Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 5 of the fun and excitement

Gotta love vacations - usually. Mostly.

After 5 days of fun, relaxation and sunshine, I need a nap.

I have been hit upon by a racist bigot, picked upon by a surly border guard, insulted by hotel clerks and scammed (attempted) by a pimple faced electronics salesman (boy) and credit card got demagnatized.

I included the bigot/racist because even though it was Friday morning in my office, my brain was actually already on vacation.

I have always had 2 rules in business - no crying and no hugging.  I am adding a 3rd - no kissing.

Within minutes of meeting this man, I was treated to a litany of his vision of the world.  For example, did I know that the Jewish folk own most of the planet, the Asains live to taken over the planet and Richmond (I had trouble following the path he was taking at that point) and how the East Indians are secretly working with the Afganistan people to take over the middle east which is why they kill their women (Oy Vey). After trying really hard to keep my breakfast down, it got worse. I begged off to attend a conference call and stuck my hand out with a smile and a "nice to meet you" when it happened. He grabbed my hand and pulled me in and hugged me and before I knew it, he had planted a big wet one on me and whispered in my ear "next time I am in town, we should meet for a little dinner and dancing." I spent a lot of time in the bathroom washing my hands and face. I left work early. I figured I had earned the right to begin my vaca a little early.

Day 1 - Picked up my favorite wee people at 9am and headed to the Go-Karts where we were to meet my brother Dave and my sister-in-law Angie for some fun and excitement. After a wee mix up over whether or not we were meeting there or if I was picking them up, we signed the waver and suited up to wait our turn on the track. The kids picked out their helmuts and with very little encouragement from their uncle, began to head butt one another like three little bobble heads. Xavier hit the road first with Lexi and I in the car behind him. Try as I might, the little cheat would not let us pass him. He bobbed and weaved all over the track which led to a bit of a pile up and one very cranky rider.  The second race, with Rae and I this time following him, he got a little more cocky and while doing his best to keep us from passing, he took out an amber safety cone and a rubber tire on the side of the track. Ha! Sometimes Nanna's are not so sweet as I took a bit of pleasure in the fact that he wasn't quite so cocky any longer.

Afterwards, we all made our way to spend the afternoon at the PNE. Even though it was crowded, we had a pretty good time. The horse races were not running on Saturday so the kids couldn't indulge in their well honed gambling skills. It was a very long day which extended well into the night with kids hopped up on sugar and excitement.

Day 2 - Saw me down $30 before lunch. I had promised to pay the kids to help me clean out the garage. (My newly minted Realtor daughter sold our house within 15 days of listing). I don't recall naming an exact figure, however, all three of the kids agreed it should be $10 each. After the work we headed to the dollar store to spend their big bucks before it literally burned a hole in their pockets. As their poor little heads almost spun right off their shoulders, I sat back and decided that I should probably make an appointment with my doctor for a brain scan. The girls had decided on costume jewellry and oh lord, plastic recorders so that they could make me insane. Thankfully, those recorders broke after only 3 hours. Those were a very long 3 hours.

Day 3 - Took the wee ones home by noon on Monday and returned home to clean the house. As I was surveying my surroundings and massaging a sore shoulder, I decided not to wait another day. I was looking forward to a massage, facial and manicure and a couple of days out of blackberry reach. I quickly called the hotel and spa to see if I could change my reservation by a day and just before I headed to the border I ran into Mr. Lube for a quick oil and filter change. Things started to go wrong pretty quickly.

Mr. Lube Guy: Your belt is broken.
Me: What belt?
MLG: This one here. It will be ok for short trips in the city but any long trips your steering will be affected.
Me: Hmm, can I just have a regular oil and filter change please? I will look after the belt later (It looked perfectly fine to me and I have 3 brothers and a father who can take a look).
MLG: Do you want better gas mileage?
Me: Who doesn't?
MLG: I can make it so
Me: How?
MLG: For an additional $12, I can boost your milage.
Me: For $12, I can buy more gas. Please just change the oil and filter, I am in a bit of a hurry.

Here is where it really started to go wrong.

Surly US border guard: Where are you headed?
Me: Silver Reef Spa and Casino
SUBG How long will you be there?
Me: 2 days
SUBG: Why?
Me: Huh?
SUBG: Why are you going to a Casino for 2 days?
Me: I am on vacation and will be having 3 spa treatments.
SUBG: What's in the box in the back?
Me: Car supplies. Tool kit, window fluid and the like.
SUBG: Open the back of your car. Wait - don't get out, just pop the back latch from where you are.
Me: Sorry, this is an older vehicle and must be opened manually.
SUBG: Fine. Keep your hands out of your pockets. (how does one open a door with her hands in her pocket anyway?)
SUBG: Open the box. Fine. Where is your suitcase if you are really planning on spending 2 days in the United States?
Me: Backseat. (I go to open the back door)
SUBG: Please get back in your vehicle and pull to the side for a full inspection.
Me: Oy Vey (silently)

After having my underwear pawed over, I made my way to the hotel to check-in where things got weird. I have attached a picture of my "present". It seems I arrived on 55+ mondays. I was presented with this "present" and told if I wear it for the rest of the evening then I would be entitled to all the perks of this special day. I recieved a coupon for a discount for dinner and could win prizes on the casino floor. I AM NOT 55 years old. What the hell is wrong with the world?  However, my mama didn'tn raise no dummy so I took my coupon and my present and headed to my room to unpack before heading to the casino floor where I planned on winning my retirement fund. I will be working a very long time.   My present was a jelly ring that when turned on lit up so much it almost caused siezures.  I have attached a picture for your enjoyment.

Day 4: Ahh, there is nothing quite like the feeling of a full body massage and a facial. After enjoying a morning of utter relaxation, I hopped in my car and headed out for some shopping. I was in search of a laptop. Here is where the pimply faced salesboy comes in. Granted, I was standing there looking somewhat akin to the deer in the headlights so perhaps I had it coming. I might as well have had a giant banner around my neck saying "I am without small child to help me with my technology needs so please, sell me something, anything, because I will buy whatever you tell me I need". HA - fooled him, I am too cheap to buy whatever he wants to sell me. Turns out, the prices really were not that much better than home with the added bonus of not being able to return it as easy. Besides, by the time this kid was done, he had me spending almost $900 because apparently I needed a laptop with supercalifragalisticexpealidosious extras. THEN, since I am a Canadian (and therefore not too bright), I needed an extra warrenty to cover all US bought electronics. Hmmm, I am blonde and therefore dumb. I headed into the shoe store next in order to pick up my mood. I left depressed. I have fat, flat feet and they had nothing I could both enter and exit a room whilst staying upright. I was going to go to Victoria's Secret next for new (unpawed) undies but by that time I thought why bother. I couldn't stand being depressed again if none of the lacey stuff fit.

Day 5 - Check-out time.  Seems I somehow demagnatized my credit card in the last few days.  However, they offered to take a cheque since I have been there before.  Nice.  Good thing I did not purchase the laptop as planned since I had put all my extra cash on my card to pay for it and my hotel.  It would have been a bit sticky otherwise.
Having bought nothing but a massage, facial and manicure, I packed up and left the hotel for home. I was so distracted that I drove right past the duty free store where I had meant to buy my bottle of Bailey's before crossing the border.  Bummer

Newly Armed Canadian Border Guard: Where do you live?
Me: Vancouver
NACBG: How long have you been away and where did you go?
Me: 2 days - Silver Reef Spa and Casino
NACBG: Did you enjoy yourself and are you bringing any goods back?
Me: Yes and No
NACBG: Thank you, have a nice day.

The last few days of my holiday will find me back at the PNE to see Trooper (shades of yesteryear), shopping and cleaning the house getting ready for a return to fall and a normal routine. I lead such an exciting life.

I tried to include photo's of the Go-Karts but for some reason they wouldn't load.  Trust me, they were pretty cool.

Kids enjoying the Xtreme riders at the PNE. 

All 3 are big enough to ride the swings themselves

My 55+ special ring.  Too cool for words

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Exhausting weekend

And now my butt hurts.

It was a busy weekend.  However, it was punctuated with a bit of "hurry up and wait".

Early Saturday morning - 8am to be exact - (which is an ungodly hour on a Saturday) found me behind the steering wheel of my friend Heather's car as we barrelled down the freeway to the border with her mother whose freshly printed passport was just itching to be utilized.  Record time was made in our efforts to beat the rush to the cheap milk on the other side.

That was a pipe dream.  After racing to the border we sat in the line up for about 2 1/2 hours.  The signs on the highway specifically said  50 minutes approximate wait time.  IT WAS A BALD FACED LIE!!!! 

After inching our way through to the surly border guard, we raced to the nearest Burger King in order to a) let Holly's bladder have some respite and b) feed Heather whose "I am starving to death" were heard for the preceeding 30 minutes from the back seat.  After scarfing down burgers, we made our way to Bellis Fair mall for some shopping.  Nothing to really write home about.  No real sales.  It is a mall just like any other (until Black Friday - then it is a zoo).  However, I did make a couple of purchases - cheap Polysporin, a paperback and two sweaters (2 for $24).  The sweaters are where it got interesting. 

I made my purchases and was provided with a bag and off I went to continue along the mall in search of deals.  After about 30 minutes, I decided it was a little cool and so I would wear the white sweater.  As I took it out of the bag, price tag still entact, I noticed that there was blue ink on the bottom.  Off I headed back to the store to exchange it.  Holy Schnikies!  This broad would never make it as a Canadian.  I almost blew a gasket. 

Me:  " As you recall, I purchased this sweater about 30 minutes ago.  I just took it out of the bag to wear and noticed this ink.  I would like to exchange it please."  (I was very polite as any good Canadian is)

Saleswoman:  "How do I know you did not do this yourself?  This is not something we would do"

Me:  "What?  Why on earth would I put ink on a sweater that I am about to wear?  I never took it out of the bag until just now.  I do not even have a pen with me."

Salesclerk:  "Well, we did not do it so it must have been you when you left the store"

Me:  "Are you freaking serious?  Are you saying you are not exchanging my sweater?  Because if that is the case, I will just call Mastercard right now and cancel the sale and tell them you stole my card."

Salesbroad:  "Smirk"

Me:  "You think I am kidding?  I am about to get real loud here, so your choice.  I am not asking for my $12 back - just an exchange.  What the hell is wrong with you?"

I got my sweater.  Surprisingly, as mad as I was, I actually felt better than I had all day.  The wait at the border had made me slightly cranky and I had not yelled at anyone is a very long time. 

After a quick shop at Trader Joes for cheap cheese and milk, we headed back to the border and home.  It had been a long day but we made it through the border in about an hour after professionally smuggling our goods across.  Having an 86 year old woman in the car seems to make smuggling easier :)  Might use her again.

Sunday found my friend Cammie and I renting some electric bicycles.  That was so much fun!  They top out at about 30km an hour.  For about 2 1/2hrs we whipped around Kitsilano and the westend having the best time.  I really want one of these.  However, after almost 2 hours my battery started to die and I had to assist with peddling to get back to base and a new battery.  Once recharged, we spent the next half hour racing at top speed up and down alleys.  Did I mention I really want one of these things?

I have attached a couple of pictures.  They are really cool.

I am off as of noon on Friday for some R&R until September 3rd.  My plans are to go Go-Karting with brother and sister-in-law and grandkids on Saturday, PNE on Sunday with kids and then Monday-Wednesday a wee spa vaca across the line before returning home to lay on the couch for the remaining 5 days.  Should be fun.

Stay tuned

Cammie learns the kickstand

Barely reaches the ground

Poster child who needs a girdle

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Head in the Clouds

Lately I seem to be operating with my head a bit in the clouds.  I am losing my car, walking into lamp posts and Wednesday forgetting a regulatory hearing that I was adjudicating.  Thankfully, they could not start without me so after a fast dash downtown in record time, I arrived only 20 minutes late.  Just in time to find the guy guilty.

After leaving the hearing I raced down to the parkade as I had to get back to the office in a hurry.  Well, we all know THAT did not happen.  I searched and searched for my car and it was nowhere to be found.  After sometimes secretly wishing someone would steal it, NOW WAS NOT THE TIME.  I was feeling somewhat sickened and thinking perhaps it was time to call the police and report it when I noticed a sign on the wall that did not look familiar to me.  I pulled out my parking ticket and looked at the wall again.  Not sure how this happened but I was in the wrong parkade.  With my head planted firmly in the clouds, I had not paid attention to the fact that I got on the wrong elevator, left the building and went into the parkade across the street (BTW, I had never, ever, been in that other parkade before).   Holy crap, I need a holiday.

I thought I would have a bit of a holiday this long weekend.  I would have my favorite wee people on the planet with me.

I picked them up on Saturday after lunch just as the temperatures started to hit 31.  After blasting the air conditioner in my car all the way home, I realized that I had no groceries in my house.  I turned around and went to the bank machine to get some cash to shop and the machine ate my card.  I am on a long weekend now with hot and sticky children, no groceries and no bank card.  What's a girl to do but go back home and beg her brother to lend her enough money to make it through the weekend.  His price?  Take him grocery shopping with us.

It was nice and cool inside Safeway as the kids drew the attention of other shoppers while they debated the merits of Fruitloops, Cocoa Puffs and Mini Wheats.  The deal was they all had to agree on one cereal.  Finally an older gentleman, visiting Canada from England, helped them decide.  He told them Mini Wheats would make them poop regular.  We got Cocoa Puffs. 

After spending 45 minutes in the store, we made our way to the checkout where the kids are now nose to nose with the chocolate bars.  I was hearing "Nannagramma, can we have?, Can you buy?, Can I buy for me?" when the woman behind me piped up with "oh, how nice, you have all your grandchildren with you."  At that point my brother started to laugh and said "yep, I am having fun with grandma here".  And the woman stated "Well, I don't think this is your grandmother, more likely your mother."

At that point, I heard the laughter behind me but all I was seeing were the brightly coloured stars floating in front of my eyes.  OMG - I look like I am old enough to be his mother?  Brother, very wisely moved out of my reach at that point but the laughter did not subside until much, much later.

After the crappy shopping trip, the kids and I made our way to Granville Island waterpark.  The walk there was filled with "how much farther, it's so hot out, my feet hurt and can we get ice cream when we get there".  However, it was worth it once we arrived and set up camp in the shade.  The kids feet miraculously healed and they ran off to hit the water slide.  Lexi was so excited because maybe, just maybe, this year she was big enough to ride it on her own.  I waited with baited breath - would she measure up?  They measured her and she just made it - literally. I think her ponytail was the thing that made her just tall enough.  And she was off.    After landing upsidedown at the bottom, I lifted her out and her first words (after she stopped choking) were "I am big now.  Let me down.  I need to go again."  I have attached pictures of all three. 

It was time to leave and no one wanted to walk home so off to the bus stop we went when Lexi started to jump around doing the pee pee dance.  I learned from past experience and when we headed into Starbucks so she could use the facilities, I told her to cry right out loud.  I only had enough cash on me for the bus so I could not purchase anything in order for her to use the facilities.  She did not want to cooperate but she did do something much better to ensure she could use the bathroom.  "Nanna, I don't have to just go pee.  I need to poop really really bad."  Surprisingly, no one stopped us as we made our way to the front of the line for the ladies room.  After 10 minutes in there with me waiting on the other side of the door, everyone in line was privy to the following " Nanna, you should come in here and see this.  My poop is green."  It was a proud moment as I remarked to those still waiting "Betcha your kids don't have green poop.  My grandchildren are super special".

That night we made our way to my roof top at exactly 10pm for the final night of the Symphony of Fire fireworks display.  While we can't see anything low from my roof, we do have a fabulous vantage point for all the rest.  The kids had a great day and were in bed and sound asleep by midnight.  I dragged myself off thinking that they would sleep in after such a full day.  They had 3 fans pointing at them and were cool in just their underwear and a sheet.

I was wrong.  I was awoken to sounds of children arguing, slapping and jumping.  My brother, whose room is right below where they were in the living room, was not a happy camper.  (Serves him right for the shopping experience.)  I dragged myself out of bed and made my way upstairs where I recognized that it was going to be a very long day - 7am and they woke up already cranky.

We hustled out of the house by 11am to make our way downtown to my friend Heather's place to spend the afternoon in her pool.  Unfortunately, this was also Pride weekend and the parade was getting started.  Heather lives just off the parade route and they use her neighborhood as the staging area where everyone gets ready for their turn to hit the streets.  I tried to skirt the area but much of it was blocked off and it made passing through a little tenuous for little kids.  There is an awful lot of nudity in the parade.  Finally, I just decided to bulldoze my way through and try to keep the kids occupied so perhaps they might not notice.  I am naive.  As we passed by one group of people setting up their float, I feel a tug on the bottom of my dress.  I look down and poor Lexi looks concerned.  "Nannagramma, that girl forgot her t-shirt and she only has circles on her boobies."  Rae - " maybe she is poor Lex and doesn't have money for a t-shirt".  Lexi - "she is going to get a sunburn".  Rae - "maybe her mom put sunscreen on her".  I just kept walking.

We spent almost three hours with Heather -  swimming and eating ice cream.  The kids had a blast and we were the only ones in the pool.  It was over 30 outside and this was a great way to stay cool and wear the kids out.  I think my plan worked too well.  At the 2 1/2 hour mark, they were squabbling and basically just floating in the water with no energy to even swim to the side.  That is until I said it was time to go.  Then they had all the energy in the world as they begged for more time.  That energy subsided again as we walked the 3 blocks to the bus ride home.  "Are we ever going to get there?  It's so hot.  Carry me.  My legs itch.  My feet hurt." 

As we came through the front door, I just wanted to collapse.  Instead the little pishers got their second wind.  In the stuffiness of the house, I soundly got my can kicked at Spongebob Square Pants monopoly.  I am pretty sure they cheat.  The house was still too hot.  No one was comfortable.  I decided we needed to be some place cool.  After a quick dinner of hotdogs, off we went to the movies.  We saw Iceage, Continental Divide in 3D.  While it was a pretty good movie, I am not too sure it was $54 worth of good.  One adult and 3 kids = $54 PLUS 3 kids packs (drink, popcorn and chocolate) = $92.45.  However, what made it worth it was that by the time we got home at 10pm, the house had cooled off enough to be bareable. 

All three kids were sound asleep by 11:30pm and slept right through until 9:30 the next morning.  I was up at 7:30 as my brother dropped something on the floor just outside my door causing me to sit bolt upright.  Personally, I think he did it on purpose.

I took the kids home Monday afternoon and returned with the intention of having a wee nap myself.  It was too hot to sleep so I layed on the couch watching the Olympics till bedtime.

I am taking some time off at the end of the month.  I think that in order to maintain my simple sanity, I need some alone time.  Perhaps just locking myself in my room - no phone or laptop - and sleeping for 3 days, might just do the trick.  perhaps I will no longer get comments from hairdressers and complete strangers about how old I look.  Perhaps I will just drink myself into oblivion so I just don't care.

Ah well, wait and see.