Saturday, July 31, 2010

Algonquin Park 2010 - Part 1

As I already mentioned, the Cook Family Vacation, 2010 Edition took place in Algonquin Park. This was the first time we'd been there in 3 years. I used to be a huge proponent of visiting a different location for every vacation, subscribing to the theory that there is a big world out there with lots to see and do. As time goes by though, I find myself appreciating the idea of return trips more and more. They lend themselves well to benchmarks and reminiscing. Stories from the earlier excursions surface at seemingly every turn ("Remember when Liam threw up blueberries all over the backseat right when we reached the park gate? Remember when the snapping turtle almost ate Chad?"), so that each trip is like a Matryoshka doll, containing pieces of all of the previous trips.The legacy of this trip is bound to be The Bear. We arrived at Mew Lake amidst warnings of bear sightings, with instructions to clean up campsites and store food properly. No matter. Within less than 24 hours, Bruce and Dana were visited on their site by a bear who tore through the soft top of the truck to make off with bread and chocolate covered peanuts. The food was moved inside the cab of the truck on the second and subsequent nights, but the bear returned to the flat bed each night, looking for more.On the bright side, the second day of the trip resulted in Chad spotting 3 bears and me spotting 2 (or perhaps it was the same bear over and over) - a rare and lucky sighting at Algonquin. We'll overlook the fact that when we had our spotting, I was carrying my wide angle lens and not my telephoto. We could have counted the whiskers on his chin if only I'd been prepared. I don't think Chad will ever let me live it down. I'm hoping to make it up to him with this moose photo.That second and third day, it mostly rained. We were soggy and dirty. The bear had damaged the truck and made off with our food. We ran out of propane in the midst of cooking chicken for dinner, something you don't just serve up lukewarm with good cheer because you're roughing it. We were all starting to get on each other's nerves (did I mention there were 9 of us on this trip?) and wondering why on earth we were spending our precious vacation time doing what we were doing. And then, on the morning of the third full day, the sun broke through the clouds, and all was forgotten. When the sun is streaming down in dappled patches, the scent of warm pine is in the air, and you can hear the wind whistling through the treetops but not feel it in the thick forest below - those are magical days to spend in Algonquin. We hiked and splashed and feasted on the bumper crop of wild blueberries in the old airfield. We swam in cold, clean lakes. We built campfires for s'mores and pie irons and JiffyPop. We crawled into our sleeping bags still filthy at the end of each day, but in much better spirits. It will likely be a few years before we go back to Algonquin again. I'm very glad we chose to do it this year. The sleeping bags are finally washed and put away and the mosquito bites have faded, and it's nothing but happy memories now.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Back, but still not settled

We are back from the Cook Family Vacation - 2010 Edition. This year, we spent a week up at Algonquin. We were home on Wednesday night and have the laundry mostly done (9 loads!) and tents and such mostly put away. It's a slow process, though, settling back in. We are still officially 'on vacation' and are trying to enjoy it as such - fitting in some swimming, some rollerblading, and a trip to the new Cold Stone Creamery (where 2 of the 4 of us did not finish our orders - I never thought I would utter these words, but it is too rich for my taste!) The process was made even slower tonight when we had to take Mallory on a surprise trip to the ER. She has been complaining of neck pain since we came home and today she spiked a fever to go along with it. Of course, the immediate worst case scenario was: Meningitis! They fast-tracked us through the ER to assess her, but we came away without much of a diagnosis. They assume she picked up something viral while up north, but they don't know what. At least they don't think she's contagious.

There will be many photos (and perhaps a highlight reel) coming soon...

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tonight's 3-ring circus

Mallory spent a long time in her room wailing after I tucked her in. The kind of wailing that is most definitely fake.

Eventually, she came to the door and started to make her exaggerated crying noises right under it, out into the hall in her loudest voice possible. Finally, I went in.

"What's the matter, Mallory?"

"I had a bad dream, Mommy, and it scared me." (She has been keeping up a non-stop stream of commentary since I put her to bed nearly an hour ago, so I am not sure when she found the time to do her dreaming.)

"What was your dream about, sweetie?"

"I had a dream that I couldn't take my dancing lessons." Yes, because not being able to take ballet lessons at the age of 3 rates right up there on the list of world disasters, doesn't it? Right in between the Gulf oil spill and Darfur.

"Well, it was only a dream, honey, and dreams are just pretend."

"Maggie says dreams don't come true."

"That's right, they are only pretend."

"Maggie is wrong, Mom. Dreams do come true. Snow White wanted a Prince and her dream came true."

Leave it to a Disney princess to foil my plot to get her back into bed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A window into his soul

As soon as I saw inside Liam's top desk drawer, I knew I had to take a picture to capture it for posterity. This is so him right now. This is where he keeps all of his treasures: Happy Meal toys, Toy Story figurines, the golf balls he asked Santa for, a few rubber snakes, a ball he likes to use to try to engage Captain with varying degrees of success, lots and lots of toy cars, some good camper pins from our last trip to Algonquin, stickers and tattoos he has recently received... they all go here. It's like his stream of consciousness, and I love being able to see it.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Mallory is just about the worst kid you can imagine in terms of going to bed. We put her to sleep at 8:30 and she's up, she wants to pee, she wants to pee again, she wants a drink, she wants to poo, she wants to tell me a secret, she wants me to sleep with her, and on and on. I think she is down for the night now and it is almost 10 p.m.

When I was growing up I had a babysitter named Patty Gray. I don't remember a thing about her except that I can still hear her as clear as day in my mind saying "Carrie, you are just stalling for time!" As a kid I don't think I even understood where she was getting at but now that I have Mallory... it makes perfect sense.

It's karma. I deserve it.

(Deserving to have to clean her up after an ice cream? Not so much.)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Ribfest 2010

On Friday night, we headed down to the local Ribfest at Tecumseh Park. Going to this event was my suggestion. Number one, Chad loves ribs. Number two, they advertised $5 wristbands for the kids that would allow them to jump on bouncy castles to their hearts’ content. I would rather pay $5 and let them wear themselves out than stand in line for an hour in exchange for 3 minutes of free playtime. But maybe that’s just me.We got there shortly after the weekend opened, and it was great. Low crowds. The kids jumped around and had fun. There was a minor issue when a fuse kept shorting out and they finally had to relocate a few of the inflatables to a different area of the park, but once that was done, all was well again.We ran into one of Liam’s friends from school and in fact it was one of his best friends. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Liam being so social in my life. After we left the area he kept talking about going to find Hunter again. It wasn’t intentional, but we ran into Hunter 3 or 4 more times before we were done for the night. What I thought would be an hour of jumping around turned into more like 3 hours. They jumped, they ran around, they logrolled down the riverbank. We got his phone number and might have him come visit sometime.The kids slept well that night.While I remembered that Chad loves ribs, I’d forgotten that he has an aversion to street vendor food. And even though these rib shacks looked credible, we decided to get something to eat from a local cafĂ© instead. We did, however, partake of the fresh-squeezed lemonade.All in all… it was a great way to spend a Friday night. Unfortunately for us, Kim Mitchell didn’t play until Saturday night, and we didn’t make it back down for that. I would have liked to be there. Might as well go for a soda, and all of that. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Speaking of pages I've been working on lately, it took me no time at all to slap this together from some of the shots I've taken from the soccer sidelines this year. The soccer season is about half over and Liam still seems to be enjoying it, even if he doesn't get into the fray with the more aggressive kids all that much. More surprising still, Mallory still seems to enjoy going to watch every week. I haven't had to chase her off the field or listen to "Mo-om, I'm bo-red!" even once. Then again... there are still many weeks left... anything can happen.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Parks, 2010 edition

On Saturday we were driving to Liam's soccer game and heard an ad from Parks Farm on the radio. This past weekend was the opening of berry season. It's unusually early this year, on account of how warm it's been.We had nothing planned for Sunday, but from this point forward the summer starts to get crazy for us. So I talked to the kids about going on Saturday night and they seemed excited by the prospect. By the time they woke up on Sunday morning they had changed their minds and didn't want to go, and I pulled out the big guns to convince them: I dragged out the pictures of them in front of the "How Tall This Year?" sign, year after year, which makes them crack up at themselves and each other. The trip was back on.It must be said that blueberries are the best for picking. I was a bit worried that by going so early, the bushes would be covered with green berries, but in fact they were absolutely laden with fruit. It took us no time at all to pick many pounds. Once again, Liam's pail came home almost empty and his belly came home full to bursting. It's the one day of the year when I don't mind if he ingests a few pesticides. There is nothing quite like a fresh sun-warmed blueberry.Of course, the tractor ride to and from the field, and the on-site games make the trip worthwhile, too. We must have spent 20 minutes racing each other with these water pumps and rubber ducks.

Now we have a whole lot of blueberries to use up, and neither Liam nor I are complaining. Mallory still insists that she does not like blueberries, but she happily ate the blueberry oat bar she picked out from the on-site bakery and took home for her lunch. One of these days I will win her over.These pages are only partially finished, but I thought they were worth sharing, anyway. I love the year-by-year comparison of Liam's trips to Parks. The first year he went, they didn't have the sign, and he was only 3 months old so standing next to it was out of the question, anyway. The following year was the only time we missed a year. Not sure why, though it may have something to do with the fact that Mallory was on her way and I was busy dry-heaving.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Enjoying summer

Back with more soon.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


How we are spending our week:I've got to say, I think the investment was a good one. I'm glad that Chad talked me into it.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Canada D'Eh, 2010 style, for about the 14th time

I cannot for the life of me get this post to format correctly, and you know what? - I have other things to do! I'm sure you can figure out which pictures go with which parts of the story... so I am hitting publish and getting off of here.

On Canada Day, we once again ventured down to Tecumseh Park for the annual 'Canada D'Eh!' festivities. We got there a little later than planned and of course the line at the bouncy castle was crazy-long. We toured around the rest of the park, spending most of our time at the usual reptile exhibit, where Liam and Mallory were both brave enough to hold (and wear!) snakes. (I was brave enough to stand close enough to take their pictures.) Chad and Liam hit Mr. Pickle for a snack and by the time we got back to the bouncy castle, the line was twice as long as it was originally, and Mallory was adamant that she wanted to wait. Nearly an hour later, both Liam and Mallory spent their four minutes in the castle. The only way out of the castle was to climb a wall and then drop down a slide on the other side. Mallory got to the top (barely) and was then terrified to ride down. Thank goodness Sophie and Nicholas showed up then - if she hadn't been so anxious to see Nicky, I don't think she ever would have come down.

We went home for lunch and a swim, then came back downtown for the parade later in the afternoon. The Marching Orchestra pulled me up for a picture. Goodness knows I don't initiate this kind of thing on my own.

Home again for a nap and dinner, and then we took the kids back downtown AGAIN for fireworks at 10:15 p.m. Mallory spent 15 minutes waiting for the fireworks to begin with her ears plugged, afraid of the loud noise they would make. By the time they started, she had fallen asleep, and she slept through the entire noisy show. I guess she should have napped when the rest of us did.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Thanks for your help

One of the projects I've been busy with (along with my sisters) for the past couple of months has been the compilation of this book. We just gave it to my parents today. (Better late than never!) For those of you who contributed, thanks so much. I hope you can see the finished project via the widget below.
June 13, 2010
By Compiled by Steph...

Friday, July 02, 2010

I hope my mom doesn't see this, because if she does, she's liable to faint dead away.