A night away

Historically, bookings during the first week of July have always been slow. Earlier this week, we had a night without any reservations, so we closed out our online booking calendar, and packed up the van to spend the night at our property in Tatamagouche, on the Northumberland Strait.

What a wonderful getaway we had, spending time together as a family without distractions. Our property has a bunkhouse and an outhouse, with no power nor running water – unless you count the river! We chatted, played cards, went exploring the riverbed while the tide was out, had a bonfire, made s’mores, stargazed, canoed, swam, set off bottle-rockets, had a washer toss tournament, drove the van up & down the lane (a 14 year-old-boy’s rite-of-passage), skipped rocks, and laughed. We ate well – everything tastes better outside! We had risotto with asparagus, sausage, and cheese cooked on the campstove for supper. (Along with some local wine & beer for the parents.) Breakfast was bacon, fruit, yogurt, and homemade brown-bread toast made over the campfire with homemade jelly.

We have eagles – now named Joe & Josie – who were quite interested in what we were doing and circled around often. When we were canoeing, “Joe” was swooping down close to us and then perched on the treetops, watching the kids swim. I was hoping that he didn’t think Olivia was a fish!

We don’t have any more nights without bookings in the coming weeks, so we won’t get another overnight for awhile. However, we’ll try to get back for a few hours during the day again soon.

Summer fun, hanging out together

Summer fun, hanging out together

Playing cards and laughing together while catching some shade in the tent

Playing cards and laughing together while catching some shade in the tent

Exploring the river while the tide was out.

Exploring the river while the tide was out.

Relaxed

Relaxed

Sibling fun around the campfire at dusk

Sibling fun around the campfire at dusk

Alex's charred marshmallow

Alex’s charred marshmallow

Early morning washer toss tournament

Early morning washer toss tournament

Making toast on the fire

Making toast on the fire

All food tastes better outside!

All food tastes better outside!

Canoeing on the French River

Canoeing the French River

The 2015 McDonah Family canoe photo

The 2015 McDonah Family canoe photo – we’ll soon all be too big to travel together

A happy & relaxed dad, paddling in his handmade canoe

A happy & relaxed dad, paddling in his handmade cedar-strip canoe

Summer is Here!

Ahhh… The first day of summer vacation.

Epic photo of Summer 2015? Perhaps. Canada Day fun in the pool together.

Epic photo of Summer 2015? Perhaps. Canada Day fun in the pool together.

After a stellar year for the four McDonah kids (I’d be bashful to list all of their accolades and awards this year for fear of sounding like I’m boasting, but they worked HARD and it was noticed!) and a challenging year for each of their teacher parents, summer vacation couldn’t come fast enough.

The first day of summer vacation is probably our family’s second favourite day of the year, behind Thanksgiving.

We spent the day together as a family. Two-thirds of our guests were returning guests which was fun. After the day’s cleanup was finished, we did some gardening before all going to a neighbour’s house for a family-style celebration. We arrived home in time to welcome our new guests, and then had a swim to cool off. I rarely get in the pool as I chill easily. After much tormenting and teasing when I sat on a towel to take the family photo and wouldn’t get in with them, (There are guests coming in… It’s too cold… Somebody needs to be dry and dressed…)  I surprised them all by uncharacteristically cannonballing in while still wearing my clothes. They couldn’t believe it and that action probably won’t be something they’ll soon forget- the first lasting memory of summer!

After supper, we had a fire outside, which my parents and Alex’s girlfriend joined us for. We played “Telephone” and “Truth or Dare” and then roasted marshmallows while waiting for the Canada Day fireworks. Some of our guests joined us.

As we settle in to our new routines of later bedtimes and unstructured days, I’m starting to feel myself relax and unwind.

I have made myself a number of promises for the next two months:

  • spend at least one hour outside every day
  • read for fun at least one hour every day, outside if possible (two birds, one stone?)
  • take and post at least one photo on Instagram every day BelgraviaBB
  • get back to blogging regularly
  • start running again – or at least go for daily walks
  • use all of the goodness growing in our garden

I think that’s enough… it is “vacation” after all!

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.

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

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Auntie Ruth answers her question before opening her book.

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

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Olivia and Beanah

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

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

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Sarah took forever to open her book of trivia.

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Auntie Ruth chose the book for Ginna

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Some time to enjoy our books between courses.

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Family Literacy Day 2015

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Happy 86th birthday, Auntie Ruth!

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Fun together

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Happy Birthday!

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The perfect gift!

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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!

The BIG swim!!

Last week, I was lucky enough to have three of my dearest friends together for a sleepover at our place. We talked and laughed and drank wine. We even went to a nearby restaurant’s patio for a bite to eat – how civilized! Karen, Angie, Theresa & I all got to know each other while living together in residence at Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU) many years ago. (Actually, Theresa & I first met at Piano camp at Acadia University when we were in elementary school, but reconnected at “The Mount”.) Theresa was taking Public Relations, Angie was taking Business Administration, and Karen & I were taking Tourism & Hospitality Management. The four of us have been together through a LOT over the years: jobs, loves beginnings and endings, marriages, long distances (Karen married a pilot and has spent many years based in the Maldives and Sri Lanka), career changes, babies (Theresa & I were in the same hospital together when our Sarah and her triplet boys were born six days apart!), milestone birthdays, awards, the death & illnesses of parents, holidays, new houses, etc. We have the kind of friendship that always picks up right where it left off, and we know that we have each other’s backs – no judgments! Twenty years of friendship has seen a lot of water under the bridge! (Foreshadowing metaphor…)

Getting ready for a charity ball at MSVU; winter 1993.

Getting ready for a charity ball at MSVU; winter 1993.

Twenty years later - older and (hopefully much) wiser.

Twenty years later – older and (hopefully much) wiser.

As much as I love all three of these women, my “Vital Friends“, who each bring something different into my life, this post is about Angie. Three years ago, Angie left her high profile job with a major insurance company, sold her house and belongings, packed everything else she owned into her little car, and drove home to Nova Scotia. She applied to Dalhousie University to study to become an occupational therapist, and was recently valedictorian of her graduating class!! A number of years ago, she became involved with Camp Brigadoon, a summer camp here in Nova Scotia for kids with chronic illnesses, while it was still in the planning stages. In their own words, “Brigadoon is a non-profit recreational facility on Aylesford Lake in the Annapolis Valley. With our partners, we deliver camp programming to children, youth and families living with a chronic illness, chronic condition, or special need across Atlantic Canada. Brigadoon is a place where campers come to experience new things, meet friends who are facing similar challenges, and to just be themselves…not a patient, a chart full of symptoms, or a good little soldier.”

On August 4th of this year, Angie is swimming with 35 other people, across the Northumberland Straight – 14 kilometres – from Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island to raise money for this deserving cause.

For the record, this woman does nothing half-way.

Angie’s friend Amanda, who will be her surface support, traveling alongside her in a kayak during the swim, created the following video, which is three minutes long, in anticipation:

For the record, Angie figures it will take her about six hours to complete her swim. Yikes.

Angie’s fundraising goal is $5,000 before she gets in the water, and as of our evening together, she was at just over $3,000. This is a camp that our daughter Olivia, would qualify to attend some day. Every $1,000 raised sends one more child to camp!

To donate, please click on the following link: Angie’s Big Swim for Brigadoon Camp.

Thank you!

Brigadoon Children’s Camp

Belgravia Bed & Breakfast

Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed when Living in a Bed & Breakfast

We’re just ramping up for our 11th tourist season here at The Belgravia Bed & Breakfast and our children have obviously learned a thing or two growing up in this environment.

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“Waking me up” to take my order.

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The flowers were all picked from our own yard.

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Did any other moms out there have to fill out a guest feedback form for their breakfast in bed?

 

 

 

I thoroughly enjoyed my breakfast-in-bed of fruit, yogurt, granola, toast, and coffee – at the cost of five hugs. I especially loved the service and added touches.  I rated them a 15 – I’ll definitely be back!! 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

The Belgravia Bed & Breakfast website