Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Whipping him into shape

On Saturday, Liam had his second hockey practise. It will take some getting used to, this twice-a-week activity. (On a side note, if you're like me and you bitch about how expensive hockey is, think of it this way: last year we paid something like $165 for Liam to go to a half-hour skating lesson once a week. This year we spent $450 on hockey, but it's twice a week for 50 minutes each time. He's spending nearly 4 times as much time on the ice. So I guess the cost is justifiable.)On Saturday morning, we rode bikes to the park and played tag. On Saturday afternoon, we went down to the creek to feed the ducks and geese, and Liam pulled Mallory in the wagon the whole way there and almost all the way back. And then, at 3 p.m., Liam got on the ice and I'm sure you can see where this is heading - he barely had enough energy to keep upright.Somehow he made it through the entire hour, but from now on I think we will make sure that our Saturday mornings are pretty laid back and don't involve so much physical exertion. The poor kid!

Monday, September 27, 2010


It's one of those times of year that makes me glad to live where I live. Sure, I would sometimes love to live someplace where it's warm all year (longer triathlon season!) or sunny for 20 hours per day in the middle of summer (think of how much you could get done!) But then I would miss out on migration season, which I like even more now that we are living on the creek.

The first one isn't from our back yard - it's from when we went to the Monarch Migration Festival out at Rondeau a couple of weeks ago. But the rest were taken out on the 'back 40'. During the day, hundreds and hundreds of geese amass on the creek banks down by the football field. The numbers build steadily all day until sometime around 5 or 6 p.m., when they take off in a crazy, honking, flapping mass.We take corn down to feed them. The ducks are pretty tame and will come flying across the creek if they spot us from the opposite bank. The geese are a little more leery, and only swarm in to hoover up the last of the corn after we've left. Here's Liam getting a little too complacent with the birds all around him.Then this guy started to honk and flap his wings, and I think Liam got the bejeesus scared out of him!Liam had the last laugh though.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Having a lot of fun with this today


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Mallory's turn

(Don’t rub your eyes… that is indeed mist rising off the surface of the ice, which I suppose is what happens when you go skating when it’s 30C outside!)

Last night it was finally time for Mallory’s first skating lesson. She has been very excited about this for several weeks now. Each morning she wakes up and asks if it’s her skating day. Yesterday we were finally able to say… YES!
In the car on the way over to the rink, she regaled us with stories of the on-ice twirls and one-legged manoeuvres that she was going to perform. I didn’t want to crush her so we toned it down for her just a bit, but didn’t tell her that she would probably be spending most of the first month or two on the ice on her bum. She did seem to enjoy herself though, falls and all, and gave us a few waves when she was able to find our faces in the crowd.Here she is all decked out in Liam’s hand-me-down hockey skates and helmet. Our next door neighbour was at the rink last night too, and when he saw Mallory, he began trying to sell me his daughter’s hand-me-down figure skates. She skates at the provincial level and he wants $100 a pair for her old figure skates, which I have no doubt are top-of-the-line. I tried explaining to him that with Mallory’s track record of quitting activities, we need to keep our startup costs low, and his gear is a little beyond us right now. When she's ready for those twirls and one-legged manoeuvres, then I might reconsider.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hockey night in Canada

At 3:55 p.m. yesterday afternoon, Liam took to the ice for the first time not as a CanSkate skating student, but as a hockey player. Though I don't think there will be any hockey playing for many months - some of the kids have clearly never even been on skates before! We figured doing something with his skating (i.e. hockey) would be better for him than another year of just learning to skate for skating's sake. So far he seems interested and like he's enjoying himself, and it's a good thing... hockey is a lot more costly than skating lessons ever were. If he pulled a Mallory and quit after the first week, I would be furious!
So now that the issue of whether or not he's going to like it is behind us, we turn our attention to the issue of how on earth we are going to get him onto the ice week after week at such a crazy time. Don't any of the coaches or parents work? What 9-to-5 parent finds it easy to go across town to pick their kid up, spend 20 minutes getting him dressed, and get him to the arena for an hour-long practise before 4 o'clock? I guess we have to tough it out for a couple of years while he's in the Tyke division... the older kids seem to have more convenient ice times.
It's also a good thing that I am taking Mallory to her dance lessons. Chad will have to figure this one out.
As for me, I am trying to simplify the evening routine now that we are out of the house with activities 5 days/week. Last week I am embarrassed to admit that we ate McDonald's takeout, takeout pizza, and Kraft dinner. I can't recall the other nights but they were probably nothing more elaborate than grilled cheese. This week, I got my act together, made a menu plan on the weekend, and actually cooked a roast last night that we reheated for dinner tonight.
One night down... roughly 180 left to go.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Post-race party

Apparently, competing in a triathlon was not enough to keep me fully busy on Saturday, because we also went to Hallowbash that night. The race had a great food buffet/awards ceremony but we packed up my stuff and left pretty much as soon as I crossed the finish line rather than sticking around. We did so in order to make it home in time to have a nap before our night out. In hindsight, I'm not sure that it was worth it, because (a) I didn't sleep all that much anyway and (b) today I found out that I won the biggest door prize of the day - a pair of Zoot racing shoes. The catch being, of course, that I had to have been there to claim the prize. I am kind of kicking myself now for racing a great race and getting across the finish line before the awards and prizes began. Damn!!!!
But it was Hallowbash, which has become something of a tradition for us, so the early trek home seemed like a good idea at the time. This year Chad and I went in different directions. Megan's idea was to go as the cast of Glee and for some reason the boys didn't like that idea. I can't imagine why. So they went as the cast of The Hangover instead. None of these costumes make any sense if you haven't seen the show/movie, but enough people 'got' it to make it feel like a worthwhile idea.
We didn't win any prizes for costumes though... shafted again!
I think that pretty much everything we are wearing came from the thrift store, which makes us pretty resourceful costume-makers, if you ask me. My cheerleader's skirt did not arrive in time so a night-before trip to Value Village oh-so-very-luckily resulted in me finding a red skirt that would make do. My real cheerleading uniform should be here any day now though. Not sure what I am going to do with it... I wasn't a cheerleader in high school, and I sure as heck am not about to start now.

Liam is now chomping at the bit for me to get started on his Halloween costume. I think he thinks that the big day is a lot closer than it actually is. And really, it isn't his fault that this party is six weeks early... I can't blame him for thinking so.

By the end of the night and after making it through two of the band's sets on the dance floors, I was pretty damn sore and tired. I am hoping that Lakeside and Hallowbash pick different weekends next year. I'd like to pace myself a little bit.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lakeside: After

Chad has a new term for me, and that term is: Sandbagger. To sum up my race, it went awesome, much better than I expected it to. I hearby vow to stop selling myself short in this whole business.

(Can I just say, before I go any further, that wetsuits have to be the least flattering garment on earth? They squish your boobs together and down to make you look completely flat chested, yet somehow still emphasize your gut and thighs. It's awful. I also look a lot thicker here than I hope I look in real life. Please remember as you view these that there is 5mm of neoprene on all sides of me.)I was nervous all day on Friday, but that went out the window as soon as we arrived at the venue on Saturday morning. Really, my only goal for this race was to have fun. And by the time we pulled into the parking lot around 8 a.m., I was just excited to get out there and do it. The venue was awesome - the perfect combination of a small, calm lake with great water quality; a bike course that was scenic, and rolling enough to make it fun and challenging without leaving me begging for mercy; and a run that was probably the least spectacular of the three disciplines, but fine enough for a run to wrap things up.

The thermometer on the car dashboard read 16C as we arrived. Still not exactly swimming weather, right? I had some reservations. But with a wetsuit on, I actually thought the water was fine. My arms and face were a little cold to begin with but nothing that I thought was complaint-worthy. After the race I heard a few grumblings from participants that there was no way the water was 72F - it was much colder than that. I don't consider myself experienced enough to know about these things. It was definitely swimmable, so it was fine by me.The buoys did not look threateningly far out in the water and I was actually looking forward to the horn sounding to start the race - what was wrong with me? It took a few minutes to settle into a stroke, and for those minutes I did have a couple of "What am I doing here?" thoughts, but by the time I rounded that first buoy I was into a rhythm and knew I could do it. I even passed a few racers from the waves that left in front of mine. I sighted really well and only veered off a straight line a little toward the end of the swim. I came out of the water ahead of schedule. Yay!Here I am doing just that, coming out of the water and looking surprisingly similar to The Swamp Thing while doing so. Ack. Is that a look of determination on my face or what?
The transition area was really well organized and nice and compact. It was a lot less intimidating this time around, having done it all once before.
My transition times were slow, though. I took the time to put on a shirt this time rather than swim in it, because I thought I'd be too cold coming out of cold water on a cold morning and hopping on a bike. In hindsight, it probably wouldn't have been too bad.
At the bike mounting line. The bike course that I had dreaded for so long was actually the most fun part of the day. I enjoyed the change of pace of having to gear up/gear down as I went up and down hills and I hit a max speed of 46.6 kph on a downhill. I think my previous fastest speed was only in the 35 kph range. I was slower on this leg of the race than any other, relative to the overall field, but I surprised myself with a great time. I think I probably made up more time on the downhills than I lost on the uphills.
Coasting into the dismount area... I knew my run was going to be slow because the hills were pretty taxing, and I ran the 5k slower than I typically do, but I still was faster on the run than I thought I could be under the circumstances. Aside from the first few hundred meters out and back, the run was all rolling hills too, but I made it through.
I came across the finish line in 1:31:02 which put me 11/23 in my age group. My secret goal time was 1:45 so I was blown away by that. After I saw my finishing time, I also saw that the 20k bike course was really 17.5k. I don't know what happened there... the race was advertised as 20k and I don't know if it was an error or what... last year it was definitely a 20k bike. So my time was great partly because of that. However, had I stayed on pace and ridden the extra 2k I still would have stayed well below 1:40. So I am still mighty proud of myself. (Make no mistake, there is still plenty of room for improvement... I finished 190th overall in a field of 279. I never said I wasn't slow... just better than I thought I could be.)
Mostly I am proud that I overcame the nerves, went out yesterday and had a lot of fun. I was standing waist-deep in lake water, watching the elite waves go off and waiting for my own start, when it occurred to me that I was already having enough fun to want to come back again next year, and I hadn't even seen yet what the course had to throw at me. I felt that same feeling the whole way through the course and I can't wait for my next race now, with a bit more experience and ready to challenge myself to whittle a few minutes off my previous best time.

Today I feel a bit sad that the Ontario triathlon season is officially over, and a bit lost as well. Normally I would be in the pool at 6 a.m. on a Monday morning. I think I'll take tomorrow off because I'm still a little tired from the race, but as for my Tuesday morning brick workout and my Wednesday morning long run... it feels strange not having a plan to follow any more. I hope that I can change course somewhat over the winter so that I don't burn out, but still maintain what I was able to build this summer. I have a few races on the 2011 calendar that I am eyeing, but the first one isn't until June, and it's a long time between now and then. I guess I never really expected that something that I did this year in order to cross an item off my bucket list would become a passion that I plan to continue to work at.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lakeside: Before

It's hard to believe that my first triathlon was only three weeks ago. It seems like ages... back when it was hot and sticky and full-on summer. Here we are, on the eve of Lakeside, and it feels like we are in a totally different season... one that does not lend itself well to scantily-clad outdoor pursuits. To be honest, jumping into a lake tomorrow morning currently feels like just about the last thing on Earth that I want to be doing. (Though I do recognize that this is probably a case of nerves setting in.)

They opened the course up to people to take a practise run through last weekend, and though I didn't go up for that, I heard from a few who did. The themes that kept coming in from their reports were that (a) the lake was frigid - someone reported low 60's and (b) the course is very hilly.

This concerns me on two levels: the cold, and the hills. I do have a wetsuit, but it's sleeveless, and I've heard that it's difficult to even get your face wet once the water gets cold, let alone swim well. And as for hills, well, have you seen where I live? I haven't biked a single hill this summer. And as they say... the only way to get better at riding hills, is to ride hills.

So. Ahem. Add that to the fact that I expect some serious competitors at this event, ones for whom I expect every waking minute outside of the office is devoted to a swim, bike or run, and suddenly I'm not sure how I feel about it anymore. The awards ceremony and post-race food are both scheduled for before I expect to be crossing the finish line, if that gives you any context about the thing. Meaning, the vast majority of people WILL have finished by then.

I got the pre-race report email from the race director yesterday, and the good news is that the event organizers predict the lake water to be at 72 degrees on Saturday morning. So whoever was spouting off about temps in the low 60s was full of it. Of course, the race director also reported that the last 5km of the bike are all uphill. Great... just what I need before starting a run!!

I am trying to psych myself up for this event by reminding myself of a few things. Number one, I really like to ride my bike. And to run. And really, I even like swimming, even though I am incredibly slow at it. So this event actually affords me an opportunity I rarely have: to put them all together. Number two, I really like being outside at this time of year. And this event even puts numbers one and two together for me. Lastly, I think the big mental hurdle that I have to get over is that I am entitled to do this as slowly as I want. It is perfectly OK to go and participate rather than compete. I will try not to let myself get freaked out by all the super speedy people out there, and by the people who are bound to fly by me in the lake even though their waves start later. Let 'em pass me in the lake... then they won't pass on the bike or run, right?

Here's to showing up and participating.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


(Not really. She just comes home from Cindy's really, really tired sometimes, and decides to lie down and fall asleep while I am making dinner. Usually she does this on the couch, and usually it's not so disruptive there - how am I supposed to get into the fridge when she is like this??)

So... Mallory's dance class. Mallory has been talking about 'doing her dancing' all summer long, and she has been busy showing us her 'dance moves', which mostly consist of twirls and a bunch of poses that are actually quite reminscent of things I have done in yoga class. Or maybe even things Madonna did in Vogue. Whatever the case, she was quite excited to put all these moves to music on Tuesday night.

I cautioned her before we went that she might not be doing the exact same dance moves in class that she has been practising all summer. The syllabus for the Pre-Primary Tap and Ballet Combo class reads as follows:

Ballet focus is on pointing and flexing feet, skips, walks and gallops, plies, point and close, bounces, knee lifts, posture and rhythm. Use of imagination is used to show importance of storytelling in dance. Tap focus in on making the proper tap sounds, and learning the terms of the different parts of the foot. The very earliest skills are taught, such as heel steps, toe steps, digs, jump out jump in, and learning the right from the left side of the body.

Pretty basic stuff.

But she assured me that her dancing would include some twirls. In fact, the morning before that first class she said to me, "I am going to do some twirls in my dance class, and I think my twirls are going to be faster than my teacher's twirls because she is big and I am small."

Well then.

She was acting a bit shy when we first got to the dance studio, and I don't blame her. It was completely chaotic, the waiting room was overflowing with parents and family members, and Mallory's class started almost 15 minutes late. Still, when the time came she marched into the room with all the other little girls and followed Miss Brittany's lead flawlessly. She came out halfway through the class so I could change her from her ballet slippers into her tap shoes, and then she was back in for Round 2. She really seemed to be enjoying herself. (Parents watch through a one-way mirror.)

As we left the studio and I was buckling her into the car, I told her that she did a great job and asked her how she enjoyed her first dancing lesson. "Did you like your dancing?" I asked.

Without missing a beat she looked at me and said, "I LIKED it... but we didn't do any dancing."

(Remember, her idea of dancing is very akin to what Olive does on stage at the end of Little Miss Sunshine.)

I do think that the class was a success and Mallory is already asking when she gets to go back for more. Part of me wants to remain a little bit cautious though. Her first swimming lesson at the Y was also a success, but the fact that she quit three weeks later after refusing to get in the water again proves that she can change her mind just like that.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

9 years

Today is our 9th wedding anniversary. While we did go out for lunch today to celebrate, the rest of our day has not been the romantic escape that 9 years actually deserves. Instead, we went to Meet the Teacher night. I know we already know Mrs. Garrow, but Liam was excited to show us around his classroom again, including stops at his new table, his new coat hook, etc. Now that the kids are in bed, I am going to get to work on my costume for Hallowbash, which is coming up on Saturday night. I have to be a cheerleader and so far my shirt is a blank slate - I need to do some cutting and ironing-on to get it looking right. I also have to get the skirt that I bought from eBay in the mail either tomorrow or Friday... otherwise it might be a trip to the fabric store on Friday afternoon, followed by a late night trying to cobble something together, if it does not show up in time!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Choking on disappointment

Tonight was Mallory's first dance lesson, and to say that we have been looking forward to today is a MAJOR understatement. Mallory has been practising her dance moves all summer long (as evidenced in our vacation video) and I have really been enjoying assembling her leotard, tap shoes, ballet slippers etc. and daydreaming about how cute she is going to be as a little dancer.

I was so excited tonight to take her to her dance class and see how she would do. There were several girls in the class, maybe a dozen? All dressed in pink, with tutus and tights and slippers. They were adorable. They filed into the dance studio and sat in a circle on the floor. I took a picture.

And then I was accosted by a staff member who told me that there is a 'family situation' with one of the girls in the class and that as a result, none of the parents were allowed to take pictures of any of the class. End of story.

Would it be completely unreasonable of me to yank Mallory from this class and enroll her elsewhere? OK, so I am kidding... but to say that I am disappointed does not even begin to cover it. I know the most important thing is that she go to class, participate and have fun... but I sure would love to have a few snaps of the cuteness of it all. And while I can take a picture of her in her dress code at home, that doesn't come close to the cuteness of a dozen little girls all dressed the same, plie-ing away in the studio with the wood floor, the barre, etc.

I'd already heard that this particular dance studio does not allow parents to photograph the year-end recital... the pro they hire is the only one shooting... and while I'm sure her shots are great and I understand that they don't want a hundred flashes going off... that bothers me. I at least thought I would get to shoot the weekly lessons.



So here you have it... heavily cropped... I think this will be the extent of the 2010-2011 dance year.

Friday, September 10, 2010

First Day of SK

I know I'm late to the whole First Day of School game, but honestly - Liam's first day of school was today! He's in the Monday/Wednesday/alternate Fridays class this year, and on Wednesday the JKs had their orientation. Today was the first day for the SK kids. (Our school runs JK/SK split classes, and the kids are typically kept in the same class with the same teacher for both years.)
I had told Liam ahead of time that the first day of school is one time when moms all over the world are allowed to subject their kids to lots of picture-taking. At first, I thought he was not going to cooperate - he was giving me the eye-roll and the "But I AM cooperating!" argument while crossing his eyes and picking his nose. But he did sneak in a few winning smiles. I got a cute shot of the two of us together...
...and a few adorable ones of him. These melt my heart and if I hadn't just placed a photo order yesterday, I think one of these could very well have been hanging on our dining room wall. Maybe next time.
And with that, we were off to school. I took a half-day off today and stayed home with him long enough to take him to school myself. Then I went into the office for the middle of the day, and left early enough to pick him up again. He will be going to the Before & After program most of the time, but I wanted to be with him on his first day.
He was neither happy nor sad about school starting again... just rolled with it. He actually did seem pretty happy this morning, and as we set off from the house. But I maybe sensed a bit of trepidation as we entered the back of the school yard. The bell rang shortly after we got there and he lined up along the fence with his new classmates... not a single familiar face from last year. I'd thought there was one boy from last year's class, but Liam tells me I'm wrong.
As they were lining up I wasn't sure if I sensed some uneasiness from him. There were two kids in the other class lined up on the other side of the fence who were both crying their eyes out. I kept willing Liam not to notice. I'm not sure if he did or not.
The kids may have been different, but the teacher was the same. Thank goodness for Mrs. Garrow! She seems cut out to be a kindergarten teacher and I am very thankful that we got her again this year.
The kids were asked to give their parents a wave and a smile, pick up their backpacks, and go find their spots in the cloakroom. So with that, Liam disappeared into the door.
I was pretty sure he would do OK at school today and Mrs. Garrow confirmed it when I came to pick him up. I think he was pretty quiet for her today, but I'm sure she was expecting that!
He must have had a good day because once we started walking home, he got so excited about what he was bringing home in his backpack that we had to stop right there on the school field so that he could dig it out to show me.
This morning, as I was driving home from the pool, I noticed a rainbow in the sky - odd, since we hadn't had any rain overnight. I made it home before the rainbow evaporated and I called Liam over to the window to see it. I told Liam that was his first day of school good-luck rainbow and that it was bound to be a great day when it got off to a start like that. So he had his good-luck rainbow mentally tucked away in case he needed it today... but I think he managed just fine without it.
As for me, I made it through the day without any tears, too.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Oh, fer cute!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Report card time

Earlier this summer I posted a copy of our "Summer To-Do List". This was just a bunch of ideas we had for fun things to do over the summer. Well, since Labour Day has come and gone, I thought I would recap how we did at it.

Here is everything that we successfully crossed off our list (note that the numbering is messed up from the first time I posted, but you get the idea):
1. Go swimming (Mallory)
2. Go camping
3. Throw a BBQ
4. Go rollerblading
5. Have a campfire in our backyard
6. Watch fireworks
7. Make s’mores
8. Go to a splash pad
9. Cheer on mom during her first triathlon
10. Have a picnic
11. Go fishing
12. Catch a frog
13. See Toy Story 3 at the theatre
14. Give ourselves pedicures
15. Go to Rondeau
16. Pick blueberries
17. Spot a moose
18. Celebrate the end of the school year with ice cream
19. Pedal boat around Lake Victoria
20. Climb a tree
21. Build a sand castle
22. Read Charlotte’s Web
23. Go to the Cone and Shake Shop
24. Invite friends over for a swim
25. Visit Fawn Island
26. Take a time-lapsed night-sky photo
27. See Peter Pan at the Stratford Festival
28. Sleepover at the trailer

And, here are the things that we didn't do:

1. Make homemade ice cream
We did, however, discover the PC brand Loads of Dough ice cream. Yum! We also spent a lot of time at The Cone and Shake Shop. Now that they are boarded up again, maybe we will break out the ice cream maker at home.
2. Take pictures in a field of flowers
Never did find a suitable field!
3. Make homemade lemonade
Still have a big bottle of lemon juice in the fridge, though. As it turns out, the kids don't particularly care for lemonade. Since we never got around to this, I'm glad that I chose the bottled juice over the fresh lemons that would have been rotting away by now...4. Go to Erieau
Plum ran out of time.
5. Learn to ride without training wheels
Liam never really took to this this summer, though Chad took his wheels off and ran him around a couple of times. No matter... there is always next year!6. Catch a firefly
Our new house is completely devoid of fireflies. Our old house was overrun with them. I didn't realize how hard this would be to accomplish! We also didn't see any fireflies on our camping trip.
7. Go to the farmer’s market
I'm putting this on the 'did not do' list because we never made it down to the big market in front of the Civic Centre. Its Saturday morning timeslot conflicted with our mornings on the soccer field. We did shop a lot from all of the roadside stands that spring up around here during the summer months.8. Press flowers
This was a crafty-idea-for-a-rainy-day that we never needed to pull out of our back pocket.
9. Get Mallory out of Pull-Ups
We did have Mallory out of Pull-Ups for about six weeks. And during that time, we washed her bedding about two dozen times and found ourselves making the bed at 3 a.m. more often than we cared for. She is back in Pull-Ups as of yesterday. She's not ready to go without them, and I am OK with that. We got a better night's sleep last night than we have in ages!