Monday, September 26, 2011

Keeping Up

Seeing as we had no water at home and the weather was piping hot we didn’t feel all that guilty to be heading off to the beach to cool down and enjoy the water … the work at home would just have to wait another day.  Ange and I headed off to Binbrook for some cool-down time.



Up until the point Matthew did not really swim … he would just play in the water up to about his knees.  As the kids ran off to the water he did comment that Vivian would want to go out deeper and I told him he didn’t have to go out deep, he could just swim at the edge like he usually does


I was still at our table a little bit later when I looked up and seen all the kids playing but couldn’t find Matthew.  After searching the general area I discovered a boy struggling on his back trying to sit up, flip over, or whatever it was he was doing.  I realized that Ange had no idea that he did not actually know how to use the lifejacket.  I had just dropped everything to go run help him when Ange discovered him and helped him out.

Not to be outdone by Vivian, Matthew was out there in the water and quickly mastered the concept of the lifejacket.  He was so proud of himself as he continually showed me how he could kick and float and go deeper. 

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We no longer found Matthew at the waters edge all the time, this was the beginning of his waterrat days.  A few days later we set up our pool … if you recall this story you will remember that our dog ripped up our pool … but thanks to freecycle we aquired another free pool, this one being 4 feet deep (the last one was 3 feet).   It was a lovely size pool and thoroughly enjoyed this summer.  Matthew could just stand in the pool (guess that means he grew a foot over the winter as last year he could just stand in that pool) and became quite the little swimmer over the summer.  It was a nice size for the kids, big enough and deep enough to get some good playing in.  And Rob often enjoyed it too, a swim with the kids, a quick swim after being in the barn or at night to cool down before bed.  It is too bad that after the scorching July we had it suddenly cooled right down and by the middle of August the nights were so cool and the days not as hot that the kids weren’t always so inclined to go out and get wet, and often only spent a short time in the pool before they came out shivering.  Guess we’ll always be complaining about the weather … you can never win in that department.  But the pool was great and I love having it in the yard to keep the kids entertained and cooled down.  When the weathers right it’s well used!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day 8 – Fort Henry

Wednesday, July 20

Our last day of holidays had arrived.  It was time to head home, but not without one more stop … Fort Henry in Kingston

We were up on time since we had to finish packing up and wanted to be on the road by 7:30am so that we could make it to Kingston by 10am.  True Steph-style, we left later then planned, although not much later.  We arrived at the fort shortly after 10am, partly because we couldn’t find it at first … for a main attraction in the city you think the signs would be a bit better.  Ah well, we found it and were there on time for the 10:30 tour.  We had checked out the schedule of activities/programs before hand so we knew we wanted to make a full day of it so that kids could partake in as much as possible.

The girls love all things Pioneer and we thought that this would introduce them to a different aspect of the pioneer days.  This was definitely different then the Little House on the Prairie aspect they like so much.  It has been many years since I was at Fort Henry (I believe it was 1986 or 1992 – or was it both?).  It was nice to piece together a few of the images I had in my head to have a better and clearer memory of the Fort.  (I had also been to Upper Canada Village before … way back in Grade 8, but I had pretty much no memory of what I hade seen there)  And Matthew took home a miniature cannon pencil sharpener … just like the one I got there when I was a kid (and which mom still had  and showed Mathew when we got home)

It was another scorching hot day.  Matthew’s hat got packed somewhere in the bottom of the trunk so he ended up wearing Marietta’s for the day and Marietta wore mine since I had two handy.  Matthew had reached his limit on tours this time around and was pretty clingy, wanting to be held lots … lack of naps and sleep probably was a bigger factor here.  I actually thought he would have taken a greater interested in the soldiers and guns and such, but he wasn’t too hugely enthralled.  Obviously he did take something back from the day as we now see him doing the “march, march, march” thing every now and then.

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The first thing we did was go for the guided tour.  This was helpful on better understand the fort and some of the basic information about it.  It’s amazing to look at the structure and realize that it was all made with manual labour … no tractors, bulldozers, cranes, cement trucks, etc. 

Sleeping/Living Quarters


We watch the rifle firing demonstration (races) during the morning.  After Matthew heard these guns fired he was in a panic and had a keen dislike for any cannons or guns for the rest of the day (funny that we now see him running around the house with his imaginary guns having no problem shooting them). 


We watched them practice the cannon shooting process …. it’s a whole show just to fire the cannon.  I’m not sure how many people they actually had during the war times, but I’m thinking it would have been a bit faster and less “march-like”



Another picnic lunch. 


We had enough food leftover in the fridge before we left to rig up one more picnic lunch. While it’s fun to eat out and not have to cook or worry about food or bringing everything along, the budget just doesn’t allow for a whole week of such luxuries. We also have the extra challenge of having Fructose Malabsorption and among other things need to avoid wheat as much as possible … this makes it challenging to go out, an occasional “treat” (cheat would be a better word) we can manage, but not a whole week off the diet.


We witnessed Private Atkins stealing from the treasury and had to determine a suitable punishment for him.





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It was really neat to watch the band practicing and playing.  We watched them practicing for a while and then later seen them actually perform the piece they were practicing. 


It’s so neat to watch how all their feet move at the same time in the same formation.  I always love that part.  There’s a lot to think about to keep in step and play the music.




Since part of the parade involved a canon shooting Rob had to take Matthew to the upper part of the fort and wait for it to be done.  He was in a panic right from the beginning of the parade as he knew at some point in the show there was going to be a canon shooting.  We kept trying to tell him that it would not be as loud as the artillery guns as it would not be in the fort but up on the wall …. but there was no convincing him.  He had heard one and that was enough for him for the day.


Matthew all set and ready to join the army.


Matthew changed his mind about joining the army, but the girls still decided to join the army and so they had their first lessons on army life.

Smiling and laughing was not part of the lessons


They were taught some basic marching commands as well as how to hold their gun

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run …. and shoot


It’s a good thing Matthew didn’t participate as he would not have been able to follow the instructions and cannot handle it when someone yells at him (or even at someone else … he’ll break down crying for them).  He had a hard time understanding that it was all just for fun and that the girls weren’t seriously in trouble for making mistakes.

At the end the girls were each given a certificate saying that they had passed inspection and were now signed up for 10 years to the army.

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Although hot we still had an enjoyable day.  While I went with the kids to the schoolroom to get an example of how a Victorian School was run Rob stayed and watched some more marching and shooting drills/practice (for the evening show).  He said at one point they had to carry someone off who nearly collapsed from the heat. 


It was a nice day and a nice end to our holidays.  When the fort activities for the day were complete we decided to carry on.  There was an evening show also, but we needed to get home and the sooner we hit the road the sooner we would find ourselves home and in our comfy beds. 

It was a busy week, but it was also a lot of fun.  And even though it sounds like we were go-go-go the whole time I did get a fair amount of reading done.  It was relaxing as well.  The meals were all prepared in advance so they weren’t a lot of work.  We didn’t have to maintain a house and there was no other working calling at me to be completed.  It was nice to be away from home and nice to spend lots of time together as family.  The best part of all was that when we got home the clothes were clean and everything was unpacked and back in it’s place within an hour.  I could wake up the next day and just carry on … soooo not like camping where there is tons and tons and tons of laundry and a tent that needs to be set up and cleaned out. 

Now it didn’t quite go that way, but that’s how it should have gone.  The original idea was to just unload the cooler and hit the sack when we got home, unpacking the rest in the morning …except we ran into a problem … our water pump would not work.  We had no water!  While Rob fiddled with the pump trying to get it running I unloaded the suitcases … so I didn’t hit the sack right away, but I did get to wake up to everything being unpacked.  Rob finally decided to give up and go to bed and try figure it out in the morning. 

In the morning Rob fiddled some more but could not fix the problem.  He was suppose to be deep in his dutch studies but was distracted by trying to get the pump working.  He finally put out a call for someone to come fix it as he could not fix it, but they were so booked it would have to wait until the next day … so back Rob went to trying to fix it himself.  I finally told him that we were leaving.  He couldn’t concentrate on his studies because he felt we needed the water, so we would leave and he could study.  We packed our bags, did some errands, went to visit my sister and her new baby and then stayed at my parents for the night.  I think that was the hottest day of the year where we reached 36C with a humidex of 49C.  To say it was hot was an understatement.  Since my parents air conditioner was not working we ended up sleeping in the camper, which did have air conditioning!!  We found out the next day it was an extra blessing that we decided to pack up and go elsewhere since the power was out at our place for some time that evening also.  We finally had water again the next evening. 

I highly recommend Ottawa as a holiday place.  We could easily have stayed another week or two and found plenty to do (maybe at a more relaxing pace instead of trying to pack as much as possible into one week). 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 7 - Upper Canada Village

Tuesday, July 19

On Monday night we review the list of options for the next day, the weather looked more favourable and so Upper Canada Village was chosen as our destination for the day.  We were disappointed when we discovered that there was another historical village not far that was from the 1930’s era, instead of the pioneer age.  We would have really enjoyed this since we had done a Pioneer Village last year (see here) … plus this option was a bit cheaper.   Unfortunately Cumberland Heritage Village Museum was only open from Wednesday to Sunday, we had missed our opportunity.

It took just under an hour to get to Upper Canada Village.  Upon arriving I realized that I had forgotten the coupons for the girls to get in free at our accommodations.  They would not give the discount without the coupon.   Having driven an hour to get there and the girls were all excited there wasn’t much we could do but cringe and pay the extra unexpected cost (ouch, Cumberland would have saved us $50).  The Village is costly but we did have a lovely time.  We were busy the whole time and still did not get to all the stops to visit all the places in the village, but we made sure we did the major ones that would be the most interesting or that we had not seen the previous year.

The following pictures are taken from the Telegraph Signal Tower.  This tower was used to transmit naval military codes along the frontier during the early 1800’s.  These types of towers became obsolete when the morse code telegraph was introduced.

St. Lawrence River


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The thing that we liked the most about the Village was that the employees truly played their part.  They were completely in their role, acted their part and stayed their part.  They did all the things a normal person would have done at that time, cooking and baking as they would, getting their milk from the farmer, when they talked about other aspects of the Village they referred to Mr. So-and-so and how they delivered there or picked up there.  The delivery wagon would come and pick up the bread with horse and buggy and deliver it to the gift store.  They would cut and pick up the hay and deliver it with horse and wagon.  The farmers would come in for afternoon tea at 3pm just before milking time each day, they addressed each other as their character names.  When you asked questioned they would answer in the first person, as if they truly had done it.  It was really neat to see.


We had a ride on a tow scow .  The tow scow is a flat hulled barge that is drawn along the canal by a horse walking along the bank. Two villagers (one at the bow, and one at the stern) help steer the scow using long poles. In typical village life, the scow would be used to transport heavy goods to mills and other distant locations.



The kids had a great time at the Family Centre,  especially Matthew who was getting a little tired of just looking and listening.  The kids would gladly have stayed longer, but if we were going to view a good portion of the village then we had to keep going.

Hand Carding Wool.   The girls each hand sewed their own pin cushion


Working hard


Making music


Dressing up


Doing the wash

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There were also various crafts and games to play.  Kids always love hands on learning … I guess us adults do too :)

The piglets get to roam free in the village until they reach an age where they start creating trouble and messes (which is about the age they are here) and then they`re stuck in the pen.  It was really neat to watch the pigs seeing as Rob has worked on a pig farm so we have some basic understanding of how pigs are these days.  You always read and see in books how they love to root in the mud, roll in it and play.  But todays pigs don`t even get to go near mud as they live on concrete slates where all waste falls below them.  The poor animals are out of their natural habitat stunting their natural instincts.  But here the pigs were having a grand old time, rolling around, playing, digging their snots in the ground and rooting around.  Soaking up the mud. They were quite entertaining.



On the farm we waited for milking time so the kids could have a chance to try milking.  I was really thinking Marietta and Rebecca were going to give it a try, seeing as I know it’s a bit more challenging at first then it looks.  The cows were completely tame and not the least bit fazed by all these people walking in and out and around them.  While the farmer came over to explain a bit about the farm, cows, milking, etc.  Matthew was sitting on the stool taking everything in and he walked over to Matthew first and asked him if he wanted to milk.  Matthew wasn’t the least bit afraid of this big animal and with a bit of guidance he was milking the cow.


Checking it out


Giving it a try … no luck!


Demonstrating and practicing …. 


try again … yup, there comes the milk


But … milking with only one hand isn’t very efficient use of time … so Matthew had to learn to do it with two hands.  I was pretty impressed that he managed to do it and he was pretty proud of himself after that. 


The girls also each took a turn.


Various other village pictures:

Tenants Farm:


The following pictures come from a middle class home

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The girls tried out the water pump … they gave up before they even got it primed … thinking it wasn’t working


When the Village closed at 5pm we returned home, had some supper and then went off to check out another splash pad for the evening.  The daughter of our hostess was having a birthday party so we figured it would just be better to get out of the house then staying cooped up in our room or something so that we were out of the way … not that we were required to be out of the way, you just sort of feel obligated to be.  So we went off to CenterPointe Park, a splash pad park not far from where we were staying.  Rob and I came armed with our books and he kids went of to play in the water and sand.

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Matthew found a empty yogurt bucket and this made for great water and sand play … even with the bucket having a hole in it.  He would collect a little bit of water, dribble most of it out on his walk to the playground area, then pour the few leftover drops in his hole and go back for more … whatever keeps him happy



While I try to give my kids some space and freedom to be kids, to explore and have fun, I at times need to look the other way so that I don’t end up become to overprotective and an anxious annoying mom who’s always worry about her kids every step. In this world of having everything legally safe and caution so that people won’t get hurt or sue sometimes I’m surprised they haven’t banned playgrounds since someone might get hurt on them.  Sometimes it surprises me what some of them have considering our over-cautious society.

Most of the time I have no issues with what’s at hte parks, but this ladder made me rather nervous … but as you can see I’m looking and watching since I’m taking pictures.  Matthew was very proud that he could climb so high on a ladder, and the climbing part wasn’t the part that worried me as much as him trying to manoeuvre to get from the ladder to the platform (bear in mind he’s four … you wouldn’t get a minute of rest if you have an energetic two year old here).  The reward for his accomplishment was a nice high slide, which he liked as much as he enjoyed climbing the ladder.


Another day was done and it was time to go back to our accommodations to pack up and gets some rest so we could be up on time the next day for our last day and our trip home.