Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday, August 29, 2014

It's Lynden Time

I notice as I write these summer blogs that a big part of our summer season is repetition of traditions. We, apparently, really like doing the same stuff over and over. Well, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

Unfortunately, none of the McTaggarts were able to join us this year. We missed them, but powered on anyway. Turns out we can rock the fair all on our own. 

Mind you, who can't have fun with baby calves sporting wicked underbites? Right? No, seriously, look at those little cows...

You may notice an absence of Eric in these pictures. ERIC. DOES. NOT. ATTEND. FAIRS. He doesn't like the animals, or the crowds...or, actually, much of anything you find at fairs.

Lukey is all about the animals, though. Here he is petting a newborn piglet:

We toured each and every little booth (except a couple of the Tea Party/Republican ones...). There were a lot of disappointed faces when people asked the kids if they were local (as they handed out branded pencils for their karate studio). Uh, no. Not really local AT ALL.

But that's alright, we can still cheer for the Seahawks.

And we can pose (complete with fearful faces) in the back of the Customs and Border Protection paddy wagon. Interestingly, Molly looks like she just got busted for some misdemeanour and she is hoping to talk her way out of it. Lukey looks totally guilty of something significant. And Finny looks like she will go down for something major, but she's not giving up anything.

Finny loved this minion hat...I should try to find a pattern for this. It's so cute. And perfect for our little Finion.

Next stop was for food. Again, traditions. We always get the french fry loaf. Don't know what a french fry loaf is?

There it is:

Of course, everyone just wants to hear about the vegetables. Who won best "Vegetable Oddity" (no, seriously) or "Largest Squash". Now that's a nice...squash...

We took our requisite picture with the wooden cow and the plastic milk.

Lukey was very focused on the milking. I have no idea how he did. He might not have gotten out a single drop. But he was very into it.

The girls battled it out against each other. Finny won.

Molly might have just been a little too gentle, just in case she could hurt the cow. Although, she looks determined in this picture.

My American Gothics:

Next step was the requisite Moo-wich. These things are unbelievable. They are all handmade by the Dairy Women of Whatcom County. They really are handmade. All different. Some are pretty small. Some are stacked.

Look at the wedge of ice cream Finny got!

Molly and Finny managed to finish their whole Moo-wich. Slow and steady.

Lukey wasn't even close.

The highlight of the fair for us was a break with tradition. We have never attended a hypnotism show. But what a show. It was hilarious and amazing and provoked A LOT of questions. I had never seen a hypnotist either. I was pretty darn sceptical, but I left feeling convinced. And...I left with the kids (girls especially) asking if there was some sort of after-school program for teaching hypnotism. I see lots of "at the sound of my voice, the sound of my voice, you will give me extra dessert" in my future.

Never one to let a day filled with fair fun well enough alone, I drove the kids straight to Eric's firehall to have dessert with his crew. And then...since the night was still young, we headed to Starry Nights at Deas Island. What an amazing evening they put on. It was really tough to get good photos, but there were so many crafts and the candle lit paths through the park were spectacular. But my favourite part was the wishing on a star. The kids could write a wish on a star and then a fairy granted it as she put it in the "sky".

Molly wished for a happy life. Lukey wished to be an NHL goalie. And Finny wished for Shack to have a good time in heaven (which would also have been Molly's wish if Finny hadn't already taken it).

The lady with the wand had the best gig ever. How much fun would that be?

It was a packed day/night, but that's what summer is all about. It may be repetitive. It may be predictable. But gosh it's fun. So I guess we will keep doing it all year after year. If we are lucky.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Crab Sanctuaries, Soccer and Rowing

Eric and I are reminded of the time we went to see Greece. We took a ferry that happened to land in Corfu. We decided to spend one night in Corfu before heading off to explore other islands. A week later, we took the ferry back to Italy. From Corfu. We never left. It was too easy to stay.

The 2014 version of this experience is Newcastle Island. It's $12 to tie up on a buoy. The island had tons of fun stuff for the kids to do. The weather was glorious was windy and wild just outside the protection of...Protection Island. 

So, no Hornby. It was just a little too far (over 6 hours) in just slightly too choppy open water. Why, when the allure of our floating island, a super fun real island and long evenings in hot sun were already within our grasp. Corfu Part Two.

So, we woke up at Newcastle again. We decided to row our dinghy over around the point closest to Nanaimo. There was a huge cove there we wanted to explore. 

When we got there, we quickly realized the cove was absolutely covered with tiny crabs. 

Everywhere you looked, the ground was alive with them.

The kids quickly designed crab "sanctuaries" (I know, that term implies peaceful spaces, maybe a spa treatment or two..."excuse me, Mr. Crab, can we offer you our 'claw-icure'?'"...get it, like a manicure, but for crabs...? Every time I said "crab sanctuary", I imagined little quote marks around it to make it ironic. Because I am pretty sure the crabs weren't that into it. But the kids were convinced they were making crab heaven. So, who am I to get in the head of a crab? Maybe they loved it.)

The girls each designed their spaces. Lukey was "security" for Molly and I was keeping a watchful eye for Finny...looking for escapees from the sanctuary. All the crabs got names. The feisty ones were named after convicts from Alcatraz (that Alcatraz tour in S.F. really did a job on our kids...). The pretty ones were named things like Handsome. There was a Biggie and a Monster.

Finny really went after the biggest ones. Her frequent squeals could be heard all around the cove as the crabs pinched her.

Here's her capture style:

For a couple of hours, they had a massive array of pets. The best kind of pets. The ones you can walk away from...

Here's Lukey and Molly doing an impression of the aggressive stance some of the crabs take when they are being picked up for a trip to the sanctuary (the fingers are claws...):

Here's Lukey tending his flock:

And Molly fixing a breach (the Coke can was for delivering water):

We left the crabs behind and paddled to the wharf for some soccer.

Same teams. We played up to five goals. Lukey, who was a rush goalie, scored all five for our team. Here's our MVP:

And, we learned that we might be alright at soccer, but we really suck at horseshoes. Lukey was the only one to ring a shoe.

Another day in paradise, really. Who needs Hornby?

Newcastle Island and our own Fun Island

Well, if leaving Mudge wasn't hard enough, we met some mighty big waves and wind on our way from there to re-provision in Nanaimo. It was a tricky patch of water. The kids went from bravely holding onto the front railing (as you can see above), to retreating down below, where they felt pretty grim and a tiny bit scared (a glimmer of which you can also see in Lukey's face above).

It was such a relief getting out of the waves that we decided to tie up for the night off of Newcastle Island in Nanaimo harbour instead of subjecting ourselves to six or more hours of being battered on our way up to Hornby.

Since we were somewhere sheltered and tied up (and the wind forecast indicated we might be there for a few days), we decided it was the perfect opportunity to break out our "Tropical Breeze" floating island. It was an impulsive Costco purchase, made after an intense campaign by the kids while we were already pushing a shopping cart filled to the brim. We relented, but quickly wondered when the heck that monstrosity would come in handy. Luckily, we figured an electric pump would make short work of blowing it up. Unluckily, we don't have a functioning electric pump. That's what foot pumps and husbands are for...

The only downside to our lovely spot was the kids' sheer terror at the  abandoned boat tied up next to us. The ironically named "Golden Dawn". We had a lengthy discussion about how much it would cost to get the kids to sleep alone on the Golden Dawn. The numbers started low. Lukey said $10. The more we talked, the higher the numbers went. Eventually, Finny got to $100,000 and Lukey was over a million (although at one point, he was good with $60 cash in his hand that he got to hold the whole time he was on the boat). Molly was a straight no. 

"We" finally got the floating island up (that's the royal we...I think I pumped for about three minutes). It makes a huge difference to how much time the kids (and adults) spent in the water. It was well worth our splurge purchase at Costco. 

It was hard to tear the kids away from our own island of fun, but a bigger island was also attracting our attention. Newcastle Island is an awesome place for a family. There are spectacular beaches and lovely big grass fields...perfect for a hot game of soccer and a cool dip.

We ended up playing a big best of three games over the course of our stay off Newcastle. It was Finny and Eric versus Molly, Lukey and me. The games were...competitive.

The swimming was a bit more relaxing. 

The huge rocks off the coast of the island heat up in the sun and make for really nice bathing. 

The weather couldn't have been nicer. The afternoons and evenings have been scorching for this whole trip. Perfect conditions for boating, which basically amounts to camping on the water. 

I don't know why Lukey looks so freezing in this picture. It wasn't cold at all.

The winning shot...

At one point, Lukey and I picked up an impromptu game of throwing rocks at a distant oyster shell. It was fun. Then Eric joined. When he missed a few throws, he did what any one would do. He picked up a giant rock, walked over to the shell and dropped it on top, pulverizing it. 

Game over. 

Mid-way on our dinghy paddle back to the boat, the kids decided to jump out and swim the rest of the way. 

Eric joined them. 

I have to say...I am not a huge salt water fan. And I am really not a huge cold water fan (too many cold lake summers at GBC). But the weather was so warm and island was so much fun that I went swimming every day. A new record for me, for sure. 

Turns out that our impulsive Costco purchase was a real success. Sometimes that happens.