Monday, October 29, 2012

Having the power to summon the storm of the century

I really did not mean to Beetlejuice up this Frankenstorm when I posted the Halloween pictures and so glibly stated what a great idea it would be in case it rained on Halloween. Ha! Well, it looks like we are in for a soaker of a holiday this year. Let's hope that's all it is, and we are not fighting basement floodwaters or damaged roof shingles or broken windows at the same time. We are supposed to have high winds and heavy rain, but hopefully nothing that will cause any damage. If the storm takes a turn for the worst and we are stranded, house-bound and powerless, for multiple days, then we have a large stash of chips and candy to live off of, so we should make it out the other side.

Seeing as that Halloween itself will not be going off without a hitch this year, we decided we should have some holiday fun with our preparations on the weekend. A last-minute trip to the local Halloween farm fest was kiboshed Friday night when it started to rain. But we did manage to paint up a motley assortment of Halloween-themed peg dolls...
And we spent some time yesterday carving pumpkins. This is an activity that Liam loves, Chad hates, and Mallory can't stand the smell or sight of. I fall somewhere in the middle and that 'somewhere' changes from year to year. We got three of our pumpkins carved, the fourth was too hard to cut so it got some Mr. Potato Head pieces, and the fifth pumpkin was taken to school by Liam last week since they are doing some carving in the classroom as well. Liam insisted that we should roast the seeds, too, which we did, but I think he was a bit disappointed. I did them with worcestershire and garlic salt and thought they were pretty darn good, but Liam was more interested in the already-open Halloween candy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Halloween preview

I mentioned that I was out of town with work for three long days last week. So I didn't feel guilty taking Friday off work. The kids had a PA day and I was looking forward to spending it with them.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - I think it's a great idea to get the kids into their Halloween costumes ahead of the holiday itself. It's a dry run that lets us work out the kinks (these tights itched Mallory terribly; she'll wear some different ones on Halloween night.) It lets me take a few pictures while it's daylight and we're not rushing to get out trick-or-treating. And if Halloween night turns out to be dark, cold enough to require a coat on top of the costume, or heaven forbid, rainy - I still have my pictures. We did this Friday morning, before the rain came down.
Mallory decided to be Dorothy long ago. May this be the first in a long line of redheads that she impersonates! (Chad tried to get her to be Ariel from The Little Mermaid years ago, and she was just not interested.) I ordered her costume back in August from a seamstress in Hong Kong I found on eBay for all of $9.95. (There is something to be said for the global marketplace.) Her shoes came from Walmart, her Toto came from Liam's stuffed animal collection and the basket Toto is in came from Value Village for 99 cents.
I'd hoped Liam would choose to be the Tin Man (I wanted to make a costume from dryer venting SO bad!) or the Cowardly Lion... or even the scarecrow... but in the end, he wanted to be a superhero named Megamind. So here he is, saving Metrocity from the bad guy. This was an internet costume shop purchase... not as much fun as homemade, but adorable nonetheless. (Though I admit it could be anybody under that cape and mask, and I really wouldn't be able to tell the difference!)
I'm glad we got the pictures in last week because I hear we are in store for an arctic blast in the next few days. It may indeed be another coat-over-the-costume year. As long as the loot bags come home full, I don't think the kids will mind.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Sloth and gluttony, Day #1

Today I slept late and I've eaten a ridiculous amount of sugar, which I fear is the new norm for me. I also have some wicked shinsplints. But the Detroit half marathon on Sunday was by far the most fun road race I have ever done.
The deciding factor was that the last half marathon I ran, in June, was the Trot to the Beach - on the back roads from Blenheim to Erieau. There were maybe 200 people in that race. The Detroit race had 24,000.
I took my iPod with me, much to Chad's chagrin. "REAL runners don't use those in races," he said. But I *never* run without it, I replied... how will I get through 2+ hours without it? I needn't have worried. I was more than entertained by 2+ hours of crowds, cheering, funny signs, and eavesdropping on fellow runners. I crossed the finish line with the earphones still in my hand, unused.

The race started at 7 a.m. and it was still dark. This is what me and 23,999 of my closest friends look like.
It didn't take long for the sun to come up, right as I was headed up onto the Ambassador Bridge. The elevation gain was not as bad as I thought it would be. Or maybe it was just the adrenaline. It was very cool to be up on the bridge on foot, with the border guards all cheering everyone on. I tried to heed Kathy's advice and take it easy on the downhill side.
In Windsor I whiled away a couple of miles looking for friends who set up a cheering section on Riverside Drive. Finally found them (and their camera - thankful for the pictures!) right before turning into the Windsor Tunnel and crossing back over to Detroit. There was some uphill in the tunnel but again, it didn't hurt as bad as I expected. Back in Detroit, the sun was up, the crowds were huge and it was a beautiful day. I enjoyed the clever signs ("Worst Parade Ever", "Total Stranger, I'm Proud of You!", "Run Like You're a Yankees Fan, "Welcome back to Detroit! How was your trip to Canada? Besides short." etc.) and before I knew it I was heading back downtown to the finish line.
Despite my sniffles and even with the hills, I finished this race strong - much better execution than my last few. I negative splitted every split except for the two with big uphills. And the funny thing is that Chad and I finished (chip time) within 13 seconds of each other, despite not running together and not even starting in the same wave. He ran a strong front half and a weak back half and I was the opposite (though I wouldn't call my front half weak - it just takes my creaky knees a few miles to settle in even at the best of times). If a half marathon was 13.2 miles instead of 13.1, I think I could have caught him. Maybe next time!

I finished this race in 2:06:54, which was not a PR, but then I didn't expect it to be. It's funny though - I have now done 5 half marathons and except for the one I did in 6 inches of snow that made for some sloppy footing... I have finished them all within 2 minutes of each other. One of them was 12 years ago and one of them was yesterday. I am consistent, if nothing else. If a bear were chasing me I think I would run away from it at that same pace.

So that's it... the final race report of the year. 2 half marathons and 3 tris this year... not a bad turnout, especially after the bad back/pneumonia 1-2 punch of 2011. 2012 was a very good athletic year. Hoping to somehow top it in 2013.

Friday, October 19, 2012

History repeats itself, sort of

This has been a long week. In five days I logged 1500km of driving, mostly on the 401. Sunday was the trip to Stratford, and then on Monday I turned around and drove to Mississauga and back for a meeting. Tuesday was a rest day and then Wednesday I drove to Niagara Falls for the Ontario Energy Association conference. Spent the night and came back home yesterday.

This was the same conference at which I came down with pneumonia last year. This year I think I have escaped the pneumonia, but I have come down with some sniffles. And let's face it - that's how pneumonia starts. I am not taking any chances. Lots of rest for me this weekend.

At least, until 7 a.m. Sunday morning, at which time I am supposed to be on the start line of the Detroit International Half Marathon. These things always seem like a good idea several months out. I make promises to myself to run five times a week and really nail this race. I do good until Labour Day or so, at which point the days get short and dark and my enthusiasm wanes. I have been running more like three days a week lately. I had already been feeling a little unprepared and now to be sick on top of it - definitely not ideal. 

This race definitely scares me - there are two points on the course for which I, someone who lives in a pancake-flat part of the world, am already woefully under-trained:

Well, too late to do anything about it now. I am not going to PR at this race but I do hope to finish, sick or not, with the added incentive of some cut-offs along the way - they reopen the bridge and tunnel to traffic at set times, and if you're not through the course at those times then you get the disgraceful ride back to the start line in the shuttle. That's plenty of motivation to just keep moving.

There is no more travel in my future until next spring, so if I can just make it through this race, I will get plenty of rest next week and will in fact be into the recovery phase of my training year - all my triathlons and road races behind me so I can finally just succumb to the Halloween mini chocolate bars and holiday sugar cookies, sleep in, and take a break until the new year. At that point, I will probably sign up for a few more races, make some promises about training schedules that I am unlikely to keep, and start the whole vicious cycle over again.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Thanksgiving #2

We spent part of our weekend in Stratford, having Thanksgiving #2.
The holiday consisted of two things: a big meal + a road hockey game.
Liam was in his element. Sometimes being the oldest cousin pays off. He has yet to score a goal on the ice (and mostly plays defence now, so goodness only knows when or if it might happen)... but he scored nine goals (by his own count, which may or may not have been accurate) in this game.
Henry scored too...
And even Mallory got in on the action! Yay Mal!
I think it's fair to say that a good time was had by all, including the spectators.

Mallory requested a posed hockey portrait with someone very special.
And, she requested another posed portrait, with someone else kind of special. The girls will have to stick together in this family - they are still outnumbered!
I was trying to get a shot of someone's new teeth here, but all I got instead was tongue.
Hard to believe that a first birthday party is not too far away.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Now and Then: Pumpkin Patch Edition

This is one of my all-time favourite pictures of Mallory, and it's the one that I currently have framed on the side table in the living room, replacing (for now) the picture of the kids at the Pittsburgh hockey game.
And here we are, five years later. Some things changed, and some things exactly the same. Part of me wishes she would still fit into an adorable little holiday onesie.
 We finally made it to pick up our pumpkins tonight after school and work. The kids love this process.
It's all the better when our cousins join us. And this year, all four kids are looking at the camera! - I think that may be a first. Mallory is starting to come out of her look-anywhere-but phase, and Jonah is cool as a cucumber and does what you ask him to. It was just a lucky shot of Ethan, but he's three - he's allowed to be a little bit rebellious.
Jenn really had to coerce Mallory into this one, but it worked!
 No coercion required to get her to climb a pumpkin mountain. That was her own idea.
Liam had to one-up her by walking a 'pumpkin tightrope' along the fence line.

We were there well over an hour in all. We spent 15 minutes picking out pumpkins and the rest of the time climbing in/on/among them. I am not sure if we kept the girl who was working there late... she didn't say anything to us, but swiftly started packing up when she saw us heading back to the car. Thank you, pumpkin patch girl, for indulging us in the annual ritual. It won't be that much longer before my kids roll their eyes at the very suggestion of going to the patch.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Thanksgiving #1

I know... My blogging is dismal these days. Oh well!

This weekend was a busy one. Friday night, we were at a concert with the MacBarrs. Then it was an early wake up call on Saturday, to scoop a new tree at The Glasshouse's end-of-season sale. From there I left right away to head to Michigan with some friends to see another friend and do some shopping.
On Sunday, I got some much needed rest. And planted that tree. I can't think of what else we did, but the day winged away.
Then on Monday, we had the Cook family over for Thanksgiving at our house. Nothing in the kitchen exploded, so I would call it a success.
(Mallory was in awe of seeing the dining room table all set with the good dishes. It only happens twice a year, so it's still special! Not sure why this photo won't line up with the others... oh well. Not enough hours in the day to fret with the formatting!)
And we took our Four People Twelve Times picture for September. On October 8th. Close enough.