Saturday, August 18, 2012

By far, the triathlon I'm most proud of.

 He did it... he really did it this year!
Funny enough, the day before the event, we found out that one of his friends was going to do it, too. I'm sure that helped to ease some pre-race jitters!
The pre-race meeting with the race director, receiving instructions. I'm not sure how much a bunch of 7 year olds get out of being told to "keep the buoys to your left, except at the end, go inside the last buoy." They were all looking at him like... wha?? How do you go *inside* a buoy? Luckily, there were lots of lifeguards on the course pointing the way!
The lambs going to slaughter... er... athletes heading to the start. :)
And coming back into shore, with the race director trying to signal to them where the beach access was. The leader had veered a little off-course!
 Liam running up the beach after an awesome swim. He nailed it. And didn't even need a wetsuit!
 At the bike mount line. 
And heading out on the run course.
Then, after a run through the woods, heading for 
the finish line. He and the little girl had a sprint-off and finished with the exact same time.
How awesome was this? To my delight, Liam came second in his age group! And his little buddy took first!

Admiring their hardware post-race. I am thinking both of them caught the triathlon bug.

I am *so* proud of Liam today. Hoping I can make him equally proud when it's my turn to race tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I took my kids to a Hedley concert. Yes I did.

Chatham is not normally the most interesting place on the planet to live, but it does have some endearing quirks. One of those is a strange ability for a small town to win contests decided by way of online vote. A couple of years ago, Chatham landed the Boardwalk square on the Canadian version of Monopoly, because it was decided by online vote. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that this honour really should have gone to Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, or any other major city in the country... not one that most people have never heard of.

I once heard someone say that the reason Chatham is able to pull feats like this off is because we have such a large population of unemployed people who can sit home and cast online votes all day long. I kinda think that might be true.

Anyway, lightning struck again a couple of months ago, when President's Choice launched an online contest to find BBQTown. Once the online votes were compiled, Chatham was deemed the winner. The event was this past Saturday and the prize was a free President's Choice BBQ for the first 5,000 people and a Hedley concert that was open to up to 15,000.

The BBQ started around noon and we figured that people would line up early and the food would go fast. We didn't feel the need to line up for hours for a free hamburger, and besides, we had two soccer games to attend that day. So we didn't wander down to the park until almost 6 p.m., after a brief downpour had passed (and also after the band had already played an opening song or two).

But we did get there for most of the show, and it was actually a really awesome concert. We have a handful of Hedley songs on our iPods and there were many more that I recognized and just hadn't realized was them. Although I took this photo from the back of the park, we actually got up to within a few rows of the stage, where the viewing was good: I could see the band up close and personal, and also keep an eye on the kids, who were entertaining themselves on the playground off to the side.

There was also plenty of food still being served, despite the fact that they had been going all day. Chad went for the meat and the kids and I made do with ice cream. Organizers later said there were nearly 9,000 people there, and the food was still being dished up as we left, so clearly they under-promised and over-delivered on the 5,000 person cap.

Anyway, it was good free fun for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, close to home to boot - can't ask for more than that! Maybe when my kids are older they will remember that we were cool parents who took them to a Hedley concert at the ages of 5 and 7...

So if anyone hears of any other online voting competitions with cool prizes up for grabs - let me know. It might be another prize Chatham can go after!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

When science experiments go wrong

It's time for an update on our caterpillar, and I'm afraid it's not good. The caterpillar went through his cocoony phase as normal, and after about a week or so, we could see that the cocoon was starting to turn translucent. That was around the time when the kids packed up and went to Camp Gramma and Grampa for a couple of days. We took them out to drop them off and Gramma and Grampa were surprised to see that not only were we bringing them two kids, we were also moving a pet in with them. But it looked like the time for the butterfly to emerge was fast approaching, and we didn't want the kids to miss out on it.

Sure enough, on their last afternoon there, I got a call saying that the butterfly had started to emerge from the cocoon. But three hours later, Gramma and Grampa dropped the kids off at the house... along with the butterfly... who was still trying to get out of his cocoon. And two days later, the damn butterfly was still trying to get out of the cocoon. We did what we could to help him, but nature clearly went awry and there was part of the butterfly stuck to part of the cocoon that we just didn't feel we could do anything about.

Well kids... sometimes things don't go according to plan. Last time I saw the butterfly's jar, which we had removed the lid from and left on the back porch, the butterfly, along with the branch he was still attached to, was gone. I did not ask anyone where they moved him to because I think this is a case of least said, soonest mended. I simply threw the jar into the recycling bin. Maybe we will try again next year... if I can stomach it. In my trolling around the internet to discover how many days to expect the butterfly to stay in the cocoon, I figured out how the cocoon appeared so quickly and how we didn't witness it. The caterpillar does not actually build a cocoon - he sheds his skin, and the cocoon is inside. I learned this by watching a YouTube video and to be honest, it really grossed me out. I'll have to get over that before I invite another one into my house.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Why it's better to be a girl than a boy

Chad and I used to go to the Rogers Cup in Toronto nearly every summer. This summer, Chad suggested going again, though he chose Liam to keep him company rather than me. Fair enough - Liam has really been enjoying tennis this summer.

They waited until the last minute to buy tickets, hoping to see Federer play. That didn't work out for them but the match they were scheduled to see was Murray (fresh off his Olympic gold medal win) against the up and coming Canadian player, Raonic.
Rather than sit home and twiddle our thumbs all day, Mallory and I made plans of our own. We got tickets to see The Stratford Festival's production of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."
Thursday came, and it rained. And rained. And rained. Mallory and I left home and drove to Stratford. In the rain. We went into the theatre in the rain, and came out in the rain, did some shopping in the rain and went for dinner at Gramma and Grampa's house in the rain. Then we drove home in the rain.
The boys got home at midnight. Here's the recap of their day: they left the house in the rain, stopped for lunch and some shopping in London, continued on to Toronto in the rain, sat around in the rain for 4 hours hoping that a match would be played (during which time Murray actually pulled out, but by this time I think they were desperate to see any player play, no matter his ranking), and then at 9 p.m. when the match was officially called off, they got back in the car and drove the 3 hours home. In the rain.
Clearly, it was a better day to be a girl than a boy.
All was not *totally* lost though... Liam did come home with this very cool giant tennis ball souvenir of the tennis match he never saw.

We do have two free tickets to next year's tournament now. The only thing is, next year's tournament is in Montreal.

I feel a road trip coming on!!
Also on the bright side... guess who made it onto TV???

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The passage of time

Last weekend, we made our annual trip to Parks to pick blueberries. We missed strawberry season this year so I was happy to fit this trip in on a half day we had free. Unfortunately, our timing was off. We hit the tail end of picking for one variety, so the bushes were sparse, but the next variety over which was just beginning had far more unripe berries than ripe ones. Picking was not as easy as it has been in the past so we made do with just one bucketful.

Also, there was no wagon ride to the back of the field, and the woman working the booth when I asked about it looked at me like I had three heads when I inquired. I thought that was odd. We've been going there annually for at least eight years now, and I have the proof. There have always been wagon rides - it's not like I'm making this up.
Anyway, here is this year's picture of Liam:
And here he was last year:
Mallory in 2012:
And Mallory in 2011:
 Mallory, who does not eat blueberries, actually surprised me by being a good little picker who made a significant contribution to the number of berries we brought home.

Liam just picked and ate. He also entertained nearby pickers by trying to throw the berries up and catch them in his mouth - he actually got one or two in, though he missed far more than that:
And Mallory made up a song about picking blueberries, which she sang for the little old ladies picking nearby, but would not sing for me.
After an hour or so in the sun, we headed into the bakery for a treat and then home for a swim. A great way to spend a morning in August.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The one with the bad omen

Yesterday was a race that I actually signed up for in time, the Tecumseh Triathlon. The night before the race, as I was packing up the car, I gave my bike tires a quick pump up. Ten minutes later I heard a sound like a balloon popping, and turned around right in time to see the front tire completely deflate. I have no idea how I over-pressured the tire, but given that my local bike shop had closed just a couple of hours earlier, I thought I could be pooched. Luckily, Chad thought of my spare trainer tire in the basement, and luckily, the tubes were the same size. So he swapped them out for me and I went on to load up the car uneventfully. I did wonder though whether this was a sign of things to come.

Well, I can't say the whole race was a disaster. My only goal for this race was to have a comfortable swim, because my last few swims had not gone well and I wanted to shake that. Race Surprise #1 came when I first wandered down to the beach and saw that the farthest buoys were, like, WAY far out. It soon became apparent why: the lake level was incredibly low, on account of the dry summer. The starting line was about 200m out into the lake and even then you couldn't swim; you had to run through knee deep water to the second buoy. And on the way back, you had to run that, plus the 200m. It made for a long and tiring swim. However, I did manage to swim without a panic attack, so my main mission was accomplished.
Race Surprise #2 came about five minutes into my bike leg, when there was a clap of thunder and it started to pour rain, and kept it up for most of the race. Still gun-shy about wiping out on the bike, especially now that I have a nicer bike with even skinnier tires, and especially on wet roads, I rode like a granny the whole time.

Oh, and along the way I also managed to crack both of my bottle cages and lose my insulated water bottle, though miraculously a volunteer caught it and returned it at the end of the race.

Even with all this calamity, I still had fun. My time was beyond mediocre, but I managed to finish second in my age group and got a coveted little plaque! I won't tell you how many people there were in my age group, but I'll give you a hint: it ended with a '2'.
Best of all was that my family came along with me, and put up with the before-dawn wakeup call and the delay in the start time and the rain and the lengthy wait for the awards to be handed out. (The all-you-can-eat Coldstone Creamery products at the finish line went a long way toward keeping them happy, as did Mallory's ability to retreat to the car to watch movies on DVD when the rain came down!) Liam was my official race photographer. I'd say he did a pretty good job. I hope I can return the favour in a few weeks' time.

Off to bed now... hoping to catch the first few minutes of the mens' Olympic triathlon before work tomorrow, then finish it up on DVR.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ummm, you mean not everyone decorates for the Olympics???

Well, I couldn't really resist, not when I already had the patriotic stuff out for Canada Day, and then found the cute printable online. And then Mallory came home with the paper-plate Olympic rings... the setting was complete.

Speaking of the Olympics... this article has got to be the funniest thing I have read in a long time. It is so, so true... and yet:

10 Reasons Why Ryan Lochte is America's Sexiest Douchebag

And, in other Olympics news, my PSA for today is that the women's Triathlon starts tomorrow morning at 4 a.m. EDT. I will not be getting up that early to watch it, but may be out of bed by 6 or 7 to start up the DVR. Canada's Paula Findlay was a favourite to win until she was injured. Here's hoping she's holding up and still stands a real chance at the podium.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


I was not-so-subtly asked for an update on our pet. I've been meaning to get this posted all week, but life has gotten in the way, and by "life" I really mean "tape-delayed prime-time Olympics coverage". Anyway, here's the status of our pet caterpillar. I believe this photo was taken last Friday, after we cleaned out his jar and gave him some fresh munchies. By the time we went to bed Friday night, he had sworn off the milkweed and was hanging upside down from the stem he is on here. When we got up on Saturday morning, he was still there, and despite our frequent checking on him, nothing changed by the time we left the house around 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon. We were home not 4 hours later and... no more caterpillar. The cocoon was complete. I was pretty bummed that we missed the entire cocoon-building process. I mean, it's almost as if he was waiting to be left alone before he built it. But the good news is that I think it's supposed to turn from the jade-green colour it is today, into a clear shell with the butterfly clearly visible, before he comes out. Hopefully, he will not wait for a day we aren't home to do that.

(Generally speaking, I feel like my camera lens collection covers most of my needs (if not wants), but right now I am really wishing I had a macro lens!)

So there you have it. More to come on "CaterMarch" (Mallory's name for him) when we have news.