Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Game, set, match

This was the scene last Saturday on the tennis court that's down the path from our house. Chad is in heaven, because Liam is finally old enough to play tennis with him. It started out a few weeks ago with them hitting the ball against the wall at home. Then they hit the ball against the wall at school, and then they backed the cars out of the garage and played in there for a while. Finally, Liam was ready to try hitting over the net, and they had an impressive rally going by the time Mallory and I rode our bikes over to say hello.

Liam was pretty proud of himself. He understood the basics pretty quickly, and has been watching Wimbledon to learn some of the finer nuances this week.

Mallory does not like being left out. She made the perfect ball girl. Well, for about ten retrievals, anyway. Then she got kind of bored and wandered off.

I love this shot of Liam starting the ride home, racquet slung over his shoulder and ball cap dangling from his handlebar. I wonder if this is how Djokovic got his start??

Monday, June 25, 2012


Well, so much for updating on the weekend. Life has been full of so much obligation lately that I took the chance to unplug while I could. I'm feeling thankful that I did, because today it was right back into the fray.

Making things a wee bit harder to cope with today, I'm tired. On the weekend we took the kids to see Brave at the movies. It's a new Disney movie with a new princess, and she even has red hair - this was a film we had to see. It was good, but it wasn't quite what I expected. A very significant part of the film had to do with the princess accidentally using a spell to turn her mother into a bear, and how they go about trying to change the bear back. Needless to say there was a lot of bear stuff in the movie, including a few scary scenes. Well, Liam made it 7 years, 2 months, and 12 days, but last night he had his first nightmare that saw him come running into our room in the middle of the night... having dreamt that he was at the zoo and being eaten by a bear. It was almost 5 a.m. and he didn't want to go back to bed alone. I went into his room with him, cuddled up next to him, and missed my morning swim. But it's not like this is an excuse I use very often. I'm sure I can fit my swim in tomorrow instead.

Friday, June 22, 2012


 I used to post pretty much every weekday, and then take a break on the weekends.
Now, it seems to be the opposite. Midweek is just too crazy most days. Work is faster-paced than ever before, activities occupy us most nights, and right now we have the end-of-the-school-year nuttiness adding to it (field trips, performances, and miscellaneous get-togethers).

Hoping to slow down a little this weekend and have a chance to catch up.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The family that pushes their lactate thresholds together, stays together

Today was not your average Father's Day in our household. It started at 5 a.m. when we woke up to an alarm that I needn't have set. The crashing thunder and bright-as-daylight lightning would have done the trick all on their own. I stood watching it at the window for a moment, and considered going back to bed. But I could not: it was Tomatoman, baby!
Chad was kind enough to go with me. This meant he spent Father's Day getting up before dawn, driving me to Leamington, playing personal assistant while I set up my area in transition, and taking a soaking while we waited for the race to start. Usually when there is lightning, the swim portion of the event is cancelled and the event becomes a duathlon. In this case, it was a qualifier for the provincial championship, so they had to run the swim. 45 minutes after the last lightning strike, we got the OK to get in the water.

Tomatoman is an awesome independent race and the course is mostly great. In theory, it's wonderful having the swim in the Leamington municipal harbour because the break wall makes for calmer water. On the down side: the water is dirty. Last year was not bad, but this year there were about half a dozen dead fish floating around the start area. It was rank. 

I have been mostly training for long, slow distance over the last little while, so I did not expect anything great to happen at this sprint-distance event. I did, however, expect redemption, after not being able to complete the event last year. And there was also the issue of the last triathlon I completed, which did not exactly go according to plan.
Unfortunately, I had a bit of panic again, right before getting in the water. I got in and swam around a bit to warm up, and thought I was feeling better; but when the horn sounded, I choked up again. It's a weird feeling and I can't really explain it, except that I can't catch my breath, can't keep my face in the water for long and am basically just in survival mode. A kind of claustrophobia. The one factor at play today that could explain part of it is that the thunderstorms rolling through the area made for some very choppy water. The swells were high enough that you couldn't see the buoys all the time. It made swimming somewhat difficult. I wound up backstroking nearly half the course, feeling ridiculous all the while, but after ten minutes or so I was more or less ready to swim like a normal person again, and I did. Still, it was a huge relief to get out of the water and unzip my wetsuit and stop feeling so constricted. Maybe I need a bigger wetsuit?...

So that put a bit of a damper on things... at least until I checked my watch. At roughly 17:30 for the swim, I matched my personal best and was almost six minutes faster than I was during the race where I totally lost it. Maybe my backstroke technique is far superior to my front crawl?? It doesn't make sense, but it is what it is.

The bike was a non-event, except that I took the corners very carefully and slowly, as the pavement was wet and I'm still skittish from my spill a few weeks ago. I had a speedy (for me) bike split and was convinced that I'd overcooked it, as I felt pretty beat by the time I got out on the run. But I was moving faster than I gave myself credit for and about two minutes from the end of the race, it occurred to me that I might possibly break 1:30, which has been my goal for a sprint distance race since the first one I did a couple of years ago. I started picking up the pace and by the finish line I was all-out sprinting. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. I finished in 1:30:05. I picked a lousy day to decide to put on socks in transition.
We didn't stick around the venue for long after I finished. We drove home, unpacked, showered, and had a well-deserved nap. Then we were off to the second event of the day: the First Annual Father's Day Classic at Wilson's Conservation Area. There were two events we participated in there, the first of which was the kids' 100m dash.
This was the first race our kids have ever done. They were pretty excited about it. The race was open to  kids up to the age of 7; 8 year olds and up have to run the 5k, which seems like a pretty huge leap. Speaking of huge leaps, I love this picture of the kids running. Mallory is a pretty speedy little girl and she is getting down to business. Liam, on the other hand, is all about enjoying the journey. He looks like a gazelle.
Between the two of them, guess who won?
Here they are, getting ribbons pinned on at the finish line.
And they even got a free teddy bear. Combine that with all the fruit, muffins and Timbits they ate and I'd say the race was well worth the $5 entry fee! 
Lastly, it was time for Dad to stop spectating and start doing something, so he ran the 5k.

Tonight, we ate like pigs, washed a boatload of sweaty clothes, and are otherwise taking it easy. We are all exhausted.

Happy Father's Day to all the great dads out there. You know who you are. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2012


OK, so I retract the earlier statement. It doesn't go the whole way up to his shoulders; it actually cuts off where his shirt sleeves end. It does, however, go right up to his crotch, which is weird because he is always wearing knee-length shorts... so how did his upper thighs get so exposed?

This morning he was bad enough that we took him to the doctor, and the official diagnosis was: poison ivy. Or some other equally-irritating plant encounter. He was prescribed a steroid cream, which we were told not to use unless it was absolutely necessary. So, go figure with that one. Do you want us to use it or not??

He stayed home from school today but is not infectious (we washed his bedding and towels anyway) so he will go back tomorrow. I assume I should use some sunscreen on him, but kind of question the wisdom of layering that on top of everything else that's going on. Maybe we'll use the spray so at least we don't have to rub at it.

Oh yeah, and that awesome farmer's tan he's sporting? That's what happens when you wear a rash guard when you swim. At this rate he's going to look awfully funny by the end of August.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

End of year fun... with one minor glitch

Today was Liam's end-of-year field trip. The kids went to Greenview Aviaries and I was lucky enough to be able to take the day off to join them. (There was quite a large parent turnout - I'm still not sure at what point parents stop attending these things. I don't really recall a lot of parent chaperones on field trips when I was a kid, but maybe I just didn't pay attention to them.)
The weather was great and it was an awesome day. I think the kids would have spent more time in the splash pad had it been a little warmer, but there was lots of other stuff to keep everyone busy. The time flew by. We easily could have spent more time watching the animals and we only covered a fraction of the playground.
The zipline was the biggest hit with everyone. It's probably just about the oldest piece of equipment there and it's built out of rotting wood, rusty cables, and a loop of rope to put your foot through. I'm sure it's going to fall apart any day now. And when it does, it's going to go down with kids all over it - they can't get enough.
We did have a big damper on our day. Liam's arms and legs are positively covered in what is best described as something akin to poison ivy. He came home from school yesterday covered in an itchy, red, blistery looking rash. It's especially bad on his forearms, but goes all the way up to his shoulders and on his legs it goes up to his crotch. Nothing on his face or trunk. The only guess I have for what happened is that he has taken to playing soccer at recess each day, and yesterday he lost his ball in the cedar hedge that runs along the edge of the school yard, and he had to go in to retrieve it. He's been in the cedars before and never reacted like this, but maybe there is something else growing back there? I feel awful for him. I've been dosing him with Benadryl and swabbing the worst spots with  calamine lotion, but I am not sure that it is helping any.
The rash is making him miserable, and the Benadryl is making him tired - so tired that he fell asleep on the bus in both directions. So I'm sorry that this had to coincide with his fun day. This morning I asked whether he wanted to stay home from school, given how miserable he seemed, but he looked horrified at the prospect. So we went on the field trip and faced the stares from some of the other kids who were convinced that he has chicken pox. Here's hoping a good night's sleep helps and he wakes up feeling much better tomorrow.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


 Saturday morning saw us back on the soccer field, and Mallory had her game on.

Yes, that's her scoring her second goal of the season.
She was pretty proud of herself... if you can't tell from the grin on her face as she runs back to center field. The fact that her coach gave her a high five was the icing on the cake.
Before we'd left the house that morning, I'd made an off-the-cuff comment about going for ice cream if she scored a goal. I hadn't thought we'd have to follow through, but there was no backing out. So before noon on Saturday, the kids had both one of these half-time ice pop treats (the red of which pretty much matches Mallory's face after half an hour of running around in the heat!), AND an ice cream. It was kind of a no-rules weekend like that. Because Saturday night, we made good on the promise to take the kids to see Madagascar 3, and of course that meant popcorn, too.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Friday night fail

 5:30 p.m.: show up at the movie theatre to buy tickets to opening night of Madagascar 3. Doors are locked. Head over to the adjacent restaurant for dinner.
 6:40 p.m.: return to the theatre after dinner to purchase tickets for 7:20 p.m. show. Be informed that the show has already sold out. Console crying child.
Yes, I know you can buy tickets online to prevent this kind of thing from happening, but we have discount tickets we were able to buy through the social club at work... i.e. coupons that you can't redeem online. So we used them in-person to buy tickets for the Saturday night show. Here's hoping for better luck tomorrow.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bedtime routine

I was going to post some photos from last weekend today, but then I got this photo last night. This is what our new bedtime routine looks like. The kids always used to go to bed at the same time, but Liam started complaining that he was lying awake. And the thing about Liam and sleep is, you know he's being honest. He's not just yanking our chains to try to stay up too late, because he values his sleep too much. He is really good at going to bed early when he's tired and staying up when he's not. I could take a lesson from him. Anyway, Mallory now goes to bed at her original time, and Liam gets to stay up a half hour later. We spend this time reading, which is Liam's new passion. He is getting great pleasure out of picking up long chapter books at school, 50-60 pages each, and polishing them off in a night or two. He picks books that belong to a series, like Cam Jansen or Magic School Bus, and then follows the characters through multiple stories. He used to read out loud to me, but there wasn't a whole lot of point, because he knows all the words. So we read separately but together now, and occasionally he'll interrupt me to confirm that this word means what he thinks it does. I get a big kick out of seeing him starting to devour books because I was like that as a kid, too. I love the fact that this is time that we get to spend together, but we also both get to enjoy an activity that we like. I have not had much time for reading lately, but this might be the ticket to getting my foot back in the door.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Man, I love the internet!


This time last week, I was busy having a birthday. Not a milestone year for any reason, but the gate is that much closer to swinging shut, if you know what I mean. It wound up being a pretty great day because I was initially scheduled to drive up to Toronto with a coworker for a meeting. Number one, I hate traveling for work, and number two, when I have to travel for work I prefer to do so solo. So when the meeting was canceled at the last minute, I was elated.

Still, it was a workday for us and a school day for the kids, and gymnastics night for Mallory, so there wasn't a whole lot of time to do anything extraordinary. We BBQ'd some steaks for dinner and followed them up with an ice cream cake from Coldstone Creamery. I'm glad we tried it but we probably won't get another one anytime soon.

Mallory was quite excited to move on to the presentation of the gifts. In typical Mallory fashion, she made me six separate birthday cards. Then she gave me a "pink bracelet" which is really a RoadID. It's a good idea and now I wear it every time I go out. Liam gave me a running visor, and he must have asked half a dozen times before the Trot to the Beach whether I was going to wear it. It was not a particularly sunny day, but how could I say no? Chad gave me a few books and they are both awesome reads. I finished A Life Without Limits a couple of days ago and am now totally engrossed in You Are An Ironman. Chad says he will no longer buy me books if I'm just going to use them up so fast.

I also received some cool vintage glassware and candy from friends... proof that there is more to me these days than just sports.

But back to the sports thing. The second part of my birthday gift is due to arrive at my local bike shop any day now. I am going to T-R-Y a road bike, and clipless pedals to boot. Hoping that I don't have to use the RoadID while learning how to ride this thing.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Trot to the Beach 2012

Today, I am walking stiffly, very much like the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz (which we recorded off the TV a few weeks ago, and the kids have been enjoying watching it... though I have wondered, from time to time, whether it's really a good idea to let Mallory see the tornado carrying Dorothy and her house away... she does not need any new ideas in her head.) Yesterday morning was the Trot to the Beach - "From Blenheim to Erieau the Long Way", as the race's tagline says. Chad and I both ran and it was convenient for us (not sure how convenient for Gramma and Grampa) since their summer place is not far from Blenheim, so we were able to drop the kids off to stay with them while we ran, and then they met us at the finish line.

(The course was set such that they were able to watch us at a point with about 1 km to go, and then again at the finish line itself, and there were Liam and Mallory cheerfully waving and sucking on popsicles as I went by at the 20km mark with another km ahead of me, and I did very nearly quit right then and there at the sight of both them, and the popsicles.)

The race was OK. Just OK. I could tell early on in the run that it was not going to be a great run, and it wasn't terrible, either, although the last few km were more painful than I expected them to be. The day did not turn out to be too sunny and the first half of the race was into the wind, but at least it wasn't as windy as it had been the few days prior. My finishing time for the half marathon was 2:05:18 and yes, I wish I'd known I was that close to breaking 2:05, for surely I could have found another 18 seconds out there. The last half marathon I ran was the Chilly Half in Burlington in March 2011, and my time then was 2:10:something, so I did improve. (Of course, there wasn't snow on the ground at this race either, so I figured I would.)

I was actually feeling pretty good about the race, my time, the whole nine yards until I checked the official race results last night, and saw that my 2:05:18 put me at 17/21 for my age group, or bottom 20%. Seriously! When did I fall from being a respectable middle-of-the-packer to such a total back-of-the-packer? This is what really knocked the wind from my sails. Chad broke the two hour barrier so he accomplished his goal. My ultimate goal is to break 2 hours, too, and I am thinking of doing another race in the fall, so maybe I will get one step closer to it then.

For now, though, I am looking forward to spending a little bit less time running. Triathlon season is underway and my first tri is less than two weeks away. In training for the Trot, I feel like I have been neglecting the bike and the swim a little, so it's time to become more well-rounded once again. I am hoping not to fall into the bottom 20% again at Tomatoman. On the bright side, here's a cute picture of all of us at the finish line. (Albeit with a rocking case of 'visor hair'.) If that doesn't bother me too much, then I think I will tick this off as the June entry for Four People Twelve Times. And only three days into the month, too!