Saturday, January 17, 2015

Biddy Ball: Week 1

We have been on a countdown for most of January.

As expected, Katie has been trying to countdown the days until her birthday. For most of the year, we have told her that her birthday doesn't come until AFTER Christmas. Well, the day after Christmas she started asking, "Is it my birthday now?" She had trouble understanding how long 3 or 4 weeks would take, but eventually we got the point that she could count the sleeps on just one hand.

The bigger surprise has been the countdown to Biddy Ball. As he went to bed each night for the final week before Biddy Ball started, Scott would give me an update on how many days were left. Who knew that an hour of basketball practice could be as exciting as a birthday or Christmas? He laid out his bball shorts and his track pants and his new favourite Lego Batman shirt and he was ready to go at the crack of dawn.

I had to wake Katie up to get her dressed in her glittery purple running shoes to match her glitter-font sweats and a cute "Love Bugs #44" t-shirt. This was Katie's first year, so we prepped her with dribbling practice in the kitchen during Countdown Week. This practice proved very beneficial on the big day, because she was one of the better dribblers in the 5-and-Under age group. She had a great time, until she was looking the wrong way and got bonked in the head with a rebound. Still, I think she had a great time.

The only let-down was that the organizers opted this year to put the juice and snack budget towards the purchase of two more basketball hoops that could crank all the way down to Katie's height. This was a great choice, but led to some immediate disappointment. However, I promised our kids that they could have a juice-box and a granola bar from our house every week if they would like. Scott paused for a moment to think about it, but in the end he was satisfied.

Start the count-down for Week 2!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Date Night Dinner at Japanese Village

Growing up everyone could sing the jingle for Japanese Village. Their commercials were classic, even though I really had no idea what made the restaurant different from other places. Finally, 30 years later, I wanna see them, have a good time, at Japanese Village, aso aso.

Someone suggested that we go out for a group date night, and I threw out the idea of a Teppanyaki place, as we had fond memories from the Teppanyaki House in Provo, where the chef ignited an onion volcano and flipped pieces of grilled shrimp into each person's mouth. There may be other places in town, but Japanese Village was the only one that I could find. It seemed like a great opportunity to get a fun meal and to satisfy 30 years of curiousity.

It worked nearly perfectly. We had a party of 10 people to fill out all the stools, and the food was delicious. However, at no point did anyone sing the famous jingle, and I had to put all the shrimp into my mouth on my own. Other than that, I had a good time, at Japanese Village, aso aso.

Fawlty Anniversary #14

[Nov 24 2014]

After scouring every website for every venue in the city (including a bar in Inglewood), I finally found a show to attend for our 14th anniversary. The Pumphouse Theatre was in its first weekend of a production of Fawlty Towers, essentially reenacting several episodes from the classic British comedy. Pumphouse had done a similar production in a previous year and it had been a great success, according to some web article I read. R has never seen the original show, but I had seen a few episodes somewhere in my youth and I had always been curious to go to the Pumphouse. My standard bike/run commute to downtown cuts right past the historic brick building, which supplied water to Calgary residents from 1913 to 1968. In 1972 it was converted to a community theatre and it has been pumping out quality dramatic works ever since.

We planned to go to dinner before the 7:30 pm show, but time was going to be tight because the babysitter was coming at 6pm and we would need to get to the show a bit early to find decent general admission seats. I found that the Stadium Redwater Grille just off 16th Avenue was right along the way. Originally constructed as a McDonald's, this restaurant supplied Happy Meals to Calgary residents for decades until it was converted to a fine dining establishment, and it has been pumping out quality steaks and chops ever since.

It was a bit of a rush, but they got us in and out of the restaurant in under an hour and we made it to Fawlty Towers before it started. However, there were only a few seats left on the side the stage configuration meant that any seats on that side would have an obstructed view of the kitchen and dining room action. Fortunately, I have few reservations about asking favours and strangers, and people were willing to scoot over one seat to free up a pair of seats for us in the good section. It was blazing hot anywhere you sat. Perhaps they were too thorough when they restored the historic furnace.

Before the show even started, there was a mock scene where the actor playing Basil came out on stage and pretended to take a phone call from a man to talk about a planned wedding proposal. Suddenly, an audience member came through the doors at the rear of the stage and proposed to a woman on the front row. Things only went up from there. In fact, one of the episodes was called "The Anniversary." The show was great -- especially the lead character. He channeled John Cleese wonderfully without simply imitating John Cleese. Long, gangly arms used to maximum effect. Wonderful night.

The next day was our actual anniversary, but since it was a Sunday, we didn't go to any more pumphouse-McDonald's or anything. Instead, we ate dinner with the rest of the clan and my wife of 14 years managed to secretly create a fabulous chocolate mousse that pretty much everyone loves and we shared it together. Everyone there got to have some, but only my plate was hand-decorated with a cute anniversary message. R is the best. She always has some romantic trick up her sleeve.

Happy Anniversary!! I love you!! I also love mousse!!

Friday, January 02, 2015

Tara's Wedding

Tara got married!

Even though she lives on the other side of the world in Indonesia, Tara came back to Calgary for her wedding. It was so much fun. R got to sing a song at the ceremony, and she was so happy to be a part of it somehow. Tara married a guy from Australia, and it seems that we will have to get out there to visit them someday when they are a little more settled. They were just glowing on the wedding day. It was great. It was also great to reconnect with so many people that we grew up with but hardly see.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Early-Season Skiing at Nakiska

Nakiska was barely open before we went out to the mountain with Grandpa M. Even though we already had passes to Canada Olympic Park from the early-bird sale last year, Nakiska had a ridiculous deal on adult passes for $199, so I had to pick one up. Because Scott is in grade 2, he got a 5-mountain RCR pass for only $20 and Katie's 6-mountain Tiger pass was also only $20. The deals were so good that Grandpa got in on the action and got a pass.

We had expected to go on the Bronze Chair for an easy warm-up. But the mountain hadn't gotten any real snow yet, so Bronze was still closed. We went up the Silver Chair and there was one run open. Everyone had to ski the same green run. We were caught up in a cloud of humanity, many of them skiing much faster and closer than I would really prefer. It's funny, your sensitivity to safety shifts once you bring your small children to the hill. I suddenly wanted to reach out grab a few people by the collar to keep them from skiing clipping the tips of Katie's tiny little skis. I restrained myself and there were no incidents. Ultimately, people spread out to some of the other lifts that were open higher up the mountain and things were better.

Katie does really well skiing, but she wasn't used to skiing on such long runs. One time she stopped part-way down the mountain and said she was tired. Another time she told me she had to make an emergency pit-stop. We raced down the hill to the lodge as fast as we could. Whew.

As much as the kids enjoy skiing, it almost seems like they enjoy sledding on my snowboard even more. They found a little hill near the lodge and they went down on the snowboard over and over again. There was a cameraman there, shooting footage for some sort of promotional video, and the kids nearly ran him over with the sled. The guy knelt down to get a cool action shot and he narrowly rolled to safety with his camera intact.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

First Ski Day of the Season

We went to Canada Olympic Park on opening weekend. They had delayed the opening by a week because there wasn't enough snow, but then there was a cold snap and snow-making went into high gear. Only one chair was open, and they had set up a little rail park next to the magic carpet that we normally use, so suddenly there were big kids all around.

I showed Katie how to do the slalom course and she spent most of the time cycling through it -- probably 20 times total.

Scott was off with his friend Tarek's family on the big chair, so we could only see him occasionally. It was enough evidence to conclude that he is less of a technical slalom skier and more of a speed freak. Maybe Super G is his event of choice.

Tools For Tooth Extraction

1 Leatherman for pulling
1 Dollar for motivation
1 Brave little boy

Scott's tooth was so loose that it was literally keeping him awake at night. I suggested that we pull it out. He didn't want to use the string-on-the-door method again, so I suggested some pliers. I always think of using pliers because I have a vivid memory from my childhood of my Dad coming after one of my teeth with some needlenose pliers. Scott wasn't excited about that plan because he'd had little success pulling his own tooth out with pliers on a previous tooth. I suggested that it could work better if he would let ME do the pulling, since I will have a good view of the tooth. He could see the logic in it, but he was was reticent until I promised him a dollar if we could do it. He readily agreed and I popped it out in one quick try. There was a little bit of blood, but he said it barely hurt at all.

With the dollar he got from the Tooth Fairy, that was a pretty good payday.