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Archive for the ‘Parts Unknown’ Category

Turns out today is our last day in Montreal. We had originally intended to stay until Wednesday and attempt to drive home all in one go but we have decided to pack it in and leave in the morning. Jacob is ramping up for this weekends shellfish festival at home and we would like the option to be able to split the drive over two days if necessary.

We headed out to the botanical gardens and insectarium for the day. The kids had a blast at the park while Nora and I bounced around in the shade. We left the park and headed for the garden restaurant where we terrorized all those who were unfortunate enough to sit near us. The kids rounded out the performance by chasing each other on stage and around the restaurant.

The girls had their afternoon nap and we had our sanity slightly restored as we toured through the different gardens. They are currently running a nighttime lantern exhibit so we got to see the different lanterns set up. Charlie was particularly enthusiastic about the dragons. Before leaving the gardens we did a quick tour through the insectarium and then headed back downtown.

Since it’s our last night in the city we decided to treat the kids and have chocolate crepes for dinner. They decided not to play along and instead ordered an enormous strawberry milkshake that eventually ended up all over Charlie Madeline and the ground after it got knocked over. We left a sizeable tip a huge mess and headed home.

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Parks and Huîtres

Well this is it. The day we have been waiting for: Montreal oyster fest. The festival is a day long affair, kicking off around noon and going well past my bedtime. Ok, it only goes until 10, but that’s way past my bedtime. This festival is the whole reason we are in Montreal. Jacob needed to be there slightly before it started and is still there as I’m writing this with my glass of wine.

Knowing he was going to be tied up for most of the day I had my first day of single parenting in the city. We all headed out this morning to La Graine Brule for breakfast and much needed caffeine before we parted ways. We had a local recommend this place to us and she nailed it. This coffee shop is perfect. Good coffee. Good food. Great play fort. The kids loved it!

Jacob left us at the coffee shop and headed to the festival. I managed to bribe/threaten the kids out of the coffee shop after we were essentially pushed out of our table by another family and we set off for the park.

I haven’t had so many people gawk at me walking down the street since I lived in Asia. It essentially looks like the kids and I live in this stroller. I can’t even imagine how crazy I look pushing three children in a stroller – one basically sitting on the ground- and both their enormous stuffed dogs 🙄 plus all of the other things the kids actually need for a day out of the house.

We made it to the park where the kids were entertained for a solid 45 minutes before we had to pack up again. Charlie only attempted to escape the enclosed area once and some other mom felt so bad for me that she made her husband go tell him he couldn’t leave. It takes a village folks.

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kids and I walked from the park to the "oyster party!" to kill off another few hours in the day. And also so the kids could see some oysters which is apparently all they wanted to do in Montreal this whole time. Jacob has trained them up well. We stuck around for a couple of hours while Madeline napped in the stroller and then the four of us left Jacob to do his schmoozing without his sidekicks.

I have so many children that some women stopped to take this picture of me holding the girls. I’ve turned into a spectacle.

This is how Charlie feels about oysters.

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Living la vida local

I’ve been to Montreal a number of times – I’d say close to a dozen but this is the first time with kids. One of the best parts of going places with them is they force us to see the city in a totally different way.

We spent the morning at the Sir Wilfred Laurier park after I almost died carrying the stroller up out of the metro – might be time to hit the gym again 😳. City parks are awesome. They’re usually completely enclosed which is fantastic for those of us with children who like to wander. There’s also usually a number of benches surrounding the play area so the parents can sit back and watch. My kind of morning.

Next up on the agenda was lunch and the Jean Talon market. We headed to Pizzeria Napoletana for some delicious pizzas after hitting up the depanneur to grab some beers and a bottle of wine to drink at the restaurant. I do love the bring your own bottle idea.

Jacob wanted to stop by La Boîte aux Huitres for some hand shaking so the kids and I did laps of the market. That place is enormous and amazing and did I mention I love a city. We grabbed some coffees after a great local tip.

I had never really spent any time in either the Laurier or Jean Talon areas before. They were both super. That’s really the best part of adventuring with the kids – it forces you to experience a city as if you lived there by visiting a park or chatting with a local after they stare at how many children you’ve stacked onto your stroller.

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I just love the feeling of being in a city. I love exploring in them. I love public transit and all the people watching involved. Today was no exception.

We managed to get everyone packed up and on the metro. Charlie was especially excited to ride on the underground train. The elevator was an equally big hit. For a kid who has been to three continents he’s still easily impressed. Our destination for the morning: the biodome.

The biodome is a recreation of the major ecosystems in north and South America. Everything from the rainforest to the Laurentian forests. The rainforest is arguably the best part. We got to see a sloth, parrots, a capybara, monkeys and colourful frogs. We visited the arctic zone where we saw penguins being fed and then you’re lead into the rather disappointing section of seagulls. Seriously. How did these seagulls get chosen to live in the biodome instead of scrounging for fries out of the Burger King parking lot? The kids had a great time. They especially loved the random purple lights, running in and out of the automatic doors and trying to climb up the slide 🙄.

After nap time we headed out so Jacob could do some “work” to Poisonnerie La Mer. The kids liked the lobster tanks: “just like at the grocery store”-M and the huge tuna head. We walked to la mer via st. Catherine’s street which has been decorated for pride with thousands of hanging coloured balls to make a rainbow. They cover the street for about a kilometre. Madeline “just couldn’t believe that the sky was pink”. We got everyone home and tucked in to bed. The kids ended the night reading their new French Scaredy Squirrel book to each other in their “tent”.

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Our first trip as five

Jacob has been asked to take part in this weekend’s Montreal oyster festival so the kids and I have decided to tag along. While Montreal is a relatively tame destination for us it does involve an 11 hour car ride. We wanted to make sure we still had a bit of a challenge!

We set off Wednesday morning for Florenceville. We wanted to stop in and have a quick visit with Jacobs grandparents. They haven’t met Nora yet and we thought this would be a good opportunity. The kids did amazing on the five hour drive. We managed to get away with only one stop for lunch.

Jacobs cousin Patti and her husband Adam were incredibly gracious hosts. They treated us to dinner gave us a great place to stay and a fantastic breakfast before we got the road Thursday morning for the second leg of the trip.

We had about 680km left to cover and we managed to do it in 9.5 hours. Including an hour+ stop for lunch! We were so incredibly proud of our patient, well behaved, super traveling children. I love traveling and now to get to do it with these three kiddos it’s just so much better.

We arrived at our airbnb got everyone fed, bathed and bedded. The adventures begin tomorrow with a trip to the biodome.

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The Last Leg

We’ve been in Pretoria now since Saturday evening for the final leg of this journey. Sob. To say I’m not looking forward to going home is a serious understatement. Of course I never want a trip to end so this was expected.

We have really enjoyed our time in Pretoria. We’ve been staying in an amazing AirBnB apartment in Waterkloof in basically our own little rain forest. We had a great braai here Saturday night with Wendy, Christo and Wouter and again last night with the Rixs. We have incredible friends here which makes leaving even more difficult.

No trip to SA is complete for us without a trip to the Lion and Rhino park. We make a point to visit at least once while here because we are always so impressed. It’s quite close to where we have normally stayed (Krugersdorp) and not terribly far (under an hour) from our apartment this time. It’s a perfectly sized game reserve for C. You are guaranteed to see animals immediately after entering the park, they have a scheduled lion feed so you can always get quite close to them AND they have a nursery where you can pet baby lions, tigers and cheetahs. Not to mention the restaurant where you can feed the giraffes. It makes for a lovely day.

We had some brunch at the Neck and Deck with the giraffes before heading into the park itself. We caught the tail end of feeding time for the lions which is fine, C got to see them and we just didn’t have as much company. En route to the rest of the predator camp (they also have white lions, cheetahs and wild dogs) Wendy and Christo got a flat tire. Now we know that flat tires aren’t a problem for Jacob, but it does pose a bit of a challenge when the flat happens about 300m from a pack of lions. We radioed the park attendants and they got them straightened away.

While we waited for Wendy and Christo to sort out their tire we headed into the animal nursery so C could spend some time with the cubs. He chose to visit the two month old baby tigers. It probably wouldn’t have been my first choice since they are always a little more excited than the lions and this time was no exception. C’s hat became their new chew toy. With quite a stroke of luck we got the hat back relatively unscathed.

Monday we headed to the Safari Garden Centre for another great family outing. We both commented while we were visiting that it’s rather unfortunate that nothing like this exists at home. We’ve filled a good portion of our days in SA visiting parks, wine estates, farms, gardens all geared towards family. Note that I didn’t say kids, but the whole family. There’s always a nice restaurant serving great coffee, wine and food alongside great play areas.

We ended Monday night our favourite way with a lekker braai with Wendy and Christo. I am so going to miss these two. We sat out in our little garden enjoyed some wine, a fire and some great conversation.

Our final day was pretty chill, we drove out to a rose farm for lunch so C could have some more outside play time before we headed home to winter (sigh). Johann came for one last visit (tear). We had dinner with Wendy and Christo before we headed to the airport (ugly cry).

This marks the end of our third trip to SA and while I joked about not coming home, it wasn’t that much of a joke. We really had a hard time leaving this time. SA doesn’t feel like a foreign place to me, it honestly feels like home. I’m sure it’s in part because of our people here. They were our family for our time in S.Korea and we immediately pick up where we left off every time we see each other. I’m sure this won’t be our last trip; see you soon Africa.

 

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Doo-do. Doo-do.

We’ve just been laying low in Franskraal since my last post. We’ve had some more family beach days (hoorah!). C has been joining me for my morning trips to the beach and doing some exploring. We do exciting things like build sand castles, chase his new ball and look at the sea creatures in the tide pools (Dr. Scott would be pleased). Jacob and M typically join in the evening. M also loves the little tide pools, although she seems to think it’s snack time and attempts to eat every snail she can find.

Jacob cashed in his Christmas gift today and went to play with some sharks. As much as I would love to have the experience, hell no, that is terrifying. Jacob was pretty excited (well as excited as Jacob gets) about the whole affair. He saw three sharks half an arms length away. Ha! The shark are just hanging out waiting for the boat to come back from their morning trip. They put on quite a show jumping at the bait and swimming right next to the cage. The pictures certainly looked pretty impressive.


Again, in boring family news, our house sold; while we are in SA. AND as luck would have it we are staying with a real estate agent. So now the million dollar question is, can we get a refund on our  plane ticket? Or do we care? That’s a long old flight back to winter, perhaps we’ll just skip it.

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