The Learn to Drive Milestone

 

A rite of passage happened yesterday. It was a very exciting moment for me.

My son drove a car for the first time.

This was a big deal. I remember being 16 and my dad took me out in his Blue Dodge Diplomat to the church parking lot. He put the car in park, opened the car door and stepped around to the passenger side. I couldn’t wait to get into the drivers seat! My dad is a teacher by trade profession and is one of the best. He explained in very clear detail, my step by step procedure.

When you put the car in drive, it will move forward, so keep your foot on the brake.

As you slowly release the brake, the car will move forward.

Stomping on the brake will cause me to vomit.

Take your time, we have all the time in the world – we don’t have to rush.

And thus began my first driving lesson 1983 – an era before seatbelts.

 

Last night after dinner, I said to my 16 year old. “are you busy? Can you come out with me for a bit?”

He looked at me suspiciously, assessed the situation and agreed. I drove out of the city and to a country school about 10 minutes from my home. I figured this would be a good spot with no pedestrian or motor traffic. He looked at me and said, “Either this is a driving lesson or you are about to murder me and dump my body.”

Me-“Correct, I have a baseball bat in the trunk and a carpet to roll you up in.”

He laughed and climbed out of the car, went around to the driver’s side and waited until i was in the passenger seat before he got in. The first thing he did was put on his seat belt and complain about how weird it felt crossing over the other side of his body. I asked how he felt, the reply was “Nervous and a bit scared.”

Me- “We won’t be going of 10km and there will be no reversing the car today. Just slow on the straight away and turns.”

I gave him the same instructions my dad gave me. Calm and quiet, full of confidence I never felt. I forgot to mention the part about stomping on the brake will induce vomiting. Sure enough, I was thankful for the seatbelt as he tested the brakes. He drove in circles for about a half hour. He tried stopping various times and got the hang of not smashing my face into glass. He actually was a quick study. He pulled up to the fence and I inquired as to how he planned on moving the car since I said no reversing. He said he could either get out and have me do it, or he give it a try himself. I gave him the step by step instructions for reversing, this included how you turn the wheel in the opposite direction of where you want to go. I then heard the Doc Hudson reference from him. The quote from the movie

I’ll put it simple: if you’re going hard enough left, you’ll find yourself turning right.

Ummmm nooooooooooooo. But secretly was happy he used a Pixar reference. When he didn’t shoulder check I made splat sounds and told him that was puppies and babies he ran over. He laughed and put the car back up against the fence and did it again. This time he shoulder checked. About 10 more minutes, and I directed him to park near the gate. We traded places and I asked him how he felt now. His reply was one of confidence. “I don’t feel scared anymore. Just nervous because there is so much to remember.”

I drove down the country road and into Sherwood Park. I found the Dairy Queen where we planned to celebrate. He asked if this was the one his Grandpa took me too. “Nope, that one is an insurance company now”. We had blizzards to celebrate. He told me he hated the licence plate cover on my car. It says “I’d rather by in Walt Disney World.” I told him I hated the Datsun B210 I had to drive when I was a kid.

You never get to drive the cool car when you are young because it is too expensive. Once you can afford it, you look like a ridiculous old dude trying to recapture his youth. He laughed and agreed that bald guys are hilarious in a convertible. I rest my case. I reminded him to look at the cars the high school kids drive – if they are lucky. He laughed and said, “you’re right, they are all beaters or mommy vehicles.”

Now my boy is motivated to get a job. Insurance is expensive, now that he has a glimpse of the freedom of the future.

 

The Edmonton Tourist becomes Tour Guide!

Good News! I am back on chocolate! It is more out of necessity then preference because the Belgium Chocolate is gone and I stole a piece of Chatterbox’s Halloween candy. But I am back to normal, when I say normal I really mean frazzled. Chocolate and coffee are my current drug of choice. All is good with my world once again.

Things in my life are moving at a frantic pace. I am finding my University course interesting, yet monotonous. So much reading about the same thing. Talking to my 3 mentors makes the course very interesting. I really am thankful for them. My work is great but super busy, as always. My children’s marks are unbelievably amazing! Family health issues are starting to resolve themselves. Just when I think I have everything under-control, a giant pothole shows up and upsets the apple cart. The next little while will be filled with new adventures and I can’t wait to get started! But………

I need a distraction for about an hour. I need my mind to wander and think about other things for a brief moment in time. So my dear readers, I need your help!

At the end of the month we are having a visitor stay with us through Christmas. When I say visitor, I really mean the Evil Genius. That’s right, my step-son is paying a call from future.  When I say future, I really mean Australia. I can hear you all saying “Why would someone who has a perfectly lovely summer season coming up CHOOSE to go to Edmonton for the winter?” Good question! From what I understand about Genetic Offspring, Honey and the Evil Genius, science is their thing. Spacey science to be more exact. Edmonton is DARK in the winter, and by dark I mean the sunrises around 8:30ish and sets at 4:00ish. Perfect for seeing the Northern Lights – sorry – Aurora Borealis. I admit, it is one of my most favorite things about Edmonton too. Off our deck is the perfect view-point! Maybe light a fire in the outdoor fireplace, sit in a snow suit and wait. That’s the problem. There isn’t a set schedule, but there is a web site that offers a “forecast“. That will be helpful!

I need your help because I want to know what OTHER people want to see and do when they come to The Great White North. Here are my ideas, please feel free to edit, change and add to the list.

  1. Roast marshmallows, make s’mores and wait for the Northern-lights
  2. Visit the Telus World of Science to use the observatory and check out the stars in the freezing cold.
  3. Go to an Oiler Hockey Game and possibly an Oil Kings Hockey game
  4. Shovel the side-walk
  5. Hang the Christmas lights
  6. Strap a snowboard to his feet and push him down the hill
  7. Go to the Ice on Whyte festival and check out the ice sculptures
  8. Drag the Evil Genius around town to look at Christmas lights
  9. Go Ice skating on a pond and learn what Shinny is
  10. Go see the Christmas Carole at the Citadel Theatre
  11. Go on a Sleigh Ride

I am looking forward to being the Edmonton Tour Guide for a while. I am nervous about the cold. It could be Blizzard season, no not the ice cream from Dairy Queen, a REAL BLIZZARD! Or it could be unseasonably warm, hovering around 0C . Hard to say what the weather will be like. It IS Edmonton, so if you don’t like the weather just a minute and new weather shows up. At any rate I hope the Evil Genius has a great time – or at the very least – lie to me and say it’s great 😉

So my dear readers, what would YOU like to see if you came for a visit?

Hi I’m Julie McCoy, and I’ll be your Ship’s Cruise Director!

The Love Boat
Image via Wikipedia

I have spent the better part of my Sunday engaged in homework for my University Course. I was at work long before the offspring decided to emerge from their warm cozy beds at the first sign of breakfast. By time Offspring #2 said good morning, I had completed 2 of 4 minor assignments,with research and reading still needing to be done for the day. The first thing out of her mouth was “So, what are we doing today?” I almost growled “homework” but the sound was much more civil than a growl. A large sigh emerged from her lips and she sat down to visit her friends via Facebook.

Flashes of my youth appeared before my eyes. The ages of One to Four of my life are remembered as “shhhh your dad is studying”. I remember Dad hiding away in the deep dungeon of a basement, surrounded by concrete walls, one insignificant window and the smell of damp basement. In the corner opposite the stairs, sat his desk, comfortable office chair and a desk lamp,with a view of the washer and dryer. Those were the days of typewriters, pens and paper. After dinner, I would sneak to the top of the stairs and peer through the railing to spy on my dad. Mostly to see if he was actually busy, but perfectly happy just to get a glimpse of him. On days that he was at the library, my brother and I would sneak down and sit in THE CHAIR. We would take turns spinning each other and giggling ourselves into dizzy oblivion. We could not imagine our Dad to be so lucky as to have this chair to sit in for hours on end.

In contrast, I am luckier I suppose. I am also located in the basement but my walls are dry-walled and painted White Chocolate. The light streaming in is from large windows in a “walk-out” basement. The floors are cork and possess in-floor heating. Over my work space is a rather large map of Disneyland that I look at from time to time to gain inspiration from all those creative spirits before me. I am thankful for the good fortunes that have afforded me these luxuries compared to my father’s study hall.

Friday Nights were designated as Family Night. Dad would emerge from the dungeon ready for a break. Our family would go in search of inexpensive and free things to do. I often remember going for drives through Millcreek with the final destination being Dairy Queen. My brother and I would be bathed and dressed in our pajamas. We would pile into the car either with my Grandparents or just are small family. Off to our destination we would go leaving the ‘burbs headed for the city. In those days, the Dairy Queen was just an ice cream stand. It was a seasonal shop where you waited in line outside. My brother and I would order a soft serve dipped cone, my mom would often get a small marshmallow sundae and my father, without fail, would order a butterscotch milkshake. We would take the scenic route home, driving around looking at people’s homes or beautiful gardens. Usually we were asleep before the car was parked for the night with mom and dad carrying us up to bed. Sleeping or not, we would fake it to get the lift to our rooms.

I loved the undivided attention of my parents. So does the Chatterbox. She often is seeking parental attention of some form. You can often hear her say “So, what are we doing today?” As if I am the Omnipotent Being responsible for her personal entertainment. She often makes me feel like I should have been born Julie McCoy, Love Boat’s Cruise Director.

Yesterday, the Chatterbox and I went in search of clothing specific to our impending trip to Europe. We spent the better part of the afternoon laughing and looking for items that would make our stay more comfortable. While walking through Edmonton’s historical district of Old Strathcona, we stumbled upon The Walterdale Playhouse Open House. Immediately she led me through the doors knowing I would follow. We were given a tour of the main-stage and back stage. Shown how they magically transform plain people into characters that fill your imagination. Shown how they use paint and light to create elaborate illusions of grandeur. The Walterdale Playhouse is located in the old fire hall and still maintains the bell tower. 10 minutes before each production the bell is rung, signaling the need for patrons to find their seats. Chatterbox was given the opportunity to ring the bell high above Old Strathcona, telling the community that she was indeed ready to be an actress. We left armed with information of upcoming auditions, tips and a sense that we really enjoyed our time spent there as well as with each other. Our day was far from over, but the Walterdale Playhouse did enhance the rest of our experience together. We found shoes, drank ice tea at Starbucks, took crazy self-portraits together. The moments that were memorable, were unplanned. Just like Friday nights to Dairy Queen when Dad would burst into song and sing the Tennessee Bird Walk, or my brother would tell a funny story about the trouble he got into that day.

I need to remember the importance of Julie McCoy. I need to keep scheduling family time together so we can create more memorable moments as a family. I can do that. I can take a night or a day off every week to have family time. Lesson learned Mom and Dad! Thank you again for being spectacular role models that taught me everything I needed to know about being a great mom.

You can always find time to do what matters most.