Monday, October 28, 2013

Carving Pumpkins

Halloween Ballet Class

Working Downtown with Dad

When I was a kid we would occasionally go to the office with my dad. We called it "going to Dad's work" and we were usually pretty excited about it. He would let us loose in the copy room and the kitchen while he worked at his desk.

We would photocopy all sorts of things and then bind our favourites with a plastic coil binding and a fancy cover. Inside the books we would usually include lots of blank pages or letterhead so we could draw on them later -- using all the pens we looted from the supply shelves. Until one time when we overdid the looting and someone got on Dad's case about it. Then we got shut down.

The fridge in the kitchen was loaded with soda cans, but that wasn't enough. We would pour 7-Up into a styrofoam cup and then load it with sugarcubes, slurping this sticky brew through a coffee stir stick. Sufficiently buzzed, we would zip up and down the halls and the elevators. Eventually we would peter out and slump in a corner. Then it was time to go home.

Now it's my turn to be the dad.

Saturday morning I asked the kids, "Who wants to go downtown to see Dad's new office?" The votes were lopsided in favour. Katie was ready to put her jacket over her PJs and jump in the car. Sadly, she would have to wait until after lunch.

We parked only a block away from the building but we rode the C-Train one stop just for the fun of it. That allowed us to ride up all the escalators in the mall on our way in. Then Scott got hungry so we got a smoothie. Finally, we arrived at our destination and I put them to work.

Each of them got their own whiteboard-equipped meeting room near my desk where I could keep both of them in view. Katie filled the bottom 12 inches of that whiteboard with all manner of happy faces.

Scott mostly played tic-tac-toe against himself -- mostly winning -- before adding two cats to Katie's happy planet.

Afterwards, we created some books using copy paper and the power-stapler. They really wanted to use the power-stapler, but I reserved rights to the heavy machinery. Using a collection of highlighters, Scott was able to draw some very nice pictures of monster-beasts, while Katie mostly doodled in purple.

When I told them it was finally time to leave, they both groaned and wanted to know when were coming back. I promised them we would come back again soon.

After all, we still didn't try mixing any 7-Up.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


A full moon was out while driving home from Grandma's. We only live a few blocks away and we can drive down a few residential streets or we can cut through the LDS temple parking lot.

S: Dad, can we drive by the temple on the way home?
D: Sure.
S: I love to see the temple. It makes me happy. If Mom drove by the temple 1000 times she would probably cry.

The moon followed us all the way home. We opened up the blinds on Scott's bedroom window so that the kids could see it. Katie loved to see her shadow on the dark floor, framed in the shape of the window. The moon shone brightly from behind a thin veil of clouds that drifted across the sky. Scott thought it looked like a storm, and he is very scared of tornadoes. He told R earlier in the week that he had been scared of tornadoes one night but he had prayed and then he felt better.

D: Do you want me to leave your blinds open so you can see the moon?
S: No, I would be scared for the storms.
D: Should I just close it then?
S: Yes, but then I might be scared of the dark. But then I could just say a prayer like I did with Hayden at the soccer game when we couldn't find Luke.
D: You guys said a prayer together?
S: Yes. We looked for Luke and couldn't find him. That was for 3 minutes. Then Hayden said a prayer. That was for 2 minutes.
D: And then when did you find Luke? Was it right after the prayer?
S: It was 5 minutes later. So he looked for us for 10 minutes.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Making Lego History

The most recent issue of Lego Club Jr had Scott's award-winning photo. It's hard to say which he found more gratifying -- the notoriety or the $50 prize. Way to go, Scotty.

Scott's cousin Hayden signed up for the Lego Club recently and this was the first issue he received in the mail. He was pretty surprised to open it up and see Scott in there. I got a message from another dad, saying that his son Tarek had spotted his buddy Scott in the newsletter.

Rich and Famous.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Explosive Writing

We went to teacher interviews at Scott's school after his first week in grade one. His teacher noticed that he was very good at reading, but he didn't like to write very much. She asked him why and he shrugged a bit.

We explained to her how he had avoided singing for a long time, thinking that he couldn't really do it. And then one day in the car he suddenly sang along with one of his songs and said, "Mom! Did you just hear me?! I just did singing!" After that big breakthrough, he sang along with every song for weeks afterwards.

Reading was similar. Scott did lots of reading practice with R and knew how to identify all sorts of words, but once it was time to read a book he always took the passenger seat. Sometimes I would ask him to just read such and such a word and he would be adamant that he didnt' want to.

And then in August R worked with him a bit to brush up on his reading for school and he blasted through one book with hardly a mistake. He was elated. Suddenly he wanted to read everything in sight. He would go to bed with a stack of books and his nightlight. One morning I saw light coming from his room and peeked through the crack to see him in bed reading a book aloud to himself. I described this to the teacher and said that reading just "exploded" for him, and we thought writing would do the same once he tried it.

"Scott Bunny Trouble
The story was about Ralph kicking a soccer ball. And he was wrecking everything. The farmer thought Ralph was trying to eat his cauliflour. And he was sad and the other bunnies were worried and the mama was sad. My favourite part was when Ralph got free. The farmer letted Ralph free because he was the Easter Bunny."

Scott did up a book report between sessions of conference and then addressed and mailed the envelope himself that afternoon. He was very motivated because he has his eye on a Lego toy and was only 8 dollars short. I had suggested that he just read his book and write the report -- just write the whole thing fast without worrying about details. The whole process took him less than an hour and required no prodding from me. When he was writing it, he asked for some help to figure out what to write. I just asked him questions about the book and then told him to write down whatever answer he had just given me.

Afterwards he said, "I think writing exploded for me."

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Harvest Half 2013

I ran this race in 2012 as my first half-marathon. I got 1hr 46min. My next half was in Feb 2013 on a flatter course, where I hit 1hr 40min.

This year, I set out to beat 1hr 40min, which would be an accomplishment, given the hilly terrain. I tried to ease into a pace of 4min 30sec / km and found a pack of like-minded runners to travel with. Things still got tough in the last half of the race, but I found I had a much deeper reservoir this time around, and I was able to hang in there until the end, averaging 4min 28 sec / km for the race for a 1hr 33min finish time.

I am only slightly embarrassed about the finish-line photos. Maybe that's why I didn't spend the $29 to buy a copy.

It was much more fun to surprise to the up-side in this race, compared to the SOGO Bonk a few months earlier. #29 out of 816 runners isn't bad at all. I moved up 120 spots from last year. I was surprised to see that the winner of the race was a guy from my high school basketball team. He ran it in 1hr 20min. Wow.

I wonder if he pulled out the guns at the finish line? Probably. I wasn't there to see it, but he probably did.

Friday, October 04, 2013

First-Ever Family Photo Shoot

We have never done a "professional" family photo shoot before. I didn't realize what a process it can be. But in the end, we got some really great photos, so it was totally worth it.

There is so much planning involved. Location is a big thing. Fortunately, our photographer had a spot in mind on the ridge above the Bow River on the way to Cochrane. It's funny, I had noticed this spot recently and pulled off the road to check it out one time when we were coming home from Cochrane in September, because it looked like a really nice spot. When I heard that she wanted to shoot photos there, I was excited.

The real headache was deciding what to wear. It was getting late in the season, so the possibility of being cold was a concern, on top of everything else. I think I brought home two massive bags from the mall with anything and everything that seemed like a remote possibility. In the end I think we used 2 or 3 of these new items, sending everything else back. One of the big problems is that everyone has different ideas about clothes and colours. While trying on clothes. I give Scott a blue shirt with white dots on it to try.

S: I'm not wearing that shirt! That shirt is for girls! My friends don't wear shirts like that!
D: Check out these pants. They are bright orange.
S: Are those jeans?
D: Yes.
S: I like those. Let me try those on. My friend Noah has red jeans. He wears them sometimes.

He wears those bright orange pants all the time now, but he didn't wear them in the photo. I got a new sweater out of the deal, so that was a big plus.

On the big day when we were supposed to shoot, the weather was poor and there didn't seem to be much sun. That was going to be a problem because we wanted to get silhouettes at sunset. It's kind of funny to think that we were worried about what colours we were wearing, since we were hoping to just be black silhouettes in the final product. After considerable hand-wringing, we canceled the session... and then the sun came out.

The next day we saw a gap in the weather and we decided to try again. The temperature started to drop when the sun was going down, but the kids were real troopers and they did really well. We got so many great photos, and I am glad that we did it. We are especially happy to have the hand-in-hand silhouette picture hanging in our stairwell at home, where it can last for years and years to come.