I know where I am going – Liar! and other tales Part 2

Dear Universe,

After much refection I STILL don’t understand why the crazy stuff happens to me when I am with the family and not my friends! I was busy tell you about my travels with Annie, TTG, Squid and Chatterbox here. To pick up where I left off, please continue…

As I was saying, I am a mom and thought of snacks. I packed apples and almonds, juice and pop. The girls were dying of starvation, and when I say dying – I mean cranky and we were going to kill them. So, TTG gave Squid an apple. Every now and then, TTG wishes she had a “traditional” family of her own. Annie and I tell her constantly she is “Living the Dream” No kids, no weird smells, no messes, no odd sounds – let’s face it – No body sounds, smells and fluids that are not your own IS THE DREAM! Meanwhile, Squid eats her apple and gives the core to TTG where I could sense her facial expression and heard an “Oh Lovely” in the classic family sarcastic tone. I reminded TTG that she is living the dream…

We drive around Northeast Calgary while Annie tries to recall her past life here. 2 hours later we find an Olive Garden! All you can eat bread sticks and salad! We get excited and I jump out to see about getting a table. The Hostess replies, it will be an Hour and a half. AN HOUR AND A HALF?!? FOR AN OLIVE GARDEN? I don’t think so sweetheart, so I run back out and tell the girls we need to keep looking. I remember spotting a 5Guys on the Highway at Airdrie and suggest we head there. So long Calgary, your shopping was great but we were starving so we high tailed it out of there! A while later we get to Airdrie. 5 Guys is on the left side of the double hwy. No left turn for us! We search in vain for the over pass….only to discover an underpass as we drive over it. *Note to Airdrie, signs are a good thing…just saying…

We take the next exit and double back, pull in and park. We spot a Nathans Famous – of Coney Island Fame – and I retell my mom’s opinion of Nathan’s hot dogs…so we continue back to 5 guys. We get to the window and peer inside, all the people who couldn’t get a table at the Olive Garden, came here. It looked like an hour wait. OH FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! I start to make my way to the empty – yet open – Nathan’s, when Chatterbox pipes up “There is the Dirty Bird, let’s eat there”. Fine – Swiss Chalet it is.

As we stroll over The Dirty Bird Swiss Chalet, TTG claims she has NEVER eaten at Swiss Chalet. WHAT??? how do you live in the same family and never had to eat here? It is Gran’s favorite place! It is known for its chicken. Talk about lucky! Then she went on to tell another interesting fact. While traveling home from Edmonton, TTG went to Swiss Chalet at the Edmonton International Airport only to be told they were out of chicken. WHAT??? How is that even possible? It’s like going to Baskin Robbins and being told they are out of Ice Cream! So the one and only time TTG made the attempt to eat at the Dirty Bird and they were out of Chicken. Omen maybe?

TTG is the only one who ordered Chicken. Ribs, pot pie, and deep fried perogies were the entres of choice. Chatterbox was the one who chose poorly on the roulette wheel of food. Who orders deep fried anything and expects to feel great afterwards? I suppose I should have stepped in and suggested real food at this point. But I didn’t not know they were deep fried and I didn’t expect Chemo Perogies…should have know better, sorry Chatter box.

By the time we finished dinner, it was 8:ooPM – 4 hours AFTER we leave Chinook mall. We pile into the car where Chatterbox complains that it is too dark to read. Squid says  it’s my fault for raising a reader. I should have raised a TV watcher than she would be happy with movies on the ipod. I tell them to suck it up and listen to music. Annie declares it’s time to fill the truck up due to mindless wandering around Calgary…we need to find an ESSO. Would any other station do? Nope…an ESSO please. So back on the HWY north to Edmonton, we pass a Petro Canada…no way – not if we don’t want Grandpa haunting us forever. Petro Canada is a political no no. How about Shell? Nope…Fast Gas? No thanks…Husky? NO! an Esso!! FINE! so we keep driving. The needle on the tank gets to the “Hey Dummy” line and Annie panics. So she demands, Text my man and ask him how far to Esso! WTF? He is not in the car, how is he to know? As soon as I finish texting, there are on the horizon is an Esso. The skies open up and the angels begin to sing. We won’t be hitch hiking after all! Thanks Universe!

We pull into the station, and TTG immediately begins the speculation game. Look at that gal, she put on her fancy pink sweatshirt for a night in rural Alberta! Her man has no shoes and is bare foot. Where do you think they are going? Why do you think that man is smiling? I think there is a hockey bag filled with bodies in the back of his car…CLICK went the locks. Hmmm this place is starting to get creepy. Then TTG asks, Whats a trip without creepy people? True…? Annie tries to get back into the car and we won’t let her in, who wants to risk creepy people joining her? Then we see she has NIBS! WOOHOO Nibs! She is in!

We munch on nibs and it adds to the bloated gross feeling from the Dirty Bird. TTG announces, no matter what I say or how much I beg, do not pass me anymore nibs. FINE! Be that Way! So we stuff them into the glove box. Soon we are on our way, headed North in the dark – no street lights on Alberta rural hwys  – because we are tough red necks here! About 10 minutes into the trip we here…I need to go to the bathroom. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME??? You couldn’t go at ESSO? Annie says we are not stopping because A> she has turned into my dad and B> She doesn’t want to stop at the prison town at night. Fair enough..HOLD IT Chatterbox.

As we continue on in the dark, we start to hear gagging noises. Chatterbox, are you okay? Yes, comes the reply. Then the gagging gets more frequent. I yell to Squid to reach back and grab a bag, empty it and give it to Chatterbox. Full on Heaving ensues. Awesome… TTG and Squid join the gag fest. The smell is starting to get rank, so we crack open the windows only to learn we are driving in farm country. The manure smell is as bad. Now the dilema – which is better? Vomit or manure? The heaving stops and Chatterbox passes the bag to TTG – once again TTG YOU ARE LIVING THE DREAM!The bag starts to leak and the screaming begins! Quick grab another bag! TTG pulls all her clothes out of her bag and says WAIT! I need the receipts incase I want to return them!!! Finally the leaky bag is tucked safely into the the second bag. I surmise out loud to TTG “I bet that apple core is looking pretty awesome about now!” With all the panic and screaming, Annie finds a turn off to the rest stop. It is pitch black and not far from the prison. We pull over to the side of a grain field covered in stubble. We all jump out like we are covered in puke. They scream, shake and stand around while I get Chatterbox cleaned up and sorted. I take tissue from the clothing bags and wipe up messes. I would give my first born for a diaper bag filled with  wet wipes about now. I spray the seats with “Sweat Pea” Hand sanitizer and we pile back in. TTG and Annie quickly lock the doors. At this point I discover two scary guys were hiding in the ditch and scrambled up the hill when we pulled up. We are in the middle of no-where, surrounded by farms and a prison is a couple of miles away. Yet there, are two guys in a ditch…hmmm either they are escaped convicts OR they are bottle collecting boy scouts. I’m pretty sure they were neither, but it’s not for me to speculate!

By this time it’s after 9:00PM. We are tired, smelly and really want to go home, yet we can’t seem to stop laughing. We see a dead moose on the side of the road and a totalled car on the other side. We share stories of past travels with duct tape and dad and granny and why she got the queen bed in Ireland while Annie and TTG got the table top. Eventually we stopped talking and began what we always do on every single family trip. We play silly songs a sing along, like this one:

Happy Travels!

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My friend Oracle from DownUnder invited me to guest blog over on his site 

It contunies the Adventures of Travel’s with Granny – if you are so inclinde to visit! Say hey for me, I love his adventures 🙂

Happy Canada Day!

Happy Canada Day! Or as my Grandpa would say Happy Dominion Day! He was never big on the new Canadian Maple Leaf flag NOR was he all that thrilled with other eastern Canadian influences which I will not go into here. But let’s just say, he was a proud Canadian and he was a tremendous role model for us whippersnappers when it came to patriotic pride!

For as long as I can remember, our family has had a Canada Day BBQ. It isn’t just for family, often friends of various family members are invited to join in the festivites as well. My Grandparents were often the annual hosts for the events and then we would walk down to watch the fireworks extravaganza down at  the park.

I remember lemonade, ice cream, burgers and hot dogs, potato salad and homemade beans. Often there was a birthday cake and the yard was decorated with Red, White and Blue balloons and streamers. The Blue had nothing to do with our American Neighbors but everything to do with our ties to the UK. The Red Ensign ( Canada’s original flag) held the Union Jack proudly in the upper corner. This is why the blue was present.

Most of us wear Red and White, play baseball or bacci ball. Sit around and tell crazy stories that are too bizarre to be true – yet are. Mostly we laugh. If you know me, you know laughing is my favorite pastime. I learned it from some of the funniest people on the planet, my family. I love my family and Canada Day. It is one of my most favorite holidays.

Today the plan is to laugh, share, play and then walk to the park to hear the musical stylings of Honeymoon Suite then watch the Fireworks. I look forward to this day every year. I invited several friends, but all were skeptical as to how much fun it really is. Trust ME! If I invited you, A> I must really like you and consider you family and B> I hope that you like me enough to be accepted into my family.

I will be tweeting the events today and adding pictures via Plixi. Please share in the fun and join me @EdmontonTourist by following the hash tag #bbqeh! I can’t wait to share the best day of the year with my new friends and family.

Happy Canada Day eh!

The Land of Disney in Paris: Part III – Frontierland

When I was a kid, my brother and I we able to venture around Disneyland alone. Before you say a THING, it was a different time. We were given my mom’s watch and had to check into the Hub and see them every so often. The sense of freedom rocked my world. We would ride coasters endlessly. When we returned as older teens, we would ditch the oldies at night, and head into the park to ride coasters at night. SO FREAKING AWESOME! Our favourite ride was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMRR) located in Frontierland.

Our early morning adventure in Paris was about to begin and we stood with the crowd waiting for the rope to drop at the entrance of Frontierland. I knew BTMRR was waiting for me. I knew it was vastly different from the other parks, I couldn’t wait to try it out!  As the cast members dropped the rope and allowed us to enter the land, I was taking in the detail of the the place. I had been to Walt Disney World in August when the Halloween Decorations went up. I found that to be fun and exciting. Nothing had prepared me for the amount of thematic  decorations placed all over Disneyland Paris. There were pumpkin people every where, I must admit, I loved the attention to detail! I was caught up in looking at all the amazing little things before I realized I was at Phantom Manor. It’s equivalent is Haunted Mansion in the sister parks in the states. Phantom Manor sat on the hill over looking Frontierland. It had an air about it not unlike the home next to the Bates Motel. It LOOKED spooky and creepy.

The queue was particularly well themed with nifty little details that rocked my world. My family was walking fast up the hill while I was quickly snapping photos along the way. We were in a time crunch and wanted to see everything, but how I WISH I could have lingered just a bit longer to take in the surroundings!  As we entered the Manor, the spiel was given to us about not getting out alive, just like the other parks. Only it was in two languages, quite comfortable really for Canadians who are use to everything being duel languages, it felt oddly home like.  Away we were whisked to the Doom Buggies and on our first Disneyland Paris Adventure! The ride did not disappoint! The order was different from the American Parks but the story was very similar, Madame Leota’s voice was french and didn’t not sound even remotely the same, but I loved it just the same.

After the ride we wandered down the path to the cemetery to take in the hilarity of the tombstones. A very western theme was present. It gave the impression that America is all about the wild west. The views from the cemetery were really spectacular, showing off the sights and sounds of the Mark Twain. We took a bit of time to soak it all in, when we should have been hightailing it to BTMRR!! It was a Saturday with the first sunshine Paris had seen in a while, the park was getting busy! So we made our way to BTMRR and looked at the stand-by time, 10 minutes! YAY! That is barely a wait at all. My general rule of thumb is if it is longer than 20 minutes stand-by then get a fastpass! So away we went! Within moments we realized the Stand-by LIED! It LIED to my face! We ended up waiting about 30 minutes, not cool Stand-by!  Did it really matter? it did a little, it took away from other rides in the afternoon. But in the big picture, BTMRR was super fun! It was mor intense than it’s sister coasters. Traveling under the water to get to the island was a fun experience. Didi I like the ride itself? You Betcha! It did disappoint me to see all the garbage in the queue and the way people would just toss stuff on the props as if it was a landfill. Use the Garbage People! Disney provides one every 20 feet for your OWN personal use! Take advantage of it please!!!

 

Next Stop, Adventureland!

The Land of Disney in Paris: Part II – Main Street

Here I was, Disneyland Paris. Park #3 on my bucket list.

Walking up to the hotel was very exciting. The Entrance to Disneyland in Paris looks nothing like it’s sister parks in the United States. The big reveal takes a while. Through the ticket booth, up to the turnstile and across an open walkway and finally you are at the tunnel. The Tunnel is in the sister parks too. The train travels over head. In the other parks I went to there is only two choices, left tunnel or right tunnel with a sign over hear that reads : Here you leave today and enter a world of Yesterday, Tomorrow and Fantasy. I looked for a similar sign and could find it. It must have one. That was the first thing I noticed was different, that and THREE tunnels to choose from.When we travel to the parks, we take turns deciding which tunnel to go through. I prefer entering the park on the right and leaving on the left. Here in Paris, we threw caution to the wind and went in the center tunnel! Crazy and shocking, I know! Thrilling none the same.

My fist glimpse of Main Street, There was a gazebo where the American Flag stands in the States. I understand why the flag was not there. The Gazebo was charming all dolled up for Halloween. I looked for the Fire Hall… To my extreme disappointment, there was a store in it’s place. There was no apartment overhead, no light in the window, no sign of Walt Disney. Maybe that is why the spark was not the same. I sent the muppets off to get photos with Characters before the rope drop (park opening), while I went to City Hall to make dinner reservations. By the time I found them, they were disheveled and flustered because here in Paris, guests do not queue up for pictures and autographs. They channel their inner hockey players, hoist their elbows up and force their way to the front. For a couple of Canadian muppets, this concept felt rude and unappealing. No autographs this trip. Secretly I was relieved, this meant more time for rides and details! YAY! Score one for the mom!

As we walked closer towards Main Street, I noticed the Castle drawing me in. She was beautiful and more spectacular than the other two castles I have loved before. It was hard for me to pull my eyes away and discover the details that surrounded me on Main Street. Windows on Main Street traditionally are painted with names of Disney builders, and imagineers, these windows did not disappoint. Except they are sparse in comparison. The street is wide and gives you that “walking down the red carpet” feeling Walt had wanted for the other two parks. By this time I was so excited to get to the castle I could barely contain myself! I wanted to see the Partners Statue and compare it to the others. We passed Casey’s Corner, and Gibson Girls Ice Cream Parlor, saw a shop that gave a nod to Lilly Disney – that thrilled me. All I could think was, I am walking right down Main Street in Paris with my family, Luck me!

Off we went to find the rope and join the masses for rope drop. We reached the “hub” and noticed no Partners Statue! WHAT THE…? It was later when I discovered it was at the Studios, a separate park – WRONG WRONG WRONG! But WHATEVER, it’s not my park, I understand you can put it wherever you like Michael Eisner, maybe that is why you don’t work there any more….poor decisions. The Castle up close and personal, amazed me with the scope and grandeur. I fell in love with my 3rd Castle. Although I think she is my favorite.

We had time to listen to the Main Street Loop music that is piped in. It really adds to the magical feeling in the park. Listening and singing while we waited in Frontierland for the rope to drop and our brand new Disney Adventure to begin!

 

 

The Mom Who Drank Wine on the Champs Elysees

Ever since I saw Charade (1963) with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant, I wanted to sit on the Champs Elysees, drink wine in a quaint cafe and watch the world go by. In my mind it happened like that. In my mind I was dressed Hepburn-esq, in Givenchy head to toe, because that is all she ever wore since Givenchy designed her wardrobe for Sabrina in 1954. She always looked stunning. In my mind, so did I.

In reality I was chillaxing with the muppets at a pizza joint on the Champs Elysees. I hear you…ED, seriously? A PIZZA JOINT? French food is so freaking amazing and you eat pizza on the Champs Elysees. How disappointing! Agreed. It was disappointing if you look at it from that point of view. Let me explain…

As you know, our day started at Notre Dame, continued to the Louvre, then moved up the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower was one of those “WOW” moments where you think about what you are seeing. It was the entrance to the worlds fair. Pablo Picasso looked out his window and could see it every day, the Nazi’s climbed to the top to fly their colours in a horrifying manner. The Eiffel Tower is an architectural marvel. It changed the way people built tall structures and bridges. It has stood in the same spot  since 1889. The iron lace work is beautiful. But it wasn’t the Champs Elysees.

We had seen more Paris tourist spots in one day then some people see in a week. By the time we walked halfway up the Champs Elysees, my feet were cranky. My shoulders were starting to get snarky with my neck and when my offspring are hungry they get crabby.  We were desperate for food. If anyone ever had muppets, you know how fussy they are when it comes to food.

Me: Look over there, a crepery!

Muppets: Ewww grosss!

Me:Look over there, a bistro!

Muppets: What’s Duck Comfit?

Me: Duck liver in fat.

Muppets: EEEEEWWWW GROSS!

Me: Look over there, a cute cafe!

Muppets: What’s Escargo?

Me: Snails in garlic butter.

Muppets: EEEEWWWWWW GROOOOOSSSS MOM NO WAY! Look its Pizza! I’m in!

Mom: eeww gross, FINE but I am drinking wine.

So, there is me drinking a glass of wine in an open air cafe/pizza joint, on the Champs Elysees, watching the world go by, imagining I am wearing Givenchy, pretending I had bags from all the shops we passed along the way Gucci, Prada, Channel,and Hermes.

After dinner, the muppets were satisfied and I got to walk father up the Champs Elysees and pass by Cartier. Everyone else was checking out The Arc de Triomphe and trying to figure out how the people crossed over to get to the top of the arch. There was me checking out Cartier and imagining I just bought myself a Laniers bracelet,  covered in diamonds. ($12600 if you must know).

Did I get to experience everything I had hoped I could? No, but I had the perfect back drop to my secret fantasy and I loved every minute. I am thrilled I was able to take the Muppets to the Champs Elysees!

And I drank wine…

 

 

 

 

 

One More Notch on my Bucket

I have seen 3 Eiffel Towers in my lifetime. Only one was the original structure.  The other two were the Eiffel Tower, France, EPCOT and the poor reproduction in Las Vegas. The original tower remains one of my most favorite visuals in all of Paris. The single day my family of Muppet’s spent in Paris was exhausting but amazing. We shared a Hop / Hop Off Boat pass with the other half of the Muppet Cast. This saved my life. Paris, for those of you not in the loop, is one huge sprawling city! We limited our adventures to a small section of the city but it still was quite the walk!

We floated down the Seine and the sight of the Eiffel Tower came into a larger frame of view. I took about 40 more pictures. I have no idea what came over me! I would stand in the same spot and take picture after picture of the same thing. Thoughts running through my mind were things like….Picasso, Degas, Matisse, Cezanne saw this too, this survived two world wars, why is it an ugly colour, and there are no skyscrapers in Paris! So I continued to snap away, luckily it is the age of digital and I didn’t go through a dozen rolls of film.

As we approached the boat launch for the Eiffel Tower, I could see Lady Liberty down stream in the distance. That vision coming into view took me back to when I was a child and my brother spotted her for the first time. I then thought to myself, I have seen the Statue of Liberty twice and have not been to Ellis Island once.  I MUST get there, it is becoming a like a magnet for me now. But I digress….

Earlier that week we received email from the Canadian Government. No I am not on Stephen Harper’s Christmas Card List, but we did register with the Government before leaving the country. It was one of those, “just in Case” moments because you never know what may happen. Well apparently there was a terrorist threat for Paris. I know, I know, there is ALWAYS a threat somewhere. If you let fear and common sense hold you back then you never get to see a THING!  The grounds of the Eiffel Tower were crawling with armed military guards and crazy hawkers trying to sell trinkets before the police arrest them. We climbed half of the steps to ground level when I stopped to admire the work of an artist on the steps. He approached me asking if I was American – Nope – Ahhhh Canadian…French? Nope, just a prairie girl with cereal box and hockey french. I laughed at my private joke and he looked at me quizzically. I explained to my son that this man was an artist and you would think I gave him the crown jewels. I purchased an acrylic on canvas of a french cafe and my son purchased an oil on canvas of the Eiffel tower. One of the greatest purchases I have ever made. I love to buy art of the different countries I visit. This was one country where I had planned to purchase art. I love it as much as I loved any of the Master’s work that I saw in The Louvre just hours previous. I am not sure why, but owning art from France is more meaningful to me then the other pieces I have collected. The Artist wrapped up my canvas and off we trudged up the rest of the stairs.

The amount of people who filled that area was once again, beyond any scope that I could previously envision. I know I must sound like a broken record, but THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE IN ONE SPACE IS MIND ALTERING! My Muppets were dawn towards the tower like a magnet. I was so important for Genetic offspring to stand beneath the tower in the center. So we did. I thought going to the top was important to me. The line up to reach the top had to exceed a two-hour wait. Apparently it wasn’t that important to me. Funny how just the day before it was a bucket list moment. Even now, I do not regret keeping my feet firmly planted on the ground.

On advice from my Mom and my Sister, we crossed the bridge towards the Trocadero for “THE BEST VIEW IN PARIS” of the Eiffel tower. They were not wrong. It was a great view. It led us to New York Street and a carousel, and more hawkers selling crazy cheap trinkets. We sat for a moment beside the carousel just looking at the Eiffel Tower. It seamed surreal that I should be sitting there looking at this monument.

Now THAT was a bucket list moment.

The Face Painter

I read a blog this morning that reminded me of this story. Thank you Bokkie!

I was a Face Painter – when I say Face Painter I don’t mean Puddy from Seinfeld I mean I was really a FACE PAINTER. I say WAS because I don’t want Santa to call me and ask if I am interested in getting back into it. Dear Santa, NO THANK YOU! I know this does not make any sense to any of you but Santa, so I shall explain…

I grew up in one of those very lucky families where the mom worked magic and made Christmas sparkly and special. Every year, just before Christmas, our family would march around the city looking at lights, participating in special Christmas activities. We always saw the Teddy Bears at the Museum, looked at the Christmas windows at the Bay downtown, saw the Creche at City Hall. We would drive around the city at night singing Christmas Carols and looking at lights.

The best was the annual Christmas party. All of our family and friends would come to visit, laugh, sing and Santa came every year. I knew it was always my Grandpa, my sister did not. She was a Believer. It wasn’t as if I never believed, I did, but as I became older those beliefs change and morph into something else. The age gap between my sister and I is LARGE. I loved to help keep the illusion up for her. I knew who Santa was, but I sat on his knee anyway telling him how good I was that year, and he would reach into his sack and pull out a gift with my name on it. To: Edmonton Tourist Love: Santa. Written in my mom’s perfect script.

As we got older, cousins and friends moved away, the parties stopped. I missed them.

When the offspring muppets came along, and we moved into our new home, I decided I wanted to reestablish the Christmas Party Tradition. I walked around my block, knocked on doors of neighbors I did not know very well, and handed them an invitation. I invited people I did not know very well from the muppets school, and I extended the invitation to my family. It was a Family party, so there was food, special responsible drink, and Santa.

I asked each parent to bring a wrapped gift with their child’s name on it, about a $5 value, and leave it in a box hidden on the front porch. At 8:00, we heard Jingle Bells, Stomping on the porch and then the great loud “HO HO HO”! The children were enchanted! The older children were trying to puzzle out who Santa was. You could see them search the room, count the dads, look back at Santa with a quizzical look on their faces. They would never guess. I knew the REAL Santa because I was a Face Painter.

I use to Face Paint. Not the full face clown make-up. I specialized in cheek art. I drew unicorns, spiderman, puppies, you name it – I would draw it on your cheek. I had a booking agent who would slot me in great corporate venues, one for the highlight reel was The Edmonton Oilers Christmas Party. My booking agent also was an entertainer. He made/makes amazing balloon animals and hats. The big secret was, he was Santa Claus.

I would go to Christmas gigs, work for 2-4 hours, make obscene money, and come home. My children always asked who I saw. Every time I would say, Santa. He dressed liked the Coca Cola Santa, complete with the red coat to go OVER the red suit. Perfect! I would get phone calls from him to book my time, and my kids always ask who was on the phone, “Santa” I would reply. I would make arrangements for Santa to come to our home. He would always negotiate a plate of food and tin of homemade cookies. The food would be left in the box on the porch.

Santa would come and go every year. The same Santa, we have pictures to prove it. As the muppets grew older, they became more skeptical. One year we were at the Telus World of Science taking in the Christmas Lego exhibit when Chatterbox saw Santa. She knew there were fake Santas out there, but she maintained – just like my sister did years before – that SHE knew the REAL Santa. We walked up to Santa, and Santa KNEW my name. If there was a prouder moment in her life up until then, I was unaware of it. Let the bragging begin! Chatterbox’s mom KNEW the REAL Santa, so take THAT your stupid non believers. She had proof. Santa looked at my children, and thanked them for the art work they had made the previous year. It hung on his fridge and he described it back to them as proof. I had believers for a few more years because of that encounter. Thank you Santa.

Every now and then I get a phone call from Santa just to see how I am doing. When I hang up my kids say “who was on the phone?” I still answer “Santa”.

Shhhh be wery wery qwiet, it’s Secwet Santa time!

Roll on Christmas Break! I submitted my last assignment and can now kick back a relax. Say it with me, Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. What a relief! So that gives me 12 days to bake, shop, wrap and party Christmas style. I baked a bit yesterday and brought some into work to share with my team. It has been a very long time since I was stress free enough to think about baking and actually enjoy it!

I brought in shortbread, placed it on the table and invited the team  to indulge. A gal at work picks up a cookie and says very wide eyed “but they aren’t burnt!” Um no, I wouldn’t have shared those ones.

12 days until Christmas. I need to mark in a way that it will be memorable! I could buy geese a laying or Lords a Leaping, but how do you pack those away after Christmas? Storage has become a big issue for me.

I think I will try to make an effort to participate in “something” Christmasy every day until Christmas Eve, but I need help to come up with something everyday!

1. Bring in Shortbread to share

2. Go to an Oilers Hockey Game ( It’s Christmasy, Seasons Greeting is written on the ice!)

Okay, that’s two things on my list. CLEARLY I need a nap. I need to refresh or reboot or something.

Or maybe I will participate in Random Acts of Christmas. I think I might end up being a secret Santa. I could pick on someone unsuspecting, someone who doesn’t read this blog (I know what you are thinking, who doesn’t read this blog? Thanks for the ego boost!) I will have to do it in a way they won’t suspect me. I may need to be a secret Santa to myself so they won’t be too suspicious. I can do it, I am sneaky enough – right mom?

Years ago I participated in a Secret Santa event at my first real job. Real because it was in my chosen profession. Now THAT was a fun Christmas! I pick a name of a gal I didn’t know. She was new to the place. The plan was to give a gift or special treat every day without her suspecting it was from me. I tried to be incredibly creative! I bought pencils with her name on it, I made treats and wrapped them in unusual boxes, I gave her a pez, some chocolate, a hot wheel of her dream car, I made her a tape with great and unusual Christmas songs, and I hid these items all over the office. She had to read clues to figure out where these things were. I stuffed notes in balloons and attached a thumb tack on a string. I wrote messages in mirror image. This was WAY more fun for me I’m sure, then it was for her. She told me it went a long way to making her feel welcome at this new place. Thinking about her gave me an idea.

As you all know I embarked on a new adventure this fall. Not only did I go back to University, but I accepted the challenge of working with a new team. For those who know me and those who don’t, I can be a little lot bossy. I am working with new team members who don’t read this blog. I hope to ease them in and show them I can be kind too – not just bossy! So I am going to confess right now to being the Secret Santa. (Trophi Girl and Chicken Hawk YOU MUST KEEP QUIET! No spilling the secret and there may be a little something in it for you if your good!)

I have it all planned out! I went to Dollarama and purchase stupid stuff and tiny gift bags. I am making tags with their names on it and hiding one everyday in a place where I know they will look at some point. I am so excited about doing this I needed to share so I wouldn’t burst! Of course I will receive a gift every day too, so no one will suspect me either. Hee Hee Hee I CAN’T WAIT!

We Aren’t Lost! We Just Don’t Know Where We Are Going!

Today was one of those days where “out to lunch” had several meanings. We eventually went out to lunch for a well deserved break. My colleague drove with me on the way to the restaurant. She mentioned to me that traveling outside of Canada had never happened for her, but it was something she was eager to do. That got me thinking about how fortunate I really am. I have been all over the world, seen amazing things and had unbelievable experiences. One of those experiences was looking for a campsite in Europe with our trusty GPS Phoebe. This was one of those times where “Wild Goose Chase” would have been more productive than the tour she took the Muppets on.

We had left the Black Forest and planned to stay one more night in Germany exploring the area around the French Border. Phoebe, in her Infinite limited wisdom, led us to a campsite that had just closed for the season. Fair enough, we were travelling during “off-season” but this was the first time we had encountered a closed campsite. We punched in new coordinates and off we went again in search of a camp spot for the evening. She led us down a country road, that turned into a village, that turned into a town, that stopped in someones driveway. Clearly this was not a campsite. Okay Muppets, fear not! We shall just try again! Entered in new coordinates and off we went again! Around the corner, up the hill, past a sports field and into…a closed for the season campsite! Swell. Again, we repeated new coordinates, and we were off! This time we just kept driving until the road stopped. Just like Phoebe told us too. No road left, just a ferry. A Ferry?!?! Knowing if we crossed the river we would be out of Germany. We had no choice, the Muppets were getting hungry, it was getting late, we needed to find a place for the night. None of us were too keen on parking on the side of the road for the night, we were willing to do it if we had too but, out first choice was a camp spot. Onward we traveled. Drove onto the Ferry deck, stayed inside and across the river we sailed.

Before we knew it, we were in France. The architecture was still very similar to Germany, but now the signs were new. Being Canadian, we are exposed more frequently to French then German, not that our merry band of Muppets could understand it any better, it did look familiar. Phoebe seemed to know where she was taking us, so we let her lead. Up another road she took us. There it was. ANOTHER CLOSED CAMP SITE! That was the last straw. My mother, hopped out of the front seat, grabbed a PAPER map and started looking. Then she realized where she was.

A month earlier, the two Lead Muppets and Mrs. Statler had arrived in Frankfurt, Germany. They drove to Obernai France and camped for the night. Mom knew where she was and saved the day! She led us to the very same camp spot they stayed earlier in the trip. Best news of all, it was OPEN!

Dinner time! We had FINALLY eaten the last of the Schnitzel for lunch and decided we needed a change. Franks and beans it was. just so you know, my mother is one of the best cooks you would ever have the good fortune to meet. Franks and beans is NOT her usual fair, but it was dark, Muppets were hungry and we were thrilled it wasn’t Schnitzel. Over dinner the Lead Muppets shared stories of their last visit to Obernai, claiming the younger Muppets would love the charm just as much as the previous villages we had visited. We then discovered, the next day was market day in Obernai! We had yet to visit a market. Everyone settled down for sleep that night, tingling with anticipation of visiting the market. The Caravan was buzzing with excitement. Come to think of it, the excitement may have been due to the fact it was the last night in the Caravan for the Muppets. The following night would be spent in a hotel, in a bed that was the correct length for Honey and myself, AND there would be a shower in our room and not down the block to be shared with 100’s of fellow campers! Either was, we were excited about what the next day would bring. We were not disappointed!

We found parking and walked through yet more donkey cart sized streets. The vendors were just setting up for the day. We had expected a dozen or so stalls filled with farm grown food. That was indeed there. But there was everything you could possible imagine! Mushrooms to Mattresses, Vegetables to Violets, Brand name clothes to Beniets, anything you could think of, it was available! There wasn’t just one street filled with market stalls, there were several streets, people filled the square and lined the street looking at things to purchase. The Church bells sounded to signal the start of the market and people filled the streets.

Once again we had stumbled upon the most amazing adventure. Purely by accident. Thanks for not being so helpful Phoebe, and thanks for being in complete control mom!