Skating: Canada Style

What happens with a stretch of sunny winter weather; the Olympics on television day and night; a flag; and a provincial holiday weekend? Skating and pond hockey.  In the past couple of days, we headed out to our local ice and took along our sticks for a family game.

Abby practicing her moves!

A few pictures from our pre-game warmup.

They wanted faceoffs!  Here you go girls.

Just a beautiful set of days in our neck of the woods.

Rebecca had a few practice moves as well.  We are lucky to have a nice spot so close by.

RJTW: Saint John

Our ladies have been excited to participate in an indoor track event “Run Jump Throw Wheel” as advertised at school.  For weeks before, they talked about the event held in Saint John, occurring usually every couple of months in the winter.  Ages 8-14 are allowed to enter events such as running, sprinting, long jump, high jump and shot put.  Its such a fun chance to try out events in an organized way.

I love Rebecca’s saying on her shirt.  I only seemed to notice when processing these pictures!

Here’s Abby in the standing long jump and Rebecca in one of her two running events, this one being the 150m.

I was proud of Abby trying the 60 metre.  She was in a large group of older girls.

I took a couple of videos of the events.  More videos didn’t work out as both girls were doing events in different places at the same time.  As well, to add some fun context to the last clip in the video:  Rebecca was one of the last to throw the shot-put.  Her first throw was a bit short and the judge said for her to try and hit the ‘measuring’ guy in the head.  Rebecca pushed it out so hard that she gained an extra metre and made her arm sore after (hence the face!) .  I laughed for a while after that one.

RJTW video

The next event is a regional/provincial one in March.  We’ll definitely be doing some more practice for that event.

Christmas in Mabou

A special treat for us this year was traveling to Mabou for Christmas. The best part of coming to Mabou are the family traditions.

On our pre-festivities day, we went for a walk to experience the wind and waves on Inverness beach.

As we quickly found the sea foam was plentiful due to the high waves swamping the beach. We spent our time dodging waves and attempts at searching for seaglass.

With the arrival of Laurena and Nick, we had two screaming kids – jumping up and down akin to old film of anxious fans finally seeing the Beatles arrive a venue. In the midst of it, Abby did let out a contemporary saying, “Uncle Nick is Epic!”

We also had an unplanned and soon to be annual beer exchange from our respective provinces (Picaroons and Big Spruce being the favourites).

Our first festive gathering is on Christmas Eve at my uncles and aunts place, an annual event for the past 40 years and more. For ourselves living away from Mabou, we realized our last time being here was 6 years ago. It was a great time to catch up with family, usually divided into adults upstairs and the wild kids downstairs moderated by the oldest ones.

An unexpected highlight was the clothes twins, my sister Laurena and cousin Mairead.

The Christmas Day was the usual traditions with a bit of music and then a crazy wind storm brought by Les Suetes. Here’s the girls with their uncle .

A hit during present time was Rebecca’s notes with her presents.

For Boxing Day there has been a skate and hockey game with our family cousins and outlaws for several years now. As the years go by, the kids are having more to play. They even had a crazy coach for a while.

The adults took turns in net.

Its was another great year for the Beaton Hockey League.

On our downtime, despite that there wasn’t much snow this year so far in Cape Breton, that fact didn’t stop us from sledding.

In a summary of the trip, Sheena made a quick video of some of our fun: See the video.

Christmas Players

On the last part of their fall season, Abby and Rebecca were practicing for roles in their school’s Christmas play, “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”. The play focuses on how Rudolph was treated by other Reindeer. In a synopsis from Rebecca, “you have to be yourself and no matter what others think about you, you should always stay who you are. ”

Abby was lucky to be chosen in the lead role as Rudolph . Rebecca joined her as one of the other Reindeer. They practiced their roles and lines daily in school and at home. It was a big thing for Abby as it was her first time acting and also memorizing lots of lines.

But with all their hard practice, they did very well and made us proud! There were two shows for the parents — and both were treated to a meal at Mama Georges afterward.

Great work ladies!!

A video compilation of their acting…

Christmas Tree Hunting

Before the first big snowfall later in the day, we decided it was time for us to head out and find our Christmas Tree.  We had a quieter time this year and had just our family out for the annual tree hunt.   We started off with Rebecca deciding she needed to play with some ice for most of our time hunting.  As a bonus, we were joined by the cat and dog, following us through the woods.  Abby picked out our tree this year.

Hope you enjoy a video Sheena made of the experience: Christmas Tree Hunting

Creative in the Family

IMG_1911For those that may not know, Sheena has been back to university this year and is in her first year working toward her social work degree.

On the surface, her courses have been interesting to see from an outsider’s perspective and how one does university education over distance on the internet, which challenges our past experiences of on-campus, test and exam-taking experiences of ‘learning’.

One neat effect I also hadn’t considered is that having someone in the house continuing their education does open our minds again to critical thinking and refreshes our understanding of current trends and research. I find it is positive for everyone in the house.

Her current course is about understanding oppression in our society. As part of the course, she chose to make a creative project as her final assignment. This is just another example of changes in assessment over the changing means of education. In these newer ways of assessment, Sheena could have written a 12 page paper; written a journal with a 5 page paper; or develop a project tied into a 5 page essay for her final assignment.

Using her musical and writing talents, she wrote, preformed, produced a song about her topic. Making her creative work even more moving was involving both Rebecca and Abby in her recording. I had to include it for all of you to listen.

Here it is:

Will you still love me when I’m different?”

After listening to the music – without any expertise in the topic – I couldn’t help but being impressed. It would be hard not to also mention that proud tear was shed in hearing the kids voices recorded in her ‘technical university work’. 🙂

Fall Water Beauty

Made a trip up Belleisle Creek from Belleisle Bay today.  

I saw lots of ducks avoiding the hunters and hiding in the tall grass.

Farther up the creek, it was so calm at times that the only sound was from leaves falling from the trees.

You can see I brought my buddy Voisine to keep the bow down.  On the way back, I tried out some canoe poling.  What a workout, but it made for a fast trip back.  

Fall Canoeing in Hampton 

In the warm weather, we had a little Thanksgiving paddle on the Kennebecasis.  The girls had fun in the mud during our stops.

Rubber boots anyone?

Always a serious bunch.

The maple trees that line the river are spectacular.  The girls also had fun peering in all the otter homes.

Backpacking Cape Chignecto Park

If you are looking for a short backpacking trip that is challenging and scenic, look no farther than Cape Chignecto Park in Nova Scotia.  Cape Chignecto Provincial Park is on the western tip of the northwestern Nova Scotia, jutting out into the Bay of Fundy and Minus Channel.  The park has a 52 kilometre loop, leading from West Advocate through to Eatonville, passing by the western tip of Cape Chignecto.  Cape Chignecto Park is almost across the Bay south of the Fundy Footpath — but can offer a much more scenic view of the Bay of Fundy shoreline.  The section between Cape Chignecto and Eatonville is one of the more scenic hiking routes in Nova Scotia, as the trail follows the zig zag cliffs on the Bay.

Typically, the trail is completed in a three day, two night trip.  There are backcountry campsites and cabins available for hikers.  This year, we revisited the area after our previous trips about 20 odd years ago – with one trip doing the trek in 18 hrs.  A fair bit older now, we split the difference and made it two days and one night, deciding to stay in a cabin near Bald Rock.


Big Bald Rock and Isle Haute

Making the trip in two days was not without an arduous first day of over 30 kilometres, this time traveling counter-clockwise to Eatonville before going south on the coast.  We landed at our cabin at dusk and settled into our pre-made shelter with thanks.   The cabin was well-built, tidy and had a comfy covered front porch and table for cooking.

On our second day, we finished the trip going from Big Bald cabin through Cape Chignecto, Refugee Cove and Mill Brook.  In remembering the previous trips in this area, my mind had conveniently forgotten about the significant hills in between!  After making our best effort of the hills, we chose to end off the trip with a short beach walk back to the Red Rocks headquarters. (There is only one area where you can travel between stops along the beach.)  By revisiting the park after such a long time, it reminded me of the hiking treasures that are just next door waiting for adventure.


Going straight up out of Refugee Cove


The iconic rock in Refugee Cove at low tide