Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Dealing With Grief; Bittersweet Moments

“You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”

Anne Lamott

After spending a fun week with my extended family, it felt bittersweet.  Someone was missing and yet so many new wonderful people have been added to our lives through birth and marriage.  My sisters joke that I am always the one that will cry when we start talking about Mom, but I'm okay with it--it is sad, we lost our mom. I've so glad that I've made it through the hardest part and that I've learned how to "dance with the limp."


Monday, July 06, 2015

Top Ten Family-Friendly Activities at Tigh-Na-Mara

We just returned from a 4 night stay at Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort  in Parksville with my entire extended family -- 30 people.   It was extremely relaxing due to the ages of our own kids (3-9 years old), the set up of our accommodations, and the family-friendly activities available at Tigh-Na-Mara.  This is our third family reunion and definitely the most enjoyable. 

We stayed in a shade-filled cul-de-sac with 6 two-bedroom cabins.  We each had our own space but would hang out together outside and the kids could safely run around without fear of vehicles.  

These are our top 10 family activities that we participated in:

1. Beach exploration.  The beach was just a 5 minute walk from our cabins and was really fun to explore at any time of the day. It has the warmest ocean swimming in Canada so I was more than happy to join in the playing.   The inter-tidal zone is about 1.5 km long so when the tide went out it was very fun to walk to the waterline and explore all of the tide pools along the way.  There was an abundance of jellyfish, crabs, snails and sand dollars to find.

2.  The playground.  It was large, shaded, and enclosed .  The kids spent time there each day; they loved it!

3.  The Grotto Mineral Pool.  Gary and I had a date night and enjoyed the mineral pool and some relaxation time.  We actually went to a spa for our honeymoon so it brought back great memories!  

{Photo from Tigh-Na-Mara --we weren't allowed cameras in there!}

4.  Milkshakes and Manicures.  They have a wide variety of kids programs at Tigh-Na-Mara and Nya and I enjoyed a very special one.   We went to the Grotto Spa (just across the driveway) and enjoyed fruit, drinks (strawberry milkshake for Nya and a Cosmo for me!) and manicures in their "Milkshakes & Manicures" experience.  Nya had pink sparkly nail polish on one hand and purple on the other.  I got bright pink.  I wondered if she was too young but she LOVED it.  She probably exclaimed 20 times, "I love it here!"  She also asked me this morning if we could go back.  

5.  Kid's Club.  There are so many activities available for kids.  Our boys, and their cousins aged 6 and up, enjoyed the Kid's Club.  It's FREE. They painted rocks and played games and we could just leave them there for several hours--awesome!

6.  The pool & hot tub. The kids went to the pool about three times a day.  At first I was surprised that the pool was an indoor one but then I realized that I liked it more because then I didn't need to worry about covering them in sunscreen before they went in.   

7.  Rooftop chess.  The boys played many, many games of chess with their cousins.  I still have to learn how to play...

8.  Hanging out and eating together outside our cabins.  The set up was so ideal for a large group of people.  Between the 6 cabins was a little forested area where the kids played soccer and relaxed in the hammock.  We spent hours eating together and then talking once the kids went to bed.  Did I mention that it was shaded?  This was during the hottest week of the entire year and I felt very comfortable!

9. Sandcastle Competition.  Almost all of the families participated and the kids loved having the parents involved.  Our family made an airplane.  If signed up through Tigh-Na-Mara for their Wednesday afternoon competition, the winning team receives a $500 spending voucher towards their next stay!  

The kids all "won" ice cream from Opi and Nana Jo from the the Snack Shack on the beach.  Yum!

10.  Dinner out at Cedars Restaurant.  The restaurant was just one minute from our cabin and all of the adults got away for a dinner while my dad and Joanne watched the 15 kids!   Thursday night's deal was a burger and beer for $14--I'm in.  Delicious bacon jam on that Cedar burger.  They also had a deal that kids eat free with each paying adult while we were there.

There are so many more programs that we could have participated in such as; Movie Night Under the Stars, Foodie Tour, Family Sports Day, Ice Cream Making and Tennis Lessons--just to name a few!  We were all so impressed with our time there and would definitely recommend this for any family, couple or extended family reunion!

Thank you so much to my dad and Joanne for organizing it and taking us on such a great trip.

The Chapmans

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Camping in Tofino

Every year we head out to Ucluelet and Tofino; I believe this was our 7th year!  Usually we go over Spring Break but this year we decided to go in the summer.  We were going to Parksville later on in the week for a family reunion so it worked out well.

We always stop at Cathedral Grove; it's located just 20 minutes before Port Alberni and the perfect rest stop.  The trees are amazing and the kids have a great time running around.

We arrived at our campground in Tofino around 2 pm.  The road there is quite windy for an hour so be prepared!  We stayed at Bella Pacifica Campground because it had good ratings and we were able to get a beachfront spot (#7).   If you go, I highly recommend getting a beach spot.  It's not cheap at $54/night during peak season, but it's probably one of the most affordable lodging options in Tofino.    It is located on Mackenzie Beach which is just a 5 minute drive from town.  If you are looking for a little more privacy in the beachfront sites then #1-8 are best. 

I did not pack appropriate clothing.  We had left home when it was about 35C so I packed that way – it was a cool and windy and even rained the whole first night! 

We have a 5 man tent that we've been using the past few years.  It fits us well but I don't think we could fit any more bodies in there!  Every time I spend a night on that inflatable mattress I do wonder how many more years I can do it; my hips really feel it!

This is the view from our tent – nice, right?

Well, at least we didn't need to worry about sunscreen?! 

A major plus about this beach is it has an area that is contributed to by a stream.  The water is warm and the kids played in there for hours.  

The sites were quite small but it worked for us and our tent.

After waking up to rain on Tuesday morning, I was not a happy camper.  The kids loved their "camping breakfast" (cereal in a recyclable bowl from Costco.)  

It was too cold for the beach so we decided to go hiking.  We hiked about 14 km total over the day!  We did the Rainforest Trail which we really enjoyed and would do over again.  Koen said that was the highlight of our trip there. Notice Kai wearing Gary's shirt.  Note to self: always pack each person a hoodie. Always. 

We also drove into Ucluelet to the lighthouse because we really enjoy that view and it's tradition to get our photo at this sign. We did some more climbing and exploring there.  Nya doesn't seem so impressed with that tradition.

{Below is the picture from 2014}

{And 2013...I'll stop now}

We went back to Tofino (Ucluelet and Tofino are about 30 minutes apart) and went out for pizza.  I wasn't ready to go back to the campsite until it warmed up!  The playground in Tofino is always a hit and we went there each day. My sister Maria and her family were staying in Tofino as well so we met up several times which the kids loved.

The sun came out so we went back to the campsite and got ready for a day at the beach!

Having a kite was also a major hit for the kids.  They loved it; Kai was a little more successful than Nya with it.

We had the whole beach to ourselves!

The kids have been racing these animals for the past 6 years; there were 4 of them but now there are only 2.

By the afternoon the sun was out in full force--yay!  By the way, this is our Costco hammock and we love it.

The cousins came over to play at our beach and this was Kai's higlight; jumping in the waves with the girls.

Then we had "smorepedoes" back at the campsite (waffle cone with mini marshmallows and chocolate chips wrapped in aluminum foil and placed in  pot on the stove.)  There is a fire ban put people were having fires on the beach at night. 

Once the kids were in bed, we had a little time to relax.  

I was definitely happy that our second night would be warmer!

Wednesday morning was beautiful – I didn't want to leave!  

We stopped by Long Beach on our way out.   You can't go to Tofino and not go to Long Beach!

Bye bye, Tofino.  Now we need to figure out if we'll come back at Spring Break or the summer in 2016!  Whatever we decide, we're definitely keeping the tradition alive.

Have you been to Tofino? What was your highlight?