Hello to all my loyal readers, friends and family. 2016 was a very interesting year in the McGuire family. It started off with the usual kiss from my sweetheart in honour of the anniversary of our engagement, and then we woke up in what would turn out to be a unique year for us. The first thing we did as a family that was noteworthy was to spend two days at Great Wolf Lodge, just my husband, our daughter, myself and my daughter’s 8 year old friend. We were given a coupon to go on this vacation from Christmas and it allowed for a family of four, so, for that weekend at least, we ‘adopted’ my daughter’s friend and brought her along. What a fun weekend. We splashed around in a couple well heated pools, a wading pool and the girls did a water obstacle course. We all took turns on a few of the water slides and took a couple trips on the lazy river (also nicely heated). Our first evening there we all enjoyed a yummy and plentiful buffet followed by some time at the arcade. That night there was a storyteller with animatronic animals in the lobby and the girls got to enjoy an evening of stories and songs with a bunch of other families and their kids. That was quite a fun experience, and by the afternoon of the second day, we were happily worn out.
The day after Great Wolf Lodge, my family came to visit while we celebrated my mom’s birthday with Chinese food. Sadly, my daughter had picked up a stomach bug somewhere along the line, and slept through most of the party in our bed with the door open to the living room so she could at least hear the festivities. That was a sad day for her, but it was made up for many times over throughout the year.
This summer my daughter and I spent a whole day at Canada’s Wonderland, going on a few rides, exploring the Dinosaurs Alive exhibit and seeing a couple fun shows. We went on bumper cars, a few kiddie type rides and I got her on Thunder Run which she wanted to go on again, but the line was much too long and it was the end of the day. Still, for her first time there, I think she had fun. Man did that bring back memories. I have wonderful ones of the times I went to Wonderland in high school with my friends. It was great to see that while there were many new things, many things hadn’t changed. Wonderland was a great day, as were the few times we went the Toronto Zoo. Every time we went, we saw different animals than before and had a wonderful time.
This summer was something new for us too. My daughter went to a week of day camp at one of our local churches and then she spent a whole week of overnight camp at a Christian camp in my old hometown. That was a good experience for her, even if she did get a bit homesick. She made new friends though and really enjoyed the activities, atmosphere and everything they did. Shortly after the week of overnight camp, my daughter, husband and I went down to the camp he volunteers at every summer and spent the week. That was also really nice. I have been volunteering as a cook at this camp every summer and almost wasn’t sure I’d be able to get the time off to go down. But God paved the way, and we did have the chance to go down in August.
A very sad thing happened in June, which has had a ripple effect and is something not everyone in my office has gotten over yet. It was a difficult time before June, as my boss struggled with colorectal cancer, but as mid-June approached, it was easy to see he was fighting a losing battle. So it was that on June 18th, 2016 we said goodbye to one of the best bosses I have ever had, one of the funniest, kindest men you could ever hope to meet, and someone who will be very sorely missed, not only among his family and friends, but by his staff and patients too. Before his passing, he sold our dental practice and from there, things began to change. Not all change is bad of course, but it has been quite the adjustment period and we are all still grieving to varying degrees.
In September my daughter started Grade 3, and to her delight, discovered that she has a favourite teacher from Junior and Senior Kindergarten. Not only that, but she also was in a class with one of her best friends from the year before. So began a really good year for my daughter.
October 21st to the 29th was our big family vacation. My husband’s two sisters, their husbands and kids, my husband’s parents, my husband, our daughter and myself all embarked on the trip of a lifetime. For one week, we spent time together on The Oasis of The Seas, a huge cruise ship (the third largest in the world) in the Royal Caribbean fleet. What a ride! We saw CATS, the Broadway production, Come Fly With Me, another show that was acrobatics, aerobatics and diving, as well as water acrobatics, all in one show, and were dazzled by all these live, incredible performances. The food was incredible, with almost every night our whole family enjoying a fantastic meal in the American Icon Grill, with a funny, helpful, professional waiter. The whole family was treated like royalty the whole cruise. For the most part, we had incredible weather, and the pools (all four of them plus a pool with a current where you simply swam around in circles) and hot tubs (again, four) were never crowded, despite the huge cruise being at capacity. There was a kids’ club that my daughter, niece and nephew went to for a couple hours each day and while they were there, the adults did their own thing. I got a lot of writing done while on board.
And then of course, there were the ports of call. We stopped in Labadee, Haiti (Royal Caribbean’s private island) for a beach day, Falmouth, Jamaica for a shopping day and did our excursions in Cozumel, Mexico as well as some shopping. A more perfect cruise you will never find, from the waiters, to the entertainment on board, to the porters who made up our rooms every day and almost every day left us towel animals. It was a vacation full of wonderful memories that I and my family will cherish forever.
In November my two siblings and I celebrated what we call, ‘The Triple Birthday’ as we do every year. Since my brother and I are only one week apart date wise (I’m the 16th and he’s the 27th) and my sister was born December 9, to save travel since the siblings live in three different places, we all come together for one ‘triple birthday’, usually at my Mom and Dad’s house. This year was no different and yet still special. There was the usual laughter, fun, food and presents and this year we even played a few rounds of Balderdash as we all hung out in my parents’ cozy living room near the pot bellied wood stove. What a wonderful afternoon to evening we had.
Christmas was quite the event this year, as my family celebrated it over four days. First, since Christmas Eve landed on a Saturday and I didn’t have to work, my little family celebrated Christmas then. I got all the presents under our ‘holiday japonica tree’ since our living room is now too small for a Christmas tree. See below.
All the lightest ornaments we could find went on the tree. Fortunately I had a light angel ornament with a battery operated candle in it, so we even got our angel on the top of the tree. It’s a sad little plant, but it still makes me smile. Sometimes you need to get creative when you live in a tiny space like we do. And my husband is very creative. Thanks to him, once we get the ornaments and garland off in a few days, we should start seeing some lovely, rose-like blooms on this plant from January to May. Hopefully. Anyways, so I got all the presents under the tree and my family had our own little Christmas. Christmas Eve in the evening we had our usual church service and then we came home, got my munchkin to bed and I made up my daughter’s stocking so she would still have something to open Christmas morning. Then of course, we had the Christmas Day church service followed by a wonderful afternoon to evening with my dad’s sister, her husband and their family with all the little cousins running around and getting into mischief. Boxing Day we all sat around in our pjs at my sister’s sister in-law’s house eating ham, salad, potatoes and way too much dessert while we all chatted and had a great time. On the 27th we celebrated about 3 and a half hours south of us in my husband’s uncle’s church for my mother in-law’s side of the family to share their Christmas. I have since joked that I could be half Jewish, having celebrated for four days.
Before all the chaos and though, about a week before, my daughter and her younger cousins had a PA day and since neither my mother in-law nor I had to work that day, we all took the subway downtown for a really fun day at Ripley’s Aquarium, where the kids got to put their hands in a shrimp tank, pet sting rays and watch as huge sharks swam over their heads in the shark tunnel.
This evening rounded off the year with a lovely visit with friends. We were invited to a very family friendly New Year’s Eve party where there were games and crafts for the kids, good food, wonderful time with friends and even a video countdown so the little ones would feel a part of the big event. Ironic actually, as my husband is now sawing logs on the couch in front of the TV, my daughter is completely conked and I don’t think I’ll be able to keep my eyes open to see 12:01am January 1st. Ah well. Maybe next year we’ll all have the energy to stay up late. For now, I’m going to sign off and wish you and yours a very Happy New Year as you enter 2017.
Until next time, keep dreaming and never give up.