Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Running for L'Arche in March

[Mar 22 2014]

On March 22 I ran my 4th Half-Marathon. It was the annual Run for L'Arche, along the Bow River from downtown Calgary to Bowness and back. Even though I ran a respectable 1h37min (compared to 1h40min in this same race last year), it was the first time I ran a race where I didn't get faster, which was a bit depressing. It was also pretty cold and windy outside, which was a bit freezing.

I went out of the gates at the pace I raced my previous Half, figuring that I might as well go for broke, even though it was only the first race of the season. I maintained the pace for the outbound leg to Bowness, but then I turned around and realized I'd had a pretty stiff wind at my back all the way, and there was no way I was going to keep it together for another 40+ minutes. Each km was a little slower than the last, except the final 500m, where I managed a pretty impressive sprint to the finish. My fans were snuggled up warm at home, but they called me on my headset at about the 14km mark and cheered me on, which was very nice. There were some people dressed as superheroes who also cheered me along the way. Or maybe they were real superheroes. Now I'm not sure.

My friend Troy was in the race, so I shivered and shook at the finish line until he came through. He and I are going to face off in a triathlon in June, and it appears I have a leg up for the running, but his history as an Australian life guard means that I will have my work cut out for me.

My sister-in-law Karla ran her first-ever Half Marathon. She had a great race. About 2 seconds after she crossed the finish line I chattered out, "Hey, how about we go inside and eat some pancakes?" There was a free pancake breakfast provided, which I think is one of the best things about this race. She said she wasn't too hungry for pancakes, but once she got a minute to collect herself, she couldn't resist.

If you don't have any Saturday breakfast plans next March, you should consider running this race. I can't promise sunny skies, but I can promise scrambled eggs.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter Bunny + Tooth Fairy + Birthday Week

Scott's other front tooth has been a little loose lately, but not so much that it was dangling. Yesterday he ate an apple and I asked him if it was making his tooth more loose. He said yes.

Today I got an email from home with this photo.

I called Scott to get the gory details and he said that he tried some floss but in the end he pulled it out with his fingers. He said it hurt a bit and there was some blood, but he was okay. R said that he was very brave, and that he was quite excited to cash in.

Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Birthday, all in the span of 6 days? This is quite the week.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Taking On The Blues

[Mar 29 2014]

On the chair with Kaitlin Connor and Katie

Sometimes you get a ski lesson when you go to the hill. On Day 2 at Whitefish Mountain I learned a lot about cooking chili. My brother and my sister-in-law have 6 kids and they have season passes to Whitefish. When they take the family up for the day, they mix up a crockpot of chili and plug it into an outlet in the Base Lodge, and it is ready to serve at lunchtime. They bring a up disposable plates and bowls, shredded cheese, a bag of dinner rolls, some corn chips, and Dixie cups for water, and even some hot chocolate and marshmallows for dessert. We commandeered a table for 10 and sat down to a banquet. It was truly inspiring to be a part of this operation, and I wish I had captured it with a photo.

Afton and Scotty show their teeth

Usually when the cousins play, Scott likes to hang out with Cannon and Katie plays with Bailey or Afton. But when we get out on the ski hill, thrill-seekers Scott and Afton tear up the slopes together and Katie spends more time with Cannon on the bunny hill. Although, this time around, Katie was getting good enough that she could keep up with Bailey quite well, while Cannon got some pointers from Krissy.

Bailey and Katie

Including the earlier January trip, by lunchtime on Friday our kids had spent 3.5 whole days on essentially one green run at Whitefish (under chair 6), and it seemed like it was time to try something new. We spent the afternoon exploring a few other runs, riding way up the mountain on Chair 2 to take the easy way down. I won't mention the EXTREMELY AWKWARD group photo that we got taken at the top of Chair 2. I thought we might stand together for a quick group shot, but the photographer seemed determined to create something better. We will never speak of it again.

Scott & Afton

It was a warm day and yesterday's powder was steadily becoming today's slush, so it was easy for the kids to manage their speed on the steeper runs. I loved that there was a little space to the side of the run with some decent powder where I could stretch my legs just a little. It was very enjoyable and I caught glimpses of what future family trips might hold for us.

Snowplow City

Katie in Action

Cannon & Krissy

Eventually, it was time to head back to the lodge. On that final run, Katie and Scott tried their first Blue (Intermediate) runs ever. They also had their worst wipeouts to date. Katie's wipeout was not on the blue run. She handled that quite well. Her problem was that some sleet or hail had started falling just as we set off from the top of the hill and she didn't have her goggles pulled down. She couldn't see very well and eventually she lost her balance and fell forward, sliding down the hill on her face. She never seems to reach her hands out to break her fall. I knelt down and picked her up and just hugged her for a long time while she stopped crying. She wasn't hurt, but it had scared her a bit. I got the snow out of her goggles and set them in place so she could continue on her way down while I followed a short distance behind.

The problem with being one parent skiing with two young kids is that you can't be out front with one without leaving the other behind just a bit, or vice-versa. After I was sure Katie was doing fine I looked back for Scott. I had seen him just behind me as we traversed a wide cat track, but then he had dipped from view and I hadn't seen him pop back up again. Just as I was about to start hiking back up to check on him he appeared in view, shoulders hunched and hands by his sides, obviously distraught. As he usually does, he accused me of various crimes and then we continued down the hill again. Eventually we got to the blue run, and he had another wipeout, but this time it twisted his knee. He tried to ski but he said that it hurt his knee to turn right, so I pulled off my snowboard and had him sit on the back while I sat in the middle between the bindings. I held his skis and poles in my hands and used my feet as brakes while we tobogganed the rest of the way down the steep blue slope to the waiting group, a huge spray of snow shooting out from each heel. It was pretty awesome.

When we got down, Katie was starting to cry because she was tired of waiting in her snowplow position for so long. I asked Connor to lead her down to the lodge by the easiest way possible, while Scott and I kept sledding down to the main lodge, where he was comfortable putting his skis back on again. Why is that final run always like that?

It was a pretty full day, and it took Katie about 4 minutes to drop off to sleep, despite having the sun shining straight in her face and her helmet still on.

Worn Out

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Shredding the Greens at The Fish

[Mar 28 2014]

Friday the Kalispell kids were still in school, so the three of us took the slopes on our own. There was about a foot of recent snow and the conditions were wonderful.

Katie is getting used to riding the chair lift, but she is also happy to just cruise the magic carpets sometimes as well. While we there, the photographer got a picture of each of us. I couldn't resist Katie's cuteness, so I bought one. And how often does someone get a picture of me? I got one of each of us.

Scott found this little trail that went off behind some cabins and then through a tunnel before looping back to the lift. There were a few big bumps as you came out of the tunnel, so Katie didn't really want to do it again. Scott did it all day long. He essentially abandoned us and did his own thing, keeping track of how many laps he could do. He wouldn't even ride the chair with us if we were close to him, because he didn't want to lose any time.

Because he was always off in some tunnel through the trees, the on-slope photographer never got a picture of him. But I managed to find him at the end of the day.

On the way back from the hill we met up with our cousins to see Muppets Most Wanted, which was absolutely hilarious. It was a pretty full day.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Blue & White Motel with Dad

A weekend trip with Dad is sort of a win-win-win. Dad gets to go out and do stuff that he likes to do, the kids get to go on an adventure, and Mom gets to have a few moments to herself. Such excursions are within a reasonable driving distance, and usually take place in the summer. Last weekend, we packed up our skis and headed down to Kalispell/Whitefish to ski and see cousins.

The trip was on a smaller scale than our January ski vacation, so we didn't rent a spot on the ski hill. Instead, I stumbled into the deal of the century -- a "theme" motel room for only $50, with pool and breakfast included. Whoa! I will admit, there were some negative reviews of the "Blue & White Motel" on the main drag in Kalispell, but few/none of the reviews said the place was dirty... mostly just noisy. A common complaint was that the motorcycle groups that frequently stopped there in the summer months were pretty loud and the BBQ patio in the public area was often loud into the night as well. March seemed a bit early in the season for motorbikes and BBQs, so I figured we were good there. The other online complaint was that some of the people who stayed/lived at the motel were a bit sketchy. But how sketchy? Other places to stay cost twice as much or more, which is a pretty hefty non-sketchy-premium. Plus, this motel had a Wendy's AND a Taco Bell next door. I decided to just go for it.

Did I mention Theme Rooms? Yeah, there were theme rooms. We got the one with the school-room theme. Apples, ABCs, 123s. It had it all... including a few cigarette burns in the covers (wasn't this a non-smoking room?), and a sink that would only turn off if you closed the water supply valve under the basin. Still, it had a TV of sorts where we could get our March Madness updates and beds for us to sleep in.

Breakfast was included. Perched atop a short bookcase in a dark corner of the motel office, the breakfast spread was not fine dining, but it wasn't much different than I would have gotten, left to my own devices. They had some fruit and whatever happened to be on sale in the bakery section of the grocery store the previous day. One morning, that meant donuts and mini-danishes. Another morning, that meant devils food cake, pre-sliced into a choco-debris-pile, with the "Manager's Special" sticker clearly visible on the plastic casing. They also had a loaf of bread and some English muffins next to the toaster, and a big tub of margarine with a knife jutting out. Lots of crumbs, too. We avoided the devil and the margarine, but the fruit and donuts were great.

Enough about the motel, how about the ice cream? We met up with cousins on Thursday night to play at the indoor Playplace and then cooled off with some 25-cent cones at the grocery store (Cam has all the deals figured out). Scott saw Connor buy a big bottle of flavoured water with his allotment, so he copied him at the next opportunity. I picked up some of those mini-cans of pop that we kept in our mini-fridge at the motel and Katie LOVED to make a big production of going to the fridge, opening it up, taking a sip of her pop, putting it back, and closing the door again. She would narrate the whole process and add comments like, "I love to drink my pop!" You would think that she guzzled huge quantities of pop, but don't worry mom, she barely got through 250mL over a few days. Flat pop -- mmmmm.

The motel staff were very nice. It was an adventure. Will we stay there again? Probably not. But that depends whether the James Dean theme room is already booked.

Monday, April 07, 2014


Katie doesn't have a middle name. She is a bit jealous of Scott, since he has three names and she only has two.

For generations, that's the way it's been in both my family and R's family, where the maiden name usually becomes the middle name after marriage. We didn't come up with the idea.

Since she was born, we have often called her "Katie-Baby". There was even a song that we used to sing. But now she is not a baby anymore, and she isn't sure that she likes being type-cast in the role of baby.

On our recent ski trip to Montana, we were on the ski lift with her cousins and she said that she didn't like to be called Katie-Baby. We came up with an alternate nickname for her -- Katie Cutie. From there, we had to have a nickname for everyone on the lift:
Katie Cutie
Bailey Beauty
Daddy Tootie

A few days after we got back from the trip she suddenly decided to make a change. She announced, "My middle name is Snow White."

She's never even seen the movie Snow White before, but we got a really nice Snow White dress last year in a 2nd-hand purchase. She ended up choosing it for her Halloween costume. This week she wore it several days in a row, along with a matching Snow White crown, shoes and sceptre. While washing her hands in the bathroom one evening she explained to me that she looks a lot like Snow White, except that Snow White has black hair and Katie has blond hair. But when she wore a black toque for Halloween and a red ribbon on it, then she matched Snow White.

Later in the week, Katie didn't want to go to her music class. She said she just wanted to stay in her dress. During negotiations she asked if she could go to class in her dress. R said yes, but warned her that it would attract a lot of attention if she did, so she should be ready for that. She went to the class and was a bit flushed when people in the front entrance were already commenting on her dress. She handled the notoriety better than we would have expected.

Her music teacher accidentally called her Cinderella, but the rest of the little girls straightened her out immediately.

Katie wore her dress one more place on the way home and was somewhat disappointed when nobody made any comments. When they got back to the car she told R, "Nobody even said anything about my dress!"

Well, now she has four names and Scott only has three. Although, do you hyphenate Snow-White when you use it as a middle name? If so, does it count as one or two names? I'm not sure.