Saturday, July 21, 2012

Despite some sketchy weather and unreliable weather reports, we headed out for a nearly one-week trip on the boat. There is always a moment, mid-way through packing up the boat that you wonder why on earth this trip seemed like a good idea. The skies were overcast, the stuff we had to cram into the tiny boat seemed like far too much for it to handle, and yet the things themselves didn't seem like the right stuff to bring. We loaded on five bikes, three kids, two adults, groceries and clothes aplenty, towels, bathing suits, books, games and just about everything else except the kitchen sink. Although that would have been handy…

As soon as you pull out of the marina into the open water…a different feeling takes over. You start to feel the rhythm of the waves and the hum of the engine sinks into the back of your brain. We all relax into the job of being on the boat. 

We had an easy first day jaunt over to Poet's Cove on Pender Island. It's one of my favourite spots to go with the family. Nothing entertains our kids like a pool. And a heated pool means they stay in even longer.

We arrived that evening at around 7:30 and pulled into our little slip. I cooked hamburgers on the grill attached to the front of the boat and tried to ignore the spitting rain. I was doing a great job, until the spitting turned into more of a deluge. We ate dinner inside and then Eric took the kids to the pool (since they were already damp) and I cleaned up and put the beds together. 

We awoke to sunshine. I went up to the little cafe for coffee and carrot muffins and then it was into the pool for the next six hours. Seriously. Six hours. I read and read. "The Family Fang" is an hilarious read, if anyone is looking for a good summer book, by the way. There is nothing better poolside than a cup of coffee (or a pina colada…but that wasn't happening), a book and three kids entertaining themselves and each other.

We set out by around three, en route to Sidney Spit and to our reciprocal marina in Sidney itself. We couldn't resist a quick tie-up at the Spit, since the evening was so warm and the beach was beckoning. We ditched our shoes at the waterline and walked along in the sand, doing a wee bit of exploring. It was a hard job tearing ourselves away to the reciprocal club. It was so tempting to light up the barbecue and stay by the beach, but we stuck to our plan and motored into Sidney. 

The marina was a little way out of town, so after squeezing into a super, super tight spot on the dock (we had to ask the sailboat behind us to move about a foot and a half), we settled in for the night and planned to take the bikes into town the next morning. After our successful trip to Sidney over Spring Break with the Warringtons, we were excited to get back to the bakery with the ginormous apple fritters. 

The bike ride in was the perfect length and the kids did a great job. I have found that I do better leading the group, since being the caboose gives me mini-heart attacks at ten second intervals. I see the kids wobble slightly or wander a smudge to their lefts and my heart spends the whole ride in my throat and I feel like a fishwife shouting from the back to "keep right" and "pay attention…eyes forward!!!". Instead, I can set a nice, slow pace and let Eric do the worrying. 

We made it in to Sidney in one piece and gave the town a good walkabout. We got fritters and scones and cookies and pizza pretzels and veggie roll and nanaimo bars and mint brownies. It was grand. 

We also picked up a little net for the kids to dip in by the boat and grab minnows and sticklebacks. It was $1.50 and has entertained them for hours already. A good buy. 

We departed for Sidney Spit and snagged a great spot right by the ramp to the beach to spend the night. As soon as we were tied up, the kids bolted from the dock and swam in the freezing cold water in to the beach. The girls raced, but as you can see, Finny got a bit of a head start. She was too excited to wait. 

I made dinner of hot dogs and chili, which I delivered onto the beach and we ate while being assaulted by sand flies. We feasted on the remaining bars from the bakery in Sidney. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sunset at Spanish Banks

Pizza picnic at Spanish Banks. Mud pies for dessert.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Stanley Park Totem Pole

Eric and Lukey make their own handsome version of a totem pole. We are enjoying an evening swim at Second Beach pool, after a picnic dinner in the park.

I can hardly remember that it was ever rainy...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Canada Day

Canada Day started in Tofino. The kids had found a magnificent world behind this hedge. A true labyrinth of bushes, roots and leafy, green tunnels. It was a treasure and it was hard to tear them away.

Our little animals were at home in their warren.

But tear them away, we did. We headed into Tofino for the Canada Day celebration.

We did a bit of land skiing.

I managed to surprise my whole family (including Eric) with my stilt walking skills. No one expected it, but I was pretty kick ass. Finny, on the other hand, looks quite terrified. Or something...

I got my much discussed fish taco at the Tacofino cart. It was every bit as delicious as I wanted it to be.

We hit the beach and the kids inhaled the Canada Day doughnuts.

Oh, and was some inhaling there, too.

And in between the bickering that broke out in spades on this particular beach visit, we even managed to play a bit with this awesome new game the kids picked up in the truly wonderful bookstore in Tofino (I know, I know...this game IS NOT a book...but before you judge me, you much know that I also purchased a copy of Robinson Crusoe, which I read to the family on the drive back to the ferry).

It was a good day.

Here and there

Summer finally arrived. And nothing says summer like being down at the beach, hanging out with my parents and the McTaggarts.

That means dinners all together, family style. With a few bonus Poole's thrown in, when Krista and her two girls arrived from Calgary (though we desperately missed Beth, Dan and Matthew...first July 4th without them!).

I just didn't realize that we still had many kids CAN you fit in a playpen? At least six...

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Tofino, Tofino

Seeing as Mother Nature hasn't delivered any summer weather, we figured we needed something to signal the start of the season...because it wasn't going to be sunshine. 

The kids finished school on Thursday and Friday morning bright and early, we headed to the ferry and made our way over to Long Beach. We had two night booked in the Ocean Village (ours was the one on the far right, upper level). Directly on McKenzie Beach, it just couldn't get any nicer. Oh wait, it could. With some sun.

Undeterred, the kids threw on their bathings suits (frigid temperatures and gusting wind, be damned!). Water Fight! They fought valiantly, while Eric and I scampered out of their way, squealing like wussies and whining if we got a drip of water on our winter coats.

It was as though the kids had NO IDEA it was freezing.

It was a hard core fight.

And, as always, Finny is terrifying. I was scared taking this picture, but I was banking on her having the good sense not to soak the camera.

Molly was blasting Lukey in the picture below, but Finny is running up behind...and she drenched her.

And once they were wet, why not take a little dip?

Then, once they realized they were cold...right into the heated pool and hot tub.

After dinner, we went for a walk along the beach and envied the campfires lining the shore.

We decided on a campfire of our own for the following night.

We turned in for an early night and slept like babies with the sound of crashing waves as our lullaby. In the morning, we used the fully stocked kitchen in our cabin to make a breakfast feast before heading out to explore Tofino. Eric and I took many trips to Long Beach before kids, but we have never been there as a family. I'd forgotten how charming Tofino is...we even got to witness a big-time small-town moment as an out of control driver plower into the front of Tony's Pizza. It was a big deal in small Tofino.

We walked in to Tonquin Beach.

We ran a few races along the beach. The little girls thought they could beat their Momma...but they were wrong. I showed those tiny legs that they have some growing to do before they can make me eat their dust. They were humbled. Finny made me run many times. As you can see in the picture below, I didn't take it easy on them. In fact, this picture makes me think I might have rubbed it in a bit much...maybe lose the "Number One" fingers...?

Lukey played mountain goat while the girls and I battled.

Finny was finally speaking to me again by the time we left the park (Seriously.).

We even found a pot-bellied pig grazing on the side of a residential road...the kids were enchanted. Only in Tofino.

We got some groceries to BBQ back at Ocean Village (they thoughtfully provide a very swanky pair of grills for guests) and then popped over to Cox Bay to let the kids see the big beach. They, of course, wanted to swim. It was insane. There were parents there who had their kids in toques. My kids were in bathing suits.


Without even changing, they dove right into beach fun. I was uncomfortable in my sweater and scarf.

We headed home and threw them into the heated pool to warm up, while I prepared dinner. As we were grilling, the kids made friends with a family from Ballard, Washington. They had a five year old and an eight year old. We shared a fire with them after eating. We contributed marshmallows and they shared graham crackers and chocolate. We had cross-border s'mores. It was a victory for Canadian/American relations.

When we headed back to our cabins, the kids were crusted in sand and freezing cold. We threw them in the bath to warm up and cuddled them in bed, feeling good that we'd squeezed every bit of fun out of the day.