Thursday, July 26, 2007

Who Loves Me?!

My wonderful, tolerant, patient, loving husband took time out of his half hour lunch break to drive the long way home, stand in the lunch hour line-ups to bring me home fresh doughnuts and a coffee. This, of course, made it necessary for him to scarf his lunch down in record time and bolt back to work in a hurry.
He knows I really, really don't want to give up drinking coffee...even though tea and biscotti is pretty good. It is not, however, coffee.
You know, I was thinking. If Pioneer Woman's punks knew there were free doughnuts to be had up here in Canada-Land - no wrangling, branding, fencing, up-before-dawn mornings necessary - I bet they'd ride their little butts to the border and beg to come live with me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Brad the Ironman & Ramblings

And there he is...Handsome devil, no? He had to be in order not to be totally outshone by his big sister. Brad's a little sore at day #2 after his Ironman. He's pretty sure he's done something to his one foot so he's on crutches until he's feeling a little better and can differentiate lactic acid from injury. Great form, though, don't you think? You'd almost believe he knew what he was doing on that bike. I'll have to ask him if he enjoyed his race enough to do it again. Some other time, though.

Summer is puttering along in our house. Raiden is spending a lot of time outside and Kori is spending her time reading and pouring over the special features of all our DVDs. She's had enough think-space to consider going to camp again next summer. I'm glad I have lots of notice this time. Camp's not cheap, you know!

Both kids are happily working through their library activities nearly without reminders. M, the summer student facilitating the activities is a great girl whom Kori does her best to spend time with. Kori is fascinated by M's bilingualism (English & Polish). She's also pretty taken with M's Polish cousin, O, who tags along to the library with M. The language barrier only comes up maybe 25% of the time. Kori prattles away to O in English. O babbles back in Polish. If either of them think something crucial has been missed, M is found to translate. Raiden is happily reading books independently for the book report portion of the Summer Reading Club. He is dictating what he wants to write on his report and then copying it after I write it out from him. Not once have I heard about his hand being sore, there being too much to write or how boring it all is. It's like I'm in the Twilight Zone.

Swimming on Thursdays has been popular and we will continue with that activity. Raiden's confidence and ability in the water has soared in only three swims. Kori is enjoying the freedom that lessons have provided. Her endurance and skill let her flit from one area of the pool to the other. She's enjoying her independence.

This week the kids and I split the Playmobil into thirds and bought a bin for storage. African Safari and Pirate Island were packed away and suddenly there is much more playing going on with the 'Modern Life' that was left out. I knew the toy rotation principle that has been stuck in my brain since Kori's short stint in daycare would come in handy one day.

Brian's hot pepper plants have begun to flower. I've been scared to mention our meagre planters for fear of Murphy's Law. But, at this late date of the growing season, I'm feeling a little braver. For Mother's Day, the kids and Brian bought me a few tiny herbs: peppermint, chives, chamomile and licorice root. After planting, there was still a planter left, so we planted some grocery store jalapeno seeds. They're doing very well. Pics later this week, maybe.

I'm feeling a little restless and it's noone's fault but my own. I've been drinking coffee again and I haven't been accomplishing any of the very realistic tasks that are floating around in my head. I'm very frustrated with myself. So. As my dad always told me, tomorrow is a new day and it's going to be a great day if I want it to be. Yeah. Ok. We'll see.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Curious Sight

Today I saw a most curious thing. I wish I had had my camera while I was driving by our local community college.

A group of summer school students were walking across the grounds. It looked like they were heading en masse to the area fast food establishments. A fashionable, energetic looking bunch, all things told.

During my quick drive-by, I noticed an eclectic mix of fashion. There were boys in shorts and tees, jeans and open button-downs, baggy pants and band shirts. There were girls in jeans and tiny-tees or layered shirts. I'm sure you've seen the current trend: painted on, pulled down, lace bottomed, plunging vee with maybe a weeny sweaterish thing buttoned under the pushed up and padded . There was an eccentric or two in the crowd of 20 or so. The girl in the black and white flared, short skirt, striding around on platform knee-high boots, fur around her collar and wrists, large 'fro and huge sun glasses really stood out. There were kids in athletic looking shorts and tops and a yoga pant wearing person as well as at least one pajama pant wearing individual.

So there they were, walking along having a great, friendly time on their journey and one thing struck me. The boys were unencumbered. Hands in pockets or swinging at their sides. Shirt fronts flapping. Carefree. Casual. Cool. Yet - I would bet money on this - every single girl in the crowd was packing a large, cumbersome, over the shoulder handbag. Complete with supporting hand to ensure it stayed put.

What is up with that? What are they carrying around in there? Pets? Overnight clothes? A small Buick? What do they need so badly that the boys don't need? Can lip gloss and a debit card not fit in a pocket? Do boys not carry their stuff with them because the girls in their party are likely to have 3 days of supplies for any possible situation? Do the fashion gurus specifically not put pockets and storage space into ladies' clothing in order to force the necessary showy handbag? Don't answer that.

It was very peculiar. Perhaps I noticed because the kids and I have been talking about fads. About what's worth having and what we can easily do without. About how tv commercials are trying to tell us what we need. About fashion and values and what we are saying with our choices in dress, speech and attitude.

I find the pull of pop culture very strong here. The kids sometimes get concerned about what they should be wearing or how they should be acting. I do my best to turn their concern back to them and find out what they'd really like for themselves and then support them to that end.

For example, when Raiden wanted to bring snorkel goggles to the pool, but was worried that he wouldn't look 'cool'. Or when Kori wanted to cut her hair 'short like a boy'.

One of the big reasons we began to homeschool was so that we could do our best to help the kids be confident, happy-in-their-own-skin, discerning little beings. I want them to choose with confidence the clothes they like, the hobbies they enjoy, the books they are interested in. I hope by exploring things like fads and fashion, like belonging to a group and feeling included, like how to make the best choices for ourselves and not according to what others are doing/wearing/buying that the kids will grow to understand themselves.

~He who knows others is clever; He who knows himself has discernment.~ Lao Tzu

~A scientist's aim in a discussion with his colleagues is not to persuade, but to clarify~ Leo Szilard

Sunday, July 22, 2007


This is so exciting!

I can't wait to hear the story of Brad's race. I've set aside some red meat for a celebratory BBQ. I have some red meat set aside. Of course, it will have to wait until he can walk properly again and can get some time off work. Me thinks he'll need some help rebuilding some muscle mass.
For prosperity's sake, here are Brad's finishing times and standings:

TOTAL SWIM: 2.4 mi. (1:05:03) 1:42/100m 376th
T1: SWIM-TO-BIKE: 11:40
FIRST BIKE SEGMENT: 56 mi. (3:21:03) 16.71 mph
FINAL BIKE SEGMENT: 56 mi. (3:46:12) 14.85 mph
TOTAL BIKE: 112 mi. (7:07:15) 15.73 mph 1378th
T2: BIKE-TO-RUN: 15:18
FIRST RUN SEGMENT: 13.1 mi. (2:24:46) 11:03/mile
FINAL RUN SEGMENT: 13.1 mi. (3:22:04) 15:25/mile
TOTAL RUN: 26.2 mi. (5:46:50) 13:14/mile

Go Brad Go!!! - Updates found below...

I'm SOOOooooo excited for my brother, Brad!!!

He's competing in his first ironman. The Ford Ironman USA started this morning in Lake Placid and it seems the Brad is doing well. After a 2.4 mile swim in 1:05:03, he was in 376th place. There are at least 2209 athletes competing, so I figure Brad's doing pretty well.
After a transition-to-bike time of 11:40 (what was he doing??) he's off on the first leg of the 112 mile bike.
I can't get in touch with anyone else, so I figured I'd update here. Poor Brad, who has not been training properly, is going to be a mess tomorrow when he has to return to his regularly scheduled, impossible to post-pone activities. So, send all your luck and best wishes his way. It's the run, later today, that is going to kill him. He's had a nagging injury that he's been nursing that is not going to be helped by a 26 mile run. But, boys being boys and all that, he decided to race today.

Good Luck to Brad...

UPDATE #1 - Bike Half Done (noon)

It seems Brad has safely passed the halfway mark of the 112 mile bike. His time is listed as 3:21:03 at the 56 mile mark.
The pic isn't Brad. I think it's some of the Men's leaders. In this particular Ironman, there are a group of Lady Pros racing. They're out in front right now (about 90ish miles into the bike portion) and the group referred to as the 'Age Group' men are behind the ladies. The live webcam is still showing a regular stream of bikers passing the halfway mark, so I am confident Brad is doing very well as a first time competitor. I heard it announced that there are about 900 first time competitors in the race today.

Go Brad Go!!

UPDATE #2 - Waiting, waiting....

We are closing in on 3 hours since Brad passed the halfway mark of the 112 mile bike. I expect Brad will be finishing the bike in the next hour. The Pro ladies are well into their 26.4 mile run. Many of the Age Group entrants have started their run. The webcam is showing the athletes as they are starting their run. We are also seeing pictures of bikers coming around the finishing corner. I hope Brad has had a good race thus far. I believe racers have until midnight to come across the final finish could be a late night....

Back to the webcam I go.... Go Brad Go!!

UPDATE #3 - Run, Brad, Run!! (4:00 pm-ish)

I had been refreshing the results webpage obsessively and when I saw that Brad had completed the bike portion of his race, I yelled and jumped and called the kids. I'm getting very involved, here. Anyway, onto the nitty gritty....

Brad has finished the 112 mile bike ride in 7:07:15 earning him the rank of 1378 overall so far. He spent 15:18 in transition, readying himself for the 26.4 mile run. The webcam has been moved to the finish line, so I wasn't able to see Brad come out of the gates to start his run.

It seems the lady Pros are approaching the finish line. The leading lady has begun to walk in the last 3 miles, obviously hurting. Her sizable lead is diminishing as they approach the finish. The race for first place may be exciting yet.

Keep your fingers and toes crossed, say 94 Hail Mary's and make a bargain or two with the Big Guy for Brad, won't you? He's got 8 hours to finish his run. I'm hoping that he won't push himself too hard. I'm also hoping that he's thought way ahead and made himself a 'Special Needs' food bag to be picked up along the race course.

Run, Brad, Run!!

UPDATE #4 - Almost Finished!!(6:50 pm)

Brad has just finished the first half of his 26.2 mile run!!! He's running an average of 11:03/mile giving him a first-half time of 2:24:46. Go Brad Go!! I'm so excited to see that he's nearly finished this toughest leg (for him) of the Ironman. I really hope he's not hurting too much. If he can keep up this pace, he may be finished before dark. More of an accurate guess, I expect he'll cross the finish line shortly after 13 hours of racing. The time at the finish line currently is 11:54:12. I'll be back watching the live webcam in an hour or so. After watching all day, I certainly don't want to miss him crossing the finish line!!

UPDATE #5 - HE FINISHED!! HE FINISHED!!(9:30 pm-ish)

With a time of 14 hours and 23 minutes, Brad ran across the finish line!!! He placed somewhere around 1612th...More tomorrow...I have some phone calls to make!!

Good Job Brother!! I am very proud of you tonight!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Island GetAway

After meticulous planning, careful packing and correctly aligned stars, Brian and I were able to get away sans les enfants for 28 hours. We attended a small gathering of 4 couples, ourselves included. The common factor would be that the guys all work together.

This is our woodsy island getaway:

There was food, friends and fun:

This, I'm not so sure what this was....

Brian and I were able to go off and do some fishing in the paddle boat before the rain and wind started. This pic I snapped because I knew the kids wouldn't care about the scenery. They're all about the mechanics:

After a very cozy sleep in the cottage, Brian got right to making me breakfast. Bacon and eggs on the 'Q:

Here I am sitting on an Adirondack chair enjoying the quietness of doing nothing. You can see Oliver, drying off as it was nearly time to head out:

I snapped a few interesting pics around the island as Brian and I searched out different place to fish. I didn't bring the camera with the zoom/macro features so there aren't any pretty close-ups. And, after the Dock Spider Encounter (Brian may let me tell that story in a few years) I'm kind of glad I didn't. I wish I knew what to do with drift wood or Birch as there were many interesting pieces of them all over the island:

There was a little rain, a little sun and good company all around. Perhaps if the stars are lined up again next year, we'll attend again.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

No Spoilers, PLEASE!!

With the latest Harry Potter movie being newly released, you can't get away from the spoiler warnings. They're all over the 'Net, the paper, the news. First, I must say I appreciate these warnings very much.

Of course, I know what's going to happen in the movie as I have read the book a number of times. But I really, really, REALLY don't want to hear the media hype about the movie.

I don't want to hear about the directing or how well it did/didn't stick to the plot of the book. I don't want to hear about how much older the actors look or how the acting was. I don't want to know how many stars it's rating in the popular reviews. I don't want ot hear how well such-and-such a part was done. I just don't want to know.

I want to see it myself, on the big screen, with the too-loud surround sound in the comfy chairs with the cup holders while I try not to let my feet permanently stick to the floor. I want to get dizzy during the sweeping panoramic shots.

So, please be patient with me while I avoid anything that may remotely reference the new Harry Potter movie until I get the chance to see it myself.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Summer Programs

Summer is definitely here. It's hot. It's humid. My house is even darker than normal as I try to keep out the hot sun and avoid installing the air conditioner as long as possible.

I was looking at the calendar yesterday as we prepared for our first official Summer library activity.

For someone who has successfully avoided the seasonal "What Are The Kids Registered For This Summer?" Mom-Chat Trap, I have somehow contrived an involved summer of activities.

You see, every year the kids have been in organized programming, I begin to dread the late Spring session conversations. Talk always seems to gravitate to what the kids are doing for the summer. I used to feel as though I had to register the kids for summer programming. That it was a necessary endeavour in order to have properly socialized kids who have had the experiences necessary for a normal childhood. Silly me.

I'm past that now. However, there are still the irksome conversations that imply that I'm lax in my parenting since I don't feel the need to register my kids for structured, daily summer programming. It's annoying. There is the implication that I can't afford to send the kids to these summer camps. It has been suggested to me that I make use of the Y Campership so the kids can experience the joys of day camp. That's assuming a lot. What is most bothersome is how the underlying issues of this programming is DAYCARE is totally skirted. YOU may need daycare for your children over the summer. I don't. Programming that runs from 8am to 5 pm, that offers early drop-off and late pick-up, a rest period and daily crafts in a program titled 'Learn Gymnastics' (for example) is daycare.

My kids don't need daycare. Kori wants to continue her swimming lessons over the summer. She is signed up for weekly lessons. A half hour, once a week, mid-morning time-slot. We decided against the 8am - 4pm Summer Adventure Camp with Daily Pool Time.

The kids are having leisurely mornings of tv and video games. We're listening to the Half-Blood Prince on audiobook while lying around the living room carpet. We're walking the dog and watching the new subdivision being built on our street. We're BBQing and trying to keep the house cool. Kori is sleeping late and Raiden is playing board games outside with a buddy.

The kids decided to look through the library calendar of events and sign up for a some of the programs that interested them. They want to do the Summer Reading Club because of the free book draws, the possibility of winning the jellybean draw and the ever-attractive pizza party.

Raiden chose to continue with his summer soccer activities. There's a game and a practice a week. He wants to swim this summer, but not do swimming lessons. So we'll take him to the weekly sponsored swim at the pool.

The summer programming I love the best is keeping our Fridays clear. Brian's off and we never know what the weather will bring. Sometimes fishing, sometimes visiting, sometimes a day trip, sometimes nothing.

So yes, the calendar looks full. It's hourly programs here and there that the kids have chosen for themselves. My job is to keep things running so we're able to make our various appointments. I'm happy with our Summer Programming. The kids are happy with their activities. It's a relaxed, yet organized, feeling around here lately. At this rate, I may even schedule myself in for some Summer Kayaking With My Dad.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I'm giving up coffee. Again.

I did this at the New Year. It went pretty well. However, I am weak. Here we are a mere 7 months later and I am back in the Tim Horton's drive-thru once a day. Once a day! A little excessive, no?!

And how pathetic is this: Not particularly enjoying the coffee taste, I drink my coffee triple triple. Triple triple! In anticipation of my new coffee strike, I have been drinking decaf. "Yes, I'd like a medium triple triple decaf, please." I mean, what's the point?! Just give me a cup of sugar milk slurry and warm it up a bit. It would probably do the trick.

So here I am at the beginning of Day Two. I'm sure this headache is a figment of my imagination. After all, when you stop drinking decaffeinated coffee, you don't get headaches. It could be the humidity. It could be the lack of three heaping teaspoons of sugar.

I've come up with a counter measure. And oh, my goodness. I wish I had discovered it sooner. I don't even mind giving up coffee now.

Here we have an English Toffee tea. How they get plant leaves to taste like that is one of the mysteries of the universe. Even without honey it is sweet. And biscotti. Why have I never had biscotti before? This particular biscotti is full of almonds and dipped in dark chocolate. I don't even like dark chocolate. For some reason, almond biscotti dipped in dark chocolate dunked in English Toffee tea is better than a medium triple triple decaf.

Who knew?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Chicken Pox? Apparently Not.

Raiden has sprouted spots this week. He was feeling very poorly the previous week. So, I thought that he may, perhaps, might possibly be infected with Chicken Pox.

The timing would be just right as we are hosting an extended family BBQ this weekend.

In my uncertainty, I made the poor, itchy boy an appointment at the doctor's. Of course, since I made the call, all symptoms ground to a halt. He slept wonderfully the night before his appointment - his first good sleep in two weeks. He didn't need any more Benedryl or baking powder baths to help with the itch. No new spots emerged. Just my luck.

We had a lovely appointment with Dr.A. Whatever the spots are (I suspect hives), they are most definitely not Chicken Pox. Raiden and I filled in Dr.A on his kidney situation as we had been seeing his partner-in-practice, Dr.W. for the recent kidney related problems. Dr.A. has very nicely given us an invitation to call at any time and he will do his best to have us seen immediately for an emergency ultrasound. You may recall we're trying to catch a kidney problem in progress. This is a great ace in my pocket becasue as close as we are, it's not always convenient to pack up and drive the two hours plus-waiting-time-in-Emerg to CHEO.

Have I mentioned how much I love our family doctors? Great guys. I probably shouldn't brag about the house calls they'll do for us. So I'll just say that we enjoy wonderful, considerate treatment. I'm going to be lost when they retire.

So, onward and upward. I'm excited to have Brian's family over tomorrow. I think the last time we were all together like this may have been at my wedding. My wonderful Mother In Law is bringing me a very special something that I will share with you next week. It's something for the bedroom. How's that for a teaser?!

Happy weekend all. Hug your kids and anyone else you love. Enjoy every day and take lots of pictures.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Checking In...

This week is a short week. Monday was a holiday and Summer Fridays are now Family days.

Big plans this weekend: my lovely mother-in-law and her wonderful husband will be visiting on Friday. Brian and I will be BBQing for 10+ people, depending on how many of his family decide to join us. I'm excited to fire up the third burner on the BBQ. Not that we haven't used the third burner before, but that's a lot of grill space and we haven't truly needed all three burners going.

Yesterday, the Headache From Hell decended upon my head and ate up all my happy thoughts. Once Brian got home from work, we ran a few errands and then I went to bed. I'm better this morning, don't send reinforcements. I'm happy to say that yesterday wasn't a total write-off. We accomplished some school work. We began Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince on audio-book. The kids worked on a project from the school shelf. We fit in a walk/bike ride. We made it to the library to pick up Reading Club packages for the kidlets.

Today we'll do some school work, we'll get outside and we'll continue with our tidying up. Our wee little house will be crowded this weekend, so I'd like to get anything and everything put away so there is room for extra chairs and such. The kids are going to help plan and prepare a selection of desserts for our BBQ.

So I'm off to wrangle the kids and get going on our day. I'll check in again this weekend. Have a great week!