Saturday, May 19, 2007

Winnipeg, in breif

I was hoping to be able to do a big long, reflective post about my trip to Winnipeg. However, my children have chosen to become monsters, and I'm in the midst of quilt fever (when I can almost taste that the quilt is coming to an end, but still actually have about 6 or 8 hrs of work left and become a quilting fiend). So here's the short version:

Friday night I left my town and headed for Yorkton after youth group. All went well. The boys slept, I did not, and we got to Yorkton around 2:30 am and checked into a hotel.

Saturday we woke up and watched some tv while mom tried to rest for a while longer (like, until 7:30). Then we went to Smitty's for breakfast and were on the road by 9am. 7 diapers, 9 pairs of pants and 8 hours later we arrived in Winnipeg with only 2 crying jags. Andrew refused to read or play with any toys because he was determined that we were going to Winnipeg, and I guess he thought this should take his full concentration for the day. Aaron was exhausted after being up until 11 the night before, and slept or played quietly for 6 hours. Then, right around portage, he woke up and stated fussing. Ironically, we had to stop in Portage at the Days Inn 5 min. from my sister's house, where we were going later in the week. After that we got the rest of the way to Winnipeg. Kym and Jeff's house was welcoming, warm and lovely as ever, and they were very gracious about Andrew's 30 min. crying jag upon our arrival (he had finally fallen asleep just around when Aaron woke up), followed by supper and putting the kids to bed and having the initial "Wow, Kym, you're a mom. Tell me about that" conversation, which took until about 1:30 am.

Sunday morning, after lenghthy preparations and a thwarted attempt to walk, we drove the 10 or so blocks to Kym and Jeff's inner city community church. It was Baptist, and so both familliar and newly strange to me. We got through the service and I actually got to sing 2 songs before chaos broke loose, which I guess is about normal. Sunday afternoon I went to visit my brother Derrick and his wife Deb and three teenage sons. We had a great visit, and it was fun to see my nefews growing older. Also, because I"m a bit of an oddball, it is always good to see other members of my family and realize that there are other people out there like me. Andrew was very excited to see Marc's toys (Marc is 12 now, but still has lots of soldiers, little cars, etc), and Aaron was happy to be licked and mauled by Chipper, their dog. It was a great visit, the highlight of which was, unfortunately, when I started laughing while drinking and spewed lemonade everywhere. Classy, Jill. Then Kym and I had a great visit again that evening after all the babies were alseep.

Monday we had been planning to go to the zoo, but it was raining and miserable, so we were going to go to the mall. Instead, Kym remembered there was a children's museum in town and we headed out to the Forks (the best place in the world) and checked it out. There was a big, old engine and coach from a turn of the century train, and a construction section that kept Andrew occupied for two or three hours. He was dissapointed that the train didn't have a steering wheel (which makes sense, since there isn't really any steering to do when you are driving down tracks) but instead there were a ton of little buttons, switches and levers which were a bit over his head yet. The construction section, on the other hand, had the seat and levers from an excavator, which was attatched to a small arm and bucket in a glass case full of little beads. Andrew loved it, and meanwhile Aaron rode in the sling and looked around and Sam (Kym's son) had a nap. We tried their story time, but the woman who was telling the story had a really strong Spanish accent, and Andrew was the only kid there, so it didn't work very well. By the time we were done there, the sun was out, so we went for a walk and checked out this great toy store and also a fare trade shop at the forks. We did lots of what I like to call "parenting in public" -- diaper changes, breastfeeding, snacking, stopping to play and let babies kick on the ground -- in the middle of stores, museums, malls, fields and picnic sites. That night Kym almost burnt down her house but I heroically rescued her with only a wine glass and Kleenex box as casualties of the incident.

Tuesday morning Andrew and Aaron and I went for a wander through Kym's downtown neighbourhood to the park. The coolest thing was that I was carrying Aaron in the sling, and on my way back from the park, there were 3 aboriginal people sitting on a bench. One older man started yelling a word at me, and I just kind of looked at him but didn't know what to say. Then he called out "You carry baby -- in my language, a ______" and repeated the word. He was excited to see someone, especially a white woman, carrying her baby. It was cool. In the afternoon we went to see the Winnipeg zoo. Andrew was not very impressed with most of the animals, but he was very taken with the plastic carts I wasn't willing to spend $4 to let him ride (since I had a stroller and two baby carriers with me). Everyone told me he would LOVE the monkey house, but he spent our whole time there playing with the wheels on my stroller. Aaron loved the monkeys, and they loved him. Andrew was interested in the camels and liked seeing Zebras, but I guess he's just not much of an animal person. That night Jeff's friend Chris came over and Andrew was initially scared of him, but since he has a 3 yr old daughter he knew how to warm Andrew up. By the end of the night Andrew was out playing in the back yard with Jeff and Chris and crying that he had to come in. Kym and I both crashed that night after our marathon of public parenting and late night visits, but we had a great time.

The next morning I left for Portage la Prarie and visited my sister Donna and her very extended family (Donna has 5 of her 6 children living at home, plus 4 or 5 foster kids, one former foster kid and an old man who didn't have a place to stay and now pays room and board to them, plus 8 cats, 6 dogs and an auto mechanics shop plus Don and Beck who dropped by to visit). It was great to see them all and find out what they were doing, although my visit was kind of cut short by my hellish attempt to put Andrew and Aaron to sleep. Aaron's tummy was not happy because I had eaten (duh) coleslaw with horseradish in it, and Andrew was wired because he was in a new place. It was about an hour and a half ordeal full of 5 diaper changes, lots of manic 2 year old laughter and baby screams and mommy yells. By the time I got back Lost was on, and the next morning Andrew was fully ready to go home, so that was the end of our visit. It was fun to watch Andrew play with Don and Mel's toys from when they were his age (some 20 years ago) and to watch him run around with the kittens. As usual, he couldn't just pat the kittens and play string games with them like a normal child. No, instead he ran around with them saying "We're three kitties playing, we're three kitties playing.". It was very cute and let me visit with Donna, which was nice.

Thursday we made the epic trip home. I was going to eat breakfast at Donna's and then stop at the grocery store before we got on the road, but Andrew was done with strange places, so we got in the car and stopped at Tim Hortons and got on the road. It took us a full 13 hours to drive the 650 kms home. We stopped in almost every little town along the way and encountered a great organic bakery in Neepawa, a log cabin style resteraunt where the waitress confided in me that she was 3 weeks pregnant, a gas station where the power had gone out and I had to breastfeed Aaron and put Andrew on the potty in the back corner of their convenience store because there were not lights in the bathroom and the wind would have blown us all over (thus the power outage), and eccentric giant swing made out of tractor equiptment, a very small town gas station with only one pump, and a bus load full of people who got to watch Andrew go potty as they got off the bus (I didnt' realize we were parked right in front of the back lane where the Greyhound stopped). It was a very long, but generally good trip home. We were all extremely glad to be home in our own bed and to see our dad again. Whew. It was a good, but very full and tiring week.

I realzied that as long as you are willing to unabashedly parent in public and it is nice outside, you can do almost anything with your children. And I was glad to get in touch with people from my past, who know me as someone other than "the minister's wife" or "Andrew's mom", and who I could really talk to about things because of that. And it was great to catch up with all my dear friends and family in Winnipeg and introduce them to my new son.


Kristen said...

Come to New Brunswick, you can be just Jill here too!

Anna Michelle Irish said...

And we thought travelling with an old dog with a weak bladder and anxiety issues was a challenge!

Jilly said...

I'd love to, Kris. But it would take me almost a month just to drive there and back with Andrew and Aaron.