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Phew.

I am so glad that’s over. Let me just say that being in transit for 35 hours straight with three children 4 and under is not for the faint of heart or those who like to sleep. That was a workout. I want to sleep for 4 days straight.

We arrived at the Moncton airport just in time for our flight to Montreal to be cancelled.This is actually the first time we have Jacob and I have ever shown up at the airport to find a flight cancelled – it was bound to happen sooner or later. 45 minutes later we had a brand new itinerary that would put us through Toronto and London before we would get to Cape Town. This new itinerary actually had us landing 5 hours earlier than our original flight – that’s good news. However, we were losing our 10 hour hotel break in Istanbul between our two major flights – that’s heartbreaking news.

We managed to make it through London. We got into one of the lounges that had their thermostat set to sauna (maybe they were trying to acclimatize us??) where we sweated through our five hour layover. Madeline and Nora were the only ones that got some rest and we got back on the airplane.

All things considered the kids did amazingly well on all the flights. The last one to Cape Town was one of the bumpiest flights I’ve ever been on. Charlie slept for the majority of the flight. Madeline entertained herself when she wasn’t sleeping and Nora had the trip of a lifetime and got to touch me for literally 34.5 hours out of 35.

We made it to our cottage got everyone settled in where Jacob and I spent that day taking turns trying to stay awake and be patient with the kids. We were moderately successful. Thankfully everyone had a good nights sleep – the kids slept for 15 hours – and now we are slowly getting ready for our first real day in sunny Cape Town.

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The Bags are Packed

We are currently on the road to Moncton to catch the first of three flights that will bring us to Cape Town. Two of the three kids are sleeping in the backseat. The first twenty minutes of this 40 hour (!) journey are going perfectly.

This is the first big trip we have taken in two years and we are feeling the effects of our break. Both Jacob and I are far more apprehensive about this trip than we have been for others. Neither of us have been able to pinpoint the exact reason – it could be simply because we are traveling to Africa with three kids four and under 🤣.

Packing and prepping for this trip was the first time I truly felt like our adventure might be impossible. I now understand why people think we are crazy to attempt this. Thankfully I know with certainty that all of the work from the past week and all the work for the next 40 hours will be completely worth it. We are headed to our home away from home. The SA sunshine and laid back life is calling our names and we are on our way.

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.

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.

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.

Purple lights and pink skies

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”.

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.