Friday, March 27, 2015

The Pet Party

[Jan 24 2015]

Katie had 5 little friends over to our house for a party the Friday following her birthday. As her theme, she chose a "pet party". Everyone was to bring a stuffed animal "pet" (loaners were provided for those who forgot to bring pet stuffies.

We had a few activities for them to try. We took a picture with them and their pet that we printed and put in a popsicle frame, which they decorated. They could also sew a felt pillow for their pet, using Katie's new sewing machine (that was a bit hit). They also got a little collar for their pet, with a little nametag on it (which happened to be made from narrow slice of a branch from our tree that we cut down last fall). Katie's little pet is named "Bay-boo", which originally was the name that I used for the imaginary person who I would pretend to scold for silly things. At some point, Scott suggested the name for Katie's little kitty.

I don't know if you can tell, but the cupcakes are arranged in the shape of a animal paw print. True to form, the kids mostly just licked the frosting off the top of the cupcakes. The frosting was this interesting stuff that comes in a non-descript white, but then you can add a packet of colouring/flavouring to make it into whatever you want. We picked the purple packet and the berry-ish flavour was a bit off the mark, so the kids didn't quite finish licking it all off before they ditched their treats to go take a turn on the zipline.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Katie is FIVE

[Jan 20 2015]

Katie turned FIVE today! Happy Birthday Katie!
She has a birthday party planned for the weekend, but we wanted to open presents with her on her actual birthday. We decided to open presents in the morning, so that she could enjoy them all day, rather than opening them just a few minutes before bed. Scott was very excited to give her the mermaid bath toy that he had bought for her. The photo of them hugging sort of melts my heart.

Katie loves animals and stuffies, so we got her a Furby toy, which is a quirky little stuffy that babbles to you in Furby-speak and needs you to play with it and take care of it. It also has an extension on the tablet that lets you give it baths and feed it and stuff. She was pretty wrapped up with the toy all day.

Katie is such a little sweatheart. She treats people with kindness and she loves to laugh. And even though she is growing bigger, she will always be our baby. We love you Katie! Happy birthday!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

First Brush with Community Basketball

We didn't sign up for community basketball this year because it was the "learn to play" format where a bunch of kids practice in a gym one night a week for like 6 months for about $250. We decided instead to do church-run Biddy-Ball for 2 months for free, since it was about the same thing and both kids could attend. However, we know a guy who pretty much runs community basketball and he has a Tuesday-night learn to play group that was wrapping up. He offered to let Scott come out and benchmark his skills to figure out if he was ready to play 1 year above his age level to be on a legit team next year. We were told to show up 10 minutes early with a t-shirt, shorts & shoes.

Scott didn't want to wear his old shoes (with grip) because his new ones are cooler. They are no-name skater hightops that he wears outside to school. He was so excited when he first got them that he wore them around the house for a week until the snow melted and he could wear them outside.

After a few minutes of shooting around, practice started with wind sprints. Scott lined up on the end line with everyone else, and then tried to figure out what they were doing. Everyone touched a spot on the foul line, so he ran over to touch the same spot, which was out of his way and put him a bit behind the pack. When turning around at the end line, his "cool" shoes were quite slippery and he fell further behind. However, he quickly caught on to the idea that you just have to touch the lines (or slide over them), and not a specific spot on the floor, so he made up the distance, eventually catching up to the front pack.

You could tell it was a bit awkward at times because he didn't know what was going on. A stray ball got him in the back during a dribbling drill and he projected all the awkwardness onto the "injury", resulting in tears. He eventually got over it.

Sharks & Minnows. They called the parents up to be part of the game. I caused a collision that sent some poor lady crashing to the floor. Whoops.

Scrimmage at the end. Scott scored, which was nice. He likes to pass the ball, which works against you in the world where dribble-and-shoot is the dominant strategy. When he subbed off I reminded him of the advice I had given him before: There are some kids on your team who are going to shoot EVERY time they get the ball. If you see one of those kids get the ball, stop calling for a pass and just get under the hoop for a rebound. The time he scored he scooped up someone's air-ball shot that ended up being sort of a sweet pass to him under the net.

After the scrimmage there was another game with the kids against the parents. No subs. So it was like 16 on 16. Madness. What I thought was strange was that the parents were so aggressive on defense. They intercepted every pass and even stole the ball away from kids while they were holding it. I am not to blame, because I only played offense. The first time we got the ball I ran down the court and took a pass for the lefty dunk (parents could not dribble and had to shoot with weak hand). I actually missed the first attempt -- the tiny little ball flew out of my hand as I tried to figure out how to cradle it lefty. I nailed it on the second attempt, with Scott hanging from my shirt-tail.

They handed out rice krispie squares at the end and Scott got to keep his ball. He left very happy, and anxious to come back next year and play on a team. I may or may not end up being his coach. It depends whether we are ready to commit to be there EVERY week, given that we are also heading into our first year of weekly Cub Scouts.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

It's All About the Half-Pipe

Tuesday Nights look for us up on the hill. Watch for a little purple blur moving through the shadows of the halfpipe.

Up until last week, you could find us at the magic carpets, where Katie would tear up the mini-slalom course, but now we take both the blue chair and the red chair to shred C.O.P. from top to bottom. It took a lot of convincing to get Katie to ride up the blue chair, but then she took on the halfpipe and she hasn't looked back. That first night she did the halfpipe 2 or 3 times, and then on Tuesday she did it at least 10 times more.

My buddy Steve brings his 2 older daughters to the hill every Tuesday night, so we met up with them. Even Mom joined us for the evening, because it was just too fabulous a night to pass up. Perfect weather, really. Steve's oldest daughter is Scott's age and they hit it off immediately, sharing a love for speed. After our first run together, I found them chatting at the bottom of the hill while they waited for everyone else (Katie and I had been stuck in a line for the halfpipe). After that Scott rode with her the rest of the night and they tore off into the darkness long before I could get my straps done up.

Family Portrait by Katie

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!!