Thursday, September 17, 2009

"Peter and James in a Fishboat!"

Today marked the 1 month anniversary of Sir starting a new job. It was also the day the kids and I decided to drop in on him at work to say 'hi'. Ok, it wasn't exactly 'dropping in', he knew we were coming and had even given us loads of advice on how to get there the best way. You see, Sir's commute is between 75 and 90 minutes one way, and to get there he takes the bus to the skytrain, the skytrain to the seabus, and then walks the last block or so from the seabus to his office building. So, when the kids and I were going to come visit him, we drove to the skytrain and did transit from there.

Today was the first day I went anywhere on the public transit system by myself. All the other times (if you don't count the greyhound bus ride from California to Manitoba 10 years ago) I've always had Sir to do the worrying and organizing. I started out planning on giving ourselves an hour and a half to get there hoping to meet Sir for lunch around 12:30ish. Only, we didn't actually leave the house until 11 and then we had to stop for gas so we could get to the skytrain station which is about 15 minutes from home.

Once we got to the skytrain, found a parking spot, paid for parking, unloaded into the double stroller and figured out how to get from the parking lot into the station, I'm sure we'd wasted a lot more time. In fact, I think my clock said 11:41 or something like that. The first order of business, I thought was to find the elevator so we could get up to the platform. We walked right past it and tried going to the one that was being used only for the test train side of the station. After an employee kindly pointed us back to the right elevator, we scurried off and up to the platform only to discover I had no idea where I was supposed to 'validate' my transit ticket.

There was a train ready to go when we got up to the platform, and we walked its length twice looking for some place to validate our ticket before finally deciding that maybe we should have checked the first level. So, we took the elevator back down to the main floor and walked its length twice. We found the ticket machines where you can buy a ticket, but they didn't have any directions on validating one. So, then I figured it would be wise to ask for help, but there weren't any employees around just then and we ended up waiting in line at the snack shop to ask the cashier. She smiled and pointed at a long line of blue boxes behind me next to the elevator - I felt like an idiot, but smiled back an scurried off to one of the boxes that I'd absentmindedly chalked up as recycle bins. By this time at least 5 trains had left the station and I believe they run about 3 minutes apart. We validated our ticket, took the elevator up to the platform and then had to wait a good 5 minutes before a 'not in service' test train left and a in-use train pulled in.

Waiting for the SeaBus

Through all of this, all three of the kids were being exceptionally good and we found a nice spot on the skytrain that fit the stroller without too much fuss. The next leg of the journey was the 40 minute skytrain ride from one end of the line to the other with me explaining how many more stops we had left to go each time we pulled in and out of a station - but the kids loved it. When we got off the skytrain we headed toward the seabus dock except the elevator from the train platform to the seabus was broken. Sir had warned me about this, and I had decided to just fold up the stroller and take the escalator. I was in the process of unloading the kids and was about to fold the stroller when a man asked me if I could use some help. I was glad to accept. I gave him my stroller, grabbed my three kids and went down the escalator - just like that. We thanked the stranger, loaded up into the stroller again and headed on toward the seabus - into a crowd of people coming the opposite direction. They were the passengers of the seabus that was by that time now returning to the quay with a load of people going the way we were headed. So, we waited the remaining 10 minutes for the next seabus to arrive, and had no trouble getting on and finding a seat.

The other SeaBus going the opposite direction

Sir called me on the cell phone just after we'd gotten off the seabus on the North shore to see how we were doing. It was already 1:15 and he'd expected us between 12:30 and 1. Then was the short walk up the steep hill to Sir's office building, up the elevator to his floor and then finding the right office - we were finally there by almost 1:30. Sir let us in, we met some of his co-workers and then left to grab some lunch to eat in the park, just below his office building, overlooking the river. It was nice to see Sir in the middle of the day and the kids loved being able to eat lunch with Daddy. Finally he had to go back to work, I washed the kids up, we all said goodbye, and then I let them play for a few minutes while I packed up the stroller and figured we had a couple minutes to spare before we needed to head back to the seabus.

Except, just as I was planning on heading back to the seabus, a regular train thundered by (on the other side of a fence) next to the park and PC raced off to watch it. There had already been two other trains that had gone by and he'd watched them as well, but he couldn't hear me calling him back and by the time I went and got him, and got all the kids back to the stroller, we'd missed our seabus and had to wait for the next one. It was 3:15 when we got on the seabus, and started our backtracking. Up the escalator - no trouble there, to the skytrain where we got on a newer model train that seemed less stroller friendly so we got off at the next station and waited for the right train to come along two trains later. The kids were still being good despite being so late for naps already. Emma fell asleep in the stroller on the skytrain ride home, and Dolly reclined in the other stroller seat while PC bounced between his seat and my lap and the window the whole way back to our starting station. Between explaining how many more stops there were till we would get off, I read a book I'd brought along and probably got 5 or 6 pages read which was nice.

Sleepy Baby

By the time we got home it was quarter to 5 and I put the kids down for a late nap. Sir would be working late, and so supper would be late as well. Emma never went back to sleep, but I had to wake the other two up eventually. After Sir got home and the kids were ready for bed, they went in to say goodnight to him. I came in as he was saying good night to PC and heard him say, "Thank you for coming to see me at work today, did you have fun?" PC nodded and cuddled closer in response and Sir continued, "What was your favorite part of the day? What part was the most fun?" PC sat up beaming and said, "Peter and James in the Fishboat!"

Sir and I looked at each other slightly puzzled and then it dawned on us that PC thought he'd actually met Peter and James - from the bible story - at Daddy's work today. One of his co-workers was a fellow Hungarian named Peter and the leader of Sir's division was named James.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mischief with Missy B.

Saturday, 4:30am. Of all days, I should be sleeping in - today will be busy. The kids won't be waking up for another 2½ hours and I would have been wise to take advantage of that and sleep that long myself.

But I'm remembering. Remembering is something significant in my life right now. Pregnancy does things to your memory, and for the past half hour I've been recalling things that happened more than 20 years ago. Things I haven't even thought about for years.

(Puppets at the N. California location - 25 years ago.)

Maybe it's because Dolly woke up at 4 and when I tucked her in again I thought about what we were planning to do today. Sir got a new job almost a month ago. Today we were going to celebrate and for weeks the plan has been to take the kids to Chuck E Cheese. As I tucked Dolly in a few minutes ago, I almost reminded her that today was the day the kids had been looking forward to for so long. Then I realized that reminding her then would only ensure my day starting even earlier, so I bit my tongue, and went back to bed. And kept thinking.

I was remembering the 3 or 4 times during my childhood that my parents took us to Chuck E Cheese. Once we went when I was 6 or 7 probably. There was this little girl who was staying with us - overnight, for the day, a couple of days - I don't remember how long she was with us. I don't even remember her name. She was either the step-daughter of my mom's nephew or she was the granddaughter of an older woman named Cherry B. I think she was the latter, so for blogging purposes, I'll call this girl Missy B. Missy B. was older than I - a year or two maybe? She had short brown hair, and she knew all about stuff. I was very impressed by her and she probably liked me because I was so eager to do whatever she asked me to. Although I did get into a lot of trouble for it.

The first thing I remember about Missy B. was that she asked me to ask my mom to let her stay with us. I did, she was allowed, and later my parents told me it wasn't my place to be asking things for other people - especially if it wasn't my own request.

(Tina, me - about age 14, Li'l G., and our brother Ike posing with a friend on the long-retired little John Deere tractor)
So, when the next adventure occurred, I think it may have been my suggestion based on something I knew Missy B. would like. See, I could drive a tractor. It wasn't a very big tractor - just a little John Deere thing with a scoop shovel in the front and any other kid loved to ride in the scoop. I wasn't supposed to drive it without being told to by my parents and I knew this, because I still remember trembling with excitement and nervousness because I took Missy B. down to the mixer in the shovel scoop. There was some urgent reason we had to go so fast and our legs wouldn't have gotten us there in good enough time. My parents seemed appreciative of the news we breathlessly brought them, but they also reminded me I had driven the tractor without express directions. They didn't punish me, but I'd never experienced butterflies in my stomach before and I know it was because I knew I'd done something I shouldn't have.

You'd think I'd have learned my lesson, but perhaps the excitement of having another girl close to my age around played with my good senses. The next thing I remember doing with Missy B. was making Kool Aid. I'd never made it before although we did have KoolAid packets around the house. Missy B. said that the stuff we were drinking wasn't really KoolAid and so, she and I slipped off to the chicken house to make it the 'right way'. My parents would put about a quarter of the suggested sugar into a jug of KoolAid and my siblings and I never knew the difference. To us, it was flavoured juice, and it was something we didn't get very often. Anyway, Missy B. and I took a package of Strawberry KoolAid, and I have no idea how much sugar, and we made our own KoolAid out in the Dove Room of the chicken house. We used plastic Strawberry Shortcake glasses (because they had red pictures on them) and basically concocted a syrup. Very few sweet things made me sick growing up, but the Strawberry KoolAid that Missy B and I made, was definitely one of them. To this day, I do not have any real liking for Strawberry Shortcake characters, and I do not think I've tasted strawberry KoolAid for more than 20 years!

(One of the few pictures of the Chicken house with Tina playing Indian out front. The Dove room was on the left side)

Of course remembering the KoolAid incident with Missy B., reminded me of one of the only other times I got sick on something sweet, and that was pomegranate juice popsicles. Aunt Helen had come over to watch my siblings and me for a while and she kept us busy doing all sorts of fun stuff. We made play dough out of flour and salt and water, and when that was done, we juiced a box of pomegranates and made pomegranate popsicles. I didn't do so great the next day when my mom let us all try one of our popsicles. Although, I have tried pomegranate juice flavored things since then - just never popsicles! But I'm digressing.

After the KoolAid making, Missy B. and I discovered some makeup underneath the kitchen sink. I think I was showing her a science experiment we had down there. Probably an egg in vinegar, and stowed away in the cupboard was a little basket of makeup my aunt had gotten rid of. I do not know why we even had it, but there was nail polish, and lipstick and some other stuff as well. Missy B. declared it a treasure and within a few minutes, we'd dashed off to the dark bathroom on the patio to try some on. I knew we'd get in trouble if my mom caught us wearing hot pink lipstick, so I persuaded Missy B. that it would be better if we wiped it off before leaving the bathroom. After all, we were going to a pizza place that night and the last thing I wanted was a reason for my parents to cancel those plans. Missy B. was fine with that, but in turn, she persuaded me that once we got to the restaurant, we could go to the bathroom and put the lipstick back on. So, we carefully smuggled the lipstick to Chuck E. Cheese's and at the first opportunity we got, we dashed off to the bathroom to apply our stolen treasure. It didn't take my parents long to discover us, and I distinctly remember being marched back to the bathroom, getting my faced scrubbed clean and then watching in dismay as my mom threw the lipstick away. When we got home, she threw out the rest of the makeup too.

(Me about 7 yrs old and Tina who I'd tricked into crawling into the cage before gleefully locking her in. We were directly in front of the Dove room of the Chicken house.)
6am - So, now that it's been an hour to write what took me half an hour to remember, I should be able to go back to sleep without words buzzing around in my head. Maybe I'll even get another hour or two of sleep before my children wake up and remind me that today is the day that they've been waiting for to go to Chuck E. Cheese's!

Saturday, 6pm - now that I've dug up some old pictures for this post, I'm publishing it just before I wake my kids up from their naps so we can go do something they've been anticipating for 23 days.

10:50pm - The kids woke up before I got the rest of my editing done. They're in bed now, wiped out from all the excitement they had this evening. Maybe one of these days life will slow down a little and I'll get more posts written.