a peek inside the fishbowl

02 Sep, 2019

another milestone

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

Piper amid the moving boxes

If you’re a friend of the Fishbowl you may have read the post I wrote when our eldest went away to school. Full disclosure, I teared up re-reading it right now. I am feeling all the same feels now that the youngest is away at school. My goodness, our baby is gone and I can’t believe it.

Our. BABY. Longtime readers read about HER BIRTH.

When did this baby grow up to be one of the best people on the planet? Smart as a whip, with a big heart, and a big laugh? Somehow it happened.

Here she is all packed up and ready to roll. She looks pretty happy here, eh?

Packed up!

Packed up!

Mark rented a van and we drove her to Kingston on Saturday. Amazingly, the gridlock was not nearly as bad as it was the last time we moved a kid into residence at Queen’s. Another contrast, it was a gorgeous day; blue skies without a trace of rain.

University Avenue was a fun experience. If you know Kingston you already know this is student central. Traffic was stop and go; plenty of time to take in the scene. There were tons of young people milling around outside, homemade banners flying from windows, music blaring.

“HONK IF YOU LOVE QUEEN’S!” screamed a bunch of girls.

Mark’s hand hovered over the horn.


He honked. They cheered. Then he donned his Queen’s ball cap and they cheered again. We drove along and the next group of young people were giving car passengers a chance to throw a ping pong ball into a cup, beer pong style (but with no beer for me), from the comfort of the vehicle. I had two tries and failed each time. (It goes without saying that the youngest had rolled up her tinted window and was trying to pretend this wasn’t happening.)

The eldest daughter – now in her third year – met us upon arrival. Having the extra pair of hands was very helpful. Once again, as per protocol, we had to unload the van and immediately park it on the other end of campus. This meant that Mark helped unload, drove away with the car, while us girls schlepped everything upstairs. No biggie though. We managed.

The number of people coming and going was mind boggling. Thankfully, there were many Queen’s students on hand to answer questions and direct visitors to the right place. It was highly organized chaos.

Packed up!

The youngest had been worried about her residence but it turned out ok. She has a private room in a central location. There’s a big sunny window and a tree out front.

Packed up!

Packed up!

Her room has all the essentials: a bed, a desk, a couple of chairs, and decent storage. We brought along a small fridge too. The washrooms are shared by the entire floor (there are plenty of them but they could use an update). I had a bit of a chuckle when I saw the floor kitchen:

The kitchen at Chown Hall

We helped her unpack and get settled in. It would have gone perfectly smoothly if it wasn’t for a hiccup with the Wi-Fi, but she figured it all out with the help of her sister the following day.

Before we left we went for a walk around campus, then down by the waterfront, which is gorgeous, and only a block away from her residence.

By the waterfront

After we said our goodbyes Mark and I parked the car closer to downtown. And wandered aimlessly. We poked our heads in a few shops and walked down to the farmers’ market near Kingston City Hall but nothing inspired a purchase.

When I had originally envisioned this moment I pictured us high-fiving each other and cackling like loons at the top of our lungs while we sped away, dodging tourists and hot dog vendors like a scene from Cannonball Run. We did it, we’d shriek. Two kids in university! VICTORY IS OURS. Wooooot!

Instead we had a quiet beverage while we people-watched and became part of the scene ourselves for awhile. There were very few high-fives, if any.

Pop stop

We opted for an early dinner at Diane’s Fish Shack, where I ordered fish tacos that had somehow lost all of their flavour despite being doused in hot sauce.

Fish tacos at Diane’s

Mark’s fries were good though.

The road home was flanked with farm fields that waved and glowed in the setting sun. It was a lovely view, but at the same time there was a hush of melancholy over the scene as we thought about how different our lives our now.

What more can I say? It was a good summer but these last few weeks haven’t been easy. We are in a period of upheaval and I am trying to take it day-by-day. But such is life, eh?

2 Responses to "another milestone"

1 | Lynn

September 3rd, 2019 at 8:53 am


Our oldest starts Grade 11 this year and we can already see the day coming when we have to drop him off somewhere and come home to an empty bedroom. I’m surprised at how sad it makes me. Hope you are doing okay and that the transition has some ups along with the downs.

2 | Ann

September 3rd, 2019 at 12:34 pm


Totally relatable. Drove my youngest to Mcgill last week and got her moved into Residence. I was prepared for the sadness but the grief I felt when we drove away was all encompassing. I miss her so much it hurts. She was going to call me after her first class today but was invited out for coffee with some new friends instead. She asked if I was ok with that. My mouth said “of course” but my heart broke just a little.

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The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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