ottawa 2015: slides and beavertails

We are home now (back to the balmy weather), and have been for almost a week, but I wanted to write a final post about our last couple of days in Ottawa.

On Monday we went to the ice slides as planned. These are always a highlight for me. They are built for Winterlude in Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, and they are essentially person-made toboggan runs made out of ice. You slide down on your snow pants, and it’s a whole lot of fun. They are short and fast, and since they are artificially made, they have nice safe endings so you don’t knock yourself out on a tree. They have luge-type runs, wide runs where you can go down with the whole family, and a tube run. This year we got there early on Family Day and it was the most fun we’ve ever had, partly because the weather was perfect (cold, but not too cold) and there were no lines. I lost count of how many slides I got in but it was well into the double digits. We finished up the morning with beavertails and hot chocolate and were home before lunch.

Tuesday was our departure day but our flight didn’t leave until 7:15 pm, so Greg, the kids and I went for a skate. It was another beautiful day, and we managed to go about 7 km, with a beavertail/hot chocolate break in the middle. I’m not ashamed to use bribery to get my children out there! The kids got a little tired but there wasn’t too much complaining. Again, I was really impressed with Amy’s skating.

We returned to the house and spent the afternoon napping (me), packing up (me and Greg) and playing (Amy and Elliot). We had a smooth trip home, and got into Victoria very late on Tuesday night. Even later if you count the time change. Amy went to school the next day but Elliot was still asleep so I let him be. He was a bit of a grump that day so probably a good idea.

And now we’re back to reality, and work, and school, and all that fun stuff. It was a wonderful trip, and I’m glad we went.

ottawa 2015: snowshoes and yurts

We are going home in two days…time flies. We are certainly getting our winter fix. On Friday afternoon Elliot and I headed out with my sister and her family and my dad to stay overnight in a yurt in Gatineau Park. The rest of the gang were skiing in, but Elliot’s never skied before and I figured a 5-km ski in wasn’t a good place to start. So he and I rented snowshoes and walked in. It was pretty awesome (despite the fact that the last 30 minutes were in pitch black and I’m scared of the dark). Elliot and I were on our own for the most part, in a winter wonderland. It was cold (-15), but no wind, and the scenery was beautiful. Elliot did well. He started to fade about 4 km in and the last kilometre was a bit of a push but he did it.

The yurt was pretty well stocked. Wood stove, a small gas stove, table and chairs and room for six to sleep. It was cold when we first got there but it warmed up pretty quickly. We had a hearty dinner, a couple of games of Uno and then it was off to bed — early for everyone.

We snowshoed/skied out the next morning, in about 5 inches of fresh snow. Again, a winter wonderland. I looked back at one point to see our tracks, and it reminded me of walking with a dog. My tracks went straight and Elliot’s curved all over the place. I think he covered 20% more ground than I did!

Today was REALLY cold (-40 with wind chill). We were going to go tubing but decided against it given the temperature. We instead took the kids to “Sky Zone”, an indoor trampoline park. A really good way to burn off some excess energy! I did manage a skate later in the day. I made sure to start into the wind, and a dressed for the weather. It was hard going for the first half, but I’m glad I got out.

Tomorrow we are heading to the ice slides, and Greg is going out for a ski with the adults later in the day, since he missed out on the yurt. He and Amy hung out together that night and watched Frozen. Very fitting!

ottawa 2015: planes and skates

Let’s see if I remember how to do this blog thing…

We are in Ottawa for our annual trip to visit my sister and get our “winter fix”. We weren’t going to come this year because of my imminent re-entry into the world of work, but the stars aligned and we managed it. And all four of us this time. Last year (and you would know this if I had blogged about it), it was just me and the kids. I was in a bit of a low place, and while we had fun, it wasn’t the same without Greg. (I say this as we are sitting across from each other, each at our computers not talking to each other, him with headphones…but he’s working, and if he has to work a bit in order to come, then I’ll take it.)

We flew out of Victoria yesterday afternoon. I hope I am not jinxing future travel when I say this, but things usually go well for me when I travel, with connections, on-time flights, baggage, etc. Yesterday was no exception. Both flights landed early, our bags came out in record time, there was hardly any turbulence, and above all, we didn’t crash! Again! I’m so grateful! The flight from Calgary to Ottawa was less than half full, and Greg and I each shared a whole row of seats with one child. It was lovely, as flights go.

We didn’t get in until midnight local time, and everyone except me was up early this morning after way too short of a sleep, so we are all a bit bagged. And those of us who have not yet learned to control our feelings when over-tired (naming no names) were a bit grumpy. But we managed. I have an old friend from Bishop’s who came and visited for the day, and she and I went out for a skate with Amy on the canal ( It was a gorgeous day. Then it was out for lunch sans kids, followed by dinner with my dad (who arrived from PR this evening) and a final skate in the dark. I’m really impressed with Amy’s skating. I signed her up for lessons knowing we would be coming here, and she’s had a few chances to skate with friends and out-of-school care. She’s improved a lot, and even tonight skating with no light, she managed really well.

Not sure what’s on the books for tomorrow but hopefully you will hear from me again…I’m off to bed for some much-needed sleep.

Ottawa 2011: happy to be on solid ground

We’re home. Our return trip was less gruelling than I thought it would be. And I learned a valuable lesson. You CAN get yourself on an earlier connecting flight without forking over cash. But only if you ask about this BEFORE your baggage goes on the conveyer belt. We had a four hour layover in Vancouver that I was not looking forward to (from 11:00 pm to 3:00 am Ottawa time). I was told by a seasoned traveller (no names mentioned) that changing our tickets would cost us $100 each ticket, so we weren’t going to bother. But when we checked in to the ticket desk in Ottawa I thought I’d ask the ticket agent just in case. Unfortunately my timing was TERRIBLE. I asked her about 30 seconds after our first bag had gone on the conveyer belt. Her response was, as she looked in the direction the bag had just gone, “well, you could have…”.

The ticket agent was very apologetic. She hadn’t noticed the long layover. And it turned out there were seats available on a flight that left two hours earlier. Grrrr. I was pretty mad at myself. I should have asked as soon as we walked up to the desk. Lesson learned.

The plane we were on from Ottawa to Vancouver had three seats on either side of the aisle. After a bit of debate we decided to put Greg and the kids in one row and then have me in the aisle seat next to them. I could have been flying without kids. I helped them pee a couple of times and chatted with Elliot for a bit, but other than that I did no childcare. I watched a movie and four episodes of Rookie Blue. I’ve never had a flight go by so fast, except for the 45 minutes of, as the pilot put it, “light chop” as we landed. If that was light chop I’d hate to see heavy chop. I feared for my life as my four-year-old yelled out “WHEEEE” repeatedly. He thought it was awesome.

We landed safely and I breathed a sigh of relief. Amy had fallen asleep about half way through the flight and had remained asleep through all the bumping. She remained asleep through the layover in Vancouver and didn’t wake up until we landed in Victoria. At which point, after sleeping for about eight hours, was feeling quite refreshed and I began panicking that she wouldn’t fall asleep when we got home. She did, but was up a lot and then up for the day at 6:30. She is currently passed out on the couch.

Elliot, on the other hand, stayed wide awake until we got in the car. So he was up until 3:30 in the morning. And slept for about six hours. And he is not asleep on the couch. Go figure.

We were warned that the flight from Vancouver to Victoria would also be bumpy (those of you who were in Victoria yesterday will recall how windy it was throughout the day). It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but the landing was pretty freaky. And right before we landed I recalled my sister’s story of landing in Victoria last year and having the pilot abort the landing at the last minute because of wind and then tell everyone he was going to “have another go”. I’m not sure I would have survived that. But survive we did.

During our last three days in Ottawa we had a great visit to the Children’s Museum, went for a swim at a local pool, and on Saturday spent an awesome three hours tobogganing at a local park.

It was a fantastic visit, and I think we’ll continue our annual Winterlude visits to Ottawa as long as we can — at some point school might get in the way.

Now back to real life.

Ottawa 2011: too busy to blog

This not having any kids who nap gig means there is not a lot of down time for blogging. And during this trip I finally introduced myself to Angry Birds. Last night I spent 90 minutes playing it instead of blogging. But I’m here now.

We had a short but good trip to visit my friend in Montreal. We came across a bit of snow both ways in the drive but thankfully it was at the tail end of the trip both times.

Wednesday night my sister treated me to a ticket to Cats. I’d seen it once before in Victoria but this time our seats were much better. It was absolutely fabulous.

Thursday we spent a lot of the day at home, but Greg, Amy and I got out for a skate and all four Foxes spent about an hour tobogganing in the late afternoon.

Today Greg and I each got out for an individual skate in the morning and this afternoon we took the kids to the Canadian Museum of Nature. Amy and I also got out for a walk and a play at my nephew’s school. Amy has discovered the joy of going down plastic slides in snow pants. One goes fast and far.

We’ve been eating like royalty — my brother-in-law is a fabulous cook and my sister makes yummy bread and desserts. Pretty sure I’ll be returning to Victoria heavier. We have also been having beautiful weather — sunny and crisp, but not too crisp.

Three more days…then back to the real world.

Ottawa 2011: snow play

Yesterday we had a leisurely morning and then headed out to a winter festival at a local park. There was hockey, food, kids’ games and horse-drawn sleigh rides. And a small hill for tobogganing. Which is where we spent most of our time. Elliot loves being on a sled that is going downhill. Amy wasn’t quite as enthused, but she did do a couple of runs.

We spent the rest of the day indoors. Or the Fox family did. Greg had a short nap and I struggled to stay awake to make sure the kids didn’t kill each other.

This morning we tried to head out early to the ice slides. We had gone last year and it had been PACKED. We ended up getting there about 45 minutes after it opened and it was fine. The ice slides are toboggan runs that have been flooded and then have iced over. They are slick, fast and a whole lot of fun. Again, Elliot was all over it and Amy was a bit wary. But she ended up going down three slides.

Then it was back to the house for some food, train play and a bit of kid refereeing. In the late afternoon we went for our first skate on the canal. The ice was fairly choppy but it was still good to get out. Greg towed Elliot behind him in a sled and Amy was in the stroller. She fell asleep (which would be why she’s still awake now, at 9:30).

Tomorrow we are off to Montreal to visit a friend from university for a night. I haven’t seen her for four years so it’ll be nice to catch up.

Ottawa 2011: who owes who?

Amy and I arrived safely in Ottawa. Greg and Elliot are still enroute. We had to take separate flights because we booked with two separate point systems, and I valiantly stepped up to bat and volunteered to take Amy on the 7:00 am flight. The child who doesn’t sit still, the child who doesn’t enjoy television for longer than 10 minutes, the child who says NO! 342 times a day. For weeks I’ve been dreading the flight, planning what things I could take, and reminding Greg that he OWES me. Big time. Perhaps you can see where this is going.

My trip was a dream, or as much a dream as air travel can be. Sure, I was up at 4:30 am, but that’ll just get me on Ottawa time quicker. The flight from Victoria to Vancouver was quick and easy. We had about an hour in Vancouver. Enough time to enjoy a chai latte and watch some planes. We boarded our Vancouver to Ottawa plane and proceeded to enjoy a four and a half hour flight. Yes, I said enjoy. I even read a magazine. And did some puzzles. We did use almost everything I brought to entertain Amy, but she was easily entertained. The worst thing she did (and I recognize this is nothing) is close the shade on her window really loudly a few times. She was an absolute Angel. One man even commented that he’d never seen a child travel so well.

I arrived in Ottawa to hear that Greg’s flight had been delayed. It’s now almost 11:00 pm, six hours after Amy and I arrived at the house, and Elliot and Greg are still in the air. They left Victoria at 10:00 local time. If you do the math on that one, they spent seven hours in the Vancouver airport. They were supposed to be on a bit of a milk run through Winnipeg that would have had them landing at 10:30 pm, but the Winnipeg flight got cancelled. They got put on a direct flight to Ottawa, but it was much later.

I talked to Greg briefly when I arrived in Ottawa, and he said Elliot was pretty bored. He was so excited to get here and it sounds like the wait at the airport was hard (seven hours for anyone would be hard, let alone a four-year-old).

I hope their flight has gone okay. It’ll be nice to see them and have the family together under one roof.

More Winterlude adventures to come.

Ottawa 2010: The Rest of Today

We did end up going tobogganing this afternoon. Elliot’s first time ever. We got to the top of a small hill which was basically an ice slide, he sat on the toboggan and went down. No hesitation whatsoever. He almost hit a tree once, but he was pretty good about rolling off at the right time. His sister refused to go.

Afterward I skated a bit with Amy at a small rink that was at the same park while Graeme and Hugh hit the puck around. Elliot wandered around on the ice for a bit in his boots and then went off with Greg to play in the playground. Amy also wanted to play in the playground but everything she tried made her cry, and I didn’t know why. So we came back to the house and left the boys at the park. I think she may have been cold.

Elliot and Hugh played all day together (no school for Hugh today), and boy, do they ever play well. It’s so cool to see. Graeme made some yummy pizza for dinner (did I mention that going home to our boring eating is going to be hard??) and Amy barely managed to stay awake for it. She was one tired girl tonight. Which made for lots of cuddles. When I was putting her to bed I sat her on our bed at one point to get some stuff ready for her, and she was so still I had to check to see if she was still awake. She was, but barely, and she was so tired she couldn’t even hold her drool in. 🙂

The kids are all nestled, I’m enjoying yet another glass of wine and about to dig in to some cherry pie. And some Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

Ottawa 2010: The Last Few Days

I thought I’d blog more often while we were here, but I haven’t really felt like it. Too much time spent playing in the snow, eating and drinking wine.

On Tuesday we went to the Children’s Museum. Elliot and I went there when we were here in October, and he enjoyed it even more this time around with Hugh as his tour guide. Amy also had a good time — her favourites being climbing in the Pakistani bus and an Austin mini, accompanied by many orders of “Mama, zsit!” (that’s not a typo).

On Wednesday Jan, Hugh, Amy and I went swimming. Elliot and Greg stayed at home as Elliot didn’t feel like going out. There was a small slide in the toddler pool and it didn’t take long for Amy to get the hang of it.

Wednesday afternoon the Verges arrived and we had a wild 24 hours with five kids in the house. On Thursday we visited the ice slides in Gatineau but as Greg mentioned in his post, it was a bit of a let down. Too many people, most of them misbehaving kids. I managed to go down one slide and it was fun, but not worth the wait.

This morning Greg, Amy and I had a short skate (and nap) on the canal, and we’ve had a pretty quiet day apart from that. I think we’re going to bundle up the kids and take them tobogganing this afternoon.

Amy needs some love…gotta go.

Ottawa 2010: The Canal

Yesterday afternoon we headed out to the Rideau Canal for a skate. Earlier in the day Greg and I went out to either rent skates or buy a secondhand pair. Greg walked out of the store with nothing and I walked out with a brand new pair of figure skates. Not exactly what I’d intended but they were on sale and cheaper to buy than rent for a week. And they are the most comfortable pair of skates I’ve ever put on.

It was a beautiful skate — it was sunny and about -5, so perfectly reasonable winter weather. We took Amy in the stroller and Elliot on the toboggan and despite a few tears, I think everyone had fun. Greg borrowed my brother-in-laws skate’s and will likely rent a pair later in the week.

I appreciated the fact that there were no crowds, as I’m pretty shaky on skates these days. It’s been a long time.