Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Back to Reality It Is

My blogging of our final moments out West was hijacked the other night when a little one, who is now on the mend, got sick.  We're back home now, but I'll finish off those posts in the next few days, as getting the photos on takes a little more time than I have just now.

Stepping home, I feel like I have been completely swallowed by the chaos of day-to-day life.  Or perhaps by the day-to-day life that has accumulated in my absence... 

Like the never-ending loads of laundry that accumulated during or trip.  Or the lack of food in our fridge.  Or the dust bunnies that have formed Banff-like mountains in our absence.  Or the now-turned pink toilet bowls that welcomed me home. Bah!

I am one of those people who is quick to feel overwhelmed when my house is upside down.

I actually have a very distinct recollection that I had left my house clean and tidy when we departed for Vancouver.  What I learned, however, upon my return, is that I had left it "clean" in terms of post-baby standards.  Not really all that clean/tidy in terms of how I really like it standards.  Toys scattered here and there (though not as bad as prior to us leaving, which is probably why I thought things were cleaned up!).  Suitcases that exploded upon our 7pm return last night so that I could find Logan's snowsuit/mitts, etc. for daycare, toiletries, etc.... with the rest strewn here and there around the suitcase in a mad dash to get everyone to bed. Ugh!

On days like this, I am quick to let other little things that would normally slide right off of me irritate me... such as the car not starting this morning... the mailman giving me heck for not having shoveled my walkway... he knows we were on vacation until yesterday, as our mail was on hold... and knows that we have two little ones... gimme a break!  Like the $45 customs charge for the Swoop bags that were shipped to us from Seattle because when I went to pick them up, they'd forgotten to leave them out for me... Really, none of these things is a big deal.  But because I feel upside down from being away, I let them get to me...

What should I be doing right now???  Unpacking, laundry, groceries, bill paying... What I really want to be doing right now??? Making a chocolate sour cream bundt cake (note to self: must find better way to soothe myself when stressed... these chocolate cravings completely disappeared while on vacation...).  

Also wish there had been a Starbucks on my walk home from Chloé's vaccines at the CLSC.  Betcha a chai latte would do the trick.

Alas, instead, I am going to go fold laundry and plow through the mountain of unpaid bills that has accumulated while we were gone until it is time for Logan's osteo appointment.  While watching episodes of the Bachelor that I missed while away. Now that should do it...  

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Better Days in Banff

Today turned out to be a much happier day.

After a relaxed breakfast, we started the day with a visit to Surprise Corner to see the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel nestled amongst the trees and mountains.


And then headed to "downtown" Banff to wander through the shops a bit.  With an obligatory stop for a chai latte, of course.

After a failed attempt to get Logan to nap at the hotel, we decided to head back out to visit the hot springs again.  But Logan fell asleep in the car about 5 minutes before we got there.  And Chloe was already asleep.  Score!! 

So we decided to try to drive the Bow Valley Parkway (a scenic route linking Banff to Lake Louise), despite the warning that park officials had given us that it can be too dangerous to drive in the winter.  We thougt we'd try a few kilometers and turn around if we found it too dicey.  And good thing we tried it.  It was the same as driving in downtown Montreal on any given day in the winter.  I guess those warnings are for Californians, or for anyone on days that it is snowing heavily. 

We were lucky enough to have the kids remain asleep the whole way along the Bow Valley Parkway and right back to Banff (two whole hours!!) and even managed to stop for a few photos without them waking.  AND the sun started to peek out from behind the clouds and the fog started to lift. So we could actually see some mountains!

And then we were back at the hot springs, where Logan and I relaxed in the water while Jerome opted to enjoy a quiet coffee with Chloe.

The photos are foggy because of all the steam.
But check out the icicles in my hair!!

Bubble blowing gets a high five from mom!

Tomorrow they're calling for clear skies.  Here's hoping we'll get to fully see the mountains and get some beautiful sunny photos, as we're off to visit Lake Louise tomorrow and hopefully do the Banff gondola, if the weather holds out.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Busy in Banff

We arrived here in Banff yesterday after what ended up being a bit of an all day adventure travelling from Vancouver to Banff.  Even though we flew from Vancouver to Calgary (just over 1 hour), which was followed by a short drive of just over an hour from Calgary to Banff.  Yet it took us from 9 am until 4:30 pm door to door.  I guess that's the flavour of life with kids.  

No super early flights because it means getting up earlier than you used to go to bed pre-kids.  And you're so sleep deprived that you just can't face that.  Plus it takes twice as long to get checked in for your flight and through security once you have kids.  Can you believe that we showed up two full hours before our flight yesterday and that I was still running, sweat beading on my forehead, just before boarding to get myself a chai latte. Yes... I just couldn't handle the stress of flying with young kids without a chai latte.  And it was well worth running through the airport, a screaming Logan on my hip, to get one.

I seem to be addicted to Starbucks chai lattes ever since we have come out West.  It seems to be the only thing that gets me through the day on some days.  And is a habit I will have to break as soon as we get home, as it's certainly not friendly on the budget.  But this is vacation, so I'm indulging.

The flight went well, though it took us a full two hours after landing to even leave the airport.  Yes, all told, a 1 hour 20 minute flight took us 5 1/2 hours at the airport.  How is that even possible??  It almost seems comical.  Bathroom breaks, diaper changes, lunch while walking to pick up our bags (which they were about to take off of the belt when we got there to pick them up, it had taken us so long to get there...).  

The best part was when I reached the hallway with the "alarm will sound if you stop walking" signs.  Jerome had gone ahead alone to get the luggage while I carried Chloe and nudged a walking Logan along, who was leisurely sipping his smoothie.  How to get a 21 month old not to stop?  Clearly not by telling him to keep walking, as that apparently makes them stop dead in their tracks.  Ended up trudging through the hallway carrying both Chloe and a screaming Logan.

Then once we had the rental car, it took FOR.EVER. getting those stupid car seats into the rental and then even a little bit longer squeezing all the kid-related paraphenalia into the car.  Plus the time spent cleaning up the smoothie Logan poured all over the driver's seat while we were too busy installing car seats to be paying any attention to him.  Man, pre-kids we'd have already been on the ski slopes in Banff by this point.

We then started our hour long drive to Banff, both kids screaming in back, Logan wailing that he wanted more crackers and then just crumbling them up and throwing them all over the car.  Again, just comical.  So clearly, I cut him off and consequently, listened to him scream "cukuk" for twenty three minutes straight (yes, I timed it).  After which he started screaming "lait", "suce", "mommy" and a variety of other words that he thought might get me to stop the car and give him what he wanted.  At one point, I turned to Jerome and said to him, "honestly, this makes me want to turn around and throw the box of crackers at his head".  He's lucky that I have some self-control.  I mean, crackers cost like $2 a box, don't they?  Isn't that about half a chai latte??

And it is at times like these that I stop and think "what the f*#!& was I thinking??? That we could travel like this with two young kids...". 

I know that a lot of people refrain from doing things such as travelling because of their kids.  And at moments like this, I completely understand why.  And frankly, begin to wonder if I might not have some sort of an undiagnosed condition that makes me want to make my life complicated.

But I subscribe to the view that although kids do alter your life in many ways, you do not have to completely give up the life you had before you had kids.  I like to try to find ways to incorporate what we would have done pre-kids and just adapt the way we do it to make it manageable with the kids (and even fun for them).  I tell myself that one day, this will make for flexible children.  And in the meantime, I think it's part of what keeps me sane.  Really, the kids would both wail from time to time whether we were in Pierrefonds or in Banff.  For me, getting away from my normal daily routine, even if it means the hassle of getting from Y to Z with young ones, is well worth it for the refreshed state of mind it gives me in the end.

We woke up this morning to a grey and overcast day.  With so much fog that Logan looked out the window this morning and kept saying "where mawmits?" (mountains).  Good question, I thought...  But at least it wasn't super cold, which made wandering around quite nice.

In the morning, we decided to wander around downtown Banff and check out a few viewpoints close to town and save some of the more exciting scenery for the next couple of days when the weather will hopefully be a bit nicer. 

Despite giving Logan many, many opportunities to walk around and explore outside at his own pace, he continued to have meltdown after meltdown as we walked through town.  And everyone kept looking at me, while he was lying on the ground, frothing and screaming with anger, and saying "aw, he's so cute...".  Really??? Right now...??? Really, you find this cute???  'Cause I just find it frustrating and exhausting.  I'm glad someone can find cuteness in his tantrums, as I have a hard time seeing that perspective.  Maybe it's what I'll think in a few years when it's someone else's kid.  He even made himself vomit all over himself twice today because he was screaming and crying so much. Ugh!!  Now that's what I call cute.

Anyone who has kids can certainly identify with this moment.  When everyone is staring at you while your kid throws a fit in public.  If you have kids and can't identify with it, your kid is a saint and you should start cloning him/her.  Logan has now figured out that my game of "ok then, see ya" and taking off actually means that I am just hiding somewhere nearby.  So he now just ignores me.  That kid is too smart for his own good.

I stop during times like this and think "what am I doing wrong as a parent that makes him behave like this?".  "That makes him unable to calm himself down."  "That makes him freak out over such little things???"  But I have to stop and remind myself that, in all likelihood, it's not a ton of what I am or am not doing. It's part of his personality and it's also partially his age (or at least here's hoping he will outgrow some of this!). I was apparently like this as a toddler.  So perhaps I brought this on myself.  God I wish I'd behaved better when I was little if this is how karma works... Or perhaps today it had something to do with him having fallen out of bed twice last night and having thus been up for two extended periods during the night as we tried to get him back to sleep.  Poor guy was just tired... And I have to remember that all of this hopping from province to province is most certainly tiring and trying on him as well.  

Anyhow, after a good hour long nap for both kids in the car, the day started to look up as we headed to the Banff Upper hot springs.  They gave us the ok to take both kids into the hot springs so we got them all suited up and headed for some pure (and much needed) relaxation.  And we sat there, with Logan splashing happily in the water, until his eyelashes were frozen and he had icicles dripping from his ears.  And we were still all reluctant to leave.  Chloe was so pooped from the whole thing that she was asleep before we even had her snowsuit on.  Dead out.  To the point that, for a split second, I wondered if we'd cooked her to death.

Our time steaming in the hot springs has given me some renewed energy to deal with whatever temper tantrums may await me over the next few days as we travel home and readjust to the time difference.  I completely understand why everyone always says how important it is to take care of yourself first so that you are able to have the patience necessary to take care of your kids.  Best advice I've ever been (repeatedly) given.  And the hot springs (and chai lattes??) and this vacation has done just that.

So on that note, I'll post a couple of photos from today and head to bed. The quality of the photos is quite poor, since the weather was so overcast.  Hopefully, I'll have some beautiful ones to share before we leave!

Fairmont Banff Springs hotel


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thankfully Sleeping in Seattle

Our time here in Seattle is quickly winding to an end, as we will be leaving tomorrow morning.  We’ve enjoyed our time here, despite the heartache of listening to two little guys wail their entire way down here.  Both were much happier to stay put once we had arrived.

We have spent much of our time here wandering through the streets of Seattle, letting Logan walk and splash in the puddles instead of forcing him into the stroller.

We started our stay with a visit to Pike Place Market, a bustling outdoor market with tons of vendors: food, clothing, jewellery, etc. 

Logan particularly liked the music.  And though we didn’t manage to get a picture of it, this guy actually sat down on the floor with Logan to play him some music.

And Logan was all proud giving him some money for his entertainment. 

I particularly liked the mini donuts. Best donuts of life. In fact, I want more.  Sigh.  But sadly, the donut vendor closes early and we missed them on our second trip. 

The next day, we visited The Children’s Museum, where Logan got to play in all sorts of themed rooms and ran his butt off to sheer exhaustion.

And then today, on a rare sunny day, we headed over to Bainbridge Island for the better part of the day.  We had a lovely lunch right along the water and finished it off with some delicious homemade ice cream.  Love vacation.

View of Seattle from the ferry

Logan napped on the ferry on the way back.

And we then popped out to visit Snoqualmie Falls.  In the rain.  Absolutely beautiful.  And Logan loved every single minute of jumping in the puddles until he was wet right through to his diaper and socks.

Logan loves Seattle.  Loads more trucks, buses and trains than we have in little ol’ Pierrefonds.  He particularly loves watching the monorail go by.

And chasing the pigeons.

And the rain.  Much more rain than in Pierrefonds. Hence, much more (and bigger!) puddles.

My favourite moments of the week have included:
- when the fruit vendors at the market, having heard me ask “Logan, do you want some apple?” (which they were sampling) all collaborated to call his name incessantly until he got up the courage to walk over and take their piece of apple. 

- catching Logan feeding Chloe a “bottle” with some contact solution.

- seeing how Logan was the first to notice how a little boy had taken off from the park, running around with his hands in the air shouting “where boy?”.

And now we’re off to Banff, a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Can’t wait to see the mountains, relax in the hot springs and chill by the fireplace in our lodge.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Favourite Vancouver Moments

We've had a great time at Kate and Aly's here in Vancouver over the past week.  

Today, we wound up our stay with a trip to the Vancouver Aquarium in the morning:


Followed by a post-nap puddle jumping adventure at the park: 

As we head off to Seattle for the next few nights, I wanted to share my favourite moments of the week with the kids.

-  Katie had made the kids pasta with a side of peppers, carrots and cheese for their dinner.  As soon as she set it down in front of them, Ella pushed it off of her high chair, onto the counter and, with a big grin, said "all done".  Within a fraction of second, Logan pushed his plate onto the counter... "all done"... And that was dinner.  Gotta just chuckle at these moments, even if it's really not super funny.  Monkey see, monkey do.  If only we could get one of the two of them eating normally, we'd have been set...

- Ella getting Logan to eat carrots, oatmeal, whole apples, mandarin oranges and cucumbers.  Thanks sweety!

- Logan and Ella doing "cheers" together with every single piece of food they ate. Logan also tried to cheers his pre-licked cheerios with the man sitting next to him on the plane.

"Cheers"ing carrots
and apples
and oatmeal

 and toast (no pun intended)
and Valentine's Day cookies before bed
(with both, coincidentally, in Christmas pyjamas)
- Logan learning the word "mine" in a split second as he battled with Ella over a toy. 

- Ella, who is not exposed to French at all here in B.C., yelling "hi de l'eau", after Logan at the farm.

-  Ella impressing us all by responding to the question, "Ella, what's that?", by responding "beer".

-  After some lovey dovey interaction, Katie finding Ella and Logan in the hallway, each with their hands wrapped around the other's neck.

- watching Logan beg Aly for kisses goodbye as he left for work every morning.

And my all-time favourite moment of the week:

-  Ella's discovery of the house keys when we thought we were locked out of the house.  We thought we had somehow misplaced the house keys during  our visit to the farm.  Katie left Ella, Chloé and I on the front steps and returned to the farm to pick up Jérôme and Logan, and to look for her keys.  As I sat with Ella on the porch, squishing Cheerios on the sidewalk with our boots, she reached into Katie's purse and exclamed "mommy's keys", pulling them out. Yes, she was the super star of the day!  

It's been a fantastic week here and I want to extend a huge thank you to both Kate and Aly for their hospitality (and patience, and delicious cooking) over the past week.  We can't wait to have you guys back to our place. 

Checking out the tugboats down at Lonsdale Quay

Friends for life
  We'll keep you updated on future wedding plans.