Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Another Day, Another Drive-In

Cheap entertainment.  That's really what it comes down to.  A discount Tuesday gets our family of five 2 movies for twelve bucks.  Sure, there's bugs and wind and fog and headlights but we've saved ourselves the forty-five minute drive to Owen Sound and the $8 per person price tag.  I call that a deal.

Despicable Me and Robin Hood.  The kids have been tossing around one-liners from the Despicable Me trailers since they first came out.  "Does this count as annoying?"  Zander asks as he slaps his cheeks and makes an O with his mouth.  "It's so FWUFFY!!!!!" Liam bellows.  It was adorable and sweet.  Steve Carell does not disappoint.  Robin Hood is played by Russell Crowe (a la Gladiator).  That's all I need to say about that.

I took the cover off our deck swing and arranged it in the back of the car to make a surprisingly comfortable couch laden with quilts and Buzz Lightyear pillows and we backed into our second row parking spot, sidling up beside an orange pole spitting wires from the top like a decapitated robot (a nostalgic nod to the days when they provided radios beside your car instead of through your dashboard).

We arranged pillows perfectly.  We set up two lawn chairs because five of us wouldn't be able to squeeze into the hatchback.  The long wait for sunset was accommodated with permission to go play on the grass in front of the screen.  "Go practice your ninja turtle moves, Liam," and so off he ran, followed by older brother and younger sister, to roll, dive and summersault until dark.

Scott returned from the candy counter with a bag of Peanut M&M's admitting sheepishly, "They were $4.50," to which I sweetly replied, "Yeah, I thought about getting some at Grant's but they were $1.99 and I thought that was too much for such a little bag."  We'll get them next time.

The kids were all asleep ten minutes into the second movie.  Scott and I sat in our lawn chairs under an old quilt, watching Russell and the fireflies and the big dipper, eating expensive peanuts and hoping that tomorrow morning would bring a sleep in.

And it did.  No one was up before 9:30.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Short Stories

I'm full of them.  They come from all matter of places.  Dreams.  Observations.  A wild imagination that has me single and kissing Johnny Depp - (what?...like you haven't thought about it too!)  I'm considering a forum to share these on the condition that you don't judge me and, since I have no guarantee of that, I'm not sure whether or not I'll do it.  Or maybe it doesn't matter.  Maybe it's all for me...I'll let you know.  Or not.  We'll see how it goes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Storms and Ghosts

I am not easily frightened by storms; in fact, I'm quite fond of them.  I like to snuggle beneath the quilt my grandma made, listening to God's drum solo and watching the light show, hushing the kids and turning their attention from fear to wonder at such a display of power.  "No, God's not angry - he's just showing off."

Sunday night.  I've just finished True Blood Episode 305 - not really bedtime story material but I'm not one to have dreams influenced by television.  Lights out.  I settle in.  It's raining hard but I find it soothing and am sleeping almost instantly.  Two minutes later.  Gun shots.  Not really but the thunder is so loud that my bedroom windows rattle and I'm violently jerked from sleep.  There are fireworks outside my window.  Adrenaline is coursing through my blood.  My heart is racing from my abrupt call from sleep.  A frame bounces against the wall during another crash of thunder.  Noa screams.  The red dots on the baby monitor arc all the way across the top.  I run up the stairs.  She reaches for me.  She's trembling and hides her face in my shoulder, crying but patting my back to make sure I'm okay too.  Our path is lit by steady flashes of lightning.  We get back to the bedroom - her cling to my neck tightening each time new thunder rolls.  The baby monitor lights are still dancing - slamming full during thunder and issuing static during lightning.  But something else too.  A voice.  Distant.  Trembling and high pitched.  "Mooommmeeee... Nooooooooo... Moooooommmmmmeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!"  Liam.  I don't want to leave Noa alone in my room with the storm so I carry her back up the stairs - trying to run because of the panic in his voice.

"Liam?  Liam, it's okay, I'm here, it's just a storm..."  I pick my way through a floor littered with toys to his bunk.  He asleep.  Oblivious.  Sideways, feet over the edge, blankets pushed away, mouth hanging open, asleep.  I shake him.  Nothing.  Just a snort and a roll.  I check Zander.  The same.

But that voice is in my head.  Who was it?  Maybe the monitor picked up the baby next door...?  But she's barely old enough to do anything but mew.

I'm nervous as I crawl back into bed.  Noa's already asleep beside me, ignoring the storm, knowing I'll keep her safe.  There's a huge crash and total darkness descends.  The power is out.  It's country dark without the street lights.  Nothing but the baby monitor lights - kicking onto battery power - dancing across their arc with every new explosion of thunder.  I watch them.  They cast strange shadows across my ceiling.  I'm waiting for the voice - wondering if the little boy that they used to keep locked upstairs actually died there.  (When we bought the house the upstairs bedroom had a lock on the outside and the door was smashed up on the inside like someone was trying to get out.)  Creepy.  I'm trying to control my heart rate.  More lightning.  Noa rolls over and pats my arm like she feels my fear.  I turn off the monitor because it's creeping me out.  I strain through the thick darkness for the form of a little boy.  I feel like there are bugs in my bed.  I squeeze my eyes shut against my imagination, thinking that dreams of Sookie Stackhouse and the Bon Temps vampires would be worlds better than this.

And I do sleep.  And I don't dream.  And in the morning Scott laughs at me and my ghost stories and is sure that I dreamed it all.  Me?  I'm not so sure...

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Two Nights

It could have been wrapped in a beautiful box and tied with a pretty pink ribbon.  I would have gushed over it's loveliness and exclaimed over the thoughtfulness - with hand over heart - before selfishly tearing through the carefully scotch-taped masterpiece to find within exactly what I was (fingers crossed) wishing for.  Two nights.  God bless Salina Rusnak!

She accepted my three children qualm-free and graciously with little more than a "does Noa like a song before bed?"  A foolish grin danced on my face as we pulled from the driveway after kisses and waves and dear Erika's advice to pick up a can of whipped cream to sweeten our child-free 41 hours which stretched before us like a beautiful highway of possibility.

That highway (namely 6 then 4) took us to the lights at Canadian Tire where we followed the "Come Star Gaze With Us" sign to the Drive-In.  We don't remember the last time we came without a back seat full of kids and potato chips and drinking boxes but it may fall in the era of the Dodge Omni: the coolest ugly car ever!  It was white with black racing stripes and we would back it into our drive-in parking spot, hatch full of pillows from the Value Village sectional in Scott's first apartment.

We laugh about how nothing has changed: how the little kids still play in the shadows cast by the spot lights in front of the screen, how the bathroom stall doors are so inappropriately high and how the rotating cloth towel dispenser is always wet and probably the same towel that was there when I was fourteen and we'd be better off to dry our hands on our jeans and how we can't believe that parents would bring their six-year-olds to watch Eclipse.  I try to catch Scott up on the series without giving anything away and am able to condense it down to this:  Bella is a girl.  Bella loves Edward.  Edward is a vampire.  Edward loves Bella.  Jacob is a werewolf.  Jacob loves Bella.  Bella is horny.  It was a good movie.  Not spectacular.  The book is better.  Most people left then.  We stayed for the second movie along with half a dozen other cars.  Splice.  We should not have stayed.  I felt like I needed a shower when it was over.  It was not a good movie.  Do not go see it.

We got to bed at 3 am.  It was okay.  There would be no kids crawling on me at 7 o'clock.  I slept until 11 (ah, sweet bliss!).  We went out for breakfast at lunch time (ah, sweet bliss!).  We left for my cousins wedding, I in a Suzy Shier dress with crinoline and shoes that gave me toe cleavage and blisters and he in a white button down shirt, dark pin-stripped pants and canvas airwalks (the combination of which I found extremely sexy).  We thought ourselves quite the dapper pair and enjoyed our second night of freedom laughing to the point of tears over my brother-in-laws romancing techniques - all of which involved farting.  (He seems to think a perfectly timed dutch oven should make her randy...sadly, it does not.)  Sunday morning I slept until 11:34.  Sweet, sweet, bliss!

Two nights.  It was heaven.  No whipped cream but he didn't get his hand slapped away like in the Dodge Omni days.

And now the kids are back and it's chaos again.

But I kind of like that too.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Disco!


July 10, 2006.

He came hard and fast and purple.  We joked that he had a black daddy.  He was beautiful but he kind of looked like a troll, or a really old man so shrunken in on himself that he looked more alien than human.  I loved him immediately and irrevocably.

Zander wanted to call him "Gurgles" or "Disco".  We were on board with the Disco but found out we weren't allowed to use quotation marks in a name (it says so on the forms).  Liam Oliver "Disco" Rusnak - it's just that the government doesn't know about the Disco part.

Four years.  In a blink.  We celebrated in a private little cove off Wasaga Beach because all he wanted was a beach party.  It was strange for me because I usually go overboard with theme parties and decorations and cool cakes.  I felt like my simple offer of Koolaid Jammers, kabosa, crackers, fruit and store-bought cupcakes were lame but he was thrilled.  It was what he wanted.  Sand play, volleyball, kites, water guns, the Wardells.  It was what he wanted.
 
All trace of the troll is gone - outgrown by 100% beautiful boy.  He's starting school in the fall and while I'm looking forward to it I also feel like part of me is dying and the world is a little closer to ending.  These are the moments when I forget that he drives me crazy and is intolerably demanding and entitled and selfish.  But he is also hilarious and oddly gentle (when in suits him) and sweet in moments of kindness and this is the Liam I will miss while his JK teacher is busy falling in love with him.

Happy Birthday, Disco!  I truly adore you!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Stalag 11: You Vill Komm To Kamp Und You Vill Like It!

It still smells the same.  Like Christmas and dirt.  Pine sap makes my flip-flops sticky.  Zander's saucer eyes take it in and his excitement is palpable.  We meet his councillors, Kommandants Jonathan and David.  They guide us through registration then lead us to Cabin 11 where we are greeted by a sign of their creation - Stalag 11: You Vill Komm To Kamp Und You Vill Like It!  Zander thinks it's funny and wants a picture in front of it.  I don't tell him that Stalag is a German term for a prisoner of war camp.

We enter the cabin.  It is stuffy and hot.  Another mother is being assured by Kommandant David that he will indeed see that the baby spiders around her sons bed are taken care of.  Zander gets a top bunk.  He rolls out his sleeping bag.  He arranges his pillow just so.  He tucks his can't-sleep-without-it Popple in the corner where it won't prompt teasing but will be within easy reach when the lights go out.  He props his Ted Dekker graphic novels on a little shelf and lines up his bottles oh so neatly - shampoo, sunscreen, bug spray...

Me:       "Brush your teeth every morning and every night."
Zander: "Okay, mommy."
Me:       "Brush your hair."
Zander: "Okay, mommy."
Me:       "These are ONLY for the wacky clothes dinner.  DO NOT wear them any other time."
Zander: "I know."
Me:       "Shower."
Zander: "Why?"
Me:       "Shower."
Zander: "Okay."

He's only 8.  A whole week seems like so long.  He isn't concerned.  He hugs and kisses us goodbye before running to the playground to play Grounders with his cabin mates who are already his friends.
"Love you," I call out as he climbs the monkey bars.
"Love you, too!" he yells back - not old enough to be embarrassed.
"See you on Saturday!"
"Yeah!" and he's already immersed in camp life and won't even think of me again until I show up a week later wondering how he managed to loose all six pairs of underwear and "why oh why are you wearing the rainbow visor that was only for the wacky clothes dinner?"

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Muggles In A Wizardly World

Storybook clouds fill perfect summer skies, entertaining us through three hours and two extra large double doubles of travel, finding dinaswores, dwagons and piwit sips.


There were giggles over the GPS thinking we were in a field because it didn't know the 410 had been extended.  There was the emergency search for a potty because we drank too much coffee.  There was the eating of egg salad sandwiches while Liam - bless his sweet little heart - howled from the back seat, "Ewwww - who farted??"  There was the last light before we pulled into the Comfort Inn parking lot when Zander said, "Can't you hurry it up?"
 "No," we said, "we have to wait for the light."
"I need a cup!"
So we hand back an empty Tim Horton's cup and his puke goes almost to the brim.  "Guess I shouldn'ta played my DSi for so long," he says.  You think?
We check in.  Lug suitcases up one flight of stairs.  Get Zander a clean shirt and a toothbrush because the Tic-Tac in the car didn't do the job.  Everybody pees.  "Yes, Liam, you have to and no we aren't leaving until you do."
"WAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYY?????"
But he does it while I call to make our reservation, confusing the guy on the other end because we bought our tickets with our hotel deal and I just needed to book a time - not buy a ticket.
It takes forty minutes to make a fifteen minute drive.  Zander is having a hard time being patient.  Clouds don't occupy anymore.
We arrive.  $8 for parking.  Zander dons his Gryffindor cape and Potter glasses.  He looks adorable.  "Where's my gwasses?" Liam whines.
I give him the 3D glasses (with lenses removed) from our Toy Story 3 experience last week.
"Thanks!" He looks like an adorable nerd.
People stare and smile and point at our enthusiastic boys as we enter the Science Centre.  I am secretly hoping for a number one fan discount but none is offered.  We get our tickets, oooo and ahhhhh over Mr. Weasley's flying car that is suspended in the foyer, and find our way to the level 6 special exhibit area.





We are allowed entry with a small group where we gather around a stage decorated with a stool, a hat and a british sounding woman in full Hogwarts costume.  Zander is practically bouncing.  Two children go before him, both hoping to be placed in Gryffindor house.  Both get their wish.  Zander goes next.  He sits on the stool, terror in his face.  The woman holds the hat, "And to which house do you wish to be placed, young man?"
"Gryffindor," he says quietly.  Hopefully.
"Hmmmm," she says, "Three Gryffindor's in a row is quite unlikely.  Let's see what the hat says." And she places it on his head.
The hat hums and haws.  Zander is shaking and his fingers are crossed so tightly his knuckles are white. "Ahhhh," says the hat, "Kind of heart and brave in spirit is this one.  I say.......GRYF-FIN-DOR!!!!!"
Zander's shoulders sag in relief and he breathes out the breath he was holding.  He wears a shaky smile and his cape billows behind him as he jumps off the stool.
The woman wields a wand and turns our attention to the double wooden doors behind us.  "Alohomora!" she cries, with exaggerated accent.
The doors open outward in response to her spell.
"Whoa!" Zander says, amazed and fully believing in the magic he just witnessed.
We enter a dark chamber where we watch an intense montage through which Liam hides his face in my shoulder in fear that He Who Must Not Be Named would assault his dreams that night.
The wall beside us seems to dissolve and we find ourselves on platform 9 3/4 staring into the blinding light of the Hogwarts Express.  Fog billows around it's wheels.  A man with a lantern appears through the fog giving a hearty, "All aboard!" though we're not actually allowed on the train.  (Wizards only, you know.)  We see Hedwigs cage and Harry's luggage waiting on the platform.
We enter Hogwarts through a hallway of moving portraits.  The fat lady stops us, demanding the password but we don't remember it and sneak past her causing her to hit such a high operatic note that she shatters the glass in her hand.
But we're in.  And it's magic.  Everywhere we look is something more amazing.  Costumes.  Wands.  Hippogriffs and house elves, dragons and potions, snitches and quaffles, Hogsmead candy and the Mauraders Map.  It's incredible.  Zander's darting from one thing to the next, cape undulating, glasses slipping down his nose, saying, "Look at this!  Have you seen that?  I can't believe they have Harry's real wand and broomstick!  Wow, Hagrid's so big!  Can we buy some Berty Bot's Every Flavor Beans?"  Candles hang from the enchanted ceiling.  Death Eaters threaten from a shadowy corner.  Hagrid's Hut is cozy and huge and looks exactly as it should.  The detail everywhere is incredible.  We're amazed over the size of the wings on the tiny Golden Snitch.  We discuss the weight of the Quaffle Ball, surprised at how squishy it feels and how hard it is to throw through one of the three Quidditch circles.  We wonder if we should actually pull the Mandrakes because we don't have earmuffs and Professor Spout had warned that the mandrakes cry was fatal if heard.  We decide to risk it.  The cry is strangled and as ugly as the mandrakes themselves.  We giggle over their misshapen scowls and replant them to stop their wail.



We ended in Diagon Alley, shopping among the very shops that Harry visits, perusing wands and chocolates and "isn't it too bad that we couldn't go to Gringott's Bank and get some wizard gold?"
Zander is satisfied.  He is on Harry over-load and wants to dig into the books even harder.  "Two chapters a night, Mommy?" he asks, puppy-dog eyes through Potter lenses.

And how could I say no?



If you love Harry Potter like we do put this on your Things To Do This Summer List.  It's amazing!
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