Tag Archives: traveling

What are you Doing this Weekend Toronto?

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The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder but this long weekend is the last time children and their families get to enjoy summertime fun.  Labour Day marks the last long weekend before school begins and here is a list of things to do in Toronto.

  1. Canadian National Exhibition or CNE.    This is the event to go to this weekend.  Carnival rides, cotton candy and attractions, the CNE guarantees great family fun.  This weekend there will be Petting Zoo’s, Reptile Shows, Circus workshops and My Little Pony show.
  2. Circus! The Exhibit.   At the Ontario Science Centre, Circus! The Exhibit will be teaching the science behind juggling, the flexibility of contortionists and the physics of human cannonballs.
  3. Movie Under the Stars.  At Downsview Park on August 31st, Dolphins Tale will be playing for free at 9 pm.  Bring your own blanket and snacks and enjoy family movie night in a new and exciting way.
  4. Ultimate Dinosaurs.   Giants of Gondwana have come to the Royal Ontario Museum and this exhibit will be sure to enlighten your little ones and is good for all ages.
  5. WoofJocks.   If your children love dogs, then this is the event for you.  Come watch canine sports and demonstrations for free!

Enjoy this long weekend with your family!

5 Things I Learned About Taking a Child to the Cottage

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We have finally got home from our vacation at the cottage.  It was full of fun times and adventures including Princess going tubing for the first time.  It has been a few years since we all went to the cottage together and Princess’ mobility and activity level has changed drastically.  So there have been a few years that I have learned from this experience.

  1. Single-Floored Cottages + rambunctious Children = Cranky!  Do not get me wrong, the cottage is beautiful, but there is not a lot of leg room for a young child to move around and they usually don’t appreciate being cooped up!
  2. You can never run out of enough rocks!  To keep the Princess occupied, we would make numerous trips from the road to the dock and throw bucket loads of rocks into the water.
  3. Portable DVD Players & Monster’s Inc are God Sends!  Of course there is no TV at the cottage, but when many of the days were dark and rainy, this little contraption was a god send.  Just plug it in, turn on the movie and Princess was entertained for a little bit.
  4. Fresh air is a true sedative.  The old adage “fresh air will do you good” has some truth to it.  Over a few days, Princess needed a good 4 hour nap after the fresh air finally got to her.
  5. Never underestimate the energy of a toddler.  Holy Cow!  No one would need nuclear power if we could harness the power of children.  The Princess did not stop from sunrise to sunset.

My Lovely Weekend Away

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I was very fortunate to have been able to get away for the weekend to go visit a girlfriend in Ottawa.  We have been friends for the last 12 years and no matter how much time passes between our visits, it is like no time has passed at all.  Her main squeeze is in the Canadian Military and has been away all summer, so I thought I would go a visit her and we could have another one of our random adventures.  It would be a short trip, having left Saturday morning and home Sunday night, but it was a thoroughly enjoyed one.

After being friends with someone for 12 years, they have pretty much seen you at your worst and at your best.  And my friend has seen both.  We first met in grade nine, and then played rugby together, had classes together, went to the same university and even worked together.  In my third year of university, I moved in with her.  That had to have been one of the best years of my life.  We had a place that we shared with two other girls, partied whenever we wanted and even made a weekly get together of what we called The Tuesday Night Meeting of the Walking Vagina Club.  The basement was turned into a bar and we would mix random concoctions of liqueurs and drinks and dare each other to drink them.  Sometimes it would be whiskey and vodka, Sourpuss, Bols Blue and Creme d’Menthe, making up names for them as we went along.  We would go to the movies and even on one of our Random Adventures.  Her and I could always get in a car and not know the destination.  The real journey was in the drive itself.  We stole pumpkins out of a pumpkin patch, drove into Quebec to make our own beer, went to concerts, and even a Senator’s hockey game where my infamous line was “Hold my shoe.”  For St Patty’s Day, she would tirelessly make t-shirts for “Beer Quest” and we would stumble aimlessly through the Ottawa Market.

We refer to each other as our “Other Ovary.”  She even threw me a baby shower and one of the games was Pin the Sperm on the Egg.  She and my other girlfriends painted a HUGE poster of my Uterus and hung it on the back of a deck, clearly visible to the passing drivers.  She was the first person I told when I was pregnant both times and when I had my miscarriage last year, she drove 5 hours the next day to spend a couple of days with me at home.  She watched over the Princess, did my dishes and even brought me Beef Jerky (I love beef jerky).  She hugged me and let me cry and was the very best friend anyone could ever ask for.

Last year, Hubby told me he wanted to take me out on a date.  I thought this was weird because it was way out in the East end of the city.  He even went to all the trouble to make sure Princess stayed with Grandma and Grandpa.  My spider senses were tingling.  the girls at work were telling me he was going to give me jewellery.  I didn’t think so but he had something up his sleeve.  We finally got to the area of the restaurant but he told me he wanted to take me shopping.  First of all, he never likes taking me shopping so I knew something was up.  After some time, he finally said we could go to the restaurant and when I went to sit on the bottom level, he said “No, upstairs.” I was thinking to myself “What the heck?”  I was running over what he was planning and when I turned the corner, there she was sitting in the booth.  That was better than any diamond ring he could ever have bought.

I was so happy to see her.  We went for lunch and then we went back to her place, but first stopping at the LCBO for some Dionysian beverages for later.  She told me she had a surprise adventure for me later.   We had plans to go out for dinner to our favourite Fajita place but she said she needed to take me somewhere first.  She handed me a pair of socks.  What do I need socks for?  She smiled and told me to get in the car.  After some time, we were driving into Quebec and we pull into the parking lot of a leather shop.  Firstly, I was like “Why are you taking me here?  Is this some Fifty Shades thing?” She laughed and said no.  We went in and there was a lower level with some gates.  Behind it were helmets.  “Are you taking me to ride motorcycles?” She shook her head.  We got to the back of the store and there it was…a wall of the finest cowboy boots I had ever seen.  We had both always said we wanted cowboy boots and she had taken me to get some.  I didn’t buy any as I didn’t budget for leather on my trip, but the fact that she took the time to take me there was good enough for me.  We drove to another part in Ottawa to a place called the Butchery for some real authentic beef jerky.  Mmm.  We went to dinner and then I asked her “Have you seen Magic Mike?” She smiled and said “No, but I hoped we could tonight.”  We went and both agreed that only with each other would we see that movie.  We left red-faced and giggling like silly school girls.  Once we arrived back at her place, the drinking commenced.  She whipped out her blender and the concoctions of the past were in full swing.

She is one of the most genuine, uber chill, down to earth, funny, cool, witty person I have ever met in my life.  Her and I have never argued and can and do say anything, and I mean anything, that comes to our minds.  She is my best friend and I hope that our Random Adventures continue well into our 80’s.

Hubby and the Princess enjoyed their weekend together making cupcakes and having their own slumber party in the living room.  I hugged them tightly when I got home and asked my Hubby “Would you ever wear skimpy underwear and dance to ‘It’s Raining Men?”  He shook his head and walked away laughing.

A Mommy-Daughter Weekend Away

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The Princess and I have just safely returned from a weekend away where we visited family.  We had taken advantage of MegaBus’ $10 deal and travelled 2 1/2 hours to Kingston.  My sister and her husband live there and as hubby had to work all weekend, it was time for some Mommy-Daughter time.  My husband and I try to stress the importance of individual one on one time.  We like to do things as a family, but I think it is important that our princess spends time with each one of us individually.

On Friday, we packed up all our things and with Daddy in tow, we made our way to the Toronto Bus Terminal.  It seems as though I have finally learned to only pack what we need to reduce our luggage.  I’m definitely one of those “just in case” kind of packers.  This time we only had 1 small suitcase and a large carry on.   The Princess was given her child gravol to stave off any motion sickness that she is sometimes subject to, snacks and items to keep her occupied for the journey.  Nothing makes a long journey longer than vomit and a bored child.  When it was time to board, we gave kisses to Daddy and found our seats.  The one thing I really enjoy about the MegaBus is that it is sometimes a double-decker and Princess loves sitting at the front on the very top.

Our visit in Kingston was a success.  With no full-fledged meltdowns, a visit with a friend, sprinklers, pools and a sandbox, Princess and I had a wonderful weekend with family.  We are finally home and now we are having some cuddle time while watching a good movie.  It’s these moments that I love whole-heartedly and I cannot wait for another Mommy-Daughter date.

Travelling With a Child Who Gets Car Sick

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It is the long weekend, for some it’s for Easter, others it’s Passover, but for most, its time to spend with family and that is exactly what we are doing this weekend.  I am travelling back home to visit my family for the Easter weekend and I have been looking forward to it for the most part except one; my daughter gets car sick.

Since she was very young, my daughter will get car sick regardless of what road we travel, the speed we are going, city driving or highway, if we are in a car, it is almost guaranteed (unless she’s sleeping) that she will get car sick.  We have given her children’s Gravol, pressure point bracelets, you name it, we’ve done it.  Her and motion, are not good bed fellows.  We have a 3 hour bus ride to go on today followed by a 90 minute car ride, so I am almost foreseeing it now.  Let me paint you a picture of the last time we travelled.

It was back in October of 2011, when my sister was going to throw a Scorpio birthday extravaganza (my hubby, daughter and mom are all Scorpio’s and their birthdays are relatively close together).  We had booked our tickets via Megabus, a far cheaper way to travel.  For the three of us 1 way, from Toronto to Kingston was $27, only $9 each!  You couldn’t even drive for that amount.  Our bags were packed, portable DVD player charged, pyjama’s on, anti-motion medication given and pressure point bracelet on.  We simply had to wait for our cab.  Now for those of you whom have never had the displeasure of travelling via taxicab in Toronto, let me tell you, a rollercoaster whips you around less.  I don’t get motion sickness, but I was almost sick myself.

Our trip to the bus station did not particularly start off well, which should have alerted me to the disaster that lay ahead.  As parents, it is sometimes common knowledge that upon leaving on a trip, you don’t always leave riding the waves of marital bliss.  Packing for yourselves and a child is stressful enough, let alone after working 5-10 hour days and then head out for a 4 1/2 bus trip to see the in-laws.  So needless to say, the hubby and I were pretty tense.  We get in the cab quietly, instruct the cab driver where to go and buckle up.  It starts off easy enough, but eventually the stop-go treatment of the city streets begin to catch up to us.  My daughter is beginning to show the telltale signs.

“Mommy, at daycare today….” my little one starts by telling us about her day and everything she did at daycare.  But eventually, the sentences get shorted and she begins to quiet down.

“You ok sweetheart?  If you need to puke, tell Mommy ok?”

“I’m ok Mom,” she whispers.  The thumb goes in the mouth and she leans to the side of her car seat.

“Ok, but let me know.”  The car drives on, breaking and speeding, speeding and breaking some more.  At this time, there is no more chatter, just 3 very tired, very agitated people sitting in the back of a cab, being whipped around.

My daughter looks at me.  Her eyes are sad, glossy and I notice a trickle of drool form at the corner of her mouth.  I point this to my husband that it is coming.

“We’re only a few minutes away sweetheart, just hold on,” he tries to reassure her, trying to get her to talk.  It’s not working.  She begins to whimper, her cheeks swell and the look of “oh no, I’m going to vomit” is written all over her face.   Now most children would gladly throw up in a bowl, bucket, bag, whatever is handy rather than vomit on themselves.  Now note that I said most children, because my daughter is not one of them.  In fact, she flat-out refuses to vomit anywhere else but on herself and on me.  She will hold it in if you put a bowl in front of her.  It’s coming.

“Whhhaaaaaaa,” the vomit is out flying out like the Exorcist.  Not just on her, but on me.  We are literally pulling up to the bus station as this is happening.  Only 2 minutes and we would have been in the clear.  The cab driver is not impressed.  He has a three-year old vomiting profusely in the back of his car (an extra $50 charge for Mommy and Daddy for clean-up) and two parents that are at each other’s throat, because one is covered in vomit and the other is mad at the mess.  The driver hands us a dirty rag to assist in the clean up.

“Gee, thanks,” I say in my most sarcastic biting tone I can muster.

We finally get out of the cab, still covered in vomit with a pile of used baby wipes drenched in the mess in one hand, and a vomit covered baby in the other.

“I’m taking her to the bathroom to get cleaned up, you take the bags and the car seat and get them loaded on the bus,” I bark as I make my way through the crowd.  Mind you the car seat is still wet and my hubby is liking my tone less and less.  As I pass through the crowd, they part like the Red Sea, leaving a wide view of the two of us, soaked, stinky and miserable.  We get to the bathroom and I have changed her into clean clothes and quickly washing her coat in the sink.  Then it hits me, my other clothes are in the luggage.  That is now being loaded onto the bus.  Leaving me know without a clean outfit.  Well this trip keeps getting better.

“Mommy,” my daughter chirps happily.  “I’m hungry.”  Yea, and I am covered in vomit.

“We’ll have snacks on the bus.”

“Ok Mom.”  She is quiet for a moment and then she says this; “What’s that smell?” Oh. My. God!

“That would be me,” I frown.

“You should have a shower,” she astutely observes.  By this point, the ol’ blood pressure is rising.

We make it back to the line, where my husband is in no better a mood.  “Why didn’t you get cleaned up?  You are covered in puke.”

Thank you Captain Obvious.  My scowl says enough.  I’m sure the people behind us would have said something, but I do think they feared my reaction.  I was covered in rancid vomit, without a change of clothes, a daughter who was now hungry because I am wearing her last meal and my husband feels the need to point out the obvious.  Not going good at all!

We finally load the bus and sit in our seats.  My daughter wants to sit with me.  That’s fine.  I smell like vomit and you can sit and smell it too.  But after 10 minutes, the smell is too much for her (Oh, don’t like your own brand?) and she climbs over me to Daddy’s seat.  But 5 minutes later, she wants me again, then Daddy, then Mom again and so on until I have had enough!

“Hun, take her!”  I hand her over and pull out my music player and plug-in the ear phones.  I am going to sleep.  If I am asleep, I cannot smell myself.  My daughter is crying, my husband is peeved and I am still, stilllll covered in toddler vomit.  Oh, from the chunk there on my left sleeve, I see you at hot dogs at lunch today Princess.  My husband taps me on my shoulder.

“She wants you,” he whispers.  I put a single finger in the air without looking at him and close my eyes again.  She is sitting with you, I thought to myself,  I need to sleep this nightmare away.  Hubby is not impressed by my silent objection.

After 3 very long, very smelly hours, we arrive in Kingston.  We are sitting at the front of a double-decker bus and I see my sister waiting for us.  She waves, but her smile soon fades when she sees our 3 faces.   I load up our carry-on’s, have my daughter on one shoulder and we make our way down the stairs.  My sister quickly rushes over to embrace her niece and before I can warn her, the smell hits her.

“Whew, Carley, you really stink.”  Thanks Sis, your words have always been a comfort.

I am truly hoping that this trip is not a repeat of last time.  Happy Holiday’s everyone and I will see you back on Sunday.

Today a Miracle Happened!

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As the title states, today, a miracle happened.  I went to the grocery store with my daughter and she didn’t have a meltdown.  You read that correctly, there was no meltdown.  The heavens parted, the birds sang, and I didn’t need a Tylenol when I got home.  I did my preemptive speech that I give before each outing.

“Now Princess, what are the rules before we go out?”

“No biting, no hitting, no pinching, no slapping, no yelling, no crying and listen to Mommy,” my three year old lists off.

“That’s right,” I say, nodding my head.  “Are you already?”

We are getting ready to go.  I have inhaled and exhaled deeply 5 times.  I have centred my chi, I have repeated the mantra “It’s only a trip to the grocery store” in my head over and over again.  My daughter is in her weather appropriate attire, our cloth grocery bags at the ready.  It’s time.  We pull out the grocery cart, the doors part and my hubby gives me the reassuring pat on the back.  We make our rounds at the fruit stands, then the vegetables and then the bread section.  So far so good.  She is holding the lettuce and potatoes in the cart.  She is content.  It isn’t until we round the meat aisle when she becomes a little restless.  Ok, quick thinking, what to do, what to do?

“Honey, do you want to help Daddy push the cart?”

“Yes.  I help ok Daddy.”  Meltdown averted.

We get through the meat, and onto the eggs and milk we go.  She decides she wants plain Organic Greek yogurt and puts it in the cart. I put it back on the shelf and her expression on her face says it all.  Oh no.

“We’ll get you big girl yogurt ok.”

The expression fades, and this is what she squeaks; “Ok Mom.”

Now its the quick up and down of the other aisles, decadent in their sugars and treats, the brightly coloured boxes, the mascots and symbols of every parents contempt.  I am envisioning the temper tantrum, the cries and pleas for Lucky Charms, the stares from the other patrons.  But to my surprise, she is content in helping put things in the cart and pushing it.  She does take a small time out however to stand upon a stool and sing “I’m a Little Teapot.”  I smile and so do the other people walking by.  I am relishing in the fact that so far everything has gone relatively smoothly.  But we haven’t checked out yet, I don’t want to jinx myself.  And then I see it.  The #1 cash with its iridescent glow, we are almost done!

My little helper begins to carelessly toss food onto the conveyor belt, squishing the bread, bruising the bananas, and tearing the bags.  I stop her and she begins to pout.

“You have to be careful or it will break.”

She turns to her Dad and restates this to him.  We have finally packed up the bags, the bill is settled and I am gleeful.  I have managed an entire trip with no big fuss.  But my Princess is not done yet.

“I have to go pee pee Mommy.”

OH NO!!!  The battle of potty training and being away from home has just begun.  I begin to sweat.  I am now rushing.  We don’t have time.  Oh crap!

“Just hold it ok, we’re almost home,” I plead, the entire time that an accident could be imminent.

For some reason, we made it home and had no accident.  We had no temper tantrum.  No fit of tears and cries.  No “You’re not my friend Mommy.”  It was a good trip to the grocery store.  It was a miracle.  I am still pinching myself to make sure this is not a dream.

Life Before Becoming a Mommy

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For the first time in a very long time, I went out on the town, and had an adult dinner, with adult friends.  We drank, ate ostrich carpaccio and calamari, spoke about work, the world, and life in general at a cool hip restaurant in downtown Toronto.  There was no rushing home to let the babysitter go.  There was no calling to check in.  It was a good night.  A simple night of pure unadulterated fun.  It made me remember the days of up-all-nights (and not the “Go the F*** to Sleep” kind either) and party all day.  The life before diaper rash and bottle feeds, spit up and teething.   The life before becoming a mommy.

I think sometimes we as mother’s get caught up in that label; “Mother’s”.  To the outside world, we simply did not exist prior to the day we gave birth, created life, experienced the most excruciating pain and absolute joy at the same time.  To them, we drew our first breath the same time our children did.  I’d like to think, or hope at least, we are more than just procreators.  For the 22 years before my daughter was born, I was Carley.  I liked her.  I liked her a lot.  I miss her, I miss her a lot.  I never had to think about anyone else, other than myself.  If I wanted to buy a pair of new shoes, I did.  If I wanted to go the movies, I went.  If I wanted to take off for the weekend and not know the destination, I could.

Now, if I want to buy a new pair of shoes, I must think to myself; “Does my daughter need anything first?” “What is the price point and can I fit this into the budget?” “Is this a want? Or a need?”  If I want to go to the movies, this is what runs through my head; “Who’s going to watch her?”  “Movies are at least $45 to go to, is it really worth it? Or can I wait until it comes on the Movie Network?”  As for taking off for the weekend and not know the destination, this is what first comes to mind; “Forget about it!”  From the moment our children are born, we no longer rank #1 on the most important person list, to be honest, I doubt we even rank #5.  We are at the bottom of the totem pole.  Our pets rank higher than we do.

I had a great time this evening, I really did.  Towards the end of the night, however, I was thinking about my Princess.  What she was doing, was she having fun, did she miss me.  I started thinking that it was at this time that we would be just finishing up dinner and starting to get ready for bed with bath time and then story time and then finally off to dreamland.  I miss twirling my fingers around her blonde curls.  I miss our conversations about Monsters and Dinosaurs and Alligators that that romp and stomp in the ceiling and creep and sneak under her bed.  Most of all, I miss her.  So while I don’t always get a new pair of shoes, or get to go the movies, or may never take that trip without a destination until she’s in university, every moment I’m with her makes all that seem so insignificant.  In the meantime, all I can do is be Carley, and be Mommy and try my very best to combine the two as seamlessly as possible.