I have a very bittersweet feeling as I write you this letter, Miss Olive. We have had such an incredible month that started with an amazing family trip to Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and has ended with the return to our figure skating family at the rink. Momma has been a figure skater since she was 4 years old. After years and years of test days and competitions, I now coach a new generation of figure skaters (and hopefully you in a few years!). Last year I skated for you… I coached the entire year with you in my tummy. I even skated in the year end ice show and you were born exactly a week later. I think staying on the ice helped me throughout my entire pregnancy and through your delivery on your birthday! This year I am skating for me. Momma’s favourite part of skating is not the jumps and spins… It is ice dance. I learned to appreciate ice dance at a young age, which lead me to complete my Gold Dances by the time I was in grade 10. This year I have decided it is time to work on my Diamond Dances. These dances are so intricate and beautiful to watch. Auntie Jamie has worked on hers over the last year and has really inspired Momma to start training again. I may not test them this year – or at all – but I am already having so much fun practicing the steps and dancing with my partner. I feel free again! I hope that someday you can find the same joy I do when you lace up your skates and hear the sound of deep edges on the ice. There is nothing better than that.
You were such an amazing traveller on our trip. You barely said boo on our long driving days, and you loved to take in the scenery on our many hikes while on Daddy’s back. On the first day we woke up very early and drove to Edmundston, New Brunswick with a stop in Old Quebec City. The next day we drove to Halifax with a very special stop in Fredericton. You met one of Momma’s “bestest” friends from Acadia – Amy. I really wish we had more time to spend with her, but an hour was better than nothing at all. I hope that as you grow, you get to see Amy often. She is a true friend, someone who would do anything for you, a very caring, gentle soul. I can only hope that you find a best friend like her in your lifetime. Best friends are true treasures who help you through the good times and bad.
On our stop in Halifax you got to meet so many of your “Aunts” and “Uncles” – Josh, Heidi, Angelo, Dan, Paniz, Jamie (Harps), and Jon (Nash). When you go away to school you meet amazing people who change your life in such good ways. Momma has so many incredible friends in the east coast who I consider more as family than friends. They all made the effort to come to Elgin for Mommy and Daddy’s wedding and they all took time out of their busy schedule to come meet you. They were so excited to hold you, even though many of them hadn’t held a baby before. They did a pretty darn good job! The next morning we met Uncle Josh and Auntie Heidi at the Halifax Farmers Market… We had a breakfast wrap and a yummy ($6.00!!!!) cinnamon bun (it was totally worth the $6.00). We took you for your first walk in Point Pleasant Park with Riggs – Josh and Heidi’s doggy. Point Pleasant Park was one of Mommy’s favourite escapes in Halifax. Whenever I needed to get away from school and the city, I headed there. It was hit hard by Hurricane Juan in 2004, but the trees and vegetation are slowly growing back along the many trails in the park. It is a beautiful place to get lost in. I plan to take you there often! Before leaving Halifax we stopped at Starbucks to visit Dan and Natalie. Dan (a soon to be dentist), checked out your two little teeth while we caught up! They both went to Acadia with Mommy and will be getting married very soon!
That night we drove to North Sydney and stayed in the Heritage House B&B. We toured Louisbourg (a Parks Canada site) before boarding our ferry the next day. Mommy and Daddy both grew as “Parkies” on the Rideau Canal, so I love taking in any Parks Canada sites around the country. This trip crossed off a few of those sites for us! Our ferry ride to St. John’s was 17 hours long! Luckily we had a room to sleep in over night. You and Momma survived the trip quite well, however Daddy felt a little green! Poor Daddy! We spent a few days in St. John’s, taking in Cape Spear (the most easterly point in North America) and Signal Hill. We spent a fair bit of time walking around the streets checking out the architecture and the rainbow of colours on the beautiful homes. St. John’s is such a perfect place for children to learn their colours.
After a few days we packed up and headed to Port Rexton on Trinity Bay. This was a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of busy downtown St. John’s. We stayed in a lovely place called Fisher’s Loft Inn. The town had a population of 300! This was more our pace, with only a Post Office, Church and Coffee Shop! The Fisher’s Loft Inn was impeccable. Our room was in a traditional Saltbox home. We had the top floor to ourselves so you had lots of room to roll around. While staying in Port Rexton we visited Cape Bonavista, had a picnic at The Dungeons and hiked the Skerwink trail. Mommy and Daddy both agree that the highlight of our trip was the Skerwink trail. The trail itself was maintained by the community. It travelled along the high cliffs of the bay and provided some amazing views! You were such a great hiker along the 5km trail. You loved exploring on Daddy’s back.
Our next destination was Rocky Harbour on the west coast of the province, smack dab in the middle of Gros Morne National Park! We stayed in a lovely new B&B called Sylvia’s B&B. Sylvia was a wonderful lady with delicious breakfast cooking skills! We took advantage of our central location as we drove to hike the Tablelands and tour Woddy’s Point. The Tablelands really make you feel like you are on the moon. There is barely any vegetation on this mountainous rock that, once upon a time, was part of the ocean floor. This location was part of the reason why Gros Morne is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site! We also went on a boat tour around Western Brook Pond and did a few hikes on the beautiful trails. You were so good on the boat ride which surprised the majority of the patrons on the boat. (I don’t think they were overjoyed to see a baby boarding, but they couldn’t stop talking about how good you were when we arrived back at the docks). Unfortunately the weather was a little damp and foggy, so we didn’t do as many trails as we would have liked. Gros Morne was still a site to see whether by car or by foot!
Eventually we headed south the Port-aux-Basque where we caught a (very rough) 8 hour ferry ride back to Cape Breton. We stayed the night in Truro and then made a marathon drive back home the next day. Although we didn’t see anything that you normally go to Newfoundland to see – Whales, Puffins, Moose and Icebergs – we still had a fantastic first family holiday together. We couldn’t have asked for a better baby to travel with. People we amazed that we went so far and did so many things with a 6-month old baby. We didn’t question it at all. We knew you would be very content wherever we went or whatever we did. Thank you for making such great memories for us!
Granny and Grandma missed you so much while we were gone. I think they were going through Olive-withdrawals! We didn’t tell them when we were coming home. We made daddy hide the truck so they wouldn’t see it the morning we arrived home. First we surprised Granny at work (boy, was she surprised!) and then we visited Grandma during lunch time at the high school! Grandma took you to her classroom and showed you off to all her students! Everyone sure was happy we were home earlier than expected!
Your favourite things to do this month:
As amazing as this past month was, the ending is a little sad. Yesterday we celebrated the life of someone very special. October 8th will always be a sad day for Mommy. Yesterday was the year anniversary of your Great Popa leaving us to go to his new home in heaven. You will always know what an amazing man he was and how excited he was to know he was going to be a Great-Popa. Popa was kind and gentle. He was a family man and a business man. He was an incredibly hard worker, a lover of life, of trees, of flowers, and of stones. He lived to see his grandchildren grow big, and strong and smart. He was a proud man. He was proud of his home, his beliefs, and his green paint. He was the kind of man who would drop everything to help someone in need. He took pride in the upkeep of our church – the same church you were baptized in – and in the countless antiques he restored. He spent every summer at the lake, watching us swim, and climb trees and catch frogs. He made sure to always feed the birds and to bundle up warm on his daily walks. Although he was a manly man, there wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t hear him talk about his mother and how much he loved her. When his health started to deteriorate, he never slowed down. He lived his life exactly how I hope to live mine. Your Great Popa is such a inspirational man. When it was time to move from the home he built to a nursing home in the country, he did so with strength and courage. It was very difficult for him to leave his home, but he never showed that to me. Mommy would visit him every Thursday at the nursing home. We would play BINGO with his fellow residents, we would watch Dr. Phil (his favourite show that he never missed), I would peel his afternoon apple with the paring knife that he hid in his nightstand and he would make sure to get me a cup of tea when they brought him his afternoon apple juice. He would share his cookies and chocolate treats as he asked me about Crosby intersection construction and other local news. He always wanted to know what was going on in the world outside the walls of Mapleview. If he was strong enough, we would walk around the halls to visit his friends, we would sit outside on the porch and he would tell me stories about his Mom and Dad. The day I told him you were on the way is one of the greatest memories I have of him. Your Great Popa loved children and he was beyond excited to know he was going to be a Great Grandpa. From the day I married Daddy, I dreamed about making him a Great Grandfather. I pictured him holding you, I imaged him watching you learn how to roll, and to sit, and to crawl, and to walk. I thought about you reading him stories when you learned to how to, and drawing him pictures to hang on his wall. I could picture his face as you showed him how to add and subtract and I could hear you singing your Kindergarten songs to him. I still imagine all these things, all-the-while picturing his proud face watching you. The moment Popa found out that you were on the way, he stopped taking chocolate bars and started taking loonies for his BINGO winnings. I later found out that he was saving his winnings for you. The four loonies that we now have are more important to Mommy than a million dollars. Sadly, Popa never had the chance to meet you in person, but I know he is always with us. I know he watched over me during my pregnancy, and I truly feel he helped make your delivery as fast as possible. I can see Popa in you, Olive. You are most fascinated by trees, just like Popa. You love your walks, just like Popa. You love Granny, just like Popa. Even though he is not here, he has already taught you so many life lessons. Every week you look up to the ceiling in church… I know you are saying hello to him, and he is saying hello to you. Your Great Popa loved you before you were even here. You made him the proudest he has ever been. Olive, please always know you can ask about Popa. I would be extremely happy to tell you stories. We love and miss you Great-Popa.
Mommy and Daddy love you Olive. Thank you for making so many happy memories for us!