Diving Into Year Three..

Diving, swimming – any thoughts of water to help alleviate a humid early start to summer in this small area of Ontario are much welcome thoughts. Diving into new experiences. Diving into life. So many ways to explore that free-fall experience that ends in a splash..or a belly flop. It can go either way.

We’re heading into our third year here in Prince Edward County. Life is slower at times but I have thoroughly enjoyed the stolen moments with my family or on my own (when not driving to the ends of the each nearby towns to get the kids or that one shop I really like), to sitting or doing simply nothing and enjoy the beauty of this area.

Prince Edward County is a rich oasis of agricultural land, water, art, music and people.  There is a laid-back friendliness that we have enjoyed from shop owners, neighbours and strangers just trying to help. It’s the whole area – stemming from Belleville to Trenton to PEC that is quite welcoming. It’s not perfect mind you, but it’s real with little pretence.

The most recent example of this mindset happened when I was fortunate enough to have a story accepted for a local anthology called The County Wave. At the reading, as I tried to ignore my shaking hands and looked out at the crowd, I noticed that the people were attentive and encouraging. No cell phones. Afterwards, as I signed anthologies frankly overwhelmed at the praise, I got to talking with another contributor. He was a fellow former city dweller who now lived almost full-time in The County. He had the following to say,

“You know what I like about this area? When I tell someone here I’m an author, they just simply say, that’s great. Let me know where I can find your stuff. In the big city, the first thing they ask is, should I know you?”

It’s just a slightly different perception out here and I think we like it. Most of the time.

As we enter into our third year here, I still get the odd comment or tears from the kids. They miss their really good friends, our old house was cozy etc. etc. What I think they miss the most is the ability to walk outside your door and instantaneously often have people to talk to, kids to play with a park around the corner. I simply tell them, I do too. But I look at what  we are building here. A place for people to visit for as long as they want. A retreat they (and us) will appreciate as life gets busier and busier and takes our family in all different directions. Somewhere our children and their friends will want to come back to, I hope.

I can’t predict the future, all I can do is keep taking them with me as I explore the area showing them the hidden treasures of Prince Edward County. I hide my smile when they slip up and say they’re glad to be home after a long day out doing a multitude of school related activities. I know they will appreciate the quiet as Mr. L and I do, I also know they like how bright the stars shine at night, maybe not the mosquitos, but the view is worth it.

Or maybe not. Maybe they’ll run away to the city or even back to the place where they began their lives. Perhaps they will room with those friends that they have longed for since and that they have managed to stay in touch with. Who knows.

As a parent, the biggest struggle for me the last two years is the constant in and out between home, town and school. Sure, I did it back in the ‘burbs. What parent doesn’t? But add in kilometres and 30-45 minute trips to get pretty much anywhere including groceries and supplies, it adds up. It has meant that we had to make some changes in how we manage life.

Country Living with Kids vs Suburb Living with Kids When You Have Three or More Kids

  • 1 activity per kid vs multiple activities per kid.
  • Groceries or Fresh Markets once a week vs. going to the grocery store every day.
  • Gas up once a week vs gas up every 2 weeks. (On a good week!)
  • Bundling appointments/life stuff into 1 day a week vs spreading it out over a week.
  • Finding after school care when 1 kid has extracurricular activity vs just popping home for an hour with other kids – especially important for work from home parents who still need to finish up work by end of day and can’t do it while sitting in the playground for an hour watching the other kids.
  • Always, always having snacks and waters on hand vs finding a coffee shop.
  • Downloading multiple podcasts or playlists for those long drives vs listening to the radio.
  • Telling the kids they have each other to play with because playdates (unless arranged) do not happen spontaneously vs going over to someone’s house after school.
  • Riding bikes up and down the driveway/organize an outing vs riding around the block.
  • Backyard vs park
  • And lastly – learning to let your twelve-year-old babysit the younger kids so you don’t have to schlep the entire crew out to every single outing that doesn’t involve them.

The list looks daunting and each of these bullet points race through my head every time I am asked, why did you move? Or – was it worth it?

The simple answer is yes.

The above list is just one way of doing things versus another. I choose to view it as a puzzle to solve – is there a good way to deal with a busy five-person household while living in the country? If we simplify things, then yes. If anything, the best thing to come out of this move  is the reminder that our family should be more mindful about what choices we make as well as how we spend our time and money.

Who do we want to spend time with in our home? What activities do the kids really want to do versus just doing them because they are available? Do I really need to go and buy that item or can I make do with that I have? In the suburbs, it’s easy to overbuy, overspend and over schedule because it’s available. Out here in PEC, you have to take a pause and think, how important is that right now?

So, in the long run I believe this has been an important lesson for our family to learn and one I hope my children will take with them as they enter the teen years and beyond. The ability to pause, reflect for a moment and make a choice versus doing things just because they are easy. Do you have to change your life and move out to the country to do this? No way. This practice can be done anywhere and by anyone. We just had to move out of the ‘burbs to learn it.

In the beginning, that current catch word, mindfulness,  was not the reason I thought we moved here. I will often hesitate, wondering how to phrase my answer to that “why did you move out here,” question. So I blurt out the first answer that pops into my head. I tell people we moved because out here, we got a better value for property. It was the best, honest answer I could form to the constant inquiry. Yes people, we moved to get what we wanted in a family home.

But in retrospect, or at least during the last two years, although that answer was the best that I could discern from this whole experience and was in part, true, another life lesson emerged from the dive. That one about being more mindful of one’s choices. Now that answer only came to mind once I started to reflect back on the last two years and the corresponding shifts our family have undergone. It was an aha moment as you realize what has shifted within your family over a two year period.

Life is busy when you have kids. Downright insane when you have three or more. If we can slow it down, even a little bit, while teaching an important, unstated lesson to our children about mindfulness, well then at this juncture in our lives, I believe we dove into the deep end and made the right move for us.



A wealth of thanks.

In Canada, Thanksgiving is winding down as people across the country plunk onto their couches their bellies filled with turkey, pies and all the delicious goodness that the harvest brings. I wondered as I sat down to type this blog tonight, a cup of hot decaf early gray tea by my side, how to approach the topic of thanks. 

Of course I am thankful for my family and friends. I am also thankful to be living in a country full of such beautiful weather and colours. I am thankful we are all healthy. These are the obvious tributes of thanks this weekend. 

Our family took a different approach to Thanksgiving this year. We went on a mini trip to Ottawa, Ontario. Mr. L wanted to fit in one race this season and we stumbled upon the Fall Colour Run coordinated by Somersault Events in the colourful city of Ottawa a couple of months ago. “Why not?” we asked ourselves. A little family getaway could be fun and being a family who likes to explore new places, we booked it. 


A part of my traditional soul regretted forgoing the crazy Thanksgiving dinner where my sister cooks a delicious meal relegating me to sous chef in my own house while trying to fit in visits to two sets of parents. I had not realized how alike my elder girl and I are when in a bout of unusual silence this weekend, she confessed missing the usual family gathering and having a traditional Thanksgiving meal. (To note she typically eats next to nothing except corn, bread and pie.) I had to admit as we munched on delicious pizza, duck breast and spaghetti  at an empty local venue, The Black Thorn, in some ways the idea of Thanksgiving on our own sounded better than it was. 


However, the weekend was fun and for that I am thankful. Mr. L finished his race well. The kids got to do a 1 km Wylie Ryan’s Turkey Trot getting their own medals. We showed them the wonders of Parliament Hill, Byward Market and the Canadian Museum of Nature in our nation’s capital city. I am thankful I have a curious little crew who did not mind walking the streets of Ottawa with their parents finding wonder in every statue we came across.




But, as a parent of three what am I most thankful for this weekend? Patient people. Traveling with a potty-training toddler has its ups and downs. We had a lot of downs as our increasingly vocal Jacob announced at every restaurant he had to pee or poo and then would refuse to go but still complained about his sore tummy in increasing louder tones. Multiple visits to restaurant or coffee shop washrooms passing the same smiling server. Pulling the potty out on the road at an empty park begging him to just go and the boys on bicycles passing by who pretended we were not there.  For these people, I am thankful. 

I am thankful for naps. Naps that allowed the five of us to have a bit of downtime and where all was peacefully quiet for a little while. I am thankful for the waiter who smirked in good humour as my kids hung off the bars at the Moulin De Provence in the ByWard Market while my kids munched on cookies, I tried to drink a lukewarm coffee and Mr. L scarfed down a late lunch. I am thankful for the market vendors who did not mind little hands grabbing trinkets off their tables or the people at the check-in desk at our hotel where the kids had to wait until our room was ready, pulling brochures out of their holders. 

All of this patience was a force that held up my own resistance to give into frustration (for the most part) that can come when families travel together. For the kindness and patience of others, I am thankful. 

Happy Thanksgiving!