My Life as a Boob

Adventures in comedy, child-rearing and combinations thereof.

She don’t like, she don’t like, she don’t like…Spokane July 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennywynter @ 1:48 am

Just kidding, I hardly even had time to check Spokane out, truth be told, it was just too good a pun to pass up.

Yesterday was by far the longest stretch of drive of the entire trip – we left Seattle around 9.30 and finally reached Spokane around 5.30 – and while it had it’s terrifying moments of tantrums big enough to rival an American buffet (and that’s not even the kids) the bottom lines are that:

1) Washington State is stunningly beautiful and diverse, with amazing forests one minute, lakes the next and rockscapes the minute after that one.

road to spokane

 2) We arrived safely and were very pleasantly surprised by how relaxing camping can be with kidlets. Once you’re set up, that is.

Here’s a gratuitous snap of my boys waking up in the tent this morn, or as I like to call it “Boyz under da hood.”

boys in the tent

We’re also realising quickly how worthwhile it is to do a bit of extra research and hunt down campgrounds/accommodation that is specifically family friendly. For instance, our place last night had a ton of play equipment PLUS a 9pm outdoor cinema where they show a free family movie. Thus, after a dinner of Vegemite sandwiches, bananas and grapes, we descended on a much needed wind-down viewing of Monsters Inc.

watching movies outdoor

Then up and at em in the morning for our next major stretch back to Canada. I learned a very valuable lesson – just as we were leaving, Mister Boob insisted that we stop by a camping store to get a couple of extra supplies – even though I was reluctant to stop our slow-moving morning any longer, I threw caution to the wind (I know, Renegade Am I) and took the kids in for a last stretch of their legs before our huge car jaunt. And boy was I glad I did.

The so-called “Sports Store” that we entered didn’t have a basketball in sight – what it DID have was the mounted carcuss of just about any north American animal you can imagine, guns, ammo, all stuff I shouldn’t be surprised at, but what did shock the living daylights out of me was how much of this hunting paraphernalia was aimed at children. No kidding, from a doll range called “Hunter Dan!” who comes complete “With brand new moose hide camo!” to a series of colouring books called “Coloring for Little Hunters” with pictures of kids shooting elk, to an entire wall of the store devoted to photos of customers’ kids proudly displaying their first kill, I was pretty…erm, culture shocked. Even my little Mister Boob was alarming me with his enthusiasm, quickly grabbing at the kiddy level automatic air rifles and swapping his typical supermarket “Can I have XXXX candy?!” with “Can I get this gun? Please? Please? Please?”

Sur-real.

So glad we went. We entered emptyhanded, but returned rich with tent pegs, opened eyes and reams of comedy material. Thanks!

Then the real fun began. Driving, driving, driving…with just enough beautiful views along the way to make it worth the while…

road back to canada

Canadian customs was beyond cruisy – man I love you guys – and we arrived exhausted, hot but relatively happy in Nelson, BC this very eve. A quick check out of our campgrounds made us change plans – not that they were bad per se, but just tiny and without any running room or facilities specifically for kids. Add this to the fact that the kids – all three of em – woke up this morning with little chest rattles, and we decided to splash out for a hotel room tonight, then tomorrow we’ll head out of town about 20k to a very family friendly campground where we’ll pitch our tent for the following two nights of our stint here. Assuming the kids are all up for it, of course. Ah, flexibility – if that’s really what the hokey pokey is all about, then we, my friends, are quickly become yogis.

But sweet, sweet, Nelson. So nice to see you!

nelson

 

So long Seattle…and thanks for all the fish! July 20, 2009

Filed under: family life,travel — jennywynter @ 4:27 am

I feel like by the end of this trip we’re going to have attained a PhD – alright, alright, maybe a slight exaggeration, but at least a Graduate Diploma – in travelling with kids. When I remind myself that our itinerary on this trip is completely toned down compared to the original draft – i.e. that the first plan involved about six additional destinations crammed into an even shorter space of time – it almost makes me shudder. What were we THINKING?!?!?

Anyway, the bottom line at this point is that we chose to use today as a bit of a ‘rest and recover’ mission. While it is my nature just to go forth and conquer despite my body telling me otherwise, I can also recognise that with kids in the travelling picture you just have to roll with the punches and do what you’ve gotta do, even if it means doing a whole lot less than you wanna do. If that makes any sense whatsoever.

So this morning Mister B set off on his own adventure while the kids and I slept late and then fudged around our apartment. It was surprisingly blissful – we’re also seeing the kids’ personality differences emerge hugely in travel terms. Little Miss is a natural born traveller who throws herself in heartily to the nomadic lifestyle. We started her up early in the piece with a travel journal (we did this for Little Master too, but he hasn’t shown any interest in it whatsoever thus far), which she has set upon with relish!

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Here she writes, draws and posts in postcards and other memorabilia of our travels, a great way to distract her ever-active mind, especially when it turns to darker things, namely tormenting her little brother with taunts like “I’m sleeping on the BEST bunk!” Because of course, there is a hierarchy of bunk-beds and if you ain’t up the top, then you ain’t up the top.

Where was I? Oh yes, personalities. Little Master, on the other hand, has been doing surprisingly well especially given how much walking this past week has involved, but the little dude is just, well…a homebody. Too much time out and he just doesn’t do well – he loves the novelty of setting up camp somewhere new, don’t get me wrong, but once camp is set, he likes to stay there. Often. So today – just hanging around the hotel room, eating everything here in our little kitchenette, lying around and watching cartoons and just generally chilling out was exactly what he needed. His behaviour the entire day has been EXCEPTIONAL. Which is so awesome, as at times you can forget that in the heat of the moment, your kids are just kids and not spawned from someplace…you know…hot.

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This oh-so-flattering shot was taken mere seconds after Little Mister – in a particularly nasty public tantrum outside Seattle’s Pike Place Market – reached up and in an act of vengeance for my refusal to piggy-back him, tweaked my nipple. Yes. You read that right. Tweaked it. In public. In the birthplace of Pearl Jam. So wrong on so many levels.

Littlest Boob, meanwhile, is just awesome – though he’s developing so many changes daily that I’m starting to freak out about him actually becoming mobile before we’ve finished our travels. Which – oh, poor me, look at me and my wonderfully developing baby – is awesome, but to be perfectly honest, is a little tricky to factor into life on the road. More on that another time…

cassmeister seattle

So today. Yes, that’s where I was. After Mister returned – rejuvenated after some awesome solo time doing his thang – Little Miss and I headed out for a very brief but suitably fabulous time hanging out in Fremont, which I’d been advised was a terribly funky neighbourhood in this city and had a Sunday market to boot. In a nutshell, it was seriously cool – great vibe, cool sights, wicked little vintage shops everywhere plus a chocolate factory with as many free samples as you could stomach – in other words, Seattle’s stocks shot up in my world quite dramatically.

seattle neighbourhood

seattle vintage shops

seattle frankenstein

Above: me after way too little sleep last night.

seattle cafe

Above: But then we stumbled into quite possibly the cutest little cafe setup I’ve seen in ages, so it was all okay. If I get to bed in the next ten minutes, my head might possibly even deflate in time for our significant car trip tomorrow.

Oh yeah and we finally had a west coast salmon for dinner tonight – a whole fillet for $1.88!!! My head almost exploded just thinking about that. So scrummy, I’d been told that was on the list of must-dos this trip.

So even though I didn’t spot Eddie Vedder, nor did we cover even close to as much sightseeing as we would have liked, all in all Seattle was pretty rocking.

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Salada Seattle!

Hopefully next time we’ll be a little less exhausted to make more of it. At least this way we’ve rested up a little to make the most of the next week, ALL of which is camping.

Wish us luck! Agh!

 

First we take Manhattan…erm, I mean Seattle July 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennywynter @ 5:09 am

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First things first, turns out the Space Needle really ain’t that big y’all. Hehe.

Mister Boob and I were reflecting on our bus ride home today about our first impressions of Seattle – I proffered that it reminded me of my first impressions of Boston. Namely in that I felt that in any other circumstance, I’d be head over heels in love with it. But given the timing of my entry into both cities coincided with just having fallen head over heels for another (New York City predecessing Boston, Vancouver falling before Seattle), the second city just couldn’t quite woo me in the same way – not through any fault of its own, mind you. Simply because I’d already been wooed.

Add to this the fact that at this particular point in the trip – almost two weeks in and with the past one pretty much being highly physical i.e. trekking all over major cities – we are all just so damn tired…and well, I don’t think Seattle’s had a very fair chance to blow our socks off.

Which is a real pity, because by all accounts it was a fabulous day. We headed downtown and then straight onto the monorail over to the very fabulous Seattle Center.

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Turned out it was Bite of Seattle, a food festival which saw crowds and crowds (I’m talking CROWDS PEOPLE!) descend upon the square, soaking up as much yummy samples as they could proffer and with rock music – and full arm tattoos – descending upon us from all sides, we felt suitably infused with Seattlian culture in one massive hit.

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Little Miss and I shared a strawberry shortcake splurge – and yes, it really was as good as it looks, thanks for asking. We left Mister and Little Master to check out the on-site skateboarding demos and investigate the entertainment arcade, while we (including Littlest) set out to check out the Music Experience Project (did I get that name right?) which included not only a sci fi exhibit featuring the original Death Star model: AAAAGGGGHHH SO COOL! but also an exhibition completely devoted to Jim Henson.

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I can’t even really do it justice, but suffice to say it featured a kermit the frog tactile wall, an interactive rockband quaintly called Mud Garden with muppets inspired by Jimi Hendrix and yes, Kurt Cobain, a wall (sadly smaller than this geek would have liked) on The Dark Crystal as well as reams and reams of original scrawlings, ideas and backstories to the man’s creations. So inspiring. And while Little Miss was into it, I just couldn’t quite convey to her just how much all of these displays really meant to me, or rather, to my nostalgia neurons.

Next stop: hooking up with the boys and heading on down to Pike Place, a very famous market on the waterfront. Sauntered round for a bit, aiming to hit the ferries, then realised just how late it was and that we were already pushing our luck with the kids holding their shizz together. Opted instead to look into that tomorrow and stroll home slowly – it was around this time that we stumbled onto an alley that after a hugely long day, made my heart SING!

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I turned to Mister Boob and said “NOW I get it.”

Mister: “Get what?”

Me: “Why people love Seattle.”

And what do you know? I’m not saying I fell head over for it, but I do believe my heart just put out it’s sign again:

“Open for Wooing.”

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Today: the happiest place on earth! July 18, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennywynter @ 2:15 am

Otherwise known as the US border!

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Bye bye for now Canada!

We’d expected the worst but hoped for the best, with the reality falling somewhere in between. The worst being that we indeed had to wait and got pulled over to go inside to do more paperwork, the best being that this US checkpoint was at least designed to try to keep people pleasantly occupied during the wait with some truly lovely gardens where the kids could at least get out of the car, stretch their legs and exorcise/exercise their little inner terrorists before heading in for the official passport stuff.

Canada the final leg 2 106More positives – our customs dude was super nice, we actually ended up getting through it all pretty quickly and without too much attitude from anybody other than the kids, and then the drive down into Seattle was actually rather splendidly beautiful  – not the least reason of which is that I managed to score a super cheap pair of cross-trainers at the suggested outlet mall stop (thanks Mona!) $30 for decent athletic shoes: inconceivable!

So here we are, in our apartment which is beyond fabulous because:

a) my previous local librarian in High River, upon seeing I’d ordered in a book on ‘Seattle with kids’, all but jumped on me with her barcode scanner and screeched at me (in her lovely Canadian way, of course) “I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE YOU NEED TO STAY! THIS PLACE IS AWESOME!” And happily, 5 seconds into our stay, we could see she was not kidding.

b) After cramming our bods into the Vancouver hostel (I haven’t seen the horror film “Hostel” but does it involve small children and bunkbeds? Because I’ve lived it and in a word: terrifying) this place feels about a spacious as the Sahara Desert. But with air-con. Yes I know…awesome.

Chilling out is on the cards tonight, then we’ve got a coupla days to check out the city sights/sites – thanks Kerry for the suggestions, I’m onto it!

Mister Boob and I already feel like we’ve learned SO much on this trip about the ins and outs of family travel, not the least of which is to not feel guilty about doing nothing if and when you need to. Some good time invested in recovering from exhaustion seems to be worth it, even if it goes against any natural desire (talking to myself here) to squeeze the most out of every second of your time in a destination.

Ooh and in a final trivial tid-bit, I’m so stoked to see that they have a hot tub here. That’s totally happening tonight. Yes, yes indeed. I haven’t seen much of you yet Seattle, but I have a feeling we’re gonna be firm friends.

 

Gutted in Vancouver July 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennywynter @ 3:54 pm

Little Miss asked me today which city I love more – Vancouver or NYC – and I could not answer. All I know is that – I have to come right out and say it – I’m completely gutted that we didn’t make it to Vancouver sooner. My heavens, what a city.

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If Montreal is all about the arts, then Vancouver is all about lifestyle. Everywhere, the healthiest of healthy bodies bike, run and/or rollerblade their way around the place – suffice to say that there are paths everywhere and I do mean everywhere, which are actually LABELLED as to whether they are for pedestrian versus rollerblading versus biking use. But that’s not even why I love it. It’s just so damn gorgeous. It feels safe. And the beaches! Granted, we’ve had beyond gorgeous weather for our entire stay (from what I understand the frequency of rainfall here is the ‘catch’ as such) but even so, it has won me over independently; so much character and charm, such an incredibly rich tapestry of cultures mixed into the one city, so much soul! Agh! I LOVE this place. I don’t want to leave it! Yesterday was the one plan on the itinerary which I felt the most determined to do while here weather depending: bike around the seawall in Stanley Park. We met up with our friends from Canmore, Sabina and her two little ones, and set out to rent bikes only to find that we were heavily advised not to take Littlest Boob in a burley til he’s at least one. So Mister Boob very graciously offered to take Littlest in the backpack on their own inner city adventure, while the rest of us geared up and set off.

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Poor Sabina’s pair, a bit over-tired methinks, were proving a bit tough to take during the ride which she dealt with so gracefully – as I’d only just said to Mister B that morning, I think my new favourite sound is other people’s kids having meltdowns. Comforting, normalizing and with no action required on my part. Perfection. The views were spectacular and it just felt so great to complete it! Sabina and kids had to head off shortly afterward, but we hung around Stanley Park a bit longer, where the kids pounced on the pool and slides, before heading home via the beach.

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It was around this point that Master Boob – in his defence, after a day of otherwise exemplary behaviour – completely cracked it. I have a whole entry, nay a book, that I wish to devote to the subject of ‘tantrums on tour’, so will save it for then. In short, we divided and conquered for dinner again, a common strategy which seems to be working well thus far. I highly recommend it. So there you have it. Then took Little Miss out in the late evening to meet up with Mona, a friend of mine and producer who I met last year at Banff World TV Fest. She took us for a very eye opening – and at the risk of sounding trite, moving – drive through the eastside dodgy part of town, where apparently the police have basically herded all of the marginalized population of Vancouver into about six well defined blocks of the city. So crazy, the transition from poverty to opulence is as dramatic as the change of seasons in this country. I mean, really, you drive through parts you’d be scared to leave your vehicle, then a minute later you’re in a part of town that’s so ritzy you’d happily sunbathe on your car roof and breastfeed. Or something like that. Anyway, we had a great evening reconnecting and then crashed to bed. I’m happy to say that Littlest Boob, while still waking for feeds in the night, seems to be understanding now that the feeds are coming in due course and he no longer needs to cry his head off until he’s got absolute unequivocal proof that this is the case. Very handy development seeing as we’re staying in a hostel with thin walls.

This morning we got out the door relatively early and jumped back on the tour bus and went pretty much around the whole thing, then hopped off for a ferry ride over to the very famous markets at Granville Island.

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We bought some tasty morsels for lunch (note to family travelers: we’ve discovered rather quickly that picking up some picnicky goodies at markets or the like is pretty much the most fun – and cost-effective – way to feed a family on the run.)

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Then, just as the trip looked likely to be cut short due to overtired everybody (another note to travelling parents: pace yourself. Puh-lease pace yourself. Take it from those of us who don’t. Travel is exhausting. And cranky parents + cranky children = not cranky times two but cranky SQUARED!), out came the street performers and the coffee, with the first distracting the kids – and the latter us – into a much better mood.

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Little Miss and Mister set off into the city on a mission to score some random chess games, Master, Littlest and myself conked out in the hostel for what might well set some sort of record for the best mid-afternoon nap ever. Woke up in time for dinner, some knowing smiles from a fellow parent traveler in the hostel kitchen, and then topped up Littlest so that Miss and I could head in to check out the Vancouver Theatresports League early evening show!

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It was a fun format, very gag-based improv, but what they do, they do well. Little Miss absolutely loved it – it was pretty clean too, which I thought was awesome.

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Then we sauntered home via the beach and enjoyed our last views of stuff like this: Canada the final leg 2 096Now excuse me while I go cry into a barrel of jogger’s sweat.

 

Some images from the trip thus far…

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennywynter @ 5:48 am

In an urgent breaking photographic update, I’ve gotten my hot little hands on a photo-reading USB stick – meaning that I’m editing some of my posts thus far so I can finally include the images that accompany them. Thank goodness, that was getting really scary there for a while. Are you okay?

Here, in the meantime, enjoy a few that don’t really fit anywhere in particular…

beach

Trekking along the beach in Vancouver.sunset

Sunset – this is just a 5 minute walk from our hostel. Awesomeness.

hiking

The little dude’s first hike courtesy of Whistler. Ta!

moose

You get the idea.

 

Vancouver, where have you been all my life? July 15, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — jennywynter @ 4:25 pm

We’re here in Vancouver – we stayed an extra night in Whistler due to our original accommodation in Van falling through at the last minute, but it turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. We had an extra day to relax, unwind and arm ourselves up like Rambo (erm…with Bear Spray) to enjoy our first Whistler hike around magical Lost Lake.

kids in lake

We then headed up to the base of Blackcomb Mountain where they’ have a ton of adventure style activities set up for the kids – having not been able to find any price specific info, I was expecting the expense to be at a similar altitude to the mountain and was not disappointed. Thus the kids were rationed out one activity of their choosing: thus we have some immortalised footage of both kiddlywinks bungee trampolining in front of the mountains, or as I like to call it ‘bouncing with Daddy’s pursestrings.’

caydog flying

ella flying

The next morning we hightailed it down to Vancouver – being inspired to actually spell out to Mister Boob how important it was to me that we actually get away on time, as opposed to our usual routine of:

Me: “I really want to get this show on the road.”

Him: “Sure, I’ll just have a quick shower.”

Meanwhile, I pack stuff up, simmer away on a mild heat while Mister frolicks in bubble land ‘boop boop e dooping’ it, check him out:

So you can see why it was a wonderfully welcome surprise to wake up to him already way ahead of me, packing up the van and coffee on the table to boot. A great precedent for a mostly awesome day. After a slightly tumultous drive – namely thanks to two passengers who are both unbelievably gifted in their ability to turn anything and I mean ANYTHING into an argument (including gems like “She said my shirt’s blue but it’s not, it’s DARK blue!”) we settled into our hostel and then quickly opted for a divide and conquer strategy yet again.

Mister Boob took Little Miss on a walking exploration of the city sights, while Master Boob, Littlest Boob and myself met up with our friends who were also in town and their two littlest, to venture out together!

on the bus

We checked out the amazing plethora of places to eat and shop in our local haunt for the next few days (the West End, adorned with any number of eateries you can imagine, rainbow flags and the odd fetish shop – gorgeously situated only a few blocks’ walk from the beaches, which feel so extra divine given it’s been so long since we glimpsed the ocean!) then bought tix on a sightseeing bus tour, after an initial head-to-head with a bus driver whose logic cell seemed to have been deactivated, blatantly trying to rip us off yet professing to ‘cutting you a break here’. Uh: no. We sorted it out eventually, but the time lost in stuffing around left us stranded on the other side of town. All of which is pretty useless info only that the end result is that Master and myself (with littlest in the sling) walked well over 10k yesterday. Not a problem, but if I’d known this beforehand I think I would have a) worn the proper baby backpack and b) worn my walking shoes. As opposed to the scrawny bits of leather I occasionally tie onto my wayward feet.

Blegh.

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Anyway, after completely falling in love with the city itself – how many amazing little pockets can you really fit into the one city, really? Really? – we felt better after finally settling on the beautiful beachfront for fish and chips for dinner and stayed there til the sun went down.

boys on the beach

And this morning, arose to a most delightful – and extremely busy – hostel breakfast, stunned by both the bagel assortment and the fact I can still walk.

Seriously, I am so blown away by Vancouver thus far and as I had my expectations pretty damn high, this really is saying something. It’s like everything I love about Melbourne – but warmer and with more beaches. Oh my goodness, I can so imagine living here it’s terrifying. I feel like I’m about to leave the country in a few weeks yet have just met the love of my life. Agh, Vancouver. Can we at least be facebook friends?

Today: biking!

Tomorrow: hospital! (Kidding: I hope)