Thursday, June 30, 2011

Just when I think I've come to the end of the internet... there is more to be read.

Knock knock.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Look out!

Someone dug out his rollerblades yesterday. He is much better on them this year than last - I guess we have 26 weeks of hockey practice to thank for that! - but still a little unsteady on his feet:As for this one, I asked her numerous times to stay out of his way. She is healing quite nicely now and I don't want to mess with that.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Weekend fun

This weekend it finally felt a little bit like summer. We made the most of it.
On Friday, to get out of the rain, we went to see 'Mr. Popper's Penguins' at the theatre in Lakeshore. It's not like me to drive to get to a movie, but our local theatre wasn't running any matinees. It was a good excuse to go to Cora's for lunch, too. Of course the kids loved it - you know as soon as we saw that trailer for the first time that we were taking Mallory to see it! (And Liam too.)
On Saturday Chad and I had an adults-only event to attend out of town, so the kids went to the trailer a bit to visit Gramma and Grampa. It was a lot of driving in one day but the kids seemed to enjoy themselves.On Sunday morning I took Mallory back to the ER to have her stitches removed. Same doctor but a better experience. Mallory cried, but I could tell it was more out of fear than terrible pain. And it was all over with pretty quickly. The next time someone has stitches I will probably just take them out myself at home.
As a reward for her good behaviour in the hospital, we went strawberry picking on Sunday afternoon. Our old haunt, Boley's, seems to have gone out of the berry business. So we went to Pardo's instead. The experience was made all the better by these cool old berry trugs they give you to carry your pick around in. I really wanted to steal one.
Back at home we baked up a fresh strawberry shortcake and whipped some cream to go with it. Liam was in heaven. He ate another giant helping after dinner tonight. I think I might have to make another one of these before berry season is over.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Finally, Father's Day.

Last weekend, Father's Day to be precise, was the first triathlon of the (my) season: TomatoMan. This race is held in Leamington which is the greenhouse capital of Ontario. The race kit included a bag of peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, which I suppose is partly why the race is called TomatoMan, and I swear they were the best peppers and tomatoes and cucumbers I've ever eaten. In the past I hear this has been a small local race, but this year it was an Ontario Sprint Championship and a world qualifier, which brought in some elite athletes and made the field (including relay and duathletes) hit around 400 people. Racking my bike next to some of these musclemen in their little singlets was a little unnerving. However, I was not at TomatoMan to compete. A few weeks before the race, but after having signed up and paid for it, I bent over the dishwasher one day and then could not walk for a week. I pinched some nerves in my back which made the slightest movement excruciating. After a few days I could walk, and biking was not a problem once I got my leg over the frame. Swimming was painful unless I didn't kick and running was unbearable. It was time to call in a pro.
I went for my first visit to a chiropractor, and over the course of a couple of weeks saw him maybe 4 times. Each adjustment made me feel better but didn't eliminate the problem completely. He did a couple of treatments and then told me to go for a test run, which I wound up walking most of. After that he dropped the hammer and said no more running.(I look ridiculous when I swim, don't I? I'm sighting my way into the finish here. I think I need to get some slightly-less-dorky-looking tinted goggles, which are a little more badass.) I was pretty bummed for a few days, having (a) trained for the race (well, at least somewhat -it's been a cold and wet spring which has had me biking less than I had by this time last year), (b) paid for the race, and (c) talked about the race with several friends who were also racing. It felt like I was going to miss the social event of the season.Then it occurred to me that I should do the swim and the bike anyway, and just not complete the run portion of the event. I never get out to swim in open water unless it's during a race because I am too chicken to head out without a lifeguard, so why let the opportunity pass me by?So I swam with a near-normal kick, having recovered enough by the time of the race to give it a little flutter. Then walked up the ramp from the harbour and into transition. Sauntered through transition, jumped on my bike and completed the bike course, then rolled to a stop and again slowed to a walk coming back in to rack it. After racking I crossed the timing mat onto the run course, then cut into the crowd to find Chad:Definitely the best time I will ever have for a triathlon! So my result is out there for all the world to see with a big fat DNF next to it, which kind of sucks, but the swim and bike were a lot of fun and I will definitely go back and hope to finish the entire course next year.It was super-awesome of Chad to spend his Father's Day getting up at 5 a.m. and hitting the road with me. The kids spent the night with Gramm and Grampa to allow us to get away early, and by the time we went to fetch them and got home with them they were bursting with excitement to hand out the gifts they'd spent the past several weeks creating.Liam's cooking tools tin was a big hit, particularly because it was accompanied by this summary of Chad's cooking prowess:Mallory made Chad no fewer than a half-dozen cards and gifts, but my favourite of them all was this portrait she drew of him. She made sure to let us know that the spots are his freckles.After the gifts were handed out, Chad and Liam went for a bike ride and Mallory and I decided to get the cars washed as another gift for daddy. We spent an hour out on the driveway with the hose and buckets and sponges:(Mallory actually prefers watering the garden to washing the cars.) And after all that, 24 hours later, I went out to the parking lot after work to retrieve the truck, and found it looking like this:That's the first time I've washed the vehicle in the ~6 years we've had it, and after this experience... will probably be the last.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mallory's boo-boo

Yesterday I got the dreaded call from Cindy saying that Mallory had an accident. At first I thought this meant she wet her pants. Nope... Cindy said she fell off a piece of playground equipment at Mitchell's Bay and had a head wound. She was hustling Mallory into the car to bring her back to town because I needed to get her to the ER. Not the kind of call you want to get!

Mallory was doing OK when I first saw her and I think she was greatly comforted to have me there. It looks like she landed on a piece of metal (part of the equipment) sticking out of the ground - her wound was a star-shaped puncture about as big as a quarter. We went to the hospital and went through triage OK. No sign of concussion. They gave her a topical anaesthetic and I don't think it did a great job of relieving the pain when they started to sew her up, so they stopped and gave her something injectable before putting in the next two stitches. Mallory was beside herself for the first one but somewhat better after that. I thought the bedside manner of the doctor was severely lacking but I'll leave it at that. The nurses were wonderful and did not try to shame me out of being upset for Mallory like the doctor did (because by the time she was screaming through her stitches, I was pretty upset too. I know people go through much worse every day, but that does not make it all that much easier when you are in the moment.)

After the stitches, she was quite upset to learn that I didn't plan to take her straight back out to Mitchell's Bay. Then she fell asleep in the car on the drive home - and slept the rest of the afternoon. After the day's events I think she needed it.

Today she is kind of proud of her stitches. It was Meet the Teacher day at school and Mallory thought she would get some special attention from Mrs. Garrow on account of them. Unfortunately, she did not behave all that well at the meeting. I tried to be patient and cut her some slack because I think she's still feeling a little off. Tonight she started screaming bloody murder again when I even mentioned the idea of sponging off the wound and applying some ointment to it, so I think it's fair to say that she is a little traumatized by the idea of anyone going near her head. Wish me luck with getting the stitches removed, because that is supposed to happen on Sunday and as luck would have it, the same doctor will be working the ER again.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

I hope your day was better than hers.

Monday, June 20, 2011

And... I'm spent.

Friday night was Liam's soccer game...And then I photographed the Luminary Ceremony at Relay for Life for the Cancer Society...
Saturday we had a BBQ/pool party - lots of people in the water despite it still being chilly (come on summer, where are you??)...
And then on Sunday I did another one of these. Well, most of it, anyway.
Now I'm off to work. I need some rest.

Friday, June 17, 2011

One week ago

Last weekend was a whirlwind and this weekend promises to be no different. Here's one of my favourite pictures from last weekend - we headed to the zoo, and even though we were rained out and crowded out by 5500 kids from the Detroit public school system, we still had fun. This was the first time we've ever been in the polar bear exhibit when they have been swimming. We could have watched them all day. (But then those pesky school kids showed up...)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

California Adventure: Day 7

My conference ended a little before noon on Friday. We checked out of the Silverado and left Napa Valley, headed back to the coast. Our first destination was Sausalito. It's a little hamlet across the bay from San Francisco. In fact, it has some real estate pricier than that in San Francisco proper since it's the place with the views of the city's skyline. It also has some pretty cool houseboats. And, it has the destination we had in mind for lunch: Fish.. And no, I did not mistype that - the restaurant is called Fish. with a period.They don't take credit cards and you sit at picnic tables to eat your cafeteria-style food but that doesn't mean it's cheap. All the fish is local, sustainable, humanely caught, etc. We both ordered up a big plate of fish tacos.The restaurant is under the blue awning. After filling up at Fish. we left Sausalito and headed back out of the city again. Just a few miles away is the entrance to the Muir Woods National Monument. I wanted to see some coastal redwoods, the tallest living things in the world, and this is one of the best places to do that. We skirted through Muir Woods on the Dipsea trail, but the part of the park surrounding the official visitors entrance has the oldest-growth (and thus largest) trees.
Muir Woods is one of those places that are breathtakingly beautiful and you look at your pictures when you get home and they really just don't do justice to how it felt to be there and see things in person. Plus, all that dappled light and shadow just doesn't translate well to a photo.I like this picture a lot... look at the teeny tiny people on the bottom right.A kind couple offered to take this picture of us, and I am glad they did, but limb chops are a photographic pet peeve of mine. I really wish the picture included our feet!It was very quiet and damp in the woods. We hiked a few miles around a paved path.This cross-section of tree is 1,000 years old. Pretty cool!We made a quick stop in the Muir Woods gift shop before we headed out. They had some pretty redwood salad bowls. I picked one up and considered it and then saw that it cost $487. It did not come home with me. I made do with two postcards instead.After we left Muir Woods, we headed back south to a finger of land that juts out - Point Bonita. There is a very cool lighthouse on Point Bonita and getting there involves crossing a suspension bridge. Unfortunately, the suspension bridge is closed until next year for repairs, and there is a tunnel you have to pass through to get to the start of the suspension bridge that is only open Sat/Sun/Mon. We were there on Friday and knew we wouldn't get through, nor could we cross the suspension bridge, but there were nice views of the ocean and city from there so it was still a worthwhile stop. The Point is a popular spot for seals to haul out of the ocean to sun themselves and we saw dozens.

Driving back, we were still ahead of schedule, so we pulled over at a beach to take a walk. Finally saw some California surf dudes in action up close.
And then we called the kids to say goodnight one last time, and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge for the last time.
Since it was the Friday of a long weekend we figured we'd better get through the city and close to the airport well in advance of our flight. We made it through in record time and then had some time to kill in a very suburban type area with no tourist attractions... so we went to see Hangover 2. We got out of the movie right in time to head to the airport. So off we went, to refuel, drop off the rental car, check in, grab a bite to eat, and then board our red-eye home. We were home by 9 a.m. the following morning... bleary eyed and exhausted, and so glad to see the kids again, but having had a wonderful trip.

Monday, June 13, 2011

California Adventure: Days 5, 6, and half of 7

This was the actual purpose of our trip to California. I was attending a conference at the Silverado Resort in Napa Valley. Funny, when they took a vote at the conference last year (in Florida) to select the location for 2011, I voted for Santa Fe, along with three other people, and the remaining 146 or so attendees all voted for Napa Valley. Had I known at the time how close San Francisco and Napa Valley were to each other, I definitely would have voted for Napa, too. This was definitely the best work trip I've ever been on!The conference ran from a reception on Tuesday night til noon on Friday. Chad puttered around the grounds, used the pool and the running paths, slept in, explored some of the surrounding countryside by car, and otherwise fit in a little well-deserved R&R. I spent my days attending the conference but we had a few hours each night to spend as we pleased. Truth be told... Napa was my least favourite part of the trip. I don't drink wine, I'm not interested in visiting wineries, etc. The countryside was very pretty - we rented some bikes and rode up and down the valley one evening - but I much preferred our time in San Francisco and Marin County.One thing that Napa did have going for it was the FOOD! There are no plain-Jane restaurants in Napa. Everything is upscale, run by proper chefs, and delicious. I think we ate our way through Napa Valley. We found a great BBQ place in Napa itself, called Bounty Hunter - we both loved that. I also made advance reservations for a place called Mustard's that was wonderful. There is a culinary school in Napa and I suppose it's just a natural pairing with the wine. So yes, the highlight of Napa for me was the food.That, and the outlet mall. Gap dresses for Mallory for $4? Come ON!We had one last 12-hour stint to spend as we pleased in California after the conference ended. That's coming up next.

(And in case you're wondering... Liam is very pleased with the outcome of the hockey game last night. He has said all along that he wants Vancouver to win in Vancouver. I think he would have been a little disappointed to see the series end with Game 6.)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tiny dancer

Today was Mallory's long-awaited dance recital. Preparations began early, with a morning shower and a bun-making process that could possibly have been more painful for me than it was for her. After getting her hair done, she requested the lunch of champions: grilled cheese. She looked like a starlet wandering the house in her robe with her hair done. No way was she eating ketchup for lunch in her white costume! We waited until after the ketchup was done and her face was washed before applying her make-up.I had to get her to the theatre early, and am glad I wasn't any later than I was. Parking was hard to find and it took a long time to find our way to the dressing room, tucked away in a warren of backstage tunnels underneath the auditorium. I left her settled in with three other classes in a single dressing room. It seemed cramped but others who've been in the dance biz for much longer actually lauded the roominess. Who am I to know?
She did very well onstage. She danced. She didn't stand there like a deer in the headlights. She took a lot of visual cues from her teacher who demo'd from the wings, but then again, so did all of her classmates. She looked adorable. I, of course, was not allowed to photograph at all... we'll have to wait and see how the pro shots turned out. I have a funny feeling they will all feature just the side of her head, but if any turn out well I may shell out for a copy. They also got me for $5 for the flower for my little starlet. My wallet continues to empty.

Just as fun as seeing Mallory onstage was picking out all the other kids we knew, like daycare friends and school friends and work colleagues' kids... this is a pretty major dance studio in town, from the numbers I saw today.
After the final curtain call, and collecting her from backstage along with 1500 other parents in the warren of tunnels, I wanted to get a couple more shots of her. She wasn't really buying it. She was clearly exhausted. I did bribe her with a promise of a popsicle at home:
The other parents were giving me disapproving looks, like, don't you realize that by letting your kid wear her tap shoes out on the street, she's going to ruin them? Yes, I realize that. I also realize that had the dance season gone two weeks longer, she would no longer fit into them, and my kid is going to be tumbling and trampolining next year rather than tapping. So I really don't care. They will sell on Kijiji regardless.
One more photo at home, while we were both cleaned up. I had to tickle her to elicit a smile here. Even though both sets of grandparents joined us for dinner back at the house (thank you!), and normally she'd be a little social butterfly, she instead retired to her room for some alone playtime while we got dinner on the table. It's not like her to need alone time, but she deserved it today. She went to bed complaining of a tummy ache, which didn't seem right because she actually ate very well today. I think it might have been the stress. I laid beside her and rubbed her back until she fell asleep. Today that did not take very long at all.