Up in smoke

We stopped for the night in Saint-Hyacinthe, just east of Montreal. It would leave us just shy of 11 hours of driving left for the next day. We got settled into the hotel around 1030, successfully transferring all three sleeping children (no small feat) and got some rest before our final leg. Or so we thought.

At 4am I woke up to an incessant but not overly loud beeping noise. I woke Jacob to see what he thought it was, got very little response but decided to poke my head out the door to see if it was something that we should be concerned about. I opened the door to find the hallway full of smoke. Cue worst nightmare. I woke Jacob, all the way up this time, gathered up the three kids, grabbed the passports, soaked towels for the kids and we headed out. We were safe in the car before the fire trucks showed up.

We found out about an hour later that there was no real fire but instead someone had set off the fire extinguishing system which is what caused all the smoke. It was going to be at least another hour before they could let us back in. We gave them our address and asked them to ship our suitcase to us, grabbed some breakfast and hit the road.

About 45km away we remembered that Jacob had also left his backpack with our newly replaced computer, chargers and all other electronic items in the room. We turned around and headed back. I snuck in the side door and ran up to the room, quickly packed up our suitcase, the playpen and grabbed the backpack

Lucky for us though, we have the best traveling children ever. We managed to drive almost 1200 km in just over 12 hours with only two quick stops. There weren’t even any meltdowns, tears and only minor whining.


With the promise of more rain Saturday we packed up the car and headed out of Toronto first thing in the morning. We thought it might be nice to break up the drive by spending the afternoon in Ottawa. It didn’t disappoint.

It was a gorgeous spring day in the capital. We took the kids to run around on the lawn of parliament hill, met up with Jeannine for an ice cream and a couple hours in the park and grabbed some dinner at Lieutenants Pump.

I’ve always loved Ottawa and this time was no exception. I have a feeling that watching the kids run around at parliament with the sun setting in the background will be one of those memories that stays with me vividly.

Levi’s and LEGO

When we first decided to join Jacob in Toronto, it was mostly because we assumed the weather would be nicer in upper Canada. I was expecting to be able to take the kids outside, check out a few new parks, go for a walk and just generally get the winter stink blown off everyone. Incorrect.

The weather was cold and rainy again on our last day in the city. At Dave’s recommendation we headed out to Vaughn Mills shopping centre to grab some cheap jeans and let the kids burn off some energy at LEGO land.

Having no idea what to expect from a LEGO land, the kids had a blast. They played non-stop for almost five hours when we finally packed it in. Jacob and I enjoyed a Starbucks while we sat and watched them. Madeline did her thing with the big foam blocks, Charlie made buddies and raced his LEGO cars and Nora got lost in the play structure.

Niagara Falls

Wednesday was a pretty uneventful day. Jacob was busy schmoozing for the whole day and evening so the kids and I had a nice day relaxing at the apartment.

Thursday we decided to cross off the next of the iconic things to do in Toronto and headed to Niagara falls. We made a quick pit stop in Hamilton to pick up Dave, Maisie and Pearl who were going to join in the fun for the day.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat, some $20 ice cream and made the trek along the promenade to the falls. It wasn’t a super clear day unfortunately, but it was probably the best weather we have seen yet here. We managed to take 5 kids 5 and under on the journey behind the falls where we shot this awesome green screen photo.

We stopped in Hamilton again for some quick eats for the kids before heading back to the city. This probably ended up being my favourite day of the trip and reminded us that whenever we get to include more people in our adventures we have more fun. 5 kids 5 and under was no small frat but they were all rockstars for the day.

Jacob and celebrated our 12th anniversary by ordering at least 10x too many dumplings from “the dumpling place” Loga’s. I’m not even exaggerating.

CN Tower

Tuesday was the first day of the conference so Jacob headed out mid morning. The kids and I took that opportunity to head out to Mississauga for the morning to visit Milka. Not surprisingly, she was a great host. She had all kinds of treats, snacks and coffee for us. We visited for a while at her house before heading to the park for a little fresh air.

The kids managed to keep it together until about 1:00 when we decided to head back to the city. Jacob was wrapping up for the day at the conference so we picked him up and headed back downtown to visit the CN tower.

We had high hopes for Nora falling asleep in the stroller as we headed downtown. Apparently the 7 minute nap she had in the car on the way to Mississauga was enough for her. Instead she screamed for almost the entire time we were in the tower. I would be surprised if we aren’t blacklisted there now.

We grabbed a snack at the cafe, played around on the glass floor, did laps around the exterior and came back down to ground level. We then made a huge scene on the street car back to the apartment and called it a day.

Ripleys Aquarium

Our AirBnB is in a super convenient location – we are one block from the king street street cars and about 7 feet from the queen street ones. It’s always easier to head out for the day on public transit than in and out of the car so we loaded up the stroller and set off for downtown.

The king street line dropped us about 3 blocks from the aquarium so we decided to put that on the agenda for the first day. We ended up spending most of the day there. The aquarium is always popular with the kids. Nora napped in the stroller which meant we could stay out a bit longer than normal. The shark tunnel was a big hit with Charlie. I liked the jelly fish best. Madeline likes touching the sting rays. It was a bit more hectic than I thought it would be for a Monday but all in all everyone had a great day.

We left the aquarium and headed for steam whistle brewery. Turns out if you agree to follow them on Instagram you get a free beer. Pretty great deal if you ask me. Charlie managed to score three gold coin souvenirs at the aquarium so he entertained all of the other patrons with his “magic tricks” while Jacob and I enjoyed our free treat.

Road tripping

Jacob is participating in a conference for food buyers and sellers in Toronto for the week so we decided to cramp his style and join him. Since domestic flights from Charlottetown are nearly as expensive as international flights we decided to drive. The kids have always done extreme well on a road trip. This time was no exception.

We hit the road bright and early by Dockendorff standards at 845 Saturday morning. With only two bathroom stops and one lunch stop we managed to make it all the way to Cornwall (Ontario, not P.E.I.) for the night. That’s about 1200 km in about 15 hours. Nora spent the time listening to the Frozen soundtrack or watching the Frozen movie – at least 4 times each. Madeline coloured and perfected her makeup techniques and Charlie powered through about 6 audiobooks. Jacob drove. I passed out snacks.

Since we had managed to make it so far Saturday night we had some time to kill Sunday before our AirBnB would be ready. We decided to stop in Prince Edward County en route to the city. We headed for Waupoos Winery since they seemed to have the most on offer. Honestly, I would have to say we were disappointed. The petting zoo was just a dark old barn with a couple pigs and chickens and the restaurant was not super kid friendly. The food was so-so. They do allow you to wander their grounds with your wine so we had a nice tour around the property after lunch. We did also get to have a glass of their most expensive wine since they had a bottle open (it’s normally not available by the glass) so that was kind of fun too!

We pulled into our AirBnB around 5:00. We quickly put in an uber eats order (only to find out that we can see the restaurant from the front step 😂), ran to the LCBO around the corner before they closed and placed an Instacart order for groceries. It’s a wonderful time to be alive.