Anniversary #36 – Cottage Weekend Away

For weeks I looked for a place to go. I had certain requirements….simple ones, really: I needed a lake so we could kayak, a kitchen so I could cook, INDOOR PLUMBING, and couldn’t cost a fortune!

Have YOU tried to rent a get-away spot lately? In the past, we had amazing luck with airbnb, but this year, holy smokes!!! What would have cost $80 or $90/night a year or so ago, is at least double now, and that’s IF you can find something available!!

I think I’m going to open an airbnb!!!

A-n-y-w-a-y….. I posted on Facebook that I was looking for something somewhat local. That was before we lost my mom, and I didn’t want to be far from home. I had a few responses, but each place I found lacking for one reason or another. You know, it just didn’t feel right.

Then my cousin called and left a message, “Connie, you know we have a cottage and you’re welcome to use it for FREE!” It was only an hour away, right on a lake, and INDOOR PLUMBING! I was SO thankful!!!

We booked it for September 10 weekend; our anniversary is actually September 7.

Then, out of nowhere, my mom got sick. She passed away August 29 (this will be for another blog, should I ever get to the point I can process this sufficiently enough to write about it). We wanted to have a graveside service, and the soonest date that worked for all the family, due to distance and work issues, was September 11. So we went to the cottage a week earlier than we had planned. To be honest, the timing was perfect. I really needed the time to get back on a somewhat even keel and begin to comprehend the loss and life going forward and to prepare for what I knew would be a difficult weekend ahead.

We arrived Friday afternoon, and stayed until Monday.

When we arrived, we were met with a special gift, a bottle of wine from France from my cousins. That was opened immediately and enjoyed with some cheese and olives from The Pickled Pig in Smiths Falls. I can’t recommend this business highly enough!

Dinner that night was salmon done in the air fryer (yes, I brought it, and half my kitchen with me!), Thai beans, fresh from the garden, grilled cinnamon fresh pineapple, and pesto quinoa and kale salad, with basil and kale from my garden. Finally, my basil has grown well enough to actually get a bit of an abundance!

We had gorgeous weather for kayaking! It was a beautiful lake we were on and we took full advantage. The first night, I went out for a little paddle on my own (I couldn’t wait), but then we went out together each day after.

Supper #2 was a braised pork loin with a white wine, rosemary/sage sauce, and roasted baby carrots (again, in the air fryer), and cauliflower mash with fresh chives. I added thinly sliced mushrooms to the sauce, though not called for in the recipe.

Cooking with wine… 🙂

Had to take a break while the pork loin was simmering to perfection…. Yeah, yeah, I know….wine in the sauce, wine while I cook, wine on the dock…. <3

Dinner #3 – Chicken Marsala, roasted potatoes, veggie stir-fry (again, air fryer!! 🙂 )

It was a wonderful, and much needed, weekend away together. Laughter, games, kayaking, and tears….

On our last night, Glenn went to bed early and I stayed up on the screened in porch, wanting to savour every last moment before facing the week ahead….

I can’t even begin to express how thankful I am/was for this precious time.

Thank you for the 36 wonderful, challenging, chaotic years, babe. There is no-one else I would want to weather all the ups and downs with besides you. No-one else would have ever put up with me… <3

Thirty-five years and feel like we’re just getting started…. The best is yet to come!!!!

This has probably been our most celebrated anniversary to date!

It al began September 2 with a backyard gathering with all nine of our children, some of their spouses/partners, and my mom…..and a special family friend that dropped by for a few minutes.

The kids did the whole thing! They all helped clean up the property from the abundance of construction debris, worked hard on decorations, had special music playlists at the ready, and organized the whole “ceremony”. It was absolutely everything that I could have wished for….. It’s not often we manage to get everyone home at the same time, and there isn’t anything that makes as happy as having us all together.

Now we are off on our own trip for four days at Couple’s Resort, just outside of Algonquin Park in Whitney Ontario. We definitely splurged, but 35 years, through all the ups and downs, highs and lows, happiness and heartache…..well, we decided it was worth it.

Five course dinner each night and breakfast every morning are included. I’m going to have to stop eating for a week when I get home to undo all the “damage”!!! The food has been so good!!! The staff have been amazing, and there are real, wood-burning fireplaces in every room.

Glenn’s favourite breakfast…….cheesecake!!! We were too full to eat it at supper. White chocolate blueberry…..

Day 1 – we went for a paddle. MY first time in a ‘real’ kayak. It was more tippy than I am used to, and the entrance and exit were not pretty….and that is not an exaggeration in the least!!!! Like I said in a Facebook post, I know no-one here and never have to see them again…, whatever!!!!! It was one thing checked off my bucket list…and I really don’t care what anyone thought. They don’t know that 65lb were lost so that I would at least be willing to attempt this, or that I fight vertigo almost every day to one degree or another, so for me, this was a BIG deal!!! And I don’t ever have to do it again…. LOL.

The second morning, I went out early on my own. The fog was thick and it was a balmy 6 degrees.. Brrrrr…. I took the kayak that I felt most comfortable and secure in, and truly enjoyed the quiet, the scenery, and even the fog.

This was the extent of the wildlife I saw…..

A cormorant….
Geese coming in for a landing…….

Then we had breakfast, showered and changed and hopped in the car. We spent the day with some of our kids (even the furry ones 🙂 )in Huntsville….then they came back to our room to hang out in the hot tub.

Today it rained all morning, but the sun is now coming out. I think we’ll hit the hot tub. :). I have all the best intentions, but five minutes…..ten if we’re lucky, and I have had enough. We’ll go back in tonight when it is nice and chilly outside.

I can’t overstate how nice it has been to get away and just be alone, hidden from the outside world. But, as wonderful as it has been, it doesn’t compare with our special day spent with our children and their companions, and my mom.

Again, as wonderful as it has been….and it really has been wonderful, I really missed cooking for us. Cooking is my passion and my love language!! LOL. My favourite thing when we go away is to find a place to stay that has a really nice kitchen, and cook things we wouldn’t necessarily make at home. But I am going to focus on the rest of our time together here and appreciate all that these moments have to offer.

We feel a real shift coming in our roles. We rarely, if ever, parent our kids anymore…..which is harder to let go of than you may imagine. Instead, we are their biggest fans, their most loyal allies, and we have seen them embrace the values and vision that we have carried for many years. Ironically, they weren’t things we taught systematically, or even intentionally…..they just were the ‘why’ that kept us moving forward when it would have been easier to quit. Apparently, it didn’t go unnoticed.

Going forward, I feel that our roles are more behind-the-scenes. I am looking forward to sitting back and watching each member of our family take their unique role, bring their thoughts and feelings, strengths and weaknesses, passions and skills, to the family table and work together as a multi-faceted organism to set up a generational legacy that won’t just be for us, or for the future generations in our family, but a catalyst for many……the weary, the broken, the abused, and the lonely….for there is no shortage of any of these things. And to whom much has been given, there is a responsibility to pay it forward.

We have talked a lot about the last 35 years… What would we change? What would we have done differently. While there are few major decisions and life changes that we would do differently, I would have lightened up a lot and enjoyed the kids more. I am always keenly aware of my parenting short-comings, and wish I was more warm and fuzzy as a wife. But some of those same qualities and attributes that I often lament and despise, were also the same ones that made me get out of bed and face the day on those mornings that I woke up feeling totally overwhelmed by life circumstances and the uncertainty of the future.

So….for better or worse, for richer for poorer…..til death do us part. I used to always tease Glenn that he would never leave me because he couldn’t afford the child support. Now I play this song for him……. “Whose gonna love you if I don’t…” LOL

Thirty-five years, and it’s come to this…… 🙂

Happy anniversary, Babe….. <3

My Relentless Pursuit……Some Stops Along the Way – Greece.

I’ve been told many times that I should write a book. That’s likely never going to happen in the traditional form, not because I don’t have stories to tell… can’t be married for almost 35 years and raise nine children and not have a few good stories!! But I wouldn’t know where to start or how to keep it short.

But there are a few events in our journey that definitely have been memorable……like our trip to Greece.

We’d been married just a couple months shy of 4 years. In those four short years we were working out the kinks of being married, had suffered through the pain of a stillbirth, the joy of welcoming a daughter, and Glenn was learning to be ‘Dad’ to my son who was six years old when we got married.

We decided we would take a trip to Israel. We wanted to see in person some of the sites and places we had read about so often in our Bibles. We found an organized tour through 100 Huntley Street, which included nine days in Israel and five days in Greece.

Now anyone who knows me, knows that travelling abroad is just not my thing. To say that flying terrifies me, would be a huge understatement! But I figured if I was going to risk life and limb, this would be a trip worthy of the inevitable angst I would experience. It didn’t help that we were leaving our two children at home, Jeremy was ten and Stephanie only a year and a half. Oh, and I was also six months pregnant with our son Joel. But off we went…

Israel was amazing, though incredibly hot…..especially being pregnant. Unfortunately, much of it is a blur as it is nearly impossible to absorb all the information, history, and key events related to the whirlwind of places we visited, all in one trip. But we made it through the nine days, walked, I’m sure, hundreds of miles, and spent just as many dollars in phone calls, calling my mom who was staying with the kids. But by the time the nine days were over, I was done!! I missed my kids and I cried all the way from Israel to Greece, and all I could think was, “I am on the wrong freaking plane!!!” I wanted to go home!

We landed in Greece, boarded the bus with the rest of our tour group and headed for the Parthenon. I’m sure it was impressive, but I didn’t care. It was later afternoon when we boarded the bus again and headed for our hotel.

I don’t remember getting ready to go down for dinner…….my next recall is finding myself sitting down for our meal with two of the more elderly ladies from our group, at our table for four. It was Friday evening and our first time chatting with these two lovely ladies. I do remember that I had worked hard to stop the flow of tears before arriving for dinner and was determined to make the most of the evening.

Invariably, the conversation began and it wasn’t long before these ladies were asking about our lives. They asked Glenn if we had any children. I gulped and tried to deep breathe, repeatedly telling myself internally, “It’s okay, everything is okay, don’t cry. Glenn explained that we had a ten year old and little girl that was under two being well taken care of by grandma while we were gone. Then one of the ladies (I never did remember their names), but I do remember she was the one on the right, turned to me with much sympathy and concern, looking right into my eyes and said…. “You must really be missing them…”

There was no turning back, no dam that could have held back the tears that began to flow, and I sobbed out my answer, “Yes, I really do….”

Dinner was over. I don’t even know if I ate. We went back to our room and went to sleep…….well, Glenn went to sleep. Not me!!! I lay awake waiting for the morning light. I’m pretty sure Glenn had barely even become conscious before I had him up, begging him to go home.

This was Saturday morning and we weren’t due to fly home til Wednesday. I couldn’t even imagine 4-5 more days. We didn’t have a cell phone in those days, so knowing that his life would be nothing but misery for the next four days, Glenn (God bless him) reluctantly headed downstairs to find a phone booth and call the airport. Naturally, I was right behind him!

I stood outside the phone booth praying my heart out while he called to see what he could arrange. When he hung up and opened the door of the phone booth, I stood expectantly hoping for the best.

“The next flight out isn’t until Wednesday…” he said, but I could tell by the way he said it, he wasn’t telling me everything. “What EXACTLY did they say, Glenn?” I asked. He kind of squirmed, and hemmed and hawed and then started, “W-e-l-l-l….there is another flight but it leaves this morning at 8:30 (it was now around 7:30 – I should have woke him up at 4:00!!!). “We’ll never make it….” he declared.

We may have only been married four years, but it was long enough that he knew I was never going down without a fight. I mean, how do you know if you don’t try, right??? So, with resignation in his face, he listened as I begged “Let’s just try!! We’ll pack our bags and go to the airport and if we miss the flight we’ll just come back!”

I don’t think I’ve ever packed so fast!!!! We flew out the door and hailed a cab. We told the driver we wanted to go to the airport and he replied something in greek which we did not understand. We just kept saying airport and nodding our heads, yes! He spoke no English, we knew no greek….but off we went!!

NOW we know he was probably asking which airport…….we didn’t know there were two!!!! As luck would have it, he took us to the wrong one first!!! I have no idea how he realized that before we left the car, but he did and he got on his radio and called the right airport. I have NO idea what he told them, but when we pulled up to the airport doors, every staff member was standing along the path to the boarding gate waving us through and telling us to hurry. They never made us go through customs, never stopped us to pay the fee to change our travel date, never even looked to see if we had passports, but frantically just kept moving us forward. When we boarded the plane, everyone else was already seated and looking irritated, even border-line angry. I don’t know who that cab driver told them we were, but they had held the plane on the tarmac for almost half an hour to wait for us to board!!! I didn’t care if two hundred other passengers were ticked at us, I was going home!!!!

When Glenn tells people we’ve been to Greece, he says he saw the Parthenon and the airport!!!

HE can go back some day….

Tomorrow it’s back to reality, but these memories I will cherish forever….

My seven day work stretch couldn’t end quick enough. I worked until 11 p.m. Wednesday night and by 10 a.m. I was on the road, heading to see some of our children and grandchildren!!!

We had a nine or ten hour stretch ahead of us and it was a beauty of a day for driving!!! Sunshine, A/C, and great company for the trip….

We hadn’t gone 45 minutes yet!!!! LOL

Everything went well until we hit construction just north of North Bay….the one drawback of summer travel!!!

Anyway, I’m just going to flood the rest of this post with pics and captions, except to say that I had the most amazing week… I will cherish forever!!!

Fun in the sun….

Waiting for “Chippy…”

And he came…..right up on the deck with all of us sitting right there.

The adults just enjoying the day….

Then a two night (was only supposed to be one) stop over in Huntsville to see some of our other kids….

I found this little guy stowed away in my clothes when I searched my basket… I guess Macy didn’t want grandma to be lonely…. <3