Tag Archives: bus bag

On busing and birthday parties (or, My brief encounter with a bus goddess)

One of the things I’ve come to accept about myself is that I have very few actual skills. I don’t know how to make stuff or fix stuff. (Shoot, I can barely troubleshoot a clogged toilet or hang a picture straight.) I can’t sing or draw or play an instrument. I can’t run or jump or catch. I fancy myself an “activist” but have essentially zero talent for leading people, or organizing, or motivating.

Friends, here is an exhaustive* list of the things I’m good at.

1) Writing
2) Babies
3) Riding the bus

Whether or not I feel good about my writing abilities depends on whether I’ve been able to produce anything I don’t hate (or, for that matter, anything at all) in the recent past. My baby-whispering skills do not extend to children over the age of three.

But my bus skills? They are legendary.

You cannot mess with me on my transit know-how. There are some people who could definitely crush me in the route knowledge category and others who win in the longevity department. But on the ground, I am the queen.

Or, at least I was.

Back in March, I took Chicklet to a birthday part for one of her classmates. (Have I mentioned how ridiculously easy it is riding the bus with one seven-year old? Seriously. Compared to what I’ve got going on these days, it’s like a freaking vacation.)

The party was at Seattle Children’s Museum, so we took the 8. It was on that 8 that we ran into the birthday boy and his mom, LaShaun. I knew as soon as I met LaShaun that she was a bus chick—and not just because she was on the bus. (One does not earn the title of bus chick by bus riding alone.) LaShaun was riding the bus to her kid’s birthday party.

The average non-car-owning parent of would have done one of the following on the occasion of her child’s birthday: 1) borrowed/rented a car or asked for a ride to facilitate an out-of-home birthday party, or 2) not hosted an out-of-home birthday party. (I fall into the latter category, mostly for reasons unrelated to transportation constraints.) Not LaShaun.

Nope. LaShaun had a small hand truck stacked with plastic crates that contained all of the necessary party supplies. She sat in the front area with her son curled up next to her and the cart pulled against his seat to keep it out of the way of the aisle. During the ride, we chatted about all of her preparations for this train-themed (!) party, including the table centerpiece she constructed with old tissue boxes and toilet paper rolls. (To a woman, bus chicks are resourceful, though not all are crafty enough to create table centerpieces that look like trains. Ahem.)

When we reached our stop, LaShaun hauled the entire party off the bus (while holding her son’s hand), and started rolling it across the Seattle Center campus to our destination. A few steps in (and 15 minutes before the party was supposed to start), the supporting crate cracked, and her carefully balanced tower of supplies started to come apart. We tried putting everything back together, but the tower wouldn’t hold or stay on the hand truck. The crates were too heavy and cumbersome to carry for the significant walk to the museum.

“If we had some duct tape, you could probably just fix it,” I said, mostly just to say something. Who has duct tape?

You know what? LaShaun had duct tape. In her backpack, naturally. In less than a minute, she hoisted the crates back onto the cart and taped everything, (MacGyver-style) until it was haul-able. I grabbed the cake, the kids grabbed a few small items, and the four of us marched that stuff to its destination with time to spare.

Now let me tell you what was in those crates: snacks, drinks, party favors, the centerpiece (which was perfect), train-themed decorations, and several gifts. I took a picture of the lovely cake, which wasn’t as amazing as another transit-themed cake I told you about a few years back but certainly worked for Chicklet and me.

Train cake

If I hadn’t been so sidetracked by the newborn one of the parents brought to the party (see above), I would have taken more.

Happy (early) Mother’s Day to my new bus shero.


* According to my husband, I also make a mean sweet potato pie, if that counts.

Two new additions to the bus bag

All the dry, sunny weather we’ve been having of late has me feeling somewhat complacent, as if the rains will never come. I’ve put off buying a new pair of boots, which (after countless seasons of re-heeling and polishing the same favorite pair) has become a necessity. I also haven’t replaced my lost umbrella, unearthed my favorite pair of gloves, or procured enough cool-weather clothes for the kids. But, I am ready with the rain gear*, people.

Fellow bus chicks, behold.

raincoat unfolded

My new raincoat

raincoat folded

My new raincoat!

Given how efficiently packed my bag is, this little number is (or will be) a significant addition. It takes up more space than almost anything else I have in there. But the fact that there exists in the world a professional, versatile, poncho-like garment that will fit over any outfit** and pack up to the size of a medium book without getting anything else in my bag wet is pretty doggone amazing–definitely worth the extra bulk and ounces.

And speaking of amazing…

My friend Lily told me about this ingenious little bag many years ago, and I finally got around to purchasing one (actually, two) in June.

Shopping bag

My handy new shopping bags: one open, one ready to pack

It handles (almost) all of my plastic bag scenarios (I still carry a couple of those as well) and comes in handy for my frequent “on the way” shopping trips–especially now that Seattle’s bag ban is in full effect. Also, it’s tiny (Bus Nerd carries one in his pocket), washable, and adorable.

Look out, world! This fall, I’m taking bus chick preparedness to a whole ‘nother level.


*For the past few years, I have owned no outerwear appropriate for rain. It’s a long story I won’t take the time to tell here. Y’all know how I tend to digress.
**Too bad I didn’t know about this back when I still wore a baby pack.

Seven uses for a plastic bag

1. Impromptu rain bonnet: Sometimes, after 45 minutes with the flat iron, an umbrella simply isn’t enough insurance.

2. Pants protector: There are those occasions when something should come between you and that bus stop bench.

3. Trash receptacle: You’d be surprised how many stops don’t have cans.

4. Laundry bag: See here for a recent example. (Related use: as a “wet bag” for cloth diapers. Sorry. TMI?)

5. Umbrella cover: No wet umbrellas on the floor means no more lost umbrellas. No wet umbrellas on the seat means no more rain-related bus fouls.

6. Shopping bag: Seasoned bus chicks carry running shopping lists (on paper, on mobile devices, or in their heads) and purchase needed items when they’re nearby.

7. PT version of an airplane “sick sack”: Useful for busing while pregnant and other, related scenarios (see above).

Do note: A single plastic bag cannot be used in all of the previously described scenarios. Several are single-use use cases and require the bag to be thrown away and replaced. If you find yourself replacing your bag often, you should consider carrying more than one.

On busing and biohazards


This morning, Bus Nerd and I realized that our entire Saturday was wide open—no birthday parties, family events, volunteer commitments, or pressing chores (OK, some pressing chores)—so we decided to take our nerds-in-training to the Science Center for a few hours. It had been a while since we’d gone (last time was November), and I’ve had four free passes burning a hole in my bus bag since last spring.

The morning started off well enough. The whole fam was packed and ready to go slightly early, so we got to spend a few minutes playing at the park while we waited for the 8. The bus was full but not crowded, and we were able to find three seats together in the front section. Nerd and I shared reading duties until somewhere around Miller CC, when a little old lady offered Chicklet a small bouquet of daisies.

In the final stretch of the ride, baby Busling, who had spent the early minutes hollering, “Daddy, read dat boot!” at Bus Nerd, became unusually subdued. He leaned his head back against me like he was about to go to sleep, but his eyes remained wide open. Somewhere on Denny, he burped.

I think you know what came next.

Folks, I’m no stranger to bus vomit (ahem), but today was the first time I become intimately acquainted with it.

I turned Busling’s body inward just in time to ensure that any of the regurgitation I wasn’t able to catch in my hands (oatmeal, take II–ew!) landed on my lap (and unfortunately, Chicklet’s) instead of the aisle and several of our fellow passengers’ knees. Then, Bus Nerd and I took advantage of our well-stocked-yet-lightly packed bus bag and ready-for-anything bus parenting skills and sprang into action. Here’s what we did:

1. Bus Nerd got out the baby wipes and used several to scoop Busling’s breakfast out of my hands.
2. I found the plastic bag I always carry with me* and dumped the foul wipes—as well as the jackets of the three of us who were vomited upon—in there.
3. Bus Nerd used more wipes to clean off the kids as best he could (and do a quick once-over on the seat, just in case), before it was time for us to get off.
4. At the Science Center, I took the kids into the bathroom and used (perhaps for the first time ever) both of their changes of clothes. (It had been so long since I packed them, Chicklet barely fit the pants that were in there for her.) I then threw away the icky wipes and added their dirty clothes to the (now quite foul) plastic bag.
5. Since I don’t carry a change of clothes for myself (after today, I might start), I washed off my jeans with a soapy paper towel. Then we all washed our hands.

As it turns out, Busling is not sick; he just suffered a bout of motion sickness. All of us managed to have a great time at the Science Center, foul plastic bag and all. We even enjoyed a spontaneous picnic lunch and some live music at the Bastille Day celebration near the fountain.

I’m hoping that the incident was just a fluke. As someone who suffered from motion sickness well into early adulthood, I wouldn’t wish that on my kid. And, as someone who is not particularly fond of being vomited upon, I wouldn’t wish it on myself. But, just in case, we made a point not to sit in the side-facing seats on the way home–and I kept a new plastic bag at the ready for the entire ride.

*I don’t think I’ve discussed this enough. I couldn’t find a post–or even a paragraph–devoted to the plastic bag’s many uses. It’s coming soon, I promise.

Bus chick preparedness, part IV (or, How to survive a birthday party at the lake)

Back in April, the Bus Fam attended the Healthy Kids Day extravaganza at Meredith Matthews YMCA. Among the SWAG we took home was this handy little “ouch pouch” from Group Health.

Ouch Pouch

It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it’s about the size and weight of a package of Kool Aid. Of course you know where it ended up.

A couple of weeks later, a family friend gave Chicklet and Busling a basket of Easter treats. It was a huge basket with tons of candy and fun, plastic toys—in other words, something we would never have bought for them ourselves. They were thrilled.

The best part from my perspective (given that the basket contained no chocolate), was this adorable little set of sand toys.

Bus-friendly beach set

It’s got everything kids like to play with at the beach—bucket, shovel, rake, sifter, sea-themed molds—but it takes up only slightly more space than a kid’s cup.

Which brings me to last Friday, the occasion of our little friend Miles’s first birthday party. Since the celebration was being held at Madrona Park on a sunny day, we wanted to be ready for beach fun. We traveled to the party (on the 2) with only the bus bag and one small additional bag, which contained: food to share, a gift (books, of course), the tiny beach set, towels, sun hats, and sun screen. We also carried an additional package (books again) for the first half of our journey. (We stopped at the post office on the way to mail a belated Father’s Day present to Busling’s Godfather.)

I digress.

During the festivities, both Chicklet and Busling managed to take some pretty good spills. (They’re learning the hard way that running and sandals don’t mix.) Fortunately for them, their mama knows how to pack a bag.








Alki, here we come!

One more (or, MacGyver, eat your heart out)

I found this in one of Bus Nerd’s boxes when we were moving and had to have it. (Chaos enables pilfering, so I didn’t bother to tell him.) I zipped it in an inside pocket of the bus bag and almost forgot it was in there.

Is there a bus chick on Earth who could resist this? One never knows when a whistle, a compass, and some duct tape will come in handy.

Bus chick preparedness, part III (or, Anatomy of a bus bag)

As I’ve mentioned before, bags are important to bus types. After footwear, a bus rider’s bag is probably the single most important accessory (equipment?) she owns. And yet, it’s been years since I’ve had one that worked well for me. Since Chicklet was born, I’ve been looking (not actively, but still) for a bag with the following attributes:

• Ability to carry baby/kid stuff and adult stuff
• Simple, but with enough compartments to make frequently used items easy to access
• Professional in appearance (for those times I’m traveling without children)
• Comfortable to wear with a baby in a pack

I finally bought a new bag in December. I let go of the last requirement, since I won’t be wearing Busling much longer (more on that very soon), and since all the bags-for-baby-wearing options I found seemed impractical for other purposes, not especially easy to use, and, um, ugly. The new bag has adjustable straps, which are useful but not as sturdy as they could be. (The adjustable strap was actually the source of my beloved pre-baby bus bag’s demise.) And, though it’s professional and reasonably attractive, it’s definitely not my style. All that said, so far, I’m mostly satisfied.

For those who’d like to know, here’s what I keep in it.

At least one compact, age-appropriate book for each child. Since books are our most-common form of ride entertainment, I tend to rotate them frequently. (Thanks, SPL!) I don’t usually bring toys because they take up space, are easily dropped (try picking up a block from the bus floor with a baby and a bag on your lap), and don’t really entertain an antsy child anyway. Instead of worrying about bringing a lot of distractions, I take advantage of the built-in distractions of the bus, scenery, and fellow riders. It does require some effort (more on this later as well) but has so far worked for me.
A small pad of paper and a box of erasable colored pencils for Chicklet. She uses them only occasionally when we’re out, but since they take up very little space and come in handy if I need to jot something down and my phone is not cooperating (see below), they’re worth including.
Bubbles! These are great for passing the time waiting outside and (again) compact and portable. Just be sure not to mix them with the main contents of your bag.
Non-perishable snacks. Busling is, for some reason, obsessed with raisins. Since they’re very portable and healthy (and also a favorite of Chicklet’s), they always go in the bag. I also usually bring some kind of granola/energy bars for Chicklet. These I save for times when she’s walked an especially long distance or we’ve stayed out longer than expected. She thinks of them as dessert, so they work well as bribes—I mean, good behavior encouragement. Oh, and sometimes I bring animal-shaped mini crackers. And teething biscuits.
Diapers and associated paraphernalia (folding changing pad, wipes, lined “wet bag”)
Minimal extra clothing. I bring pants and underwear for Chicklet—just in case a restroom emergency strikes when we’re not near a restroom—and an undershirt and one-piece outfit for Busling. (Chicklet now has her own bus bag and could theoretically carry her own extra clothes, but since we don’t always bring her bag, it works best for me to keep them in mine.) I’ve never actually had to use the extra garments, but I’m sure I’d have a need if I ever traveled without them.
Umbrella. Yes, real Seattleites do carry them. Mine’s compact and has a cover (so I can avoid loss/wet-umbrella on the seat bus foul) and return it to my bag when wet. The good news is, my new bag has two waterproof, insulated hidden side pockets, so it’s OK if I lose the cover.
Smart(ish) phone. My phone isn’t fancy (and honestly doesn’t work very well), but I mostly only use to tell time and find out when the next bus is coming. And, of course, for the occasional call.
Wallet. It’s got the usual stuff: money, ID, library card, Orca card, and et cetera. I keep it in a very snug front pocket (tough for a thief to slip out) but perfect for effortless hip-taps on the Orca card reader.
Antibacterial gel. Ahem.
Hand lotion
Mini package of tissues
Gum. Hey, fellow passengers appreciate attention to these matters.
Rain bonnet–just in case I put some effort into my hair
Digital camera. You never know when you’ll pass a guy with a snowboard checking a schedule.

I keep this stuff in my bag at all times (restocking when necessary) and add only milk (which I keep in the other insulated side pocket) and a thermos of water at the last minute. This makes the ordeal of getting out of the house with two kids as simple as it can be.

All of this fits well and is easy to access, and the bag is not at all heavy. If I’m going out alone (to a meeting or some other business-related event), I can easily add my laptop without reconfiguring.

Your turn. What’s in your bus bag?