8) piped up, “I’m the second, so I’ll make sure to tell you!” He or Sage gave her a mini-tutorial before each shot to make sure she was throwing the right turn and knew what shot she was making. So cute!

Sarah came off the ice after one game they played particularly well. I high-fived her and told her what a great game it was and how proud of her I was. She cuddled up to me, looked up and asked quietly, “Mom, but did we win?” She wasn’t quite sure. (They had!)

Each child on the team is a younger sibling of kids who curl with the boys, so although they had never played one another, they knew each other well enough to be close on the ice and have fun together. Aiden was going back and forth from curling to hockey, and cut it close enough on Sunday that the girls got to play a game together.  By the end of their first five games, they had won three and lost two. They were second in their division which meant they made it to the “Red Division” playoffs and were guaranteed two games on Monday!! We were in shock!  I contacted work to ask to take a vacation day, and we spent a second night at Aunt Erin’s. Evan had gone home on Saturday night with my parents so that he could attend his own Podium Project curling practice on Sunday afternoon, so I made arrangements for him to get a drive to the city on Monday with the girls’ coach, Chuck. I love that he was anxious and willing to come cheer his sisters on!

The girls had lots of family support, despite the fact D’Arcy & Alex were away. Both of my parents came to two games, Aunt Erin & Grandma McDonah came to a game, and Aunt Shannon & Uncle Camille came to a game. The best was when, on their final game on Monday, Alex watched the entire game via FaceTime from Brazil! Oh, technology!

I absolutely love how our children support one another!

In the end, Team Hennigar lost both games on Monday and were out. Unfortunately, we learned at lunchtime that Sage was sick, so the girls played their final game together. Sarah even got to hold the broom for skip stones so Evan H could sweep. It was a positive experience for both of them and they are keen to participate again next year. At this age, when they have fun, that’s what counts!

Olivia and Chuck, coaching

Olivia and Chuck, coaching during the first game.


Love the conversation happening on the ice. The little girl in the foreground had some tears in this game, but eventually came around. She swept for us or for her own team; it didn’t matter. Near the end of this game, she and another little one on her team didn’t sweep at all, because they were standing at the end of the ice with their brooms in the air.


Girls’ night at Aunt Erin’s!


Little Rocks – Where the brooms are taller than the players! 😉

The officials are out on the ice at every game, giving pointers, and stopping the game to teach rules. In this case, the other team threw our rock by mistake. They are learning that they should have let it play, and replaced it when it came to rest.

The officials are out on the ice at every game, giving pointers, and stopping the game to teach rules. In this case, the other team threw our rock by mistake. They are learning that they should have let it play, and replaced it when it came to rest.


Olivia gets a tutorial from her teammate before she throws.

Sarah's rock

Sarah sweeping


Exhausted after an eventful weekend!

And just for fun…

Evan & Alex with teammates Madison & Lindsey, and coach Todd at their first Little Rocks, four years ago.

Evan & Alex with teammates Madison & Lindsey, and coach Todd at their first Little Rocks, four years ago.

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.

One step closer…

If you have followed our blog for any length of time, you know that our two sons are involved in curling and have a goal of being Team Nova Scotia at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, BC. This time, Nova Scotia is choosing their representative through a different process than they have in the past. Rather than sending that year’s provincial champion (winner of a bonspiel), the representative team is being chosen after completing a three year process. We became involved two years ago and since then, our team (Team Spinney) has played at a number of Canada Games bonspiels and has participated in multiple training camp weekends where not only do they get on the ice, but also participate in dryland training, nutrition seminars, and sports psychology sessions.

When the process started, there were approximately 15 boys’ teams  and twelve girls’ teams, each competing against one another, with players at varying skill levels. Each athlete has to have been born no earlier than January 1, 1997, so they are still a relatively young group. There have been three qualifying bonspiels; two last spring which offered four spots, and one this weekend, offering the final two spots. This weekend’s bonspiel in Antigonish was double knockout (which meant if you lost two games you went home) and the pressure was high. Different teams have reconfigured during the process, and the level of play has improved immensely. This weekend, our boys were on their game, held up under the pressure, and earned the final spot.


One difficult thing about curling is that there has to be a winner and a loser in each game. Each win in a bonspiel like this is bittersweet when you know you’ve knocked out another team that you like and respect. That happened to us twice during the weekend. Everybody is striving toward the same goal and the stakes are high, so wins are more subdued and the parents are much quieter.

Moving forward, the six qualifying teams will play together at three different bonspiels this winter and it is our understanding that the team with the best performance at the three bonspiels will be chosen as Team Nova Scotia in March. There is also an opportunity for the second ranked team to attend the Optimist International Under 18 Curling Championships in Langley, BC.

Drew, Evan, Alex & Adam have worked very hard to get this far. They generally curl six days each week, help out with the pre-juniors, and curl in the adult recreational league some evenings. They cross-train by mountain biking together once each week in the nicer weather, run, and attend fitness & yoga sessions with their sponsor, MacKinnon Fitness and Breathing Space Yoga Studio.

We are so proud of their accomplishments and wish them well as they continue to work together toward achieving their goal!

Team Spinney with Coach Chuck Dyke after qualifying to continue in the 2015 Canada Games Process.

Team Spinney with Coach Chuck Dyke after qualifying to continue in the 2015 Canada Games Process.