We were fortunate to catch one of the Market Square shows for the East Coast Music Festival in Saint John this weekend. We took in wonderful sets from two artists, Dave Gunning and Heather Rankin. Both were gracious enough to take a photo with the girls. It was neat to see the realization on Abby and Rebecca’s when familiar songs were being played live in front of them! Both Heather and Dave told hilarious and memorable stories between their songs and tunings.
We all headed into Saint John today for a big of a different day. The girls had an indoor track and field meet called Run Jump Throw Wheel (RJTW) — put on for the area schools. The girls were kindly registered by their father for 4 events: 3 running and 1 'field' event. They did really well at their short and long distance runs. Both ran with either older kids or ones that were really fast! Probably the most fun was had at the field events . They tried a standing long jump, standing high jump and shot put. All were a big hit. Abby liked the shot put and came in 3rd and Rebecca did well at the long jumbo coming in first. We had a ball ! The other exciting thing about the day was two of their school friends also went and they were cute in their little team.
After tiring the kids out , we stuck around for their first SJ Seadogs QMJHL hockey game. The kids were excited to see all the sights and sounds at the rink. With 13 goals total and one big fight , they had their fill. It was funny to see them surprised by the hitting at the boards, with Rebecca saying, "that's called Checking!". Hilarious.
That's been the theme in the Maritimes for the last month. We've had about three and a half metres in as many weeks. Despite the need for constant shoveling it seems, once the weather warmed up, the abundance of snow has made for excellent snow play.
We spent the morning and afternoon digging out tunnels in the snow piles that have built up over the winter.
We also dug out their tree fort tunnel which has been buried almost to the four foot wall.
We all contributed to another tunnel in the side yard. The girls learned persistence pays off when digging a long tunnel (even though Dad had quit after Willow demolished his side!). In the end, it was reminiscent of a movie we watched recently:
"You want the impossible.'
(focusing, quietly) All right, I'll give it a try. YODA (Sheena) No! Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.
Yesterday, Sheena and I had a date (day) in the Fredericton area. We first headed to Mactaquac Provincial Park for skating and snowshoeing. We also found that there are many more activities there (sliding, cross country skiing) , necessitating another visit to explore more of them.
The 'Murch' trail had seen little visitors due to the deep snow, well other than the deer and animals which had highlighted the trail for us.
As always, the way back is easier. We also found the spot where they have the 'Treego' (summertime zipline fun high up in the trees).
Afterward, we dried off and headed to downtown Fredericton for some more skating before our dinner out. This time, we found ourselves at Officer's Square on Queen St near the water. In a neat setup, they have a warming hut/change room and ice all the way up to the door, which was convenient.
We ended off our evening at a great restaurant, Isaac's Way. Best described as fancy dressed up pub food in an artsy atmosphere (an old courthouse, even with a vault as private dining room). Here we are enjoying the night while waiting for our friends to join us for the meal.
Happy New Year to all. I thought I'd share some photos from the past few weeks of holidays.
We made an attempt at a geocache today in the Hatfield Point area. The girls still enjoyed a day out on a trail though. The highlight was the downhill ice sliding…
Christmas this year was a bit different for everyone due to the onset of a stomach flu! But, after a couple of days of rest, we went out with our visitors Gramma and Grampa to Saint John for a tour of the market on Dec 27th. It was a quiet Saturday and we all enjoyed a snack lunch from each of the vendors.
Here's the bunch of us at lunch. Little known fact, Abby is showing off her loose tooth, which has been hanging on for over a month now. She's proud of it and we'll probably have to have a wake for it when it finally falls out.
The Saint John Market was looking as colourful as ever with the Christmas decorations.
Here's Grandpa and Abigail enjoying a sit down on King St. Yes, its cold, but frozen lemonade is always in season.
Later in the day, we headed over to the Irving Nature Park and found a neat geocache by the marsh. This one had a log as a container!
Saints Rest Beach is always a neat time in any season. Something as simple as jumping back from the incoming waves entertained the girls for almost a half hour.
Lone Pines Park has a neat spot where the trees had all been planted in straight lines.
So far this winter, Sheena's pasttime during snowstorms, cold weather and free evenings has been spent making earthy crafts using wood cut from our land. Earlier in the fall, I had cut a bunch of small trees to clear the visibility at the end of the driveway. Now, they've been reborn as neat ornaments for the tree.
Six years ago, we moved back home to the Maritimes from Calgary. In the six years, we've had a chance to have friends visit us in New Brunswick, but we have always wanted our girls to see where we used to live and catch up with friends still living there. Once we told the girls we were going, they were excited and started a countdown, telling their friends a few weeks beforehand. They were definitely interested as Rebecca was born in Calgary and Abby had only heard of and seen pictures of our time there.
The trip to Calgary was definitely part of the story, having to drive to Halifax for our flights, stay in a hotel (the girls' first) and get up in the early morning to take three planes to Calgary through Toronto and Regina. As Rebecca tells it, because its so far — we had to take 3 Planes! Both girls did well with the travel, but were naturally exhausted after their 20 hour trip to the west. We were fortunate to be able to stay with our good friends Ramona and Michael. It was the girls first time remembering a meeting with them (Ramona visited when they were really young). Each morning that we were there, we were treated with delicious gourmet breakfasts which got us all started on our days of adventuring and visiting. Upon our daily return to their house, I would be remiss to not mention the amazing desserts which we feasted upon while chatting and showing photos of our day trips.
Above you see some of the desserts we sampled frequently! And yes, Abby was happy to eat them.
One of the evenings we returned to have supper and a chocolate fountain. Needless to say, the kids loved it.
Our first day trip in the Calgary area was east toward Drumheller and the Royal Tyrell Museum. Our first stop was the 'worlds largest dinosaur' in the town square. You can ascend to the mouth of the dino, which only excited the kids even more for the museum tour. Rebecca and Abby were very interested in all the exhibitions. Some were the typical large dinosaur displays, but others were interactive and interesting for children and adults.
It was difficult to take photos in the museum. Abby was entranced by the caveman markings on the wall that changed every few minutes.
The girls were excited to do the simplest of things: play in the water. This was the perfect solution for getting used to the new time zone!
Alberta: where computer desktop backgrounds are made! You quickly find out why they call it the Big Sky province.
Despite the 32 C weather, on the way back, we stopped to view the scenery (and blue birds, first time!) at Horseshoe Canyon lookoff near Drumheller. Years ago, Sheena and I took our bikes down in the valley for a scorcher of a bike ride.
The following day, we took the girls out to see the Rockies and visit some of the sights we had seen while spending our weekends hiking in the mountains. The first trip we took was to Troll Falls and Marmot Creek Falls in Kananaskis Country. Troll falls is a great hike for kids and we decided to climb above the falls to see more of the waterfalls in the hills above. Troll falls are named for the small sized holes in the rocks beside the waterfall. Here's Abby showing the rock formations.
We took the kids in behind the falls. With the heavy rainfall earlier in the week, there was an excellent flow of water.
Rebecca stands tall as a mountain climber in the rock above Troll Falls.
Here's us posing at a lookoff above Troll Falls with one of the K-Country Mountains in behind (Mt. Kidd possibly).
After our daily excursions, the girls would retire to Ramona's library for some quiet reading, drawing and reflection. It was a peaceful spot.
Being in Calgary, we naturally had to take the girls to some ethnic restaurants. Ramona and Michael knew of a great Chinese restaurant in Edgemont for a Dim Sum brunch. It was an excellent and tasty meal — the girls enjoyed the turning table with food at the ready. We also made it to a Japanese restaurant in Dalhousie. The service was exceptional and they ended our meal with a couple of nice songs. Until we watched the video itself, it wasn't until then when we noticed the simultaneous reaction from the girls at the end of the song.
There was lots to learn about the big city, but we found the girls were naturals at taking the busy transit train. On the trip downtown, Rebecca was looking at a book and sharing the pages with a older Chinese couple. They both seemed to seem to laugh at the pictures at the same time.
Later in the week, we took the girls to the Highwood Pass area of Kananaskis Country. Highwood Pass is 2200 metres above sea level at the start of the hike to Ptarmigan Cirque. The hike is a 6 kilometre loop to the top of a 'cirque', a valley with a theatre type formation of the surrounding mountains of Mt. Rae and Mt. Arthesua. Although earlier in the week, we had spent our days in hot weather of the foothills, the mid morning in the mountains was a cool 12 degrees with a slight wind. The cooler spring had just given way and the snow was just disappearing from the trail — in late June!
The hike was 230 m of elevation gain in 3 kilometres, which is a bit noticeable when you are already at 2200 metres at the start. The girls trucked along on the trail though, despite noticing a difference in their lungs. We made little goals for them to reach along the way and then started to find these rest stops on the trail. They looked forward to each one and counted the way up. The exertion was making it warmer for them too. We frequently crossed snow along the trail in the woods.
Here are the girls proceeding along a little lookoff before leaving the treeline.
We reached the cirque and the real mountain climbers in them took over. The girls spent lunch exploring the rocks all around the bottom.
A family shot during our lunch break. It really had sights on all sides of the Highwood Pass area.
Rebecca and Sheena take a walk and chat down the return trail. Mt. Rae is in the background.
On our final weekend, we took the girls to a rodeo in Airdrie. Many towns in Alberta have a rodeo circuit visit them and I found they're much more authentic than the Stampede which everyone has seen at least once on television. These rodeos are held on a rodeo ground outside of town, where grassy fields are turned into parking lots (rapidly becoming muddy fields) and cattle corals fence off the beer tent from the spectators area. It really was a fun experience — and after two downpours on the break, we realized our footwear was slightly inadequate. 🙂 Cowboy boots do have a purpose!
Here we sit on our jackets watching the preshow antics of the rodeo clown. He and the announcer provided the commentary for the events.
Here he was getting the crowd fired up fo the first event!
Many cowboys getting ready near the grandstand. In between the arena and grandstand the areas where the animals are 'mounted' prior to the gates opening.
Abby showing off her rodeo stamp! She's wearing her ring made by a new friend in Cochrane.
Here's Steph and Rebecca (trying to blow a bubble) while watching the show. It was a late night, but lots of fun for our last evening in Calgary.
We were able to see many friends on our trip and were grateful to be able to visit all that we could. To those we couldn't see, we hope to catch up with you sometime soon in the future!
For our Western friends, thanks for the dinners and playtimes, we certainly enjoyed them. Special thank yous go to Ramona & Michael and Steph for graciously allowing us to stay in their houses for the week. You guys made it possible for all of us to have have fun visting our old stomping grounds out West!
For the November 16th weekend, Sheena and I made a trip to Toronto (Sheena's first) for Matt and Melissa's wedding. In getting there, we flew Porter airlines for the first time and who instantly had me at the mention of free beer. Porter flies into Toronto Island airport, and with our arrival a night time, it gave some incredible sights of the downtown from the airplane.
After arriving, we quickly found that we would be able to walk wherever we needed for the weekend. So on Friday, we soon found ourselves visiting the Eaton Centre and walking to the nearby square, heading down to the CN Tower, Skydome, Ripleys Aquarium, CBC building, and many other places downtown. We were happy to take in the tall buildings and busy streets by sight alone – which was much different than life rural NB. On Friday night we met with the wedding group at a restaurant called Le Marche. It was set up like a market, where you 'shopped' for each course. For the start of the wedding festivities, it definitely was a ball!
On Saturday, it was a full day of wedding preparation. Matt came to our hotel and we all got ready together. Seeing that it was only a 15 minute walk, we walked down to the Royal York, where we took more photos prior to the wedding. Everyone was looking spiffy! Following that, we took an electric VW wagon to the Distillery District for the wedding at an art gallery. The reception followed at an old distillery/alcohol storage building. The surroundings were very rustic yet artisticly simple, making for a memorable and comfortable night of speeches, laughs and dancing! (Oh yeah, thanks for the open bar Matt!) Follow this link for more photos of the wedding by the photographer.
Post-festivities on Sunday, Sheena and I went for a long exploratory walk downtown and ran into the Argonauts and Tigercats pregame fun by the Skydome (some videos of the festivities: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CW0g0NJ6gdo and ) nearby tailgate parties, a Raptors pregame, the Santa Claus Parade and the Santa claus Marathon. We were amazed that all this could be happening in the same area! We certainly enjoyed our weekend away — and thanks to Grandma for being the sitter for the weekend. A special thanks came from Willow, who obviously got special treatment from Grandma.
We had been talking about Christmas trees and the upcoming season and the girls decided it was suddenly time to start decorating for Christmas. We decided to let a little Christmas in the house (on November 17) with some Charlie Brown trees for the girls room. Abby and Sheena went out during the afternoon and picked a couple of trees — Sheena added a tree slice base, and voila, a kid's tree. The girls were very proud to decorate their trees right away.
Rebecca is showing off a card from Wonderland Day care from last year.
Here's Abby with her tree, looking very perfect and tall!
Last weekend, we went to Moncton for our annual Moncton Christmas (Santa Claus) parade. This year, we tried to beat the crowds and went at the beginning of the parade — except we went a little too close to the beginning and wound up where they line up! The girls were excited enough at being there that we made some quick manoevering around through the crowds to find a good spot just a bit down from the start. Sheena and I did have to have the kids on our shoulders for the whole hour as they wouldn't be able to see otherwise. They had a ball watching the floats — and promptly fell asleep within two minutes on the drive home.
Here's Rebecca being super excited!
Here's Abby not wanting to take a chance at missing any lights — even for a quick photo! (we couldn't get her to look at the camera).
The third week of November is as far as we could get without 'Dad, is it time to decorate the house yet?" "Mom, can we put the lights up?" "Dad, Dad, Dad, when are we going to put the tree up?" So, naturally, on the evening of the second snowstorm of the year (and a whallop it was), we set on decorating the house for Christmas. Sheena cut a tree from the front yard (!), which is actually woods, but still! And it was all decorated by nights end on November 23rd. The lights outside took another week, but were up soon enough as Rebecca and Abby needed our house to be like the others that they see regularly on the evening drives home from 'school' (daycare).
We made our usual visit to the Moncton Christmas parade. This year was clearly Abby's year at the parade. While we sat watching the parade this year, she was jumping out of Sheena's lap for each float. There weren't many good pictures that night, but this one kind of exemplifies how she was.
The next day, we went to Saint John for a kids Christmas party for work. There was all sorts of activities for them, including tons of fun food, balloon making…
… paint on tattoos (Rebecca had a rabbit)…
…Abby had her favorite penguin…
There was even face painting. The lady doing the work had amazing talent and made Abby look like a cheetah.
Rebecca wanted to be a bat (she usually draws bats all over her drawing papers). The cheetah and bats are courtesy of their favorite show, 'Wild Kratts'.
And of course, Santa arrived at the party. Rebecca ended up sitting front and centre at Santa's feet. She didn't take her eyes off Santa the whole time he was there.
Rebecca's name was called and she didn't sit on his lap, but stood in awe at his feet. Abby was a bit shy, so there was no photo as I was nudging her up to him.
Last week, Sheena and I took Rebecca and Abigail to Irishtown Nature Park near Moncton for a little outing. It was Rebecca's first time going for a hike where she spent most of the time walking herself. Rebecca and Abby were excited to wear their backpacks, just like Mom and Dad. Abigail still likes being in a backpack, but also made short little jaunts here and there. We first stopped at the falls area by the old watershed dam site for lunch. We then took the yellow marked trail around the reservoir for about 2 kilometres, in a big loop that connects back to the dam. It was muddy and
wet, but Rebecca loved jumping over the roots and following Sheena and I through the woods. It was funny to see Rebecca really able to use her jumping jelly bean energy, and keep it up for the whole time we were there!
David's parents, Grammy and Grampy MacDonald visited us in Belleisle on Easter Weekend. Rebecca and Abigail were busy hanging out with them on the swing, the sandbox and a during trip to Saint John where we visited the Urban Deli for lunch. I must say, the restaurant originally didn't look like a kid friendly place, but we were quickly put at ease by the owner and excellent waitress. They certainly know how to keep kids happy while parents wait for their food. It's great to see King St has such a nice restaurant.
Thanks to Grampy for the photos.