Under Our Umbrella, Eh Eh Eh (Our Rainy Canadian Vacation)

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Hello! This month marks five years since I began this blog, in a pumpkin pie coma and pregnant with my first baby, Anderson, as a platform to write more and document some of my stories as a new mom, among other parts of my life.  Two kids, two homes and several computers later…the writing below is my 60th published essay here in as many months. Thank you so much for reading and for cheering me on over the ups and downs I’ve shared in this space.  I hope you enjoy reading about our Canadian adventure below, and only roll your eyes slightly at my title Rihanna shout-out (I really, really couldn’t help myself…).

In celebration of five years chugging away (some years more frequently than others) at this crazy blogging machine, here are five weird facts about me, the blogger:

  1. I am an obsessive proofreader and typically read something I write no fewer than five times, start to finish, checking for spelling errors, grammar, punctuation…even spacing.  I’m a true grammar nerd; I inherited the gene from my dad (we were both UW journalism school grads, exactly 30 years apart).  Go Dawgs (though the spelling of that pains me)!
  2. I’ve written most of my blog posts at my kitchen counter or dining room table, often while a baby naps or late at night after the kids are in bed, usually in bits and pieces over several sittings.  I have memories of my early blogging days, with hands on the keyboard and one foot constantly bouncing Anderson up and down….up and down…in his bouncer as I clicked away, determined to get out my thoughts du jour.
  3. I am an entirely self-taught blogger, fueled by pure determination, aided by the user-friendliness of WordPress, much trial and error and a lot of time spent poking around for what I’m looking for.  If I can do it – anyone can!
  4. The embarrassing/vulnerable/awkward stories are ultimately the ones I’m proudest to have shared.  I’ve learned they bring out the humanity in me, and in people who read and comment on them.
  5. “Perfect is the enemy of good” has become my mantra for writing (and much of life!).  The biggest reason I go weeks or months without writing, is because I’m waiting for some grand lightning bolt of inspiration to strike.  As unparalleled as those rare moments are, sometimes writing is a grind.  This blog is a hybrid of the inspired, and the grind.  Also, like life.

Cheers to more years!

Now on to our family’s first international vacation…

Canada, eh?  The idea to foray into the great territory to our north came while sitting with Aaron and our friends, Brandon and Liana, at dinner during a Junior League of Seattle charity event last February.  In one of our more spontaneous decisions, we decided to bid on a 4-night trip to Whistler over Thanksgiving weekend.  It sounded like a festive way to kick off the Christmas season, and we’d never taken the kids out of the country.  What could go wrong?  We easily won the bidding without much competition, and in the blink of an eye – our first trip to Canada was cemented.

Leading up to the trip, my excitement was lukewarm at best.  I was nervous and somewhat regretful of our kneejerk decision to commit to this trip.  Among my chief concerns: Would our kids have major crying/screaming/whining meltdowns during the 5+ hour drive each way (answer:  OF COURSE!).  Par for the course with a 2- and 4-year-old.  No one with kids this age vacations for the drive, people.

Onward to the Thanksgiving Eve morning of our departure.  Naturally, Anderson finished “reading” all the books he had brought before we backed out of our garage.  Two drive-through coffees and a half hour later we were on 1-5.  The boys lasted 75 minutes before we broke out the Amazon Fire tablets, and a whopping 3.75 hours(!!) before we made our first and only pit-stop, for lunch in a cute little Canadian town called Lions Bay.  We ordered an Americano, London Fog latte and turkey and cranberry (me: “It’s like Thanksgiving!”) sandwiches.  I’m surprised they didn’t kick us out of Canada right then.

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Releasing the energy they’d pent up for hours, the boys ran around the small café and attached store, and Anderson did what big brothers do best by poking, prodding and generally annoying a shrieking Jude, whom I attempted to distract by letting him scroll through photos on my phone, at which point Aaron said, “Jude seems to be swiping left on you a lot, Anderson.  It’s his quiet way of saying no.”

With lunch and a mere 38-minute border wait behind us, we limped through the last 90 minutes of the drive, pulling into Whistler’s slushy cobblestone streets (most of the village snow would be washed away by rain during our stay…).  No turning back now!

The drives were the low points of the trip, but once there Whistler was more charming and expansive than I’d remembered from my last visit almost two decades ago in high school.  We filled our days with strolls through the village, snowball fights in Olympic Plaza, hot chocolate breaks, spaghetti and sushi dinners, and hours of Lego building back at the condo.  Jude was a little under the weather, so when we took him outside he resembled the kid in A Christmas Story who is so bundled up he can’t drop his arms to his sides.

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Our last full day there, we gave Anderson the option to take a ski lesson (his first) through the kids’ ski school.  He decided he did want to, and off he went with his Australian instructor (I swear half the staff we came in contact with hailed from Down Under…I don’t know why this is a thing??), and three other preschoolers.  The jury is still out as to whether we’re raising a future winter Olympian (averse to most new things, he currently claims he doesn’t want to go skiing again “for a million years!”), but he admits he enjoyed the mountain-side hot chocolate, and the pictures sure are cute.

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As cold as my feet were going into this trip, I’m so glad we did it.  Whistler did not disappoint.  You can just feel something special in the air there.  From the carefree sense of letting loose and adventuring, to the warm and cozy quaintness of the well-worn streets filled with people and languages from all over the world.  A world-class destination with a small town vibe.

You can bet we’ll be back.  I’d even bid on it.

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PS – I consider myself somewhat of a bakery fanatic, and Whistler has one of the prettiest ones I’ve ever seen:

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PPS  – As a very random and somewhat inappropriate aside, I just really love the tidbits of conversation one picks up at an après-ski fireside lounge at the end of the day, from its happy, unguarded, on-vacation and likely inebriated patrons.  Take this, for example, overheard as I paced outside said restaurant with a cranky Jude, while Aaron took his turn downing hard hot chocolate:

Woman: “Do you know what percentage of women enjoy being sent a picture of a man’s penis?  Zero.  Zero percent.”

Woman’s friend:  “That number seems high.”

I internally laughed so hard that I almost spit out my hot chocolate.

And with THAT vision of sugarplums dancing in our heads…Merry Christmas Season to all and to all a good night!

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