Charlevoix (part I) + Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day! We spent a few days this week in Charlevoix, which is a gorgeous cottage country region in Quebec right on the St. Lawrence seaway, about four hours from Montreal. It was incredible! You probably know that I'm not generally big on nature, roughing it, or being in the country. The city is my natural habitat! But these three days really were magical and we fell in love with the region. Will hope to go again next year!

Since Brad worked both St. Jean Baptiste and will be working today, he had two days off to play with, so we snuck away and rented an Airbnb right on the St. Lawrence. If you've never used Airbnb, I can't recommend them enough. For less than a dingy hotel on Hotwire, we rented a huge house on the water with a hot tub! It's insane how much more you get, and for such a modest price. You can sign up here if you've never used Airbnb and you'll get $30 off your first stay! You're welcome ;) Now, more pictures!

The wild flowers everywhere! I'm not easily swooned by nature - give me a beautiful painting or an imposing skyline and I'm in awe - but not flowers. BUT FLOWERS. And rocks. And shells. What has this trip done to me!?

The first day Lily and I were up at 6am but the others slept in until close to 9am! I was so glad at least two of our kids slept late - we didn't get them to bed until after 9pm the night before. I really love my slow, quiet mornings with Lily. We usually have a snack, I drink my coffee, and then get into the Word. Sometimes Lily asks me to read aloud to her, or she pretends to read beside me, other times she does a quiet activity while I soak up a a few chapters. We both like waking up early, but we also really love quiet mornings, so it's peaceful and perfect for both of us. 

Then we headed to the beach across the street. We had to scale down about 12 feet of rock to get to the beach and the whole family did great! Chloe played in the sand for most of the time while the rest of us played in the creek, the freezing cold tide of the St. Lawrence, and the many rocks surrounding us. This beach made sandy white beaches look so boring! We had the time of our lives!

There was a the loveliest pier that was completely deserted. There was a mini library, just like we have here in Le Plateau, which we were glad to take from and contribute to, beautiful benches, and huge rocks all around it which Brad and the big kids climbed.


Oli said if he could make it the whole way (probably about 75 meters) "it would be a dream come true", so we all cheered him on and of course he did it! That kid is such an adventurer! Brad found a piece of driftwood that looked like bull horns, so we decided it would be an award of sorts (and we made up all different awards for each activity) and the "winner" got to have the bull horns on their head. Here Oli is wearing them because he won "farthest rock climber" and Lily is wearing the horns because she won "facing her fears champion", since she was really nervous on the rocks. Brad is always thinking of ideas like that to encourage our kids and challenge them to face their fears and grow in character.

After the pier and the beach we headed into the nearest town (probably 20 minutes away) and got groceries for our stay. One way we can prioritize travel as we do, is by saving every penny when we're away. We always use Airbnb because it's generally no more than $100 a night or so, and when we're at our destination, we don't pay for any attractions. We just explore and be together! And we always cook all of our meals instead of getting take out. Thankfully this Airbnb has a rad kitchen and a great BBQ so cooking was fun and easy. But we did splurge on a couple of big time treats at groceries - Poptarts and Pillsbury turn overs. Both make me want to gag, but the kids thought it was so fun, and it only added a few dollars to our grocery bill.

My parents set such a great example to my sister and I when we were growing up. Like us, my parents wanted to travel every year, but always on a tight budget. We went to Florida each March, but never stayed at Disney or flew - we drove the long 24 hours south and spent our days at the free beach, and our evenings at home around the dinner table. The odd time we went to a restaurant it was such a treat and we never forgot those times, but it wasn't the norm. But we felt like kings! And a big reason why is that my parents, who were generally very healthy cooks and on the stricter side (like we are), said YES so often on holiday. The rule was, we were on vacation, and the answer was probably yes. Yes, get that sugary cereal at groceries, yes lets go for a walk to the beach or a midnight swim in the pool, yes, stay up as late as you want, YES! I loved that, and it made for such an awesome holiday each year. You can't say yes all the time - that's not good parenting - but holidays should be out of the ordinary. Aside from character development like time outs if someone says something really unkind or is unnecessarily rough, we were as laid back as we could be and tried to say yes often.

Stay tuned for Part II! And have a great day celebrating our great country!

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