Sunday, March 31, 2013

Family Photos - Easter Sunday

When we came home from church on Easter Sunday the sun was streaming in the windows and we were all dressed up and nobody had been rubbing their hair on the carpet and everyone was in a decent mood so we just --

Grabbed the tripod and snapped a few photos.

The kids always like to do a silly one.

Hunting Easter Eggs

Every day for a week leading up to Easter Saturday, Scott said, "I can't wait for Easter -- it's only __ days away!"

Consistent with previous years, the Easter Bunny visited our house a day earlier than most, giving the kids all of Saturday morning to search for eggs, leaving Sunday morning free to focus on attending church and observing the more spiritual side of the holiday.

Friday night they left their baskets out on the kitchen floor to be easily accessible for the Easter Bunny (do they not recall that this same bunny has left candies hidden on top of picture frames in the past?) and dashed off to bed. In the morning, they were so engrossed by the loot waiting in their baskets that they could hardly stay focused on hunting for the hidden treats.

Scott stubbed his toe pretty hard while trying to get to a jelly bean before Katie. I picked him up and helped wipe his tears. He said he was sad that he got hurt AND Katie still got to the jelly bean first. Katie said, "No, Scotty, I put the candy in your basket for you." She is such a little sweetheart.

With a little prodding from me they managed to find the rest of the candies. Apparently, my memory for this sort of thing improved since that previous incident.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Beware the Bass Pro Bunny

On Good Friday we took a trip to the Cross Iron Mills Mall to take part in the Easter Egg hunt at the Bass Pro store, to get a photo with the Easter Bunny and to take in a Thomas the Tank Engine show that was there, since we were in the neighbourhood.

Jenny sent her kids in to pose with the Easter Bunny, with Alli holding little baby Elijah. The Easter Bunny held out his hands to take the baby and Alli handed him over without question. The combination of the shimmering-white bunny, the tiny little babe, and the shrieking of little Adalia made for quite a scene. We decided to jam our kids into the tableau to take the drama up a notch. I strategically placed Katie as far from the Bunny as possible and told her to hold Hayden's hand to minimize the chance of a panic attack.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday at Grandma's

With no school or work to get in our way, we gathered together at Grandma & Grandpa's house to colour eggs. Grandma had hard-boiled enough eggs for each child to colour 9 eggs, and there were 5 kids there, so you do the math on that.

Scott likes to eat hard-boiled eggs, and he was quite pleased to have exclusive claim of ownership over so many. He kept them in the fridge and made his way through them gradually over the course of the following week. He mourned over each one just a little bit as he had to crack the decorated shells, but as long as he felt he had control over his eggs, he was even willing to contribute a few to making tuna salad sandwiches.

Katie also loved colouring her eggs, spending the most time with the cup of pinkish-purple dye. She thought they were all so pretty, even though her decorating scheme was pretty simple -- dunk egg in dye, remove.

After decorating the eggs and eating what was probably mouthful of shell, her trusty side-kick Adalia joined her in the backyard to blow bubbles -- 30 minutes of dumping cold soapy bubble-water all over their hands. I simply cannot understand how little children can let their hands get so cold without noticing or complaining.

We capped it off with roasting marshmallows and making smores. It was a very good day.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Boy's First Bracket

R made up some NCAA March Madness brackets as something fun to do together for our "stay-at-home" date night for March. Scott decided he wanted in on the action, so she helped him fill out his own bracket. He read all the names of the universities and their team names and looked at their won/loss records to pick his favourites. He picked #2 seed Duke to go all the way. He recognizes Coach K when he sees him on commercials now.

Each day the computer has been on, showing game footage or score updates and Scott has taken great pleasure in circling his wins with a red pen. He has had more wins than losses so far. He is beating both of us. He correctly picked Oregon to upset in the first round, which I found suprising. When we suggested we could make him a Duke shirt, he was very excited.

The night before Ohio State played its first game, he laid out the red Buckeyes shirt that we got from Old Navy. We bought it because it was on sale and it was red. But now he is a little bit of a Buckeyes fan. After we put him to bed we heard footsteps upstairs. We expected to see a little pair of eyes poking through the railing on the stairs, but none appeared. On our way to bed we checked in on him and found he had gotten up to lay out his Ohio State apparel on the floor and then gone back in bed. Very cute.

In addition to his Ohio State shirt, he has a red sweatshirt with a graphic of a bulldog on it. He asked me if it was a Gonzaga shirt, since they are also the Bulldogs. I said sure. It was red with blue on it, so why not? He was pretty excited about that. Conversely, he was shocked when Gonzaga lost to Wichita State 76-70, since he had Gonzaga in his Final Four. I was shocked that he could say "Wichita State" and "Gonzaga" without really batting an eye.

It really cracks me up to hear him talking about these teams with such familiarity. We were in the change room after his swimming lesson and he suddenly launched into the following conversation:

S: Now we are going to have to play a different team.

D: What? A different team?

S: Yeah. The Oregon team.

D: Oh, for basketball?

S: Yeah. The Oregon team won and they were only a 12 and now they will play Lewis-ville. (This is how he pronounces Louisville.)

D: Oh, that's right. You picked Louisville, didn't you?

S: Yeah. And Georgetown lost! They were supposed to play San Diego, and I only picked San Diego to win one time. (he says the "Diego" part almost too well, like he is talking about the character on TV.)

D: I heard that Georgetown lost. That's crazy. What number were they?

S: I don't know (shrugs and turns to leave). I have it at home. We have soup at home too.

For a basketball dad, it doesn't get much better than this.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hockey Night

For a work event, we all went to watch a Flames Game at the Saddledome. The first fight was only 3 minutes into the game and things just went up from there. One lady from work brought her son to the game and he got to ride on the Zamboni during the intermission. We got Scott a pair of Flames pajamas. The Flames won (even though they have had a terrible season). It was a roaring success. Great evening. Apparently, R's dad and sister were attending the same game, but were sitting on the opposite corner away from us. By putting my phone flash on strobe mode, I was able to signal to them where we were sitting.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Easter Bunny Will Be Mad

For our FHE activity the Monday before Easter we hid 12 plastic eggs around the room that the kids had to find. Each numbered egg had something in it that relates to the easter story, and the final one is empty, to represent the empty tomb.

The next evening when I was home alone with the kids we decided to hide them again. It didn't take them too long to find them the previous night, so Scott asked me to be even trickier. I found some pretty good hiding places, and it took them quite a long time, and at the end there was one egg they couldn't find -- and I couldn't remember where I'd hidden it. I helped them ransack the main floor for several minutes past their bedtime and finally I said that they should just go to bed without it and that it would surely turn up the next day.

Katie said, "Oh no. The Easter Bunny will be mad."

Fortunately, Katie decided she couldn't go to bed without getting a drink. Afterwards, when she put her empty cup on the table she noticed that there was an egg hidden in Scott's red plastic cup on the table.

Katie saved the day. The Easter Bunny will be pleased.

Homemade Ninjago Spinners

Scott has one Ninjago spinner that he bought with his limited spending money. He has wanted another one, but they are about $14 and he spent all his money on a Lego set at Christmas (in fact, he spent more than the money he had from Christmas and was in debt to me for the balance until he finally took a load of bottles back to the depot). He feels pretty certain that he's going to win $50 from the Lego Club, but we won't take that as collateral.

After examining his one spinner a little more closely, I noticed that we had several of these same pieces in his massive tub of assorted Lego that Grandma M gave him for Christmas. We set out to make some spinners of our own.

At first he didn't really understand the importance of symmetry in building something that is supposed to stay spinning for a long time, even after crashing into another spinner. But after I built him a few examples, he figured out a way to build his own. It was like a prison cell, and it was very sturdy.

Sadly, the name-brand spinners are weighted with metal inside and stay spinning longer than ours; however, we had a lot of fun making these and we managed to stay out of debt. I think it was a great move.

Monday, March 25, 2013

FHE: The Coat

On Mondays for Family Home Evening we usually watch a short video as our lesson component, since it is quick, simple and effective. The video called "The Coat" is a family favourite. The kids ask for it almost every week. They love to laugh at the beginning and then they nearly weep at the end. I can see it in their eyes.

This video moves them (and me), and I don't mind repeating it week after week -- especially if they go out and follow this great example themselves in some way.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Run for l'Arche 2013 Half Marathon

This year is to be a full marathon, so I set my sights on a half-marathon run in March to get an early start on the season. I had been doing 5-7km runs a few days each week as part of my commute during the winter, but I scaled it up in February to get ready for the race. One foggy morning I did a 15km training run from Shouldice Park to Fort Calgary in -9C weather, which resulted in a very frosty beard.

Race day was perfect. It was about -5C, sunny and hardly a breeze in the air. The course along the Bow River was all part of my regular commute and flat, so I didn't have to fight any hills. I turned on an audio book and settled into a rythmn, slowly building speed into the second half of the race. The result was a personal best of just over 1h 40min. I tried to speed it up some more near the finish line but my quivering hamstrings said no.

Both my family and a pancake breakfast were waiting for me at the finish line. We enjoyed the food in the warmth of the Eau Claire indoor playground. Then I went back to work. I have to admit, the race and food was more fun than working.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

No More Beard

After nearly 3 months of growth, it was finally time to say goodbye to the beard. We tested out a few interesting variations on the way out. I have to admit, it was a bit weird to suddenly see my face again. It was almost creepy, actually.

But not as creepy as the handlebar mustache version of me.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Swim Kids

The kids are two weeks into their new swim lessons. This was Katie's first unparented lesson and Scott's first venture into the non-preschool world of "Swim Kids". Both Katie and Scott were at the very youngest end for their respective classes, and it was clearly a challenge for both of them. It was difficult to say who was more concerned about it -- our kids flailing around in the pool or R sitting on the sidelines.

Having completed the preschool swim program all the way through, Scott was eligible to go into Swim Kids 2, rather than the introductory-level Swim Kids 1. On day one of lessons the instructor told them all to jump in and swim across the pool. Some of the kids were older than Scott and had taken SK2 previously, so they did quite well. He swallowed a lot of water, but he made it. The instructor reassured R afterwards that he is fine where he is and he just "needs to keep working on his endurance."

Katie is barely old enough to be in an unparented swim class now. She is probably average height, but there is another girl in her class who looks way older than her. On day one of class the instructor had them dunking their heads and trying to lie flat in the water. Katie was very brave and did everything she was asked without much fuss. However, when she gets a bit excited about something she tends to open her mouth really wide, which is a problem in submarine activities.

After her first lesson she was excited to tell me about her swimming; however, when it was time to get ready for week 2, she showed some reservations about going back. I promised her that I would come to the pool after work and watch her swim. Once again she was very brave and did everything she was asked, including a lot of dunking her face in the water. The instructor gave her a high-five every time and we clapped for her from the sidelines. Both R and I felt really good about the progress that both kids are making. R said it was much easier to watch the second week.

I suppose parents also need to work on their endurance. Watching from the sidelines can be good for that.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Making Purple Letters

Katie discovered typing. She also learned that Mom can set the type font to be nothing but beautiful, PURPLE letters. She typed pages and pages of them.

Note the cute hairstyle too -- which is the real purpose these photos were taken.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Front-Facing Camera

Katie was a bit sad, so I used the front-facing camera on my phone to cheer her up, and Scott joined in on the fun.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Burst of Creativity

As Scott has discovered writing, he has taken to dedicating his creations to those dearest to him. Each day he has brought home a new art piece for someone in the family:

Saturday, March 02, 2013

More Views from the Zoo

Biddy Ball

Where we live, Saturday mornings in January and February mean Biddy Ball. It's like basketball, but it's more like "itty-bitty basketball" -- it's for kids aged 5-11.

Scott really loves to go to biddy ball. On Friday nights we lay out the clothes that he is supposed to wear and when I wake up early in the morning to take him there (it starts at 8:00am!), I find him lurking somewhere in the darkness in shorts and a t-shirt, ready to go.

The kids rotate through three coaching stations where they practice dribbling, shooting and passing, often with a chance to play a small scrimmage. Scott is still in the youngest age group, but he has played a lot of basketball already, so he does really well. I watched him sink 6 or 7 shots in a row in the drills. In the scrimmages he still plays the game a lot like he plays soccer -- hovering around the perimeter and waiting for an opportunity, rather than charging through to the net for shots. However, even if someone else on his team ends up scoring, he dances and celebrates all the same.

Often I have been pulled in with some of the other dads to help coach the drills. Most of my dribbling drills turn out to be some sort of race. I especially like it when we get all the kids to one end of the gym to play British Bulldog. They have to dribble their ball and try to tag the other kids. It's awesome, but sadly, it's over for the year. Indoor soccer is next!

Penguins and Mud at the Zoo

We had pretty much the warmest February ever and then once March hit, we got a massive dump of snow. Fortunately, we got to the zoo and saw the penguins on one of the warmer days before the snow dropped, because honestly, who wants to see penguins with a bunch of snow all over the place? Seems a bit overdone, if you ask me.

The day was supposed to be the last good one before the snow, but it turned out to be pretty chilly, actually. After waiting outside to see the penguins march by we more or less hopped from one indoor venue to the next.

The kids really liked holding onto the tail-like lead on Adalia's backpack harness and fights almost broke out about who would get the next turn. Scott was the one holding the reins when "the incident" happened. He and Adalia hopped up on a curb to go around an oncoming convoy of strollers, but the grass on top gave way to some pretty deep mud. I turned around just in time to see Adalia stumble and then fall headlong into the mud. Face, hands, stomach, knees, everything. It was surreal. It was like something you see in a movie, where someone is completely covered.

With the help of three sets of hands and most of a pack of baby wipes, we had her looking presentable again. The only photo I got was after the clean-up. In the heat of the moment, my first thought was not to stop and take a picture. That's a good thing, I suppose.