I got to spend the whole weekend with my cousin Marshall!!!
This weekend was one we were waiting for, for some time. With me working retail, Danielle running the daycare and Chantelle working at a hotel way back in October as we tried to plan a Christmas gathering it became apparent pretty immediately that November and December just weren’t going to work for us. We resigned ourselves that if we wanted to celebrate Marshall’s birthday, Christmas & New Years and Emelia’s birthday, we were going to need to jam them all into one weekend and we would have to do that in January—well after the hullabaloo of the festive season.
I had the Friday, Saturday & Sunday off work, so to maximize the time we got with Charlie, Todd & Marshall, Danielle bit the bullet, closed the daycare on Friday so we could hit the road as soon as I was back from hockey. The thinking was we could try to avoid as much of the Toronto traffic as possible, and if the weather was going to be bad, we’d be driving in prime daylight time to boot. That meant we could not rush and be down to Bracebridge basically when Charlie was done work. And, thankfully the weather this week leading up was unseasonably warm which made for terrific driving conditions the entire weekend.
The trip down was a breeze, we had a bit of rain and fog as we left London, but by the time we hit the 407 and headed north and away from Toronto the rain was gone and the traffic light. While the snow had mostly melted away in London, the closer we got to Bracebridge, the more evident it was that they live in a more northern and snow-riddled area. When we got to their house, the drifts in their driveway from Todd’s (repeated) shovelling were like what we might get in an entire season if we really got blasted. But, we were there and we had made great time!
We got a little bit of time to visit with Todd and Marshall before Charlie got home from work. We unwinded and settled in for a great night of visiting, reconnecting over music, some wobbly drinks and roaring wood fire. The kids probably went to bed too late but then again, so did the grownups for that matter. And, as much as Emelia tried her damnedest, she just could not fall asleep in a strange bedroom with Marshall which meant she finally relented ahead of 10:00pm and let me get her set up in our bedroom and finally our over excited girl was off to sleep.
Saturday morning I was the last one to drag my ass out of bed and by then I was greeted to a whole house up and a warm cup of coffee. Todd and I hung out with the kids, while Danielle and Charlie ran some errands who got along famously and like they hadn’t missed a beat. Emelia even got Marshall into a monkey backpack that Todd hadn’t had any luck convincing him into. When the lady-folk returned we hatched plans, hopped in the car and Charlie & Todd took us on a tour of their neck of the woods which is really quite beautiful this time of year. We stopped at Johnston’s Cranberries in Bala where they have a winery that specializes in cranberry wine. They also had skating trails that trace the bog as well as a snowshoe track you can go on at this time of year.
After Bala and bog, we were on to Gravenhurst to see Peter’s Players where Charlie does sound for some shows. In Gravenhurst we stopped at Curries Music a second hand store that specialized in music gear but also had some really unique stuff at amazing prices. We had only intended on spending about 20 minutes there but that quickly expanded to over an hour. From there we made our way back to Bracebridge and I got to stop into Muskoka Brewery to pick up one of their special releases only available at the brewery. By then, we had a sleeping Marshall in the car which was to his parent’s delight as he had been fending off a cold. We got back to the house and settled into some solid couch time while Chantelle prepared us an amazing feast.
After dinner was the best part of the weekend! We combined all of the birthdays, Christmas and New Years into one celebration and let the kids enjoy cake, presents and counting down while shouting. The kids had a great time trying out their new gifts and of course no one can say no to birthday cake! After dinner we spent some more time wearing dents in their couch, but before long we all realized we were pretty exhausted and ready to hit the sheets. The house was pretty quiet by 10:00pm and we were all snoring away contently. And the best part was we all slept in – Emelia included – until almost 9:00am this morning!
We got up had breakfast and coffee, and shortly thereafter (and far too soon for anyone’s liking) we hit the road to head back home. As much as it was a great, long overdue visit, there never is enough time. On the way up we noticed we drove by an Ikea in Vaughan and planned a stop on the way back which we did. We got a few of the things we’d been meaning to get, and then a few more things we found and maybe shouldn’t have. By 6:00pm we were home and ready to get ready for the new week.
The weekend was the perfect getaway, all bundled with laughs and time spent with family. I was so delighted that Danielle and Charlie got some good time to connect and be sisters face to face rather than over text, and as well, that Emelia got so much time to play with Marshall. We’ve really grown enamoured with their slice of the world and are now hoping that we can turn one of our summer camping weeks into a trip to a Provincial Park up near them. Which is pretty much the sign of a great weekend when it ends with plans for the next time together.
This weekend was one I had been looking forward to for months. As John mentioned we had not been able to celebrate the holidays with any of my family this year, that connection with my family we of course really missed. With work committments and distance it took a bit more planning this year than it had in the past. Charlie and I opted to not even deal with the chaos of the month of December and turn our focus on to January when it would be a lot easier to book time off.
Once we resigned to the fact that we would sadly not see Marshall on his birthday, we wouldn’t see them at all around Christmas the stress of making it work washed away and it was a perfect way to lift our post holiday spirits. Back in early December John requested for this past weekend off and much to our delight when he got his schedule he not only had Saturday and Sunday off he also had Friday. With the uncertain winter and the tales from my sister on the volume of snow they were getting hit with this year I decided that I should take the Friday off from daycare as well. This not only gave us more time together it also allowed us to drive only in the daylight and have lots of time to make it up to Bracebridge should the weather turn really nasty.
Thankfully for all of us the weather for driving was pretty amazing, there was some rain and some fog but nothing that made it hazardous. Now the funny thing was we were hoping for a bit more winter like weather at least in the way of temps once we got up to my sister’s place because the unseasonably warm temps meant lots of the winter activities had to be changed or cancelled all together.
Anyway, back to our visit, we arrived in perfect time to allow us to have time to pick up some shared snack food as well as shared grown-up drinks before arriving at Todd and Charlie’s place. We got a chance to catch up with Todd and Marshall before my sister got home from work shortly after 4:00. The night together was incredible. As always Emelia and Marshall play amazing together and it gave the grown-ups so catching up time. My sister and I chatted until the wee hours of the morning sharing memories and just enjoying spending time as sisters. We just do not ever seem to get enough time together and it always seems to go by in a flash. This time we stayed up far too late but it was so very worth it just to spend so much time together.
The next morning the kids had us up early so we could get our life organized and my sister could go out to pick up some supplies for the little birthday party she wanted to throw for Emelia. It was so incredibly sweet of her to take that extra time to make our little girl feel so special. When we got back from grabbing everything we got something to fill our bellies and planned decided to venture out and see where the day took us. With mild weather it meant some things we hoped to do were cancelled so we thought we would head up to Bala and take the scenic route up and take a trip around Lake Muskoka. The entire area is just beautiful and we can see why Charlie and Todd are so incredibly happy with their move up to cottage country. We got to see the area in whole different light as we had only ever been in the area in the summer. We made our way to the winery and did some tastings before heading back to Gravenhurst and discovering a shop that my sister had heard so much about. We had a great time looking all around at the treasures, Emelia just loves going to these sort of shops and it was a great little afternoon adventure.
Once we got the kids back into the car we took the longer way back with the hope to get Marshall down for a much needed catnap, with that it gave him a little rest and gave us the chance to stop in quickly so John could get some beer at the Muskoka brewery. Once John and I got back to the car we headed back to my sisters place for some incredible dinner and Emelia and Marshall’s birthday celebrations. Emelia was smiling from ear to ear at the fuss over her. Charlie and Todd got her some increidble gifts that have been a huge hit! So thank you again a millon times for making our not so little girl feel like so special.
Once we finished dinner we settled in for a movie and play and then got the kids to bed. The grown-ups were not far behind the kids and we all got a much needed night sleep. The morning came and we took the morning at a nice relaxed pace before sadly having to pack up and head back towards London. The visits never seem long enough, never happen as often as we would like but we cherish each and every one of them.