I got to see my cousin Marshall and help him celebrate his birthday this weekend!
This weekend we have been looking forward to for some time. A couple of months ago, Danielle’s sister Chantelle messaged us that she was planning out Marshall’s 4th Birthday and wanted us to come. Last year we spent the day with them at Todd’s Sister & Brother-in-law’s in Whitby, but this year with Marshall in school they, were definitely going to need to have it in Bracebridge so that he could invite all his school friends he has made this year. And, we were delighted at the idea of spending weekend with them up in the Muskoka’s – an area known for it’s festive prowess.
We got the truck unloaded and got comfy right proper. Marshall had waited up for us and Jim & Sherry (Todd’s Dad & Stepmom) were there! We think the world of Todd’s family as they always treat us like we’re part of their family. And Jim has always taken a special shine to Emelia. And, Sherry is one adult who manages to get full sentence replies from shy Emelia. We sat around the roaring fire and caught up over a few grownup beverages and a lot of laughter. It was the perfect way to unwind after the over 3 hour drive.
Saturday was the big day! Marshall was turning 4 and everyone was excited about it. Todd was telling us that he sent invitations in the school bag that goes back and forth from the teacher with hope that few kids would want to come. What happened precisely seconds after those invitations went home was Chantelle’s phone lit up with parents letting her know they were coming. I think in 24 hours half the township had responded saying they were coming and Todd & Charlie were worried they were going to need to rent out the town arena to house everyone! (The more truthful side is that pretty much his entire class were coming, not the whole town)
The par-tay was at The Play Pit which gave the kids two full hours to play, eat, and have as much fun as they could stand! It was so great to see Marshall in his element with all the new friends he made through school. The one thing we really loved when Emelia started school was of course the friends she made, but also the friends we’ve made too. Our neighbourhood became so much more our home when we started to become friends with all the families we met through school. And Danielle & I could see this happening for Charlie & Todd and were reminded how much it helped us to have that community. We were so happy to see them feel more entrenched in the community they were creating with all of these families linked through some of Marshall’s most important hours of the day.
After the party wrapped up, and after I snuck in a stop at Muskoka Brewing and Emelia, one to Muskoka Bear Wear, we were back at Charlie & Todd’s to unwind with their family for the evening. Marshall got to unwrap all the birthday presents his friends smothered him with and the grownups got to laugh and carry on. Marshall was in his element and he and Emelia were thick as thieves. Todd and I were roped into de-packaging the toys from their handcuff-like mess of twister & zip ties clad in saran and packing tape. We ate, played and laughed a ton and probably kept the kids up too late – but that’s what you do this time of year, right!
This morning we were up early in order to get on the road to be back to London in time to get Emelia to gymnastics practice. We didn’t really want to be heading back so early but so close to the first competition in January, and two weeks of lost practice over the holidays, we can’t afford to miss any more practices. But, no trip to visit Charlie, Todd and Marshall is complete without having breakfast at Nick’s Family Restaurant. So we got up early and had another amazing breakfast and were on the road back home. The drive home was just as uneventful as the one there, and we made great time. The whole ride home Danielle and I talked about what a great weekend we had. It was the perfect mix of all the things we love: family, food and lots of fun! And that Marshall sure knows how to throw a ripper of a par-tay!
This weekend was absolutely perfect! When Charlie messaged me back in October to see if we could make our way their way to celebrate Marshall’s birthday we were so happy. John instantly put in the request for the weekend off. Thankfully it all worked out and he was able to not only get the weekend but Friday off as well.
With John off on Friday it allowed us to get everything in order around here, finish off the last of the Christmas outdoor decorations up, pack the truck and basically leave the second the last little one was picked up. Once the kids were gone for the weekend we were on our way, a quick stop to get supper to eat on the road and we were on the highway for the next 3.5 or so hours. The ride was smooth, Emelia happily entertained herself the entire way.
Around 9:00 we pulled into Bracebridge and settled into a weekend of family awesomeness. Emelia just adores her Aunt Charlie, Uncle Todd and Marshall and every trip up there we have so much fun. The kids played, the grown-ups caught up. Once the kids were asleep we got to spend the evening catching up more and sharing family memories and chat about the excitement that was ahead the next day.
With Marshall in school he was having his first friends party this year and what a party it was. When Chantelle told me that basically the whole class was coming I knew we were in for an afternoon of kid madness and fun. They rented space at the local indoor playzone. It was the absolutely perfect way to burn a ton of kid energy. The kids loved every second of it. Marshall was in his complete element, surrounded by his friends and family you could just see how much this happy boy is so loved.
After a few hours the party was wrapping up and we packed it all up and headed back to Charlie and Todd’s place (after a few minor shopping stops of our own) so we could see Marshall open up his haul of goodness. Man oh man did this little boy get some awesome gifts, so generous. He just loved each and every one! The kids played for hours while the grown-ups hung out and shared some laughs.
Not only were Todd and Charlie there so were Todd’s Dad, his step-mom and her mother. I cannot tell you how incredible this family is! They have always made Emelia feel so special and make her and us feel like an added extension of their family. It really was the perfect way to share the holidays with some really genuine and amazing family!
Because we aren’t able to spend the actual Christmas with my sister and her family and we also don’t see them around Emelia’s birthday we let the kids exchange their birthday and Christmas presents. My sister surprised Emelia and myself with the most sentimental gift for her upcoming 12th birthday. A beautiful gold necklace that once belonged to our mother that was gifted to my sister when she was 12. Emelia has always been very attached to everything about her angel-grandmother and this necklace means to the world to her. I am so touched that she has this little piece of our mother.
This morning we had to sadly say our good-byes for the next few months, but we are filled with amazing memories that I know we will carry with us for a long time.