Moving With Kids –

The 10 Most Interesting Things That Happened On That Move

The great thing about writing, about blogging, is that you see everything in a slightly different light. Like a drunk. Or a zen master. Or both.

Plus, with my new family, I even get to learn a thing or two. The great move of 2014 had a bit of both.

IMG_0177 (3)1. I learned that kids love open spaces. If they had it their way, there’d be nothing but open space, a table to play their games on, and a TV, with or without a chair. The boys named the downstairs basement room the ‘rolling around room’, for the love of God. That kinda gives you an idea of what they want to do in that room. But, hey, who am I to complain? I have a library, aka, a room for books.

2. Having their own space is important to the boys, right? But equally important is a requirement that said space be precisely equal in square footage. Before we moved, the Youngest had a smaller room. A massively smaller room, to hear his side of the story. A room so small, he could barely turn around, a room so small his lego men had bigger beds, a room so small that when he took a breath, he sucked all of the oxygen out of it. Now, however, his room is within 3cm, (I kid you not, we measured) of his brother’s. Order has been restored to the universe.

3. The boys’ priority of unpacking was, the 3DSs, the computers and cookies for the dog. I loved that they thought about the dog, but there was little thought about food or shelter for themselves. I guess that’s why they have parents (and I guess that’s why dogs love kids.)

4. The vibrating bag, was, for the record and with complete honesty, not what you think it was. Nor what the movers thought it was. Sure it was a pink bag and, yes, something inside of it was going mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, but it was a canine nail grinder that got accidentally turned on. Yes, a nail grinder. For Vegas. For her nails. But nothing to see here. Move on.

5. The boys heard a lot of swearing. And not just from me. Last time they managed to hear such an outburst, I’d hit myself in the face with the car door. “M*therf*cking, sh*t, f*cking, f*uck, f*ck, assf*cking c*cks*cking, m*therf*cking poo!” This time, though, they got to hear it from the movers. And they didn’t even bang their head on a low-hanging, concrete beam. They just shook their heads like all adults were pretty stupid sometimes.

IMG_55916. I learned that I should never, ever pack at 3 am.IMG_4859

Never. Ever.

7. No matter what is written on the box, the movers will put a few in a random location. Like a box that says, “Master Bedroom – Upstairs – Clothes” was found in the basement office. With no bed – Or clothes – in sight. If I had to do it all over, again, I would follow them all around as if they were little leprechauns trying to hide the lucky charms, cuz they’re magically delicious.

8. I must remember to ask what all the buttons do BEFORE I actually move into a house. How do I turn on the overhead fan? This switch, no, that’s the garburator. What about this one? No, that kills a puppy in India. What about this one? No, looks like it turns on the fan light – but I know I’m getting closer. I’ve assigned the Youngest to sort it all out. He loves pressing buttons and I just hope we don’t somehow start a nuclear war with someone.

9. Just cuz the movers can lift it, doesn’t mean I can. There was a pair of boxes. I won’t say who packed them, but it wasn’t me. Or the Youngest. Or the oldest. They were good-sized boxes. The kind you fill with glasses or puffy jackets. Inside these were records. Old ones. Made from the black bits from a black hole. Man, I nearly popped out an eye lifting that one. Somehow the movers had decided not to take it to the media room and left it in the garage. I suspect on purpose.

10. Moving is stressful. For everyone. The boys. The dog. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world. And me. But we took a moment, after all the movers had gone, as we stood in our kitchen surrounded by a wall of boxes like we were preparing to fight off a Zulu attack, we looked around and marveled at our new house. It was huge and held so much promise. Plus, pizza was on the way. It’s a good life!

IMG_0172

 

Posted in Blogging, Moving, Moving With Kids, Parenting, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Moving With Kids

Moving With Kids

Ok, ok, not our real house, this is Eilean Donan but I would love to live in a castle.

Ok, ok, not our real house, this is Eilean Donan but I would love to live in a castle.

It’s finally here. The Great Move of 2014, where two houses become one, where the great war between the clans will finally end.

I’ll admit it, I was a little nervous. Not about moving in with the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and her boys, (it was going to be the start of my awesome new life), but it was going to be a whopping move, make no mistake. On one side, a handsome man with hoarding tendencies who had 3, yes 3, dining room tables, about 5 desks and dozen bookshelves. On the other side, lots and lots of toys. Wait, that was still me. On the other side, well, not much, really. So maybe it was more about moving a ton of my stuff. Let’s be honest.

The boys had been great packing up their stuff at their house. The Oldest, bless his heart, dismantled all of the lego displays and put them in bags, complete with instructions. The youngest vacuumed (even coming over to my house to vacuum). They filled boxes with books and clothes and toys. They worked hard.

All the stuff that didn't fit into any of the existing piles, boxes or containers

All the stuff that didn’t fit into any of the existing piles, boxes or containers

Me, I packed up over a month, but somehow the last few days got away from me. I’d been so good about packing in a super organized way, (you know, history books sorted by era, fiction sorted by type, size, author and color, writing books sorted by what I’d forgotten and cook books sorted by food types – Oh, yeah, I have a lot of books, too,) but come that last day, all that stuff I couldn’t sort in a OCD fashion was piled in my living room like the house had vomited it up.

So I ended up spending the last night until 3am packing.  The previous two nights I’d stayed up to 2, trying to get it all come together, but that wasn’t enough. However, by 3am, it was pretty much good to go.

Pretty much.

So I went to bed and tried to sleep. The boys said they weren’t really excited, like it wasn’t real, but at least they weren’t stressed. They slept well. No worries. Not the same for the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and I.

I slept about 2 hours. She got 4.

The loading begins.

The loading begins.

Then the movers came. A truck to each of our houses. What took me a week to pack up and move to an official ‘sorted’ area, they did in about an hour. The rest of the stuff took time, but we were on our way by noon.

I won’t go into the details of all the problems we encountered with the movers, as that’s a whole other story, but when we all arrived at the new house, the real work began. Me with my 1 ½ moving trucks, and the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and her boys with their 11 boxes and a couple of desks and tables.

Now, understand, we have a nice-sized house, yet within a short time, some rooms were packed to the ceiling. Hello “Joe’s Library,” I’m talking to you.

The boys, though were amazing. They’d spent the first part of the day with their grandparents at an epic family gathering. Bad timing on our part. We would have loved to be out with everyone, but we had work to do.

By the time the boys arrived, we were in full-on panic mode. There was simply too much stuff and too little space in some areas. The boys did their best to stay out of everyone’s way and hid in their rooms most of the time. Their beds were set up, their dressers brought in, and their boxes brought up. The boys looked more stressed than excited. I couldn’t blame them. It was all chaos and swearing.

Our house. In the middle of the street. Our house is our castle and our keep

Our house. In the middle of the street. Our house is our castle and our keep

In the end, everything was jam-packed into the house, like stuffing into a turkey. Mmmmm turkey. We were all dusty, hungry and very tired. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world ordered pizza for us and the movers, then we went to bed, knowing tomorrow would be another very, very busy day.

So what did we learn?  I mean other than me having to throw away a lot more stuff? (I already had a ton and a half hauled away.)

Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Triage

10 things to know about moving

The kids organize.

Posted in Moving With Kids, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Traveling Without Kids – Whistler – White Water Rafting 2

White Water, White Knuckles

I couldn’t tell you the name of our guide. The other guides called him Slovak. He was not from Slovakia, but Slovenia. Naming him ‘Slovak’ is a guy thing. Or a stupid thing. Or maybe both. Like calling someone from Ireland, ‘the Scot’. Or a big guy, ‘Tiny’.

IMG_3501Oh, he told us his name about a dozen times, but it was all foreign-like. And had a lot of syllables. And he had an accent. So, yeah,I couldn’t tell you his real name so let’s call him Slovak the Guide. Kind of a Game of Thrones name like ‘the Mother of Dragons’ or ‘the Hand’ or ‘the guy who got boiling gold poured on his head’.

Anyway, after hearing about the 22 ways we could all die horribly, Slovak the Guide took us to the center of the river and made us practice our drills. There were 2 father and son teams. Us. And 2 fit-if-hungover-looking guys.

Forward! Slovak the Guide yelled. Backwards! Right side, Forward, again! Hold on! Stop hitting person behind you with paddle! Forward hard! Joe stop falling out of boat!

I want to say we were awesome, that we took directions well, that we all paddled like a well oiled bunch of Spartans (and FYI, the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world wished we were a bunch of well oiled Spartans), but we actually sucked monkey balls.

This whole ‘rowing together’ thing is hard. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and I were in complete sync, but the guy in front of her, he had a random beat going on in his head. Row, one two, row, one, two, three, la-la-la, row, row. It threw us both off.

Our side of the boat ended up looking like a spider having an epileptic fit.

However, we rocked at the “Down!” command so I thought we’d be safe. At the end of the day, did we really need to row or just know how to hang on for dear life?

Then we started. Slowly at first, still trying to get that whole left side or right side backwards thing worked out. We were awesome at spinning the boat. If that counted for anything.

IMG_3561

And my crotch completely fills with cold water

Then we drifted into our first rapids. White water surged around us and we tore through it, waves splashing over us, the freezing water waking the hell out of me. NOW I WAS FUCKING AWAKE, let me tell you. Forget coffee. If you ever need to wake up, pour glacier water down your pants.

Slovak the Guide was amazing at keeping us aligned and, frankly, afloat, while at the same time, letting us have the fun of splashing through walls of water. Mad kudos to the guy.

We passed through the first rapids without anyone falling off. However, the guy in front of the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world – an older, English gentleman – fell backwards onto her and bruised her hand up something fierce.

It was not a good start cuz you kinda needed hands on this ride, but she’s tough, that one and refused to let a little pain get in her way.

When we reached a deeper, less murderous part of the river, Slovak the Guide told us we could go over the side and practice floating or holding on to the boat or just see how cold the water would be. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world declined, wisely, but me, being the same guy who once zapped himself with an electric, fly swatter to see what if felt like, thought, hey, why not?

Holy hell, it was COLD!!!

3 exclamation points cold. Even in the wetsuit.

You have no idea how cold it really is until you actually get in. My balls immediately shot into my throat for protection, and my whole body went into shock. My heart thundered in my chest, my muscles refused to move because all of the blood went to protect my brain (and to my penis, I hoped, to stop it from freezing solid and falling off.)

And even in this mild part of the river, the current was POWERFUL. Mad respect to the river, man. You are pretty much powerless against it.

When blood returned to my muscles and I stopped screaming like a girl, I swam back to the boat and tried to claw my way in. But my wetsuit boots had filled with water and the current kept dragging my lower body under the boat. So, unable to use my feet to kick up, I just couldn’t muster the strength to haul myself in.

This was not a proud moment. Getting out of a pool is one thing. Getting out of a raging river, well, that is quite another thing.

I finally had to admit defeat and ask for help. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and one of the fit-now-no-longer-hungover guys hauled me out of the water like a drowned cat. As I climbed back in the boat, I knew one thing for sure. I was not going back in that water, again. The river was not my friend.

Exhausted, panting, I grabbed my oar, and prepared for the rest of the journey. Ahead were 2 class 4 rapids and – according to Slovak the Guide – it was “not usual for person to fall in water.”

Great.

Into the rapids we go!

Into the rapids we go!

However, despite enormous difficulty rowing as one, we made it through the Devil’s Elbow and whatever the 2nd one was called. Likely something like the Rocks of Murderous Death or The Whirlpools of Doom. Nothing has a nice name on this river. Like the Blossom Bend. Or Puppy Puddles.

By the time we stopped for a mammoth lunch of a peanut butter bar and a glass of iced tea, I was getting the hang of rowing, of leaning out and using my body strength instead of just my arms. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world did heroic rowing and rode the waves like a pro. I was beginning to think this was not her first time.

Then, after lunch and one more set of rapids, Slovak the Guide thought, hey, you know what, riding rapids isn’t hard enough – let’s make this super tough by getting all of us to stand up in the boat, and link arms. Then he told us to climb up onto the side of the boat.

Now, for anyone who hasn’t done water rafting or is simply loves to hear how cruel some people can be, the boat is an inflatable one. That means the sides are rounded, and slippery and a little skooshie. In other words, super freaking hard to stand on.

But we did it, the older, English gentleman desperately holding onto the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world’s arm like an eagle holds on to a salmon . OMG the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world had the balance of a ninja ballerina and somehow kept the older English gentleman and me from falling in the water. I dunno how she did it.

Now, that was hard, but swaying and shifting back and forth, we managed to do it. Then, because THAT wasn’t hard enough, he made us walk around the edge of the boat, a rubbery, slippery, bobbing, unstable boat on a racing river.

We had me on one side of the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and the older, English gentleman on the other. One of the fit-now-no-longer-hungover-looking-guys, (Sean…Shane…Mike, something like that), kept me upright, but I couldn’t stop the older, English gentleman from pitching into the boat a few times and dragging the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world with him. She got more banged up, but being kinda stubborn, refused to fall into the water.

Somehow, I don’t know how, none of us fell into the water. Oh, we plowed face first into the boat a whole ton of times and one time when I fell with such epic grace, that I managed to bring the whole group down on top of me like a collapsing Jenga game.

slovak

Ok, next, handstands!

However, Slovak the Guide was satisfied. If we weren’t wet, at least we were sore and bruised. That would teach us for not knowing his name.

Then we took on the last bit of the river. The older, English gentleman was getting tired and fell onto the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world a dozen times. He banged her up pretty good, but the worst was still to come. He decided he wanted to switch his head-camera from his son to himself.

Slovak the Guide kept shouting, “Hurry! Water coming!” but we went into the last rapids two men down, the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world holding his oar while trying to keep him from falling into the water and the fit-but-now-completely-sober guy and I trying to take up the slack. Man, I never rowed harder in my life or gripped any seat with my ass more.

IMG_3607

The epileptic spider

But we made it through.

We survived, battered and bruised, panting from rowing, but alive. Slovak the Guide had steered us safely through all the obstacles.

The ride was so beautiful. The mountains towered above us. One wept two streams of tears. Bright lichen glowed in the shadows. Hawks soared overhead. Brilliant sunlight diamonded off of the water. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world smiled and laughed and that made my heart happy.

8 - Mount KayleeSlovak the Guide told us there was a 2 day trip planned where, I kid you not, they would do yoga at the end of the day. I could barely freaking walk after a ride down that river and yoga would just plain kill me. I could hear the yoga instructor now. “Ok, everyone stop pull out your quinoa tofu bars and relaxe, that Joe guy has cramped up again and is crying.”

So, was it a success? Is this whole white water rafting something I would recommend? Did the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world have a good time?

Hell yes to all of them.

.

 

 

 

 

Posted in BC, Blogging, Travel, Whistler, White Water Rafting, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Traveling Without Kids – Whistler – White Water Rafting.

The Great Rapids Adventure of 2014

My life has been so much richer, so much more amazing (and, ok, confusing) now that I have kids in my life. But sometimes it’s nice to get away. Just the two of us. You know, have some adult time.

IMG_3434And by that I mean, white water rafting!

It’s been on the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world’s bucket list, so for her 39th birthday, we went to Whistler and booked ourselves a trip. Outback Adventures. The Wet and Wild Exhilarator.   Class 3-4 rapids.

Sounded like a lot of fun.

big-hero-6-baymaxOk, so first off, a wet suit is not a good look for me.

I knew it the moment I zipped it up. I can hide a lot by dressing well, but in a wetsuit, all the blubber is there to see. I look like Hero 6. Before he puts on the red battle suit.

It’s like every timmies donut, every order of poutine, every extra McFatty meal I ever ate was there for all to see.

However, the good news is, I’m pretty sure that I’d be rated as a marine floatation device. I told the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world that if we all went over, hold on to me, don’t worry if I’m face-down in the water, I don’t need to be alive to float.

But I tell you, if I had put on a wetsuit every morning to go to work, I’d eat kale cookies, drink quinoa shakes and work out to videos by that torturer, Jillian Michaels.

The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world looked great in her wet suit – don’t let her tell you otherwise. However, she said she had a problem with uniboob. All the other hot girls had proper, separated boob definition. She tried showing them her uniboob and getting suggestions, they just looked at her, apparently, in complete horror. So, she tried to mold hers into two but they wouldn’t cooperate no matter how she pushed or pulled them. Not even when she tried to fake them out by zipping up her suit super fast.

It didn’t matter. She looked awesome. Even with her safety helmet on, and let’s face it, that’s not an easy thing to pull off.

I have to say I was a bit nervous at first. Not about the rafting (for some reason, I had no fear of this), but, while we waited, the driver kept yanking open the hood of the bus, banging on something inside and swearing. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and I looked at each other. The last thing we wanted was to have to walk back to civilization in our wetsuits.

Especially since I might be mistaken for a whale and killed for my blubber.

However, we all got on the bus and trusted to the Lord or St Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, or whomever we thought my intervene on our behalf. In the end, the bus survived one more ride.
We had a long ride to the drop off point. We all had to introduce ourselves, say our name (not easy for me to remember first thing in the morning), state where we were from (again, this is a challenge), tell everyone if this was our first time rafting and, then, tell everyone our favourite childhood memory. Not wanting to have an epic fail, I immediately started thinking what would be my favourite memory. I mean, hey, my childhood was awesome, but I needed something humorous or poignant.

I could have said my first orgasm. That was a highlight when I found out I could do that. But this was a family bus, so, yeah, no to that idea. I could tell everyone about the time my brother almost shot me in the head with an arrow, but that would take a lot of backstory to build up.

soccerSo, I went with something neither poignant nor funny, just something simple. Hi, my name is “Joe, I’m originally from Victoria, BC, this is my first time rafting and my favourite memory is playing soccer in the backyard with my dad, though he was English like the guy in the back there, and he too refused to call it anything but football.”

The Prettiest-girl in the world begged me not to mention it was her birthday so I didn’t. I have to assume when she says something like that she means it, not that she’s somehow secretly hoping that I will mention it so the whole bus can sing happy birthday to her (and maybe one of the hunky guides will let her touch his biceps).

It was too early for me to be funny, but clearly not for everyone. One guy stood up, said, “Hi, my name is Bob and I’m an alcoholic.” I believed him. Two irish boys stood up and I loved hearing their accents, “Hullo, my name is Liam and h’I’m from H’iiiiireland.” There were 2 stag groups, all filled with funny guys who mostly made fun of each other or themselves. “Some play hard to get, I play hard to want,” and even an Olympian from Jordan, who was not funny, but if you’re an Olympian, you don’t have to be.

IMG_3460Our guides were all super fit men, mostly young. A few from Australia, including one who claimed, with all sincerity, that he wrestled crocs.

I thought what an amazing life they must have. Oh sure, they live in tents, but they all travel around the world doing this sort of thing, working in hotels or being guides, all so they can kayak or mountain bike or dodge arrows shot by their brother. Pretty cool. I think if I was their age, I’d do a lot of thinking about that kind of fun. Not actually doing it, you understand, but I would think about it. Maybe download a video.

It took 90 min for us to get there, a long, mostly boring and bumpy ride. When we got there, we all waddled out of the bus, a few guys peed on the road, then we all bumbled down to the water to get our instructions. The main guide told us to please pay attention, “to stop looking at Sean. Yes, I know he has an amazing body, it’s why he takes his shirt off all the time, but you need to focus for just a moment.”

I’m not sure the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world heard him. Nor did any of the women, I suspect. Oddly enough, there weren’t a lot of women on this trip. Hell, if they put up lots of pictures of the buff aussies, that would totally change.

safetyAll I heard was, blah, blah, blah, when you go under the boat, blah, blah, blah, when the boat over turns, something about death, blah, blah, blah, hit a log and drown, blah, blah, blah, body washes up downstream, something about how cold the water was and something about 100% success rate on saving the life jackets.

Then they gave us the option of not going and getting a full refund. Basically he scared the pants off of us to make us take this river seriously. He didn’t have to do that for me. I had a plan. I wasn’t going to fall into that water. No way in hell. I may be chubby, but I gotz good balance.

Anyway, when asked who the couples were, the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and I put up our hands. We thought we’d get put with all the other couples. It would be kind of cool, a few less-than-fit guys with their girlfriends, maybe the Olympian and her new husband, maybe the model gorgeous people from Surrey or the Filipinos.

But no. We got two super fit young guys, and two father-and-son teams. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world was the only girl.

I said this was great since all the men would try to save her. Me, they’d let drown, but her, they’d fight over to save.

But I don’t think she heard me. She had on her fierce face. She was going to out row them all. Dammit. Hi, my name is the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world and this is my first time rafting and I’m for Surrey, you bastards, so watch the f* out.

She stomped into the boat, grabbed the oar and prepared to ride the sh*t out of the river. I got in behind her, sat down and wondered if I’d updated my life insurance.

Then we rowed out into the river.IMG_3469

 

 

 

Posted in Traveling Without Kids, Uncategorized, Whistler, White Water Rafting | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traveling With Kids – Victoria – A Story In Pictures

Victoria Done Like It’s Never Been Done

The Youngest has a way of doing things. His own way. His own unique style.

Below is a pictorial of how he experiences something new.

Hey look! What's that?

Hey look! What’s that? Is it alive? What’s it doing down there?

Oh, it's a dog. Made out of metal. It has shiny parts. First, I will pet it.

Oh, it’s a dog. Made out of metal. It has shiny parts. First, I will pet it.

 

Tne I will kick it. Then I will sit on it. Cuz that's what you do. You sit on things.

Then I will kick it. Then I will sit on it. Cuz that’s what you do. You sit on things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I rub my bum on it. Back and forth, back and forth. My brother giggles.

Then I rub my bum on it. Back and forth, back and forth. My brother pretends to ignore me.

IMG_2595 (2)

Then I will say good-bye. Bye-bye doggie. It was nice sitting on you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it. Next time you’re on vacation and you see something cool, talk to it, pet it, kick it, sit on it, then say good-bye. It works for things like the London Ferris Wheel, the Pope and probably the ruins of Ancient Rome.

The last adventure the boys had was watching one of what turned out to be elusive street entertainers. He told jokes, juggled and made us all laugh. Well, why don’t I show you.

The whole time was a great success. The boys and the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world all got to see my friends and family, learned a new game and experienced Victoria with their bums.

They left a little sad to go, I think.

IMG_2604 IMG_2603 (2)

Posted in BC, Blogging, Parenting, Travel, Traveling with Kids, Victoria, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Traveling With Kids – Victoria – Double Decker Tours

Buses and Bees and Books

IMG_4987Sitting on top of a double decker is like sitting on top of the world. You get to be like a god, looking down on everyone, watching someone pick their nose in their car, seeing who is balding, or simply getting the big view of the world around us.

That’s why we chose to go on a double decker.

What better way to see Victoria?

There was only one problem. The Oldest is deathly afraid of bees. And if Victoria is famous for anything, it’s flowers. So he was on guard like a Rottweiler waiting for that darned squirrel.

IMG_5191As we pulled out from the Empress, we were told to watch out for low hanging branches, told NOT to stand up in the bus, (we all stared at the Youngest) and not to throw stuff at passing pedestrians. Ok, the driver didn’t say that, we said that to the Youngest.

The Oldest, armed with his iphone camera, ready to shoot pictures to show his dad, noted that no one mentioned the bees. I said that’s cuz we were too high up for them, but the Oldest knows his bee facts and said that just wasn’t true. Score one for him and 0 for me and my invented facts.

FANTANAs we doodled along Government street and around China town, he kept his eye out for a good photo shots and errant people-attacking bees. He loved the blue bridge, was mystified why anyone thought Fan-Tan alley was cool and tried to find free wifi so he could check up on his village in Clash of Clans. Unfortunately for him, there was little wifi and he was forced to look at the sights.

We passed by St Andrew’s church, which looked more like a fortress, then around the Fisherman’s wharf area, then past the Mile 0 and Terry Fox marker and into Beacon Hill Park where we saw the giant watering can someone built to water children (not a bad idea, actually). We almost got off inside the park to pet the smelly animals, but it soon became apparent that we were in danger of breaking traveling rule #2. Always remain well-fed. And since it was apparently frowned upon to eat the petting zoo animals, we chose to wait until a bit later to get off the bus.

Victoria facts we learned.

  • The Uplands managed to have tour buses banned from their roads. Esquimalt has not banned them… cuz no one wants to go there.
  • There are 1500 odd flower baskets (or as the Oldest calls them, bad, bad bee attractors) and two full time staff watering them 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Victoria is the capital of BC, not Vancouver, no, Vancouver is the biggest city in BC, no they can’t move the capital cuz it would cost too much to move the parliament buildings.
  • David Foster comes by sometimes and organizes things. Like event-things. Apparently Nelly Furtado organizes nothing. And Steve Nash has built a whole bunch of gyms with his name. No mention of me and my accomplishments.
  • Christ Church Cathedral had spires planned, but they ran out of money. It’s too bad, but the cathedral is still impressive by BC standards.

Full of facts and hungry, we got off the bus in Oak Bay and raced to top of the street where I knew a kid-friendly restaurant would be. I wanted to go to the Penny Farthing, but I’m just not sure what the rules are these days for taking kids into pubs. Is it allowed? Can they have a pint? It sure would solve a lot of problems if they could.

Either way, we ate in record time so we could catch the bus back. If we missed it, it would be another hour in Oak Bay and, let’s face it, if you spend 20 min there, you’ve pretty much seen Oak Bay. At least for the boys.

IMG_2600

Me being a human seatbelt, holding on to the Youngest’s jacket and nearly strangling him.

On the way back, though, there we were, up top again, sitting at the back so we could all sit together, the Youngest sitting in the middle because that had the best view and was ‘the acoustical sweet spot’, me holding on to him to prevent him from standing up, flying through the wind shield if we stopped suddenly or bouncing out of the bus if we hit a huge bump, the Oldest beside me, dodging low branches that threatened to whip him in the face, when out of nowhere….

BEEEEEEEEE!

It was on a kamikaze mission.

It flew right into his face at full velocity. Pretty much his worst nightmare. Mine is bungee jumping naked with the rubber band around my testicles. For the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world, it’s being seen by Johnny Depp in a grocery store on the day she had to rush out in her PJ’s, her hair a mess and a giant sleepy-crease on her face. But, for the OIdest… bee in face… bad stuff.

But here’s the thing. As it hit him square on the nose, he just moved to the left, watched it fly past him and resumed his hunt for free wifi.

It was a transitional moment. He had met the enemy and the enemy flew away. Without stinging him. Without flying up his nose. Without calling all his bee-buddies to sting him to death. It was awesome to see him deal with that fear so well.

munrosTo celebrate, we went to buy everyone a book at the greatest bookstore in the world, Munro’s Books. The Youngest wanted to buy an existential tome. I have no idea why he wanted that book other than it was huge and would likely leave a mark when he hit his brother with it. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world found a book by Robb Lowe. The Oldest eventually found an Adventure Time book.

But Munro’s! Wow. If you see only one book store in BC, see Munro’s. It has a good selection, sure, but it’s housed in a cool old building built in 1909, the same year I was born, and was owned by Alice Munro, one of our greatest writers. How cool is that?

All-in-all, a good day. But it wasn’t done. We still had one more adventure. Next up, that adventure and a picture blog featuring the Youngest and his way of experiencing Victoria.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Traveling With Kids – Victoria – The Vikings

IMG_4987Vikings!!!

If in doubt and time is limited, what better way to see Victoria than by double-decker bus?

The boys were stoked. We’d take the bus, climb up to the upper level and see all there was to see.

Right after seeing the Royal BC Museum and their Viking Exhibit.

So, since I am long-winded and can never tell a story in 10 word when 1000 will do, I’m going to do this in 3 parts. 1st part, the museum. 2nd the bus ride and then, How Best To Experience Victoria In Pictures (and it may not be what you think.)

IMG_5401So first, Vikings. In explaining what they were all about (as we stood in line for the tickets), I think I made two little girls ill and I’m pretty sure their mother was looking daggers are me. But hey, the Vikings were pretty violent folks. Hacky-slashie-stabbie types. Oh sure, they were also traders and artisans and settlers and blah, blah, blah, but let’s face it, they furiously plundered and looted and pillaged their way across Europe. With swords and axes and fire.

They were like the Sons of Anarchy of their time. So not people you’d want your daughter to date … unless your daughter was, you know, a Viking.

IMG_5091

The boys couldn’t sail in it, they couldn’t set fire to it, they couldn’t even climb on it, so what, exactly was the point, they wondered?

So I thought the Viking Exhibit at the Royal BC Museum would be amazing. I mean who doesn’t like pillaging and plundering and bad boy attitudes?

Outside the museum had a small, authentic-looking Viking rowboat. Not big enough to carry 50 hefty men with axes and shields, but a pretty cool example of Viking shipbuilding skills.

The picture shows how thrilled the boys were.

Inside, the exhibit focused mostly on the peaceful part of Viking culture. However, there was one sword on display that could be held, and I think it touched something in the Youngest as he channeled his Northman heritage, not wanting to see anything else, not wanting to touch anything else and genuinely confused that he couldn’t take the sword out of the display and hack at his brother with it.

IMG_5402Other than that, though, the exhibit showed where they traded and settled (all over Europe and even down to Constantinople!) It showed how they made their ships, what plants they used for dye, what clothes the wore, and which gods they worshiped (which the Oldest found out were, in fact, mostly superheroes from the Marvel Comics.) If he was a god, he declared, he would be Loki. He liked Loki.

But there was very little about what made the Vikings so interesting – at least to me. I guess it made sense. This was a family exhibit. Want to see what life was really like? Go watch The Vikings on the History Channel. Lots of things get hacked off, blood spurts everywhere and what the Vikings do to the monks, well, the less said the better.

It was a warrior society, born out of hardship and cruel violence. Not something little Suzie really needs to know about until later, if ever.

From IGN

From IGN

However, I wanted to tell the boys about Ragnarök and the end of times. What a story! All the Viking warriors who die in glorious battle gather at a hall to drink and sing until the end of times when the world is broken, the giants storm Asgard and the warriors all muster to fight a final battle, knowing that the only outcome is defeat.

I mean, how cool, how nihilistic is that? I love it!

The boys just wanted to know if Loki survived and if Iron Man would help out Thor.

Ah well.

Still, they did learn that Vikings did, in fact, NOT wear horns on their helmets. A big disappointment for all of us.  They learned how heavy a sword could be and what a ship’s sail felt like. And they learned that Loki and Thor and Odin existed before Stan Lee dug them up and made them famous again.

So, all good.

vikings again

My idea of a good museum tour. Not everyone gets out alive.

However, if I’d been able to make the exhibit, I would have had all sorts of pictures showing the epic battles, maybe allowed the boys to hack at each other with ax and shield, and maybe given them a chance to row across the harbour and sack Esquimalt. Now THAT would be the Viking experience, let me tell you.

I’m not sure the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world would have thought this would have been appropriate.

A megalodon tooth

A Megalodon tooth

The rest of the museum was fun, though. Nothing like a few dinosaur bones, a big scary woolly mammoth, a Megalodon tooth and an IMAX movie about great white sharks to liven things up. But even the shark movie – rated 9.5/10 by the boys – was all PG, mostly talking about where the sharks swam, what music they seemed to like and how people loved interacting with them. Like a Finding Nemo version of sharks. There was very little about limbs being chomped off, seals being devoured or the poor old sharks themselves being used for stock in some moron’s soup.

Just before the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world had to apologize for me butting in line at the hot dog stand

Just before the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world had to apologize for me butting in line at the hot dog stand

All in all, though, not a bad museum for them to see.

Plus, afterwards, they got to have hotdogs.

And who doesn’t like a morning that ends with hot dogs?

Next up, the bus ride, bees and books.

 

 

Posted in Blogging, Esquimalt, Parenting, Royal BC Museum, Traveling with Kids, Victoria, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment