baby friends emily and craig (son: rowan) invited us to their cottage for the weekend. yes please! i was excited but didnt have much time to devote to thinking about it beforehand. the week preceding the weekend was filled with sleepless nights and babysitting/work adjustment (i bumped up to 50% at work on sept 1). in fact, the friday before we left was a colossally crappy day for me (thus packing and detailed planning didnt get done). i really needed a vacation. enter, saturday...
woke up on saturday and lit a fire under our butts, hoping that the day would fall in line with our wants. we turbo packed the car, grabbed burritos on the way out of town, and drove up to the shubenacadie wildlife park. the park was 40 minutes away, and our hope was to break up Xs drive with something fun (and tiring) so that she wouldnt be too grumpy about a long-ish car ride. it worked!
we had been to the wildlife park once before, in the winter. it was nice to go then, but it was lovely to go this time. X LOVED the birds (geese, ducks, swans, peacocks). we even let her feed the ducks, she didnt even cry when one nipped her finger. we also got to see foxes, porcupines, otters, and a bear (he was awake and sitting right next to the fence!). a train went past the park while we were there and blew its horn (which X loved) and the wolves started howling to the tune of the train whistle. i was thoroughly amused. the park was a great place to spend an hour-ish. the weather the great and it wore X out...somewhat. she still had energy left to chase the poor peacock around the parking lot.
(X and the swans; cute and active porcupines)
but, after a diaper change we loaded her in the car for a nap. she cried about it for 10 minutes and finally fell asleep. 45 minutes later we pulled in to the drive of our friends cabin (near durham). i felt all my stress melt away at the mailbox. their property was gorgeous: expansive, riverfront, wooded yet open. simple, quiet, peaceful. this was relaxation. they had a main cottage, a bunkhouse, and a shed. the screened-in porch, fire pit, and hammock all screamed my name. they had a nice little rocky beach on a brackish river that only had a few other houses in sight. X was in heaven. catching toads, throwing stuff in the water, climbing on the tree stump, playing in the hammock, and hanging out with a dog friend and new people (and new toys). for the most part, she avoided/ignored little rowan which seemed just fine with him. it will be interesting to see the age when kids actually start playing together.
after dabbling in all the activities the property had to offer, X settled on becoming obsessed with the hammock. she very quickly got comfortable in it and learned the word "hammock." then she wanted to swing in it all night long. she also got her first experience with a bonfire, and dave roasted her a couple marshmellows (that she shared with me). she wasnt greedy about them, but of course she did seem to enjoy them. she went to sleep at 9p (early night!) while being rocked in the hammock to the sounds of nature.
(emily [yup shes preggo with #2!] and rowan in the river; X and her beloved hammock!)
we slowly woke up in the morning (X promptly asked for more hammock) and chomped into some bacon and eggs and toast. then we suited up for a short family canoe ride. X liked the water but hated the life jacket. hopefully she'll be happier about it as she gets older. we hung out by the shore after the boat ride, throwing rocks, and then we headed up for lunch. easy sandwiches and babies playing. is was lovely. after rowan went down for a nap, we had our last chat and relaxation session with craig and emily. a bonus of being with them was that we got to have "totally honest about parenting" discussions. another great way to keep the weekend stress-free.
(X and rowan on the "beach"; X in her life jacket, ready for the boat; throwing rocks; bringing styx to the river...)
needless to say, we were a little sad to have to leave the cottage environment and head back to the city. but we are totally inspired to rent a cottage next summer, should we find ourselves still here. cottage life is the first MAJOR incentive i see to life in nova scotia. very different from the "up north" experience in michigan. most people take cottages within an hour of their house here (preferably 30 or so minutes away...can you imagine?). the land is cheap and spacious and you unplug and unwind without hardly a soul around you. its part of "the canadian dream" i suppose. and i can get on board with that.
anyway, the time came to leave so we loaded X up for her nap and drove back. she napped pretty much the whole ride and was very good. we stopped at an italian market in halifax to get some pizza dough and toppings for dinner and ended our night quite well with an easy, tasty meal. a great weekend. a very great way to wave goodbye to summer.