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When David was just a baby, and I was struggling (physically and mentally) with nursing, I made a deal with myself: If we get through this battle, we’ll celebrate in Hawaii when David turns ten.

Fast forward: Mike and I turned forty, David is ten and we just got back from our 40-40-10 trip to Maui! It was epic and packed with adventures but, in full disclosure, here are the ten things you did not see on Instagram:

  1. Gas station dining: On the first night we were tired and jet-lagged (it’s a long journey and a 7-hour time change). We needed sleep and food – without knowing the area around the hotel, it was a gas station dining at its finest.
  2. Sunburnt on day 1: I researched reef-friendly sunscreens and came prepared but what we quickly learned is that we northern folk require a thick coat of sunscreen even when in the water. On the first full day, we got excited and jumped in the ocean unprepared (no sunscreen or rashguards on our backs). It only took a few minutes to realize our mistake… and I now own a lovely souvenir rashguard.
  3. The parking lot fail: We arrived kind of late for a hike (which was already stressing me out – the guidebook said to be there early!) and when we pulled up to the parking lot, a hiker-dude told us the lot was full. Without checking it out for ourselves, we drove a mile down the HILL to the overflow parking lot and hiked back up to the start. Halfway into the actual uphill hike, we passed the dude and all of his friends who apparently had no problem parking. We were the only dummies in the overflow and as Mike kept reminding me, I had to let it go. I have a hard time letting things go.
  4. YouTube and mall arcades are just as good as exploring: As amazing as a day in Hawaii can be… YouTube is just as cool (according to David).
  5. Death of the Garmin: My watch does not like the ocean. Damnnnn. It is still alive, but barely. I managed to get in my runs but the watch struggled more than me in the heat.
  6. Sunscreen beach battle: You’d think, after learning our lesson on Day 1, we’d all understand the importance of proper sunscreen application but nope, it’s still a big deal when you’re ten to take the time to slather your face with sunscreen.
  7. The “jellyfish”: Anyone who’s traveled with me knows I am not great at chilling (which is why I’ve never been to a southern island before). I like lists, I like plans and we went hard the first few days checking off so many amazing sights. By day five we were all toast, David was exhausted (sunstroke), so we simmered down and had a lazy morning. When we finally got to a beach, David went in and then came out in less than ten minutes complaining that he got stung by something. I never saw a jellyfish the whole time in Hawaii but there were others on the beach saying they were stung as well. Regardless, David was sure he was going to die. We left the beach and found some spray. Crisis diverted.
  8. The car incident: Maui roads are crazy y’all. We were warned about the Road to Hana: so beautiful but so insane. Nothing more exhilarating than driving around a cliff on bumpy roads without guardrails! And then there was the climb up and down (at night) from Haleakala National Park that made me want to vomit but the stretch between Waihee and Poelua Bay was terrifying! Two-way traffic on a one-lane road up and down cliffs, switchback after switchback. There was one point where we had to reverse back to a lookoff so on-coming traffic could pass. As we were coming around one corner, two cars coming our way squeezed pass forcing us to come way too close to the guardrail. On a positive note, at least our car scraped a guardrail rather than plummeting down the cliff!
  9. Whinny hikes and long drives: David is an excellent traveler. Mostly. He also has a lot of endurance, Mostly. But that doesn’t stop him from whining on hikes. Usually, it’s just the first few kilometers and then he’s okay. Give him a waterfall or river to jump in, and he’s happy but I quickly realized we were not going to be tackling anything more than five miles.
  10. Poor planning and fancy dining: I accidentally made a reservation at a restaurant on a wrong day. We set out on the road to Hana early and I figured nine hours would be plenty of time to see everything and make it to our six o’clock dinner reservation on the way home from Hana. At the last stop, I was barking at Mike and David to get out of the water and get in the car. We showed up to the ‘general store’ looking gross and sweaty only to realize it was way fancier than the name indicated. Oh well, the food was great and other people were dressed casually too. (10b. David didn’t eat his dinner but he drank a glass of chocolate milk and behaved well because we promised him $10 at the arcade if he was good while we enjoyed our meal).

All three of us had our moments but we also had a great time together. I can’t imagine going on this adventure without David – seeing things through the eyes of a child is a good reminder that life is more fun under the waterfall than just taking a picture of it.

PS. On the last day, before our evening flight out, we went to Toy Story 4 and ate at IHOP. I hate IHOP.

10 things I miss most about having a dog

I miss Henry like crazy – he was the best dog ever! Now that it has been three months, I’m sharing 10 things I miss most about having a dog:

  1. Walking through the door: It’s hard to enter the house without yelling hello Peach. He was never one to come running, and often he’d be hiding, but we always said hello.
  2. Cutting a slice of cheese: Henry’s favourite food was cheese – he’d always get a slice or two.
  3. Going for a walk: What’s the point? Seriously, what’s the joy of walking without a dog?
  4. The woods/park: There’s nothing more lovely than watching a dog run off leash, ears flapping – it’s hard going to the park without him. I also bust out a smile when dogs pop their head out a car window, but Henry never did that.
  5. Home alone: Working from home without someone to talk to and commiserate with is rough (dare I say ruff). Henry never liked it when I swore at my computer, so I much better behaved with him around.
  6. Bread bags: What do you do with empty bread bags and flyer bags?
  7. Mornings: Henry and I were both fans of mornings together. I miss that.
  8. Opening a can of tuna: I guess the tuna water goes down the drain now?
  9. Throwing sticks and finding tennis balls: It was like winning the lottery when Henry found a tennis ball on a walk. Now when I see an abandoned ball, I get excited, then sad.
  10. Pillow talk: He was a great pillow, I’d often end up on the floor with my head on his belly asking him for advice. I miss this the most.

I am working really hard at finding joy in these days without him, but there are moments when I’d rather wallow than adapt. On his last day, I wrote that I have never loved anyone unconditionally as much as I love Henry and I stand by this. Kids can be awesome. A family is amazing. Friends are great, but Henry was the one that never wore me down or broke my heart. He never talked back and was never a disappointment. People do this; I do this; we all do this.

He was a rescue dog, and as cliché it is, I rescued him but he rescued me. It was the best adventure.

I hate not being a dog family. I am scared that I want another dog, but I hate that it won’t be Henry, which is why I LOVE the dog episode (Cynology) of Ologies. Please listen – it’s so good. I went back and listened to it again today and here is one of the best things I ever heard (grab a tissue and start at 1:09:35) – it explains why every dog is the best dog ever. Waaaa!

“Who has the best dog in the world? We all do” – Brandon McMillan

I’d love to hear why your dog is the best dog ever. xo

PS. Don’t worry my cat-loving friends, Ologies has a cat episode too which makes me want a cat.

muggles and wizards and way bigger fans than me, oh my!

At the tail-end of our trip last month, we went to The Making of Harry Potter studio tour just outside of London. David and I had just finished reading the fifth book, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and watched the first four movies. I wasn’t sure what to expect since it’s a studio tour and not an adventure park. It sounded kind of boring, the cost was no joke and commute was long (2 hours, both ways via train, subway, and bus!) But despite my reservations, I knew it’d be exciting for David – he put up with running around Berlin, watching my marathon so we could do this.

I thought it’d be fun to share our top 10 favourite things from the day since it is Halloween and all…

  1. The fans. They’re legit and come in all shapes and sizes. I will admit, seeing the kids *and big kids* freak out when the bus pulled up to the studio was…. dare I say… magical.
  2. The staircase. The very first thing you see is the room under the stairs – it’s where it all started. The tour begins with a guided introduction with what I think is the better story, J.K. Rowling’s imagination and her ability to dream up this magical world and then how even after the first book was written, it was a little girl that convinced her dad that the movie(s) would be worth making… Lesson: Listen to kids, they know what’s good! Once we were given this little bit of history, the curtains were drawn, and the doors to the Great Hall were revealed (yes, I got goosebumps!)
  3. The Great Hall and the Goblet of Fire. This is where the guided tour ends. I won’t tell you whose name flew out from the Goblet of Fire.
  4. The sets. Once you’re out of the Great Hall, it’s up to you how fast you want to go through the rest of the building. There are tons of props, sets, costumes, and details about the production of the movie. The cast is just a small part of it all. It’s huge and full of many gems so make sure you eat before the journey.
  5. The props. Oh, so many props! As an art student who majored in design, learning about the makers of props and sets was pretty cool, they deserve so much credit.
  6. Butterbeer. Not going to lie, I went for the butterbeer. What the heck does it taste like?!? David and Mike were not fans, it’s fricking sweet, but I endured, got the picture and checked the experience off the list.
  7. The wands. David wanted a wand. I wanted a wand. David got a wand, but I resisted the temptation. I was pretty excited however that he chose Hermione’s wand. Throughout the tour, there are a few fun experiences you can partake in (broom flying with a green screen, photo opts, broomstick spells, etc.) but a quick lesson on how to use a wand was pretty cool.
  8. The Hogwarts Express. You can walk inside and see the passenger rooms – one decorated for each movie.
  9. Diagon Alley. It really felt like you were winding your way through an alley and you see all of the familiar store signs.
  10. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I can’t put into words how cool this was – a massive model of the castle that you can walk around – look down on, look up at, examine and see how they took it to the big screen. I am pretty sure if I was ten and seeing this, I’d want to be an architect. It was breathtaking.

If you are a big or little fan, I’d highly recommend the tour.

“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.” – J.k. Rowling

#teamGryffindor

meanwhile, right here

Today’s online finds: Inspirational, educational and very close to home. I grew up with Carly, and her family’s story needs to be heard. Her voice has been strong, loud and clear and now it’s our turn to do our part. Please Share. Support. Donate. Write. Speak up.

     

Dear X

I’m writing in support of families who have children impacted by Autism and whose children are faced with a mental health or behavioural crisis related to their diagnosis. The province of Nova Scotia must step up to the table and provide the supports necessary for these complex cases involving children in crisis.

Namely, I am insisting the government:

1. Ensure families with children in crisis have access to necessary resources to maintain the safety of their home (funded in-home support);
2. Ensure coordination between the departments of community services, health, and education to develop a shared plan of support for children who are in crisis;
3. To continue publicly funded, evidence-based interventions for children affected by Autism past the age of six.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best,

Here’s a list of MLAs:

Bill Horne
Fall River/Waverley
billhornemla@gmail.com

Ben Jessome
Hammonds Plains
jessomeben@gmail.com

Kelly Regan
Bedford
kelly@kellyregan.ca

Claudia Chender
Ochterloney St., Dartmouth
claudiachendermla@gmail.com

Dave Wilson
Lower Sackville
avewilsonmla@eastlink.ca

Tim Harrison
Main Street, Dartmouth
larryharrisonmla@gmail.com

Barbara Adams
Eastern Passage, NS
barbadamsmla@gmail.com

Patricia Arab
Joe How Dr.
info@patriciaarab.ca

Jaimie Baillie
Springhill, NS
jamiebaillie@bellaliant.com

Gary Burrill
Quinpool Rd, Halifax
garyburrillmla@gmail.com

Keith Colwell
East Preston, Dartmouth
keithcolwell@eastlink.ca

Lena Metlege Diab
Craigmore Drive, Halifax
nfo@lenadiab.ca

Rafah DiCostanzo
Lacewood Dr, Halifax
Rafah@Rafahdicostanzo.com

Tony Ince
Cole Harbour
tonyince@tonyincemla.ca

Brad Johns
Middle Sackville
mlabradjohns@gmail.com

Labi Kousoulis
Spring Garden Road, Halifax
labi@labimla.ca

Susan Leblanc
Wyse Road, Dartmouth
susanleblancMLA@bellaliant.com

Brendan Maguire
Herring Cove, Halifax
brendan@brendanmaguire.ca

Lisa Roberts
Young St, Halifax
lisarobertsmla@gmail.com

eight is great

David turned eight. Another year, another awesome product placement:Not quite the balloon-shot I had envisioned but it works:  It’s always good to recognize your weaknesses. For me, it’s cake decorating. Icing a cake is the worst: May this year bring him lots of great adventures and not too many broken bones:

psst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomeg