Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rain

I'm getting a little tired of rain. I don't ever remember it raining this hard, for this long, ever in my life. We have rain trickling into one of our basement windows. It glides down the wall and straight for the drain in our laundry room, so that part isn't a big problem. The problem is that our drain seems to be plugged and water is accumulating in our laundry room. Dale and I spent the good part of our Saturday night (the part when the children are already in bed and we could be watching a movie) bailing the water into ice cream pails and emptying them under our evergreen trees. Believe it or not, this isn't as much fun as it sounds. I hate going into the laundry room for any reason, never mind having to scoop up water from the disgusting floor. Then we track our wet dirty boots up the stairs and outside, where it is raining YET AGAIN, and throw the water under the trees. The good part is that all our neighbours are fighting their own battles, so everyone's out and about and it's all very social. We had a fallen tree blocking our street, so cars kept turning around in front of our house, including one old red Dodge Caravan whose reverse seemed to be broken. The passenger and driver had to take turns pushing it backwards and driving forward while turning around. We enjoyed watching that. Anyway, it looks like the rain has stopped for now; hopefully the ground will quickly soak up lots of the standing water before it starts again.

Speaking of rain, I forgot to share this photo with you. This picture was in the Fargo newspaper last Sunday. Amazingly, Darla and her sharp eyes spotted Dale. See Dale run.


We were sent links to our marathon pictures this week. I don't know what my problem is, but I look like I'm bursting with joy in all of the pictures. Like there's absolutely nothing I'd rather be doing early on a rainy Saturday morning than run 13.1 miles. I remember an anti-runner saying that they would take up running when they saw joggers that looked like they were having fun. It's true; the runners I meet in the park are a pretty solemn bunch. But these pictures are the opposite. If I saw a runner grinning like this, I'd think there was something loose in her head.

Off I go for another round of water-scooping.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More Fargo

Some of you have been asking for more details. Maybe you’re just being polite, but here you go. To answer Sheri-Lee’s question in the comments, yes, everyone got medals. Neve was very impressed when she saw them. She said, “It’s like I’m in a dream! I can’t believe you actually WON!” I tried to explain we were all winners, but it didn’t register.

The Manitoba Marathon gives medals to all finishers as well, or you can just have the one I got in Fargo.* What does one do with a token medal? We saw a guy in Fargo wearing his medal and his free Fargo marathon running shirt the day after the marathon. I try to at least hide my medal under my shirt. People think it’s a pacemaker. * It even has a bible verse inscribed on the back, which I'm pretty sure the Manitoba ones won't have.

Anyway, the run went well. It was raining when we started, but stopped after a mile or two and then was overcast the rest of the time. The temperature was very pleasant for running and the route was interesting. I’m not one to focus much on my surroundings when I run; I just look straight ahead for any sign of the finish line. But I do remember lots of big trees, running through downtown, several bands playing, people cheering, a few big puddles, and FINALLY the finish line inside the Fargodome. Dale and I started out running together, but we got separated around the third mile. Dale has always been faster than me, but for some reason he was training at a bit of a slower pace than me this time. I guess his age is catching up to him – I’m much younger. We had agreed to run at our own pace, but I was disappointed when I couldn’t find him after dodging some other runners. I know two other couples who ran this half marathon together; they stuck together the whole time and held hands as they crossed the finish line. That makes me feel selfish and competitive, but I guess I’ll get over it. I made a new friend around mile six, and we ran together right to the end. He was faster than me (probably because he was trying to get away from me), but I pushed myself to keep up and ended up with a better time than I was expecting. In case you haven’t already checked the stats Dan linked to in the comments, my time was 2 hours 3 minutes, and Dale came in about ten minutes after.

I was sore the rest of the weekend, which put a damper on the shopping. I keep forgetting that I don’t like shopping that much at the best of times, never mind when my thighs feel like they are repeatedly being struck by lightning. I’d be hard pressed to tell you what we bought, but somehow we still managed to spend vast amounts of money.

Mike and Darla, one of the hand-holding couples mentioned above, stayed at the same hotel as us, so we hung around at the pool. The kids spent hours swimming and sliding down the waterslide. One great thing about the kids getting older is that I could just sit in the hot tub and only had to go down the slide once. I am one stage away from not even having to bring my swim suit.

I’m running out of steam, so I’ll end with some pictures from the weekend.




Besides the picture Chloe took of Dale and me after the marathon, there is no record whatsoever that I was present this weekend. At least I have my medal as proof.

Half Marathon

I'm sorry for the lack of a marathon update. I will try to write something later on today, but until then, feel free to gaze at us in our sweaty, medal-wearing, post-race glow. (And you thought I was joking about wearing a Canadian Idol cap.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

On the brink of a long weekend

It was another incredible summer-like day today. Everyone is appreciating these days to the fullest because we’re all scared that we’ll have another non-summer like last year. It’s especially nice having days like this in May while the air is still fresh, the bugs are few, and no one is complaining about the heat. I’m sure there are some people complaining already, but I guess they know better than to do it in front of me.

I was at work all day, but I made the mistake of going out at lunchtime and I had to force myself to go back. I ended up walking way too far and getting a nasty blister from my impractical work footwear. That’s the last thing I need two days before running a half marathon, but a stranger on the street told me, “I like the way you walk” so it was pretty much worth it. It would have meant more coming from a sober person; he was probably just admiring my walk because he was struggling to do so. I really shouldn’t analyze my compliments; at 40, I'm just grateful for what I get.

The reason for my walking was that I suddenly felt it was imperative that I have a Canada cap to wear for the half marathon. I’m not sure why I feel it is important to share my citizenship with others, but I get obsessed about funny things sometimes. The only Canada cap I found was black with “Canada” written on it vertically in a white cursive script. No red, no maple leaf, not even a legible “Canada.” I didn’t buy it, and I don’t have time to look anywhere else, so I might be stuck with Chloe’s “Canadian Idol” hat. I had hoped to look more professional for my first international competition.

So we’re off to Fargo tomorrow. After a long, frustrating battle with the hotel for messing up our reservation, they called yesterday to offer me a $50 credit towards our stay. I would have preferred an apology, but the customer service manager just couldn’t bring herself to say those two magic words, so she gave me money instead. Part of me was tempted to turn it down just so I could continue to be a thorn in her side. But I was growing weary and now we’re friends again. Friends that don’t say sorry and that you wouldn’t want to stay with again, but friends nonetheless.

After that pesky run is out of the way, I look forward to shopping, eating, and relaxing by the pool. I hope you all have a spectacular long weekend. Birthday greetings go out to Queen Victoria - we're so thankful your birthday always falls on a Monday.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sleep

There’s something about a sleeping child that invokes much love and warmth in my heart. If my kids were smart, they would sleep more. If I’m upset with them about something, all they’d need to do is fall asleep and I’d feel all soft and tender towards them. Maybe not. I peeked in on Neve before I went to bed and she looked so cute that I actually went all the way downstairs to get the camera just to capture the Canon moment. By the time I got back, she had changed position and didn’t look quite as cute, but I didn’t want to waste a trip. The tattered rag around her head is a cloth strip that came off her blanket. There are four or five gecki strips (for those who don’t speak Kornelsen, "gecki" is her blankie) that she sleeps with every night, in addition to her main gecki. I have spent more hours than I care to admit searching for these gecki strips. Some of them are so threadbare and wispy that it’s like searching for a few stitches of air. They could be anywhere: lost in her sheets, under a couch cushion, her bike basket, or the fridge (she likes them cool). She knows them all and even has a favourite. First it was a favourite blankie, then a favourite corner of the blankie, then a favourite strip. We’re just about down to a favourite thread. Eventually it will all disintegrate and that will be the end of that.

Spencer would run away from home if he knew I was posting this picture. He loves his gecki too, but goes to great lengths to protect his dirty, stinky little secret. If you see him, maybe don’t mention this post to him. I’m still not comfortable about calling 911 again if he runs away. The little stenciled train on his headboard is a remnant of his train-obsessed days, but now that he’s growing up and is into Star Wars and Lego and bigger-kid things, I love reminders of the baby he used to be.

Not that I want to cling onto the past or anything. I have occasional pangs of nostalgia for when the kids were babies, but I honestly love the stages they’re at now. I am especially loving Twelve, the Age of Babysitting. I’m still getting used to the fact I can leave the kids at home alone. Sometimes I catch myself trying to figure out when, between Dale’s and my schedule, I’m going to get an errand done and then a light goes on in my dim little head: “Oh right! Chloe can stay home with the kids!” And yes, there really are exclamation marks in my thoughts. The babysitting transition has gone better than I imagined; the power struggle between siblings appears to be worked out (or they agree to not tell us, which is fine too), and Chloe is confident and responsible. She never phones us, and even seems somewhat annoyed when we call to check on her, as if she thinks we don’t trust her. But she’s still my baby. She doesn’t look completely relaxed in this picture. She was probably dreaming that Justin Bieber didn’t call her back when he said he would.


Sleep tight, my babies.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Beach day



Today was so amazing that I can't think of the appropriate adjectives to describe it. I will just say that I LOVE summer weather. When it happens in mid-May, I love it even more. Earlier in the week, we decided we'd go for a drive and a picnic lunch at Grand Beach today, but I didn't dream it would be real beach weather. I didn't even bring my swimsuit, which I regret. But not as much as I regret not bring the sunscreen; all of us have some redness tonight. Dale is the reddest; by some fortunate fluke of nature Neve, with her fair, pasty skin, appears the least burnt. The sun was hot, the water was cool (okay, ice cold), and the beach was empty. We haven't been to Grand Beach for a few years, and we all loved it. Spencer is not a beach person and often complains when we "have to" go to the Quarry. But as soon as we arrived at the beach this afternoon, he said, "This is definitely worth the drive." He didn't complain once, and even mentioned several times how great it was. What makes this even more surprising is that the concession stands weren't open for the season yet, so there was no pop, hot dogs, or ice cream involved (for him, junk food is the high point of a beach day). We walked along the beach and found shells, played on the play structure, and made a sand castle. The kids played in the water and loved running to the sandbar.

On our way home, we stopped at the Half Moon in Lockport for burgers and fries, along with many, many other people. When we got home, Chloe and I ended the day with a bike ride. It's the kind of day you don't want to end...hopefully we'll have lots more of those ahead.


In other important news, my lovely friend Teresa has officially caught up to me. Age-wise that is, not in intelligence or charm. Who am I kidding, she's way ahead of me in every area but age. We went to a wine-tasting, which was really cool (the birthday girl arriving by limo below), and then had dinner at Joey's.
Check out the cake - Teresa makes incredible cakes herself, but this one was definitely befitting of a cake queen (it was made by another extremely talented friend). It was delicious too - even the waitress hinted her way into getting a piece. She ate it at the bar within sight of all her customers, which was a bit odd, but she was obviously enjoying every bite.

Between the birthday, the beach, and a bonfire we had with friends Friday night (3 b's), it was definitely the best weekend I've had in a long time. The weather's supposed to be lovely all week, but I won't get to enjoy it much. I'm bracing myself for a crazy week - work, volunteering, soccer, appointments, etc., on top of getting ready to go away next weekend.
Hope everyone had a great weekend ... enjoy the sun!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Garage sale, mother's day, chubby CDs, and a pharoah who sleepwalks

I’m still here, just sitting and waiting for the weather to warm up. At least the rain took a break over the weekend. On Saturday, Chloe participated in her 3rd annual garage sale with the neighbours down the block. And by “Chloe” I actually mean “I.” I am the one who stashed away the garage sale items throughout the year, cleaned them, priced almost everything, transported it and set it up at the neighbours. But Chloe pulled through on garage sale day and stood by the table the whole day. I went to check on her occasionally, but she didn’t really want or need me around. No one seems to know the exact profits, but we’re guessing around $50. Most of it is being donated to Haiti, although I’m not sure what the Haitians are going to do with $40, or how we will get it to them. Actually that’s not true. I’ve mentioned before how I read a blog written by a family in Haiti; their teenage daughter is doing her first half marathon to raise funds for new houses in Haiti. Check it out if you have a chance; it puts a face and a story to just a few of the thousands of people whose lives have been affected by the earthquake.

I am also planning to run a half-marathon in a couple of weeks. My run serves no meaningful purpose whatsoever, other than some exercise and an excuse for a weekend away. My training has been going better than expected; it’s been a lot more consistent than when I trained for the half marathon two years ago, and I feel like I’m in better shape. The bad part is that my pace is slower and I have a feeling I won’t beat my previous time. That’s disappointing, but to quote Johnny Cash (who's on my running playlist), “It’s not the pace that matters, it’s the direction that you go.” I'm going to tell that to the winner. Oh, except he'll probably be at home - fresh and clean and relaxed - by the time I shuffle across the finish line.

However, my running time may pick up once I start wearing my new mother’s day gift. Dale and the kids got me a pair of awesome running shorts, which I can’t wait to wear. Neve and Spencer also made the cutest things ever at school – Neve painted a picture on a tile (I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be a hot plate?) and Spencer made a paper flower on a stick (way cuter than it sounds). The grade 6 curriculum apparently does not include mother’s day crafts, so Chloe made me a card and bought me a Starbucks gift card and a chocolate bar on her own. She knows her mother well. I love those kids.

Speaking of kids, the other day Neve and her friend wanted to put on some dancing music in Neve’s room. Neve called me to help. She said, “We want to put on this chubby CD but we have to use the other CD player because my princess one can’t play chubby CDs.”

The “chubby CD” was a cassette tape.

And Spencer… when we were walking down the back lane to the garage sale on Saturday, he said, word for word, “Don’t you find that when people have nearly lost their lives, they appreciate life more?”

Another thing he often asks, “What would you do if there were only 3 seconds left on earth?” His answers usually involve something that he’s seen on TV that look like fun to him, but he knows he’d get in trouble for, like: “I would yank the tablecloth off, with all the dishes on it and everything” or “I would smash Chloe’s iPod with a hammer.” Writing it down makes it sound disturbing; maybe I should be concerned. Last night he walked outside in his sleep. Thank goodness we heard him heading for the door, and then the alarm beeping when he opened the door. He said he was going outside to play with Chloe. In the morning, he didn’t remember a thing. It was kind of funny, but my mind focused on the “what-ifs” for a while before I fell asleep again. I have a new appreciation for the guardian angels that watch over us. And also for our house alarm.
Here's the pharoah on Egypt day, eyeliner and all.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Something you don't see very often



I shocked and confused my family by getting out the sewing machine tonight. Not only did I sew up a seam on the toy stroller, I sewed an Egyptian head dress. That sounds more complicated than it was, but no one needs to know that. The real sew-ers among you would cringe and run for a seam ripper, but Dale still thought it was worth a photo.

Neve started soccer this week. It was cancelled today because of the rain, but she loved it on Monday. Of all our children (at that age), she is by far the most into it. That's not saying a whole lot because the other kids were exceptionally disinterested in it. I know the novelty will wear off for Neve too, but she's having fun so far. Hopefully the weather warms up soon and I'll have fun too.

Spencer and Chloe both did their speeches this week. Sorry Siobhan, I didn't videotape them. I probably should have. Spencer longs to be chosen to represent his class in the school speech contest and is already dreaming of victory. Yesterday he said, "I want my trophy to be handed down to my children, and then to be passed down to the next generations." I don't even think there is a trophy, but I didn't tell him that. I suspect his speech might have been a bit difficult to follow for anyone who has not immersed him/herself in Greek mythology like he has. He definitely knows his topic and he's got the confidence, so I guess he's got that going for him.

Chloe's speech ended up being under the minimum 3-minute mark, which she was really disappointed about. When she said it at home it was around four minutes long, so she must have said it crazy fast. I felt bad for her because she spent a lot of time practicing. If I home-schooled her, I would have given her another chance. Spencer often begs me to home-school him, and I used to say I'd consider it if I didn't have a job. Helping him with his speech made me realize there will never be home-schooling in our future. Patience is not my virtue.

At any rate, the speeches are over and now we're moving on to Egypt day (hence the Egyptian head dress). I'll have to get a photo of that. I should have also gotten a photo of me going into a fabric store without anyone forcing me to. The fabric store employees were just as grim and sullen as I remembered them to be. What are they so mad about? Maybe their mothers dragged them to fabric stores when they were younger and they hated it, but now it's the only job they can find. Or maybe they're so passionate about sewing that they're just not happy unless they're at home with their sergers. Kind of like I look in the picture above.