Attend a Parade – Remembrance Day

remembrance day parade

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A great family event is attending a local parade.

I never used to be a “parade person”… I couldn’t quite understand the attraction of standing or sitting outside, watching a bunch of people walk past you. And let’s be honest, most parades are in the colder months. Stand outside? Voluntarily? In the cold?? When I could be sleeping???

Three years ago, our oldest son became a Sea Cadet, having been through Beavers and Scouts… he wanted to try out Cadets, and we said sure. It seemed innocent enough, and then he came home with his uniform! I know he’s my son but wow, what a handsome young man he was in uniform (ladies, you know what I’m talkin’ about!!!).

All of that aside, he had a very, very busy first year. He wanted to participate in every single event, which was great, but the second year, I was DREADING November, because of how many events were booked that he participated in, in the first year. Turns out, he only picked a couple of events, obviously any mandatory events, he was there. The Remembrance Day Parade was one of them.

A mom could not be prouder of her child as I was when I saw my handsome son, in full uniform, marching down the street, in unison with everyone else, listening to “Left. Left. Left, Right, Left.” I was hooked… it’s so different when your kids are in one!

I’m not what you would consider a political person. I should pay more attention than I do, but truthfully, I don’t have patience to try to figure out all that hoopla. Most of it is lies anyway.

But, I do consider myself to be pretty patriotic. I have never been known to watch hockey games at 7 a.m…. that is, until Team Canada was playing for gold in the Olympics! Yup… I cracked my sleepy eyes open, after only a few hours of sleep, and I watched the entire game, screaming and cheering, much louder than anyone should be at that ungodly hour!

When Ottawa was attacked by a terrorist in 2014, I mourned with the rest of my country… it felt so personal. It’s amazing how personal it can feel when you have actually visited the area. I didn’t know Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, but, knowing Tyler would want to, we made sure to visit The Regimental Foundation of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, the unit from which that Cpl. was from. We thought the same as pretty much every other Hamiltonian, because the base was completely and totally littered with letters, flowers, trinkets and cards. You could NOT walk by all of that with a dry eye. None of my family did (except for Caleb, who didn’t quite understand it the way we did, but he was sad that someone died).

cirillo

Respects paid to a fallen soldier

So, even with as much zest as I have for sleeping in at every possible opportunity, I am on board with parades. And I believe that attending the Remembrance Day parade is a sign of respect for those who died for our freedoms. Will I continue to attend after my son is no longer in them? He is definitely my incentive to go, for sure, but now that we’ve been to a few, I don’t think it’s something any of us should miss, if at all possible.

Flanders Fields

Caleb and I, before the parade began

poppies

Devin with Caleb… in the clear street before the parade

Back to family events, this past weekend, I prepped chili for the crockpot on Saturday, and Sunday morning, we got up and had breakfast. While getting ready, my husband put on a pot of coffee, and we enjoyed a cup on our way to the parade, and filled a Thermos with more… and filled another Thermos with hot chocolate for Caleb. I also packed some frozen, homemade muffins. The crockpot of chili was on, and it was a beautifully crisp fall day to honour our veterans.

They’ve revamped the downtown core, which is called Gore Park. It used to be where you would go to catch a city bus, but they’ve moved all of the bus stops out of the park area, and have erected memorial plaques, all involving tidbits of history of Canadians and various wars. Photos of various war times throughout history commemorate our veterans in a beautiful way. I hope that it doesn’t get vandalized, because it’s truly something to see.

remember

Tyler, mixed in there somewhere, with his Corps

Tyler looked amazing in uniform, as usual. We were located in the park where The Argyll were situated, and I felt deep compassion for them, since all of them had worked with Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.

The only part of the entire service that I don’t particularly enjoy is the cannons going off… and they scare the crap out of Caleb. We were standing pretty close to it, since it’s RCSCC Lion (Tyler’s cadet corps) who are in charge of firing the cannons. But, after two shots, and some talking that I couldn’t quite hear, everyone in uniform began to march, leaving the park. At one point, I said to my husband, “I dare you to walk anywhere without marching in step to the beat!” Love the bands (and I never used to!)

police

That was our cue to leave, so we headed back to our Journey, so we could meet Tyler at the barracks.

After all of that fresh air, and the peace that comes with that moment of silence, it was a great day… and even more awesome to come home to dinner already made.

Please share about a parade you’ve attended!

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A Day Spent in Niagara Falls

niagarafalls

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I know not everyone who has me in their reading list is living on my continent, but if you should ever in the vicinity of Niagara Falls, one of the 7 wonders in the world, you MUST visit.

I am Jackson Triggs’ biggest fan, so when I saw the sign, I practically started drooling… my husband asked me if I wanted to stop for a quick photo… Um YES PLEASE!

Jackson Triggs

Living an hour away from Niagara Falls all my life, I guess it’s not really a wonder to me, but it is definitely beautiful, and wonderfully majestic. One of my favourite movies was filmed there, Niagara, starring Marilyn Monroe, and it’s neat to pick out landmarks and even my hometown’s name on the bus schedule in that movie! (Fun fact, the hotel that Marilyn’s character stayed in with her husband in that movie were built JUST for that movie, and torn down after filming.)

We visited Drummond Hill Cemetery to see the graves of people who died in the War of 1812. Our son, Tyler, has always been fascinated by the War of 1812, and he enjoyed visiting the cemetery, as did we. There were many graves there from that particular war, and among them was the grave of Laura Secord. I had no idea that her grave was there, and I was in awe, reading the inscriptions on her tombstone.

Laura Secord

Laura Secord

I packed us a big, deli sandwich, using a whole loaf of sourdough bread. I packed some drinks and snacks and we just spent the day, enjoying the drive, and enjoying the views when we got there. I am always floored by how busy it is there, but then I think of the few times my husband and I visited Manhattan and just wanted to see EVERYTHING, and that puts it all into perspective for me.

We stopped in the visitor’s area and saw a plaque that showed the erosion over the centuries, it was pretty fascinating but I didn’t get a photo of it 😦 I really wish I had!

My parents brought my brothers and me over to the U.S. side once, when we were younger, and I remember it wasn’t very impressive. Now, I love my U.S. neighbours to bits, but, they really got gypped. The Canadian side of the Falls is definitely THE best view.

Niagara Falls

After we took MANY photos of the Falls, we wandered back up the strip and took photos of the fall foliage. It was still pretty nice out, temperature-wise. Then we drove a little bit and visited Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is a cute little town full of shops and history.

Niagara Falls strip

We stopped in a pub called The Olde Angel Inn, it was Tyler’s recommendation (yes, fellow moms, I was a little worried but he had been there before when his class went to the Shaw Festival).

Tyler was telling us that the Inn is haunted, by the ghost of Captain Colin Swayze, a British Captain in the War. Apparently, there have been accounts of him turning on hand-dryers in the Inn and rearranging the dishes. If the Union Jack is removed from above the Inn door, his ghost disrupts the guests. When it needs to be taken down to be cleaned, another must replace it. How awesome is that? I LOVE stories like this! When we were there, our glasses were moving on the table by themselves. It may have been from the condensation on the glasses, but it would be so cool if it was the ghost moving them! We had Caleb convinced it was.

Anyway… it was a beautiful way to spend a Sunday. Checking out the views and history in another city, I just find it all so interesting, and I’m really not much a history buff, like Tyler is, but it’s neat to see how things tie together.

If you’re ever in the area, definitely make time to see Niagara Falls… and if you’ve been, what did you think?

Quality Family Time is The New Black

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I have a confession to make.

Sometimes my kids drive me up the wall.

You too? Thank God I’m not alone!

Life can be tough when you have small kids… and when I look back, I have no idea how I managed to get through it. Bring snacks, bring toys, bring drinks, repeat. Yes, fellow moms, my best friends in those days were concealer and Visine.

But, one thing has always stayed consistent over time, and that was the importance of family time. Most moms are natural planners. We plan activities, meals, play dates, you name it. So planning family time is a given, but it’s not always easy to come up with activities that everyone will like. This is where the ACTUAL planning takes place: knowing your kids well enough to look for activities that they will enjoy. It’s a double-edged sword now that they are older and more self-entertained. I miss them being little but I’m glad I don’t have to cart all that extra stuff with us wherever we go.

That being said, when they are a little older, it’s a fantastic time to take a trip to a city you’ve never been to, or have been to but never really had the time to explore. These days, information on what to do in another city is so readily available, and sometimes, you have a final destination, but some extra time to stop and see things along the way.

Case in point, we went to Ottawa last summer. And the summer before that, but each time we go, there are new experiences, and new things to see, mostly because you don’t have time to do it all. So this past summer, we started out by heading to my husband’s best man’s place in Newmarket. We spent the night there, catching up around a bonfire. It was great because we don’t get to see him and his wife often. That led us to a little flea market just ten minutes away that had REAL LIFE Transformers. We didn’t know about the place until we saw him!

Port Hope

Our next stop was Kingston, to pick up our older son, who was at the military college for cadet training… but we went a day early so we could explore the city. We walked around downtown, visited City Hall, enjoyed a rooftop lunch, and checked out a few shops.

Rooftop

kingstoncityhallfountain

Lastly we ended up in Ottawa to visit a beloved cousin, who unfortunately had to work all weekend but we made day trips to two different museums, one being just inside Quebec. One of the museums was the War Museum, and our oldest son is a history buff when it comes to the War of 1812, so this was perfect for him! We enjoyed our evenings by catching up with our cousin and her kids. It was tough to leave!

We were tired on the drive home, but happy, because we got to see so many people and places and do things we might not ordinarily do.

It doesn’t have to be a long drive, a neighbouring city will do just fine. Or, if you really can’t get away, explore your own city. I’m willing to bet there are tons of things you haven’t had a chance to see, practically in your own backyard. Give it a shot, I bet you’ll have fun!

What did you think of this idea? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.