Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Long Time Coming!

It ,has taken a week of false starts, but I've finally found the time to write a posting for my blog. And it has only taken eight months since the last one!! Shame on me.

As you all know, time does fly, especially when you have a three year old in the house. And so, I apologize profusely to the few followers I have left for the huge wait for an update.

What have we been up to in the past eight months, you ask? Plenty, as usual!! Henry has grown in leaps and bounds. I put pants on him last week for the first time since spring, and his size three pants were almost three inches too short! He has been eating huge amounts of food at the dinner table every night only to wake up about three a.m. saying, Mama, I'm hungry! I thought middle of the night snacks were only for pregnant ladies!

Henry keeps us on our toes. He is a very active child, with a very active imagination. It gives me great joy to watch him now that he can entertain himself for an hour or so creating all sorts of scenarios for his various trains, trucks and rescue vehicles. He has sword fights with Daddy, loves the park, the beach and playing golf in our backyard. We have had a great summer here on the island. There is a little amusement park called Centreville that is aimed at the three to seven year old set, and we have made it our destination every Monday with our good friends Nataliea and Lucien (her three year old son).

Summer is our slow season at work, so Henry and I have been Daddy's only helpers at work since spring. It has worked out wonderfully. Henry goes to daycare at a home here on the island on Tuesday and Thursday where they have daily outings to the aforementioned beach, park and amusement park. On Wednesday and Friday he comes to wash cars with me and Andy, playing with his boats in the buckets while we work! He has his favourite secretaries, and loves to deliver the keys with Dad at the end of the workday (which is finished by noon on these hot summer days!) Then we all enjoy the island again for our three day weekends as we don't work on Mondays in the summer. Life is good!

As some of you may know, Andy has been negotiating with the insurance company for quite some time now to get our engine repaired or replaced. We sucked up a garbage bag in the Erie Canal on our maiden voyage, which caused a catastrophic engine overheat. Well, they finally settled!!!!!!!

Andy decided to replace the engine himself for two reasons; 1) he wanted to learn the new engine inside and out, and 2) we are frugal!  I'm glad he has decided to do it himself because I have seen what that man is capable of, and I have more faith in Andy's ability to do the job right than in anyone else!

After two days of working with our local island mechanic Andy has our old engine out! We are waiting for the new engine to arrive and are hoping to get it in the same way the old one came out, without cutting any new holes in our boat!

I still can't believe eight months have passed since I last posted! So making a long story short...New Years Eve was spent at another great party at the Heathcote's, complete with a Beatles tribute band! The winter was mild, and easy for us live aboards!  Easter was fun, as Henry loved the whole idea of the Easter Bunny, and had an egg hunt here on the boat and joined in the huge egg hunt through the woods on the island! Our move back to the island was uneventful and happened as planned on May 1st. The spring and summer have been lovely, although a little too hot for this winter lover, and a little too dry for the grass and the water level!! We will be out of our slip for the remainder of the season, as it got shallower and shallower and there is only so far you can back up on a dock! It's a good thing the water is a little deeper further down the lagoon!

Well, that's all I can think of to tell you for now. I will try hard to find the time to blog again soon, but have learned that I'd best not make any promises!

 It's hard to get our boy to smile for the camera these days, he has developed a real aversion for some reason. This was one of the few times he actually said, "Cheese!"
The family Oakes.
 Henry playing jack-in-the-box in his built in toy box!
Daddy looks great in Henry's swim goggles and bicycle helmet!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Christmas is so much more fun with a three year old! Henry was much more excited this year. As I was lying in bed awake on Christmas morning, I heard him climb out of his bed, creep into the livingroom and say, "Wowww!!!!" Then he ran down the hall and said, "Mommy, come and see all the toys Santa brought!" It made my day.
We had a busy December, with me singing in a Christmas concert, Henry doing a dance recital, and the usual hustle and bustle that comes with the season. It's amazing how time just seems to go faster and faster the older I get. Mom and Dad warned me this would happen! So before we knew it, Christmas was upon us.
Our tradition is to spend Christmas Eve and morning at home, and then off to see the family. After a few whirlwind days of visiting in Peterborough we have settled back in and are looking forward to another tradition...the New Year's Eve party at the Heathcote residence! This party is unbelievable! Sue and Geoff move their furniture into the garage to host this yearly shindig complete with a live band, bar, dance floor and potluck feast! It is well attended by the folks at Queen City Yacht Club, and we haven't missed one yet! What better way to ring in the New Year than dancing with your sweetheart and sipping champagne amongst friends?
With another year drawing to a close, I wish you all health and happiness, and most of all, love!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


We let Henry decide what to dress as for Hallowe'en, and then go about putting together a homemade costume. This has been great fun, and his firefighter costume last year was a big success! This year Henry decided to be Bob the Builder, and so we gathered up his toy tools, toolbelt and most builder like clothes and found our only purchase needed to be a hardhat. I searched high and low for a hardhat throughout October, and finally found one at A Buck or Two! So for only $2.00 our little builder was all set!
We Trick or Treated on the island again this year, but changed our strategy a little. In the past we have done our rounds on Wards Island. They go all out for Hallowe'en, decorating their houses and wearing costumes to give out candy. Unfortunately boat loads of kids come over from the city and so Wards Island is overrun with kiddies!! Algonquin Island, on the other hand, is far enough from the ferry docks that the city kids don't know it's there. Our neighbours on Algonquin were thrilled to see Henry, and gave him the royal treatment! They told him how great he looked, and gave him oodles of candy! Our friend Dawn went so far as to give Henry all of the Smarties in her bowl, since Smarties are his very favourite!!
We had a wonderful time, and the ten houses he visited before he tuckered out yeilded more than enough Hallowe'en candy to see him through until Christmas.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Six Months on the Island

I can't believe it has been six months since I last posted! Well, it was a great six months!!
Andy, Henry and I had a wonderful summer on the island. The weather was perfect, and for the first time in several years we didn't have much on the go! It was one of those summers where time passes slowly and the lazy days run one into another.
This season Andy and I started a date night tradition. We did not miss one single event at QCYC this year, where as last year we didn't attend more than one because we stayed home with Henry after bedtime. Starting in May we hired a wonderful island teenager named Zoe to sit with Henry after he went to bed most Saturday nights. We would dress up and go out dancing most of those nights. The club is known for its great events, and as I said, we didn't miss one! It's really wonderful to rekindle our romance after two years home with Henry!
Another step in Henry's independence was putting him in a home daycare two days a week. There is a phenomenal woman on the island named Yolanda who has been doing daycare for almost 30 years in that community. She has six kids a day, all aged one to five. She takes them on daily excursions, including the beach, the park, and even Centreville Amusement Park!!
We knew it was time to get Henry into daycare when I would take him to the park and he wouldn't want to play if there were other kids there! There was certainly an adjustment period getting used to being without Momma every minute of every day, but once he was used to the routine Henry grew leaps and bounds. He has three best friends at daycare, and looks forward to going. The freedom this has allowed me has been incredible! Henry goes there Monday and Wednesday. Andy and I enjoy date day on Monday (usually sleeping in, followed by lunch and a matinee!), and I have a day all to myself on Wednesday! What more could a mother ask for?!
I think this time apart is partially responsible for the wonderful relationship Henry and I have enjoyed lately. We had our own share of island excursions, enjoying Centreville, the beach, the farm, and countless hours at the park. Toronto Island is such an ideallic place to grow up!
Unfortunately I don't have a lot of pictures from this summer, as our camera met an untimely death when it took a swim! I have finally replaced it, but much of the past few months went undocumented.
Henry is growing up so fast! He seems so much older than his years. He has an incredible imagination. Hours are spent playing cars, restaurant, pretending to be dogs, cats, lions... he is such a joy to watch! And he is so smart!! I met a speech pathologist this summer who was visiting for the weekend at QCYC and rafted off of our boat. She told me that Henry was speaking at a four to five year old level. His vocabulary and sentence structure is great, and he asks the most incredible questions! What a kid. I'm a proud Momma, can you tell?
We've settled back into Pier 4 now for the winter. As wonderful as the island is in the fair weather, I wouldn't enjoy the inconvenience of it in the dead of winter. I was ready for the move, and am really enjoying the freedom of running to the store and back without always running for a boat. The ferries are great, but I wouldn't call them convenient!!
I'm back into my seasonal nesting phase, cooking stews and roasts and baking cakes. I've started Christmas shopping, and am really looking forward to celebrating the season at home on the boat with my little family.
Wishing peace, health and happiness to you and yours.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

As Henry gets a little older, I'm really enjoying our outings more and more. This spring we have enjoyed the time honoured classic adventure...taking a toddler to the zoo!

After visiting both the zoo in Peterborough and the Toronto Zoo I feel compelled to draw comparisons.

When we went to the zoo in Peterborough we spent the first hour playing in the playground. Henry had a ball running, climbing, swinging, sliding and driving on all sorts of fun equipment. Then my brother, Dave, and sister-in-law Crystal joined us with their four month old baby Abigail and we all took a leisurely stroll around the lovely shaded paths taking in the animal exhibits. The animals are not overly varied, nor exotic, but there is a lovely collection of animals ranging from reindeer, snakes and buffalo to camels, monkeys and otters. The park was very quiet when we were there. We passed other visitors along the paths, but rarely had to share an exhibit. The animals are behind fences, but can be viewed well for the full length of their enclosures. The overall experience was fun and relaxing.

More recently we visited the Toronto Zoo. If you haven't seen this zoo in awhile, let me advise you to pack your best walking shoes, plenty of sunscreen, lots of snacks, and a good hat.

The animals at the Toronto Zoo are many and varied. They have a huge map covering many of the animals from around the world, with different areas for Africa, Canada, the Americas, and Eurasia and Australia. In the course of one, or maybe two, days you can see the wide world of animals, all under one roof, so to speak. But you will walk, and walk, and walk. With our friends Stacy and Desi, Henry and I walked for almost seven hours and still did not see the zoo in its entirity. The crowds are large, so be prepared to wait for a good look through the glass at the animals in each exhibit.

Stacy and I packed a lot of snacks for our trip, and I'm really glad we did. First of all, you need a lot of fuel to walk for seven hours!! Secondly, the prices are high and the crowds are thick if you want to purchase snacks from the various vendors throughout the park.

I know that the small town zoo experience is bound to be different from the big city zoo, but I guess what surprised me was how much more I enjoyed the former.

The other big difference was in the cost of these outings. The Riverview Park and Zoo in Peterborough costs...wait for it...nothing! The Toronto Zoo was a whopping $23.oo per adult admission, and an extra $10.00 for parking. Their are a lot of extras at the Toronto Zoo that will cost you as well. The carousel costs extra, animal rides cost extra, the manta ray exhibit where you can pet the manta rays, well, that costs extra too. The only thing you can pay for at the Peterborough zoo is a train ride. I haven't been on it lately but I believe it would cost us less than $10.oo for our little family of three to ride this train for about 20 minutes. Not too much to pay for a wonderful day out at the zoo.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Why Life on a Boat?

I recently had the pleasure of spending a weekend away with two of my girlfriends. We are trying to make this an semi-annual event as it is always a lot of fun and serves to recharge us for our daily lives.

While away with the girls there was a recurring theme in our conversations. 'Why in the world would I chose to live on a boat?' It started with the question, 'How long do you plan to do this?' My answer was, as it always is, 'As long as we're having fun'. Jennifer asked me many questions over the course of the weekend about the various inconveniences of my life, such as ferry service, laundry rooms, dinghys and just the general day to day affair of getting Henry and I to and from the city with a stroller, groceries and the like. By Sunday she said, 'I haven't heard anything that sounds like fun yet!' I do believe I left her with an impression of hardship which in no way reflects the zest of my life.

So...why do I enjoy living on a boat? Nature is a big reason. If you plan your vacations around camping, you'll understand. I live with the convenience of the biggest city in the country, and the serenity of quiet island life. I step out my door in the morning and watch the swans swim by. Henry and I step off the dock and walk the dogs in a park setting with no cars, where Henry can ride his car or run and play amongst trees and flowers and birds. We go to the park, two minutes from our boat, and while Henry plays I breathe in the fresh air and admire the view. Trees, water, and a beautiful city skyline, too far away to feel the hustle and bustle.

I have never enjoyed, nor thrived on decorating. This is another reason why boat life is perfect for me. With the exception of a couple of pictures and some bedding choices, there is zero decorating to be done. This gives us more time to enjoy the great outdoors!

I think there is an inherent peace that settles on your soul when you're near the water. Living on a boat you are surrounded by this serenity. You are rocked to sleep in your bed ever so gently (most nights!) and every day you come home to that peaceful feeling.

These are all reasons to enjoy life aboard, and that's just when we're at the dock! Travelling by sailboat is an experience like no other. You don't get anywhere fast, but the journey is incredible. You travel with your home on your back, going about your daily life, while enjoying the sun and the sea along the way. I believe that the coastal cities are some of the most wonderful in the United States. These historical cities are timeless beauties.

Now you may say, 'I understand summer life aboard, but what about those Canadian winters?' Even I have to admit that spring, summer and autumn are favourable, but even winter aboard has its perks. Living in a small space year round gets us out of our home every single day. I'm hearty enough to brave the coldest of winter weather, and we live in the biggest city in the country! There is always somewhere to go, and something to do. Virtually everything is within walking distance (which helps to keep me fit!) and even on the coldest days, it is steps to an indoor path system that travels under all of the streets and buildings in the heart of downtown. It's like one incredibly big shopping centre that takes you from just north of the lakeshore seven blocks north to Dundas St.

When all is said and done, the minor inconveniences of life on a boat are so heavily outweighed by the joy I find in doing it that I can't see any other life for me in the foreseeable future.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Canadian Winter Aboard

I've had gentle reminders from my friends down south that I have been slow to update my blog, so here's a little taste of our winter adventures for William and Judy in Florida.

Our boat is snugly wrapped in plastic, looking more like a covered wagon than a boat. We're keeping quite cozy inside with the help of five electric heaters. It has taken a lot of trial and error using extension cords and pony panels for Andy to find the delicate balance between internal and external power sources so that I no longer have to turn off heaters to run the water heater or kettle or microwave. Of course I still can't run all three at once!

This winter has been on the extreme side, with overnight temperatures regularly reaching -20C (-4F) and several storms yeilding 9" of snow in 24 hours. The snow has been here to stay since before Christmas. Despite all of this I continue to love living aboard. I said to Andy just the other day that I couldn't picture us living in a house. This lifestyle suits me perfectly. Besides, after living aboard Sassy II last winter, Island Eclipse feels more like a condo on the water than a boat! There's room for Henry to run up and down the hall (giggling all the way!). My fridge is big enough to shop weekly! We have our own bedroom, the dogs have their own bed, and Henry is down the hall, through the salon and all the way at the front of the boat in his very own bedroom! Life is good!

Henry's is a deep thinker. He comes out with some of the funniest things! We were eating dinner one day last week, and Andy and I had salads. Henry doesn't like salad, but loves croutons, so he had a sprinkling of croutons on his plate. When he got down to the last one he looked at me with all sincerity and said, " he's wondering where his friends are." What a way to ask for more croutons! He was in the washroom with Andy and flushed the unused toilet. Andy told him not to flush unless he had used it because it is a waste of water. Henry said, "That's a funny word, flush. Flush! Flush! Flush!" It's hard to believe he just turned two! If you tell him he's funny, he'll say, "Sometimes." I could go on and on about that kid. He's really something.

In other news, I have a new neice! My brave sister-in-law had her at home. Abigail Anne Francey was born, in the bathtub at home, January 6th at 9:00pm weighing 8bs 2oz. She is a beautiful little girl, and I'm a very proud Auntie!! My hat is off to Crystal for her bravery/craziness in bringing her baby into this world without medical intervention. Wow.

I was also reminded by William that our friends in warmer climates don't see the same things we do. Yesterday we saw our neighbouring policemen doing rescue exercises in our basin. They were slithering along the ice on their bellies to try to pull their team mates out of the frigid water without plunging in themselves. The ice is treacherous in this basin because the ten boats docked here each have a couple of bubblers drawing warm water up from the bottom to keep the ice from forming around our hulls. Unfortunately I didn't think to take pictures of the policemen in their extreme weather suits bobbing in the freezing water. It was quite a sight.

Speaking of extreme weather suits, poor Henry looks a lot like the little brother on that movie 'A Christmas Story' a lot of the time these days. He is bundled up in snow pants, snow boots, long sleeves, a sweater, a down jacket, a hat, and mitts, and sometimes I even add a blanket and his plastic cover to his stroller! Poor kid can hardly move....but he's warm! Most days, though, we skip the snow pants and just wear long-johns instead. :)

Well, that's about all for now, but I will keep you up to date a little more diligently, I swear!
Keep warm until next time.