Weekend Travelling

The girls and I travelled to Cape Breton on the weekend.  Although it was a short visit, we felt like we did so much.  Other than depicted below, the highlights included visiting the neighbours kids for trampoline and zip line fun; walking to the community park ‘on their own’; seeing their first black bear while on the highway to Margaree; making seaglass art for Mothers Day; and visiting Grandpa at the store.

On the last point, both girls were cute to immediately assume their working roles behind the counter.  This was especially neat for them as Grandpa is in the final stages the sale of the Brook Village Grocery.  The new owners are to start at the end of June and we may be seeing more of Grandpa starting in July!

The photo of the concert was taken at the Inverary Manor in Inverness.  Mom and an aunt and uncle were among those who sang Beatles tunes on Sunday afternoon.   It was an excellent renewal of the old songs!

Catching up on Summer

IMG_1794We're sharing more photos from the girls wonderful summer.  Here's Rebecca at the Irving Nature Park in Saint John, wandering through the kid's maze.  Below is the girls on Saint's Rest Beach in Saint John,  looking for treasures among the rocks.  

IMG_1794Abby found a piece of seaweed which became a beard.  Not sure who she learned that from (Dad or Grampa!).

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Sheena took the below photo on a drive home from one of their adventures this past week.  Its of the sun going down over Belleisle Bay, about 10 minutes from our house.  

IMG_1794No summer photo collage could be complete without a photo of the girls swimming at the 'Cuts', a local swimming hole about 4 minutes from our house, on our road no less!
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Abby and Rebecca love all the treasures at Grampa's store, including the baby chicks that come in throughout the year. 

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During their three week stay in Cape Breton, the girls ran in the Inverness Days Race.  Rebecca ran in two races that day, the kids run and the 5k!

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This year's beach was West Mabou Beach.  The girls and Sheena loved spending their time there and going for ice cream at the Ceilidlh Cottages Campground.  

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IMG_1561On one of our cousin's days at the beach, a few were covered into the same sand pile by anyone who would join in.  

IMG_1561Rebecca and Abby posed for a few photos for Sheena's collage, including here with the lobster traps in Inverness.

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Here's Abby playing with one of the buddy's they made at the beach in Mabou.  This one is a step-daughter of a cousin's cousin.  :)

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The Mabou Harbour lighthouse is very picturesque. 

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After the kids returned home from Cape Breton, I took them to see a couple waterfalls in the Nackawic and Mactaquac area. The girls had a ball swimming and goofing around.  

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The trail to Coac Falls was a nice walk through the forest.  It was getting fairly hot on our walk.

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Coac Falls were neat, with the gradual steps down to the pool.  The water was incredibly cold, shockingly actually.  That didn't stop Abby or Rebecca though.  
IMG_1561Here they are testing out the current.  
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Cape Breton Spring: Hiking, Fishing, Dancing

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Our last weekend in April was spent on a spring trip to home in Cape Breton for a long awaited visit.  We had wonderful weather for our trip, which allowed us to do some hiking, beach walking and fishing.  The above photo is Abby holding up her intro rock to our trip and her photo slide show.  She was very excited to compile a number of photographs for her class to see where she had been and what she had done while she was away.  This became a common discussion throughout our time away!

 Our hike took us to the MacKinnon's Brook trail in the Cape Mabou Highlands.  It was a crisp day, but great weather for hiking.  We took the kids the 1.5k uphill to the look-off of the Northumberland Strait.  PEI was visible from our perch above the ocean.  Here's Rebecca with her newly found hiking stick.  

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The path to the look-off leads to a nice clearing and a good spot for lunch.  

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Abby relished in her usual job of caring for Willow along the trail.  We love it too, because she keeps the pace going quite well.

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There was the usual excitement upon arriving at our destination.  

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The timing was slightly off between cameras, but makes it fun playing with angles.  

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We were invited on another day of our visit to see the animals at a neighbour's house.  There were quite a few sheep for them to see, chase around and in Rebecca's case, pick up like a cat.  

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There's also a kind horse called 'Flicka' at the farm.  The girls enjoyed giving apples as a treat.  They were laughing at the way she reached out with her teeth to pick the apple from their hands.  

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No trip to the Mabou and Inverness area would be complete without a beach walk.  We spent a couple of hours enjoying the sights and also keeping our heads down for sea glass.  

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 Our Saturday afternoon was planned for a while, specifically to go fishing with Grampa in the Southwest Mabou river area.  Both girls picked up the casting and fishing very quickly this year.  They are certainly growing up fast.  Grampa took home two fish, which Abby really enjoyed cleaning!  She was so excited and retold the story of how she used scissors to 'cut the fish from the poop hole to the head'.  

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Last but certainly not least, we had a big moment while in Cape Breton.  The girls have been listening to East Coast music, noteably fiddle music since they were very young.  They've danced around our house, their grandparent's houses and elsewhere.  They've heard stories of us going to square dances and listening to fiddle music, but were never able to go because a) they were a bit young and b) they couldn't manage to stay up that late.  However, finally, this weekend, we had the chance to bring both of them to the year-round square dancing in West Mabou.  These dances have been going on for decades and although not in the busy season at this time of year, they still provide some fun on a Saturday night.  Its a bit hard to take photographs and video in the dimly lit hall, but hopefully you'll get to see the kids at their first dance.  I'll never forget the looks of surprise and enjoyment on their faces while they swung around with us and figured it out (ha!).  Abby was a trooper and danced three sets (9 figures) while we were there.  So much fun yet to be had with these two!

 

 

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Holiday Break recap

I thought I'd give a bit of a recap of our holiday break for those that haven't been able to follow along with our twitter (https://twitter.com/DaveMacD0nald) https://twitter.com/SheenaSheena00) or Facebook posts.  We typically use all three mediums, although the blog seems to be third fiddle sometimes!  It is nice to sit down and type  though.  
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 First, the above photo.  The dog in the foreground is Willow's new neighbour, 'Jake' as the kids have named him. He visits the now middle aged Willow daily, or Willow makes the trek down to his house for a game of chase and usually ending up with Jake teasing with some food or a toy of Willow's.  They seem to be good buddies and Jake being a springer spaniel is fast.  

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At the beginning of school break, we took the kids to our new favorite spot to eat in Sussex, Sushi Jo's.  We enjoyed a nice urban meal in a small town.  Rebecca and I over did it with the Udon soup, a story told by her ever since.  Abby was a trooper with the sushi rolls and was able to use her chopsticks!

We planned a trip to Moncton for a visit with Sheena's parents and G-Nan, which was fun to catch up prior to Christmas.  While on the way, we decided to head down to Cape Breton for a surprise visit to my parent's house.  Laurena was also down for the days before Christmas.  We arrived for a 3 day visit with only a day and a bit of clothes, but nevertheless surprised everyone when we showed up on a Sunday afternoon.  The kids pretended to have taken the bus down to Cape Breton while their parents were nowhere in sight.  We were able to have another surprise when Laurena and Mom came home as well. Good fun.

Of course, no trip to Cape Breton can be complete without a trip to the beach.  This day was very cold and with high winds, there were spectacular waves.  It was difficult to seaglass hunt with the cold weather and Sheena actually abandoned her efforts! Willow seems to be oblivious to the cold.
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IMG_4462The girls were able to visit Grampa in the store a fair bit while we were down for the short time.  Rebecca took her turn at serving the customers.  One customer came in and was having a friendly chat with Rebecca behind the counter.  He asked if she was being paid by Grandpa and Rebecca repied, 'no, but paid in juice!'  We all laughed and the nice man gave Rebecca a tip for bagging the groceries.  

Upon our return home, we settled in for Christmas.  One of the latest fun we've been having with the girls is playing the 'Rockband' game on Nintendo.  The girls have taken to it well and seem to be learning a bit about timing and beats.  They can show their Dad how to keep time with the music for sure.  Abby loves the drums and Rebecca is keen with the guitar. 

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IMG_4462Even though the girls have been absolutely obsessed with Star Wars lately, you may wonder if the below picture is of a Stormtrooper boot or something of the sort.  Well, its not, but what it is is a bit of freedom for someone afflicted with a broken leg!  After a month in a hard cast, this was great to  use and be able to walk around without crutches and participate in a few more activities.  
IMG_4462We've had a few snow storms, but nothing like the ones we had in years past.  Generally though, Willow is content to stay outside most of the day and despite being covered with snow when she's out there.  
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We've also been watching a neat outdoor survival show which you've all heard about, but the kids are finally able to enjoy, namely, Survivorman.  The girls have been getting into the show and tried making their own shelters in the woods after watching Les Stroud do a few on TV.  Today, we headed out and made a nice shelter with left over tree bows from Christmas and outfitted their play fort with some warm floor bows and a roof.  Both were excited to make something of their own similar to what they had seen on the show.  
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IMG_4462We haven't yet elevated to the 'sleep outside' in the home made shelter, but I'm sure I'll be able to convince them to at least try it out one 'warmer' evening.  
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A newer development has been Sheena's seaglass artwork.  She has recently started selling the artwork to friends and on Facebook with definite interest.  Here are just two of her works, which she can recreate for orders or anything that she can dream up! Way to go Sheena. 🙂

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Catching up on Summer Two

 

 

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Here's a continuation of our summer photos! (See the first post here.) Above we see Rebecca playing with some of the chickens that Grampa sells at the store.  He receives orders and a couple times a year distributes baby chicks for growing!  Naturally, the girls love them.

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Sporting the boogie board!  They loved heading out into the water in the waves of Inverness Beach.

Below you see Sheena relaxing at one of the scenic points on the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park.  Her and her cousin Karen took a camping trip and explored the areas of northern Cape Breton.  One of their hikes was to Fishing Cove, a popular destination for backpackers as well.

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Sheena took this photo of the view from Jumping Mouse Campground, near Bay St. Lawrence and north of Cape North.  Both her and Karen highly recommended this spot for camping outside the national park.
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On one of the cooler wet days in Brook Village (where we couldn't go to the beach), we took the girls to the Louisbourg National Historic site in eastern Cape Breton.  Fortress Louisbourg is a restoration of an 18th century French fortification.  There are actors that portray roles in costume and really make it interesting for those visiting.  

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Here's the entrance to the Fortress.  Shortly before passing this gate, we were interrogated by the guard to make sure we weren't English subjects acting as spies or smuggling weapons.

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The girls even had a chance to dress up in period costume.  This particular house was for a lord, where servants kept up with the house work and cooking.  It was neat to see how many layers of clothes they had to put on.  Clothes had to be warm in the 18th century with the wind and storms of the Louisbourg area!

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Louisbourg residents even had animals that they had to tend to, including sheep.  One of the residents let us feed the sheep some tasty weeds from a garden nearby.  

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It appeared that most visitors to Louisbourg visit the fortress itself, but what we found was there were beaches that were also part of the historic site.  These seemed little visited and were absolutely beautiful.  We walked the soft sand and explored for a while.  Rebecca didn't seem to mind the frigid Atlantic water.

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A fun day exploring the fortress requires a jump for joy! 

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We decided to spend more time in Louisbourg and explore a lighthouse at another part of the historic site on the other side of the harbour.  The lighthouse is built on the site of the oldest lighthouse in Canada.  It was mesmerizing watching the power of the ocean hitting the rocks all around the coast.  We also had near perfect evening light for our photos.

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Here is the Louisbourg Harbour lighthouse.  This view is looking toward the fortress.

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Another sunny day and we're back in Inverness Beach for boogie boarding in the waves.  These girls spent nearly an hour and a half braving the cold water and riding the waves.  

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Below you see the girls lined up for another fun run in Inverness, during the Inverness Gathering Festival.  This was quite the accomplishment for them.  Both girls ran in a 1.5 k fun run, then ran and walked the 5 kilometre race following the fun run.  

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Here's Rebecca running along the race track.

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Abby is keeping pace as well and almost finished!

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It was also Sheena's first 5 km race.  Here they all are after finishing the run!  Abby is a proud little one after her accomplishment.

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Here's Rebecca finishing her 5 km run.  She was signed up for the walk, but decided to run instead.  She ran with the adults and teenage kids.  Needless to say, they had a fun and complete day of exercise and Grandma treated them to a breakfast at the Coal Miner's Cafe.

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It was a busy day ahead for the girls as they were recruited to sit in the Legion truck for the festival parade.  It was a first to be in a parade float and they were excited to get T-Shirts as well.
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What did everyone do with their beach treasures afterward? Well, Sheena helped out making seaglass art.  This one below was made and designed entirely by Abby.  The blue glass a rare glass find.  The pots are made out of smooth pottery pieces also found on the beach.

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IMG_0400Sheena made the above picture with seaglass and small pebbles also found on the beach.  She really has a knack for this type of art.  

After arriving back home to New Brunswick, we had visitors from Virginia Beach.  Sheena's friend Lauren drove to Belleisle and brought her three children as well.  Sheena spent the days taking the group to local fun spots, including one of our favorite exploration beaches at Duck Pond Rd beach in Gardner Creek.  The below photos show some of the rocks you can explore and a freshwater creek leading into the Bay of Fundy.  

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Here's the gang gathered under our tree fort.  They spent a few days at their 'restaurant' serving dirt coffee, sand cakes and chocolate mud desserts.

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Catching up on Summer

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I'm finally posting a few photos from this summer as we've had a busy one so far.  With a colder spring, we had to get used to colder water for the earlier part of the summer.  This however, did not stop the kids from putting on their bathing suits and jumping in.  The above photo shows the kids playing in the Belleisle Bay with friends at their property along the shore.  It was a beautiful night for campfires.  The girls stayed up until 11pm those nights! 

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We also made our way to Cape Breton for some valued family time, which comes of course with beach time in Port Hood, Inverness and West Mabou.  We spent much time between those three beaches in our time in Cape Breton. Sometimes two beaches a day!

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On another day with the kids, we headed to Piper's Glen falls (Egypt Falls) in Scotsville.  The girls were very excited to see such a big waterfall.  Rebecca announced she was going into the water no matter what — and we all quickly found that it was probably only about 8 degrees!  Again, this didn't stop them from heading in.  Below is Abby heading into the cold cold water!

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On another adventure with Gramma, we all ventured to Rocking Horse Ranch in Baddeck.  It is a rescue farm for all sorts of animals: from ducks to horses to minature ponies.  This one pictured below is 38 years old and quite the character.  He kept trying to knock the bowl down so he could eat all he wanted. Abby loved taking him for a walk around the barn.

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The girls were also given the chance to feed the horses with slices of hay.  Rebecca really got into it and fed most of the horses in the barn.  
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Here's Rebecca holding onto a little duckling.  There were a few wandering around with the mama duck outside of the barn. 

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We had a wonderful visit from Sheena's cousin Karen while we were in Cape Breton.  After Sheena and her returned from their highland adventure, we all took the girls on a hike in Cape Mabou.  While I was somewhat forgetful on the length of the hike, we managed to all make the huge climb to the top of Beinn Bhiorach (Steep Mountain), the higher mountain the the area.  We took many rest breaks, seen below and enjoying the views of the ocean.

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Of course, there was the well earned celebration upon reaching the top!

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Despite a chillier mid-July, we still wanted to get out and explore.  We found some waterfalls to visit in the Glendale area.  The falls were called Maple Brook Falls and had two nice areas for swimming and playing around.  Rebecca and Abby did some of their first climbing around waterfalls in the two times we visited.  In the picture below, the water is fairly chilly.  Rebecca kept taking the cold water and splashing me with it.  She's reaching down for more here.  

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It has also been a summer of firsts for the girls.  Sheena has been an avid runner since last year and wanted to participate in some of the fun runs that happen during the local festivals in the communities around Cape Breton.  The girls were also excited to try them out too.  Here they are below doing a run in Port Hood as part of Chestico Days.  Abby is happy to cross the finish line.  

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Grammy participated too in the walk.  All were happy to receive their medals for taking part.

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We also spent many days at Inverness Beach.  Inverness Beach is well known for its sea glass hunting.  We would head down at low tide and walk the length of the beach looking for the rarest pieces of glass. There's nothing nicer than spending the morning walking the sand.

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Another beach we frequented was Port Hood Beach.  While there in early July, the girls made friends with Regan and made beach dates with her to meet up for beach fun.  They spent quite a few days making sand castles, using the boogie boards and searching for hermit crabs.

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Ever since doing the airport run in Saint John, Rebecca has been interested in running all sorts of different races.  Sheena found that there was a kids triathlon in Port Hood mid July.  So, Rebecca registered and tried it out.  You can see her finishing her swimming below.  We should note, that the water was below 15C and she was only one of 3 kids to actually brave the water for the swim portion!

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Rebecca then took to the bike for the ride down the beach road.

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Here's a proud Gramma after Rebecca finished her first triathlon!  We are all proud of her.

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Recapping the Summer Fun: Cape Breton Beaches, Camping and Kayaking

  I thought I would share some photos of the busy summer we had after returning from Calgary.  Our first real summer water experiences were on the Belleisle Bay near the ferry landing.  There is a small public beach there — perfect for an evening swim on a hot day.

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We had a couple of great afternoons down at the bay before  Sheena took the kids to Cape Breton around the second week of July.  

After arrving in Cape Breton they continued the beach-cation experiences, which would continue for a month!  The daily schedule usually was: morning of prepping for the evening (supper), lunch and a visit with Grampa at the store, then to the beach for the afternoon and ice cream from the nearby ice cream shop.  (4 hours at the beach earns 1 ice cream!).  The kids certainly made the most of the nice weather we had.  I was able to join them on the third week of July.  I brought the double kayak and Willow in the Yaris for the six hour trip to Cape Breton —  which was an experience in itself!

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A few days later, I took the girls on a kayak around Mabou toward the Harbour.  They had fun pulling seaweed from the water and collecting it in the boat.  

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We stopped for lunch on a little peninsula in the harbour.  The girls walked around and explored the beach before we had our lunch. 

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We headed to the Port Hood beach on another day with our cousins.  It was a ball watching all the (third) cousins playing together and all the first cousins resting and chatting on the beach.  Rebecca ended up picking up a squid during one afternoon.  This photo is just after the squid tried to get away and emptied all its ink at the kids! Rebecca really will pick up anything.

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On an evening with Willow, I headed up the Southwest Mabou River from the wharf.  Willow prefers to swim most times.  It makes for a bit slower going, but she really enjoys the water.

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The return trip made for some perfect lighting.  It was right around this point (after about an hour and a half) that Willow decided to come aboard.  It was at that point how I learned that paddling a double kayak with a roaming dog in the back is a challenge not to swamp the boat!

The sunset was amazing.
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Here we are on another beach trip, this time to Mabou Beach on a scorcher of a day.  It was beautiful.   The kids spent their time in the sand (as  you can see) and made their castles, moats and then washed off in the waves.

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IMGP3320Rebecca had to have her mud bath first before doing any swimming.  It really was neat just to see the kids play on their own.

After one of our beach days, I decided to try the kids out with an evening in the tent in Mom and Dad's backyard.  It was 'an experience' to say the least.  Rebecca left for the house around 9pm, but Abigail stayed most of the night!  Being their first tent-out, it was a good experiment. 

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In our mornings before heading to the beach, we also went to visit Nana or 'Great Nana' to the kids. At 93, Nana is doing well and continues to crotcheting her afghan blankets – making for conversation during the visits.  Here she is with her 129th blanket, just after watching my Mom try a few sections.  She is usually able to make one every 2-3 weeks, sometimes quicker and loves thinking and talking about the people that she is making them for.


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The girls made a day trip to Sydney for shopping.  Here they are at East Side Marios getting fancy drinks.  They really look old in this picture!


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More beach time for the beach bums, this time at Port Hood with more of the cousins.  Abby usually carried Rebecca around on her.

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Stopping off on the way back from Cape Breton, the girls picked vegies at Sheena's parent's place.  I doubt these lasted very long in the bowls!

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Sheena's cousin Karen made it back to Belleisle for a couple of days near the end of August.  Sheena and her went for a paddle on the Bay one evening.  They are double kayak superstars, ressurecting the boat from it's previous status as 'the divorce boat'.  


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During that same week, Sheena and Karen took the kids to Fundy National Park for another camping trip.  The girls got a real camping experience with playgrounds, campsites, picnic tables and of course, a great big tent to sleep in.  They came back to tell me all about the friends they made in the campground.  Sheena said it was very neat to hear them running around all day and night until well after dark, chasing each other and other kids with flashlights, only to crash hard for a good night's sleep.
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The absolute hit of the trip was Karen's invention of icecream waffle cones, banana slices, chocolate and marshmallows.  To make the treat, wrap it in tinfoil and toss it on some hot fire coals.  Makes for a delicious treat.


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One of Rebecca's classic jumping photos from their time at Fundy Park.  Lots of fun to be had. 

Summer flew by, didn’t it?

 I was reviewing some photos from this summer and realized that it went by so quick, I didn't have a chance to share any photos of the girls from the whole summer! 

So we'll pick it up after our early July trip to Cape Breton for our backpacking trip, Sheena and the girls returned home with their cousins and started off their summer travels to Lunenburg for a week at the Oceanview Chalets.  While there, they visited beaches, islands and museums in the area.

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After their week, we met in Truro to have a family weekend back in Cape
Breton for Mairead and Travis' wedding in Mabou.   After the wedding, we
had lots of time to catch up with my cousins and their kids.  Then, on
Rebecca's suggestion, we stayed an extra week to spend time at the local
beaches in Mabou, Port Hood, Inverness and the Marble Mountain area. 

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The last two weeks of summer, we took the girls to Kings Landing.  They
had a wonderful time with the variety of animals to see, the horse and
wagon rides around the settlement, having a barn dance and even taking
turns milking a cow!

      
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One of the more memorable moments was when we sat in an old fashioned one room school house.  We sat in class with all ages present and listened to a teacher with all the practices from the 1800s.  The girls also had a chance to try on some period clothes and rug weaving.

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There were of course a few trips to Fundy National Park, where the zip line is as popular as ever!

 
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A month of photos: Trips to beaches, rural wedding and anniversary, painting and first-time theatre

The Beaching season has begun.  A month ago, we headed to Saint's Rest Beach in west Saint John.  The fog was held at bay by the west side and we had a wonderful but windy afternoon.  Of course we were kept to the sand as the Bay of Fundy water is a bit too cold to swim any time of year.

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Earlier this month, we took the girls to their very first show at the movie theatre.  Instead of a short planned trip into Saint John, we ended up spending the day in the city after missing the first showing (unbeknownst to us, you have to reserve seats online now for movies in Saint John, so all early shows were sold out or reserved).  Nevertheless, we managed through the day with pizza and playground time.  Both girls waited patiently for their first movie experience.  Abby was especially excited for the popcorn.  Once their movie (Madagascar 3) came on, it would be easy to say they sat mesmorized for their time in the theatre.  It was a lot of fun.  Here's Abby and Rebecca waiting for the show to start:

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(Rebecca had to sit on my lap as there were only groups of 3 seats left!)

Last week, while on vacation, we all headed to Cape Breton for a series of events.  First, we attended the wedding of Rodney and Gayle MacDonald in west Lake Anslie.  It was a beautiful ceremony and fun was had by all at the reception.  The night was not uneventful, most particularly for us with Sheena's 'catching-up', Nick's wardrobe updates and Mom's pleasant encounter with local 'leo's.  All were on our best behavior!

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We had beautiful weather throughout our visit.  While we were also trying to paint the exterior of the store, our mornings were spent painting and the hot afternoons were spent at West Mabou beach.  It would be safe to say the girls had a great time at the beach — especially after we found a warm fresh water stream and pool leading to the ocean.  This stream is something I used to play in as a kid, making dams, sand castles and the like.  Its fun to see the kids having as much enjoyment as we did out of it.

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Here they spend some time taking running jumps in the the water:

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On another day, Sheena helped Abby and Rebecca with some rock designs on the sand.

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Rebecca and Abby also made a sand castle city decorated with seashells.

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Here Abby takes a walk toward the east end of the beach.  For our days there, there were no more than four other people on the beach at the same time.  It was like our own private beach!

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Rebecca loves skipping rocks on the water.  We spent a good amount of time throwing and counting each skip.  Rebecca would shout out, 'One!' 🙂 , 'Two!', 'Three!'.

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We walked up and down the beach looking for the perfect skipping rocks.

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Here's Rebecca helping out with painting Dad's store.  We had an 'adventure' when both kids starting helping out and then the experienced the aftermath of having oil based paint on little helping hands. 🙂

Lastly, it is Mom and Dad's 40th anniversary this year (June 24th).  We had a little family dinner with Laurena and Nick as well!  So we must pass on our congratulations to Gramma and Grampa MacDonald.  In the words of Rebecca, 'You guys are m-a-r-r-i-e-d!'

Family Photo 2012

There was of course the 'altered dimension' family that showed up as well for the event.