The War at Home

26 06 2008

There is a battle of the sexes regularly erupting in the Blisterdome. Or maybe it’s a battle over the sexes. What ever it is, it’s Neener versus Roo, and it typically manifests in a conversation that goes a little something like this:

Roo: I like princesses and pink is my favourite colour and I have long hair and I wear dresses and I am a girl.

Neener: I like dinosaurs and soccer. My favourite colour is red. I wear my red dino soccer shorts when I play dino soccer. I’m a girl too.

Roo: No! You’re a boy! I’m a girl and you’re a boy!

Neener: No, I’m a girl!

Roo: No! Boy!

Neener: Girl!

Roo: Boy! Boy! Boooooooooooy!

Neener: No! I’m a girrrrrrrrrl!

Roo: BOY! BOY! BOY! YOU ARE A BOY! BOOOOOOOOOOY!

Neener: WAAAAAHHHHH! SHE CALLED ME A BOY AND I AM NOT I AM A GIRL!

Roo: THE GIRL IN THE DRESS IS GONNA HIT THE BOY WITH THE RED DINO SOCCER SHORTS!

Neener: WAAAAAHHHH! SHE HIT ME.

Clearly, there are a few issues here. An obvious one being that Neener does not even own a pair of red dino soccer shorts. Nor has she ever played enough dino soccer to know that she loves it. Then there is the fact that Roo sees red dino soccer shorts where there are none. On her sister, the boy.

No doubt some of this ‘I’m a girl, you’re a boy’ stuff is part of their twinship. Neener and Roo have always used opposites to define and differentiate themselves. Roo says black, Neener says white. Neener says up, Roo says down. Neener says I love you, Roo responds with I hate you. So by that logic, if one is a girl, then the other must be a boy. And for a while they went along with each other on that. Until Neener realized that she was actually not a boy. Even though it was a fact I had reiterated many many times, it was only when the boys at school told her so that it really sunk in. Initially, she was relieved. She no longer had to pretend she liked Spiderman or Transformers, or try to pee standing up on the boys’ ‘ Pee Tree’ at the park. But then confusion set in. Did this mean that she couldn’t like dinosaurs anymore? Would she have to wear dresses and bows in her never-to-be-cut-again hair? Was pink to be the new red, and would dreams of a ballerina princess wedding replace her soccer playing paleontologist aspirations? At the same time that Neener discovered she was not a boy, Roo had latched on to the strict definition of girl provided by her classmates: girls like pink, sparkles, and frills, and only play with dolls and other girls. All of these ideas have been weaponized in the war at home.

I, ever the family peacenik, tried to set the record straight:

“You are both girls. And it’s ok for girls to like dinosaurs and sports and have short hair and wear pants, and do or be anything that boys can. And boys can play with dolls, or have long hair or even wear dresses. Everybody is different, and what they like has nothing to do with being a boy or girl.”

There. ‘Nuf said. Except, not quite. I had to keep shooting off my stupid peacenik Free To Be You and Me mouth.

“In fact, the only thing that makes a girl a girl is having a vagina, and the only thing that makes a boy a boy is a penis.”

Which is technically true. What I did not consider was that this explanation would lead them to go around asking people about their penis/vagina status. Or that I’d given Roo new ammo to hurl at Neener: YOU ARE A BOY! YOU HAVE A PENIS! Yeah, I’ve clearly carved a switch for my own arse with this one.

I’m not the only parent who has struggled with this (Check out this from one of my other writer crushes, Girl’s Gone Child.) Yeah…how the hell do you explain to a kid how to tell who’s a boy and who’s a girl? I don’t want to give Neener and Roo the usual sexist sounding stereotypes either. They get enough of that from the rest of the world, and they’ve also experienced enough diversity in their lives to see that those stereotypes can be false. My kids know guys with long hair, guys who like pink sparkling things, guys who wear dresses and eyeliner, and guys who are married to other guys. And they know women with short hair, women who play sports, women who would not be caught dead in a dress, women who ride motorcycles, and women with wives. But their less worldly peers have given them these narrow definitions of male and female, which makes them even more confused. Then I go and tell them the whole penis/vagina thing, but also tell them not to ask people about the whole penis/vagina thing. When all they really want to know is how to tell the boys from the girls so they can use the right pronouns! No wonder they are screwed up, and fighting about it.

Again, stupid idealistic hippy peacenik liar me tries to tell them that it doesn’t matter. That people are people, and that whether someone is a boy or a girl is not important. That penises and vaginae have nothing to do with what you can do with your life, and what you can be in this world. But I think they already know that’s not true. Which is probably why they are so concerned with identifying themselves and everyone else as either boy or girl, and with defining boys and girls as polar opposites. So, for lack of a better explanation, I figured I’d better just stick to the penis/vagina monologue . They understand it, and I’ll just have to practice my sheepish grin for the times when they ask other people about the contents of their underpants in order to figure out if they’re a he or a she. Hey, it’s not perfect, but Neener and Roo get this pretty much foolproof definition of male and female. Or so I think. Until one day Roo chirps, “What kind of penis do I have? A boy penis or a girl penis?”

To which I respond the best way I know how: ” Go ask Daddy.”

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Please, Hold Your Clappy Clappy Hannies. Not.

25 06 2008

Yesterday, as what had been, by all accounts, a rather ordinary day drew to a close, our world suddenly changed. An unstoppable chain of events was set in motion with a single word. That word was cat. More importantly, the speaker of that word was none other than baby Squiggles. Then, when she said it a second, third and fourth time – with the cat actually in the room at one point – Mr. Blister and I both knew that life would never be the same.

Squiggles is just approaching seven months old, and she’s already a bit of a chatterbox. Or babblebox, as the case may be. She very recently added dada to her current repertoire of mama, bub bub, gaga, ahgoo and raspberries. (The sound, that is, not the actual word raspberries. You know, that sound that goes ppffttthhh. Those raspberries.) She’s been working on cat for a while. Everytime she saw a cat, you could see her concentrating, practicing cuh cuh cuh. And finally, last night, out it came. And the best part was, she clearly meant to do it. Her first word was not a stumbled upon accident. She knew what she was trying to say, she said it, repeated it, and she gave herself a huge round of clappy clappy hannies. Yes, she also learned to clap four days ago. I think she was waiting until she had the whole clapping thing down before she attempted a word. How anti-climactic would it be to say your first word and not be able to give yourself a round of applause? That would never do because, trust me, this kid digs fanfare. The rest of the family gets treated to a serious dose of greasy looks and agitated hollers if we don’t sufficiently marvel at Baby Squiggle’s accomplishments. Like her mad skills at biffing toys across the room. Or the panache with which she smears mushed peas over her eyebrows. Or her exceptional ability to make poop go out the back of her diaper all the way up to her neck. Yay Squiggles!

I can’t recall precisely when Neener and Roo said their first words. Or what those words might have been. Ball and book seem vaguely familiar. I really should have written it down in their lovely little baby books, but since I spent the first year of their lives just trying to keep everyone fed, semi-clothed, semi-clean and more than semi-alive, baby books just didn’t make it on to the priority list. Go figure. All I know for sure is that once they realized that they could say a word, more words quickly followed. And they haven’t shut up since. And now Squiggles is adding her voice to the Blister family’s cacophony symphony of sound, hollering that magically melodic first word – CAT – over and over and over again, volume rising to climb above the din of her wildly applauding family. At least we better be applauding wildly. Otherwise her next words will very likely be “Clappy clappy hannies for me dammit!” Indeed, life will never be the same.





The Cupcake Economy

21 06 2008

I want to teach my children that friends can not be bought. That people should like you for who you are, not for what you have or what you give them. I also want to be able to crack open pearl filled oysters with my glute muscles and bounce gold coins off my abs, and ride a flying unicorn to my multi-million dollar a year job as a professional wine and gourmet pizza taster. Some things just ain’t gonna happen.

It is no secret that Neener and Roo both struggle with their social skills. So far, neither has been able to establish that critical first friendship, although Neener had a little taste of camaraderie back in September. Patricia, a senior kindergartener with an abundance of street smarts and a shortage of reading skills became Neener’s best friend after she helped tape the head of a dandelion back on, following its violent beheading by The Kindergarten Ninja Posse. Unfortunately, the friendship was short lived. Patricia was moved to another class, where, for the rest of the year, her new classmates would reap the benefits of her extensive knowledge of human reproduction and swear words. Sadly, Neener would not. And she has not had a best friend ever since. Roo, on the other hand, has a new best friend everyday. Problem is, her best friends are very frequently inanimate objects: flowers, sticks, hair clips, pieces of paper. Even when Roo does manage to declare a best friend that is a real live human, she misses an important next step: actually speaking to her new best friend, or even giving them any indication whatsoever that they’ve been befriended. Social dynamos, they ain’t.

It’s not that other kids don’t like them, or try to play with and befriend them. Other children very frequently approach Neener and Roo and try to start a game or a conversation. And this is where they get tripped up. Witness this little scene from the other day when we encountered a little boy about their age riding his big wheel trike on the path that runs along the backyards of our new neighbourhood.

Little boy: Hi!

Neener: Hi!

Neener: My name is Neener. That’s N-E-E-N-E-R. What’s your name?

Little boy: Thomas. That starts with a T. Then an H. An O –

At this point, I’m on cloud nine. She not only responded to him saying hello, but she introduced herself and seems to be sustaining conversation! Go Neener, go! And then…

Neener (suddenly breaking into a full body bounce on the balls of her feet, arms flailing wildly, purple framed glasses tilted at an angle that can only be described as insane) shouting: Basketball! Basketball! Basketball! B-A-S-K-E-T-B-A-L-L!

Little boy: ‘Huh?’

But Neener does not hear him. She’s still spazzing out, and is now making weird noises to boot. And remember, she’s not even the Autistic one. No, the Autistic one is on someone’s lawn eating clover. Dear God, I hope it’s just clover she’s eating.

Me (translating): Uhh, I think she likes your shirt. It says Basketball on it.

Little boy: Oh. Yeah. I’m going to my girlfriend’s house. See ya!

Neener: Thomas loves basketball! Thomas loves basketball! Bye Thomas! Thomas loves basketball, Mommy! It said basketball on his shirt!

Me: Yeah, I saw that.

Roo (remnants of clover on her breath): Thomas is my best friend!

We’ve done role playing, we’ve tried to practice being less…uh…random when trying to strike up a conversation with other kids. Some of it has obviously sunk in, but socializing is just not something that comes easy to my kids. So, I think I’m going to have to have a surefire friend-making currency on hand. Something that will let my kids bond with other kids, without relying too much on their ability to engage in social discourse that is not weird. I’m thinking cupcakes. At this age, kids are more than happy to define their friends as the people who give them stuff, rather than the people who think up fun games, or the ones who are sparkling conversationalists, or the ones who don’t eat clover or wear their glasses at the insane angle while flapping and flopping and shouting about what’s on your t-shirt. And who can think about small talk when your mouth is full of cupcake! To the average five year old, friends are the ones who offer you cupcakes. Good cupcakes. Chocolate cupcakes. Best friends bring cupcakes with sprinkles. And icing. Lots of icing.

So naturally, I’ll keep plugging away, trying to help Neener and Roo develop their social communication skills. I’ve also fully accepted that they are both marvelously odd children, and many other kids just won’t get them no matter what they or I say and do. But I still want them to experience the pleasures of friendship, even that superficial five-year old type of friendship that revolves around the exchange of goodies. So, the next time we head out to a place where I know we’ll run into potential playmates, I’ll be well prepared to grease the wheels of social interaction for Neener and Roo. With lots and lots of chocolate icing.





Hello City. Goodbye Life.

18 06 2008

Rumour has it that the Barenaked Ladies song Hello City is about the very place we now call home. It’s a song about how much this city sucks. About being stuck here. Feeling out of place. Wishing to be somewhere else. And it’s on a steady loop in my head these days. Hello city. You’ve found an enemy in me. Now don’t get me wrong, there are things I really love about our new life. I love our spacious house, complete with windows, a basement and a gigantic washing machine. I love our quiet, tree lined street, and I love seeing Neener and Roo able to run and play in our grassy backyard. I love the looks of the school they will be attending in the fall. I love that my sweet Mr. now has his dad and my brother and some old high school friends to golf, play basketball and hang out with. I love that my little family is happy and at home here. What I don’t love is that I’m not happy or at home here so far. I feel guilty as hell about saying this, but the truth is I’m still swamped with regrets about coming here, even though I know it’s better for my husband and my kids. So far, it does not feel like it’s any better for me. In fact it feels like it’s getting worse. Pardon me while I throw myself a little pity post party here.

Although I am very much jobless, it turns out that my Mr. has had an easy time picking up some house painting work, which is great because god knows we can use the money. Unfortunately, that leaves me alone in the house with three kids for fair chunks of time. ‘So what?’ you might be thinking. Wasn’t I alone with three kids for much longer chunks of time in a much smaller place before we moved? Yep, I sure was. But this is radically different. Before, I was not alone in a partially set-up disaster zone. It was a fully set-up disaster zone, thank you very much. I knew where all our stuff was, and it was not in boxes on one of three levels of a house. It was all right there on the floor in front of us. Right where we left it. Before, Neener and Roo were out of the house for two and a half hours every morning, giving me a much needed break from their less than endearing five-year-old-ness. Only now do I realize how much I and they needed school to keep us all sane. Before, when I needed adult social contact, I could plop Squiggles in her carrier, walk out the door, stop in to say hi to my Mr. at work, and have a big cup of coffee and the company of people I’d grown to know and love at the local parent-child centre, within 15 minutes. Now, I would need 1) a car and 2) a driver’s license to get to anything that even remotely resembles a parent-child centre. The best I can do without wheels and a license is what I discovered today: a completely unstructured chasm of chaos they call a playgroup. And it’s in a church. Run by women whom I suspect are ‘mommies.’ (Me, I’m more of a mama, possibly even a mutha type of chick. But the semantics of mother nomenclature is a post for another day.) Oh, and this playgroup closes for the summer as of next week. And it took me and my 20 pound passenger half an hour – in the cold coastal wind and rain – to walk there this morning. And I don’t even think they had coffee. If they did, they did not want me to know about it. Before, I may have been a stay-at-home mother, but I had the comfort of a social life and a familiar neighbourhood where everything I wanted or needed was just a short stroll away. Now, I’m a stuck-at-home mother with too many kids and not enough friends, in a strange place that requires reliance on either a car or shitty public transit if I’m ever going to find my groove. It never occurred to me that saying hello to this city meant saying good by to my happy little life. Until now.

I know, I know. It’s only been two weeks. It’ll get better, just give it time. I can yank myself out of this pit of pity when I choose to. But right now, in this moment, I’m staying put. I need to wallow. It’s been a tough couple of weeks, and that entitles me to mope, at least a little. And when I’m done sulking, I’ll get back to doing what I do best: turning life’s sour fruits into garnishes for my cocktails. In the words of some guy named Noel M. Tichy, “Solve the problem yourself or accept a fate you may not like…from this perspective, the ethic of personal responsibility gains appeal.” Yes, eventually I’ll take matters into my own hands and make this obstinate little city yield to my will. But I still have Hello City on loop in my head for the time being. It makes me feel better that the Barenaked Ladies have backed up my assertion that this city sucks in song. And hey, it’s a catchy, peppy little tune with a happy ending. Which also makes me feel better.





Demystic Blister’s Contigency Plan

14 06 2008

My tarot cards were right. I hate when my tarot cards are right about things I don’t want to hear. Three weeks ago, they strongly suggested in no uncertain terms that I would not be getting the dream job. The job with good steady pay to cover the costs of our new life. The job with reasonable hours that would see me home in time for supper and off on weekends so I wouldn’t feel like I’d abandoned my family completely. The job with the benefits that would give us the luxury of new eye glasses, regular dental care, and a psychotherapist. The job I wanted. The job I needed. The job I did not get. Sometimes I really hate when my tarot cards are right.

I’m still licking my wounds over the whole job search thing. The experience has pinched my ego, and not just because this particular job didn’t pan out. It’s more because I’ve applied for about a dozen different gigs – some were a stretch, some well below where I’m aiming to be, and some that seemed to fit almost just right – and I still only managed to score that one interview. I possess not one but two university degrees, neither of them in something useless like Philosophy. I’ve got a plethora of skills even without alluding to the saintly patience, steely nerves, and extraordinarily efficient multi-tasking abilities motherhood has given me. And considering I’ve been up to my eyeballs in diapers, toys and laundry for the past five years, I’ve still managed to get some decent work experience. But I still don’t have a job, or even a prospect on the horizon. So, I’m considering a completely crazy contingency plan to the whole finding a job thing: full-time freelance writing and editing.

I harbour no illusions about what I’d be getting myself into. In some ways, it is the exact opposite of what I thought I wanted in a job: no security, no guarantees, no health and dental benefit package. But in other ways, it is my dream job. It means being in control of how and when and why I work. It means being able to set my priorities as I see fit. And it means doing what I love to do the way I love to do it: wearing yoga pants and a tank top, cup of tea in hand, with raucous music cranked up, and my kids shrieking gleefully in the background. It’s so crazy, it just might work. And my tarot cards happen to agree.





I really should not be posting but…Part 2

11 06 2008

We made it out of my mother and father’s little house in the big woods relatively unscathed. Except for the marks left by the throngs of vampire black flies who feasted on the tender flesh and virgin blood of me and my city kids. Other than that – oh, and the raging Fifth’s rash covering most of Roo for the last two weeks- we made it to our own little house in our new little city safe and more or less sound. I really should not be posting because we still have so much to do. Our current decor is an eclectic mix of laundry and cardboard boxes. I have lists of people and places to contact about lists of things we need to change and arrange. On top of that, we still have three kids who need varying degrees of assistance when it comes to eating, sleeping and pooping, and according to this place’s wacky laws, each child must receive at least some parental attention on a daily basis. Even if it’s just to chuck a handful of toys out to them from behind a pile of boxes.

But I learned a few things hanging out with my kids and my parents in the little house in the big woods, and even though I have no time for pontification, I’ve managed to steal a few moments to jot down some thoughts. So, in the interest of getting this post up before a cardboard box gobbles up one of my kids…or before one of my kids gobbles up a cardboard box…here are the three most important things I learned during our stay in the little house in the big woods:

– On the 4 hour road trip from the airport hotel to the woods, I learned that I can breastfeed in a moving vehicle. Without undoing my seatbelt. And without removing Squiggles from her car seat. How, you ask? Boobs like Gumby, baby, boobs like freakin’ Gumby. If Gumby had boobs, of course. Impressed? You should be. Squiggles sure was.

– Here’s something I learned the hard way: If you are going to take your kids to visit people who don’t have kids, you better bring a bag of books and toys. And they better be interesting books and toys. New books and toys. Otherwise, be prepared to spend the entire visit chasing your nosy kids out of your host’s bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen cupboards, fridges and basements. And doing your best to entertain them while the other grown-ups sit around drinking tea or wine and have grown-up conversations. You will only be able to pop your head in on those conversations occasionally to ask for a glass of juice or a piece of paper towel or some duct tape. Your host will probably say “Oh, don’t worry about the kids, they’ll be fine. They can’t hurt anything in there.” But they are wrong. They have no idea what your children are capable of because they don’t have any kids. If you want visiting to be anything more than a very stressful exercise in solo kiddie wrangling and improvisational entertainment, bring a bag of toys. Trust me.

– I love my husband. Not that I need to learn this, but it never hurts to be reminded. Being separated from him for the better part of a week made it crystal clear how much I love him and need him. He understands me, and our kids the way no one else ever will. He knows to be impressed by my extraordinary feats of in-transit breastfeeding. He would help me entertain and chase our nosy children out of the nooks and crannies of other peoples’ houses. He would have thought of having a bag of new toys and books to take visiting before I did. He keeps me sane and rational and calm in the face of crazy irrational chaos.

There’s lots more to tell. I could tell you about Roo’s mega-meltdown in the mall the other day. Or how Neener interrogated the school secretary when we went to register them for school. Or how Squiggles got the barfies. Or about my on-going battle with the ants in my kitchen. However all the details will have to wait, since I really should not even be posting. I should be cleaning. Unpacking. Trying to establish a semblance of normal, of routine in our new home. But instead I think I’ll go cuddle up on the couch with my sweet Mr. Blister and my kids. The boxes can wait.





24

3 06 2008

The following is an extremely biased account of the first 24 hours of Operation Re-Location, which took place on May 28th, 2008.

5:50 am – Eyes pop open. Mine and Mr. Blister’s. We proceed directly to the instant coffee and the cat tranquilizers. For the cat.

6:15 am – Sufficiently caffeinated, I cleverly hide the cat’s pill in a kitty treat. I call her, pat her head, and speak softly and gently as I offer it. Cat is very suspicious.

6:32 am – Attempt #1 at cat tranquilization is officially declared a failure. I think I came on too strong. Mr. Blister goes for a more subtle approach: Block off cat’s access to her hiding places, take away all of her food and leave only the pill-filled cat treat in her dish.

6:47 am – More eyes pop open. Neener, Roo, and Squiggles, followed by the special agents imported from the East Coast to help execute Operation Re-Location, my brother and his girlfriend. Code names Bro and Mrs. Bro.

6:51 am – Attempt #2 at cat tranquilization is officially declared a failure. I eat some toast that I do not remember toasting.

7:00 am – Mr. Blister and I formulate a plan to grab the cat and drop the pill down her throat.  Plan changes abruptly when we can not catch cat.

7:06 am – Mr. Blister pins cat on the floor while I shove pill down cat’s throat. Hopefully. Too early to officially declare the mission successful.

7:08 am – Mr. Blister calls Neener and Roo to come get their toast.

7:09 am – Mr. Blister is unable to find the toast he made for Neener and Roo. I pat his head, speak calmly and gently to him, and suggest he never made any toast. Mr. is suspicious.

7:28 am – Bro and Mrs. Bro, being young, attractive and childless, do what young attractive childless people do: Shower, brush their hair, and put on nice clothes.

7:40 am – Mr Blister and I, being exhausted, dishevelled parents, do what exhausted dishevelled parents do: Get the kids decently dressed and cleaned, then wash our own armpits with a damp facecloth, pretend our hair is invisible, and put on the least dirty clothes we can find.

7:46 am – Cat staggers into the living room with pupils the size of plates. Cat tranquilizing mission is declared a success as cat is poured into cat carrier.

8:00 am – 8 bags, 7 people, three car seats and one doped up cat in a cage get packed into the van and transported to the airport.

8:58 am – At the airport, Mr. Blister and Bro manage to bypass the long line up and get us checked in via the handicapped/special assistance line. Our check-in process takes nearly an hour, making it a damn good thing that we appeared sufficiently handicapped.

9:30 am – We learn that some genius in the airline reservations department has seated me, Mrs. Bro, Neener and Roo all completely and totally separately.

9:39 am – Advanced security screening makes us remove tripping-out cat from carrier so they can make sure we are not smuggling drugs. Clearly, we gave all the drugs we had to the cat.

9:55 am – We bid farewell to my Mr. and Bro as they return to finish packing and drive a huge truck o’ stuff half way across the country. Mrs. Bro, the kids and I go through security and on to the gate.

10:06 am – With baby Squiggles strapped to my chest, a monstrous backpack on my back, a diaper bag around my neck, boarding passes in one hand, and Roo’s hand in the other, I come heart-stoppingly close to falling down the escalator.

10:10 am – Having missed the advanced boarding call, we again have to jump ahead in line to try and get our seats changed so there is at least one adult sitting beside each child.

10:22 am – Mrs. Bro and Roo are seated at the front of the plane, Neener, Squiggles and I at the back. Squiggles promptly falls asleep and does not wake until 10 minutes before we land. I only hear Roo holler twice the entire flight. Neener makes fast friends with the Newf from Alberta sitting next to her. I breathe a sigh of relief, thinking we’ve made the right move. That everything is going to be all right.

1:00 pm – We land in the new city on the infamously friendly East Coast.

1:13 pm – With a wide awake and very hungry Squiggles strapped to my chest, the monster backpack on my back, and diaper bag around my neck, I manage to get our luggage off the conveyor belt and on to a cart while Mrs. Bro tries to keep very tired and extremely hungry  Neener and Roo from having meltdowns in the airport.

1:15 pm – I manage to get me and Squiggles pinned between the luggage and the cart. Another Newf from Alberta guy helps us get unpinned. It occurs to me that I should go find the cat.

1:17 pm – I don’t have to go far. Cat’s drugs are wearing off fast, and her yeowling can be heard all over the arrivals lounge.

1:18 pm – Our friend K arrives in her Mini to transport cat to swanky cat hotel.

1:21 pm – We go outside to catch the shuttle to our hotel

1:35 pm – We discover that we’ve been waiting in the wrong place for the shuttle.

1:36 pm – We discover that the shuttle could take a half hour or so to arrive.

1:37 pm – Neener, Roo and Squiggles begin simultaneous meltdown.

1:38 pm – I approach notoriously friendly East Coast cab driver in a van to take us to our nearby hotel. He refuses to take us because we have too much stuff and are not going far enough.

1:39 pm – With notoriously un-friendly East Coast language, I give the cab driver a piece of my mind. The piece that likes to curse a lot. I am thankful that Squiggles is the only child in ear shot.

1:40 pm – Standing in front of the airport, I join the meltdown and start crying. I sob, thinking we’ve made a terrible terrible mistake moving here, and wonder how hard it would be to travel back in time to when we made this decision, and smack myself in the head. Hard.

1:50 pm – I regain my composure and my sense of spite. K and Mrs. Bro stuff the Mini full of carseats and luggage. I stuff the taxi of an elderly gentleman full of kids, and we head to the hotel. I tip him a silly amount just to spite the arsehole taxi van driver who didn’t take us.

2:00 pm – In our hotel room, we discover that the restaurant is closed from 2-5. K and Mrs. Bro have the brilliant idea to go to the nearest Tim Horton’s to get us some food before anyone starts crying again. And by anyone, I mean me.

2:23 pm – K and Mrs. Bro head back to the city while the kids and I settle in to eat our sandwiches and watch a $10 pay-per-view movie. We discover that being an animated bee doesn’t make Jerry Seinfeld any funnier.

5:30 pm – We order and inhale room service dinner. We discover that the main ingredient of both the fish and chips and the chicken bow tie pasta is…salt. I conclude that this province’s slogan should be changed from ‘ Canada’s Ocean Playground’ to ‘Canada’s Hypertension Inducing Playground.’

6:27 pm – Give Neener and Roo an extended version of a bath.

7:40 pm – Remove very wrinkled kids from extended version of bath.

7:45 pm – Attempt to bathe Baby Squiggles in hotel bathroom sink.

7:48 pm – Abandon attempt at bathing giant baby Squiggles in tiny hotel bathroom sink.

8:00 pm – Kids beg for a snack. I find a mango and some candied ginger in my bag that I do not remember packing.

8:06 pm – Pick gooey hunks of spit-out candied ginger from carpet. All three children begin to get whiny.

8:30 pm – Saved by In the Night Garden on tv.

9:00 pm – In the Night Garden ends. Kids begin to get whiny.

9:10 pm – Saved by the arrival of Nanny and Papa, who spend the next 30 minutes laughing, playing with, and firing up all three kids.

9:40 pm – Nanny and Papa leave to get some supper and retire to their room for the night.

9:41 pm – All three kids start crying. Hysterically.

10:25 pm – I start crying. Slightly less than hysterically.

10:40 pm – Everyone suddenly falls asleep. Everyone except me. I’m still too busy crying.

12:00 am – I fall asleep.

1:00 am – Squiggles wakes me up.

2:00 am – Squiggles wakes me up.

4:00 am – I wake Squiggles up. To make sure she is still breathing. And out of spite.

5:48 am – Eyes pop open. Mine, Neener’s Roo’s and Squiggles’. We all get up and stretch ourselves into a good mood, and prepare for a new day, and the next leg of our journey: The trip to Nanny and Papa’s little house in the big woods.