Thursday, June 28, 2012

Where do I put all these certificates?

How do you like the flurry of blog entries I’ve been doing?  There’s a lot to document this month.  I have lots of things I could say about spending a great day yesterday with Siobhan including some time with Corinna and Sheri-Lee, about preparing for our summer vacation, about our van issues, and about an unfortunate and ongoing tooth fairy situation we’re dealing with.  But today’s feature is the accomplishments of my children.  They’re not the highest achievers in the world, so I feel I should recognize the things they do accomplish.  Don’t feel you have to read this; I just thought I’d write something nice about my kids to make up for the times I complain about them on the blog.  Although I’m complaining about them less; as they grow older and know that they (or their friends) may read this, I’m trying to be more careful.  I know careful = no fun, but that’s how it goes.

Spencer’s fencing finished up for the year last Saturday.  He loved fencing and seemed to be fairly good at it.  When I introduced myself to his coach on Saturday (Dale usually takes Spencer to class), her eyes seemed to light up (it’s possible that I was imagining this, but I thought I saw a glimmer) and she told me he’s picked up the sport quickly, has great potential and should enter more competitions next year.  He was tested for his first level and got his certificate and badge on Friday.


Spencer the Fencer

At the end of the school year, every student gets a certificate from their teacher listing three positive attributes about them.  They’re kind of cheesy, but it’s always interesting to see how their teacher has perceived them.  Spencer’s certificate said: sense of humour, expressive reading, and loyalty.  I love those because I totally agree with all three and they’re all things that are important to me.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but his teacher was our former babysitter, who is very loved by our family.  She’s an amazing teacher and Spencer’s had such a good year with her.  I’m so impressed that as a new teacher (this was her second year), she’s already so wise when it comes to meeting the kids’ needs and creating a great environment in her class.

Chloe’s school awards night was last night.  It was long and not particularly interesting, but she came away with two awards, including Honours with Distinction for an overall average of 93% (not to be confused with Honours with Great Distinction for averages about 95%).  We’re pretty proud of her, especially me since I’m the one she gets the brains from.  I hope Dale doesn’t read this.


And there’s Neve.  I don’t think there are any awards in Grade 1; if there are, she didn’t win them.  But she also had a wonderful year, despite a rough fall with some anxiety issues.  Her teacher and the principal were so good to her and things improved greatly after Christmas.  Her teacher was covering a maternity leave and is moving on to a job at another school next year, so the whole school is very sad to see her go.  She was warm and kind and funny and poured so much energy and passion into her class.  The things they did and learned were amazing.  

One other significant thing Neve did lately was spending the night at her friend's cottage last weekend.  She really wanted to go, but it made her so anxious (what if I throw up?) that she almost turned down the invitation.  But she remembered all the fun we had when we visited their cottage last summer that she battled her fears and went.  She was a little teary when she phoned me Saturday night, but other than that, she did great.  It was a good confidence-builder for her.  And amazing for us since we got so much done with her away.


And now I’m going to steal some of the kids’ thunder and turn the attention to myself.  I’ve talked about the Leadership Winnipeg class I’ve been taking … we had our “grad” a couple of weeks ago, as well as our book launch.  We interviewed different community leaders and compiled it all in a book, which is available on blurb.com.  I don’t expect anyone to buy the book, nor do we make any money off it even if you do, but you can view it here.  It was a fun experience, and nice to have it finished as well.  In this awkward photo, I am leaning very close to one guy and very far from the other.  The guy on the left is the Chamber president/my boss so I guess I feel a lot closer to him.  It doesn't look like the guy on the right is offended though.  He's smiling and happy being his own little island.


Well, I’ve probably used the word amazing enough times for today, so I’ll sign off. We're heading off on vacation tomorrow, so I won't promise any blogging while we're away but we'll see.  When we get back, however, there will be maritime themed blog posts for weeks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

End of an era


Today was Chloe's very last day of school.  That's different than her last day of school, which was Thursday.  Today was a recreational day, which doesn't really count.  But any way you look at it, today was her last day as a student here.  I think she was finding it hard, but she kept a brave face.  She's had a great experience there and has some close friends that she's sad to leave, but she's also excited to move on to new challenges and opportunities. Stay tuned to see how things go in the fall.


Last Friday, Chloe and I treated ourselves to celebrate running the half marathon.  It was a beautiful day and we rode our bikes downtown right after we dropped Neve off at school.  The first stop was the Fort Garry Hotel, where we spent the morning at Ten Spa.  We both had massages and spent time in the steam room, and also lazed in the lounge eating cookies and reading magazines.  It was so relaxing and refreshing and luxurious.  Chloe loved it and felt pretty special since they normally don’t allow anyone under 16 at the spa.  During one of my Leadership Winnipeg classes, I met the spa manager and she was kind enough to make an exception for us.

After that, we biked over to the Exchange and had lunch at the Free Press Café.  We walked around the shops for a while and then headed to Portage Place.  Chloe has been wanting her ears pierced (a second set) so we tried to find a place that did ear piercing.  Finally we found a salon in Portage Place that did it.  We had to wait a few minutes until the guy who did piercings was ready, and then we followed him to the back of the salon.  We went into a tiny room that had their washer and dryer and a little kitchen.  Off that room was an even smaller room that was only big enough to hold a dentist-like chair.  It looked like hard times had befallen this room; the walls were grimy and bare.  I don’t know what kind of procedures they normally perform in that room, but I have a feeling it’s nothing good.  Every instinct told me to run out of there, but I usually ignore my instincts and things usually work out in the end.  After some confusion about where on her ear she wanted the piercing (“do you want it in the same spot as the holes you already have?”) and the guy trying to convince Chloe to choose flashier studs, everything went okay.  I took some pictures with Chloe's iPod, but she never lets me have access to it to retrieve the pictures. When we left, I realized it was a shop that specialized in African American hair and products.  That would explain why we were the only Caucasians there. 

Anyway, Chloe now has her double piercings, and so far no infection has set in so hopefully we're good.  Afterward, we cycled back home to pick up Neve from school and that was our day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The difference a pair of scissors can make



Spencer's forehead and ears hadn't been visible for about three years.  I love how little and cute his short haircut makes him looks.  I didn't mind his long hair, but he looks so much more innocent and less hoodlum-like now.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Ex-cursion


Yesterday was our annual trip to the Red River Ex.  Things have been so busy lately and with our summer trip coming up, I suggested to the children we skip it this year.  That was met with the same response I would get if I suggested we pull out all our fingernails for fun.  We had difficulty finding a day that worked for everyone, but in the end Friday worked out; even my niece Tia was able to come despite the short notice.  So it was all meant to be, but I wasn’t quite as excited about it as I usually am.  Before we went, Dale, my neighbour, and I were all sitting out on the deck for Happy Hour and it was so lovely and relaxing.  The thought of the madness and chaos of the Ex seemed overwhelming.  Next year, we’ll do that differently.  It was after 6:30 by the time we left, so none of us were at our freshest.  

It was a busy night at the Ex; it was almost a 30 minute wait for the Niagara Falls ride.  Neve was in an uncooperative, unadventurous mood and refused to go on it, so I sat and waited with her on a nearby bench.  It was facing west into the blazing setting sun and I was squeezed in between big sweaty strangers, holding Neve and four sweatshirts on my lap.  The seat of the bench tilted down 45 degrees, so I had to brace my legs the whole time to keep us from sliding down.  The large man beside me kept moving closer to me and I couldn’t move over, so feeling his hairy sweaty arm against mine was awesome.  When Dale and the kids finally got to the front of the line, Neve and I got up to watch them.  We noticed the worker guy was giving them trouble, so I went to see what the problem was.  It turns out that we were supposed to exchange our ride card (which we bought at Sobey’s in advance) for individual ride tickets at the Ex ticket booth, and the guy wasn’t going to let them on the ride.  Eventually he did, but the crazy thing is that the exact same thing happened last year.  When will we learn?  Probably never, because we always get a free ride out of the situation.

worth the wait

Once we exchanged our card and got legit tickets, we did all the usual rides.  We are all about tradition and never vary from the usual.  None of the kids are crazy about scary rides, which is bad in that the adrenaline rush is lacking, but good in that I don’t have to go on them either.  My pride wouldn’t allow me to not go on a ride that the others would go on – I have a tough time admitting I’m too scared.  Neve even refused to go on the ferris wheel this year, even though she’s been going on it since she was three (later she regretted not going).  Last year, Dale, my niece Bailey, and I mustered up the courage to go on the Mega Drop.  Bailey is in Honduras for six weeks, so I threatened her sister that I’d make her go with me, but sadly I didn’t have the energy.  Plus I was really scared. 

Anyway, it really was a good time.  It was worth going for the mini-donuts alone.  But the people-watching was the best part.  So many tattoos, so much cleavage, so many oozing bellies, so many gigantic hoop earrings, and so much spitting from the back of throats.  I feel so dignified, slim, and elegant there.  And old.  Very old.  Pretty soon I’ll be sitting on that bench full-time.  That’s something to look forward to. 

The guy who mans the big slide has been at the Ex for as long as I can remember.  He's always at the slide, and apparently never takes a break because we see him every single year.  I remember him because he's always very vigilant about not allowing children under a certain height on the slide.  I feel close to him; he's seen my children grow up.  It seems like just yesterday he was banning Spencer from the slide for being too short, and now it's Neve that is forbidden to ride without a paying adult.  Tia and Chloe are as tall as adults and more responsible than many, but Neve couldn't ride with anyone under 18.  Anyway, one of these years I will talk to him and we can reminisce about the good old days.  Or maybe I'll just take a photo of him every year, starting this year.






The annual stand-there-and-smile-in-front-of-the-ferris-wheel photo. 
Looks like Tia's breaking the don't-bend-your-arms rule.




This is to prove I didn't sit on the bench all night - on the Polar Express
See you next year, Red River Ex and Guy Who Works at Slide.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day / Marathon


Here's the best dad to my kids that I could ever wish for.  He loves having fun with the kids and has more patience with them than I can fathom.  He plays games with them, reads to Neve at night, and lovingly (he might argue that) makes their lunches every day.  He provides well for us and makes us all feel loved.  We are lucky.

Those of you on Facebook have seen most of these pictures already, but I'll post these for the rest of you.  We had such a great day today.   We were up bright and early and off to the races.  We picked up my niece Tia on the way, so she could run the Super Run with Neve.  Since Spencer's been doing running club at school and wanted to beat his record from last year, we knew he and Neve would be running at different paces.  Some kids his age run on their own and just meet up with their parents at the finish line, but that wouldn't work for Spencer.  He would be like the little Super Run kids I saw running on Pembina Hwy with all the half/full/relay runners.  Or like the relay kids we saw that obviously turned right instead of left at the spot where the half marathon route and the full/relay route split.  It happens every single year and I know Spencer would be one of those kids if he didn't have direct adult supervision.

Dale and Spencer ran it in 25 minutes, which Spencer was disappointed about.  Last year he finished in just under 24 minutes.  He can be pretty hard on himself, but Dale said he did really well and ran the whole way.  Neve and Tia took 40 minutes, which wasn't bad considering that despite Tia's best encouraging efforts, Neve walked most of it.  2.6 miles is still a fair distance when you're seven years old.


Pre-marathon.  We look pretty shiny and fresh considering we all got up at 5:30 a.m.  

All the kids and me

Chloe and I.  We got a few comments on our mother-daughter labels.  My favourite was one guy who told us he'd thought we were sisters.  I know he was just being funny/nice, but I treated it as a sincere compliment and thanked him from the bottom of my heart.

Pre-race

Chloe and I had a great run.  Our official goal was just to finish (everyone says that), but based on our training runs, I thought we could do it in under 2.5 hours.  I didn't really want to say that out loud because I know race day can bring unforeseen things like injury, weather that's not optimum for running, cramps, or even just a really bad running day.  Thankfully none of those things happened. Yesterday we woke up to steady rain and I would have been so disappointed if that had happened today.  Instead, we woke up to a perfect, beautiful morning.  We got to the university early and got a good parking spot.  Chloe and I waited in line for quite a while for the bathrooms at the Max Bell centre, but we got to the start line with a few minutes to spare.  Then the running began.  Chloe did so great; we stuck to our walking-one-minute at each mile marker except for around the five mile mark when Chloe wanted to keep walking.  After a couple of minutes, she felt okay to run again so we carried on.  I had to encourage her a bit around the 4-6 mile stretch, but she picked up the pace after that.  When we got to St. Vital Road where there were sprinklers, popsicles, a water/gatorade station, orange slices, etc., she got her second wind and miles 9-12 were a breeze.  It was during this stretch that she said, "This is fun!" and "This isn't actually that hard" and "This is way easier than the training runs."  I had to include that here; I told her I was going to remind her of those words.  Mile 13 was tougher.  I think everyone who's done the marathon can relate to how that mile feels like it will never end.  At the start of University Crescent is the sign that says "Irv's Mile" in memory of him.  I'm sure Irv was awesome, but I did not think good thoughts about him the first time I ran that stretch and realized the last mile does not start until at least a quarter mile after that sign.  Chloe felt the same way today because I forgot to warn her.  And then you see the new stadium construction and you think you're almost done.  But no.  Then you think you see Chancellor-Matheson where you turn, but no.  Finally you do get there, and then you're so happy when you turn toward the stadium, but it's still a long stretch.  And then you have to run into the stadium and do a quarter lap or so (they've changed it up a bit).  Just reading this is probably annoying - just think how annoying it is when you've been running for over two hours.

This is us on Chancellor Matheson.  Don't zoom in on my face.  I look like a crazy person.  I said don't!  No one listens to me.

"I hate to see you go but I love to watch you leave," is probably what Dale was thinking (of me, not Chloe) when he took this.  This is the one and only photo of my butt and bare thighs you will ever see on this blog.

But finally, we crossed the finish line at 2 hours 18 minutes and 50-ish seconds, still standing, still smiling.  I might have been smiling more than Chloe, but she did awesome.  She did far better than I thought she would; both during the training and the actual half-marathon.  It makes a mama proud.  I feel so lucky that we could do this together; it was such a great bonding experience.  She says she'll never do it again (haven't we all said that), but I'd place bets to the contrary. She was pretty pumped about the whole thing and wore her medal all day.  She says she's wearing it to school tomorrow too.  I asked her if the other kids won't think that's weird, but she said, "Who cares?"  That's my girl.  My hope is that this will be a confidence-instilling event that she can always look back on whenever there's a challenge ahead and think, "I ran a half marathon when I was 14, so I can do this too."

Post-race relief-exhaustion-exhiliration



As for Father's Day, we came home after the marathon, cleaned ourselves up and had a lovely lunch on the deck.  We gave Dale his Father's Day gifts and then everyone had a nice long nap.  In lieu of supper, we went to Banana Boat for ice cream.  I read Anne of Green Gables to the kids and put them to bed early. 

I didn't get to celebrate Father's Day with my dad today (we'll see him next weekend), but he's a wonderful dad too and I'm so thankful for him and how his influence has shaped me into the person I am today.  I love you, Dad!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Run, Family, Run!


Marathon day is only a few hours away.  Dale, Spencer, Neve and my niece Tia are running the Super Run and Chloe and I are running the half. We’re all pretty excited.  The kids are sleeping; a lovely evening of swimming at Mike and Darla's knocked them right out.  Usually I’m nervous before a marathon event, but this time I’m just excited.  At least I thought I was until I dreamed all kinds of crazy things last night.  In my dream, I decided at the last minute that instead of running the pre-determined marathon route, I’d just run up and down side streets until my Garmin (running GPS) told me I’d run 13.1 miles.  But then I accidentally turned my Garmin off during the run and I had no idea how far I’d run and the whole run was ruined.  I was so mad at myself for not sticking to the marathon route.  So I guess there must be a little anxiety involved if I’m dreaming crazy dreams.

Chloe’s holding up well; she’s anxious but she’s not focusing on it too much.  She’s been a trouper throughout the training – there’s been hardly any complaining about early morning runs, she’s had a great attitude, and she’s done better than I ever imagined she would (at her age).  I can’t wait to experience race day with her.  If you are looking for a special way to celebrate Father’s Day, come out and cheer us on.  We both have pink running tank tops (Chloe’s is a bit more purply), I’ll be wearing black shorts and a black knee support (mostly for psychological purposes), and possibly a white hat.  The run starts at 7:00 a.m. and I’m hoping we’ll be running ten to eleven minute miles.  I hate making a prediction because you never know how things will turn out, but I can’t help it.  If you want to know exactly where we are, you can sign up for live updates on Facebook http://apps.facebook.com/sportstatsalerts/?fb_source=search&ref=ts.  You can search by name or bib number (mine is #7863).  

Good luck to everyone else running; I know there are quite a few of you, so hopefully we’ll run into some of you there.  Not literally.  I’ll post pics and an update tomorrow! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Soccer


Neve's been playing soccer this spring. She has a few very good friends on her team, so she's been having a lot of fun.  But last Tuesday, she decided she didn't want to go anymore.  I made her go anyway and she came home with a new passion for the game, due entirely to the fact that they scored many goals and the other team scored none.  Today she was fired up and happy and playing like she meant it.  And she scored her first goal!  In an unusual stroke of luck, Dale, his mom, and I were all there to see it happen.  Dale and I have never both been at one of her games before.  It was also the only time I've brought my camera, and although I didn't get a video of her goal, I took a few other pictures.

The typical soccer cluster:



Neve playing in net.  Not exactly an agressive goalie stance:




The ball is coming closer... still standing and smiling with her arms at her side.  Thank goodness for aggressive defence.


She makes the save!


And makes the kick. 



 She's no one-trick pony either; now she's playing forward.



Happy, tired girl...


I'm hoping Neve's new-found enthusiasm lasts and that we have many years of soccer ahead of us.  Chloe and Spencer were never that interested in soccer, so all our hopes are pinned on this one.  No pressure.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

And June comes around again



May has somehow turned into June (does it do that every year?) and the final month of school is well under way.  I think I say this every year, but I wish the time between spring break and the end of June would slooooow down.  I love this time of year and it always zips by in a blur and then suddenly it’s summer.  Which is awesome, but that just means it’s almost fall again.  Well, that’s enough reflection about the passage of time and my inability to do anything about it.

Beloved time that it is, June is also The Crazy Month.  Between the three children, there are special school events almost every single day.  Today’s school event was Spencer’s French Café, where the grade fivers performed The Three Little Pigs in tortured French while the parents ate brownies.  Could be worse.

Hand-in-hand with all the school busy-ness comes high emotions and edginess.  Spencer is angry, Chloe is tired, and Neve cries at least once (sometimes the whole way) either to or from school each day.  Today Neve’s crying was somewhat justified.  On Sunday, my mom gave Neve a robin nest with two abandoned eggs to take to school to show her class.  She forgot to bring it yesterday, so she took it today and was skipping happily to school when she suddenly tripped and the plastic toolbox she was transporting the nest in, crashed to the sidewalk.  Sadly both eggs broke and there was yolk everywhere.  I wiped it on the grass as best as I could and put the broken eggs back in the nest, but Neve was so disappointed.  I promised Grandma would find her another nest with eggs, which cheered her up (just kidding, Mom).  I had coached her beforehand to make sure she stressed to her teacher and friends that the nest was abandoned so that no one would think ill of us for breaking up a bird family.  So right after the eggs broke, she said, “Well at least now I don’t have to tell people the nest was abandoned!  They’ll just think the baby birds hatched and flew away.”  I’m not sure how she’ll explain the sticky yolk everywhere, but I love how she finds something positive in almost any situation.

Speaking of birds, you have to read this This is one of my favourite blogs right now.  Her willingness to let birds make a nest by her front door disturbs me, but I love her style of writing and sense of humour.

On top of school functions, wind-ups, and the flurry of birthday parties for the unlucky summer birthday kids, Chloe and I are off to a retreat this weekend with the teen mom group I volunteer with.  This is maybe the fourth year I’ve gone, so believe me when I tell you the word “retreat” does not accurately describe this situation.  I’m not the retreat type - nor the “retreat” type - so it’s a little overwhelming for me, but I always have more fun than I think I will.  The weekend is a highlight for many of the moms and kids, which makes it Worth It.  The forecast looks lovely at this point, so I’m even going so far as to cautiously raise my expectations.

Our excitement this weekend was a trip to Emergency.  We’ve been trying to get Spencer to step away from his books and his screens, so Dale successfully got him playing baseball with him across the back lane on Saturday night.  Much to our happy surprise, Spencer loved it and didn’t want to stop playing, even when I had everything ready to make smores.  But it all came to a bloody end when Spencer hit the ball and threw the bat down to start running.  Somehow the bat ended up hitting Dale on the side of his forehead, knocking him to the ground.  He came into the backyard with blood streaming down his face.  There was a giant bump on his head – I’ve never seen a bump like that, never mind one that formed so fast.  It was like the cartoons where Wile E Coyote gets hit with something and a big red bump instantly springs up.  It was so big and alarming that I freaked and took him to emergency (Dale, not Wile E Coyote).  He waited for a couple of hours with an ice pack on his head, so by the time the doctor saw him, the swelling was way down and just a little cut was left.  I guess that’s the good thing about long emergency waits; some of the problems fix themselves.  We felt a little silly, but I’m always nervous about head injuries.  You always hear about people feeling completely fine after a bump to the head, but then they die in the night.  Well, maybe “always” is an exaggeration, but I think someone told me they’d read that once.  At least Dale got a tetanus shot, so it wasn’t a completely wasted trip.  And there are less exciting ways to spend a Saturday night than at Emergency.  We especially enjoyed the woman whose intermittent yelling gradually evolved to bloodcurdling screams.
The swelling had already subsided when I took this picture.  Doesn't the ER look like fun?  People are laughing and watching TV.  Why can't the screaming woman chill out and join the fun? 


Spencer felt terrible about it, no matter how much we told him he shouldn’t.  He was very quiet the rest of the evening, and very relieved when everything turned out okay.  Luckily we had an idyllic day before the bat incident:  kids running through the sprinkler, going to the Academy Street festival, and time spent playing games and reading outside.  The weather was perfect (and continues to be this week).  



Neve's been doing a lot of reading up in the playstructure.  She's hooked on the Ivy & Bean series.

Butterfly on our deck.  Flower at the top; butterfly here - I'm turning into a nature photographer.
 
The fire shortly before I had to douse it with the hose before taking Dale to the hospital.

Notice the "How May I Annoy You Today" on his shirt.  Maybe by hurling a bat at your head?  (Just kidding Spencer, it wasn't your fault.)