Posts filed under ‘niagara’

i’ve been gone so long, my memory foam forgot about me.

i remember speaking to one of my neighbours in may, about how relaxing this summer was supposed to be.  i was just going to do one camping trip, two weeks of vbs and the usual cottage week at the end with my sisters & parents.

halfway through june, the summer calendar started getting a little congested, and by the end of june there was barely room to breathe.  an opportunity to go on a missions trip that i’d passed on for several years in a row, came up and everything aligned to enable me to go.  elliot also wanted to go to day camp this year, so we tried out a week of that as well.  then there were friends that we wanted to visit, and the blank spots on the calendar were the logical place to do just that.

so here we are, at a place in between a missions trip and a road trip, and capitalizing on the few hours i have after elliot’s birthday party and before a wedding.  i feel overwhelmed with the amount of information that i have to share here, but i’ll be point form-ish and if there’s anything to elaborate on, i’ll just do it in a separate post.

the last week of july started a string of events that would have me away from home for 2½weeks.
first: vbs at my parents church.  for the last few years i’ve played gym teacher as i run the games department of their vacation bible school.  it’s a smaller church, and half of the kids are the kids of people i grew up with (or just behind) when i lived in niagara.  i look at this week as a mini-missions trip each year, and i enjoy having a chance to show God to a bunch of toddlers through grade 6’s.  my kids also enjoy having a whole week to spend with their cousins, whom they don’t get to see very much of.
oh, and my kids brought home the chicken pox.

at the drive in with desiree & pauline. the kids watched their own video on a squishy bed in the hatch while the grownups had their sound faded to the front of the van.

 second: i was home for 22 hours before heading off on an actual official missions trip to toronto with they sr. high youth group that derek and i have been working with for 10 years now.  we were a group of um…16? and we headed to toronto.  half of the group worked at a day camp, and my half of the group worked at a soup kitchen each morning.  when we weren’t at the kitchen, we were handing out water bottles or bagged lunches to homeless; or playing with the kids at regent park, or being educated on the truth of sex trades, homelessness, and poverty that are daily ignored in the city just 45 minutes from our doors.

for my part, i not only enjoyed investing in relationships with the clients at the soup kitchen, but also investing in the teens who accompanied me on the trip.  it was a growing experience, but also exhausting as each day began at 6:40 and ended around 12:30.
(picture source

third:  when fatigue threatened to overtake me towards the end of the week in toronto, the hope of relaxing on the beach on saturday constantly encouraged me.  my mom and i had scheduled our annual camping trip long before anything else was added to the calendar, and because we booked at a popular provincial park, it would have been difficult to move the dates.
i was home for 4 crazy hours of doing laundry and unpacking and repacking and being reunited with my derek and my kids before printing off directions and heading to emily provincial park to meet up with my mom.
the first night it rained, and my tent leaked.  the following morning (elliot’s birthday) i re-staked my guy wires, and while making elliot’s birthday breakfast a deluge of rain flooded us out of our site.  we were at the bottom of a hill, and that was the closest thing to a flash flood that i’ve ever seen.  we ate soggy pancakes and sausage in my van before heading into town where we got changed into dry clothes in a walmart bathroom.  we then drove around aimlessly before checking showtimes at the local cinema and settling down to watch the smurfs on the big screen.  it wasn’t at all the beach that i’d been hoping for, and it wasn’t quite the awesome birthday that i had planned for elliot, but it was a fair plan B, and the next day was sunny and sunburn-y and we had a great time at the beach (at least i remembered sunblock on my kids!).

moments after finishing the 2011 photo with anne, elliot ran out of the water shouting “don’t move!!” to me. he quickly grabbed his fishing net and used the pole to scratch a heart into the sand at my feet just to say “i love you, mom.”

when the rain pushed us out of our site early on the final day, the kids and i headed home where i promptly sat on the couch and died.  the previous 2½ weeks had drained me of every ounce of energy that my body had to offer, and now that i was home it had no reason to put on the charade of being awake any longer.  when derek woke me up a second after i shut my eyes, he’d unpacked the van and made lunch and wound the clocks ahead by an hour and a half.

i had a day of laundry and cleaning and planning a birthday party yesterday, and today was full of executing those plans for a perfect birthday party for my 7 year old.  from the time i woke up to the moment the last child left tonight, every thought was “birthday party, birthday party, i’m never going to get this done in time for the birthday party.”  i even prayed “God, please give me more time that i actually have, because there’s no way i can pull this off.”
thankfully, i was sweeping up the last dustpan-full when the first guest arrived, and the party was a success.  elliot felt loved, and that was the ultimate goal.

pokéball cupcakes, staryu cookies, make your own pokémon mask, and pin the flame on the charmander!

despite the fact that tomorrow will be another busy day of cleaning up after a party and packing suitcases and finding food to eat without doing groceries, and despite the fact that this has become my normal routine, i’m having a really great summer!  my only lament is that with the fullness of schedule, the time seems to be flowing by more quickly.  thankfully, when i look back on the summer in just a few short weeks, i’ll have a great many things to fondly reminisce about.

August 11, 2011 at 23:14 1 comment

last week in pictures

the theme of last week was totally “family & friends”.  i’m already super late with this post, so i’m just going to get straight to it:

wednesday was a super-pivotal day for team gilmore.  derek’s older brother kevin** (and sometimes his friend) have been staying with us for the last 2 years while he’s been at college.  last wednesday we celebrated not only the end of his college career, but also the milestone birthday of derek’s youngest brother, daniel.  elliot has 8 uncles, and his favourite by far is “uncle dan”.  my in-laws brought cake & pizza and we had a grand celebration while simultaneously emptying the top floor of our house.

immediately after the first party, we headed out to the francois’ house to celebrate dwayne’s birthday.  two parties in one day- totally my kind of week!   we had a lot of fun with friends, chicken wings and more yummy cake.  my kids were total champions and accommodated the late night really well by crashing at the francois house.  there was some initial resistance (party downstairs vs sleep) but i have to give my kids props because without their cooperation, we wouldn’t have been able to stay up way too late, eat too much food and discover fat booth (which became the app of the week and the source of many many laughs).  also going to give homeschooling props because without the great sleep-in the next day, the rest of the week would have been impossible.

and now props to God, because wow– i prayed that my homeschooled kids would have more time to play with their friends (y’know… social skills and comradery and all…) and last week was FULL!   tuesday through sunday- every day was full of play time and with minimal initiation on my part.   in the above pictures my kids are playing at the heemskerk house, which is one of their favourite places to be.  there’s anne colouring with her princess buddy alora, and then two of the kids in the awesome tree fort, and then the last one is of the heemskerk ladies attacking elliot on the trampoline.   the funniest thing was elliot’s casual conversation with rachel later on when they were having a snack together:  “so, rachel.  how many kids should we have?  we can have 2, 4, 10, or even 100!”  elliot been pretty convinced for the last 2 years that rachel will be his wife someday, even though we keep telling him that he’s too young to make those decisions.  there’s just no arguing with a gilmore boy, and to be honest i wouldn’t mind the union one bit.  y’know, in 20 or so years.

not only did we celebrate with the gilmores last week, but the kids and i were also able to head down to niagara on easter sunday and surprise my parents when we showed up at their church for sunday school.   that was a really long day for myself and the kids- we woke up at 5:30!  pretty crazy, but the 3 hours sleep deficit was worth it because we got to say goodbye to derek (he had to work) before leaving and we arrived in niagara with plenty of time to spare. the above picture shows most of those in attendance while we attempted to have a proper sit-down dinner all at one table.  there are about 5 people not in the shot, and of course melissa was out of province so she couldn’t make it either, but this is a pretty accurate glimpse of my chaotic lebrun family!   all of the cousins were under one roof though, and i love seeing them all play with each other now that they’re getting older.

so that’s my review of last week.  i know i summarized quite liberally, but i’ve been really busy cleaning the top floor, moving the rooms that had been stored in the basement back up to their normal rooms,  moving the kids into their own rooms from the shared space they had while we were a bigger family, and of course fitting in the usual stuff like baking/cooking/homeschooling/running errands/yard work/gym and bla bla bla.  there is never a shortage of excuses for being late!

**edit: kevin is derek’s younger brother, but daniel’s older.  whupps.

April 28, 2011 at 11:19 1 comment

march break

we didn’t technically observe march break.  at least we didn’t stop doing school for the week just because the rest of north america did.  the week that we went to great wolf lodge ended up being a no-school week, as well as the several weeks after that where one or the other of the kids were sick.   i’m not starting to feel stressed out about the school schedule yet, but definitely “aware” that if we take any more time off then we’ll be doing school into the summer.   we did however take monday off for a “field trip” , which is a homeschooler’s term for “something better than school came along.”

every year desiree, mom and myself (with our kids) head out to the sugar bush at white meadow farms in vineland.  this year derek came along with us, which i was really grateful for because i still wasn’t 100% better from being sick the days before, and i had major insomnia the night before i would have been making the 2+ hour drive.    also because he was with us we were able to take our time coming home, knowing that nobody was waiting for their family to return to them.

the sugar bush was even more fun than last year, even though the horse-drawn carriage was absent and the weather was absolutely freezing.  each year my kids are a little bit bigger, another year older,  have become more independent, and actually enjoy learning from each demonstration on our path to the pancake house.  i don’t have to hold their hands or take rocks out of their mouths or ask them not to pick their nose while i’m trying to take a picture.  they put up their hands to ask a question after the demonstrations, and patiently wait in line for their turns at making maple syrup.  plus the added bonus that when it’s cold outside like it was this year, i don’t have to keep pulling their hats down over their ears or their mittens back over their hands.  as much as i lament not having babies anymore, i really do appreciate having older kids, especially when we do fun stuff like going to the sugar bush.

some highlights of the trip for me were watching the kids have a blast during a spontaneous square dance in the middle of the woods (you can see the fiddler behind the kids in the pics),   going through the tap-line maze in the woods, watching elliot read every informative billboard, each moment that we stood in front of a campfire and our clothes absorbed the campfire smell, watching derek correct one of the “pioneers” when she incorrectly used the word “diameter” instead of “circumference”,  thawing our fingers in the pancake house and eating fresh maple syrup,  and meeting the 5-day old baby goat at the petting zoo.

after we said goodbye to dez & my mom, and on our way to meet a new little baby and see some old friends, derek and i drove past the most surprising and beautiful gorge, made even more magnificent because it was so unexpected.    we turned around and parked, and then took the kids and the camera closer to appreciate the beauty of the water gushing down the side of the escarpment.

we didn’t have the equipment, and the sun was against us, so we weren’t able to fully-capture the height and power of the waterfall, but enough of a picture to help us preserve the memory, and i thoroughly enjoyed the spontaneous photoshoot.

and as if we needed any further reminder of how beautifully God creates;

after the sugar bush, and the gorge, we stopped at our friends’ place to meet their sweet little daughter, charlotte.  we had a great visit catching up with the grants.  elliot showed lyndsay how to work a DS, lynday’s mom read books to all the kids, and we drank hot chocolate and yacked it up until the midgets started to feel a little too comfortable in that home and started running around like monkeys.   we packed the kids into the van and made our way back home, stopping in at ikea for some supper and browsing (and to let the energetic kids loose in the playroom) while we waited for traffic to clear.      it was a great and full day, and since we’d packed so much into it, we were free to finish up a solid week of school with the rest of the days of march break.     i’m sure that as the weather gets nicer there will be many more spontaneous “field trips”  before the year is up, but hopefully i can be disciplined enough to get our work done before the public schools are out for the summer!

March 20, 2011 at 21:57 1 comment

niagara visit #898304958439

this past weekend i had my second opportunity to take photos of my youngest sister and her little family while i was in niagara for one of our sorta-monthly sister knitting parties.  the first time was a couple summers ago on her wedding day, and this time it was to celebrate her family while they wait for baby #2 to come along.  basically i just followed them around and told them where to stand when a neat spot came along.  they took me to the short hills in font hill (a lot of hills) and once again i realize that i lived in niagara most of my life and didn’t know about any of the great stuff there!  there’s so much more than just clifton hill and the gorge!    here are some of the edits:

November 21, 2010 at 23:34 1 comment

summer kick-off

last weekend team gilmore headed down to niagara for my daddy’s annual barbecue.  it happens every year, and every year i blog about it in an attempt to make all of you realize what an awesome family i come from.

every year is a little different, mostly because our [already huge] family is growing and i have 10 or 11 nieces and nephews now (can never keep it straight) plus all of the second-cousins that are being born to my first cousins.  it takes a bit of skill to remember the names of us all, especially since the majority are fair-skinned and blonde-headed.
another thing that makes it a bit different, is that my own little midgets are getting progressively older and more independent.  i actually had time to sit and visit with my sisters and cousins  (and practice some name-remembering skills) without running after my kids every three seconds.  in fact, at the end of the day i realized that i’d hardly seen my kids at the party, and that’s definitely a sign of them getting older.

it was a whirlwind of a weekend, and i hardly have words to explain where the time went.  i just know that the time flew by, and at the end of the weekend i was satisfied with how it was spent.

here’s a picture of my nephew and second-cousin sharing a special moment during dinner.  i think it adequately captures the awesomeness of my big family :)

July 3, 2010 at 12:39 Leave a comment

last weekend

last weekend pretty much KILLED me!  it was a wonderful way to die though, so i thought i’d write from the after-life to tell you all about it.  it all started with a knitting party…

it ALWAYS starts with a knitting party!  i know that the world in general doesn’t get the “knitting party” thing, and can’t imagine it being fun or even why those words are juxtaposed.  but we do these knitting parties so that my sisters, my mom and i can all stay in touch with each other, and trust me– this is a group worth staying in touch with!  the food theme this month was “mexican” and hosted at pauline’s house (she recently came back from a trip to mexico).   after all of the yummy food,  the lebrun sisterhood (and mom, who i automatically include in that group) banned together to surprise pauline with a new sewing machine so that she could release her inner Martha.  it was a “just because” gift, and she had an awesome reaction.  after all of the food, the suprises and of course, knitting, i pulled out snorta.  i got snorta for mother’s day, and i was SO looking forward to playing it with becky, noah and all my sisters!  we had a great time yelling animal noises at each other and getting rowdy late into the evening.

the next morning i met up with my friend sherri at a little greasy spoon on the canal in st. catharines.  we ordered breakfast, were entertained by my kids chatter and caught up on the what’s-what of our lives since the last time we’d seen each other.  sherri and i have been friends since grade 7!  i don’t know what grade i’d be in now if we were still counting, but it amounts to ALOT of years as friends!    after breakfast (and the unfathomable chaos of sorting out my bill) we went for a walk on the canal path where my kids got to watch a boat go under a bascule bridge.  (sherri, i totally looked that up.  and i didn’t know what it was called before!).   eventually we headed back to our cars and our respective homes.  it was a good visit, and great to get some fresh air and enjoy the beautiful day.
we went back to becky and noah’s place and spent (no joke) the rest of the day on ATVs.   my parents used to farm about an acre of their land (which they referred to as “the garden”… an acre of garden!) and last weekend that area was a veritable swamp!  it was awesome!  also the paths through the woods and brush made it so adventurous.    i took a break after a few hours to bat a ball with greg (berni’s husband) and when i wasn’t batting, i was chasing the balls that my other family members hit (some weren’t such a huge run… ahem… berni…. cough, cough..).  i felt so rebellious every time that i took off after a ball, knowing that i shouldn’t be running but remembering my love for the sport every time i took off.  my knees are still feeling the results of that one though, despite my return to physio stretches.  boo-urns.  and then back on the ATV!  my mom ordered pizza and we all ate outside around the huge fire that my daddy built.  sounds like a really great day, right?   it totally was!
and then after i got my kids showered and into bed that night (where they fell asleep INSTANTLY) and i spent 20 minutes brushing mud globs out of my hair, my mom and i headed over to desiree’s for more knitting and a movie.  and candy.  yay!

there's mud on her teeth!gotta refuel!

when sunday morning dawned, i was so exhausted!  and i hurt.  like, all over.  every muscle group was sore! my daddy made me breakfast (his sunday morning breakfasts are legendary) and then i packed up the car and headed to my parents church, making it just in time to get to my dad’s sunday school class.  after church i said goodbye to the family, and then the kids and i headed home.  we stopped on the way for a lunch picnic in the car, and not long after that the midgets were asleep.  absolutely no surprise there!  my kids had so much fresh air and exercise that weekend, and they loved every moment of it.  when we got home, i succumbed to my exhaustion.  i didn’t care where i was or who was there or if my sleep for the night would be wrecked– i was passing out and nobody could stop me.   it was a wonderfully deep sleep and try as i might, i couldn’t come out of it.    and that is why i say, niagara killed me.

May 22, 2010 at 11:07 2 comments

my life in pics