Friday, August 29, 2014

Katie and Grandpa

[July 9 2014]

Picnic With Cousins

[July 7, 2014]

R's cousins from Arizona commandeered a massive van and trekked up to Calgary to visit for 10 days. Whenever they come, we do all the fun and touristy stuff around Calgary that we never do otherwise. We kicked it all off with a picnic at Shouldice Park, near the Bow River. We actually did picnics at Shouldice twice while they were in town. Both times, one of my work colleagues rode through on his bike on his way home and saw me there. He started to wonder if I had taken up a permanent residence in the park.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Outdoor Swimming Lessons

[July 2 2014]

This year Scott and Hayden went to a week of swimming lessons at an outdoor pool. By some stroke of luck, it was actually warm enough to swim all week. Not only that, but it was sunny and nice enough to want to stick around and play in the wading pool each day before leaving. This is all pretty remarkable, since Calgary is a high altitude, high latitude place and summers are not known for being consistently hot. There aren't many outdoor pools in the city, and those are all from an earlier era, when people must have been hardier or had misconceptions about how weather works.

I remember having an outdoor swimming lesson before. Mine was down in Murray, Utah, when I stayed with my Grandparents for several weeks when I was about nine years old. I remember that I was considerably taller than the other kids in the class, because I couldn't really put my head underwater for many years on account of having tubes in my ears. So, we were bobbing around and making bubbles and stuff, and it was pretty ridiculous. I recall that our instructor was named Buffy or something like that. And she got really embarrassed one day when she showed us how she could dive off the high dive and the front of her suit came a bit unzipped (but we would have never known if she didn't tell us).

The most vivid memory I have from my outdoor lessons was that I ate a whole bag of Twizzlers licorice beforehand and I got ill while in the change room and puked all over the floor. Little red Twizzler-bits all over the place. Then I felt better and I went out to the pool to swim. You know, if you puke a bunch of licorice, it doesn't taste bad at all.

Thank You For Being My Dad

[July 6 2014]

Scott made this for me at church today. My heart is now melted.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

As the ALS Ice Bucket challenge has buzzed around the internet, our kids have seen quite a number of the videos. Then one day I got challenged on Facebook to do the challenge and Katie decided she really wanted to do it too. Scott wanted to dump water on my head and was also interested in participating himself. R took the opportunity to explain the effects of the disease to the kids.

It was even more meaningful for us because we know someone who is currently suffering from ALS. We have gone to church with this woman for many years, and now she lives next door to R's parents. As the disease has advanced, she has lost the ability to speak clearly and mostly communicates through written notes. It has been sweet to see how her children and her husband have rallied around her. There is no treatment for ALS, so her unaffected mind feels increasingly trapped in an uncooperative body. She has hoped for 3 things:
1) That she might live to see a cure.
2) That she might help others suffering from the disease.
3) That another illness might take her before ALS does.

R's mom hosted us in her backyard for an ice-bucket and pool party, and her neighbour Cheryl came out with her family to their backyard. They did their ice bucket challenges and then they watched us do ours. Poor Katie got blocked out by the bigger people when it was time to dump water on my head. I fixed that by letting her dump it right in my face afterwards. She and Scotty were so brave to do their buckets with almost 20 people watching them. That night she said in her prayers that she was glad that she did the bucket challenge even though she was scared. So cute.

Cheryl couldn't say anything, and she didn't want to be in our videos, but she was very pleased to witness the whole thing. She gave me a high five afterwards. She feels like people everywhere are more aware of ALS and that one of her hopes is really coming true. There has been some criticism of the Ice Bucket Challenge in the media, because some people don't really know what it is all about. Well, in this instance, it was very meaningful, and I think we will all remember this for a long time.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Temple Night with Family

[Jun 26 2014]

The Calgary Temple baptistry changed its schedule for 2014 so that people can drop in on weeknights and mix in with the wards scheduled for that evening. R organized an evening where we all got babysitters and attended together. It was a wonderful experience for me, but I think it was even better for R's parents, who could sit in the temple together with 4 of their 5 children (the ones who live here in town). As we sat there I put myself in their place and how much I would love to have an experience like that once our children are grown.

The weather was beautiful when we came out, it being one of the longest days of the year. So of course I insisted we take a photo.


[June 5 2014]

Occasionally we get hooked up with free tickets to events. There is a group in town that provides free tickets to families so that their kids can attend concerts and sporting events and things like that. A lot of the stuff starts pretty late in the evening, so we don't always throw our hat in the ring. However, when free tickets came up for Cavalia, we jumped all over that.

I wasn't able to go that night, but auntie Karla was available to take my place. Grandma & Grandpa came as well (although they had different seats) and everyone said it was a fabulous show. It was certainly a few notches above the circus that we attended the month before (which was also free through the same program).

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Grotto Creek Trail Vol 2

[Jul 5 2014]

After the Bowness Parade we headed off to the mountains with cousins to hike the Grotto Creek Trail near Exshaw. We have done this hike one other time before, back in 2009. At that point, Scott was 2-1/2 and R was 5 months pregnant with Katie. I remember the uneven creek bed was a bit challenging for Scott at that age, but our kids were both much older than that this time around, so I thought they would do well.

At first Katie wanted me to hold her hand pretty much all the time, because she worried about falling down. Meanwhile, Scott was collecting massive quantities of rocks and we hadn't even gone anywhere yet. We ended up convincing him to put the rocks down and possibly pick some up later, so he wouldn't have to carry them the whole way.

Katie grew braver and more confident as we went along, and eventually she only needed a hand on the really steep or slippery bits. For the final segment of the return trip, she just walked with her cousin Lacey. It was a beautiful day in a wonderful spot.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

July Birthdays

[July 3 2014]

It is so fun to live close enough to family to celebrate everyone's birthdays together. One Sunday we had candles and presents for R and our niece A, in advance of their actual birthdays. Then a few days later we went out to dinner to celebrate R's birthday on the actual day. We have done fairly well at Chili's lately, because they have a lot of variety on the GF menu and our kids LOVE the quesadillas.

They also LOVE their mom. She is a sweetheart and we all love her dearly. Happy Birthday!

Stampede Parade in Bowness

[July 5 2014]

Given last year's fantastic experience with the Bowness parade, we decided to do it again this year. Instead of our spot across from Bow Cycle, we plunked down on corner where Mary's Corner Store used to be (the store was demolished because of flood damage in 2013). Just as expected, the candy came in ridiculous quantities. There was much more candy than I expected, in fact.

It was a great spot and a fabulous parade, although the children next to us were perhaps a bit more aggressive about collecting candy than we might have expected. Who can blame them, though? Candy is worth fighting for. Almost worth dying for. Certainly worth crying for. And our kids cried just a little.

However, they eventually figured out that they could still get their share of treats if they were quick and they didn't give up.

I just wondered why so many groups give out freezies. Sure, they are delicious and cold, but by the time you fling one across the dusty pavement, it is hardly watertight anymore, so you end up with a coating of sticky mud over everything as it melts. Our kids eventually started leaving the freezies for the frenzied neighbours.

One vintage pickup went by and the driver shouted to us "There are shirts in the back!" I don't have to be told twice to take something for free, so I hopped up out of my chair and helped myself to an "I HEART BOWNESS" shirt from a cardboard box in the truck bed. I certainly do HEART Bowness, so this is a great outcome.

I should note that the Calgary Round-Up Band was in the parade. My sister A was Flutist First Class in that same marching band back in her woodwind years. She had an official jacket with her name on one sleeve and "flute" on the other. My little brother T decided to wear her jacket to elementary school one day, when he was in about grade 3. He hiked up the sleeves and didn't worry about the length in the body. He wore it with confidence and made all the other grade 3 children jealous, I am sure.

It is good to see that the band marches on, leaving a legacy of jackets for another generation of grade 3 brothers.

Ponytail Expert

Katie is learning to do her own hair. She can do her own ponytail now. It is so cute to watch how she gathers and smooths all her hair together into a ponytail before wrapping her elastic around it 3 times. The first efforts were a bit scruffy and often asymmetrical, but she is getting quite good at it now. It makes her feel so grown up.