Driving Captain Jelly Belly

And we’re back! It wasn’t pneumonia, and we’re all doing well now. In fact, our doctor only ordered the x-rays in the first place because we were leaving the next day for Florida – glorious, sunny, hot Florida where we could forget we live in a soggy, freezing Canadian city for six whole days. Do you know that it snowed today in Ottawa, SNOWED, on May 8? I give up.

But the trip was great – we had amazing weather, and we had so much fun at the theme parks (we went to Orlando), and we came home exhausted but with heads full of magic and wonder. When I was a younger mom, I used to love reading stories about people’s trips – actually I still do, I’m always curious to see how various problems were handled and what the accommodations were like. But I feel like a detailed summary of our trip would be tedious for everyone so I’ll sum up quickly, and if you want more detail on any specific point please comment or email me and I’d be happy to wax on about it for pages and pages.

The short version:

  • For Ottawa-area readers: we flew Alligiant out of Ogdensburg, which had been heralded back in October as the Dawn of Cheap Flights. It wasn’t a huge savings, but it was a small savings, and it was pretty easy to do, although the airport in Ogdensburg is about the size of my house and when your flight is delayed by four hours in a place with no wifi and no cell phone coverage and no food it can be pretty grim.
  • We rented a house in the Windsor Hills area and it was glorious. Everyone had their own bedroom AND their own bathroom AND we had our own pool and hot tub. Recommended!
  • We spent three days at the Universal theme parks because we specifically went to explore the Harry Potter worlds, and they did not disappoint. But I’m glad we waited to go there until our kids were older and taller, as the rides are a bit bigger than Disney.
  • We spent one day at Magic Kingdom and one day at Hollywood and they were magical.
  • We spent one day at the Kennedy Space Center and now I am OBSESSED with the Mercury 7 and Apollo moon landings. OBSESSED.

If that sounds like a super packed, full six days, it was – my fitbit recorded over 20K steps on all the days except the Kennedy day, and we were so, so tired at the end of the day (but not too tired to pass up a sit in the hot tub). We had originally planned to go for 10 days, and have some rest days in between the parks, but we ended up having to cut the trip short, so we had to squeeze it all in. It was worth it, but still, not exactly a relaxing vacation!

The reason we had to cut the trip short is that Captain Jelly Belly, who is in Grade 8, was invited to attend a week-long course at the University of Ottawa last week. They take a few hundred kids in grades 8 through 11 and send them to university for a week, studying one thing in particular – he chose Civil Engineering. (Mini-review: he enjoyed it, but I think it’s safe to say that he is not planning on becoming a civil engineer any time in the future.)

So for the past week, I’ve been driving him to the university every morning, then picking him up every afternoon. Due to rush hour traffic it’s about an hour each way, meaning we’re in the car together every day for a good long while. And you know what? It’s been awesome.

He’s older now and often has his head buried in homework or a tablet or his phone, and if we do pry him away, it’s usually to do something as a family. Having this time alone with him was so great. We listened to the morning show and did the daily Game Show Bit together. We talked about silly things, like what Harry Potter spell is the best, and serious things, like what unions are, and whether they are good or bad. We plotted a different route for each day and then compared traffic and roads for each, and he grew into a great navigator. We talked about his day and my day and made jokes about classmates and clients.

The best part was close to the end of the week, when I found some Vinyl Cafe CDs and we spent a couple of commutes listening to Stuart McLean tell his sweet, funny stories about Dave and Morley. During one of the last episodes, there was a particularly funny moment involving Dave and a duck and a dry cleaner, and the audience laughed with a roar, followed a few seconds later by a single man laughing loudly. This single man’s laugh was booming, a Ho Ho Ho like Santa Claus, and when he laughed on the CD, the Captain and I looked at each other in instant recognition, our mouths gaping open in disbelief.

Every year I take Sir Monkeypants to see The Debaters, another CBC comedy show, recorded at a local theatre, and for the past three years we’ve taken the Captain along as well. All of those years we’ve sat just in front of a man with a distinctive, booming, Ho Ho Ho kind of laugh, one that often comes late, building steam to explode out just a moment or two after the rest of the audience has moved on. This guy is sometimes annoying and sometimes endearing but always a major feature of our post-Debaters analysis.

And here he was, clearly at a taping of the Vinyl Cafe, caught forever on our recording. It was the ultimate in joke – something no one else would get, something just for us, and something so instantly recognizable and strong that we didn’t even have to say anything – we just looked at each other and knew immediately what the other one was thinking – and then burst into laughter ourselves.

It was a great marker for the week, a way to know that he’s my buddy, my guy, my first baby, my always baby. I feel quite sentimental about it, but I embrace the mushies. It’s been a good couple of weeks.

3 thoughts on “Driving Captain Jelly Belly

  1. I’m glad you’re all doing better and great timing for the holiday–as you probably heard, it rained. Like, constantly. And last night it snowed and I’m currently in denial but I’m pretty sure I saw snowflakes today again, which you probably know because there are like ten km between your house and mine (complete random estimate, not a stalker, don’t know where you live).

    Gosh.

    Forced closeness (like in a car) can be awesome. Traveling brings out these moments as well, I find, especially when isolated in a foreign country. Glad it works out for you two 🙂

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