Monday, June 24, 2013


I had a list of things to do this weekend, broken down into “Must Do” and “Would Like to Do.”  The San Francisco blog update was on the “Would Like to Do” list, but unfortunately got trumped by a lot of other things.  Here are two of those things:

Playing doctor.  I got to be the patient next.

My nieces were here this weekend while Jim and Sabrina were in Minneapolis, living the dream.  At least if your dream is a classic car show and shopping.  The girls were very good - Bella and Neve played Barbies and read books and ran outside in the rain.  Lexie took three-hour naps and dragged around a doll all weekend and made us laugh with her cute little words.  They were fun to have around.  Besides the Taylor Swift concert (more on that next), we didn’t have much up this weekend so I thought we’d do some fun outings with them.  Somehow between work, cleaning, errands, and laundry, that didn’t happen.  We’re hosting a foreign student for a month this summer and the program coordinator called on Saturday morning to say she’d be coming to do a house visit that day.  That phone call resulted in an intense cleaning session, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in these parts for months.  Cleaning with five children in the house is one step forward, fifty steps back.   After all my frantic cleaning and being short and snappy with everyone, the coordinator never showed up.  It was a wasted day because I’ll have to start from scratch the next time she calls.  Since Chloe is now finished school, I’m going to put her to good use this week.  There are several areas of the house in dire need of thorough cleaning and organizing.  She probably won’t like this any more than she liked my request that she spend her free days standing guard in front of our house to ward off the squirrel that is constantly digging in the window box.  In an effort to distance herself from me and my clever ideas, she has solicited a couple of babysitting jobs this week.

Bella in mid-pounce

But it all worked out in the end

The long-awaited Taylor Swift concert was Saturday night.  Chloe, Bailey and Tia got tickets for Christmas, so it was like Christmas in June.  To take away some of their joy after all that anticipation, I suddenly scooped up some cheap tickets on Stubhub on Thursday for Neve and I.  I felt bad about stealing some of their thunder, but their gift also included six months of anticipation.  Right, girls??  And the best part for them is that they were approached by staff at the concert and given wristbands that gave them access to the pit right in front of the stage.  They had an awesome time being so close to the action, while Neve and I viewed from afar the little dot that was supposedly Taylor Swift.  Our seats were almost as far as one could get from the stage.  We had the very edge seats at the end of the stadium; in the 200 level, but not quite at the top.  It was actually perfect for Neve, who refuses to go to movies because they’re too loud and intense.  But she loved the concert.  She never asked to get food or go to the washroom or buy a t-shirt; she was transfixed by Taylor’s music and clothes the whole time.  She sang along to every song she knew (she knew more than I did) and got up and danced on the stairs when she felt like it.  It was a lot of fun and took away any doubts I may have had about bringing her.

Me:  Let's take a picture outside the stadium!

Me:  Let's take a picture inside the stadium!

Me:  Take a picture of me holding up Neve at a slant!

Me:  Let's take a picture to show how far away our seats are from the stage!

Me:  Let's take a picture of the cool new stadium (first concert there)!

Me:  Let's take another picture while we wait for the many opening acts to finish!

Chloe and her cousins were in one of the two areas right at the front that are surrounded by the stage.

Me:  Let's take a picture with Bailey in it!

I guess I could have done the San Francisco update in the time it took me to post this.  You’ll be expecting something amazing by now, but I really just need to sort through hundreds of photos, which I’ll just slap up on the blog.  It feels like a distant memory by now with all the June craziness that’s taken place since then.  Things are about to wind down… work will soon fade to the bare minimum, Neve has two more soccer nights, Spencer has one more fencing session, and the kids will be done school on Thursday.  Very little schoolwork is being done; Neve’s class blew bubbles today and Spencer spent the day at Fun Mountain.  His teacher obviously has not seen the end-of-the-school-year thing that has been all over the internet, because he gifted ME with homework this weekend.  I’m supposed to listen to Spencer read in tortured French, act out a play with stick puppets (seriously), and answer three questions on how well it was presented to me.  If Spencer wasn’t so conscientious/obsessive with homework, I would have thrown my assignment straight into recycling already.  Oh well, I’ll guess I’ll use the time I allotted for baking the teacher brownies to do my homework instead.  Of course I didn’t really allot time for brownies, but if I had …   

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Ex-cursion 2013

Last night was our annual Ex Ex-cursion Ex-travaganza (XXX).  Yeah, that doesn't even make sense, but things that don't make sense are usually funner than things that do. 

The Ex somehow sneaks up on us every year.  I don't even know it's in town until I see a picture from opening night on the front page of the newspaper.  Then we frantically try to find a free evening during the busiest week and a half of the year that works for both us and my nieces.  Somehow we always find one.  Even though Dale and I find it a bit daunting and wish we could skip the odd year, the kids love it so much that it's Worth It.  I guess we've lowered our expectations a lot, because this year, both Dale and I had a really good time that far surpassed our expectations.  When Dale got home from work, we had a quick bite and were at the Ex by 6:30 or so.  The weather was fantastic, the crowds weren't bad, and the lines were short.  My niece Bailey had to cancel in the end because she had to work, so we were very happily surprised when she texted us to say that she had just arrived.  We arranged to meet at the washrooms but did not specify clearly enough which washrooms (and left and right are so easily to mix up).  But we found each other pretty easily and it was great having her there since she missed it last year when she was in Honduras.  We did our usual rides: Niagara Falls, Polar Express, Pharaoh's Fury, the ferris wheel, the big slide, the high swings, the fun houses, and assorted other attractions.  Spencer and Bailey went on Crazy Mouse and Chloe and Neve did the bumper cars.  We also watched the horse show and the girls watched the Freddy Fusion science show.  Neve got chosen to be a helper, but I was at the reptile exhibit with Spencer so I missed it.

Neve also insisted on doing this ladder climb.  You had to climb a rope ladder and press a button at the top to win a prize.  We watched people doing it and every single person flipped over when they got near the top except for the guy who worked there.  I knew Neve's chances of making it were exactly zero and told her we may as well take the $5 it cost and throw it straight into the garbage.  But we gave it to the Ex worker instead.  And Neve flipped off the ladder.  And then we watched other people throw away their money too.  A good time was had by all.  Look at Neve's smile.  She's probably thinking, "Ha ha!  That was fun!  I'm so glad I didn't waste my own money on this!"

But look how cute she is.  Some day she won't want to go to the Ex with her parents.  Although I'd still go with my parents if they paid for it.  Well, I'd go with them even if they didn't.

Neve also did the Prairie Town Adventure, which she loves.  Picking a junky prize with your "farm dollar"is the highlight.  It only took about five minutes to decide this year, which was much faster than other years.

Spencer loved the reptile exhibition.  He held a snake, a scorpion and a tarantula.  He has a spider phobia, so this is a really big deal for him.

Then he won the watergun-shooting game and is now the proud owner of a stuffed hamster wearing a sweatshirt.  The rest of us cheered as though he'd won the Nobel Peace Prize.  Not sure if people cheer for that but they should.  It was a good night. 

Neve also won a  hamster because she threw two rings that didn't get anywhere near where they were supposed to go but everyone's a winner.  I gave the worker $10 and had to prod him to get my $8 of change back.  I   guess he was counting on my memory not being as tack-sharp as it was.  I bet that tactic works 80% of the time though.  He must make a ton of money - no wonder every kid's a winner.  Neve was delighted with her hamster because it's a Webkinz one that she has actually been wanting.  I don't know what's happening in this world when you come away from the Ex with something you actually wanted.  Well, we come away with happiness and memories, but not usually something tangible.

One of the many times I made the kids all line up for photos

I was actually trying to get a picture of the worker at the Big Slide without being too obvious.  The same guy works there every year (see last year), but as it turns out this was the wrong guy.  I guess we don't know him as well as we thought we did.

Cuckoo Haus (who names these?!)

One side of the ferris wheel 

Other side of the ferris wheel

Yet another successful XXX comes to a close

Monday, June 17, 2013

Marathon 2013

I still haven't gotten around to the San Francisco recap, so I'll slip in the marathon update first.  Despite predictions of rain, the weather was perfect.  Sunny and warm, but not too warm.  My neighbour-friend Karen and my sister's family were all running as well so it was fun meeting up with them all before hand.  We all had a good run: I reached my goal of running the half in under two hours (1:57) and Dale was very close behind at 2:02.  I think I started off too fast because I was struggling towards the end. I kept waiting for a fresh burst of energy in the last half, but it never came.  The last two miles were really tough and I wanted to walk so badly but two things kept me going: knowing that the faster I got to the end, the sooner it would be over; and knowing how disappointed I would be if I didn't achieve my sub-two hour goal.  I had written Teresa's name on my wrist for extra motivation, so I tried to focus on that too.  Teresa was actually not at all fond of the marathon, but as a fast runner who pushed herself, I knew she'd be cheering me on and encouraging me to keep going. I was very happy to see the finish line and happened to meet up with Karen and a guy from church, so we went to the recovery area and loaded up with all the free food they hand out.  An awesome new addition this year was mini cupcakes from Cupcake Corner, which almost made those last two miles Worth It. 

Spencer, Chloe, Bob, Janet, Tia, Bailey, and Bailey's boyfriend all did the 10K.  Spencer ran ahead and finished in 1 hour and 27 seconds, and the rest weren't far behind.  He did really well and was so thrilled with his run.  My nephew Jonathan also ran the half and did it in a crazy time of 1:40.  His mom and Dale's mom were there too, cheering us all on.  It's always a really fun atmosphere and definitely a highlight for the kids.  Neve didn't want to participate this year, so she stayed at Jim & Sabrina's for night.  She says she'll do the Super Run next year, but I think she had a lot of fun with Bella, so that might be a greater pull than running. 

I'm feeling pretty sore today and am trying to avoid all activities that involve squatting or descending stairs.  I wasn't nearly this sore after my long training runs, but I guess that means I pushed myself harder.  Or didn't stretch enough.  Or something. 

The only problem with the marathon is that we're all too tired to do much for Father's Day.  I'm glad I don't have to run 13 miles on Mother's Day.  But I mustered up a picnic lunch (which Dale just wanted to eat at home) and then we went to my parent's for supper later.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

San Francisco

I haven't had time yet to write a comprehensive report about our trip, so I thought I'd at least let you know we made it home from our magical little getaway last weekend.  San Francisco was everything I dreamed it would be. We packed a lot of sightseeing into our days and took lots of pictures.  So stay tuned for more.  Because seeing typical tourist pictures of other people's trips is so awesome.

View from Alcatraz

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Still blogging

My week of daily posts seems to have got me back into the blogging state of mind.  Daily blogging makes me feel like an over-sharer.  When I see people in person who read the blog regularly, there’s nothing left to talk about and it's all just awkward silence.  Oh, I guess I could ask them about themselves.  I never thought of that.  Since I don’t have much left to say, here are some pictures instead.

One of the best days of the year is the day I look out the window and see this:

It’s not at its fullest, but I was scared I’d forget to take a picture at its peak.  We also have lilacs, and an apple tree with white blossoms, but it hardly bloomed this year.  I love walking Neve to school and seeing and smelling all the blossoms.  Good times.

We had sushi and drinks on the deck on Sunday evening.  I’m not sure why we’re shunning Blake, but I’m sure he did something to deserve it.

Crazy hair girls on the trampoline

And here’s a photo series I did on Dale’s old car as it leaves us for greener pastures.  At least that’s what we told It.  Hopefully there are green pastures near the scrap yard.  It served us well.  RIP, beige Cavalier.

These are just a few of the pictures I took; I took so many I could make them into a flip book.  

I think I mentioned that Dale and I are going on a little getaway to San Francisco; right now we’re just trying to stay afloat with the pre-trip preparations and arrangements.  It’s somewhat overwhelming, but it will all be Worth It as soon as we’re on the plane.  I probably won’t get the chance to write again until we’re back, and then I’ll tell you everything.  Well, maybe not everything; I'll save some stuff for when I see you in person.

Saturday, June 01, 2013


The car dealership called this morning to say Dale's new car was ready to be picked up today instead of Monday.  This was very happy news since Dale's old car is a lump of useless metal stuck in our  parking spot, waiting for Teen Challenge to come drag it away.  We drove the new car to my parents' house tonight and it lived up to all of Dale's hopes and dreams.  There is one small glitch to be worked out before we can fully register it, so Dale has to take it back to the dealership Monday morning and they'll have a loaner car for him to take to work.

My mom made us soup and fresh bread and rhubarb cake for supper, which was delicious.  I hope no one is tired of zip line photos because it's just the beginning of a whole new zip line season.  My dad continues to make adjustments to it; now there's a little seat instead of just a bar to sit on, and a little buffer at the end of the line in case someone fails to use the brakes.

Spencer finally got to use the archery set he got for Christmas.  All three kids are going to my parents' next weekend while Dale and I are away, so there will be lots of time for zip lining and archery and everything else they love to do.