My Worst Car

Growing up, our family of six always had two cars – one big enough to for the entire crew all at once, and the second, a smaller one (typically a hatchback) to supplement our transportation needs.

It looked just like this except with a big white stripe down the middle.
It looked just like this except with a big white stripe down the middle.

The first cars I remember were the wood-panelled station wagon with vinyl seats and optional seat belts, and one of several “second” cars, an orange and white Mercury Capri. Both cars were AWESOME. The Capri resembled the “General Lee” a bit, and you honked the horn by pressing the handle of the turn signal. What kind of engineering magic was that?! Forget getting my license, I just wanted to honk that horn.

Sadly, the Capri gave up the ghost before I was able to drive. But it was replaced by an even better hatchback: a Chrysler Turismo. And guys, it was gold. Gold. GOLD. It was painted gold with matching beige interior. That little gem was a demo car for the dealership our cousin worked at so we got this fully-loaded two door for a great deal.

I got this off wikipedia, but it could be ours, there's a limited market for gold hatchback.
I got this off wikipedia, but it could be ours, there’s a limited market for gold hatchbacks.

When I say “fully-loaded” I mean it. This 1985 Turismo came with the following features:

– AM/FM radio with tapedeck

– Swivel light for map reading (or lipgloss application, whichever need arose)

– Air conditioning

– Hydraulic action hatch

This beauty even had a hidden perk that I did not discover until I drove it myself: in a small town, a gold hatchback really stands out. My parents did not need GPS to know where I’d been or what I’d been up to  – I was my own one-car parade. I drove around and people waved even before they saw who was behind the wheel, because it was A GOLD TURISMO. I may as well have been driving the Pope-mobile for all the camouflage that car provided.

Although we treated old Goldie with respect and care, it did not take long for things to start going wonky. And my parents, being financially responsible and never having to drive that car, decided it was best to avoid most repairs and just live with it.

First to go was the driver’s seat tilt option. If you were foolish enough to adjust that from the leisurely position my too-tall brother had set it at, your loss. It took a lot of prayer and tears to get it to stay in the upright position again. I spent many hours sitting up perfectly straight and clutching the steering wheel for leverage.

Next we lost the eject function on the tape deck. But it turns out I was a bit of a MacGyver – all we had to do was press eject and yank the cassette out with a pair of tweezers that became a permanent fixture in the ash tray. (Do not attempt that manoeuvre in a moving vehicle).

The air conditioning went next. And since “you only drive it in hot weather for really a few weeks, we aren’t going to spend the money to fix it”, we learned to live without it. A decision I support now as a parent of four on a budget, but COME ON – it was so hot.

Apparently the Turismo didn’t like the AC decision either and started to really act out. The clutch had always been a bit finicky, but now it took things to a whole new level. If you adjusted it one way, it would stall at every intersection or slow-down. If adjusted the other, it would run on after you turned off the ignition (hard to roll into the driveway or school parking lot incognito when followed by ca-klunk, ca-klunk). We opted to go with the “stall” option and learned to pop it into neutral regularly, earning Goldie the title of “Automatic Car that wants to be a Standard”.

This temperamental car didn’t stop there, though. Next it went on to overheat – the vehicular equivalent of holding one’s breath. Any time it was in stop-and-go traffic the engine temp would rise at an alarming rate. This was both scary and embarrassing. BUT WAIT – we figured out how to deal with that, too. All you had to do was crank the heat at maximum power to offset the heat from the engine. And good news, it only overheated in the summer so you were already dressed for the temps and had the windows down anyways (remember, no AC).

The hatchback feature was perhaps the most amazing part of this car. If you folded down the back seat you could move the contents of your entire university bedroom in one trip. The demon that possessed the Turismo decided to thwart that, too and within a few years, the hydraulic doo-dad that held the hatch open stopped working. BUT WAIT. We dealt with that, too – it was nothing a hockey stick couldn’t fix.

The university years were hard on our relationship, but we wouldn’t give up on old Goldie. The passenger side door no longer opened from the outside, so the driver would get in, then lean across to open it for the others. That was fine except for my sister with whom I shared the Turismo  insisted on locking that door anyways. So that meant one lunge across to open, realize it was locked, lunge across to unlock, and a third to open the door. We did not agree on this method. Also, no one would want to steal that car.

Once winter hit, the fun really began – all the quirks of the Turismo came together. The doors froze shut so the only way to get inside was through the hatch, but remember, it wouldn’t stay open without the hockey stick technique which was precarious at best. So you always had to travel with a buddy who could hold the hatch open for you and then pull on the outside handle of the door while you body checked it from inside. Thankfully, living in student housing, there was always someone around willing to help out for a free ride to campus.

Winter was also the Turismo’s time to shine. Perhaps it was the overheating engine, or the over-running clutch, but that car would start in the coldest of weather. The Polar Vortex would have been no match for Goldie.

The attempted sabotage this car tried to inflict on me only managed to give me wizard status. As the car aged, it became more finicky and eventually only two people on the entire planet were able to get it to start and stay running. I wore that title with more pride that I probably should have.

Eventually the Turismo’s time here on earth came to an end. It was on a dark and slick highway one evening in March. The interior lights started to fade, the radio grew faint, and I barely managed to coast into a gas station to call the Clean Shaven boyfriend (who later became Bearded Husband) to come rescue me. We all had to agree that sinking any more money into Goldie was a fruitless endeavour. We had her towed to a wrecking yard and I think I received enough cash to cover the last tankful of gas I’d put in.

Oh, sweet Turismo. You never ceased to cause anxiety levels to rise. You always kept things interesting. I’ll never forget some of the phrases often spoken in that car:

It makes that smell all the time.

It’s okay, it’s when you don’t hear that noise that you need to worry.

We’ll make it, just give it a minute.

That noise is completely normal. 

Hold on tight.

Open your window, we just need to crank the heat for a few minutes, then it’ll be as good as new.

Hold the steering wheel, I want to change the tape.

 

Gone, but not forgotten. Gold Turismo, the worst car I ever had.

Miss you.

_________

Worst car experience? Could have been in the Turismo with me, it’s okay to share that, too.

 

 

 

 

It’s Not Colouring Without U

You colour with me, Mommy?

Sure, Little.

I get the Elmo colouring book. Sit at the table. No, in this chair.  I colour this page and you do it with me, okay?

You got it, bud.

I'll colour all the eyeballs. Not creepy at all.
I’ll colour all the eyeballs. Not creepy at all.

It’s okay you can’t reach the page, Mommy, just hold your arm really benty. Yes, just like that. But don’t stop colouring. (Big Bird needs to be half-complete by the end of this, just like every other page in this book.)

No, like this. LIKE THIS.
No, like this. LIKE THIS.

You use the pink. Axshly, you all done with pink. I use that. Here’s a blue one. Why are you stopping? Move your colourer like this. Kay, I do this page – you do the grass. Blue is fine. BLUE. IS. FINE.

 

I'm just going to fix this for you.
I’m just going to fix this for you.

Move over, but don’t leave. I do it. Why aren’t you colour? No, I do it myself. I do it myself. I DO IT MYSELF.

Dinner time, please put your colouring things away, Little.

I all done now. You do it, Mommy. 

 

Cautionary Tales

Don’t jump on the bed. Remember Aaron across the street who broke his arm doing that?

If you race up the front steps, you might puncture your knee just like Daddy did that time. We spent hours in Urgent Care that day. With a newborn.

Donkey-kicking your brother is a bad idea. Just ask Auntie – she broke her arm when she was flung across the basement when we were kids. I may or may not have been involved in that.

Sliding down the stairs on your belly will end badly. Did I ever tell you about the time Uncle Rob got carpet burn doing that?

Don’t ride your bike with your eyes closed. Just trust me on that – I have first hand experience.

Do I really need to remind you why you shouldn’t run around naked?

Chasing your brothers around the bedrooms – guys, I had to call our nurse neighbour last time you did that.

Go ahead and name a questionable activity and I can give you a real life cautionary tale outlining the dangers.

Care to lean really far on the kitchen table while standing on your chair? I recently witnessed a son scrape his belly doing that. I thought he had broken a rib or done some serious internal damage.

Feel like putting some coins in your mouth? My cousin once swallowed a dollar’s worth of quarters and had to go to the hospital.

Think it’s fun to stick your leg through the spindles on the stairwell? A kindergarten student once got her knee stuck in the bars at the playground. It took a whole team of us and a bottle of Palmolive to get her out.

Want to pour yourself a nice, tall glass of milk after a sleep over at your friend’s house? Sit back and let me tell you about Gary.

Gary* spent the night at his good friend, Kevin’s house. He woke up, and as any young kid does, he headed down to find himself some breakfast. Several members of Kevin’s family were gathered around the kitchen table enjoying a selection of cold cereal.

Milk in the bag = not recycled.
If only there was a way to make this milk stretch a bit further

Gary surveyed the options and made his choice (probably Corn Flakes, Gary wasn’t much of a risk-taker). He topped it off with a splash of milk and dug in. Partway through his most important meal of the day, Gary realized he was thirsty so he poured himself a refreshing glass of milk. He took a swig and thought, “Hmmm, tastes kind of sweet.” Ate some cereal, took another sip, “Yes,” he thought, “Their milk tastes like they put sugar in it.”

Being the polite young man that he was, Gary finished up his cereal without mentioning the sugar-infused milk. As he brought his bowl to the sink, Kevin asked him, “did you drink that whole glass of milk?”

As Gary turned to answer his former best friend, he saw the remaining family members pour the leftover milk from their cereal bowls into the glass pitcher on the table. The very same pitcher Gary had chugged from.

My son, never, ever, drink the sweet milk.

This is perfectly good milk. DON'T WASTE IT.
This is perfectly good milk. DON’T WASTE IT.

___________

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent and easily duped.

This post is dedicated to the real “Gary” and to frugal parents everywhere.

Your turn, best cost-saving idea you’ve got. Go.

Oreo in Review

Did you know that there are all kinds of Special Edition flavours of Oreos? And not just Double Stuff and Mint. There is a seemingly endless list of these limited engagement cookies.

Hold on there, friend. Before you pour yourself a tall glass of milk to go with these sandwiches of sweet tastiness, be warned:  there’s a catch. You can only get them in the US. Apparently, Nabisco wasn’t happy with how the War of 1812 ended and included some sort of no-sharing-Oreos clause in The Treaty of Ghent (I’m 95% certain that’s true).

But have no fear! I have American connections and have procured a small sampling of SPECIAL EDITION OREOS. And being the kind and generous mom that I am (okay, I couldn’t hide them before the boys saw the packages) our family has been enjoying them and rating them.

Now I present to you the Limited Selection of Special Edition Oreos, In Review. 

It's like a small disk of "dream come true"
It’s like a small disk of “dream come true”

Peanut Butter

I doubt you could pair chocolate with peanut butter and have it be anything other than delicious. Nabisco did not let us down. It was just the right blend of two of my favourite things. Bonus is that you cannot send them to school due to the nuts, so it means more for you to eat at home once the kids are in bed.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Cups of Coffee (that’s the Moyer Official Rating System).

Raspberry Fudge Cremes

"Oreos"

These almost didn’t make the cut since they are not the traditional “sandwich cookie” but since they say “Oreo” on the package, I loosened the entry requirements. They did sit on the shelf a little longer than usual as a bit of an Oreo-purist demonstration (I forgot they were there).

Wow. I got them out for the boys and almost immediately wished I hadn’t announced they were for everyone. So good. We snarfed down one row in record time and the second almost as quickly. In order to maintain my standing with the neighbour kids, I sent the remaining row along on a playdate. I have never regretted anything more. Curse you, generosity.

Rating: 4 1/2 Cups of Coffee

Cool Mint

Mint, with attitude. In Canada it's called "Mint, if that's okay with you"
Mint, with attitude. In Canada it’s called “Mint, if that’s okay with you”

Come on. The only thing that I might love more than chocolate and peanut butter is chocolate mint. These are the only specialty flavours that are occasionally available in Canada, but having the American version was still a special treat.

We didn’t get a chance to fully review these since my parents ate half the package before they delivered it. Something I can understand, but will not forget, Mom and Dad.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Cups of Coffee

Birthday Cake

HB, Jan. HB.
HB, Jan. HB.

I don’t know what kind of chemists or wizards Mr. Christie employs, but these really do taste like birthday cake. Bonus points are applied since I received these tasty goodies as part of a birthday gift.

The *kid appeal for this edition is high. So high, there was no way my little darlings were going to forget we had some in the closet, so I was forced thrilled to share.

Bravo, Nabisco, bra – vo.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Cups of Coffee

Cookie Dough

Worth exercising for
Worth exercising for

Oh, man did this flavour deliver. I first learned of this new edition on Twitter and knew we had to try it. Hands down, this is the favourite. There was just a hint of mocha which reminded me of the Dutch spritz cookies we used to eat with Sunday morning coffee growing up. Delicious. Once this package was opened, all other special selections were second-class cookies

Rating: 5 out of 5 Cups of Coffee

Honourable Mentions

Berry Burst Ice Cream: an acceptable alternative if Cookie Dough is sold out.

Triple Double: yummy, but tough to justify eating more than 2 or 7 of these since they are pretty big.

Unrated Flavours

I have not eaten these editions, but that won’t stop me from reviewing them.

Lemon: No.

Watermelon: Why? WHY?

Gingerbread: Please don’t.

Candy Corn: Offer these to guests who have overstayed their welcome. 

*Investment opportunity: I’d like to develop a camouflage sleeve with pictures of lentils on it to slip right over any package of Oreos you don’t want to share. Just email me your credit card info and we’ll get this started.

———

Which flavour would you like to see Mr. Christie try next?

 

My Five Rules for Beach Day

There’s a tradition in many Canadian schools to have Spirit Days. One particular favourite is Beach Day which typically occurs immediately before March Break. The logic is that Canadian winters are long and dreary and the best way to snap out of a “lots of snow, but not enough to cancel school” funk is to dress up in your beach attire and pretend not to notice that your eyes are frozen open.

Guys, I’m part of the group that decided to do this. Again.

How do I forget every time that I really don’t like Beach Day?

Oh, sure, Spirit Days are great and even better when the staff participates. The smiles and cute comments from the students are always fun. I love dressing up for Halloween or a good old Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest. These days build a sense of community and it’s worth being silly to accomplish that.

But Beach Day. What were we thinking?

Let’s have a theme day that accentuates our pale, pasty skin and lack of muscle tone from weeks of being indoors. I’m in!

And so, I present to you, My Five Rules for Beach Day.

1. Moisturize. And preferably not just the night before.

2. Commit. Did the nail polish you started to paint minutes before leaving for school turn clumpy and hard to apply? Oh, well. You’re slapping that varnish on all ten of your little piggies because the only thing more noticeable than clumpy nail polish is having only one toe painted.

How can your toes look anything but amazing in "Gloppy Magenta"?
How can your toes look anything but fabulous in “Gloppy Magenta”?

3. Layer. It’s winter in Canada. Even if the heat is turned up, it’s going to be cold. And socks will help cover up your botched pedicure.

The socks really tie the whole outfit together
The socks really tie the whole outfit together

4. Layer. No, for real. You better be dressed for the weather. It’s only summer in your imagination.

Not everyone can pull off shorts and winter boots.
Not everyone can pull off shorts and winter boots.

5. Hydrate. Pretending to be at the beach can be hard work. Trying to appear that you’re confident wearing clothes that may or may not feel snug due to your winter consumption of M&Ms and chips (we all need a little extra insulation) can really bring on a thirst.

Bearded Husband thoughtfully dropped this off, making it extra refreshing
Bearded Husband thoughtfully dropped this off, making it extra refreshing

*Special thanks for the guest appearance by Amanda, modelling the always popular Socks with Sandals.

__________________

Theme Days: Love them or hate them? Would you wear your beach attire or pretend you “forgot”?

Stamppot Survivor

The signs were all there: the large stock pot was on the stove, my mom was busy peeling potatoes, and I could see the chopped onions ready to take the plunge into the soon-to-be-boiling water. I spied some carrots still in the bag and I knew they would be joining the onions all in good time. And yes, there was the head of cabbage, too.

Without a doubt, it was happening.

Mom was making Stamppot.

This Dutch *mainstay has many variations, some involving kale, others include bacon, some both. But all versions rely on boiling root vegetables together and mashing them up beyond recognition.

Use a really big pot so you have enough to make EVERYONE cry
Use a really big pot so you have enough to make EVERYONE cry

This was the worst possible dinnertime scenario I could conceive. Stamppot. Why, Mom? Why? I already apologized for the Tupperware Avalanche and the toenails behind the couch.

There was no escaping the smell of Stamppot cooking. That odour of onions with just a hint of smelly socks was a constant reminder of my dinnertime fate. It was too late to feign an illness or get an invitation to dine at my friend’s house. That meal was coming and I had nowhere to hide.

Once I realized the inevitability of me consuming this “meal”, I quickly went through the five stages of Stamppot eating:

1. Denial: Noooooooooooooooo.

2. Anger: Why? Why? WHY? WHO ASKED HER TO MAKE THIS ABOMINATION?

3. Bargaining: I’ll never complain about another meal if you will just let me have Cup-a-Soup tonight.

4. More Bargaining: Just name your price, woman – it’s yours.

5. Acceptance: Fine. I’ll eat it. But it’s not going to be pretty.

Stamppot is often served with sausage. My mom would claim it was to “balance out the meal” but I knew it was really to bribe savvy children into eating it. Nice try, Mom. No amount of salty meat deliciousness could convince this kid that Stamppot is edible.

Reduce your family's cholesterol, if not their tears
Reduce your family’s cholesterol, if not their tears

I had to develop some strategies to get through a Stamppot meal. First, I would ask for the smallest portion possible, often trying to serve myself. Then I would casually move the mash around my plate, giving the illusion of consumption. Next, I would plead at my brother with my eyes to please, please eat some of mine.

Let’s talk about my brother for a moment. I don’t know what happened to him as a young child, but he ate Stamppot with gusto. He would pile it on the platter, not a dinner plate, the platter, then top it with a sausage link, stick his elbows out and proceed to shovel it into his mouth. There would be no polite conversation with him when Stamppot was served. I’m quite certain one of us was switched at birth.

After much threatening and cajoling by my mom, I would finally take a bite. Well, that wasn’t too bad, got myself a nice forkful of potato. Then a bratwurst chaser. A second bite followed – okay, I can handle this. This pattern continued for a few more bites. And then – I just bit into some cabbage! Take this away! Stamppot was my first experience with a “Bait and Switch” scenario. It’s like internet dating on a plate.

I admit that I was a picky eater as a child, and for that I apologize profusely to my mom. But can we all please just end the conspiracy? Let’s have no future generations go through any unnecessary mealtime suffering. 

Just say “no” to Stamppot.

*Stamppot has been described by some reliable sources as “punishment in a pan” and tasting like “anger”. There are others who claim it is “delicious” and “the best”, but they are liars.

Moyerangelo

Welcome to the Sneak Peek of my upcoming Art Extravaganza! You might be surprised to learn I am just four years old, but talent and inspiration can strike at any age.

Currently, this exhibit is housed in my bedroom. I like to think of it as a constant work-in-progress since my roommate has very little impulse control.

This piece speaks to my love of gum. When I was young and reckless, I occasionally left my chewed gum on the carpet. Mmmm….gum.

Tribute to Gum
My Gum, My Love

This next display was a random inspiration I had when Mommy called up that it was time for breakfast. I tossed those sticker frames down and when I returned, I was just as smitten as you are.

The lines, the use of space. Inspired, I know.
The lines, the use of space. Inspired, I know.

It’s funny, when I began this particular piece, I was going to go with one or two sheets, but once I got started I realized more is always better. See how the creepy wooden bear accentuates the pumpkins? And I love how the multi-colured squirrel plays off the green in the monsters.

Haunted Monster Mash Up
Go Ahead, Choose One, But Not THAT One

I feel it’s important to encourage the artistic drive in others, so I let my little brother try his hand. I really like how he played up the different textures here: carpet, bed skirt, paper. He might be ready for his own exhibition soon, that little Picaso.

Sticker Carpet Study
Sticker Carpet Study

Here I tried a little something with metal and wood. I like the contrast of the black sticker against the white canvas of the closet door.

Closet Door: Gateway to Diapers
Closet Door: Gateway to Diapers

A different approach with furniture as my framework. Not as bold as the white, but the warmer look works, too, don’t you think?

Top Drawer
Top Drawer

Now this one I am particularly proud of. I tried my hand at something more whimsical here just for Mommy. “Oh, no, another diaper change – wait! What’s this? A darling sticker from my favourite son.” (I just know that’s what she’ll say).

Diaper Surprise
Diaper Surprise

This final selection has me stumped. I’m not sure which look to use. The first is the safe, classical approach.

Retro Sippy Cup
The Cup

This one is just a little edgier with the dirt clod in the background. Maybe it makes my work more accessible?

Retro Sippy Cup Slumming It
The Cup Rebellion

Please cast your vote to help me decide. Any art forms you’d like to see in my next exhibit? I’m very strong with glitter glue as well and I’m not afraid to delve into papier mache.