France Recap #1 in Which We Go to Canada, Not France

by | May 28, 2014 | France, Travel, Travel With Kids | 23 comments

Okay folks, we’re going to ease into this trip recap thing, because unlike some people, *I* went to Lourdes and developed a bit of a medical condition. It seems silly to complain about, especially on the day when Nella announced that her cancer is back, which is much more important and worthy of your prayers. But I have been suffering an unexplained allergic reaction for the last two weeks which has meant almost-but-not-quite manageable attacks of full-body itchiness. It’s been pretty bonkers. I’ve finally been to see a doctor about it today, and I’m heading back in tomorrow for a barrage of tests, and in the meanwhile I’m taking benedryl and steroids (and I really hate taking stuff!) and sporting a shiny new “just in case” epi-pen. And I keep falling asleep at 9pm which means no blogging!

But I can only stand to be away from here for so long, so I’m pushing through to share installment #1 of our trip to France . . . which takes place in Canada.

We boarded the plane for our first flight, Los Angeles to Montreal, and fastened our seat belts. The kids brought their own headsets with them, because they rank seat back entertainment somewhere between “Christmas” and “breathing” on their list of “things that are important.” So, we all fired up our little screens and settled in.

I was about 45 minutes in to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty when I thought to myself, “This is all going quite well so far!” . . . then I noticed that we hadn’t actually taken off yet.

Back off the plane . . .

Blah, blah, broken plane. Blah, blah, no more flights to Montreal. Blah, blah, last eight seats on the last flight of the day to Toronto.

Quick question: WHAT in the WORLD are those gate agents doing with all the typing? So. Much. Typing. Typey typey typey type type. Typety type type typey type type. Typety typety typey type. Type. Type. Type. Typey typey typey type type. Typety type type typey type type. Typety typety typey type. Type. Type. Type. Typey typey typey type type. Typety type type typey type type. Typety typety typey type. Type. Type. Type. And that was just for our last name. Then she really got started.

But, she got us on the flight. And Lulu smiled and cooed and squealed at all the other stranded travelers and melted all their hearts of stone and gave them hearts of flesh and even if they had wanted to be mad at me for taking ALL the seats to Canada, they couldn’t. She’s just too disarming.

We arrived in Toronto at about midnight. We spent a very productive couple of hours at baggage claim during which Lulu rolled over . . .

and I got in touch with Monica from Equipping Catholic Families, who just happens to live in Toronto (thanks free wifi at Toronto Pearson Airport!) and made plans for the next day. But . . . no bags.

Wheelchair races, yes.

Bags, no.

Also, Frankie was not feeling well. :0(

We eventually made it to the airport hotel and got some sleep. We met up with Monica and her little guy, Adam, and I’m pretty sure we had as much fun as we could possibly have in the lobby of an airport hotel in Toronto.

Hey, I’ve been wearing that dress for about 26 hours in this picture!

Monica brought us snacks AND activities!

Here’s her take on the meet up. It was really lovely to meet Monica and her youngest, Adam, face to face, and great to be able to pick her brain a bit about high school and having teenagers. (It’s hard to believe my Jack is turning twelve next month! It seems like a whole new chapter is about to begin.) Poor feverish Frankie slept through the whole thing . . .

Then, it was back to the airport and off to Paris.

Dear Toronto,

We like your humanesque piles of rocks and superfast moving walkway. That weird bendy echo wall thing is pretty great. But a plushy is NOT an acceptable alternative to the chocolatey contraband treats we wanted, and I think you know that.


the Tierneys

The flight went well. There were plenty of movies and only some barfing.

The intercession of St. Nuno and Lulu’s charm got us the right car when my online modification to our rental car reservation start date had somehow changed our requested vehicle from a passenger van to a minivan. Mini we are not.

Then we made the six hour drive from Paris to Lourdes in eight hours. Because of barfing.

We keep not following our own rules about minimal-to-no food on long plane/car rides. And we always regret it. Better hungry than barfing. It’s always true: Better hungry than barfing. That being said, we are pretty practiced at plane/car barfing management and are pretty handy with the bag. We even brought along a collapsible bucket
for just such situations.

But we made it! We had to skip a scheduled stop in Tours, but considering the flight delays and rental car confusion, and all the barfing, I think we did quite well to arrive in Lourdes in time for baths and bathtub laundry and a good night’s sleep in preparation for The Big Day, Gus’ First Holy Communion.

And we’ll pick the story up right there later . . .

Please pray for Nella!


  1. Elizabeth@SuperSwellTimes

    Having an unexplained medical thing that would require the intervention of Dr. House is one of my biggest fears/paranoias. I hope you're feeling on the up and up soon.

    • Kendra

      He's brusque, but he ALWAYS solves it. Just barely before you die of course, but he solves it.

  2. Monica McConkey

    Welcome home, Kendra! It was so nice meeting you and the family (sorry we didn't meet Frankie!). I can't believe I didn't think of picking you up some Kinder Surprises! Next time!

  3. Deltaflute

    The Rock People are a Canadian thing. They are called Inuksuks and are made the native peoples of the Artic.

    Glad you made it through the barfing. Most of the time when I travel I'm the miserable one. Air travel causes my head to feel like it will explode.

  4. Heather

    I have flown with exactly ZERO of my children ever. You are a brave, BRAVE soul to go so far with so many! Now my kids are great travelers – my oldest repairs/installs organs (like, musical organs, not human organs, you always have to specify) and travels all over the place to get to organs in need of his special touch. My middle son married into an airline family and gets to travel frequently as well. As children I could barely stand the morning ride to drop all three off at school – much less load all three on a plane for any reason! Hope they get you squared away with the allergy thing because that sounds perfectly miserable! *hugs*

  5. Anonymous

    Speaking of collapsible buckets, I am getting these for our next 1000-mi road trip later this summer.

    You are intrepid people to do these trips. Travel disruptions are difficult enough when trying to reroute one or two or four people, let alone eight!

  6. Nella @McDonald's In Heaven

    Kendra!!! ITCHING?!?!?!? Itching is the WORST! I hope they straighten that out for you right away. Thank you for the prayers dear friend!

    • Kendra

      I gotta say Nella, the fact that you are also itching isn't making me feel better! But mine is definitely surface itching. Here's to less itching all around.

  7. The Sweet Wonder

    I'm already loving your recap! Can't wait to read the next one 🙂 I hope you are able to feel better soon!!!

  8. Anonymous

    So sorry for your travel woes! I admire your positive take on the whole thing. Also, I have to thank you for that collapsible bucket link. We're a vomity kind of family and I usually just keep a stack of plastic shopping bags in the car. Yours is such a better idea.

  9. Anna K.

    Hi Kendra,

    I have been a loyal reader of your blog for some time. I love your writing and you always inspire me! One thing about your post today confused me — I have been a lifelong sufferer of extreme motion sickness. All the women in my family have it – me, my mom, my grandmother. Big time sickness in any kind of car/plane/bus, etc. I always swear by keeping a moderately full stomach, especially with something like crackers or bread (but always best to avoid milk or rich foods). I find that my motion sickness is 100 times worse if I am hungry. Do you think your kids do better with motion sickness on an empty stomach??


    • Kendra

      Thant's interesting Anna. My kids don't tend to get motion sick on flights or drives less than four hours or so. But it always seems like, on those long trips, if we try to feed them a meal in the car or on the plane, it all comes back up. But maybe we'd have better luck with just crackers.

  10. Rebecca

    Glad to hear you enjoyed Canada, such as it was. I grew up about an hour SW of Toronto and would have loved to put you and your awesome family up if we still lived there (now I'm a Saskatchewan prairie dweller). Kudos to you for amazing travels with all kids. I have much to learn from you!

  11. Erica Saint

    Oh, tell me, you travel in a dress? Very retro and classy of you! I never fly, but I plan on dressing well the next time I do! 🙂
    I hope you feel better soon.

    • Kendra

      I have too many children to be able to appear in public in stretchy pants, and I think dresses are much more comfortable than jeans for traveling. So, dresses it is!

    • Erica Saint

      Well, I think it is very cool! I read an article that claimed that when you fly it is always a good idea to dress up; the better your attire the better your service. But like I mentioned before, I have no first hand experience with this as I have only flown twice in my lifetime. But I am making plans for the many trips I plan to take later!

  12. Neely

    Ahh, airport problems. Those are the most funnest, no? While traveling from Florida to Oklahoma last Thanksgiving, we got stuck in Dallas at midnight due to delayed flights (the guy driving the luggage carts RAN IN TO THE PLANE – what??) and had to wrangle our toddlers in a hotel room for four hours just to wake up at 4am, catch a shuttle back to the airport and catch our second flight. Not worth the $30 Denny's voucher, American Airlines… but thanks for the midnight fried cheese sticks. Can't wait to read the rest of your adventure! 🙂

    • Kendra

      I can't believe they TOLD you guys that! You'd think they'd want to keep a thing like that quiet. Hilarious. A huge pain. But hilarious.

  13. lissla lissar

    Hey! I live in Toronto! Glad you liked the rock piles and sorry about the lack of chocolate.

    What's an hour south west of Toronto? Niagara Falls?

  14. Beth Anne @ Beth Anne's Best

    I have ALWAYS wondered why the Travel Agents have to TYPE so much too!! So after reading this I decided to google it and I found this Quora answer on it: and the answer is basically the interface is not user friendly and they have to do a million things! So there you go! Boo for delays! I was thankful we didn't have many delays on our flights/trains.

  15. Mrs. Green Acres

    Be thankful you ended up in Toronto! A lot of my colleagues have to go through Toronto/Montreal/Halifax to get to their final destination of Charlottetown, and they unanimously agree that Montreal is not their favourite 🙂

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