Friday, August 24, 2012

Family Camping Cancelled

After coming home from a wonderful week of camping just the two of us, it was time to take the kids for their vacation.  According to their Babcia, they were very excited to go, telling everyone they met that the whole family would be going camping even Worf! The day before we left we made last minute preparations. Adam bought the kids new sleeping bags and I bought some food for campfire dinners, as well as the ingredients for S'mores.

On Wednesday we packed up the car and drove three hours through farm country. At a restaurant bathroom en route, they kids were loudly yelling "poopy!" despite repeated requests to stop. They giggled when I got annoyed and continued to egg each other on (3 and 5 are exactly the wrong ages for impulse control).  Finally I said that there would be no stories.  This usually gets William to stop.  He loves his bedtime stories (Jadzia doesn't care).  In this case, they both kept going.

We arrived at the Pinery in the afternoon, a provincial park that for me is the setting for many happy childhood memories. After setting up the campsite we went to the beach. We had a pleasant time in the water, then built a sand castle together with each child adding their own creative touches.  I made thrones and a table for the king and queen and Jadzia put small handfuls of dirt on them saying they were the people.  

William was hungry and it was nearly dinner time so we washed the sand off our bodies and prepared to leave.  At this point William had a massive freak out. Not because we were leaving the beach, oh no, because I asked him to hold my hand and not crawl in the sand.  William told me I was the stupidest person in the world and that he didn't like me. Finally I told him that we wouldn't be fishing after dinner like we'd planned.

After eating fire-roasted fish, Adam drove into town to get some things we'd forgotten and to avoid being tempted by S'mores. I sat the kids a safe distance from the fire and put marshmallows on very long sticks for them. Neither of them actually like roasted marshmallows (they prefer raw) but they delight in the roasting process.  Especially Jadzia who got seven marshmallows to catch on fire and let them them drip into the flame. I made us some S'mores with my new S'more maker while re-mallowing sticks and frantically trying to avoid a third degree burn scenario.  I told the kids the "stop, drop, and roll" rule but they just laughed and turned away.  The only burn suffered was my own.  I now have the imprint of my S'more maker on my inner forearm.

Far from salvaging the camping experience, the sugar got the kids riled up and I finally had to institute a walk to the washroom in order to keep from killing them.  To avoid malicious pee accidents, we recently instituted a one-pair-of-underwear-a-day rule for Jadzia.  She wets her underwear, she gets a diaper.  Jadzia responded to this by pooing in her diaper, something she hasn't done for months.  Well, when we got to the comfort station I discovered a poop in her diaper.  The kids giggled and exclaimed "poopy!" "poopy!" as I wiped the excrement from my daughter's butt.  I told them to stop, but I felt less like an authority figure and more like the victim of schoolyard bullies, whining "stop it!" as they taunted me.

Finally they brought me to tears, not that that's hard to do when I'm stressed.  Anyway, witnessing their mother have a nervous breakdown in the campground washroom was a wake-up call for them and they finally stopped.  Ha!  So not!  Jadzia had to walk back to the campsite bare-bummed because I hadn't brought an extra diaper with me (because she's a big girl, not an infant for Spock's sake!)  William pointed and squealed "vagina!" and "naked!" the whole way back.

Adam got back at that point and he "put the kids" to bed.  Without stories, there wasn't much to do besides put them in the tent, give them a lecture about treating Mommy better, and tell them to go to sleep.  Surprise, they didn't.  They screamed and giggled.  Actually, it was more Jadzia screaming while William, in a low voice, told her what to yell.  I really regretted not bringing any alcohol with me.  We threatened to cancel the whole trip.  They yelled "Stupid Mommy!" "Stupid Daddy!"  Our plan had been to wait until the next morning to see if their behaviour had improved, but at that point the idea of getting in the tent with them was so repugnant to me that we packed up the campsite.

I went for a last washroom break as Adam put the tent on the roof.  Looking in the mirror I thought "boy do I ever look tired, even my hair looks tired."  I could hear the kids wailing all the way from the comfort station.  I hoped this was because they were upset about the trip being cancelled (up until that point they hadn't seemed to care).  Nope.  They had got hold of the dog food (measured out for four days) and emptied it inside the car.

We drove three hours home and thankfully the kids fell asleep in the car, seemingly unaware of the gravity of the situation. The next morning, they were back to demanding snacks and screen time as normal.  We limited the snacks (no matter how annoying they are we do have to feed them) and instituted a ban on screen time.  At first it looked like they were going to have another stellar day, but by the afternoon William was being a little angel, building whimsically-engineered tanks and segways out of Lego. By dinner time, even Jadzia was behaving.  So we decided to take them fishing.

We went to Burns Consevation Area, which has a sad-looking pond whose water-level looks about five-feet lower then it should be.  But there are fish!  Both Jadzia and William are better fishers than I am.  William caught one fish all by himself, and Jadzia caught 4 or 5.  We fished until past bedtime.  I finally caught one sunfish and declared it time to go. Despite getting more mosquito bites on my ankles than I did an entire week of camping, it was a perfect evening.  The kids protested leaving only minimally and, at William's prompting, Adam told us all stories of his childhood on the way home.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our trip in paintings

Adam and I just got back from camping sans enfants, a decadent trip back to the old days when it was just the two of us. We ate what we wanted, slept when we wanted, and did whatever we wanted without the constant threat of whining and boredom.  This also means I had the opportunity to carry some tiny canvases and paint with me and create artistic renderings of scenic vistas.

First we stayed a couple nights at Cyprus Lake in Tobermory.  As you can see, the water was turquoise, giving it the feeling of a tropical paradise.  A few steps from where I painted this is a waterside cave called The Grotto.  The Grotto is the most beautiful place I have ever swum.  With water so clear that you can see the bottom far below you. The white rocks have a bluish tinge, reminiscent of a swimming pool. The icy water will forever be our benchmark against other swimming temperatures. As in: "The lake is cold, but at least it's not as cold as the Grotto" or "This pool is way warmer than the Grotto." We got used to it very quickly and had a beautiful and refreshing swim.

Next, we took a glass-bottom boat to Flowerpot Island, named for the bizarrely-shaped rock formations.  On the way, the boat passed some sunken ships.  Our boat didn't sink though, and we made it safely to the island for a nice hike.  I regret not taking more time here. We booked the boat back after the recommended 2 hours, but next time I would bring my bathing suit and stay the whole day.

We said goodbye to Tobermory and took a Ferry and then drove to Killarney Provincial Park. Above is a painting of Killarney at night.  As you can see, the night sky and trees looked gorgeous reflected in the water. I needed a flashlight to paint in the dark, but when I had it on some of the stars would disappear. Light pollution in action!  Adam took some breathtaking star pictures.

We did a lot of hiking in Killarney.  The hiking "trails" were actually just mountains with trail markers on them. There would always be a nice easy meandering path to your right, but the trail marker would point to the left, up a cliff made of jagged boulders.  The most difficult of these was the Crack, which I'm sure was named because you could easily crack your head open if you lost your footing.  6 kilometers, culminating in the aforementioned jagged-boulder mountain.  At the end of our climb, we were treated to a breathtaking view (above) which I painted quite accurately even though I almost lost my canvas and brushes to the wind.

We rented a canoe and explored some of the islands in the area.  Once we got out into the bay, the water became too rough, and we were afraid that we would capsize and destroy our expensive electronics.  So our  canoe trip was brief, but we stopped on one of the pink rocky islands to eat lunch and paint a picture of the view.  Later, we took a longer canoe ride and went fishing on the water.  I couldn't catch anything, but Adam managed to snag a trout, a small-mouth bass, and a catfish.  As usual, nothing was large enough to keep.  We stayed until dark, when the fish stopped biting and bats began dive bombing our heads.

And now we're home.  Just for one day though and then we're off to Pinery Provincial Park to camp with the kids.  I don't think I'll bring my paints this trip.  Maybe some crayons and paper.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Why I love (and hate) the laundromat

There are reasons for coin laundromats.  They are for people who live in small houses, or apartments, or who do not wish the expense of owning two large energy and water guzzling appliances. I have a washer and I have a dryer, and I do laundry often enough for my family and I to be wearing clean clothes on most days.  And yet, it doesn't take long for the laundry to flood, overflowing its various hampers and creating a vaguely-mold-and-urine-smelling ocean that encompasses the upstairs hallway, the bedrooms, and the washroom.  The ocean even has fish, of the silver variety.  It stands as a symbol of our slovenliness for all to see.

So every so often we cheat.   We splurge on coin laundry and wash all our clothes at once.  I did this a few days ago, packed the ocean into six garbage bags and drove my overstuffed car to the laundromat next to that free toppings pizza place, and Produce Planet.

It was after nine, and the humid strip mall location had only one customer (fortuitously already using the dryer) and no staff.  Three of the washers were out of order; I filled the rest with my ocean. I felt a little guilty when a woman (who legitimately needed the coin laundry) came in and had to wait, but she only had one load and only had to wait five minutes.  Besides, chatting about her six-month-old baby was the highlight of my experience. That, and of course reading Love of Her Lives on my ereader.

After about an hour the humidity had become stifling and my throat was parched.  There's a vending machine in the laundromat, which I assumed was a trick to get you to spend coins on non-laundry, thus having to break yet another twenty in the change machine.  Eventually I gave in.  I ordered a water, then an ice tea, then a flavoured water.  All three were sold out though, so I had to endure my thirst, as the ocean churned around me.

When I left I checked all the machines for forgotten clothes, flummoxed that I had somehow compressed my laundry haul to five bags instead of six.  No matter, I was happy to get out of there.

Fast forward to today.  The kids had their last day of soccer in the morning and I could find one pink soccer sock and that was it.  On a normal day we would have dug through the ocean, but the ocean was gone.  Everything was clean and sorted and in drawers.  Where were the soccer uniforms? While the rest of us ate breakfast, my husband went back to the laundromat.  I had low expectations, having seen a sign on the wall of the establishment proclaiming "WE EMPTY THE MACHINES EVERY NIGHT".  In retrospect, I think they meant that they empty out the money, leaving the almost-a-week-old laundry to mold in the washer where I miraculously left three loads worth.  I say miraculously because I checked, double checked, and triple checked.  Turns out, not only did the washer contain the soccer uniforms, but also a whole bunch of clothes that I would have eventually missed, likely when it was too late. In a month or two I would think to myself, where is my favourite pair of jeans?  What ever happened to my bathing suit top?  But they would have been gone forever if not for soccer.

And that is the story of how the soccer uniforms saved the laundry!
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