Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Airports I Love to Hate

I'm pleased to announce that Newark Liberty International Airport has been joined by two other airports on the list of Airports I Hate. Welcome to the club, St. John's International Airport and Toronto Pearson International Airport. Here are just a few features of these airports that have earned them places on my list:

St. John's International Airport
- A total of six gates. That's right. Six. Imagine the endless entertainment to be found for three kids in an airport consisting of one terminal with six gates and a tiny Tim Hortons.
- A snow-covered parking lot ensuring much adventure when parking, extracting suitcases and children, and walking to the terminal. Also ensuring much shoveling, de-icing, and warming-up when returning from any and all vacations.
- Excellent location in what can only be described as the foggiest and snowiest spot in all of Newfoundland and Labrador. This location often makes it possible for travelers to enjoy hours of delay, flight cancellations, and the rearrangement of travel plans. Be prepared to take advantage of your travel insurance.

Toronto Pearson International Airport
- Extra security checkpoints for flights into the United States consisting of a full carry-on baggage search and an explosives swab for all members of your travel party over the age of 1. This experience is enhanced by TSA employees with no previous experience with passengers traveling with prescription penicillin.
- Vast terminals with zero amenities in the case that you have a six-hour layover. However, in the case that you must claim your bags, clear Canadian immigration and customs, re-check baggage and go through another security checkpoint with three children, a laptop, three carry-on bags, a stroller, and various liquids in the form of Infants' Motrin, milk, etc., Air Canada will be happy to provide you with a connection time of less than 90 minutes.

Be sure to check out these airports on your travels if you're a fan of emotional torture.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Now What?

A winter storm watch. That's what.

Kyle's back in school this morning, but he's still feeling pretty terrible. I'm hoping he'll last the entire day without the school calling me to pick him up. His neck still hurts, he doesn't want to eat, and he's got a constant headache, but he was in better shape this morning than he has been in days.

Just when it's pushing 11 AM, and I'm hopeful that Kyle will make it to lunchtime at school, I check my friendly little Weather Network bookmark to find that there's a storm watch in effect for Thursday night into Friday afternoon. When do we leave for Florida? Friday morning. Right in the midst of this storm watch.

Please don't tell me that my wonderful trip to Florida and Disney World is going to be delayed by a nasty little winter storm. I really need this vacation. I'm in desperate need of a break from the Newfoundland weather, and I need to recover from Kyle's run-in with strep throat and torticollis. I'm tired. The universe wouldn't really do this to me, would it?

For the moment I'm just going to hope that this 'watch' doesn't turn into a 'warning'. And then I'm going to start working on contigency plans, people, because that's what I do. My mind is a minefield of worst-case scenarios. It never hurts to be prepared.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Get Me Out of Here!

This is my fifth day of house arrest. The first three days were cozy snow days with Daddy home to help entertain the munchkins. The last two days have been forced upon me not by snow but by one sick little boy. The differences between snow days and sick days are plentiful.

Snow days are filled with excitement as I wonder how much snow we'll get, if the power will go out, if the mother of all snow plows will plow in the end of our driveway. Sick days are colored by the monitoring of fevers, weighing the necessity of calling doctors, the administration of endless fluids in the name of dehydration prevention, and my overwhelming terror that what's probably just a cold is really something deadly like meningitis. Snow days are all about napping, and sick days are all about sleep deprivation--especially when you throw in an overnight trip to the emergency room.

About five minutes after I posted the pictures of our snowmen on Saturday Kyle started complaining of neck pain, but he still willingly went to his best friend's birthday party that afternoon. Sunday morning he woke up complaining that he had a headache and he couldn't move his neck because it hurt too much. He was also feverish, complaining of a sore throat and earache, and I could feel the lymph nodes in his neck were swollen.

I administered some Tylenol, and I began my internal debate over how serious Kyle's complaints were. Was he faking? Was the sore throat making him think his neck hurt? Were his swollen glands making him think his throat was sore? Did he have an ear infection making him think both his neck and throat were sore? Had he twisted his neck playing in the snow? Was all of this caused by a cold virus versus a bacterial infection, therefore rendering a trip to the doctor pointless since no antibiotics would be forthcoming? Not that it mattered since it wasn't like I could get Kyle in to see a doctor before Tuesday (don't get me started on the healthcare system here--that's a post for a different day). All this debate ended where it normally does--I was going to wait and see how the situation developed.

Fast forward to 1:30 AM Monday when Kyle was still crying, having gone to bed several hours earlier but not having slept at all. He couldn't move his neck at all, and he was complaining of a serious headache. I sat with him for another hour trying to make him comfortable but not succeeding at all. A rather uneventful trip to the ER ensued, where it was determined that Kyle has torticollis that was most likely triggered by some kind of upper respiratory infection. Bring on the antibiotics.

What's torticollis, you ask? Apparently, it's a condition involving a muscle spasm in the neck causing moderate pain and rendering the victim unable or unwilling to move their head from side to side due to the severity of the pain. It generally lasts 2 or 3 days before improving, and it's common for children to temporarily acquire this condition in the wake of a cold of some sort. Go figure. I've never heard of it happening, but trust Kyle to get it.

Yesterday was a very long day once I factored in very little sleep (for both Kyle and myself), Kyle's incredible discomfort and refusal to eat, Brandon's 22-month-old energy, and my immeasurable worry that Kyle's condition wasn't really improving. I cannot describe the relief Shaun and I both felt when we checked on Kyle around 11 last night, and not only was he not feverish, but he was sleeping deeply and comfortably for the first time in almost 48 hours. There was even snoring.

I'm relieved to report that today is even better. Everyone got a full night's sleep last night. Kyle's neck is improving, and his spirits are much better. He even played with some Lego right before lunch, and he got into an argument with his sister. Now I know he's feeling better--he hadn't engaged in any kind of battle with Natalie in two days. Insert sigh of relief. You know I was worried when I start welcoming the battle of the siblings.

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping I can send Kyle to school tomorrow. I'm ready to get out of this prison! Oh, and did I mention we're leaving for Florida on Friday? Yeah.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Blizzard Update | Day 2

Sometime between yesterday when I shoveled inches of light, powdery, fluffy snow and this morning when Shaun got his turn to shovel the falling snow turned very heavy, dense, and wet. While this was unfortunate for poor Shaun it made for excellent snowmen! It still has not stopped snowing, and I'd have to guess the snowfall total to be about 20 inches or so.

Right after lunch we bundled up our little snowbabies and headed out into the backyard for some sledding and giant snowman-making. I'm happy to report that the endeavor wore them out, and two of the three are currently sleeping. Shaun is soon to follow suit. It is his turn for a nap after all.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Blizzard Update | Day 1

It's been snowing for almost twenty-four hours now, and it's difficult to say how much snow has fallen. The wind is whipping the snow around, and there's no accumulation at all on our back porch. However, as Shaun stated earlier, there's so much snow in the backyard itself that we could lose our kids.

I went outside earlier to shovel the sidewalk from the driveway to the front door (I enjoy shoveling since it gets me out of the house, and I find 20F temperatures and stinging snow in my face preferable to dealing with three children under the age of 6 between the hours of 3 and 6 PM), and I was surprised to be shoveling anywhere from 10 inches in some spots to about 20 inches in others. I think we've probably got about 15 inches of actual snowfall. I guess I'll have to let the Weather Network tell me how much snow we actually get today instead of using my usual 'glance at the back porch' method.

Kyle and Natalie both had snow days today, and Shaun's office was even closed in anticipation of the day's expected snowfall. I got to take advantage of one of the great perks of Shaun being in the house--an afternoon nap.

All in all we've had an excellent snow day so far. I'll keep you posted on how much snow we actually get tonight--they're calling for 8 to 10 more inches on top of what we've got already.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Big One?

We've had lots of Winter Storm Warnings, but we've yet to witness a real Newfoundland blizzard. Apparently, the chances look good that we may just get our blizzard tomorrow.

Here's what Environment Canada has to say about it:

St. John's and vicinity
3:40 PM NST Thursday 04 February 2010
Blizzard warning for St. John's and vicinity issued

Blizzard conditions are expected over the above areas on Friday.This is a warning that blizzard conditions with near-zero visibilities are expected in these regions. Monitor weather conditions..Listen for updated statements.

An intense low pressure system south of the Grand Banks will move northward to lie east of the island on Friday. Snow associated with this system will begin over eastern sections overnight then move westward across the island on Friday. Snowfall amounts are expected to range from near 35 centimetres over the Avalon Peninsula to near 25 centimetres along the northeast coast. Lesser amounts are expected over the remainder of the island. As well strong northerly winds gusting up to 90 km/h are forecast for Eastern Newfoundland and combined with the fresh snow will give blowing snow and blizzard conditions on Friday and Friday night.

Is it wrong to hope for a snow day? Or rather, a blizzard day? I don't want the power to go out, and I don't want anyone to freeze to death in a blizzard, but I can hope for a day where I don't have to brave sub-zero temperatures with toddlers in tow, right? A day where I can stay in my jammies all day, drink hot tea and hot chocolate, watch the snow blow around outside the windows from the comfort of the couch, and listen to the wind gusting around our nice, warm house?

Sounds nice, doesn't it? Now if only I had somewhere to send the kids...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This Week's Mother-Daughter Moment

I was standing in the kitchen this afternoon opening the day's mail, and Natalie walked up behind me, and patted me on the butt. Then she paused, stood right behind me, and patted it again, but with two hands this time.

"Wow, Mom. Wow. Your butt is just... so big. It's bigger than the whole world!" she said.

I turned around, with horror written all over my face, and I said, "Seriously? It's really that big?"

To which my daughter replied, "Yup. It really is." And then she turned and pranced away with her little bowl of pretzels.

Already, it begins. Next she'll be criticizing my hair and asking me if I plan to change my clothes before I take her to school.