Thursday, June 30, 2016

Grad 2016

If you hear a giant sigh and an unexplained gust of wind, that's probably me exhaling. 

The last few days have been a crazy whirlwind of grad preparations and celebrations. It's been busy and hectic and frantic, but tons of fun. It's not every day that our firstborn graduates from high school. Well, it felt like every day the past two days: on Tuesday was her convocation, followed by a party with family and friends that evening, and then Wednesday was the dinner and safe grad party.

The convocation was at Calvary Temple and if you've ever wondered what it would be like to sit through 300+ kids receiving their diplomas, I can tell you. It's long. The pews were hard. If my friend Jenn had told me about Graduation Bingo a little sooner, the three-hour ceremony would have been a lot more entertaining. (The link is a variation of the one she shared on Facebook. I'm pretty sure I heard every single one of these phrases). But it was pretty cool to see all these kids - all shiny and fresh and excited - get their diplomas. Especially my kid. We're super proud of her. She graduated with a full International Baccalaureate diploma, Kappa Sigma (overall average over 80%). I'm sorry to brag, but I know how hard she worked hard for that, and how she stuck with the full IB program even when a lot of her friends went to partial IB.

After the convocation, we rushed home all shaky and hungry and crampy from sitting so long. Neve was not happy about missing the grade six farewell at her school to watch Chloe graduate, and she made me very unhappy about it too. Let's just say it was a big relief to drop her off at school on our way home.

The afternoon was spent preparing for the party, prettying up the yard and making food. And then the party started and the guests arrived. I'll let the pictures tell the story.

 It looks like a burning bush above; it's just the way the camera caught the lights. No fire extinguisher needed. My friend Kristin came over in the afternoon to decorate. She did a fantastic job. She strung up "first day of school" photos from every single year from Nursery to Grade 12. I was pretty proud of myself for not only taking a photo every single year, but for finding and printing all the photos. It took a lot of digging; Chloe helped. On the table were momentos from her school years: artwork, class picture, photos, cheer stuff, favourite books, etc.

The weather was perfect. I prayed very hard, especially when an ominous cloud made a brief appearance. I can't imagine doing this party inside. One thing I did not think to pray for was for the mosquito-spraying truck to stay away.

Siobhan had told us about a weird concoction that's supposed to repel mosquitos, made of listerine, beer, and epsom salts. I can't even imagine how or why someone came up with that combo. But Dale sprayed it all around the yard before the party and the mosquitos were minimal. I'm hesitant to fully attribute it to the concoction, but you never know.

During the party, around 10:30 pm, I heard a truck coming down the back lane, sounding very much like the malathion truck. Never has it come that early before; I've only seen or heard it after midnight. But on the one night in the past decade that we've had an outdoor party of this magnitude, it came at 10:30. When the driver saw our yard full of people, it shut off the sprayer as it passed by, but the smell of malathion descended over us. That was lovely. The worst part is that as soon as the truck passed by, the mosquitos came out with a vengeance. I later heard that that is in fact what happens when malathion is sprayed - the mosquitos go wild and then die. So nice that it happened during our party.

But we just held our breath and kept eating the poison-covered food while we swatted mosquitos. A fire was built and Chloe's friends made smores and sat around the flames til almost midnight.

It was such a fun evening. I had so much help: my sister delivered a van-full of chairs, table, decorations (see burning bush above), and more, including delicious caprese salad skewers. Kristin came home from her cabin vacation just to help decorate and attend the party. My friend Rachel made yummy white chocolate covered strawberries and let me borrow all her fancy dishes. Jim & Sabrina lent us a bunch of things from a ladder ball game to a drink dispenser. My parents lent us stuff and my mom cleaned up in the kitchen. We borrowed a ton of stuff from the neighbours - from chairs to extension cords to wine glasses. I've probably forgotten someone, but everyone was so willing to help and I appreciated it so much. Then there were the guests … people made time in their busy schedules to come, including several who had to drive an hour or more to get here. Even Siobhan came from Vancouver. Okay, she was out here anyway, but still. There are many people who have had a huge impact on Chloe's life and it was so awesome to have them come and celebrate with us. Chloe got such lovely gifts, which were not expected but very much appreciated. Thanks everyone - you're the best!

Wednesday arrived and I bit off more than I could chew. I went strawberry picking with Darla since I was worried it would be my only chance to go. The picking was amazing and we filled nine baskets pretty quickly. Then I zipped home to shower and get ready, took Chloe to get her hair and makeup done, then home to get dressed. I posted some of these on instagram already, but here they are again.

Tia sacrificed her lunch hour to do Chloe's makeup. She did a fantastic job.

A few quick pics - I regret not taking more.

And then her chauffeur arrive to pick her up. A huge shout-out to my brother Jim for taking off work early to pick up Chloe and her friends, take them to the park for pictures with their friends, and then drive her to the dinner/dance.

I met them at the park for a few quick pictures before rushing off to Canad Inns to volunteer for grad check-in before the dinner.

Dale joined us for dinner and we had a really nice meal, followed by a few speeches and toasts. 

Then we left Chloe behind and went home to bed so that we could be fresh and ready for when she called to be picked up. Dale was the hero and dragged himself out of bed to pick her up around 2:45. There are no pictures to show what happened after dinner, so we'll all have to leave it to our imaginations. Chloe said she had a great time and you'll have to ask her if you want more information. But apparently what happens at grad, stays at grad.

And that's the end of that! It's been a blast, but we're all ready to relax. We're off to the lake for a week and I can't wait to sit and read and do nothing!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Our annual Ex-cellent adventure


Our annual visit to the Ex took place on Wednesday. Coordinating eight busy schedules is tricky but somehow we always make it work. Hectic work schedules? End of the year school activities, wind-ups and parties? Soccer? Summer courses? Grad festivities to prepare for? 60 macarons to make? No matter. We can overcome all obstacles because nothing can keep us from our beloved, grimy pilgrimage to the land of sketchy characters and sugary doughnuts.


Oddly enough, none of us are even that into the rides. We go on the exact same rides every year; nothing too far out of our comfort zone and never venturing to try something new (except Chloe joined us on the rocking ship this year!). In fact, we probably decrease our ridership a little every year. One year, we’ll find ourselves going on nothing but the big slide.

The slide is non-negotiable. That’s where our good friend Tim works. At least that’s what his name tag says. I’m not sure if the names tags are a new thing this year. I’ve never noticed them in the past - must be a new customer service initiative. Anyway, as you may remember from other years, Tim measures kids to see if they meet the height requirements for the slide. He doesn’t seem to be climbing the corporate ladder very quickly, but then you never know – maybe doing height measurements at the slide is a pretty cushy job. It might be the most coveted job at the fair. Although the trampoline show looked pretty cool.  Except the performers had to wear lederhosen for reasons that were never explained.
Anyway, height-measuring surely has its rewards. This is the very first year that Neve was tall enough to ride unaccompanied by an adult. Tim has been most diligent in ensuring this did not happen until she was precisely the right height; not a millimetre less. I like to think that even though he gave no indication of remembering us from year to year, his heart was bubbling over with joy to see Neve growing strong and healthy and progressing to the ranks of the unaccompanied.

What luck I had to snap a photo at this exact moment. It looks staged, but my relationship with Tim is not one that I'd feel comfortable enough to ask him to recreate this iconic moment.  But we'll get there.

Whatcha gonna do when I'm gone, whatcha gonna do? Oh Chilliwack, somehow we managed just fine without you. But it was nice to hear you again.

Trampoline/stunt girl

I'm not sure what everyone's so amazed at ... maybe the slingshot ball?

The subject of the above photo is the poop hat on the right. Not that Bailey & Darrin aren't super cute, but it's tough to compete with a poop emoji hat. Apparently that was a popular prize in the games of chance because we saw a lot of them. Should be easy to find one at your local thrift store in about a week.

As I mentioned, none of us love scary rides. But one year someone had something to prove and they went on the Mega Drop. Now we all feel bad pressure to go on it every year. For a while it looked like no one was going to go on it this year, but then Darrin stepped up. Tia was next, and then my competitive streak kicked in and I made myself say as casually as possible, "oh, yeah, I'll go" as if it hadn't even occurred to me that I wouldn't. You'd think a 46-year-old mom wouldn't be affected by peer pressure. What reward is there in being middle-aged if you can't even get out of things you really don't want to do?? Anyway, it was terrifying and the drop seemed to last longer than in other years. Bragging rights are awesome, but it just might have been my last year. I think I said that last year too.
We are the champions.

Polar Express. Do you want to go faster?!?  We really don't, but we cheer anyway.

We always end the night with a ferris wheel ride. Don't we all look happy?? That's the reason we keep going year after year. I like fun.


In the above photo, we are pausing for a nutrition lesson. There was a request for ice cream and we were deliberating between $7 Ex ice cream cones or picking up 99 cent Frostys at Wendy's on the way home. Dale is informing his captive audience that Frostys contain no dairy products but are an edible oil product that Wendy's keeps at room temperature. Frostys still won.
Our annual about-to-go-home photo (Darrin left earlier)