Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You have reached the end of the internet. There is nothing more to see.

Perhaps it's more accurate to say, I've reached the end of my bandwidth... and I'll be damned if I'm going to mess with linking pictures here from Flickr. Nope, I'd rather create a new blogging ID and set up a new blog and continue on my merry way.

Too Many Cooks: Part Deux

Friday, September 23, 2011

In sickness and in health

Hi. Long time no see. I've had pneumonia.

This goes back to a cold I had about three weeks ago, that I got over 90% of but never shook off the last 10%. Then I had a week where I spent multiple days on the road, and they were long days - days that involved regular office hours, followed by gymnastics class, followed by meet the teacher, followed by the kids' bath and bedtime and then capped off with a 3 hour drive to Niagara Falls and a hotel check-in during the wee hours of the morning.

During those days in Niagara Falls, Chad and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary - not together, mind you - (and hopefully, more to come on that later) - and to celebrate we decided to spend a night where it all began, at the Elm Hurst Inn. The Elm Hurst is not far from Lakeside so the plan was to have an anniversary dinner and spend the night there, then continue on to the race in the morning. I started feeling unwell on the Friday as I drove up to the Inn, and by the time I got there, Chad was all set for a steak dinner and I had a bowl of soup. Upon waking up the following morning, it was pretty clear that there was no way I could race that morning. Chad went on to race the duathlon, but I was there merely as a spectator.

(Sidebar: this means that my 2011 triathlon season produced the following results: one race only 2/3rds completed; one completed with a horrific swim; and one DNS. It was not exactly a successful season. I am only half-jokingly pondering retirement.)

After the race ended, I went home to bed and stayed there for approsximately three days, feeling worse and worse all the time. Finally, when I started having trouble breathing, I decided something must really be wrong and went to the emergency room, and six hours and two chest x-rays later, at 2 a.m., I had my diagnosis: pneumonia.

Isn't this something only old people get? And didn't people stop getting it back when the iron lung was invented? It feels all medieval-like. Apparently not.

So... yeah. Things have been a little quiet and slow around here, and have led to some questioning of what's essential and what is not, since this seems to be evidence of being spread too thin. Back with more when I am back to normal - hoping that it's one day soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The hay is in the barn (and other random musings)

Chad and I are racing at Lakeside on Saturday, and I am starting to regret having signed up. My training for the past month has looked like this: race at Rondeau, go to Disney for two weeks and eat copious amounts of ice cream every day, come home and spend a week being miserably sick, get well right in time for Taper Week. I am a little underprepared - the work put in earlier in the summer'll have to do - and it's supposed to be cold on Saturday morning - not great weather for jumping into a spring-fed lake.

I've been asked by a few people to share more Disney pictures, and I will... I have roughly half of them edited, and working on the remaining half - but I haven't been home much lately and can't edit on the road. Here is one - the first picture of the entire trip. Taken in the garage prior to piling into the car and driving to the airport.

Ebayers suck. I wanted one Missoni bag from Target but when the merch went on sale on Tuesday, Target.com crashed and the stores sold out the same day - people grabbing carts full of merchandise solely to resell on eBay. The $35 bag I wanted is now $255 and counting. I don't want it anymore.

The other night, Mallory asked Chad if he wanted to help her sing "a love song to mom". She spent a few minutes coaching him and then they sang me the Barney theme song. She is a keeper, that one!

Liam has developed a bald patch on the back of his head. This coincided with the start of school and I wondered whether the pressure of Grade 1 was getting to him - if he was pulling his hair out in class. Then Chad found a clump of hair on the floor in the music room. I guess hanging around the house is stressing him out?? The bald spot does not seem to be growing so I am hoping this is a one-time thing and that he is not on his way to looking like Grampa Ralph by age 7.

On Wednesday we had Meet the Teacher. Mrs. Garrow says Mallory is not giving her any trouble, is polite, raises her hand before she speaks and contributes to the class. Is this MY Mallory? She said she was asking the class what they know about apples and Mallory raised her hand and shared that there are shapes inside when you cut them open. Pretty clever!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

School Daze

The first day of school was very underwhelming for me from a photography perspective. On Tuesday morning, I took a few quick pictures of Liam on the front porch, and on Wednesday I had my camera with me when I dropped Mallory off for the first time, but it really wasn't what I wanted it to be. This is a big year for us - Liam has gone full-time and is now in an official grade. And it's Mallory's first year, period. This deserved some documentation.
Plus, it's a good time for a photo shoot. Reason number one: it's been a number of months since Birthday Portrait Season. Reason number two: it's coming up on Halloween Costume Portrait Season and Christmas Card Portrait Season. No time like the present to keep the kids on their toes and get them all practiced up for the many fun photo ops in their futures.
So on Saturday night, I dressed the kids up in some school-appropriate outfits and we went over to the school yard. (This is when it comes in very handy to live right around the corner.) I brought gummy snacks for bribery purposes and I brought Chad for entertainment purposes.
Mallory was crying about having a sore toe before we began and I thought this photo shoot was destined for failure, but the allure of the gummy snacks won out, Chad made some stellar faces, and in less than ten minutes I had several portraits of my newest little kindergartener and big Grade 1 boy that I totally prize.
We are getting there, slowly but surely - to the point where we can have the official picture-taking be over and done with in a very short period of time, if everyone will just cooperate from the getgo. Then they get to move onto the fun stuff - in this case, making use of the playground equipment.
I still have a hard time believing we have a kindergartener and a Grade 1 student in the house. Time is flying.
As for me, I still haven't figured out this formatting thing. Why do they have to go and change a good thing??

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Going to the drop-off

OK, so clearly I still have Disney on the brain, because that's a Finding Nemo reference... when you're a fish you go to the drop-off on your first day of school. Yesterday was the first day of school for the vast majority of people (including Liam) but since Mallory is an A day student, today was her first day. And let it be known - she was PUMPED. Here she is, carefully packing her lunch the night before. She was so excited about school that she promised to eat all the produce we packed for her, and she made good on that promise. We should have started her in school three years ago.
Last night she slept terribly - maybe on account of nerves or excitement, or maybe on account of something else entirely. She was up multiple times and each time she got up, she left her bedroom door open and Captain got in - he has a real affinity for her room - and while she loves that cat more than almost anything by day, he terrifies her when he gets into her room at night. So every time I was just getting back to sleep, she'd be up and wailing again about the purring or rustling coming from the corner of her room.
We did manage to drag ourselves out of bed this morning and make it to school by bell time. Mallory was in no mood for pictures (despite me getting these few) - I'm not convinced I would have gotten that many more even if the weather had cooperated. It was pouring rain, which put the kibosh on a lot of first day of school pictures that I wanted to take and also changed the usual classroom routine up. I didn't have the opportunity to shoot the class lining up along the fence as they normally do, because today the kids and all the families all crowded into the coat room to get out of the wet. It was crowded, it was getting hot, and it was quite chaotic.
In the midst of all the chaos, I didn't have a chance to give Mallory a proper good-bye. Mallory is usually hell-bent on getting a kiss and a hug from me in the morning, and it doesn't matter if Chad is hollering at her to get in the car - she still wants it and is willing to endure his wrath to get it. This morning, Mrs. Garrow was telling the parents to wave and leave before I knew it, and there she was on her spot on the bench way across the room from me with twenty parents separating us. I gave her my wave and lost it. I didn't expect to get so emotional; certainly not for the little girl who has been challenging me constantly these last few months, fighting every morsel of food I ask her to eat, bath I ask her to take and polite words I ask her to say... suddenly she seemed very small and helpless over on the other side of the room. I expected her day to be wonderful but the tears came just the same. We left work early today, to pick the kids up directly without having them go to the after-school program. And just as I'd expected, Mallory had a wonderful day. In fact, she told me school is the best place in the world. "More wonderful than Disney World?" I asked, and she said yes. She chattered the whole way home and then some, telling us first and most reverently about the opportunity she will have one day soon to take a show-and-tell item into the classroom and already decreeing that it will be her souvenir charm bracelet from Disney. She also told us about lunch, what she did at recess, how she made the puppet she brought home with her today, what songs they sang in music, who sits at her table with her, and otherwise giving us more information about school than we gleaned from Liam through his whole first kindergarten term.
As for Liam, he seems to be doing pretty well, too. He has a good mix of kids in his class, some from last year and some he remembers from the year before that. He likes his new teacher. He saw Mallory in the hallway today. And most importantly, he thinks he is the coolest kid ever with his new Buzz Lightyear backpack that he can not only carry as a backpack, but also roll like a piece of luggage. A last-minute purchase that is already well worth the money. (Publishing this today using Blogger's new interface, which totally sucks. Pardon the mess - I have not yet figured the formatting out.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Disney World 2011 highlight reel

One day, there will be an extended version of this movie made, with some of the clips that were too long to fit into a movie that condenses 11 days into a 3:49 song. For now... a sneak peek into our trip.

ETA: There is some sort of phantom background music from about 2:00 to about 2:30 and it's driving me crazy. I can't get rid of it and can't figure out what's causing it. I know what it's from... it's from one of the fireworks clips... and it baffles me because that clip is muted (as most clips are) and that's not the point in the movie at which you hear it. So what gives?? Any iMovie geniuses out there, please let me know!

Sunday, September 04, 2011

11 days, 4 parks, 3 resorts, 5 Dole Whips, 7 spins through It's a Small World...

...one magical vacation. Back with more when we're unpacked and settled, and by 'settled' I mean I have overcome the urge to stay up all night and neglect basic things like hygiene and proper nutrition in order to spend more time sifting through vacation photos and footage. Yes, really.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The one where I eat it on the swim

Earlier today was the Bulldog Triathlon out at Rondeau Park. You may recall that this was the locale of my very first tri ever, the Try-a-Tri, here. This year I was back, but being an old pro at this tri thing now (said with tongue firmly in cheek), I was ready to do the full course race this morning.

Or so I thought. My back injury has been niggling all summer long, and I haven't run a 5k since early July. I have been so focused on the run - could I do it, would I re-trigger my injury, could I even last 5k now that it's been 8 weeks without any running - that to be honest, the idea of anything going wrong on the swim or bike never crossed my mind.

Oh, but it did. Approximately 15 seconds after the horn sounded to start my heat of the race, I had some sort of panic attack in the water. I couldn't breathe even though I wasn't moving, I couldn't get my heart rate down, and I couldn't reason myself back into a more sane state of mind. I kept thinking about how earlier this year I'd swum 4 times the distance - in the ocean! - no problem. I told myself to suck it up. I thought back to my final swim set last week which I'd finished in 17:19 - which may not be fast by swimming standards, but it was pretty indicative of someone who has at least trained for the distance.

Instead, I bobbed about gasping for breath, trying to decide between swimming back in to shore or latching onto the lifeguard's boat. In either case, it would be throwing in the towel.

Somehow I got moving again... sloooooowly... and somehow I did pull through and finish that leg of the race. I puttered through transition because really, I'd lost so much time on the swim that a few seconds here or there didn't matter. Transition was pretty darn empty by the time I got there. It was depressing.

But the bike leg went OK (a little slower than I expected, though it rained the whole time and I definitely took it easy on the corners because of that) and the run actually went better than I expected. So all was not lost.

But that swim leg got the best of me. It took me 23:17 but felt like an hour. I'd been thinking I could do it in 17:30. So much for that!

On the bright side, Chad signed up to do the duathlon, his first. He did really well and now we are one of those corny couples who share a hobby, which is pretty neat.

The only thing left to do is decide whether or not to go ahead and sign up for Lakeside this year. Part of me wants nothing to do with swimming again for a good long while. And part of me thinks back to Top Gun, where Tom Skerritt is telling his crew to get Maverick back up in the sky as soon as possible after his crash. If it worked for Tom Cruise, it will probably work for me.

Friday, August 19, 2011

In the blink of an eye

Thursday was Liam's last official full day with Cindy. We're taking some family time for the next few weeks and when school starts in September, he'll be full time in Grade 1. Cindy was the one who really drew this to my attention on Wednesday night - she gave each of the kids a book as a wrap up to her summer reading journal project, and she told Liam that she picked the Toy Story early reader called 'Forever Friends' because she would be his friend forever. He will be back with her from time to time on PA days, and probably full time next summer, but essentially, he has graduated.

He's come a long way since this... ...but it feels like it's happened in the blink of an eye.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

This could go on indefinitely

Mallory's love note from the other day, while sweet and adorable, was not entirely unprecipitated. She wrote that note in response to finding out that Liam was busy making a surprise for her.

Liam's surprise started with an empty box of Kleenex that he collected from the bathroom. "I can make something out of this," he said. First, he painted the whole thing purple. Then he let me in on the secret: he was making Mallory a treasure chest. Once the painting was complete he told me that we needed to go shopping for some fake flowers and some gold-wrapped chocolate coins. I took him to the dollar store closest to our house, where he found the flowers and we subbed in some Rolos for the chocolate coins. Back at home it was bath time and the project had to wait til the next day for completion. Last night he got some adult help hot-glueing the flowers to the chest, put the candy inside, then hid it in the back yard and drew this map to help Mallory find it. (Captions added by moi to assist the general public in deciphering. He got the elements of the back yard correct, even if the layout is a little crazy.)

And in response to that, Mallory took a shoe box from Chad's recent purchase, painted it blue, put an old stuffed animal inside, hid it in the back yard, and drew a map that was essentially a copy of what Liam drew. Except that she hid her box behind the neighbour's tomato plants rather than in the pine trees.

All of this treasure-hunting makes me think that our kids may be ready to watch The Goonies now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I don't know why it's turned sideways, but read the caption. She dictated that directly to Chad right before presenting Liam with her love note.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Buyers' remorse

Last night, Mallory woke up about an hour after we put her to bed, positively wailing. (It's possible she hadn't yet fallen asleep. Nonetheless - the wailing.) Chad went in after her to find out what was wrong and finally elicited this response: she had chosen the wrong school lunch bag. She regretted having chosen the lavender bag with horses on it. She wanted the pink bag with black cats after all.

I was like, are you freaking kidding me? I couldn't believe that she even remembered the pink bag with black cats was there, because at the time, she'd only had eyes for the lavender bag with horses. Actually, scratch that. She really only had eyes for the backpack she had been ogling all summer, and to be honest, I was a little surprised that she had chosen the one she did. The first backpack she liked was Disney princesses, and it was only partway through the summer that she started batting for team Barbie princesses (on the shelf right beside it) instead - a subtle yet tangible change that shows she is growing up. If anything, I thought she might regret not having chosen the Disney princesses. The lunch bag was merely an afterthought... or so I thought.

I debated this long and hard. I don't want her growing up spoiled and getting everything she wants. Sometimes you make a decision in life and you're stuck with the consequences. But... this would be something relatively easy to fix. If it is keeping her up at night thinking about it, maybe it's worth fixing.

I called the store and sure enough, they still had the pink bag with black cats. The gracious owner agreed to take back the horse bag in exchange for the cat bag. When I collected the kids from Cindy's house tonight, Mallory spotted the horse bag sitting on the front seat of the car and looked glum. But when I asked her if she wanted to go down to the store and ask the owner if she would please trade bags, she was thrilled. We squeaked in right before the store closed, and the owner had set the new bag aside for us. Mallory was tickled. She fell asleep on the drive home, clutching the new bag to her chest.

Another crisis averted. Now let's just hope she doesn't change her mind about the backpack. She's spent the past few weeks loading it up with her treasures and taking it to Cindy's to show off to her friends. We can no longer consider it in new condition... it's definitely not going back.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Over the past month or two, something funny has been going on with Liam. He's become sociable.
His shyness has never been that much of a surprise to us, given that we are both totally introverted people. He will usually talk to people he knows well, but we have friends who have known him since he was born who can't get more than a few words out of him.
Suddenly, though, it seems like a switch has been flipped. People have run into him out in public with Cindy and they've commented on how much he had to say to them. We were at a cottage party a few weeks ago (where these photos were taken), and he spent half the night running around with a ten-year-old boy. The funny part was that he was the instigator of most of what they got up to.
At the party he also spent a good chunk of time sword-fighting this twenty-something guy who last year probably would have given him a good scare.
We run into kids in public all the time who are like "Hey, Liam!" Kids at the grocery store, movie theatre, library, you name it. I think they all go to his school. Many of them are considerably older than he is. He still doesn't give them too much acknowledgement, but I think it's coming.
Wouldn't it be funny if Liam turned out to be the social butterfly of the family?
Well, we all know it won't be Chad or I. The smart money would be on Mallory but... you never know!!

Saturday, August 13, 2011


More pictures from the 2011 Roberts Family Reunion on Flickr.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Headline news

Monday, August 08, 2011

Fawn Island 2011

On the weekend we sojourned out to Fawn Island for our annual trip. Since this subject has been repeated here almost annually since I first got started in weblogging, I will spare you the deets. Behold, though, The Annual Children's Picture:We always wait until it's almost time to take the boat back to the mainland before taking this shot. The kids are sunburnt and disheveled and overtired and hyped up on too many Cheetos and cookies. And yet we do it the same way every year. But, it's fun to look back on. Here's the 2009 photo, for comparison's sake...
And this is a real hoot - the first year we had a kid to toss into the kids' picture. That's Liam in the carseat.
Of course, we have to do the Friends Who Are The Reason We Are Here picture, too.
Sometimes, that picture gets crashed. Funny, he wasn't smiling that big a few minutes ago.
I really enjoy our trip out to the island each summer because this is usually the only time of year to see this group of friends all together - and we are so freaking witty and hilarious. At least, we think we are. I have been friends with these girls (can I say that now that we are closer to 40 than 30?) for 20 years now - I moved to Chatham in the summer of 1991. Usually, that feels like it was yesterday. (Then one of the kids starts hollering for something and I realize that time has passed.)
Here's a bonus shot - Renee picked up my camera and caught Liam and I strolling down the boardwalk by the canal, checking out the boats. I love it. Thanks, Renee.

More photos in a set on Flickr.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Retail therapy

On Friday, the kids had dentist appointments. And the second thing we had on the agenda was to complete all of our back-to-school shopping. To Mallory, this meant the culmination of six months of watching and waiting, as she has had a backpack picked out for just about that long. She passes by it at least once a week on a regular field trip with Cindy, and possibly again if we are running errands in the same vicinty, and every single time she stops to make sure it's still there and fawn over it (and beg me to get it for her).

So I told her that Friday was the day, and she was beside herself. She could not stop talking about the dentist appointment to be followed by the shopping trip. She was totally gung ho. We walked into the dentist's office and all went back to an exam room, where Liam breezed through his appointment. I don't know what it was, but something must have spooked Mallory, because when it was her turn to get into the chair she clamped her mouth shut and refused to open it.

This was not the first time she went to the dentist's and the last time, she had no problem with it. Like I said, I have no idea what has gotten into her. I begged, pleaded, and finally threatened: you open that mouth, or there is no backpack for you.

No dice.

Having wasted enough of the office's time, I called it quits and marched her up to the front desk to pay. Liam was allowed to pick a treat out of the treat jar. The hygienist tried to sneak a treat to Mallory but I caught her and said no way. I also informed Mallory that there would be no backpack today. She was being quiet about it, but there were tears streaming down her face. (Good! I thought.)

Finally, when I was halfway through paying the bill, Mallory told me she was ready to reconsider. I marched her back down the hall to the dentist's chair. They said they still had time to look at her. They skipped the polish and fluoride and x-rays, but at least she opened her mouth and they got a visual.

Even though it wasn't a complete checkup, I decided to get her the backpack anyway. She would need it for school, after all. We went straight to the mall and up the escalator and she marched over to where the backpack was. Except that it was gone.Here she is, not quite sure what to make of the situation. Luckily they had merely moved the display inside the store. Here she is with her purchase:After that errand, we went down the street to the toy store, and got her the dual-sided lunch bag she also requires. I wasn't allowed to take a picture of that. Apparently I was embarrassing her.

And then, after being a sweet and patient saint, it was Liam's turn. I turned him loose in a department store with his Grade 1 school supply list. He read almost the whole list by himself, and had a wonderful time running back and forth in the aisles to collect everything he needed. "Twenty-four pencils!" he crowed. I think the volume of supplies delighted him. "Six erasers!" As if picking out the supplies themselves was not enough fun, Liam had to factor some decision-making into the process. "I need six erasers. And these ones have two in each pack. So I could get three of these and then I would have enough. But these erasers have five in each pack, so I would need two packs, but I wouldn't need all of the erasers, so maybe we could leave some at home." There he was, doing math in his head without even knowing it.It was a stinking hot day, and one of my last Happy Fridays of the summer. I'd given the kids three choices for the afternoon, all involving water. We could swim at home, we could go back to the new splash pad, or we could go to the beach. I thought they wouldn't be able to contain their excitement over their choices. But in the end, we stayed home, dipping into our backyard pool for only a brief time. The kids had way more fun spreading their school stashes out on the living room rug, taking stock of their goodies, arranging and re-arranging and filling pencil cases and figuring out how to stow the thermos inside the lunch bag inside the backpack. No further entertainment was required.

(According to the dentist, Liam has FOUR loose teeth! Barely-perceptibly-loose, but loose nonetheless. He's going to look like the guy from Meet the Robinsons who can't find his dentures pretty soon. It's going to be a hoot.)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

The perfect summer weekend: part 2

On Sunday morning we did what we have been saying we were going to do all summer long, and finally got around to doing on the last day of July. We packed up our bikes and headed out to Rondeau.We left the kids with Gramma and Grampa, who are conveniently located just a couple of minutes outside of the park gate. Chad and I headed into the park on our bikes to do a couple of loops of the Bulldog triathlon/duathlon bike course. The Bulldog race is coming up in just a few weeks. I am hoping to do it and it was originally my 'A' race for this year... but a few weeks ago, my back had a relapse, and I am not running AGAIN. So if I do the race, it will essentially be without having trained for the run leg since May. Not the best way to PR. We were kicking ourselves for not having gotten out to the park earlier. It's flat, shaded, scenic, and without the traffic stops we have to make at home - what's not to love? Aside from the need to brake for the occasional snake, it's perfect.After we finished our bike, everyone joined us in the park, and we had the picnic we had packed, toured the little museum they have out there, and then went down to the beach for a few hours. Having a pool in the back yard is lovely, but it gives little incentive to get out to the beach. And when we finally make it there, I always wonder what took us so long.Liam even made a trip back up to the museum at 1 p.m. to watch the advertised snake feeding. Good times.When we finally dragged ourselves away from the water and packed back into the car, there were lots of "let's do this agains" and "why don't we do this more oftens" exchanged. I would love to live up to those words, but every weekend between now and September is spoken for. Maybe we'll have to pencil it in for Labour Day right now.