Friday, August 25, 2023


I set my alarm for 4:30 am on Wednesday morning, but Zoë woke up at 4:00 buzzing with energy and Phoebe decided to wake up, too, so there was nothing for it except to just get up, too. We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare—they say to arrive three hours early, but we got through security in about a half hour. A lot of this is due to our trump card (which is having a baby in a stroller) so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend blowing off the recommended arrival times without that. But travelers with babies in tow often do get escorted to a special, shorter security line.

Arriving so early had its perks—I didn’t have to worry about whether we were going to be late, for example—but, man, I was tired! 

Third thing about Atlanta traffic is that you can leave at 5:00 and arrive three hours early or you can leave at like, 5:30 and arrive late. Once that traffic jam starts thickening, there’s no stopping it! So, it was good that we were early. Would I have loved an hour to two more of sleep? Sure. But at least we were on time for our first flight.

Miriam was so helpful with Phoebe. She walked her all around to look at planes and the sunset and a mural of puppies. Zoë and I walked her around a little bit as well. It was nice to have a responsible person to switch off with walking around and watching all the luggage (Miriam was so nervous that she managed to get 100 “zone minutes” by the time the plane took off!).

Here’s a picture Andrew snapped of us before leaving us to fend our way through all the lines:

He posted it on our family Discord server and Alexander almost immediately commented back, “wow thay got to the hotel or inn qwik.” 

Andrew told him that we weren’t at our final destination yet—just at the airport—and Alexander decided he just couldn’t tell where anybody was at any given moment. 

This morning he texted me to ask “Have you gotten bitten by a sompthing yet like a maucto to at Canada?”

I presume he meant to ask whether we’d encountered any mosquitos. 

“Nothing yet,” I texted back to him.

“Ok. Cuas you are in the plane still rhite? Are you in the plane still?”

“No We are not in the plane. We are driving to Uncle David’s house right now.”

“Oh. Nice.”

Anyway, we got to the airport plenty early, checked in, and took the train down to our terminal. It’s been a while since we took the metro (like, at least since 2019) so the girls were impressed with their train ride.

My favourite part of our wait was probably seeing the sunrise. I’ll be honest—I don’t often catch the sunrise these days. It was sure a beautiful one! Here are Zoë and Phoebe watching it together from a bench (they look so identical to me in this picture):

And here’s a view of the beautiful sun:

Phoebe is a little bit afraid of planes, or at least has been, when she sees them in the sky. She doesn’t seem to trust them and hates the noise they make. Whenever she sees one she runs to me for comfort (or, if I’m in the pool, she will just jump in—no hesitation). We were a little worried about how she would act on a plane, though that’s admittedly very different from seeing one in the sky. She got a good education on how planes work while we were waiting, since she spent most of those three hours watching planes take off and land. 

(Though she also found time to eat some snacks and play with some toys):

And she was perfectly happy being on a plane—she found the view from the window quite interesting—and even used the toilets on the plane without putting up too much of a fuss.

In fact, she didn’t have a single accident our whole day of traveling! Like, until we got to my niece Piper’s apartment in downtown Calgary. She had a bit of an accident before we could get to a potty there. And then she had one later on in the evening (but by then I think she was just so sleepy). She’s did so great!

Here’s Zoë sitting by the window on our first flight (from Atlanta to Montreal):

The plane we took to Montreal was surprisingly small. I sat by Zoë with Phoebe on my lap and Miriam sat on the other side of the aisle by a stranger. It was so cramped (and such a short flight, and Phoebe fell asleep soon after we took off) so we didn’t bother to even get out much of anything to entertain ourselves. 

Zoë is very good at playing imaginary games, using her fingers as characters. She tells herself elaborate stories and acts them out and is just…great at not being bored…but I guess the flight attendants took pity on her and brought by an activity packet for her to enjoy, which was nice of them. It had crayons and a little coloring book inside, as well as little airplane shuffle puzzle, and a set of headphones (which came in handy on our connecting flight when she wanted to plug in to the on-board entertainment system). It all came in a little tote bag, which she was extra excited about because that qualifies as a souvenir!

We had stuff to entertain her…we just didn’t get it out. 

Oh, also, my kids were the only children on that flight. I have only ever flown to or from Utah, pretty much, for the past decade (+), so I’m used to flying with a demographic that includes…larger families. It was strange to be on a childless flight. Like I said, though, the plane was small, so I suppose it’s not too surprising that there weren’t many children on it. I wonder if that’s another reason the flight attendants felt they could give her an activity pack (when those are typically reserved for longer flights). Who knows? 

Anyway, we were grateful. 

Here’s Phoebe up from her nap, and having a turn being buckled into Zoë’s seat while Zoë was up using the restroom:

She really wished she could have been buckled into her own seat, though I can only imagine how long that would have lasted if it were her only option.

I took zero photos in Montreal. I thought we had an hour an a half between our flights, but by the time we landed and got off the plane we only had 45 minutes to make our connection—this included going through customs!

Fortunately, our baggage was checked through to Calgary. They took our carry-one at the gate and assured me I wouldn’t have to fetch them at immigration and border control in Montreal. They do a magical pre-customs thing. I don’t quite understand how it works; I was just grateful we didn’t have to go through that rigmarole because there’s no way we would have had time!

Canada Air has their connections set up so that all the connecting flights (within Canada) go through immigration together, rather than going through immigration with everybody whose final destination was Montreal. This was nice because we got to miss out on the zoo of immigration lines, but we still had our own (admittedly shorter) lines to contend with and everybody in line was worried about missing their connecting flight. 

By the time we reached a sign alerting us of a 20–45 minute wait at that point, I began to get a little worried. We had less than 45 minutes until our plane left! 

And then some girls cut in front of us (we had just reached the stanchions of the “official” line after penguin waddling down the hall since the line snaked well beyond the “marked” line. One girl was rather apprehensive about this. 

“But there’s so many people…we can’t just jump in line here…”

“We can’t go to the back of the line!” Her sister/friend responded. “We’ll be late for our plane! We only have an hour to catch our plane!”

Miriam wasn’t with me at the time (because she had run to the bathroom), so I was just a mom with two small children and these girls cut in front of me (like, rude!). Zoë asked me whether we’d have time to catch our plane, so I answered her question loudly (while passive-aggressively staring straight into this girls’ eyes), “I don’t know, sweetie, but I sure hope so. We only have a half hour until our plane leaves, but the line is moving pretty quickly. It sure would be easier to get through the line if people wouldn’t cut in front of others!

The girl turned around quickly—clearly embarrassed—but stood her ground. 

Miriam showed up soon after, and then felt silly for “cutting” in line after I told her about the girls in front of us (later…when they weren’t there, because in addition to lecturing others passive-aggressively, I also talk about people behind their backs from time to time (I am brimming with faults, friends)), but I told Miriam she wasn’t truly cutting in line because she was part of our travel party. It would have been ridiculous to have her wait through the entire line again…plus she’s a minor…

When we got to immigration I was surprised to find kiosks for self-check-in! 

I scanned my passport and then it took my photo. And then I scanned each of the children’s passports on the same immigration ticket. We answered a few questions, then printed out a receipt. We spoke briefly with a border patrol officer, and then were on our merry way. 

We scanned our boarding passes (about three time) and gave our immigration receipt to another border patrol officer further down the hallway.

And then we ran, ran, ran to catch our plane. 

We hadn’t eaten since about 7:00 in the morning. Our plane took off at 12:30 or so. We were all quite hungry. So we pulled out our snacks and started eating. We had cheesy buns/rolls and dried fruit (and that’s basically it). 

Phoebe was so hungry that she wolfed down whatever she was offered and then begged for more and more and more. 

This wasn’t a problem until…she started vomiting it all back up again!

I caught what I could in my hands and yelped at Miriam to pull out a barf bag and somehow emptied my hands into the bag while Phoebe kept on throwing up into the bag. Because I guess it didn’t matter at that point if she was also throwing up on my hands because they were already full of vomit. 

Then I had Miriam pull my backpack out from under the seat to get some baby wipes so we could clean up a bit. We used a lot of wipes (to the point where I was nervous we wouldn’t have enough to last the trip…not that they don’t have grocery stores here…because they do! (though my mom gave us a pack of baby wipes she had on hand)) and even got in trouble from the flight attendant walking past to see whether everyone was buckled correctly so we could finally take off (we were waiting on the runway for what felt like an eternity…perhaps only because I was covered in vomit…who knows).

“That bag needs to be all the way under the seat, ma’am,” she sniffed. 

“Yes, it will be,” I said. “I just pulled it out just now because I needed to get some baby wipes because…as you can see…my baby has been vomiting all over the two of us, and…”

“Oh! Oh! I see! Do you need anything?”

“Maybe a couple more motion sickness bags, just in case. I don’t think she’s sick…this is just her second flight of the day and…”

“Got it. No problem. I’ll be right back with those.”

“And I will get my bag back under the seat as soon as I have cleaned off my hands a little better.”

So that was a fun little moment. 

Phoebe didn’t throw up again after that, so I think it was just a strange combination of intense hunger followed by eating too fast mixed with some motion sickness. I was just sad that she threw up all over her sweater and (to a lesser extent) mine. 

I’d only packed one sweater for each of us—it was hard to fathom coming to a cooler place; when we left at 5:00 in the morning it was 88°F (31°C)! At 5:00 AM! I could hardly imagine how to pack for a trip to Canada (it’s been far too long!)—and now Phoebe’s sweater (and to a lesser extent…mine) was covered in vomit! 

I washed her sweater out in the sink last night and wrung it out really well, hoping it would dry, but it just is so, so absorbent that was still quite wet this morning. My mom stopped by Wal-Mart and purchased a sweater for each of the girls (because she didn’t think I’d packed enough warm clothes for them…and…she’s probably right…I’m a southernized softie), which gave Phoebe at least one functional sweater for the day (which she really needed because it was cold and windy all day). 

Uncle David tossed it into the dryer at his house, but because it was alone it didn’t dry very well even in there. But, it did help quite a lot and after sitting in the van and hanging up in our hotel room some more…all day long…I think it will be dry enough to pack tomorrow when we check out of this hotel and head down to High River!

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