Browsing Tag

travel

Family, Travel

Big City Life

One of the things I was most excited about for our visit to Edmonton (aside from the -20 temperatures, of course) was the chance to do BIG CITY things! This is something I have really missed, living in small towns for the past ten years.

Both small BC towns we have lived in have been blessed with natural beauty: easily accessible hikes, unspoiled wilderness,  beaches and rivers and forests a mere five-minute walk from our front door. I have been spoiled with all of this nature over the past decade and truth be told I have probably even started to take it for granted, as one does, because the thing is, I am not really an outdoorsy person.

I am more of a picnic in the park on a sunny day after a successful library trip nature person than a hike for four hours then camp for three days then summit a mountain nature person. So the abundance of natural wonders, though gratefully appreciated in the abstract, was also somewhat lost in practice for this lady who was really just craving a quiet afternoon wandering through an art gallery which featured something other than paintings of eagles.

(For example.)

When we planned this trip to Edmonton it was one of the first times that we were spending an extended amount of time in a city that offered these sorts of cultural experiences, with Olive finally old enough to enjoy them too. This was VERY exciting.

So, bright and early Wednesday morning afternoon we headed out to the Royal Alberta Museum and ended up spending about three hours there touring the various exhibits. Watching Olive’s excited reactions to the displays, eagerly running from room to room signing ‘cat!” at the cougars and “bird!” at pelicans, it was incredible. This is one of the best parts of parenthood, in my opinion, seeing your child discover the world. Through her unabashed joy at the smallest things, I feel like I am able to reclaim some of the pure, unadulterated glee that is sometimes crushed beneath my cynicism, world-weary boredom and sarcasm.

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It was a delightful way to spend a snowy afternoon, and something that we all really enjoyed (Do you see how into the pattern displays Adam was? Olive was over it in a few minutes, Adam was like “Hold on! I’ve almost made a flower!”) and at the end of it, after wandering up and down and around two floors of a museum for three hours, Olive was all tuckered out and went home to have a mega nap, which was also quite delightful.

This little taste of city life was really welcome, and I have to admit it made me long for it- the vibrancy, the ever-changing attractions and festivals, the swell of people and noise and life. It thrilled this small town girl to her big-city roots, and made me miss it, just a little bit.

Well played, Edmonton. Well played.

Motherhood, Travel

Survival

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You know what? I am kind of doing okay without her, that chubby baby of mine.

It’s a little like realizing you have a third arm, one you haven’t been using. It’s not that I’ve been missing it, because I didn’t even remember it was there, but now that I have it back things are easier. They get done faster. And this third-arm state isn’t something I really want to continue forever- or even for a few more days- because as much as it’s helpful it also feels strange and cumbersome and I’m used to having my hands full. The arm just sort of sits there, uncomfortable and ill-at-ease with the silence. 

I found myself turning on the TV every time I was in my hotel room, which is uncharacteristic for me because typically I hate the background-noise nature of the thing. They’re always on, in hospital waiting rooms and restaurants- even in the kids play areas on the ferry. It drives me nuts how people pause mid-sentence and stare open-mouthed. We become absorbed and entranced in the screen like moths to a flame- helpless! I do it too – how can you not be seduced by the flickering lights and catchy content?

So usually I avoid it but this week I think I needed the noise, it felt so strange to be sitting here swamped in my own thoughts and the sound of faint conversation passing in the hallway. 

 

Just in case you are feeling some sort of violent rage-envy at all of this talk about helpful superfluous limbs and sweet silence, I would like to inform you that I have a hotel room with not one, but two giant comfortable beds that even (inexplicably) have remote controls to adjust their firmness up or down, and yet I slept a grand total of ELEVEN hours in the last two nights. 

I lay there and could not fall asleep. It was the rudest thing ever and the more I thought about it the more anxious I got, “Madeleine! You’re WASTING it! Look at this bed! Feel these sheets! There’s no one else here! SLEEP, DAMMIT, YOU FOOL!”

But sleep wouldn’t come. So I tried tricking myself and decided to stay up to read – hoping I’d fall asleep mid-sentence as so often is the case these days. Of course tonight is the night I managed to finish about six chapters before I threw the book on the ground in a fit of rage and then lay there, seething, willing myself to sleep out of sheer spite. 

My days have been packed and my brain is at capacity. I am so glad I was able to come, but oh, guys, I am so ready to go home.

Motherhood, Travel

Freedom!

Freedom (4 birds) by EyeSense Photography on Etsy

There are a few things I am studiously in denial about right now.

1. The length and amount of leg hair I am currently sporting. (WHAT? It’s winter! Almost!)

2. The hints, subtle and otherwise, Adam has been dropping lately about an imminent MacBook Pro purchase, where I have not expressly authorized said purchase.

And by “lately” I mean “for the last six months”. But the frequency, and intensity of these hints has increased tenfold in the last week, and I am concerned that we are quickly reaching some sort of critical mass for hint-dropping, where the hints accumulate to the point of morphing into full-fledged actions, and then one day I will come home and there will be this gorgeous white machine sitting on my desk and I will have no other option but to pretend that I hate it and want it returned, when really all I want in the entire world is to caress its sweet keys and make beautiful words with it.

and 3. Tomorrow at 5:30 I board a plane and fly to Vancouver. For two nights. Without Olive.

Let’s just…I mean let’s agree to ignore the possible purchase of that beautiful machine and the leg hair (WHAT?! I live in Canada. I need the added warmth. And it’s a feminist thing. Solidarity…or something?) and let’s just focus on that last one for a moment. That pesky number three.

Because I am an intensely complex and long-winded individual, I would like to take the time to detail precisely why I am both excited and crestfallen at the prospect of this trip.

First, the obvious: I’ll miss Olive.

I feel like these words are just the most redundant words ever, because of course. But she started walking on the weekend in the most dramatic way possible- Adam’s dad set her down to walk to me and instead she just walked past me. Like, she just…kept going. Away from me. My baby!

And I keep forgetting that’s she walking. I’ll sit her on the floor and go into the kitchen to get something, only to turn around and see this chubby-legged kid zombie-toddling towards me with this wicked grin on her face. She is so proud of herself, and so am I, it’s as though she is becoming a real little person right before our eyes.

And it’s not that I had doubts about Adam’s parenting abilities before, but him being a stay-at-home dad lately has demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that he has this parenting thing totally in the bag. When Olive is with him she gets fed nutritious food, goes down for her naps, and – judging by the videos he sends me while I’m at work – spends the entire day laughing like a crazy person.

Furthermore, I honestly sometimes think that Olive would be happy with anyone who agreed to keep a full plate of food in front of her of all times and give into whatever she demanded by pointing at it and repeating, “Dshhh! Dshh!” over and over.)

So the heartbreak isn’t for her – I have absolutely zero concerns about this child. Guys, I am worried for ME.

THIS IS ABOUT ME.

What am I going to do with myself for two and a half entire days, and two entire nights? It’s a work conference, so I imagine that this will be a fairly easy adjustment for the daylight hours. I will talk and network and attend professional development sessions. I will listen and respond and make connections. But at night. What do I do with myself at night?

There’s no one to dress, or undress. No meals to feed, diapers to change, or sticky hands to hold as we walk to the potty. No baths, no pajamas, no bedtime stories. No hysterical laughter as Adam pretends to fall down over and over.

The answer to that question, what will I do with myself? is also, incidentally, the second part of this post. The Good.

Guys, there is no one to dress, or undress. No meals to feed, diapers to change, or sticky hands to hold as we walk to the potty. No baths, no pajamas, no bedtime stories! It’s JUST ME! With an entire hotel room to myself! A bathtub waiting to be filled with scalding hot water and luxuriated in for, well for hours if I so choose! An entire bed- maybe even two beds! you know how sometimes hotel rooms have two?!- to myself. To sleep in. All night. For eight ten twelve hours straight!

I can eat breakfast with two hands and drink all of the coffee I want, in fact I plan to devote two hours a day to simply drinking coffee – whole mug-fulls, one after the other. Shamelessly caffeinated, without any repercussions whatsoever!

I can read books and finish entire paragraphs, I can leave the hotel room at the drop of a hat. I can watch trashy television shows without worrying about the ramifications of trashy television show exposure on one year olds. Guys, I can finally find out about these Kardashian people!

In conclusion it’s not that I am excited to leave, exactly. Leaving Olive tomorrow afternoon will honestly be one of the toughest things I’ve had to do as a mom. I am steadfastly refusing to think about saying goodbye to her, trying not to fully absorb just how much of me will be consumed with missing her and all that she is to me.

So no, not excited, exactly.

But still…freeeeeeeedom!

Gus, Olive, Travel

How Provincial

Adam and I have been spoiled for a few months now. You see, we have grown accustomed to changing only pee-diapers, because Olive usually goes poop on her potty in the mornings. As she did this morning. Yay, right? Poops on the potty!

Yay INDEED.

I was nursing this child to sleep for her morning nap, when she seemed squirmier than normal. I did what parents are often wont to do  – I stuck my finger into her diaper to see if it was wet.  It did not even cross my mind that I might encounter poop. But, Internets, there it was- poop. On my finger.

It is a testament to my status as a no-longer-rookie parent that I didn’t even freak out. I just stared at my poop covered digit with bitter resignation, sighed deeply and went to wash my hands.

Guys, I think I have come to accept poop fingers as my lot in life. So that’s how my day started.

A few minutes ago, Olive, Adam, Gus and I were having an ApplePear party (in case you have never had the good fortune of attending one of these exclusive invite-only events, they involve sitting on the living room carpet eating slices of apple pear, breathing heavily into your mothers face and dancing in between bites. They are exhilarating.). After taking a bite, she lunged towards my face for what looked like a kiss but ended up being a punch in the face. Seriously a full on closed fist PUNCH. In my left eye.

(My GOOD eye, I might add)

So that’s been Sunday over here. But, BUT! BEFORE that, we had some fun! That’s right, after the poop finger but before the eye punching, came this!

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Today was the day for picking (and eating) the last of the fruit from Adam’s parent’s backyard. They have an apple tree, a plum tree, a pear tree, a grapevine and something delicious called an ApplePear tree! It bears fruit that are round like apples with the texture of pears, and a  taste that falls somewhere in the middle.

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It just a giant fruit basket of a backyard and we have been gorging ourselves on fresh fruit and dried fruit and homemade applesauce for weeks now.  Burp.

I like nothing more than to make baby hats, and Olive is going through this phase right now where she is too good for shoes or socks or hats, and their very presence enrages her to the point of murder,  so when I managed to get her wearing all three, I knew I had to document the event.

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Even Gus got in on the fun

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How wholesome and delightful!

(See how first I disgusted you with tales of poop and punching, and then I wooed you with pictures of wrinke-faced dogs and apple-cheeked babies? It’s a fine line, in this blogging business folks. A fine line indeed.)

 

In other news, we are driving to Alberta for a friend’s wedding next week and oh god, why do we keep doing this to ourselves? I think Canadians are uniquely insane in this regard, that driving 14 hours is just par for the course. Back in the day Adam and I wouldn’t have even blinked an eye at a 14 hour drive. Like, no big deal, you pack the car, I’ll grab some double-doubles and we’ll hit the road!

But now. Now there’s the small matter of her. HER. She with the squirmy nature and shrieky voice. She who has made it abundantly clear that 3 hours is about the most car seat time she will tolerate at once.

So we are trying to decide the best way to go about this. We are torn between splitting the driving up into two six or seven hour days with a hotel stay in the middle, or just givin’ er and powering through. The whole thing in one day. Waking early so she’ll finish out her sleep in the car, then busting out all types of illicit entertainment that we have spent the last eleven months scorning.

That’s right we’re talking movies, kids music, toys that play noises at ear-piercing levels of shrill fuckery, the whole nine. If we do it this way we will be requesting one shot of whisky each once we reach our destination in Edmonton, in the hopes that this shot will wipe clean the previous 12-14 hours just like the blue pill in the Matrix.

(Red pill? Blue pill. I’m pretty sure it was the blue pill that returned you to your oblivious matrix life but I am confident that if I’m wrong some nerd will pipe up and correct me. Liam? Chuck?)

ALSO. I have been trying to contain myself but Livvie turns one in SIX DAYS. SIIIIX DAAAAYS. I wish this were GeoCities so I could make that font size 72 and glitter.

I’m a little excited.

Well folks, I think that just about covers it.

Poop finger, face punching, pear eating and the matrix. Good day.

 

Family, Olive, Travel

Par Avion

Is it just me, or does Olive look approximately four years old in this picture? Something about the smile or the pose has a certain je ne sais quoi – it’s not an expression I’ve seen before.

And in case what strikes you about this picture is not her facial expression or her immense, sudden maturity or her feet on the table but the fact that we seem to have strapped our daughter to a chair, well we have. Sort of. It’s a portable fabric high chair, have you seen these things? They are genius, they fit over most chair backs and feature a complex simple set of ties and pulleys and levers and buckles that secure your child to the seat and – BOOM! Instant high chair!

This is incredibly useful when you are travelling, as we are tomorrow, and want to pare down the amount of playpen-stroller-potty-high chair STUFF you are bringing.

Oh, what? Didn’t I tell you about that? We’re flying to Ontario tomorrow so that Olive can meet her great-granddaddy, who is 93 and just itching to get his hands on this little mischief maker. I think that this trip will be an emotional one for me, and not only because I get to see two of my favourite people in the world meet.

We are spending most of our time at my grandparents cottage, the place where my siblings and I spent most of our summers. Seeing Olive standing on the dock and spashing in the lake, and bathing in the big sink and getting measured on the wall beside the tin plates – it will all seem so surreal. Our childhoods melding and meshing, repeating.

Then there’s also the fact that my grandma won’t be there. She died a little over a year ago and because we live so far away it’s been easy, up until now,  to hide that loss, to sneak it away under a soft cloak of denial or quiet, determined forgetting. But being there at our cottage when she isn’t will bring it all bare, and offer up that loss in as inescapable. It will be hard.

Annie was such a personality, she had such immense character. She wasn’t the type to fade into the background or go unnoticed, and her absence will be palpable. Her presence took up so much space in a room, and the emptiness that will be left over- the silence, the absence of gin soaked ice cubes clinking in a glass, and my grandaddy living on as a sort of half of himself – this will be difficult to wrap my head around.

So, I am excited and nervous. I am trying to prepare myself mentally. I’m trying to remind myself that Annie won’t be there lying in her sun chair on the deck, or reading the paper in the sunroom, or skinny dipping at dawn to scare off fisherman casting too close to her dock. I am hoping that this mental preparation will lessen the shock.

We’ll see.

BUT, before we get to that, we spend a few days in Ottawa hanging out with Adam’s twin sister doing fun big city things with Auntie! And that means a flight – Olive’s first!

I am going to jinx myself by saying that I am actually kind of excited. Livvie is in such an interested phase right now. Everything is fodder for her inspection, strangers are met with beaming smiles, animals with excited exclamations of  “Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!. I think she’ll have fun on the plane meeting everyone and walking up and down the aisles, looking out the window. I am putting out of my mind how interesting it will be to try and contain her and have her sit still-ish for five hours, and just focusing on how FUN it will be! Her first flight! IT WILL BE FUN, DAMMIT!

We’re bringing lots of snacks, three of her favourite books, and if everything else fails we can introduce her to the wonderful world of children’s TV, which she hasn’t quite gotten to know yet.

(Oh my god I’m delusional! This is going to be ridiculous. Please pray. Not for her – for me. Any tips for flying with an 11 month old? Where do hippie moms stand on drugging their children, hypothetically speaking asking for a friend?)