Last Swimming Lesson of Summer 2009

We had a great summer at Valois Pool this summer, no matter the weather (it wasn’t as bad as the forecasters made it sound) and especially because of the lifeguards. Our daughter had a lot of fun and really progressed in her swimming (she practices every night in bathtub).

Our daughter’s instructors, Sean and Ryan, need to be commended for putting up with all of her terrible two behaviours! By the end of the summer she was jumping off the side and even trying to swim with her face in the water!

From Last Swimming Lesson of Summer 2009

The whole family looks forward to next summer, see you all then!

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Niagara Falls Vacation

We’d been talking about taking the train for some time – our daughter seems really interested into them – and we’d also wanted to get back to Niagara Falls and Marineland. We decided to combine the two ideas into one this summer and packed the family’s bags for a trip to the centre of Canada!

From Niagara Falls Vacation

The train was great, we got a quad seat (two benches facing each other so the four us were together) after the conductor clarified to a lone individual they couldn’t occupy four seats if they only paid for one!

The ride to Toronto is quite nice, although there’s a lot of trees initially once you get going there’s quite a bit to see, and more and more as you get closer to the destination.

Once in Toronto the only issue was time it took to get out of the station and over the car rental agency. By the time we got there they were closed and we had to go all the way out to airport, with our kids and luggage and stroller, to get a car. The car was a GMC Acadia, a huge beast that I would never be comfortable driving but really convenient for getting all our stuff into.

We headed back east initially to visit some relatives just outside of Peterborough. They had a great dinner waiting for us – unfortunately they had to wait until 9pm because the rental car issues – and we ended having a really good evening. They have a beautiful house on the lake; it was amazing to fall asleep to the sound of the waves lapping on the shore and then to wake-up in the morning and look out the window across the lake.

Our next stop was back in Toronto to say hi to the latest addition to the Cameron family. A cute little bundle named Elsapeth.

And now it was off to the Hampton Inn in Niagara Falls. Our room was all set when we arrived – even the crib was setup – so the kids were off to bed while we un-packed.

Next day the fun began! We started with ourselves by visiting a few vineyards in the Niagara region. The best is by far the Hillebrand vineyard where the tour really explains the wine making and tasting process and they even had grape juice for our daughter so she could participate in the tastings! We probably bought more wine than we should have considering we had to carry it all back home but there was so much space in the SUV we rented and the wine all tasted so good!

The afternoon was a visit to the Butterfly Conservatory. Our daughter talked big on the way there about the butterflies were going to land on her and she was touch them and carry them around. But butterflies with wings as big as my hands were dive-bombing here it was a different story! The conservatory really is amazing though and seeing all those butterflies was quite beautiful.

And then was the big day: Marineland! Our plan was to arrive early so we got good parking (9:30am is not early enough I’m afraid) and figured we’d be leaving around lunch time. It was 6pm when we finally dragged ourselves out of there! It’s really cool with the animal shows and interactivity and underwater viewing windows. Our daughter still talks about being splashed by the killer whales and watching the “girls in red” swim with the dolphins. She also loved the rides, especially the lady bug roller coaster.

Of course you can’t go to Niagara Falls without being overwhelmed by the tourist kitch! All the neon lights, the wax museums, the haunted houses, and all that stuff. With a young family there’s not much you can really do but visited the Hershey store, ate at the Rainforest Cafe, and took our pictures with the dinosaurs.

The trip home was quite smooth, except again the car rental (we returned it to the location we were originally supposed to rent from but they told us to take it back to the train station since that’s where we were going anyways).

When we finally go home Oma & Opa were waiting for us with our car to take us on the last little bit and finally back into our beds