On Friday night, Hope had a friend come over for a sleepover…as kids do, Hope stood gazing into the freezer, looking for “something to eat” as every child does. “Are those waffles?” she asked. Vaguely remembering buying waffles a couple of months ago, I answered, “Umm-hmm…” without looking up from my computer screen (as every blogging mom does). “You and Gabrielle could have those for breakfast tomorrow morning.”
Fast forward to Sunday morning (Gabrielle was long-gone): I came down from having my shower to hear a fabulous story about Hope putting a chicken burger into the toaster! She was fooled by the woven pattern stamped into the meat. Note to self – don’t put stuff in the freezer in unmarked plastic bags!
To make the morning even better, Hope and Anna spent the next hour bickering (whipping the dog’s tennis ball at each other until one cried). It ended after I ordered them each to make a list of ten nice things they could do for their sister, and then do one each day. The first day, Hope came up with telling Anna, “You dress cool.” To which Anna replied, “You sing well.” We’ll see what today brings…
After brunch of (burned) toad-in-the-hole flax bagels (accompanied by more bitching), we went to Superstore to pick up last-minute school lunch makings (stores here are closed on Labour Day). I vetoed the 24-pack of lunch-sized potato chips…I refuse to pay $3.49 for 120 chips! Hope was happy to get pear-flavoured applesauce, and yogurt tubes. Anna got Bear Paws and Vachon snack cakes. I grabbed some bread, and a pack of bologna and ham for “real food.”
We brought the groceries home, and unloaded them. We got right back in the van after that…Jim had suggested we visit the Huntsman Marine Science Centre in St. Andrews. Anna and I had never been, and Jim hadn’t been for at least 10 years. Hope had been there on a couple of school trips.
On our way, we stopped at McKay’s Blueberries in Pennfield. The lineup was long, but it was worth the wait. We watched as people walked by laden with pies, muffins and jams. Finally, it was our turn: Hope had a strawberry sundae, Anna had a blueberry sundae, and Jim and I had blueberry shortcake with homemade biscuits. Everything was covered with real whipped cream! Awesome deliciousness! I have to say my mood improved remarkably after that…
We arrived at the Huntsman Centre about 3:00. What we didn’t know is that they were in the middle of an $8 million dollar renovation, which meant that the entire aquarium population was housed in temporary facilities while a new building was being constructed. We paid our admission in a large tent…the attendant informed us that they would be feeding the seals at 4:00 (we knew that already). We proceeded to the seal tank, where two harbour seals swam around. After that, we watched sturgeon and stingrays in another tank. We made our way to the “main building” where several other marine animals were displayed. Hope had fun with the “touch tank” where a number of sea animals could be picked up – her favourite was the starfish. I tried to stay out of the way of the hundreds of strollers (okay, I’m exaggerating – it was probably five). It was a pretty small space! We were finished our tour by 3:30. We went back to the main tent and sat down to wait for seal-feeding time.
We staked out a space beside the fence just before 4. Finally, two female attendants came out with plastic dishpans filled with herring. Each had a bright blue rubber glove. One of the women proceeded to give us background information about the two seals: They were father and son: Loki was 17 years old, and Snorkel was 5 years old. The son did tricks (Dad was learning by watching the son). The attendant explained that the tricks were to help prevent boredom (for the seals). “We don’t want bored seals!” The crowd (which was filled with bored toddlers) was getting restless…the woman asked if anyone had any questions. I listened in amusement as I overheard the young mother next to me tell her 5-year-old to put her hand down: “Just let them feed them!” she hissed, holding her restless 2-year-old.
The attendants started throwing individual fish either into the tank, or up on the sidewalk next to the pool. Anna, Jim and Hope snapped hundreds of photos as Snorkel performed some cute tricks, including “kissing” the attendant on command (she made a comment about her husband wondering why she smelled like fish when she came home…ewww!). It was fun to watch – harbour seals are very dog-like in their facial features – they’re called “seadogs.” In fact, our Saint John hockey team is called the Saint John Seadogs. Hope was annoyed because she was standing beside a kid who kept yelling, “I want to see their whole body!” over and over again. After the show was over, the little girl beside me finally got to ask her question…I forget what it was now. Everybody headed for their cars (except Hope, who headed for the port-a-potties – she loves those – NOT!).
Back in the van, Anna mentioned that she wanted to go into St. Andrews to see if the candy store was open…it had been closed in the spring when we were down in St. Stephen for Brianna’s cheerleading competition (http://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/adventures-of-a-reluctant-cheer-mom-part-2/). Kandy Land was open this time…I was happy to find Milk Duds (I’ve never paid $2.29 for a box, though!). Jim and Anna got surprise bags, and Hope filled a tube with banana-flavoured powdered sugar (it had a name we can’t remember, came from a big machine, and cost $1.99 – it must have been good!).
We hit the highway, bound for Pennfield again. Jim and his friend, Scott, had discovered a good Chinese restaurant there right next to McKay’s: It was called (are you ready for this?) Highway’s Good Wok. I don’t make this stuff up! We all ate until we were about to burst. Jim ordered Curried Chicken and Vegetables, and Hope kept edging away…she doesn’t like the smell of curry. I traded her eggroll for my garlic spareribs – the eggrolls were amazing! I had chicken chow mein and sweet and sour chicken balls too. Anna had beef and broccoli, chicken balls, and garlic chicken wings. Everybody had fried rice, which was also very good – not too greasy. While Hope and I made a pit stop, Jim and Anna paid the bill and got doggy bags for the rest of their food (Hope and I finished ours!).
We arrived home about 7:30, and I rushed out to the garden to pick tomatoes. I needed two mixing bowls to hold them all! The yellow light bulb tomatoes were really starting to come now (http://writerwoman61.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/blackberry-cobbler-and-light-bulb-tomatoes/) …I even found “regular” tomotoes (I think they were Early Latahs) which had grown as Siamese twins…The beans will have to be picked tonight…there was no light left last night!
While a load of laundry went through, Jim and I watched another episode of “Eureka”…despite it being sci-fi, I’m really starting to like that show (not to mention that the star, Colin Ferguson, is Canadian, and very hot!). It’s been on since 2006, but I’d never seen it until Jim found out about it from Scott. It is filmed mostly on location in British Columbia. The writing is pretty sharp, and it’s funny too!
So that was my last Sunday of the summer…sigh…