Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pony Ride

The kids were all invited to ride the pony that R's parents' neighbours rented for their little boy's first birthday. He was barely old enough to figure out what was going on, but Katie was all over it. She loves all animals.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

School Bus

Because Scott goes to afternoon kindergarten, he catches a special bus after lunch that takes him to school (but he comes home on the regular bus with all the other grades).

The only other student at the stop is a boy from his Sunday School class who is in the adjoining classroom. This photo is from their very first trip on the bus, on their second day of kindergarten.

Monday, September 24, 2012

First Day of Kindergarten

Finally, the big day -- the first day of school! Although he was a bit nervous, Scott was well prepared and handled his bit day like a star.

His kindergarten teacher mailed us a letter about a month before school to introduce herself. It included a photograph, so that she would already be familiar to the kids before the first day. The school also gave us a count-down calendar, with an activity to do every day to help prepare mentally or physically for school. They were mostly simple things, but it seemed to help Scott feel ready. He had also visited the school a few times and wasn't so intimidated by it anymore.

He had his new backpack, his new shoes and some new shirts to help him look the part. We had picked up some inexpensive shirts with no graphics on them, and we used printable heat-transfer paper to turn them into cool Battle Force 5 and Power Rangers Samurai shirts. Scott also had an extra aerodynamic haircut for school, provided by Dad. Apparently, I am getting out of practice cutting hair, and I cut the front shorter than the back, so R had to go back and even it out.

When he got there, he found that his class was on one half of a large classroom area, with another kindergarten class on the other side. To his delight, 7 children from his Sunday School class at church were in the combined group, 2 of them in his own class.

Scott and Noah are really good buddies, so Scott was really happy to be in a class together.

One of the kindergarten teachers took the children on one side of the room to learn a little song while the other provided some orientation for the parents. Then the kids came back and sang the song for their parents, giving their mom or dad a little sticker as a way to say good-bye. Scott had no problems when R and Katie left him there. He told me later that there was a girl who was sad, but he kind of shrugged like he couldn't understand why.

He came home with a plastic cup of soil with a bean seed planted inside. There was a little story with it for the benefit of the parents -- a story about letting your little kids climb the little beanstalks so that they can learn to tackle the bigger ones later on. It was sweet. I think the day was harder for us than for him. When the afternoon was over, he was a bit surprised that it went by so quickly, and he was anxious for another chance to try the activity centers. His career as a Toddler is officially over and he is now a Student.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Calgary Corn Maze

[From Aug 25, 2012]

Apparently, sandals (and particularly sandals that are too big for you) are the WRONG thing to wear to a corn maze. This is because corn grows out of DIRT and if you go to the corn field after it has rained, then the dirt turns to MUD. We learned this at the Calgary Corn Maze. We also learned that the green pig always loses the race, that a GPS is super-helpful in navigating a field-sized maze, and that fresh taber corn is DELICIOUS.

Friday, September 21, 2012

License to Read

Last September, R and Scott began afternoon "school" sessions during Katie's naptime. They worked on crafts, on writing the letters of the alphabet, and on reading. They used a 100-step reading program that was in a book that R borrowed from her sister, completing one lesson about every other session. They finished the 100th lesson the morning of Scott's first day at Kindergarten. He went off to school ready to tackle all sorts of words, phrases and sentences.

It's funny, even though he clearly was capable of reading some simple books right at the beginning, he refused to read our bedtime books. He did not consider himself a Qualified Reader until he had been properly certified. Since they finished the book, he has been devouring books that are classified as Level 1. For example, he read a 143-page Dick and Jane reader, and ploughed through a stack of new library books. However, if we see a level 2 book, he does not even attempt to read it. He figures he is not properly prepared, and sees no reason to give such an important responsibility to an amateur. It's like he has a learner's permit and feels he should not stray onto the freeway.

Therefore, it was my privilege to read "Super Hero Squad: The Trouble With Thor" and "Super Hero Squad: Team Spirit!" last night. Scott will eventually reach such elevated levels, I'm sure.

Funny Note: Scott keeps his place in his book with a "checkmark", which is in this case a flyer from a roofing company.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Throwing Rocks

And really, why wouldn't you wear a dragon costume to throw rocks in the river, if you had the option?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Labour Day Quotes

Waiting for guests to arrive
D: Scott, let's do a fight!
S: Yeah. But try not to get my hair too much. I already ... uh ... decorated it.


R: Guess what? Last night uncle Brad asked Katie to marry him.
K: I get married? Yay!
S: I will have 8 aunts now. Dad, you got married in the temple, right?
K: I get married!

R: Katie, do you want to get married to a boy?
K: Yes. I hug a boy.
K: I get to hug a boy!
R: Are you going to hug the boys?
K: Yes!
R: Are you going to kiss the boys?
K: Yes!


Driving to the Stampeders Game, we see a truck pulling a horse trailer that reads, "The Stampeders Touchdown Horse."
D: There's the touchdown horse in there.
S: Does the other team have a horse?
D: No. Just our team has a horse, because Stampeders is more of a horse-thing.
S: Oh. What's the other team have, then?
D: The other team is called the Eskimos. Do you know what Eskimos are?
S: No.
D: It's people that live up where it's colder than here, and somtimes they live in igloos. Do you think they have an ice thing instead of a horse?
S: No. That wouldn't be very fast.
D: So what do you think they have for their team?
S: A pig.

(We had recently seen pig racing at the corn maze, so this kind of makes sense.)


K: I want Santa coming. I give a hug.


At Bedtime
D: Good night Scott. Have a good first day at school tomorrow.
S: Have a good day at work tomorrow, dad.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

West Ed

I wish I had a better picture of the sleeping arrangements in the hotel. We had a suite, so Scott slept in the pull-out couch. There was an armchair with a footstool which we used for Katie's bed. I put a pillow on it to even out the contours and it was the cutest little toddler bed.

The agenda for the day was to eat breakfast and then I would drop R and the kids at West Edmonton Mall while I visited the temple. Not only was the hotel suite really nice, the breakfast room had one of those pancake machines that looks and sounds like a photocopier, dispensing pancakes out the side. Scott thought it was pretty awesome. I did too.

Although the mall ended up being insanely busy that day, R and the kids arrived a few minutes before it opened, so they had it all to themselves for the morning to see a marine show and lots of neat sea creatures. R was the only one brave enough to pet the stingray.

I met up with them in the crazed frenzy of the food court for a meal. Katie was so put off by the din that she struggled to eat her food -- she needed both her hands to cover her ears.

After lunch we let Katie crash for a few minutes while Scott went on rides at Galaxyland. We definitely would like to go back and do some more rides sometime. Hopefully, sometime when it's not so busy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Fort Edmonton

We decided to take a bit of an impulse-trip to Edmonton, staying overnight in a hotel and visiting the Edmonton Temple. Friday evening's planned activity was swimming in the hotel pool, but we visited the Fort Edmonton historical park until the 4:00 pm check-in time. Over the course of the last 30 years they have completely rebuilt the fort to look authentic and it is very impressive. Various streets in the park represent different periods in Edmonton's early history, going back as far as 1885.

In trying to explain how old the buildings were, I told Scott they were older than any people that he knows. I asked him, "Who is the oldest person you know?" I thought he might think of his great grandparents. He said, "Jesus."

Well, these buildings aren't quite THAT old.

We got to ride a vintage streetcar through one section of the park. The recent custom has been to let Scott take the point-and-shoot camera and get pictures of the things that interest him:


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Butterfield Acres: Pony Rides

Ponies are not as scary as dogs. Neither are bunnies. Goats are at least as scary as dogs. Thanks to auntie K for coming along to help fend off the goats.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Fathers & Kids Camp: Sleeping in the 4Runner

This year I took the kids to Fathers & Kids Camp, which was hosted by the West Stake in the North Ghost campground near Waiparous. Despite the proven reliability of tents for camping, I decided to branch out and try something new: camping in the truck. With the rear seat folded down, the back of our 4Runner is about the size of a queen size mattress. I procured one and tested it out. I found that the wheel-wells get in the way a bit, so I stuck an inflatable twin-sized mattress under the queen to level things out, jamming some bags under the gaps. The ship seemed seaworthy in the quiet harbour of our garage, but the actual voyage was not so simple.

Gravity was one of the main issues. If the interior of the truck can be compared to a solar system or galaxy, I was the object of greatest mass, and all other objects gravitated downwards toward me. The mattress may have been 5 feet across, but Katie and I occupied only the first 17 inches of that -- a feat made possible only by me leaning one shoulder-blade against the soggy window pane.

Another issue was headroom. The interior of an old 4Runner isn't particularly tall, and once you stack two mattresses up, you aren't left with a lot of space to move around in. To top it off, Entry through the side door is next to impossible without kicking both children in the head, so I had to climb over the tailgate and then clamber up to the front of the vehicle to turn the key in the ignition and reach the button to roll the rear window up. Katie had been nearly asleep when Scott and I started to bed down, but by the time I'd finished my little dance, she was wide awake and wailing. Fortunately, she found it soothing to sprawl on my stomach and eventually settled down. Unfortunately, once she was asleep it was nearly impossible to move her without making a terrible racket (the mattress let out a loud rubbery squeak every time anyone moved), so she basically rolled off my stomach and embedded herself in the shadow of my gravitational pull.

I didn't have the best sleep I've ever had, I have to admit. I woke up every 2-3 hours and made sure everyone was still in their sleeping bags and still doing okay. The night was cold enough to leave frost on some of the vehicles, and somewhere near dawn I gave up on ventilation in favour of insulation -- rolling up the windows. The interior of the truck was already dripping with condensation, so it made little difference anyway. The kids woke up at 7:00 am, but I was able to delay our exit from the vehicle by another hour by turning on a Dora the Explorer DVD. By then, breakfast was ready and things were warming up.

We probably could have camped in the garage and it would have been all the same to Katie, as her favourite activity was to play inside the truck, trying all the different seats and buckling up the seatbelts. She rarely rides in the truck, so for her it was very exciting.

We didn't have much work to do in the morning, as packing our gear was as easy as removing the caps from both air mattresses and folding the seat back into place. We also didn't need to cook our own breakfast, as everything was provided.

I did bring one thing that is a must-have on all such camps: Nasty Cookies. Oreo Cookies are a family tradition and the kids broke into the stash at some point and totally gorged themselves. The culprits were easily identified.

There were lots of fanstastic activities for the kids to do, including a tug-of-war, painting rocks from the riverbed, fishing for toys with magnets, flying toy airplanes, picking up garbage to earn candy, and even shooting a potato gun.

Unfortunately, Scott's phobia of dogs rendered him nearly unable to participate in some of the activities, as one of the families had brought their dog along. The dog was leashed up for some of the time, but just the prospect that the dog might appear was enough to make him nervous and by the end of the camp he wanted me to carry him around for safety's sake. At one point we had a conversation about dog spray, and what a great thing it would be if you could spray something on you that would repel dogs. He was sad to learn that no such spray exists (except ones that reek of pepper).

Perhaps I should consider arming him with a potato gun for future camping trips.