Archive for the ‘cars’ Category

Ontario Place: Racing Cars and Hanging Out

At the end of summer we were invited to the Fisher Price Fall Toy Preview event at Ontario Place. After a busy morning of playing with toys, my 3 and 6-year old were invited to spend some time having fun at Ontario Place.

My 3-year old loves her older brother. No matter what he does, she has to follow. Walking around Ontario Place they were up on benches, along curbs, zig-zagging around trees.

On of our first stops had to be the Power Wheels race track. My son loves these though he’s getting pretty close to being too big to ride them. I remember the first time he drove around the track, he would stop in the middle of the track to checkout the engine, adjust the radio, he even offered to give someone a ride who was stuck. I was surprised my 3-year old picked it up right away. She was around the track a few times without incident. She loved the fact that she was in a pink Barbie car too.

The kids moved from one car ride to the next. This one required no steering but it went pretty fast, forwards and backwards. They loved it. And since this ride is down a hill (not that visible) there weren’t that many people waiting to ride so they went on two more times.

If my 8-year old had been with us, she would have made a bee-line to the Frogger ride (where you hop up and down). My son has always been too short but this time he was just right and eager to ride.

I wish I had video of his ride. When the ride went up he was so excited but when it made it’s first drop he screamed. Not one of those ‘whee this is fun’ type of screams. His scream was more like ‘oh my god what have I gotten myself into’. After a few more drops he was fine but continued screaming.

Before we ended our day we took a ride together in the ferris wheel. The kids were busy saying hi to all the other riders who passed us in their ferris wheel cars. It was great seeing all around the park and out to the water.

After this the rain started. We were soaked by the time we got to the van but both kids thought it was worth it. Thanks to the folks at GCI Canada and Fisher Price for a fun filled day.

Parallel Parking and Other Inadequacies

It’s kind of funny. I switched my kids to the closer school so we could walk and not rely on my car so much. Yet this whole new year we’ve walked maybe two times. And somehow because we’re driving I always end up leaving to get to the school much too late. My perception of how fast I can drive to the school yard is a little off. This means I will be jockeying for a good drop-off positions with all the other miscalculating parents.

As we drive my oldest daughter will yell out ‘There’s a spot. Pull in there.’ I make a glance but quickly assess that there’s not way I could drive into that spot and fit. I drive on only to catch a larger vehicle in my rear view mirror expertly negotiating its way into my missed parking opportunity. I can’t parallel park. I did it for my driving test eons ago and I don’t think I’ve done it since. And now it’s been so long that I’m worried about even trying it. I would be one of those drivers backing up, pulling out, backing up, pulling out. Yes, I would be popular in the school drop-off zone.

I’m always amazed at people who easily wedge their vehicles between cars, in the middle of traffic. The road could be clear but as soon as my reverse lights go on, ten cars would be lined up trying to get down the street. Who needs that kinds of pressure. So we usually end up parking way up the street and walking back. I’m sure my daughter wishes I could parallel park, even if she doesn’t know the term.

Parallel parking is just one of many tasks I am woefully inadequate at. Cooking is another. I love food, I love really good food and I sometimes fantasize about adding a pinch of this and a dash of that when making dinner. I have an extensive cookbook library; I’m a sucker for all those delicious photos. I’m also one of those people who has to follow the recipe to the letter, without deviation. I like the idea of being creative with food, knowing what spices go well together, but it never works out. Sometimes even following the recipe ends in disaster.

Languages is another area I wish I had a nac for. I took French in high school and living in a bilingual city I did try to improve upon it. When I visited a friend in Germany at the end of high school, I promptly came home and enrolled in a German for Beginners class. I lasted two classes. I just wasn’t at the same level as the other beginners (and as an aside, I hate people who are obviously skilled at something but take a beginner class so they can perform well in it. Kind of sucks for the actual beginners who get lost in the class.) So needless to say I dropped that after the second class. I was finished with all the insecurities of high school, why was I paying someone to relive that feeling?

Don’t take this post the wrong way, I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I know there are many areas that I excel at and I relish those skills. But sometimes I can’t help but wish that with all the effort I put into something I would actually get a decent return. Maybe one day I’ll be a better cook, I keep trying, though I doubt I will ever master parallel parking or another language (I speak English fluently). But you know what, I’m okay with that, I think. I’m sure there’s something you wish you could do?

A therapeutic outlet

So with my daughter’s birthday happening this last weekend, I’ve fallen behind on a lot of my writing, including my Writer’s Digest entries for the Poem-A-Day competition I’ve been participating in. Well yesterday’s prompt was to write an angry poem. At first I thought this would be difficult. Not because I don’t get angry, but usually by the time I sit to write about being angry, the moment has passed.

But as I read through some of the other poem’s people submitted I was reminded of an incident that occurred to me this weekend when I was out. I was turning at an intersection, the street was clear. I was halfway through the crosswalk when a pedestrian decided to cross, at an angle, outside of the crosswalk, but in front of me. He was so annoyed with that he kicked the back of my van and put a crack in my tail light. I was furious, but I had the three kids with me so what could I do. I’ve been trying hard to behave myself when driving with the kids and this can be hard on some days.

I’ve been both inside the car and outside and I’ve encountered many pedestrians that seem to think they’re above everyone else around them. And it drives me nuts. So now I had something to write about. And actually writing about it was kind of therapeutic (sort of).

Pedestrian ass

 

You walk four or five abreast

letting no one get by.

 

You cross in the middle of the road

causing cars to swerve.

 

You plow your way through

knocking people without apology.

 

You wade out looking for your bus

stopping vehicles from turning.

 

You are ignorant of anyone around you.

You’re an ass.

GPS-ing to grandma’s house

I’ve been driving the van for about a week now and I think I’m starting to like it. I could say it doesn’t drive as nice as the JEEP, but maybe just saying it drives different will sufice. It just takes getting use to. Where the van can’t be beat is in the storage and accessibility, especially with kids.

So yesterday was the real test. Since we’re in march break, I decided to take the kids up to visit their grandma, about three hours north of the big city. This is the longest drive yet on the van. And it’s on a long drive where those many gadgets come in handy.

The backseat entertainment system stopped any unnecessary ‘are we there yet‘. We have all the kids movies loaded on an iPod which makes using the entertainment system even easier, just a push of a button and no need to fumble through the DVD travel case to find a movie.

 The cruise control, once I figured out with a little trial and error enroute, made for a smoother drive. I never understand people who don’t use their cruise control when doing highway driving. You’re body will thank you for it, as will your gas tank.

These are two of my favourite features and I would really miss them on the drive. But I have to say my ‘can’t-live-without-it’ feature would have to be my GPS. 

The GPS is great for multi-taskers like me. I just enter my destination, push a button and presto, up pops turn-by-turn directions. And since I don’t have to concentrate so much on where I’m going, where the next turn is, I can think of other things. On this drive up to grandmas I was able to think about the story I’m working on and where I could improve it. Sometimes I would listen to the movie the kids were watching, listening to the dialog and words used.

And if I happen to miss a direction, no problem, the system updates almost instantly with a revised route. I love my GPS. I think I would be lost without it, literally.

Gizmos and gadgets

van-nightRemember when cars were just vehicles that got you from A to B? I don’t either, but I’m sure there was a time. It’s hard to imagine that now with all the added features in a new car now. I know the features are for added convenience, but learning them is worse than taking an electronics course. (note: I haven’t actually taken an electronics course before, but I’m only guessing it’s hard).

Yesterday we picked up our new van. We left right after school with the sun still up and returned home in the dark, past the kids bedtime, past my bedtime.

So leaving right after school did put us in the rush hour window and we did have to drive through downtown out to the east end so that took some time. But most of the time was going through the new convenience features and setting them up so there were, well, convenient.

There was the driver position set-up, adding our address into the navigation system unless we wanted to move into the Sales Manager’s home, getting the DVD player running to distract the kids, disabling the back-up camera that was more annoying then helpful, pairing my phone via bluetooth which took multiple attempts before it took, doors, windows, air, seat heaters…I felt like I was cramming for an exam. All this information was going into my head and falling out theother side. At some point I tuned out everything and just nodded knowing that I’d just find the information quicker in the manual when I needed it.

Satisfied that we know all the basics, we head out in the dark for the (long) drive home. The kids sat quietly enjoying a movie. I started to flip through the manual: Cruise control, how do you set that? Now, how do you take that off? Where’s the emergency break? How do you adjust the brightness of the interior lighting when you’re driving? How do you turn the interior reading light on so I can read the manual?

I guess my homework for the weekend will be going through the manual so I can pass my convience van exam in the school yard on Monday.

Maybe it’s a sign that I’m growing up

So today is the day. Today I give up my cool JEEP Commander in exchange for, gulp, a mommy minivan. Phew, there, it’s out in the open. I never thought I’d here myself say that. I know I’ve tried for the longest time to avoid it. Minivans have such a negative stereotype. They’re just so uncool. They’re certainly not the best looking vehicles inside or out. But convenience has spoken.

Although I like my JEEP, I like how it looks and drives and some of the features inside, it really isn’t a practical car. Especially with three small  kids who will be in car seats for the next 2 to 6 years. When we visited the Auto-Show, I tried to keep an open mind, but really I was seeing if an automaker had a cool multi-passenger vehicle that would meet my needs. Anything BUT a van. I looked at wagons, SUVs and even pick-up trucks, but I had to admit to myself that only the dreaded minivan was really designed for the kids.

A few weeks have passed since I came to that decision. I think now, the day I am to pick up my new family transporter, I’ve finally come to terms with my decision. I think I might even be looking forward to the van just a little. Maybe it’s a sign that I’m growing up. A sign that I’m not so worried so much about what others around me might think, but instead of what is going to work best for my family. Scary 🙂