A New Challenge!

Posted by Ian On June 5, 2009

I'm pleased to announce that I have started my own little company - mare ad mare, which is latin for 'sea to sea' and part of the Canadian motto (check the cover of your new passports). Our goal will be to build a fresh new brand of clothing for Canadian (and wannabe Canadian) girls. I will be using this blog, much as I have in the past - to continue showing people around the globe (over 50 countries now!) what it's like to be a Canadian girl, tracing the footsteps of our 3 girls as we explore more of this great place we call home.

Un petit baiser

Unique shirt for Canadian girls

'Gimme a little kiss' - says it all. Now for big girls! Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.


Fall shirt for Canadian girls

A big pile of leaves for you here! As a Canadian summer turns to fall, the leaves change colours and then fall off the trees. Kids rake them up and play! So go on, Jump into Fall with this Orange T. Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

Pass the Marshmallows!

Summer shirt for Canadian Girls

Summer in Canada is the time for camping, camp fires and of course - Marshmallows! Get ready to go roast some in this summer yellow T. Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.


Spring shirt for Canadian Girls

After a long Canadian winter, spring can never arrive too soon! Pull on this Spring Green T and go planting girls! Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

It's not ALWAYS cold in Canada...

Winter shirt for Canadian Girls

How many times have you had to tell someone that it's not always cold here? Well, sometimes it is cold - but to make your point, grab this little winter blue T and let them know that it's not just snow and ice up here all the time! Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

Un petit baiser

Unique shirt for Canadian girls

'Gimme a little kiss' - says it all. Girls, grab this little white T, and go get your kiss ;-) Check www.mareadmare.ca for more details. All designs copyright of mare ad mare.

The girls were up before 7 this morning, and after their morning dose of family channel (their version of coffee) and cereal - they were up and circling the tree.
We put out all their presents last night, and they were desperate to figure out what was in there! They spent almost 2 hours squeezing, shaking, sizing and... taking notes! They put together a list! Who it was for, how big it was, was it cushy like clothes or something else...
It was too funny - so went to grab the video camera and of course, paused when it should have been recording, so other than a pretty boring view of the floor - the best we had was this...

Oh well - can't win em all... the girls thought this was a pretty cute edit of the dog.
Day off tomorrow - need to post some material!
The girls were anxious to get the tree up this year. With us having shifted to the 'fake' last year, there was no issue putting the tree up in early December.

They wanted me to take pictures and video of the tree, but they were having fun with it - so let them run the show. Here are some excerpts...

Nice tree girls!

Hi all -
I used to travel - a lot - anywhere between 25 and 80% of my time... and sometimes that leaves some free time at night. On one of my last trips, I decided to make some colouring pages for the girls, based on some great photographs. More recently, I've created some new designs - taken the colour out of them and put here to colour!

Check the side of the blog for the link - but if you're as lazy as I am... here's it is!

I just printed out a few of these for my girls - they're watching Christmas shows and colouring... and I have a new request in for some winter pictures!

The earlier you start the better off you'll be...

Snow is fun. Winter is fun... if you have snow. November is a terrible month around here - reminds me of our winters in Richmond, Virginia or Dresden, Germany... coldish, wet, grey, windy... I'd rather have snow any day.

Like I said, snow is fun for the girls, so getting them out to have fun for a bit - and to help a little with the shoveling the walk or brushing off cars is good for them.

Yup - finally arrived, the first real snow. It might last, it might not - but it's that time of year where it just might stay. Nice heavy, packing snow fell overnight - maybe 10cm. The girls were up early and raring to get out and make a snowman. But what's fun for the girls means a little work for me...

First snow, means first snowman and first shoveling... Let me tell you - if you're not one of those guys with the snowblower - go out and get yourself a scoop!
I killed my back several times last year, with the massive amounts we had then, and finally got a scoop near the end of the season - where it was impossible to really use because of the 6 foot snow banks! But if you start out with a scoop, you can push that snow anywhere you want and not have to do any bending or breaking.

Back to the snowmen... Emma and Meghan each made their own today. Displaying impeccable technique for only their second real winter.

Just like in the Frosty cartoon - everyone knows the head is the hardest part:

Finishing touches...
We nabbed some carrots for eyes, nose and mouth and some twigs for arms... and VOILA!

As the snow was wet, and some wintery mix was in the air - their mitts got soaked before school so had to make a quick change before running off to school. But they had a great time with it - let's see how long those snowmen last. The first of the season rarely lasts 'til the end...

Snowman Homicide!
The first snowmen of the year came to a cruel and horrible end... they fell not of natural causes (warm weather and melting) but, were taken down by one very close to them!
See the gruesome scene...

So I didn't do so well keeping up with our activities in October. I spent a number hours working on a sort of memoirs of Dresden, describing some of the highlights from our 2 years living in Dresden, Germany.

At the end of our delegation, I had some time to myself to close things out, and had this new website - Rimrocked - that a friend was working on - integrating GPS with social networking - so I took this little tracking device and my little Sony Camera on a bike tour to do some BETA testing...

This little bike ride around Dresden was a way for me to remember the good things about living there and wash away all the bad memories...

To see more of what comes with the trip - click on the pointer bubbles. That will show you pictures of that area, and any journals that might be associated with the spot!

However, in some of the write-ups - some of the bad stuff bubbled up - but helps with the process too... This isn't done - I have lots left to say about our time there. But this should give you an idea of what it was like to live there, and I wanted to have something that the girls could read when the get older - to help them remember.

Check out the various points, most have pictures and journals with them - so you can see what it looks like in the different parts of town and how we lived day to day. It's quite a bit different from life in Canada...

We get some pretty crazy weather in Ottawa in Octobers... Some days can be nice, some wet, some cold, some snow...the whole thing.
This October - we were worried about our Hallowe'en! 3 days before Hallowe'en we got whacked with 15cm of snow! And the following week, it was near 20c!

Lucky for the girls, it didn't last - and warmer weather was on the way. By the time the girls were ready to go trick-or-treatin, it was 15c and an absolutely perfect night for going out and getting candy!

October is a terrible month for us... We love the weather, but rarely get the chance to enjoy it. Meghan and Emma have their birthdays, I'm usually travelling, we have our wedding anniversary and Hallowe'en gets in there too.

It's our second fall back home, and wanted to take advantage of the nice weather we had been having... We found an afternoon between birthdays and decided to head downtown to take a boat tour on the Ottawa River. We had heard some really good things about the trip, especially in the fall with a all trees turning colour.
It was a beautiful day - 20C, sunny and we figured there would be plenty of others wanting to do the same, so we went down early bought our tickets and walked around the canal for a little while.
The Canal was built after the war of 1812, to provide a path other than the St.Lawrence River between Montreal, Ottawa and Kingston. There were no boats moving through on this day, but the girls have seen the locks in action before, further up the canal (it runs for 200km!). In the winter, we'll come back and enjoy the worlds longest skating rink!

We finally boarded, and got some nice seats on the side so the kids could have a good view. In the video footage, you can hear the tour guide of course speaking in English and French - attempting the same bad jokes in both official languages. We started up river for a nice wide look at the Parliament Buildings, the Chateau Laurier and the National Gallery. Not too far upriver before we had to swing around to head back down on the Quebec side. We passed the Museum of Civilization on the way to mouth of the Gatineau River. At this part of Gatineau it looked like a little riverside town, with an old school church, small marina and an eclectic mix of homes.
As we entered into the open waters of the Ottawa River, the boat stopped for a few minutes to allow us to look around before heading back up the Ottawa side. The colours on all the trees - the red, the orange, the yellow, the browns lined the hills. It was really nice to see. Too bad it only lasts a week or two... We turned back right around Rockcliffe Park, and for those who don't know Ottawa, Rockcliffe houses many historic homes and foreign embassies, not to mention the Prime Minister and the Governor General. Up on the hill overlooking the river, you can see the Prime Ministers house. Not too shabby...
Heading back to the dock, we got a great look up at the Ottawa Canal locks. Looks like a series of steps heading up into the downtown. As it was approaching 6, and the sun was heading down, the girls were happy to see that it was coming to an end - it was a little cool in the open air deck without the sun to warm them up.

We finished the evening with a walk in the market, and dinner downtown.
Pretty good day for us in October!
My girls have always loved to go camping. There's just something about camping and being in the great outdoors that keeps people back. I love the smell of the air, the sounds of the trees, the picturesque lakes and being able to leave it all behind and just relax.
Even when we were living in the U.S - where it was hot and muggy - we tried to go camping. That experience was a bit of a disaster. Emma was just a baby and Meghan at 2, it wasn't easy, but the heat was unbearable. We spent more time in the air conditioned van than anywhere else. Worst of all must have been those deafening cricket sounds at night. After that experience, we gave up on camping in Virginia - and went back home to camp in the summers.

Fitzroy Provincial Park
This summer we went camping a few times. Our first trip was to Fitzroy Provincial Park, about 30 mins from Ottawa. The whole family went, but it was a bit of a short trip. This summer was not the best in June and July - raining soooo much, and this week wasn't any different. We were tenting, and everything got soaked. Not only was it wet, but it was muggy and when the afternoon's rolled-around the bugs came a calling... We found out there was supposed to be huge storm rolling in later that day - so we decided to pack it in, better luck next time.

Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park
The following weekend, I took Meghan and Emma to go camping with Grandpa and Grandma at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. I stayed for the weekend, and they got to stay out for the week. It wasn't a long stay for me with them, but we packed in the activities.
We had a great site, one we've stayed at before - nice and close to the beach and a playground. And it's a great beach. Water is nice and warm for swimming, and the beach is great for making sandcastles. Just off to the side of the beach there are some marshes, and the girls will wander around - hoping to find some frogs to catch!

Tents vs Trailers
The girls got to stay in the trailer, while I tented. Tents are for the purists - but not the most comfortable or dry - especially if it gets wet outside. Trailers are kind of like a mobile cottage, they have many comforts of home, but you get to live out in the forest. It all depends what you like, and what you can afford ;-)

At night, the girls are always hoping for a campfire. There's nothing quite like watching a fire. The flames flickering and dancing - I guess that's why people keep putting fireplaces in their homes. The girls get into their PJ's (to cover up from the bugs!) and cozy up to a nice fire, and then wait for the marshmallows! They like them roasted with a nice and golden brown outside, so you have to wait for the fire to burn down to get those red hot coals, perfect for marshmallows. Another campfire treat is pie iron pizza's. They're basically iron skillets on sticks that you put right down in the coals to cook. You put a piece of bread on either side, and whatever you want inside, then close it up and into the fire it goes. It toasts up so nice and hot - it's the original pizza pocket! mmmm...Tasty.

The next day was going to get really hot, so we decided to go rafting down the river. The Mattawa River at the campground has a great set of rapids to run down, and with all the rain we had had, the river was running high and fast - perfect conditions for rafting. My parents had bought a couple of rubber dingy's for that very purpose, so we got them all blown up, put on our lifejackets and headed out. Grandpa and Emma started down the river, Meghan and I tried to follow - but ran into a big rock right off the bat! The dingy popped and we quickly sank into the river. Luckily, it was only meters from our start point, so we headed back to the car to get the air mattress - and it was great for shooting the rapids. The river was warm, and the sun was hot as we slowly glided down the river. It was so relaxing between the rapids, I could have napped. The rapids were fast and high, splashing and bouncing us all over the place, but we managed to stay on. At the end, we jumped out of the river and ran back part way to do it all over again. Meghan and Emma absolutely loved it.

No camping trip is complete without going canoeing. I pratically grew up in a canoe while camping, and it was the highlight for me to go out and catch frogs. We didn't have any luck finding frogs this trip, but got up close and personal with some turtles and had a unparalleled experience with a mother loon and her baby.
Paddling in the marshes and through the fallen waterlogged trees, we saw a number of turtles out sunning themselves. We were able to sneak in and get a better look at a few, but they'd dive in as we got closer. One though, decided that he didn't want to get out of the sun and Emma decided that she wanted to try to touch his shell. We got up against the edge of the tree, she reached way out and was able to pet him a few times. Of course, he got tired of it after a bit and jumped back in the water starttling Emma a bit - but she was happy to have been able to get that close.

Following that encounter, we saw a few loons out in the middle of the lake and decided to go in for a close-up. Loons are a water bird with an , and rarely can you get very close to them with scaring them off. This trip however, a mother bird was out with her baby, and couldn't exactly take off. We were able to get within a meter of them - with the video camera on! She called out with that haunting loon voice as we approached, to ward us off. I was a little worried when we got so close that the mother would attack us. We finally gave way, and veered off - but it's something I'll never forget and hope the girls will always remember.

It's something no Canadian, or visitor to Canada should ever miss the opportunity to try. Camping has even caught on with the new Canadians, who seemed to have embraced it. I was almost surprised to see so many multi-cultural campers, but I suppose it's very different - the great outdoors, from the busy, bustling cities of where they came from... I know - I've been to some of those places, where the people are shoulder to shoulder, loud and pushy - it's no wonder they like it!
Summer in Canada is THE BEST!
The days are long, the sun is warm and lakes are everywhere. Summers in Canada - at least where 90% of us live - go from late May to early September. The temperature can get up to 35C and more, but most of the time is between 25C and 30C, which is very comfortable. Humidity is reasonable and we rarely need to turn on the air conditioning. It cools off a bit at night and that makes it great for sitting outside and enjoying those nice long days. The best thing about summers in Canada, is that we are outside enjoying it - not hiding inside from it...
There's so much that Canadians can do in the summer, from camping to going to the cottage. Canoeing and Kayaking, biking and hiking, swimming and scuba diving - the possibilities are endless. The worst part about it? It never lasts long enough.
Starting this blog a little late for summer, but I'm going to cover a few of my favorite activities with the girls this past summer.
For those of you that don't know us yet, we're the McMartin's. We're a family with 3 girls. We started early and gave up on boys after 3 straight girls...
Rebekah is now 15, Meghan is 8 and Emma is 6.

For the past 7 years, we've been living and traveling abroad. We moved to Richmond, Virginia in 2001 - just before Emma was born. It was a very interesting time to be in the U.S. Just over six months after our arrival, 9-11 happened. Despite that chaos and the philosophical differences, we did manage to survive down there quite well for almost 5 years. But after those 5 years in the U.S, we were ready for a change. At that time, we were given the opportunity to move to Germany (No, I'm not with the military...I work in IT, and up until the month before - we were supposed to have moved to Austria!) This allowed us to introduce our girls to a whole new culture and way of living. People ask what it's like to have lived in these places, and my answer (leaving out the details) has typically been that the U.S is pretty far to the right, Germany is pretty far to the left and Canada is sitting somewhere in between quite nicely. The important point in all this, is that for the majority of their lives, my little Canadian girls had very little idea as to what it was like to live in Canada. Aside from a few summer trips (to get away from the horribly hot and sweaty Richmond summers), they had hardly even seen it! After 7 years away from home, we knew it was time to go home - so here we are, finally back home!

So what is 'mare ad mare'? First of all, it's latin and it's pronounced 'mar-ay ad mar-ay'. It's part of our national motto and it means Sea to Sea. My goals with this little family project are to educate my girls about Canada, let other Canadians find out new things about the different parts of Canada and to show the rest of the world what it's like to be a Canadian girl. We're also going to be selling t-shirts to support our activities. I hope to involve our girls heavily in that part, that they can become more familiar with the business world.

I was feeling guilty for taking my family away from their family and from Canada. It's not like it's a third world country that we're trying to escape! I had been lucky enough as a kid to take long vacations with my parents to the east coast and the west coast - getting to see so many different parts of Canada. This activity was going to be my launching point for re-introducing Canada to my girls. Now that we're back at home, I want to show my girls what it's like to be a Canadian. So I'll be taking trips, doing special things with them every week and writing about it here. I hope that this catches on, and others Canadian parents contribute their own stories about what it's like for their Canadian girls. That way, my girls can see too! This is a pretty big country...

Having traveled quite a bit for my work through the U.S, Europe and Asia, I have found that knowledge of Canada is pretty limited. Most people are quite surprised when they hear that I'm Canadian, anyone speaking english but without 'an accent' is assumed to be American. The question or statement is usually 'isn't it cold?' But there is genuine interest from them about Canada. To many, Canada is a special place. They hear great things about it, know that the people are nice but other than being cold - they know nothing of it. I hope that having this site/blog will let others see more about Canada that just cold. If we don't tell them about it and show them - who will?

What else? The shirts! Being away for that long was making us homesick. I'm very proud to be Canadian, and rarely miss the opportunity to tell people about it. I wanted to get our girls some Canada shirts. Looking around there's very few cute Canada shirts for girls. Most of them have a big moose or beaver, and some horribly obvious 'EH!' written across it. So i designed my own shirt for them, created my 'Canadian butterfly'. Initially it was pretty rudimentary, having carved it from coloured construction paper, then glueing it down and scanning the image. Their first shirt was an iron on - it needed work. I started developing the current image on the computer shortly after, and finally came to an image the girls and I were happy with - so after we got back home, I had a few shirts made to start us off and now we're working on the next set of designs. Hope you like them!

Check in next week to catch our first Canadian outing - it's nearing the end of summer, and I already have a couple of stories to catch up on ;-)

    About Me

    My photo
    It's not about the money you make, the toys you have, the clothes you wear - it's about the life experiences you go through, the challenges you face and the stories you tell... Having just moved back to Canada (after almost 8 years in the U.S and Germany), we have lots to show our girls and our friends around the world about Canada. We're going to be telling our stories, hope you enjoy our adventures. Mare ad Mare means 'sea to sea' and we want to show the world, from Sea to Sea - this is what it's like to be a Canadian Girl!