Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Go Micheline!!

My friend, Mitch was chosen from a pool of some 15,000 RBC employees, recognized for their contribution to charitable causes in their community to carry the Olympic torch. We've been exceptionally proud of her for being chosen for this very honourable endeavour. On a cold and blustery day, she carried the flame for 300m through Blue Mountain on December 29th at 9:02AM.

The following are excerpts from the e-mail I received upon her return:

"I cannot begin to tell you how thrilled I was today to be one of the persons to pass the Olympic flame. It was the most exhilarating, scariest, greatest, thrilling and exciting things I’ve ever done in my life. The small team that I participated with in Blue Mountain was fantastic. Tom got a great group shot of us all – this is just before we got on the shuttle that would drop off us off at each of our destinations. The 2nd picture is where I got off the shuttle and waited for the flame. Though you can’t see it in this picture the crowd waiting for me was incredible. I felt like a superstar – everyone wanted a picture with me or of me, some wanting to touch the torch for good luck. It was great.

Tom managed to get a couple of videos (a complete one of me walking/running) along with a couple of pre and post the relay. How he did that, I don’t know. He was taking pictures in one hand, filming in the other and I don’t want to think about what he did to keep that cow bell going. Everyone up there just loved it and apparently on the ctv video you can hear Tom the whole way!

Thank you all for your support and encouragement. You helped make this a really memorable day for both Tom and I."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Boot Spooks and Fright Night

Saturday... sun shiny Saturday.

A day spent tying up loose ends from the past week and preparing for the one to come. Grocery shopping with two 3-year-olds in tow is always entertaining. When Daddy takes this chore off my hands, the results are always interesting.

Without a shopping list to follow, hubby and the kids came home with all the essentials and a few treats to boot. Speaking of boots...

Next of the list of tasks to take on was acquiring winter boots for the kids so we head off to Georgetown to visit Payless. It has become the ritual to measure feet upon entry to the store, where we are informed Erin is now size 11 and Ty is between 10 and 11, depending on the brand. In their size section are several options for girls, mostly laden with Disney princesses and Dora, all faux suede with faux fur ruffles. Very pretty. Very girly. Very pink. Boys boots come in several colour variations of one style boot. Both come with a price tag of $45 each.

Exit Payless.

Enter Walmart.

The Winter Boots for Children section presents many options in either gender and a gender neutral selection of various sizes. Both Erin and Ty decide on a light-weight, pull-on, endorsement-free style that ends just below their knee. Price tag reads $25. It's impossible to ask them if they like the boots they've chosen because they are giggling wildly while running around the aisles of the shoe section.

We'll accept that as a 'Yes'.

Shoes and children in tow, we head home to finish taking down the garden and putting away outdoor toys and furniture. Prep dinner to be ready when we get home again because we're not here to stay. We're heading out....

It's Fright Night at Chris Gibson Community Centre.

I don't know what to expect, and I'm thrilled to see we aren't the only parents with pre-schoolers in hand. Ty has fallen asleep upon arrival. Erik carries Ty and I walk with Erin. We're told there's a haunted house. Erin is excited. Curious. As we pass staff in full ghoul dress, she becomes a little apprehensive. While we wait for our turn in the line, tweens and teens are fleeing out of both the exit and entrance doors, terrified. I start to wonder what I was thinking when I suggested this would be something fun to do with the kids. How many times will this come up in therapy later?

The line moves quickly and we soon find ourselves next to enter the haunted house. I've been telling Erin that the ghosts and ghouls she's about to meet are playful and friendly. If she starts to feel scared, she should shout 'BOO!' at the ghoul because that will make it laugh. After all, a laughing ghost is a friendly ghost. Ty wakes up just as we're about to go in. Fortunately for him, we had this discussion before we left the house. As we walk into the haunted house, for Ty's sake, we all go through a very quick review.

Hats off to the staff running the haunted house. Dressed to frighten and prepared to leap out of dark shadows, they are quite benign as we pass with the kids, many leaping back, seemingly terrified, as Erin and Ty 'BOO!' enthusiastically in response. Exiting the haunted house, we pass a mom who says to her son, "See! Those little kids aren't scared!". I can only hope he had as much fun as we did.

We walk outside just as the wagon ride arrives. It hauls us into the field behind the Center, careening back and forth. We bounce the kids on our knees, much to their delight, as we bump along. The only tears brought on by a night of thrills and chills come as we carry the kids to the car.

"I want to do that again!"

We'll be visiting another Parks 'n Rec sponsored Fright Night soon.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Red Cottage

A kind and generous act in the name of friendship transforms into a few days of blissful, laid-back cottage living at a cozy little place on the shores of Red Bay. With four bedrooms to choose from, there's really nothing cozy about the "red cottage". It's best described as a spacious expanse of beautiful beach-front sunset views.

Red Bay sunset

The drive up Hwy 10 was very familiar. Around Shelburne we switch the radio from the choice of Toronto stations to one that broadcasts out of somewhere in Grey-Bruce. I can't remember the station ID, but I know I'll find it pre-programmed into the car stereo on #6. It never fails. It's almost like listening to my own music collection - an eclectic mix of musical reminiscence.

Metty Kaal

A long string of favourite music ends with "Enter Sandman", to which Erik remarks about the wide range of great music on this station, impressed to hear a song from...

What exactly happened at this moment is unknown, but the syllables in "Metallica" bunched up in a verbal traffic jam and came out...

"Metty Kaal"

"What the ...?!? Metty Kaal!??!?" says Erik, "could it be some French death metal band?"

And the trip continued with our banter of Enter Sandman-esque serenades belted out in our raunchiest death metal vocals in what we thought could be possibly, under extreme and unlikely circumstances, mistaken for French.

"C'est fromage!
C'est dommage!

Metty Kaal...sponsored by the Dairy Farmers of Ontario. It's hard to read a map while under the delirious effects of uncontrollable giggling.

Red Bay

The red cottage, as it was named by the kids, and referred to as such at all times.

After a brief stop in Wiarton where we picked up a few groceries and I got acquainted with the local bee population, we arrived in Red Bay at our little red cottage. Four beautiful bedrooms just steps from the beach. There would be no enjoying the beach today, however. Intermittent, torrential downpours would allow only but for the briefest of outdoor activities. Even BBQ-ing, by Erik's standards, was challenging. Fortunately, the rain subsided in the early evening, making a preview of Sauble Beach possible, where the kids made themselves right at home with a sand castle.

If you build it, we will do our best to demolish it with reckless abandon!

The beach at Red Bay proved to be more kid-friendly. International border markers were visible from shore on the horizon. The water was so shallow, we joked that before it was over our heads, we would be asked to produce a passport. The kids acquired a boat from Nana and Erik and I took turns wading out past moored sailboats on our way to Michigan. Ty was quite happy to stay in the boat, while Erin was eager to walk in the shallow water, cold as it was. When asked, both of them insisted, despite their shivering and blue extremities, that they were up for more.

Sea worthy craft, powered by mom... Michigan bound! 

Around Town

Two kilometers is a very, very long trip for the average pre-schooler.

Just outside the Bruce Cave.

Sight seeing brought us to Oxenden, home of the Bruce Caves (as they are presented to the unsuspecting public), but the truth is...there's just the one cave. The scenic 1km trail to The Cave is a dream come true for the curious climber.

Wiarton International, now offering daily runs to Oshkosh and Kallamazoo...

Wiarton provided some interesting signs and sights as well, including the International Airport and some interesting architecture.

Wiarton - That's a big house for a small town! 

Heading Home

It was finally time to say good-bye to the red cottage, despite many protests from the kids that they would prefer to stay. It was difficult to argue with them, but our stay had come to an end. We were able to bribe them away with promises of a day at a park on an island. While curiosity had their attention, we packed up the car and headed for home.

Life is just a big sandbox full of toys to share.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Just another day

I like to get up before the kids in the morning. I enjoy those minutes to myself where I can have a bowl of cereal, a cup of tea and, time permitting, a full and complete thought from beginning to end or, as is usually the case, just think of nothing.

Today was a usual day, usual but for the fact that it's my birthday. So the day began with my usual bowl of cereal, an unusual cup of coffee and an unexpected ninety minutes to sit on my front porch and enjoy the warm sunshine as the clouds broke apart and exposed brilliant pieces of blue sky.

Two little birds came to serenade me from the safety of the bird feeder hung from the tree in the front yard. There's also a red-winged black bird that comes to visit, but he seems to be a late riser and comes by for dinner. As a hobby, I don't think I would enjoy bird watching; trekking silently through underbrush to catch of glimpse of some rarely seen species just doesn't appeal to me, but I won't complain if they happen to stop for a snack while I'm drinking a coffee on my porch.

Birthday morning company

The kids woke up and we got them dressed and ready for an exciting day. I often take them, when weather permits, to the train station to meet Daddy. Today, we planned to take the train downtown and show Ty and Erin "the big rocket ship". It wasn't our idea to suggest the CN Tower is any kind of space worthy craft, but one day, Ty found a brochure kept from an excursion taken years go and stared at the photo in awe. When Daddy told him, "That's the CN Tower," Ty was adamant, "NO! THAT'S A ROCKET SHIP!!" So, we both willingly gave in and have continued to do so. Now that he was going to actually see it, there was no way either one of us were going to 'fess up.

With four minutes to spare, we caught the train at Bramalea and headed for downtown. The train "wiggled and jiggled" along the track while the kids stared out the window, their faces pressed against the glass.

Scanning the horizon for space ships

"This train is wiggily and jiggily"

We arrive at Union Station and are pounced on by a tour company selling advance tickets to all the popular attractions. Knowing the line-up for tickets at the CN Tower is time-consuming and painfully boring for a young child, we opted to spare ourselves double the pain and purchase advance tickets at the train station. Tickets and children in hand, we stroll off to our destination. The line-up for tickets at the tower was long, as expected, so we bypassed that bit of tedium and headed straight for the elevator. The operator was all too willing to grant our request to wait until Ty had completed the countdown before ascending.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, blast off!!

Blast off!

We were relieved that height is evidently not an issue for either child. They were in awe...suddenly they're looking over tall buildings, trains aren't any bigger than worms dug up in the garden, they can see the top side of a plane in flight! We found the glass floor and while Daddy coaxed Erin to walk across it, Ty spread himself - face down - over the glass and lay there like a sky diver in perpetual free fall.

One fearless, one cautious

After exploring the city from the cloud's point of view, we descended and headed back to Union Station for a bite of lunch at Harvey's. A staff member handed us two packages of crayola kits to amuse the kids. Erin demonstrated how a couple of carefully positioned french fries can be so much more entertaining than colouring.

I am a walrus

Our big city tour continued with a ride on the train under our feet where the earthworms play, read "subway", and a ride on a streetcar to Daddy's work. I'm sure the kids believe Daddy works in the greatest place ever...there are buttons to push, fancy keys needed to open doors, lots of blinking lights, super huge television screens everywhere and everyone has the coolest toys! Buzz Lightyears and rockets, dinosaurs that dance, balls that click and jump all by themselves! Oh, and how could I forget the telephones...

i'll type you a letter...A? B? C?

Daddy's new secretary

"...and put it all on the company account."

Our day complete, we headed back to Union Station. We were barely on our way when the excitement of the day caught up with the kids. We packed the kids into the car and headed for home, but not before stopping for a coffee drink (ice-cap) on the way.

i won't succumb to the rhythmic rocking...

....of the zzzzzzzz

Tonight, when I tucked my tired little explorers into bed, I thanked them both for making Mommy's birthday such a special day. A day living through the eyes of my children, drenched with their excitement and wonder at each thrilling adventure and discovery.

It's my birthday, and it's been an incredibly fantastic day.
yummy cake