Our final journey of summer was one that we had to keep under wraps until we arrived. We planned a super-secret trip to Canada at the end of August to surprise my brother Brett at his super-secret surprise 30th birthday party! It was a great trip, although very short for Neil. We left Dubuque at about 10 pm on a Friday night, and arrived at about noon on Saturday, in time for a short nap before the party that evening. Neil was on a plane back to Dubuque by 7 am Sunday morning, breaking our own rule: "If you won't be there longer than the time it takes to travel, it's not worth it!" It WAS worth it though, and Iain and I got to spend the next week (incidentally Neil's busiest week of the year; Emmaus volleyball kick-off) having a blast with many loved ones in Canada, instead of moping at home, missing our hubby and Daddy. Many thanks to April for making the drive back with us...she was a trouper for sure, although I don't think she'll be volunteering to travel anywhere with Iain again any time soon!
It was nine days of packed-solid, catching up-good times! And of course, at the end, it still felt too short. Because there was so much fun to be had, and therefore so many stories to share, I'll do it (mostly) in photos, day-by-day, and will try to be concise! Here are some of the highlights of our wonderful, top secret vacation!
Day#1. Saturday-Most of it was used up by driving, but it was the best (as in the fastest, and the most painless) trip we'd taken to Canada since we had Iain! He slept pretty much the whole way, which was a huge blessing! The reason for the visit, was of course, Brett's party: It was a HUGE hit, a great surprise and a fun time! Kudos to Deborah and Breha for their planning, Mom for her cooking, Ashlee and Jenny for their cupcakes, and the boys for keeping us all entertained! Uncle Brett was VERY surprised to see us! He was very surprised in general...and especially surprised that only one person was yelling SURPRISE (...good job there Shane!) because we all got stage-fright or attacks of the giggles or departed the room with crying babies!
Day#2. Sunday-An early morning trip to the airport with Deborah (and good-bye to Neil), with a stop on the way at a truck-stop for "the best breakfast in town", although that is debatable. Followed by a nap pretty much all day, to make up for the night of lost sleep, and a late-night "for old time's sake" tea run to Tim Horton's with some girls that I love! Grandma and Grandpa graciously watched Iain while we sipped tea and talked for nigh four hours! (We did need a few refills in there!) Aside: In this photo, I look like I'm smiling, but I'm really grimacing, and saying "APRIL, your chair is on my broken toe!!"
Day #3. Monday-A day of hospitality and good eats (although sadly, no pictures), starting with a reunion of the gang at the Reed's (over yummy home-made cookies), a delicious family dinner ("good chicken"), and a girls' movie night, complete with snacks and the much longed for "Bad Boy" sub!
Day#4. Tuesday-A morning of running around to many of the amazing produce stands Niagara boasts, in order to prep for April's and my afternoon canning tutorial by Mum. We made yummy canned peaches, peach jam (with the rejects!) and dill pickles. More on this one later: I have LOTS of step-by-step photos! Finished the day with a relaxing mom-daughter dinner with the Beattie and Patterson gals (and Iain, so I guess mom-daughter-son would be more fitting!).
Day#4. Wednesday-A fun day of outings for Iain and friends! We started at the splash-pad with Jenny and Gavin and Jenny's mom's group. Unfortunately I didn't get a single good picture of the two buddies together, because someone (HINT: It wasn't Gavin!) was being a poop and wouldn't go in the water! Afterward we proceeded to the carousel, which both boys love, but again, in every picture Iain looks like he's being tortured, so they don't make the cut either! We then proceeded to Deborah's park for some fun (although in keeping with the theme of the day...Iain doesn't look like he's having much of it!) on the swings and the slide, and finished up with some delicious ice-cream from The Loon; another tradition! Finally, dinner with Grampy and the family-always a hoot!
Day#5. Thursday-BEACH DAY! The clouds disappeared just in time for some fun on the sand (and in the Lake Erie waters for the brave ones...who later regretted it!) with some of my favorite people! This was preceded by a fun shopping and lunch date with Mum and Breha, but no pictures of that, sadly. As you can fell from Iain's sandy and contented face...he lurves the beach! Another delicious family dinner (and of course we missed Neil every time!).
Day#6. Friday-The morning began with a COUSIN COFFEE DATE! Wish we could do this weekly Sarah! Love you!
Afterward, another highlight of the trip: a relaxing (thanks to Grandma who kindly watched a busy little boy!) lunch at Mai Vi (a GREAT Vietnamese place!) with five lovely friends, during which we realized we had not ALL been together in five long years (at least)! Lunch was (of course!) followed by ice-cream in Port Dalhousie along with MUCH needed conversation and catch-up! These are my "lifetime friends", and we were chagrined to realize that we honestly couldn't remember for sure the last time we'd all been together. Let's make it a yearly (at least!!) tradition girls! Aren't they beautiful! LOVE THEM ALL!
Day #8. Saturday-After some final Iain cuddles for Gramoo and Grampy, and a quick ride on the "tractor tractor" for Iain, we were on our way home. The trip was filled with much weeping (by Iain) and gnashing of teeth (by April and me), but really wasn't too bad. We met up with Neil in Chicago for a lovely reunion, some Giordano's pizza and a great night of sleep.
Day #9. Sunday-Morning brought a swim in the (frigid!) pool, (Iain protested the whole time: "Nu, nu, nu, nu!"!) some shopping and (of course!) lunch at Noodles before it was off to the airport for April, and home for the Pitmans. We were super happy to be all-together again, but very sad that this homecoming meant that summer fun was over, and our next vacation will be a long time coming. With Emmaus volleyball to keep our schedule (very) busy, a few more weekend trips to look forward to, cozy-fall campfires hopefully in the cards, beautiful trees and cooler weather, we're getting settled back in to "real life". Autumn...I guess we're ready for you!
Final note: While in Canada, we made two more discoveries in the very decisive world of Iain's food preferences. We found one thing he does NOT prefer, and one that he loves.
DOES NOT prefer: Boiled eggs (no big surprise there!)