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 beginner class, because I had never taken lessons 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 demonstrated to 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. It's almost like getting an serving of Twizzlers for free... with none of the calories.

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).

I asked Katie what she remembered about the horse show and she described it as "the show that started off all green and had the lady that sang." R's most vivid memory of the event was when she left her wallet there and had to go back and enlist the help of one of the roadies to get back in and find it. She also noted that they ate way too much popcorn and candy and Scott puked in the night.

I remember once when I was a kid we popped a huge bowl of popcorn and melted real butter over it and salted it and we kids ate the whole thing. I ended up puking that night, so my mom put me on the floor of the upstairs bathroom in one of those green sleeping bags (with the paisley inside lining) in case it happened again. And it did happen again. I think we might have watched a movie that night, but I don't remember that part -- just the popcorn, the sleeping bag and the bathroom. It will be interesting to see what Scott remembers from that night 30 years from now.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fathers and Kids Camp 2014

Tent: Check

Campfire: Check

Boat Races: Check

Catching Spiders: Check

Nasty Cookies: Check

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!

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.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Waterskiing Antics: The Pyramid

Building a waterski pyramid at Hauser Lake near Helena, Montana
Left to Right: Derek, Luke & Ross

It took us at least 8 different configurations of ropes and skis until we finally got all 3 of us up on this attempt.
At first we tried 3 different handles coming off a single rope. Ross and I were on combo skis and Luke was in the middle with a slalom ski on. The pull of the rope slammed us all together and made it impossible to get up. Because Luke's rope was slightly longer, his ski was raking our legs the whole time as we ploughed our faces through the water at a very slow speed.

Luke hopped in the boat and we tested getting up with just two skiers. We were too close together and kept knocking each other down still. So after a few of those attempts, the boat scooted back to the dock to get two separate ropes so we could spread out a bit more. Ross and I were far enough from the dock that a boater who saw us in the water came over and asked if we needed help. We looked a little lost -- two guys just floating in the lake, each wearing a pair of skis. Once they came back with our two separate ropes, Ross and I got up fairly easily.

We added Luke's middle rope to the mix and tried it again, but despite the space, it was still too much drag. But we just didn't have any more combo skis. We were figuring out how to put one of the kids' skis on Luke when R suggested we mix in one more slalom ski to free up a ski for Luke. We shuffled the deck and Ross and I ended up wearing a slalom ski and a combo ski each, while Luke took one red combo ski and one blue combo ski. We lined up our skis so that he could try to slip his feet into the rear hacks of our inside skis.

By this point, we had been at it for at least an hour and enthusiasm was waning. We decided to give it one more try with this new configuration. If it didn't work, then we were done. Fortunately, the extra ski made all the difference and we were able to get up. Luke dropped one of his skis almost immediately. He said it mostly got knocked off as we all came together in the middle. He stepped onto the back of one ski and then when he dropped the other one we really started to drag. It's hard to give the thumbs-up signal to go faster when you are half-way into a pyramid. Fortunately, the driver could hear me screaming.

I have to hand it to Luke. I couldn't tell exactly what was going on because he was just behind us, but multiple times I thought the whole thing was over, but he hung on and kept it going. He climbed and climbed until he had one foot on Ross' shoulder and one on my thigh. When he made the final move to stand on my shoulder, something went wrong and I lost it -- veering away from the middle for a moment. Luke went into the splits an admirable distance before he toppled off the back of our pyramid.

Still, we were in the pyramid for a very brief moment. So Nikki had to follow through on her deal and attempt to ski the next day. My hands were absolutely raw from all the dragging that we did.

Here's what my Dad had to say about building pyramids, based on his experience as a teenager back in Idaho:

I was very impressed that you came up with this as a thing to do.

You think it might be hard, but it is more complicated than you expect.
In the old days, getting a boat that would get everyone up was a challenge, too.
We nearly drowned before we got it right.

Remember, after we got up and did a show off loop or two, Chris (our Luke) would do a back flip off our shoulders to punctuate the fun.

A back flip is a good idea. It's nice to have something new to work towards at the next reunion.