We spent the first 12 days of August in Manitoba visiting my family. Astrid had a blast playing with her cousins, running around pantless, eating peas and raspberries from the garden, and riding the tractor with Gigi.
The flight went pretty smoothly into Winnipeg. Astrid was excited when Gigi picked us up at the airport. We were the first ones to arrive at my parents place (affectionately called the Ponderosa) so Astrid had first choice of beds and picked the room with a bunk bed hidden behind a bookshelf.
Kelsey managed to get Jacob and Nora to Winnipeg from Kamloops all by herself. Jacob and Astrid were quickly running around together and Nora was crawling around a few feet behind them.
Astrid and Jacob both saw huge leaps in their potty training as they spent the 2 weeks running around without pants and copying each other.
Katie and Tyler were quick to setup a workout bootcamp for everyone to follow (except Emily who somehow managed to nap through it with Astrid)
We spent the morning at Sandy Lake enjoying the beach. Unfortunately the lake was dark green from algae bloom that has plagued the lake all summer and sadly has become normal due to fertilizer runoff from the nearby farms.
We went swimming anyway and the next day my arms broke out in rashes that lasted until I got back to Vancouver. I also started suffering from hay fever symptoms (itchy eyes, runny nose) which I’ve never had before. Although that could have been from an accumulation of allergens like dust and pet dander.
Swimming was also not good for Baba. She hurt her foot after falling off the paddleboard onto a rock and spent the rest of our visit hobbling around with a walker or cane.
There is lots to keep them amused, including the most amazing kids room full of the best toys from my childhood and some new ones. It also has a little slide, cupboards to climb in, clothes to dress up, and chalkboard panels to draw on.
It’s Christmas in August. The whole point of getting everyone together in August was to replace our normal Christmas gathering. My parents live off-the-grid in Manitoba and winters are not only harsh but a time of scarcity. In the summer they have abundant solar energy, hot water, and a garden full of produce.
So we made perogies and cabbage rolls, and ate a Ukrainian Christmas Eve Dinner (the borscht was served at lunch).
Emily and I left Astrid with the grandparents and went into Riding Mountain National Park to do a little hike. We saw the bison herd, a momma bear with 3 cubs, and a crystal clear Manitoba lake (so they do exist).
We got to watch Baba make bread in the traditional clay oven at the Sandy Lake Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Museum.
We went for our second canoe ride on the lake, this time with Astrid. It took a few tries to get her into the boat but once she was in she loved helping dada row row. The Ponderosa has a surprisingly large lake with lots of little bays and inlets to explore. We thought we could circumnavigate the whole thing, but after 2 hours of paddling we explored less than half of it.
We had a great time in Manitoba. We love spending time with our nieces and nephews, and seeing Astrid bond with them. The food, weather, and company were excellent. Astrid misses the peas, being Baba’s little helper, jumping on Gigi, chasing after Jacob, and running around naked.