A whirlwind trip to the island(s)

Last Wednesday night we had James’ cousins from Wales over for dinner.  We had a great visit with them.  They brought Andrew the cutest little Paddington Bear EVER and a book of Paddington, and for the girls they brought a Peter Rabbit doll, a Flopsy Bunny doll, and a touch and feel Peter Rabbit book.  So thoughtful!  Andrew made them a little picture book and even wrote their names on it really neatly.  On Thursday he went downtown with James early in the morning and was dropped off with the mil and the cousins, who were on their way to Victoria and then Saltspring Island, and were taking Andrew with them.  He spent most of Thursday with James’ dad and his partner, checking out their new place and playing soccer in the park.  It was the first time ever that Andrew spent time with them on his own, so we thought it was great that it finally happened.  The mil, cousins and boy made their way over to Saltspring in the evening to visit James’ brother and to go camping at Ruckle Park for a few nights.

On Saturday morning James, the girls and I set off to meet up with them on Saltspring.  The trip to the ferry went well, although I had to keep feeding the girls snacks in order to prevent them from napping.  It totally worked out, because we got to the ferry about an hour early and ran them around at the playground till it was time to board the ferry, then gave them their bottles and they fell fast asleep as we were getting on.  They literally slept for the entire ferry ride, woke up just as we docked, and got out not long after that because we were stopping at the Saturday Market before heading to James’ brothers’ place.  We couldn’t believe our good fortune on that one!!  It honestly couldn’t have gone any smoother than that.  We just sat in the van for the trip over, which was fine by me (I took the ferries so much back and forth to Nanaimo back in the day and would be just fine never being on a ferry again, so it’s not like I felt I was missing out on the amenities upstairs!)

I had wanted Andrew to go through the market with me, but he only seemed interested in the booths with kid stuff, which weren’t many, so I left him with James and between James, his mom, and the cousins, they managed the children while I looked through the market.  I felt a bit rushed because the mil seemed to really want us to get to the bil’s place, but I saw what I needed to.  I only ended up buying some hot pepper jelly (one peach, one blackberry) for us and my parents, which is random I know but I just didn’t feel like spending a ton of money on anything.  I loved a lot of what I saw, but I couldn’t really justify buying any of it!  I hadn’t been there since I was pregnant with Andrew, so about 6 years ago, and I’d bought him (we didn’t know at that point if he was a him or a her!) a little tye dye onesie.   I thought it was pretty cool that the same company was set up with their tye dye stuff this year.  I had hoped to buy something for the babies at the market but I just didn’t see anything that I could afford to buy 2 of, truthfully.  That’s the thing with having multiples, not that my girls really want for anything because they have so much as it is, but I saw some adorable handmade dolls that I knew they’d love but they were $30 each – which is a fair price for a handmade doll, but when you have to buy 2 of them, you really have to think about the purchase!

Anyway, when I was finished looking around the market, we did a little grocery shop and headed to my bil’s place.  He lives right on the lake and I was actually shocked by how out of the way his place is.  The ‘driveway’ felt like a crazy rollercoaster ride, with tons of bumps along the way and I found myself gripping the car and feeling completely tense the whole way down!  He’s literally a stone’s throw from the lake, with his own little dock and tiny boat.  It’s so peaceful there, not even within cell phone range so it really feels like you’re away from civilization.  The girls luckily were really good about not going to the dock and when we told them how far they could go in the direction of the lake, they obeyed and didn’t try to go any farther without us, which I was amazed by at their age, but they seriously understand SO much and while they have their moments of purposely disobeying us (cough, cough, MARGARET!!), for the most part they are so good about listening to us.

I was amazed by how many big beautiful butterflies I saw within minutes of being there.  I was holding Margaret at one point when a big brown butterfly landed right on her foot!  I also saw a snake (and would see another at the park the next day).  There’s apparently a resident beaver at the lake but I wasn’t fortunate enough to see it myself, though the cousins from Wales did, which I was glad of given it’s Canada’s mascot animal!

We basically hung out at the bil’s house (who himself didn’t arrive till nearly bed time, but anyway…I won’t get into that), had dinner sitting outside, and then called it a night somewhat early.  We brought pack and plays for the girls to sleep in, which worked out well once we were finally able to get them to go to sleep.  Emily was particularly bad about staying up late (the first night she didn’t go to sleep till after 9:30, when her usual bed time is 7:30 at the latest!)  It’s funny because at home Emily is the ‘easy’ one to put to bed, whereas Margaret usually fusses and wants to stay up, but on this trip it tended to go the opposite way.  I think it’s because Emily loves her own bed so much, and her little routine, and having that all switched up made it difficult for her to give in to sleep.

I had a headache that night and in general slept really poorly.  I’m also not used to getting up at the crack of dawn with the kids, but basically once one person was up we all had to be up.  Luckily Advil helped my head, and once we got some coffee made James suggested that I go sit on the dock by myself and enjoy my coffee in peace.  It was absolutely amazing!  I had 10 minutes to myself to just BE.  I loved looking out over the water, it was warm and the sun was already shining bright before 7am.  I loved listening to nothing but nature around me, it was all so calm.  I loved having that bit of time, though of course I’d have loved to have been able to share it with James.  Unfortunately it just wasn’t possible, as no one would look after the kids for us to be able to do that. (sigh...)

We packed up all of our things and headed back to Ganges to check out the shops a little bit…or should I say for me to check out the shops while James dealt with all 3 kids at the playground…I felt a bit rushed because I was worried how it would go for him on his own since the babies have a tendency to run in opposite directions but I had a little look about.  The only thing I bought were 2 tubes of bubbles for the kids.  LOL  It turned out the bil’s best friends’ kids were at the park at the same time we were there so they got to play for a bit, which was cool.  From there we headed to Ruckle Park, and after a few wrong turns we got there and wheeled our stuff to the campsite (where the mil and cousins were staying, and where Andrew had stayed until we got there) in a wheelbarrow, courtesy of the park!  It was basically a mini family reunion, with several people from the mil’s family attending, and James’ dad even came over for it (which was a big deal, as his parents hadn’t seen each other since our wedding, and that will be 7 years ago next month).  It went well, it was tiring with the babies since they were quite busy, but they seemed to really enjoy themselves, and Andrew had a great time playing soccer, trying to get his kite to fly, and playing other sports with whoever would play.  The kids all skinned their knees tripping on the gravel between the bil’s place and at the park, but it didn’t stop any of them from racing around and enjoying the outdoors!

It was also interesting to meet more of the mil’s family, and one in particular I got on with right away because she’s a restorative justice volunteer in prisons, which is exactly what I was so passionate about during my degree program.  It really reminded me of that passion, and made me realize how truly far removed I am from that aspect of myself right now, but of course my world revolves around the kids and that’s just how it needs to be right now.  It was still great to have a chat about the issues, I really hope to do more in my life at some point to utilize what I took from university.

James and I got the only time of the entire trip alone together while everyone chipped in and watched the kids for us.  Out of a 4 day trip, literally we were gone for a 15 minute walk/sitting by the water.  It was so nice to have that bit of time together, but as much as I love spending time with the kids I found myself longing for more of that time just the two of us.  It felt so peaceful and more like how a vacation should feel!!  But alas we had to get back…I did take Andrew on a fun little excursion just him and I to some rocks by the water, and we checked out the sea anemones and looked for crabs but all we saw were the world’s tiniest little fish or SOMETHING moving around in the little pools of water!

We took the ferry to Victoria early Sunday evening and checked into the Best Western Carlton Plaza Hotel downtown, which is perfectly located both for visiting James’ dad and partner at their new place, and doing a bit of downtown browsing.  We were originally going to have the fil and significant other (SO) over that evening for a visit at the hotel, but it was so late and we were all so tired by the time we got settled in.  The room we got was perfect, and such a good price for what we got.  It had a kitchen, dining table, living room, space for 2 cribs, Andrew had his own queen sized bed, and there was a separate bedroom for us with another queen sized bed.  It was a perfect amount of space for 2 nights in a hotel with 5 of us!  And to have people come over for a visit worked great in that space.

On Monday morning the plan was we would get up, eat breakfast, and meet up with the fil and SO at Beacon Hill Park at 9:30.  We had the valet bring the van around just after 9, and while James and Andrew were getting the key, I took the babies out to wait by the van, only to look down at the back tire and discover that it was completely flat.  We’d had a slow leak in it for some time but we’d put more air in it and it always lasted for several weeks at least.  My dad had put air in it before we left for the trip and we thought we were good to go, but my guess is that the crazy potholes and many gravel roads on SSI had done a number on it.  It definitely changed the course of the day for us, but I’m SO glad I have BCAA because we were able to get someone there in 15 minutes to put air in the tire, and then we were able to drive it to a tire shop to get a new one….Which we ended up having to replace 2 tires…So $315 later and we had a really boring major purchase, but at least it was taken care of and I no longer have to worry about that tire going flat when I’m on my own with the kids!  While we waited for the tires to be done, we were able to walk to the fil and SO’s new place for a short visit there, then we went to Pluto’s Diner for lunch (just the 5 of us).  We never go out to restaurants with all 3 kids so it was interesting!  Definitely not relaxing for me and James but it went pretty well, and we were there at an off time and partially sitting outside, so it wasn’t overly stressful.  It was so cute, particularly watching Margaret take a piece of a grilled cheese sandwich and carefully munch away quietly on it!  Emily was looking all around and pointed up to the ceiling and said, ‘Star!’ because there were little yellow stars painted all over it.  Margaret then looked up and saw the earth painted there and pointed and said, ‘Ball!’  The girls know so many words now, I’ve lost track, although I want to post soon about their vocabulary and all the other amazing things they’re up to these days.

After lunch we got the van and drove to the park, where the kids played for several hours and we visited with the fil and SO.  Eventually the girls got quite fussy because they hadn’t had a proper nap, so James and I walked them around a bit while the FIL watched Andrew at the park, and they napped for a bit in their stroller.  Margaret woke up super cranky so we decided it was time to go back to the hotel for a while.  While James and the girls hung out in the room, Andrew and I went to check out a few shops (but not a couple that we’d really hoped to go to, because he’d had a tantrum earlier in the day and didn’t handle it well so his consequence was not going to the game shops).  We ended up going to Zydeco on Johnson Street, just a few blocks down from the hotel.  It’s a store I used to go into with my brother when we’d do day trips to Victoria with my parents when we were kids.  I love that store!  Andrew enjoyed looking around there, too, and scored some pretty cool zombie finger puppets, which are right up his alley.

Then the fil and SO came over with pizza and wine.  It turned out they’d been given the wrong pizzas, and instead of 2 vegetarian pizzas, we were given 2 with meat, which of course we couldn’t eat.  But it wasn’t long and the pizza place delivered 2 fresh veggie pizzas, and we ate and drank and had a nice visit.  We invited the fil and SO to breakfast at the hotel restaurant the next morning but they had other things happening so we said our goodbyes to them that night. 

In the morning we did venture down to the hotel restaurant.  The food was good but there was only one server so it felt slow getting our food, which isn’t the greatest when you’ve got lots of little ones with you.  We did everything we could to distract the girls, but they got kind of loud and basically once James was done his meal he took them back up to the room so Andrew and I could finish our breakfast in peace. 

We met up with James’ sister at the petting zoo at Beacon Hill Park, which was cool to go to with the babies now, too, since we’d made it an annual event with Andrew since he was 2 years old.  This was the girls’ first time there, and they loved the peacocks and the goats (as did Andrew).  They had lots of cute baby goats, and they were named after the characters from Frozen, so we saw Olaf and Anna and Elsa.  So cute!  At one point Margaret ran off toward the barn and when James went to go get her, he found her kissing a little boy about the same age LOL!  Emily was really brave and went right up to a peacock and started touching its long feathers.  The bird just sort of cocked his head to the side and stared at her, like ‘What do you think you’re doing, miss?’ but she just kept on doing it!

The kids played at the playground across from the petting zoo for a while, and we had a bit of visit time with James’ sister.  Then she had to leave so we decided to go get lunch at Red Robin.  Our original plan was to catch the 7pm ferry home, but we realized it was still quite early in the day and we had one more stop to make to visit James’ godparents, but we didn’t have much else to do so we decided to try for the 5 instead.  We went to the beach for a bit before going for the visit, which was nice to do just the 5 of us.  The kids all enjoyed throwing rocks into the ocean, and Emily played with the sand a bit (Margaret didn’t like the way it felt between her toes) and then it was time to go.   The visit was good in that James’ godparents hadn’t even met the girls yet, but it was a total gong show trying to keep them in one place and not let them roam around a house and garden that wasn’t kid-proofed at all!  We ended up leaving JUST in the nick of time to catch the 5, and almost didn’t get on.  We were about to get on the bottom deck when 3 cars ahead of us the ferry attendant motioned for them to turn around, which I thought meant we weren’t getting on and had to re-line up for the 7.  I was seriously about to cry when we were motioned another way and went on the upper ramp and were one of the last cars to get on the 5!  We were SO relieved as it would have been a nightmare trying to keep the kids happy for an extra several hours at the terminal.  They all napped for about 20 minutes of the boat ride, then we took them upstairs and they played at the kids play area till it was time to go.  We got home, I unpacked the van as quickly as possible so it wouldn’t just be left sitting in chaos all night, and we called it a night.

It was an absolute whirlwind of a trip!  The only thing I found disappointing was the lack of anyone suggesting James and I get more than 15 minutes together the entire time.  Between all the people we were with, I feel we could have got the chance to go for coffee just the two of us, or for a longer walk, or SOMETHING, because everyone knows we never get the chance to go away, let alone even go on dates often when we’re home.  But, it is what it is, and in all honestly while we were hopeful for more time, we didn’t actually expect it, so it wasn’t a huge disappointment not to get it!  We really enjoyed our time with the kids despite the chaos, and I loved seeing what a great time they were all having, and all they were getting to experience.  It was a lot of fun, and while we were tired physically after all was said and done, it energized me for wanting to spend more time outdoors and going on little summer adventures.


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