Sunday, September 27, 2009

160 Awesomeness

Fun does not hold any fear especially if awesomeness is what you seek. Before you leap take a deep breath and soar. Now remember make the biggest splash ever!!!

A Sunday 160 challenge. Come on give it a go and make monkeyman proud.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Don’t feed the bears
He is so cute and adorable
and does not look fierce
Cannot resist, no control, I am horrible
No, I must be strong
Why is it so wrong?

Sunday 160 challenge, go ahead give it a go and make Monkey Man proud.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A B&B Exceeds my Expectations!

I’ve maintained that staying in a stranger’s home is a bit of a bizarre concept. Well, maybe saying it’s bizarre is a slight exaggeration because evidently its popularity is known the world over and it is called staying in a B&B (bed and breakfast). Staying at a B&B never appealed to me. That is, not until last week, when we stayed here.

So how did I end up there you might ask? Well, you know how it is when your mind plays tricks, like word play? That’s precisely what happened to me. When hubby emailed me the link to the B&B I didn’t register B&B, my eyes only read “Spa” in the title. Like how Homer Simpson’s mind goes vacant and he starts drooling when he sees Duff beer. Spas are excellent, with the desired objective to be relaxing, pampering, and de-stressing. Spas yes, B&Bs not so much. What intrigued hubby to this particular B&B was the fact that it was in two geodesic dome buildings with 27 feet high ceilings inspired by Buckminster Fuller built in the seventies.

It wasn’t until we were driving in the dark on the gravel driveway to the house that I said, “Oh, it’s a B&B!” “You knew that didn’t you,” says hubby. I said that out loud, damn! “Of course.” I mumbled. Holy smokes, there is no backing up now, I thought to myself. Particularly, since we came to a complete park in the driveway at that very second. At any rate, it was too late and with only two star motels in the vicinity I suppose at that instant my aversion for anything two stars outweighed my fear of staying in someone’s private home.

The host and hostess, Marianne and Gary, greeted us and showed us our bedroom, named the “Victorian". Mmmm, our bedroom has a name, that’s cool.
“What time do you want breakfast served,” inquires Marianne as we make our way upstairs. The B&B is becoming more promising by the second I thought to myself. “Seven thirty would be great!” Says hubby.

As my head hit the pillow, I snuggled between the cool sheets with the duvet pleasantly enfolding around me cozy like, and hubby says “not bad, right?” I smile and drift off into a restful sleep to wake up in seventh heaven and that is not an exaggeration.

As we came down the stairs the next morning I can see the attractively set table and aroma of alluring cooking smells coming from the kitchen. I momentarily think that we have intruded on their breakfast. At that moment Gary says, “Have a seat and I’ll bring out coffee.” My eyes feasted on fresh fruit and the quiche as I noted immediately that although my hubby’s plate had ham mine didn’t. “You remembered I don’t eat pork.” I said. Gary replied, “We remember everything.” The quiche was light, fluffy and delicious! Everything was perfection. I could get used to this I thought, or did I say it out loud?

As we descended the stairs for the next four days we were greeted with one feast after the other, and each morning our expectations were exceeded. We had private and exceptional service, fabulous and mouth-watering breakfasts and lunches. Did I mention the home baked desserts? I never in my life consumed key lime pie that melted on my tongue leaving me wanting more, just one more tiny bite, please. It had the perfect balance of tangy and sweet making my taste buds dance the tango.

Seriously it was not all about the food, although nothing prepares you for the day better than feeling properly cared for. The grounds and gardens were beautifully appointed, a screened in gazebo right next to the babbling pond set the stage for creativity. Hubby quickly made himself at home in the gazebo whilst inspired and worked on his novel while two resting cats quietly kept him company.

Remember, my mind’s focus on the fact we were heading to a spa? I decided to give that a whirl, which too did not disappoint. It was a fabulous relaxing experience. Ahhh, this is the life. At this B&B all the senses are satisfied, the sight, smell, taste and touch leaving you wanting for nothing.

What makes this an outstanding experience is the remarkable couple who own this piece of paradise. They work together seamlessly perfectly orchestrated or so it would seem to me. Clearly their attention to detail and zeal is evident in every aspect of this B&B. Marianne playfully gives credit to Gary’s mild OCD personality for maintaining order at the homestead. They are seasoned travelers, their home tastefully appointed with treasures from exotic far away lands, a photograph here, a mask there, odds and ends peppered throughout the house invites curiosity and discussion. They are more than happy to share their stories with a captivated audience. By the end of the first day we were so comfortable we had breakfast in our housecoats the following morning.

One evening Marianne asked what we wanted for breakfast I said, “I normally have oatmeal.” “That is too boring, you should have something better than you would have at home.” She said with purpose. That says it all!

Hubby’s Comments: I had some business meetings coming up in a small town where I knew there were no particularly attractive accommodations. Our son was away on a camping trip with his school and I wanted to get She Who Must be Obeyed to come with me. I found Hummingbird Hill on the internet and emphasized it was a Spa, not a B&B, knowing something about the prejudices of SWMO.

I was able to stay in a comfortable and relaxed resort while making the short drive to my meetings. One morning I had no meeting and was able to work on my novel in the fantastic gazebo with Marianne and Gary’s two cats for company.

Marianne and Gary are the perfect couple for this spot. Marianne is the one with the big ideas, while Gary is a steadying influence. We not only found a beautiful place for a getaway but we made new friends too.

Finally, the house itself is spectacular. Built by a young couple in the early 1970's, it is two large-triangle geodesic domes connected in the middle. Sounds odd, but it really works. There are no right angles in the exterior walls, and the ceilings soar to incredible heights.

Not too shabby!

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Sunday, September 13, 2009


I am at the river’s edge.The mist is palpable and fresh.I consume stillness as the stars above laugh.The silence is deafening.
Am I a wake, yet?

(A Sunday 160 Challenge. I did it, you should give it a try. Let me know you did it by leaving me a comment)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Letting Go / #2

Last night was our first night without our 11 year old son, eight more nights to go. I thought I'd share a letter from the principal emailed to the parents because it really describes how I was feeling. We parents, are feeling all the conflicting emotions described so well in his letter to us. As difficult as it is to let go, we have complete confidence in his teacher Karen and her colleagues and while we are experiencing considerable anxiety we know that this trip can not only transform our children's level of self-confidence, it will build a unique bond with the people they will be sharing the next two years with.

I will add the letters up dating the parents from the principal as I receive them...

His itinerary includes!
Parc Jacques Cartier
Saint Simeon
Gaspe Peninsula A ferry across Saint Lawrence River Whale watching!
Basecamp Parc Gaspesie Hiking climb Mont Ernest Laforce & Mont Jacques Cartier

(First letter) Dear Parents,

I am in daily contact with our junior high students and both Karen and I thought it would be helpful if I sent everyone a daily update. I’ve spoken to Karen both last night and again this morning. They set up camp about an hour north of Quebec City last night and enjoyed a picture perfect evening watching the sun set over the river. This morning they were treated to a catered breakfast and were getting ready for a day on the water in the new wet suits and kayaks. They will have a catered supper later today. This allows them 24 hours to get used to traveling before the attempt to both travel and prepare their own meals.

I know this is a big step for a lot of students and a lot of parents. I’m lucky enough to have had three girls...two of which went to KMS and now two of whom are off on their own. As a parent I know how gut wrenching it is to say goodbye. When I dropped my oldest daughter off at Humber two years on Labour day I found a fruit store that was open and bought fruit because my daughter had no food on a holiday if a 21 year old couldn’t find a Subway in Toronto. I realized I was just buying the fruit so I could go back to the residence and make sure she was OK. She was absolutely fine. Just like we leave toddlers at the classroom door when they are two...and we must someday drive away from them...the adolescent trip is a watershed event for all of us. Not all children are ready to let go at the same time...but what I know from experience is that children often surprise us at their maturity and determination when we give them real life opportunities to demonstrate to us how strong they are.

Karen French has been doing this for over 15 years. We could not ask for a more experienced or compassionate person to have our young people travel with.
I’ll continue to send daily emails to everyone to keep everyone up to date. I told all the students when they were leaving that they may well learn more in the next nine days than they have learned in the last nine months....and that the lessons they learn are the kind of life lessons that are invaluable.

Another Letter(Sunday)...
Dear Parents,

Karen checked in again both Saturday night and again early Sunday morning. They have had another meaningful day before packing up and getting ready to head further up the north shore. The students took turns jumping into and “eddy” before being “saved” by other students further down the river who were waiting with ropes and floaters. What great experience, I thought, actually practicing how to save someone. Who knows when that life skill will literally be a life skill.

Karen mentioned that at this stage on the journey now the students have “settled in” and realize they still have several more days together. As we all know when we travel something happens at the midpoint that tells you “it’s more than half over”. They are not at that midpoint yet and that’s the value of longer keeps students in the moment and focused on the tasks for the day...rather than...oh in two days it’s over.

Karen also noted the dynamic this year is so much more valuable...with our grade eight leaders comforting the odd student who needs support. We are lucky to have someone like Karen who is willing to give up nine days with her own family and is driven by her own commitment to the program. As she keeps reminding me “our students need these opportunities to grow and mature and be given real challenges to solve, that’s what this trip is all about.

You’ll hear from me all again on Monday. We have been blessed so far with absolutely perfect all campers’s heaven in good weather...and something else in bad.

Another up-date Tuesday, just as I was becoming a tad nervous...

Dear Parents,

Karen called this morning. The students have arrived at the Chic Choc mountains as planned and were preparing to climb Mont Ernest Laforce today. It’s definitely turned cooler in the past 24 hours but everyone is still in good spirits. They found the Gaspe quite breathtaking and were amazed at how wide the St. Lawrence is at that point. I’ve been up both the north and south shore to “the end of the road” several times and you really do feel like it’s another world.
Karen will check in again tomorrow.

Count Down to Home begins is evident in this letter...(Thursday)

Dear Parents,

Karen checked in last night. They had just finished climbing the mountain and were rewarded by seeing a herd of caribou. With the temperature dropping I asked Karen if everyone was able to stay warm and she assured me that even the though the temperature was as low as zero during the night they all had good sleeping bags and were wearing lots of clothes to stay warm.

I’m sure at this point they are looking forward to their own beds and a home cooked meal. Correct me if I’m wrong...but they will return with a new appreciation of “home” and the comforts provided by the adults in that home.

Their last real day is today when they will come back to Quebec City and have more nights camping below the old city. When they study the early settlers camping along the St. Lawrence as they worked their way inland..they will have a good sense of what it must have felt like.

We expect them home about 4 pm tomorrow.

Last Update Heading Home (Friday!)

Dear Parents,

The last night of camping was relatively uneventful. Today the students just pack up and head for home. We are hoping they will be in by 4:00pm.I will touch base with the group once they actually depart. This will give us a better sense of their actual arrival time. If it’s going to be significantly different I will be sure to email everyone.

I’m sure everyone will be glad to be home...which was one of the objectives of the adventure. There will be lots of time to talk and for the students to digest their Odyssey. All that’s really important when they arrive is for them to know we are all glad they are back and that just finishing is a major accomplishment.

I know for almost everyone, this is the longest they have traveled with non family members...and it may well prove to the longest adventure of their life outside their immediate family. It will remain a peak experience for years to come...and when they contemplate a high school or university trip for a week to Europe in a few years they will just smile and say...”no big deal...I did a much more challenging trip back in grade seven & grade eight....and what...we are staying in hotels...sweet.”


Jonathan Robinson

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Monday, September 7, 2009

The Odyssey / Letting Go #1

My son is starting grade seven at a new school tomorrow. I'm excited for him because he begins a new chapter in his life, filled with new responsibilities, new friends, and new achievements.

As parents we are faced with making choices we hope will stand our children in good stead, and I am confident we have made the right choice with Montessori Adolescents Program. In the school information letter this is how they describe students in the program. "Young Adolescents are also young adults. They have to be treated accordingly, most importantly, they have to be given a great deal of autonomy. We must put the young adolescents themselves at the center of the curriculum and have an education based upon their interest, concerns, and experiences in cosmic education."

A new phase in his life with possibilities and adventure, which begins with a nine day odyssey trip. The trip kicks off the school year and provides the opportunity for developing independence and bonding among the students and with their teacher. Often this will be the first time students are away from their parents for this length of time, which is the case with our son. The longest he has been away is three nights for a a school ski trip.

Oh, to have this opportunity and be in grade seven again... but nine days without the young man around hmmmm... I think it will be harder on me than on him.

He said, "We would not have known how sucky my last school was until we experienced how awesome my new school is."

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