Thursday, August 27, 2009

Port Dalhouise

Wow, I think I finally made it to my last post from our time at the "cottage" ... almost three weeks after the fact.
One lovely day Ange and I took the kids to Lakeside Park at Port Dalhousie for the day. What a nice little place to hang out for the day ...we always love free places and this one was pretty close to free. The kids loved it!!
The highlight of the park is the 5 cent carousel that Port Dalhousie is known for. The kids were pretty excited to be able to go on the carousel as many times as they wished seeing as one dollar buys a person 20 rides ... I don't remember how many times they actually went on the ride ... with other things to do throughout the day they couldn't exactly spend all day on the thing ... get rather dizzy after awhile.

Matthew was not quite so sure about this ride. The horse only managed to go up once and he was in a bit of a panic ... by the second time he was trying to scramble off of it. So I placed him in the sled in front of it. He wasn't all too sure about this idea either, but at least he sat still until the ride was over.

Although Matthew did not actually like to ride the merry-go-round, he did enjoy watching it. The park was right next to the carousel and each time the sound would go to let people know the carousel was going to start again he would stop playing and go stand in the corner of the entrance-way to watch. As the day wore on he seemed to get a bit more confident and so I thought I'd try take him on again ... he still didn't like the horse and refused to even sit on it. It took some sweet talking and convincing to get him to stay in the sled this time, but once the ride got started he seemed okay with the idea and settled down.

After spending some time on the carousel and at the park we went for a walk down to the end of the pier.

We filled our bellies with lunch and then headed off to the beach. It was a cool day and I was impressed that the kids stayed in the water as long as they did. They played for a while before they came back in to warm up and play in the sand.
Warming up after swimming

Building a sand castle .... gotta love Marietta's concentration level (check out the tongue :P)

After a snooze on mom's lap Matthew woke up and needed his two comforts(bottle and blankie) a bit before he got going again. I was surprised he did not go into the water a while lot ... except maybe to get his feet wet. He loves to jump into deep water but does not seem to like to actually swim or play in the water ... but he had fun playing in the sand and with the toys and trucks.

It was a nice day. The weather wasn't too hot and the kids had tons of fun and were good and tired by the end of the day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Miscellaneous Fun

Just a few of the other highlight the kids enjoyed during our country stay.

On one of the nice (non-rainy) Saturday afternoons we took the kids to St. Catharine's to view the Welland Canal. We went to Lock 3 where they have the observation. It was nice that we made it just as a ship was coming into the Lock. After explaining how the process works and watching the ship go through the lock we then took our bikes and biked along the path so we could watch the boat go under the lift bridge and then into the next lock

Left: The "gate" closing to lock the ship and water within it.
Right: Watching the ship rise

Left: Watching the ship go under the lift bridge
Right: Stretching our legs while waiting for the boat to get positioned into Lock4

Our timing was good. We made it home just as it began to pour rain (again). The girls didn't completely understand the whole Lock Process (especially Rebecca) but they still had an enjoyable time watching the ships ... and Matthew loved the ships!!

On another day we went to visit Aunt Jess's mom's house and work. She took us to see the horses that she works with at the boarding place next to their house. The kids were pretty thrilled with this. I'm not sure I can remember if the girls have ever gotten up close to a horse before and fed or petted it. They certainly enjoy this ... seeing as every girls dream is to have their own horse :)

Rebecca just didn't dare keep her hand near the horse long enough to let it eat her carrot, she was a tad bit to scared. Marietta tried but I think she would get a bit nervous once the horse would try pick up the carrot and pull her hand away too quickly ... making the horse drop the carrot to the ground.

After a tour of the barns, a visit to the horses out in the fields and a bit of lessons on horse mannerism we went back to Aunt Jess's parents for a swim. It was not a very warm day (again) or a sunny day, but when the kids see an opportunity to go in a pool that's deeper then theirs they are not going to turn it down. It was cold getting in but once in it wasn't so bad. Matthew loved to jump in off the ladder and didn't want to come out ... even though he was shivering like crazy. The girls stayed in surprisingly long considering the weather.

On another day we went off to Gainsborough Park/School again ... this time we met some friends there ... and it was actually a nice warm sunny day. After a picnic lunch at the park and a bit more playing we then headed over to our house so the kids could swim. It's amazing what a difference a bit of water makes for the kids when it comes to playing. If there were a splash pad or wading pool at Gainsborough Park/School the kids would have been much more active and busy. Without the water they seemed a bit lost ... as if they had played enough. Water just seems to break of the playing and keeps them entertained much longer. Regardless they had fun ... and afterwards they got their water at home ... and a couple freezies to go with it.

We also went to visit Aunt Val and Grandpa's work. They both work at the same place. Aunt Val works in the office and Grandpa does deliveries. We stopped by one afternoon for a little bit to see what the place looks like. Since Grandpa loves to talk about his work it was neat to get a bit of a visual idea of what he was talking about ... even though we've seen many pictures, it's just not the same as seeing it yourself

We got a picture of Aunt Val by the waterfall in the Atrium, but we forgot to get a picture of her at her actual desk

We did get a picture of one of the trucks like Grandpa drives and had a chance to walk through the coolers and see all the flowers ready to be shipped. Aunt Val also took us on a little tour through one of the greenhouses to get a bit of a visual idea oh what they do.

The girls (and mommy) really enjoyed seeing this place that they so often hear Grandpa talk about.

And last ... but not least ... Marietta out taking Thumper for a walk (technically Thumper usually takes Marietta for a walk, or run would be more like it). She wasn't very faithful at this job, but Thumper sure enjoyed it when she did. Last year Thumper hated the harness and was able to wiggle out of it, she would also try bite if you attempted to put it on her ... so we packed it away. We decided to try it again this summer and altho she doesn't much like having it put on, once it is on she likes to go for her walks and enjoy the great outdoors ... and there was lots to explore at the cottage!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Tall Ships

Well here I am again ... still trying to catch up with blogging on our "cottage" time.

On the Saturday of the August long weekend we headed off to Canal Days in Port Colborne to check out the Tall Ships and various other free activities they had going on that day.

We were able to tour the deck of the US Brig Niagara. This is a replica of the ships used during the War of 1812. This replica was built in 1980 and currently used to travel from one location ot the next as a type of museum. This was a self guided tour with various sailors at different points throughout the ship to answer questions you might have. We did learn a few things, but it would have been much more valuable if it was a guided tour ... obviously not possibly given the number of people there.

Left: In case we fall overboard :)
Right: Checking out how heavy the ropes are

It was just amazing how many ropes there were for the masks

Captain and Co-Captain steering the ship

Eventually Matthew got a bit tired and decided he'd just crash out for his nap while we saundered along checking out the various vendors (it was a really big commercialized thing of course) and various displays.

The girls enjoyed trying out some rock climbing. There were three levels they could try so they each did easy. Rebecca didn't quite make it to the top, she was getting there, but then decided it was enough. Marietta did make it to the top. They both wanted to give it a try again later, but time didn't allow for us to get back there again.


Next was some fun at the Children's Playground. While the girls got their faces painted Matthew placed in the young kid section with various toys and ride-on cars/bikes. After that they headed off to the "Jumping Castles". Matthew's been on a trampoline a couple times, but this was his first try in a jumping castles ... needless to say he was quite thrilled by it ... he just couldn't get the concept of having to wait in line for a turn :) There was a slide attached to the "castle" so he thought it would be great fun to ride the slide ... but riding the slide meant you came out of the castle and had to wait to go back in ... kinda hard to explain to a 2-year old that he was butting in line when he tried to climb back in the "castle" again.

While Matthew loved the jumping castle it did not compare to his glee and joy over getting a ride on a train. Look at those grins ... on the second picture you can see him signing train (it's suppose to be with two fingers but he always does it with one)

He was completely thrilled by the short few minute ride we got to go in. It wasn't even truly a train, just a train shaped tractor and wagons ... but no matter to him ... it was simply great and he was rather upset to have to get off so quickly.

It was a fun day ... a nice day out as family, especially since the kids didn't even notice the Midway Rides and Games so we didn't have to spend any money (or probably more like disappoint them because we refused to spend that much money on rides). The kids had a lot of fun and it was nice for us to just to get away as an entire family and do "nothing" for a day. We need more of those days ... but ya, I guess we wouldn't appreciate them as much if we had them too often, at the same time, a little more often wouldn't hurt :)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Good-Bye Joyceeeeeeee and Ryan

In a few hours Joyce and Ryan fly off to Australia to embark on a new journey in their lives. Who knows if or when we shall see them again.

As we say good-bye to Joyce we also think back to how and when we met. We did not meet under the best of circumstances, but together we made the best of what was before us. Joyce is a nurse and was a relief foster parent who put her full heart into what she does. As a nurse she could not ignore a little boy named James. While Joyce and I had seen each other a few times prior to our truly getting to know each other, it was not until James ended up in the hospital in the spring of 2007 that I got to know Joyce ... even then, it was only briefly and it was not until Matthew was born that we truly got to know Joyce who became James home nurse.

If my memory serves me correctly I recall the picture to the being that day that I first got to better know Joyce. Joyce popped in to see James before (or was it after) her work shift one floor above us. James was not looking to hot at the time and one of the PACE Team members was there reaccessing him. Of course Joyce, being an employee at the hospital, knew this person and together they had some medical discussion about James' current appearance (they were debating sending him back to ICU ... we ended up in the step-down ICU). Joyce spent some time chatting to James and to myself before she headed off.

I do not really recall Joyce visiting all that often while we were in the hospital, but yet she must have visited a few time for James quickly knew who she was and that she was a "safe" person. I clearly recall one evening Laura V was down for a visit and as we were chatting James suddenly became excited and began pointing out his window. Along came Joyce, dressed in her working clothes, looking like every other nurse on the floor ... but yet James knew she was not just another nurse ... she was Joyce. I will never forget that. At the time it was neat but didn't hold the significance it does now as I look back over time.

A couple months later James was further introduced to Joyce when just days before his brother Matthew was born she came to learn how to care for James so she could be his home nurse and take care of him while I was in the hospital and then caring for a newborn, and then she continued to come for the next several months until James ended up in the hospital again at the end of September. Our hospital meetings had been brief and polite, mostly health information related, but as the next couple months went by Joyce and I began to develop a friendship and a dear little boy helped to hold the bond between that friendship.

Although we had some struggles with the nursing agency that left us frustrated and upset to say the least, even causing Joyce in the end to quit her job ... it was worth it. At the time it didn't seem to be, but looking back and seeing how fortunate we were to have just Joyce caring for James and building a bond with him I wouldn't change it. Joyce became a very special person to James, special enough that after his first Whole Lung Lavage he would not let daddy stay with him so mommy could have lunch, but five minutes later when Joyce stopped by it was okay for mommy to go for lunch and Joyce to stay! :) The Lord also wisely chose to have James return to the hospital before a replacement nurse could be found for Joyce ... thus leaving James less confused as to why his extra stability and comfort had left and was replaced by several other people. Indeed, Joyce was a great blessing to our family during a trying and difficult time.

After James passed away our friendship continued and Joyce also continued her bond with our other children ... sometimes caring for them, often popping by. And then Joyce's life took on a new focus when everything finally became final with her adoption of Ryan. This new focus also involved a move and although it's taken much longer then Joyce anticipated, today that day has finally arrived when she will take her belongs and reestablish herself closer to her family ... which just so happens to be in Australia ... far away from us!

As Matthew's second birthday just passed Joyce and I were reminded that it was already two years ago that we truly met ... it's hard to believe how fast time goes, and how much life can change in a short period of time. Two years seems like a fair amount of time ... but in the big pictures it's so tiny.

Last week Saturday a few of us took some time out of our busy summer schedule to throw a surprise farewell party for Joyce ... we were mostly successful, she caught us in the act after we arrived so we didn't get to truly see her reaction ... but close enough.

Left: Surprise Joyce
Right: Laura (and Sara) making cold coffee (or should I say coffee-mocha milkshakes)

Hanging out and socializing ... inside away from all the mosquitos

And then this past Thursday night an Open House was held for Joyce and Ryan so people could stop by and say farewell

Good-bye Joyce and Ryan. We wish you safe travels. Since our relationship has been more MSN then social visits lately I guess that means that things won't change all that much ... but we shall miss being able to pop over for that cup of tea and chat ... and you do realize that I still have an awful lot of caffeinated tea bags her that you didn't finish!!! We truly wish you all the best in Australia and hope that we will be able to stay in touch in the future. We shall always remember you and your caring and giving manner.