Wednesday, June 27, 2012

First Fathers & Sons Camp

Last year we camped in the back yard a few times. This year I wanted to take Scotty out to a real campsite. I was thinking of reliving my youth by setting up a tent in the dark at Chain Lakes but when I mentioned camping to my brother in law one Sunday he offered to let me crash the Father & Sons camp his church congregation was hosting. This sounded great.

We camped on Willow Creek almost 2 hours south of Calgary, near the town of Stavely. It really like this part of the world -- the foothills of Alberta. It was only one week before the summer solstice, so the sun didn't set until quite late. We were one of the first tents to bed down for the night and it was 10:00 pm and still quite bright outside.

There were lots of boys Scott's age, including his cousin H, so he was in heaven the whole time, running around, eating handfuls of gummy bears, playing soccer, playing frisbee, playing tennis (sort of) and of course --- throwing rocks in the creek.

All the photos are from the Friday evening, since it rained a bit Saturday morning. Still, he had a great time and I can't wait for the next one. However, it makes me wonder about camping with my dad when we were kids: how did we always managed to set our tents up in the dark if the sun never seems to go down in this part of the world? We must have made some pretty late departures ... or maybe the sun worked differently back then. Juding by the number of rocks thrown in the river, it is clear that boys haven't changed since then.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Work Clothes

This is just a normal day at the office for these two: busy with Princess duties or fighting the evil forces of the Multiverse.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Back at Butterfield Acres

Apparently, instead of growing more accustomed to the animals, Katie is starting to freak out more. On the other hand, Scott is becoming more comfortable with goats.

On the most recent trip, Katie found herself caught in the no-man's land between the outer and inner gates of the goat enclosure and completely lost her composure. In fact, she preferred joining the goats on the inside rather than be caught alone inbetween. Strangely, Scott was hardly concerned that a goat reared up and tapped its hooves on his back. Scott was looking at something else and the goat suddenly decided to rest its weary forelegs by using Scott's upper back as a footstool for a second. It took Scott a few moments to figured out what had happened, and by then he wasn't really concerned. Amazing.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Fathers Day

I love Fathers Day. I got to sleep in, Scott coloured a crown for me, I got presents from the kids, Scott gave me a card coloured with glow-in-the dark crayon, I got a slice of coconut cream pie at church, ate roast dinner with R's family (Katie coloured Grandpa M's crown), we flew kites in the yard, I got to talk to my Dad on the phone, and Katie told me, "Happy Fassa Day!" It was a great day.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Beware the Killer Kite

I couldn't have set up a better gag if I had tried.

R was out for the evening and it was a bit windy, so I took the kids down to the dollar store to buy some kites, which we then took to the soccer fields near our house. Trying to keep two cheap kites in the air when working with a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old felt like a juggling routine.

First I put Scott's kite together and let him start flying it. By the time I had put Katie's kite together, Scott had crashed his kite and somehow the flimsy little dowel across the middle had broken. I left him with Katie and got some duct tape from the car to fix the dowel and gave it to him. Once his kite was back in the air, Katie came to me with no kite and tears in her eyes.

She had let go of her string and her kite had drifted off the field down the hill by some houses. I had just arrived at the crash site when I heard screaming. Scott was running towards me, holding an empty reel in his hand and pointing up at the sky. Apparently, the string was not tied to the reel, so it just floated away when he let it all out. Fortunately, the kite was headed right over me, so I chased down the string and stopped the kite just short of crashing on the roof of a house. I told Scott to go down the hill and help Katie retrieve her kite and worked at tying the string to the reel.

It took me a minute to tie the knots, since the kite was tugging away at me the whole time, but Scott and Katie still hadn't appeared back up the hill. It would take forever to reel all the string back in and there was no way to bring the soaring kite back down very quickly, so I just looped it around a big bolt sticking out of the top of the soccer goal and let it fly while I ran over to help the kids. It turns out that they had hopelessly tangled themselves in the string of Katie's kite.

I worked Scott's ankles free of the string and was working on Katie when Scott started howling again. Apparently, he had spotted a dog. We were still down the hill a bit and out of sight, but Scott had gone up higher and spotted a man quite a ways off walking his dog across the soccer fields. I reassured Scott that he would be safe near me and kept one eye on the man (I could just see the top 1/3 of him over the crest of the hill) while I kept reeling in Katie's string, in which Scott had gotten tangled again in his panic.

Scott's kite was about 100 feet in the air and the man with the dog had not noticed it at all as he walked across the field. For some reason which I can't explain -- except perhaps that it was a one-dollar kite held together with duct tape -- Scott's kite suddenly started falling from the sky ... and then it crashed almost right on top of the man. I couldn't help but laugh out loud at his shocked reaction. He did a startled jump. Then he quickly looked up in the sky, back down at the kite and then all around the field. We were still down the hill by a fence and essentially out of sight, so I doubt that he even saw us.

Basically, this man must have felt he was attacked by a rogue kite which dove down on him from nowhere. I wonder what he told his family when he got home.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Riding Bikes

Scott learned to ride a two-wheeled bike with no training wheels two weeks ago. Now he talks trash about how much faster he is than me on a bike. He has no idea.

We got him a bike with training wheels for his 4th birthday last year, but it was just a little too tall (and heavy), so we found a smaller one used listed in the online classifieds ( that was way easier for him to handle. He picked it up in a matter of a few minutes. At first, I would help him get started and then let go. He kept freaking me out because he refused to use the brakes, preferring to just drag his feet and coast to a stop. At one point, I went to help Katie because she was crying, so R took over with Scott. Unfortunately, that was the only time that he tipped over, because he got his foot caught up in the bike. Later he told me "Mom pushed me over."

The next day, after a bit of a showdown between him and me, he discovered that he could get started on his own with me helping. Now he is an independent little boy with his own means of high-speed transportation... complete with tachometer and revving sound effects.

Katie has her own little two-wheeled training bike that has no training wheels and no pedals. It is super tiny and super light. She looks hilarious riding it because she is almost always wearing a skirt. She started out pretty slow at first, but now she is getting to where she can motor along pretty well and even lifts her feet up to coast down the occasional section of downhill grade.

Katie also loves to say "Tootie" -- referring to passing gas. She also likes to say, "excuse me I tooted" except that she is usually crying wolf. This is clearly imitative behaviour, but I will not point any fingers (or pull any either).

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Mule Train

One evening after I returned home from work I hitched the bike trailer up to take the kids around the block. We had Katie wear her helmet, which she held with both hands the whole time. Let me tell you, pulling another 90 pounds of cargo sure made me notice the hills in our neighbourhood... especially after riding 26 km home from downtown.

We cruised around the neighbourhood a bit, and the kids' favourite part was a steep section of pathway that drops down through some trees near a pond. Scott claimed that the trailer went up on one wheel on our second pass through that section, but I have my doubts. Katie hardly made a peep the whole time, just clinging to the side of her helmet's visor. I worried she might be scared but she said she was having fun.

I picked up this trailer at a yard sale for $5 or $10 a few years back, but we had never used it as anything but a stroller because it was missing a piece of the hitch mechanism and I had borrowed a better one from a friend instead. I used a zip tie to keep it hooked onto my bike frame, but I probably should have used more than one, as the zip tie eventually snapped off when we went over a curb on the ride home. Fortunately, I had connected the safety strap, so nothing serious happened.

When we got home Katie gave R a full account of the trip -- although it was tough to pick out the words that came between "wagon", "bike", "hill" and "fast".