A Valentine Adventure

Dennis and I have had a long standing tradition to trade planning responsiblities for Valentine’s Day each year. This year was my turn to plan.

I wasn’t feeling very creative- which is not unusual. When a friend asked me last Monday what we were doing for Valentine’s Day, I expressed my lament over not having a clue. She asked me if I’d ever considered renting a cottage.

No, I hadn’t. But it seemed like a good idea, so I considered it then. My friend even offered to watch our girls while we had some time away. Great! I started making some phone calls. Things came together rather quickly and soon I was secretly planning a getaway.

According to tradition we keep our Valentine’s Day plans secret from each other. So I was answering phone calls in the bedroom, running around town doing various errands and trying to keep it all from Dennis. I packed the car with our luggage and the girls luggage while he was busy doing other things so he wouldn’t see me.

On Wednesday around 3:30pm I started getting the girls up from their naps early. Dennis was working on some ministry expense reports at the computer and hadn’t a clue what was going on. Hearing little chirpy kid voices, he finally came over to the bedroom door to see what was going on. I told him to get his coat on.
You should have seen his face. He started running around like a crazy person. “What do you mean, ‘Get my coat on?’ Oh! Are we going somewhere? Do I need anything?” I just smirked and didn’t say much. It was fun seeing him totally confused.
We dropped the girls off at my friend’s house. I blindfolded Dennis with a dish towel (another tradition) and we took off. I was almost giddy with excitment for pulling off this big surprise. Usually I manage to surprise him at Valentine’s Day, but only with the activity and not the timing of it.

The cottage we were renting is about 1/2 hour from where we live. I had a map and directions from the cottage people. And having a map, I felt pretty confident.

I obeyed the directions and turned at the first right after the road I was supposed to be watching for. It was a snowy road. At the end of it I started realizing it wasn’t the right road. None of the numbers were matching up. I stopped. I couldn’t turn around without backing up- right into a big snowbank. A bit of poor driving if I ever saw some. Poor Dennis, he was still blind-folded. He was like, “Whaaa…?”

We got out and after scrounging around in the snow for awhile we decided that we were stuck beyond pushing out. We grabbed our suitcase and started walking down this snowy side road. The road had two tracks on it- one going in and one coming out. After walking for 15 minutes or so I realized we weren’t going the right way. This didn’t even look like civilization. We turned around and walked back to the van, pulling the suitcase behind us.

We walked out to the highway next. It was getting a little cold and the sun was setting. We went right up the highway with our suitcase in tow. Suddenly I saw the sign for our road! It wasn’t the ‘first right’ after all. Down the snowy side road we walked. Thump-a-thump came the suitcase behind. I stiffled giggles and Dennis seemed slightly amused as well. Finally we saw the cottage. What a beautiful sight to behold!

After we thawed our frozen hands and feet we called the tow truck to come get our van out of the snowbank. Dennis had to run back over to where we had left it to meet the tow truck driver, who happened to be his ex-uncle. He kindly informed him that his wife backed the van into the snow.

The cabin was beautiful.

The next day we took a hike on the frozen lake. This is fun for me, since I come from the land of no lakes and the ones we have never freeze over enough to walk on. We walked around a cute little island and made messages and pictures in the snow.

When we got back to the cabin I tried the door. It was locked. “Ummm….? Dennis? Do you have the key…?” You know what the answer was. The key was happily laying on the table inside the cottage, right next to our happy little van key.

Fortunately, someone who had been to the cottage previously had not obeyed the cottage rental rules which indicate that all doors and windows must be locked and secured before leaving. We found a tiny little basement window open and Dennis squeezed through. Yippee!

We completed a 500 piece puzzle while we were there. This is the third puzzle I’ve attempted and the first I’ve completed in 10 years. And we did it all in one day. And not one grubby little hand messed it up. 🙂

At 4:30pm I told Dennis it was time to go. We planned to go out to eat and one of our favorite local restaurants for supper. We loaded our van and took off. Well, kind of. We tried to get up the driveway to the entrance road and finally managed to umph ourselves outta there after 3 tries. The next step was to drive down the long and narrow road that turned up onto the highway. We couldn’t make it. 3 tries, no use. We were stuck. Again. (I mistakenly thought this sort of thing only happened once a year.)

We walked back to the cottage. I admired the tracks of our suitcase on the road from the night before. They almost made me smile again. Back at the cottage we were informed by our auto club insurance that they didn’t cover people who knowingly drive down snowy, un-publicly maintained sideroads. Oh.

So after much disgust and maybe just a couple I-told-you-so-s we swallowed what little pride we had left and called the cottage rental company for help. Our friend runs it, and her kind husband drove all the way out with his all-wheel drive car to pull us out. It didn’t take much, just a few yoinks with the rope.

Supper was left-over chips and salsa.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


The Festivites Begin

It is that time of year, and all sorts of fun things are happening as we gear up for Christmas! Tonight the girls were extensively playing “Mary and the baby Jesus” complete with imaginary hay, gifts of gold, frankensense (sp?) and myrrh, and blankets tied over their heads for shawls. It didn’t seem to bother them that they were all Mary with only one baby.

Grandma VE arrived yesterday! Today the girls showered her with attention (maybe more than she could handle?) and hugs. She brought some craft materials with her so the girls worked on those for awhile. Then this afternoon we did some last minute shopping.

Our town had a Christmas parade the first weekend in December. The girls had lots of fun and collected a LOT of candy. I guess people can’t pass up the three of them sitting on the curb. It made their day and fortunately we are still working our way through that basket.

If this was one of my only gifts for Christmas, I’d be pretty happy.

Merry Christmas!

Tis the Season

It is so nice to have a Saturday at home! Dennis and the girls went outside this morning to help Gramma put some Christmas lights up out there. Grampa and Gramma also set up the Christmas tree this afternoon and we put the few special ornaments that we’ve kept on the tree this evening. It seems a little early to me as usually I don’t allow myself to decorate for Christmas until December begins. This year I had the thought that if this is the last Christmas we’ll celebrate in Canada for quite some time it would be nice to make the most of it.

The girls have been working on more artwork lately. Squeaky likes writing stories. Often she’ll write them on paper and illustrate them with cute pictures of bunnies and kangaroos (two of her favorite things). Sometimes we does the stories on her board and we have to take pictures before she deletes one page to go on to another. Here’s the latest:

Do you need an interpretation? It says, “Once upon a time there was a palace filled with gold.” The little circles are coins, there is also a pearl necklace and two sets of earrings.

Button is getting very good at drawing her little guys.

Last weekend we participated in an outdoor play here called the “Trek to Bethlehem”. We played the part of a family who stopped for a rest around a fire on the side of the road to Bethlehem. This basically consisted of us dressing all up in long robes and eating as much as we could as fast as we could before different groups came through and we had to say our lines. It was fun and the girls enjoyed all the special treats.

On the second night Winnie came up to me and gleefully showed me this granola bar. She was so pleased to have found it on the ground. I stuck it in my bag thinking it was one of the ones I had brought along with us. When we got home, I realized that it was a different brand! Since our station at the trek had been next to the bandits Dennis thought it was pretty funny to think that perhaps Winnie had robbed the bandits.
I suppose that little story could have been written more cleverly. I am too tired to do make anything sound clever. I apologize to you gentle reader, if you are disappointed.

Good night!


Visiting the Sugar Bush

This week we checked out an authentic maple sugar bush. A family friend near Bancroft has tapped some trees so we all invited ourselves over to go tromping through his woods. It was a great day for it.

We walked back on a trail through the woods to the sugar shack. In many ways it reminded me of our little Jungle Camp home complete with the constant reminders to the kids to steer clear of the blazing stove.

We all got to try handfuls of sap that was coming directly from the tree. It had a mildly sweet flavor and was quite watery. Then our friend let us try some of the sap that had been boiling for awhile. It was a bit sweeter and thicker. Apparently it takes days for it to reduce to syrup.

It was my first experience in a sugar bush. I was impressed that it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. Today Dennis suggested that we tap some trees here on camp- all we need to get is 40 cups of sap for one cup of syrup, he said. I reminded him that in Tech Tips we learned that time is a non-renewable resource.

valentines and hockey

Yesterday as many of you may recall, was Valentine’s Day. To celebrate, Dennis participated in a hockey game against a group of guys who were visiting from the New Tribes Bible Institute in Jackson, Michigan. Actually, I think it had very little do to with the fact that it was Valentine’s Day. Squeaky, her little friend who was visiting us for the day and I attended.

Squeaky’s voice could be heard above all others, “Go, Daddy, go! Go, Daddy, go!!!” There was a guy on the other team named Dan, and he had several people cheering for him as well. Squeaky couldn’t figure out why everyone was cheering for “Dad” when it was really her dad.

At suppertime we gave the girls a few little gifts; some stickers, two chocolates, and some fun new bath toys, bath crayons and some little tablets that turn the water different colors. The two older girls had a great time drawing graffiti all over our bathtub and tile walls. They first turned the water pink, then added blue to make, well, blue (I guess the blue is stronger than the pink), and finally they added a yellow tablet in an attempt to get green. It was more like murky brownish green, but they thought it was cool.