Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Labour Day with Dinosaurs

[Sep 1 2014]

I am willing to admit that I have never been to Vancouver. It is only 12 hours away and I've never been (even though I've been next door in Seattle). That seems crazy, until you realize that R had never once been to Drumheller... and that's only 90 minutes away. Apparently, R's mom had never been either, and neither had R's grandma, so it was almost a family tradition. Well, we broke R's streak on Labour Day, and R's parents took grandma M a few days later, so all that's really left is Vancouver.

We spent several hours in the museum, taking in all the sights, but reading few of the info panels. When you are with young kids, it's less about the science and more about the experience. They weren't interested in trying to read any of the writing, but there were two spots where you could pick up this little speaker and hold it to your ear and they absolutely loved that. The other thing that they really loved was the pollen room, where you gather up little spongy balls and "pollenate" this huge flowers by shooting the balls out of vacuum tubes. We went did that room twice. The other thing we did twice was the grip strength tester. You squeeze this little metal thing and it compares the strength of your grip to the strength of certain animals. Scott loved that thing for some reason.

S & T-Rex

K & T-Rex



Pollen Room

On the bluffs

After the museum we climbed up inside the world's largest dinosaur. It was pretty awesome and definitely worth the $3 admission to go up at least once in your lifetime. From there we checked out the suspension bridge, which crosses the Red Deer River in the middle of nowhere because it was originally used for coal mining and the mine is now closed. However, they maintain the bridge and it is wobbly and sort of freaky and a great tourist value (free). The kids thought is was a bit freaky, but then they got used to it. There were a lot of adults who seemed even more scared than the kids. I don't quite understand that.

Scott: "What if the bridge fell?"
Dad: "We would all get wet."
Scott: "I would be fine if it fell from here."

One of our last stops was to go to the Hoodoos, and it turned out to be the highlight of the day for the kids.
Katie climbing with help at first and then climbing alone
Scott climbing alone all the way up to "the black part up high"

Katie: I want to live beside this place.




Driving over the 11 bridges to the mining ghost town of Wayne. We asked Scott to pause his show and help us count the bridges to the town.
Scott: "I can watch my show and still count bridges"

Monday, September 08, 2014

Family Fun Run

Last year, the young women in our ward raised money for girls camp by organizing a fun run. I registered our whole family to participate, but it poured rain on the day, so I was the only one from our family who went.

This summer the kids surprised us with how much they enjoyed the triathlon, so I thought we'd give the fun run another try. I signed myself up for the 10 km run and signed up R and the kids for the 2 km kids race, thinking they would mostly walk, rather than run.

I had a good race and got a new personal best for 10 km (42 in 30 sec). I sprinted hard to the finish, and I think that is why I felt so sore later. R tried to get a picture of it but apparently I raced right out of the frame.

Karla ran the 5 km race and came first in the 18+ women category. Then we all lined up at the start line for the 2 km race. I planned to run with Scott and Katie had R and Karla backing her up. When the horn sounded, 58 people pounded down the pathway. Scott and Katie were carried along with the crowd at a pace that was more than I thought they could handle. Scott got out ahead of me and I had to strain my tightening muscles to catch him again.

After about 500 metres Scott complained of a cramp starting up. We slowed our pace but didn't stop running. We settled into a good pace that he could sustain and found ourselves slowly moving up through the pack as people fizzled a bit and had to walk. When we rounded the curve for the final stretch he broke into a sprint. I cheered him on from behind as he pulled away from me to cross in just under 12 minutes and collect an Oreo cookie medal. I found that I was sweatier than Scott was. His fauxhawk was hardly mussed. Scott was #5 in the race, bested only by kids several years older than him.

R was shocked with Katie's performance. She kept asking Katie if she was getting tired or needed to walk and she just ran faster each time. At the 1 km turnaround point Katie didn't even want a drink -- she just wanted to run. She finished in 14 min 30 sec, which was #9 overall for kids under 12 (out of nearly 40). R was expecting to walk most of the distance found herself running the whole time, not to be outpaced by her 4-year-old.

The next day Scott found his legs were hurting--
S: "Ow. I touched my leg just lightly like this and it hurt so bad."
D: "That's because you made your muscles work so hard that they got stretched and now they will be sore as they get even stronger."
S: "It would get even more sore in the 5k race. Why didn't you sign me up for the 5k?"
D: "I didn't know you could do it."
S: "I could sprint the whole way."
D: "No you couldn't."
S: [Grin]

He took an aspirin to help dull the ache so he could get to sleep. You would think that all this pain would dissuade him from future efforts. On the contrary, all he could talk about when he was going to bed was how he wants to run 5 km. I think it's because his friend Noah ran in the 5 km race and got a chocolate bar just for completing it. I promised him a chocolate bar if he would go run 5 km with me. With that, he went to sleep.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Eamon's Bungalow Camp Reborn

Eamon's Camp looks like it should have been in a Pixar movie, but instead it barely made it into an 80s music video. Now it has a second lease on life.

If you are into 1980s Canadian pop, then maybe you know about Corey Hart. If you were a big fan, maybe you know about Corey's video for the 1986 song "I Am By Your Side", which featured some really poor lip-syncing, as well as several famous landmarks in Southern Alberta, including the hoodoos, the Rocky Mountains, and Eamon's Bungalow Camp. At about the 3-minute mark of the video he gets a motorcycle to go visit his girlfriend. The motorcycle is parked in front of Eamon's, which had been a popular rest stop between Calgary and Banff from the early 1950s until the mid-1960s (until the TransCanada Highway was built). I won't blame you if you can't bear to watch to the 3-minute mark, because I could barely do it myself. However, my efforts were rewarded by a rousing scene near the end of him high on an oil derrick with a guitar, while all the roughnecks cheered him on. In my mind, the video tries to show us what it would look like if Cool Hand Luke turned into Maverick from Top Gun and moved to Drumheller.

Honestly, I had never seen the Corey Hart video until now (although it hit #18 on US Billboard), but I had heard about it because it is always mentioned in connection with the history of Eamon's Camp, which we pass all the time now that we live just up the hill from the place. Bypassed by the fancy big highway, it was getting pretty sad and rundown -- just like Radiator Springs in the Pixar movie "Cars". Originally, named "Eamon's Bungalow Camp", the "Bungalow" part was too faded to read anymore, and the land where the bungalows had stood had been sold off to build a church and to park school buses. The service station building was still standing, but it was fenced in and as an overflow lot for the Honda dealership a few kms away.

Eventually, the city began work to build a new stop for the C-Train, which would use the Eamon's site. They restored the sign to its original glory (including the neon tubes and the milkshake thing on top) and used it as a bus shelter, which was a stroke of genius. At the last minute before the building was to be torn down, the city elected to remove it and keep it for possible restoration and leasing in the corner of the parking lot. So far, there have been no businesses interested in taking up the lease, so all we have is the sign for now. I think I should open a Menchie's down there, but I imagine it's a terrible idea. I just like eating frozen yogurt.

There was an open house the weekend before the station opened, and we got to go take a ride on the train for free, plus we could go sit in the engineer's cabin of a stationary train on the platform. Scott was off at a series of birthday parties, so Katie had to be brave enough to do it alone. There were lots of games and activities for kids to do, but without her wingman, she wasn't interested in trying anything. She'll do anything if she sees Scott do it first.

It's kind of like the Corey Hart video. That girl wasn't ready to quit her job in the sweatshop until she saw Corey/Luke/Maverick do it first. But eventually, she needs to let Goose go and take these broken wings and learn to fly again, etc.

Thanks Corey. You will always be #18 in our hearts.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Daddy-Daughter Day

It was the last Saturday of August. The last weekend of summer vacation. And it was perfect.

I started out the day with a sunrise round of golf at Silverwing, which is so close to the airport's new runway that you have to factor in the jetwash from incoming planes when playing your wedges. It reminded me of our house in Castleridge, where conversations at the dinner table would pause in mid sentence to let the planes rumble past, and my brother J would keep notes of the numbers painted on the underside of aircraft from the window in the upstairs bedroom that we shared. This was only my second round of golf for the season, and the familiar roar of turbines really improved my game compared to the session back in June.

The plan for the afternoon was to see "How To Train Your Dragon 2". However, Katie was not at all interested in a show that might feature a villain or some tense music, so we decided that R would take Scott on their own. That left Katie and me to do whatever we wanted. I suggested that we go for a bike ride. She thought that sounded nice. I expanded on the plan and suggested we put the bikes in the truck and drive to a place where we could also get some ice cream. She thought that sounded really nice. I told her to go get ready and she put on purple flip-flops.

I asked her, "Are those good shoes to ride your bike?"
She said, "I thought we were just going to ride in the truck and get ice cream."
"You don't want to ride your bike anymore?"
"No. I just want to ride in the truck."
"Okay. That works for me. Let's go"

The kids love the truck because they can ride up front (no airbags, and the seatbelts are better in front) and see out all the windows. Katie and I drove all the over the place, just doing whatever we felt like doing -- after we got the ice cream, of course. For that we hit Menchie's, which was Katie's choice. Self-serve frozen yogurt and a ridiculous amount of sugary topping options. She mixed chocolate and green apple flavours, with smarties, marshmallows and chocolate sauce on top. I get as much chocolate and peanut butter into my cup as I can.

After that we hit up my favourite oil change spot near SAIT, where they always give the kids a sucker. She quite liked that, and she remembered that we weren't in the same service bay as we had been the previous time. Good memory for detail.

We were heading back towards the NW and we passed the Canmore Park splash pad, which I have never been to. There was no one there so we pulled in to check it out. Katie protested that she didn't have her swimming suit on. She didn't even have shorts. I just folded her pantlegs up and we started to explore. At first she was tentative about getting wet, but by the end she was drenched. Her particular favourite was this little pole that sprayed out in every direction to create a smooth umbrella of water. When you poked your finger into it, the umbrella would split apart. When you poked your whole leg into it, you got really wet.

I happened to have a towel in the back seat from when we were hot-tubbing/watersliding/ALS-IceBucketing at Grandma's earlier in the week, so I wrapped her up in that to head home. The only other thing on our list of things to do had been a car wash, since the truck was filthy from Fathers and Kids camp 2 weeks before. Katie squealed with delight when the automatic arms started blasting water at her window. She is so cute.

Perhaps when she grows up the roar of car washes will remind her of our day in the truck. Or maybe green apple mixed with chocolate will make her nostalgic for her childhood. We all have something.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Kids Day at the Stampede

[July 9 2014]

When you go to the Stampede grounds on Kids Day, you are guaranteed three things: 1) Free admission until 9:00am; 2) A free pancake breakfast until 10:00am; and 3) Lots of kids until at least 5:00pm.

We met up with the cousins at the grounds early for the breakfast. We have been doing this for years and I can't say that I've EVER seen such a long line up for the breakfast. Still, it is part of the experience and we couldn't skip it. The Arizona cousins had to witness for themselves the cool pancake-batter dispensers that they have devised to keep those flapjacks flapping at a steady pace. Another interesting sight is when the guys get out the industrial drills and the big construction buckets to mix up several gallons of pancake batter in a jiffy.

I don't know if the kids ever eat much of the breakfast, and R can't really eat any of it, so I usually get a double or triple dose of sausages and pancakes. The kids usually hang onto their juice boxes, but this year they had actually run out of juice by the time we got through the line. Fortunately, there were some storm troopers that we could take pictures with that made it all seem worth it. I noticed that the storm troopers were wearing white cowboy boots, which seemed appropriate.

We did all the standard Kids Day things, including SuperDogs and the Aggie Tent, plus we saw this awesome acrobatics routine from China. In the Aggie Tent, we weighed the children on a cattle scale (Katie is 34 lbs) and experienced what it would be like for a cow being immobilized for injections.

Scott became great friends with his second cousin Dallas, and they went everywhere together.

As usual, one of the favourite things was to see the buskers perform on the steps of the Saddledome. This year it was a percussion group that played on various household items like pots, pans, garbage cans and the kitchen sink.

Scott loves to play big brother to his little cousin Elijah.

Yes, Terry Stokes is STILL playing the Coca-Cola stage at the Stampede. There are no variations to this hypnosis routine, but it is still an audience favourite, despite references to the Roadrunner and the Wizard of Oz that feel very, very dated. At least he threw in a reference to Justin Bieber to help connect with a younger demographic.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Stars Basketball Camp

This was Scott & Hayden's second year in the Stars Basketball Camp.

Growing up, it seemed to me that a week of basketball camp at SAIT was an integral part of every summer. My mom would drop me off the first morning with my bball gear and a packed lunch, and I would worry how well I would stack up with my peers on and off the court. The camp ran all day, with occasional film sessions to give us a chance to catch our breath. Late 80s basketball videos were filled with bizarre raps about Hakeem Olajuwon ("Can he block the ball? He can block the ball. Can he block the ball? He can block the ball") and other VHS gems. My brothers and I would come home after a week with a new tri-colour basketball and an appreciation for pinball machines (lunch break diversions) and fine rap. I think we all feel a bit nostalgic for the gyms at SAIT to some extent.

When I looked into SAIT camps for Scott, I realized that they don't offer the full-day camps until you get to be in grade 4 or older. I had no idea, since I don't really remember anything from grade 1 except that I didn't how how to swim or ride a bike at that age and I had a really large head. For kids as young as Scott and Hayden, you go to Stars, where they are teaching the basics of the game.

Last year Scott and Hayden were in with the younger half of the group, and they started to dominate by the end of the week, because many of the other kids had never really played before. This year they were in the deeper end of the talent pool, playing with kids a year older than them. Scott was pretty tentative at first, bewildered why no one was passing him the ball, as he lingered well behind the play. One evening he and I went out on the driveway and worked on getting rebounds, which I described as the best and easiest way to get the ball, regardless who is on your team. I lobbed up brick after brick and he chased down the rebounds.

Katie came out and practiced dribbling the ball and shooting on our 4-foot toddler net. However, the driveway has a bit of slope to it, which makes dribbling a bit tricky and somewhat tearful. Once I pulled the cars out of the garage and gave her a flat surface to work with, she made better progress. We do the game where I count how many times in a row she can dribble it. I think she got to 16, although those last few dribbles are just inches off the ground so it gets hard to adjudicate.

While Katie worked on her dribbling, I showed Scott that his first dribble should be accompanied with a big step forward, so he could get past people. He was enthusiastic about the rebounding, but didn't want too large a dose of coaching, so I left the "go moves" for another day. Instead, we tried to see how many shots we could score in a row. He got up to four pretty quickly, and I struggled to get up to two. Scott was delighted. However, once I stepped back to the far edge of the driveway I suddenly hit 10 in a row. You could tell that took the wind out of his sails a bit. For the next 30 minutes he shot over and over again, trying to get 10 in a row. He would get close and then the pressure would get to him and he would miss. Katie came out and helped feed him the ball. I showed her how to do a bounce pass. I would get the rebound and pass it to Katie and then she would pass to Scott. He liked to blame her passing for any shots that he missed, so finally she and I went back into the garage and let him do it alone.

Persistence paid off, and he finally got to 10 (there was one airball that we said "slipped" so it didn't count in the tally). All this practicing seemed to help. By the end of the week, he played a great scrimmage:

Now we just need to dig out some VHS tapes to work on his rap skills.