Monday, September 18, 2017

Everything AND the kitchen sink

I had written a lovely blog post complete with charming anecdotes of all our summer adventures.  I naively thought that clicking upload with send my thoughts out into the world.  Sadly no.  Due to the cruel gods of system crash, my blog was robbed of its latest update.  Le sigh.

So now begins the retelling of our summer, even though we are solidly into autumn.
 We had a nice, albeit quiet summer.  The boys were in lots of camps.  Zach again went to paintball at Camp Arnes which is has been the highlight of his summers over the past few years.  Zach loves Camp Arnes and any attempts to get him to try another camp have fallen on deaf ears.  It looks like the stereotypical camp with rustic cabins, a rocky beach, food halls etc.  I think going to camp is something that every kid should get to do.  It’s character building.   It’s always interesting when we go to pick him up at the end of camp.  He seems to have matured somehow

Logan  sat out Camp Arnes last year.  He was getting bored of it. 
This year, a friend invited him to go to Camp Cedarwood instead.    I had been hesitant to send him to Camp Cedarwood because I thought it was going to be far too much money.  However, I was pleased to find that it cost about the same, if not slightly less than Camp ArnesI did not know what to expect when we picked Logan up from camp, but I was blown away.  This camp is insane.  I want to go there.  First off the grounds are absolutely gorgeous.  You pull up to a 3 story lodge.  It has floor to ceiling windows, a second story balcony where the kids can eat their meals if the weather is nice.  The food is incredible.  Logan was treated to pad thai, butter chicken, sushi, crepes.. you name it.  We got to have a breakfast buffet as a parent welcome and if that was any indication of how the kids ate that week, I am seriously impressed.

Rather than individual cabins, all of the kids stay in rooms in the main lodge, so it really does feel like a resort.  There are common rooms with flat screen TVs, pool tables, black light air hockey tables which serve as both evening and rainy day havens.  Add to all of this the fact that it is a teenager only camp means that they can cater all of the activities to this specific age group match their interest.
The above makes it seem like this isn’t really a camp until you tour the outdoor grounds.    There is a 2.5 story rope course, wakeboarding, waterskiing, wall climbing, mountain biking, a skate park, archery, canoeing and swimming which only scratches the surface of the activities they have.  WOW.  Logan will be back next year for sure.

The first week of our holidays was spent in the city with the intent of doing day trips here and there.  Logan is an adrenaline junkie and extremely persuasive, so his suggestions were the ones we mostly ended up doing.  First up was wakeboarding at the aptly named Adrenaline Adventures.  He had been bugging to go for days and I finally agreed.  However awoke to grey cloudy skies on the day we were scheduled to go.  Even with the weather being cooler, Logan could not be swayed.  I called ahead and asked what times would be good as the place tends to get really busy.  She mentioned that after 4 pm would likely be our best bet and they should have some openings available.
Clearly she overestimated their clientele that afternoon as Logan was the only one at the place apart from one other kid who was on the rope course.  The cooler weather turned into a bonus and Logan got full run of the wakeboarding course.  He suited up and was chomping at the bit.  The instructor walked him through the paces and before too long he was carving it up.  At one point he took an EPIC face plant.  I would like to say that my first reaction was “OMG is he ok?”, but 100% honestly, I blurted out a huge laugh before I caught myself.  He was perfectly fine, but I did feel pretty guilty afterwards.  

The next day we went rock climbing at Vertical Adventures.  Both boys took to it like ducks to water.  I decided that I wasn’t going to be one of those Mums who watches from the sidelines, so I got suited up with the uber flattering harness.  I will fully admit that I looked like a tied roast, but who cares.

I should preface this by saying I have never climbed a wall before, but it looked simple enough.  I started with the beginner wall.  To my surprise I made it up to the top without too much trouble.  My overinflated sense of self was quickly deflated once the realization that I now had to get down kicked in.

I was connected to one of the auto rappel things.  The instructor below told me to simply kick off from the wall.  That was much easier said than done as every bone in my body was telling me to do the exact opposite.  I did manage to kick off, but not far enough and slid down the wall, skinning my knee pretty good, but the battle wound served as evidence that I climbed at least one wall.

I was more than content with the one wall, which I climbed a few times.    Logan went on to try more challenging walls.  While I was watching him climb one of the other walls, a fellow mum was standing next to me and we got to chatting as mums tend to do.  At some point in the conversation she tittered that us mums were too old to attempt a wall like this. 
Well cr*p, at that moment I knew I was going to be climbing this wall.  I am not by any means competitive, if you can run faster than me, I will simply cheer you on.  However, this wasn’t a competitive thing, this was an I am not a old fuddy duddy of a mother who wears mom jeans and provides orange slices for snack kind of thing.  The boys were very encouraging and so I attempted wall number 2, which was on more of an angle and thus a higher level of difficultly.

Holy forearms Batman.  I made it to the top and smacked the bell with my arms shaking.  The mum from before gave me an impressed look as I rappelled down in a cloud of smug.

The pivot point of our stay-cation and cabin week was the Twickenham Block Party.  This is the third year we have had a party.  It’s a legitimate event, we buy a permit and close down the street.  There are events for the kids, a bouncy castle, face painting and water balloon fights. All the families contribute and we have a huge international potluck.  As the sun went down we set up some sheets on a garage and made a mock shift drive in for the kids.  Brad and I pulled out our kettle corn maker and I had churned popcorn.

This particular day also happened to be the Mayweather fight night.  As all of the neighbors were talking, our neighbour mentioned that he had bought the pay per view.  Next thing I knew we were setting up some more sheets on the garage and someone pulled out their projection tv.
I cannot truly put into words how awesome this was.  As the kids were put to bed, the adults came out.  We set up a firepit on the street and watch an outdoor version of the fight.  It was beyond cool.  We are going to be hard pressed to beat this one for next year.

We spent the second week of my holidays at the cabin.  It’s interesting how a stay-cation in the city seems to fly by, but even just a few days at the cabin seems like a longer break.  I have not been able to get out to the cabin as much as I have, so it was great to see Court and Dale and catch up.
I had to be back to work Friday September 1 which sucked as it meant I had to drive in for the long weekend, but whatever, no big deal.  I checked the mail and found that Zach’s school schedule had finally arrived.  Nothing like waiting until the last minute to send it.  I opened it up and started scanning the courses and supply list.  Everything seemed pretty standard, pens, binder, looseleaf… LAPTOP.

What’s that now?  A Laptop?  Holy, I was not expecting that.  Given that September is already a sh*tshow with hockey registration and equipment, back to school clothes, braces, crowns and puppy classes, I was not prepared to pay for a laptop.  But, like we always so I shuffled some things around and made it work.  Still, a little heads up from the school would have been nice instead of 3 days notice.
The following week everyone was home.  Logan didn’t start school until Wednesday.  While I was at work, I got a panicked phone call.  Logan had dropped his brand new phone into the sink, which of course was filled with water.

I immediately told him to shut it off and dry it off as best he could.  Despite what you may have heard, DO NOT put your phone in a bag of rice.  When liquid enters your phone, it begins to cause a guck like substance which fries the mother board.  The myth states that you are to leave your phone in rice for a few days.  All that does is let the water create more guck before you ultimately take it to a repair show by which time the mother board has likely been damaged beyond repair.  As soon as I got home I took Logan’s phone to a repair shop.  They opened it up and got all the water out.  It’s a $70 - 3 day process.  After that, they try to turn the phone on.  If it turns on you are back in business. Sometimes a part of two requires repair, but if the mother board is fried, get a new phone.
Thankfully because we didn’t wait, Logan’s phone was restored into good as new condition.  It’s a good thing because the poor kid was having a nervous breakdown.  We had opted out of the insurance on his phone which would have protected us against water damage.  In hind sight, not our best decision, but alas what’s done is done. But a $70 dry out was better than having to buy a whole new phone.

I think that about catches you up. Hockey is about to start and much to my surprise I am really looking forward to it this year. I guess that means I have officially turned into a hockey mum.  I realize I have been a hockey mum for the past 7 years already, but this is the first year I’ve really embraced it.   Who would have thought?

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bite me in the a$$

We are pretty fortunate in that Brad and I both get benefits through work.  It doesn't always cover all of the costs, but it helps beyond measure.  They come in real handy given my epilepsy meds cost about half of a mortgage payment and Zach's cost a couple hundred as well,

For dental we never have to pay anything.  Brad gets 80% coverage and I get top up of 20% from my work.  It doesn't cover things like major work or orthodontics.  Technically I could get some orthodontic coverage, but it would mean shuffling my benefits all around to cover the premiums and even then I wouldn't get more than 40% (plus there is a lifetime max involved).

So with that backstory, let's move on.  I took Friday off to spend some time with Logan before he headed to camp on Sunday.  We decided that we would go watch some beach volleyball.  When we left the house it was sunny.  As we drove across the city, the sky got more and more ominous.  By the time we arrived at the venue the sky had turned that dark blue and you knew a storm was coming.  Sure enough, within minutes of our taking seats in the stands it started to pour.  We were going to tough it out, but the lightning forced fans to be evacuated into the nearby rec center.

While we were waiting, Logan offered me one of his gummy treats.  I popped one in my mouth and started to chew.  Then felt a large crunch.  Gummies don't crunch... ABORT! ABORT the plan.

I spit out the gummy.  Since they were real fruit gummies there was a brief second whereI though I might have bit into a seed or something.  Yeah no.  Staring up at me was a rather large chunk of my tooth. So gross.  A quick explore with my tongue made it feel as though the entire portion of my tooth had given way leaving nothing but jagged shards in it's wake.  Ok, so it likely wasn't as bad as all that, but it felt that way.

The tooth in question was one that had a root canal a few years ago.  My dentist had been mentioning at every checkup since then that I needed a crown.  Since crowns weren't covered under our benefits, I always balked at the idea, thinking it was unnecessary.

There wasn't a whole lot to do.  The situation wasn't so bad that it would send me fleeing to the dentist as it didn't hurt, so we stayed to watch volleyball.  The girls were up first.  I have always found beach volleyball impressive.  It doesn't look like hard work until you realize that there is only two of them on a court usually supported by 5 and they have to run around in sand.  Have you ever tried that?  I start sweating in 3 seconds flat.

What I will not understand is the clothing.  Girls wear the skimpiest of bikini's which is wildly unpractical when you think about them diving into sand.  Things could go wandering.  But the guys?  No.  Full board shorts and tank tops.  Doesn't seem right.  I wonder if upon being handed their scraps of a uniform any girls have protested.  It seems reasonable that at least one might have.

It started raining again for the guys game, but no lightning so we sat out in the rain.  It was warm so it didn't really bother us, well apart from the fact that I was ill prepared forgetting my umbrella and electing to wear a white t-shirt.

I called the dentist on Saturday as they do take appointments, but I couldn't get a hold of anyone.  Thankfully it still wasn't hurting.  I think this had something to do with the nerve being removed in a root canal.  Whatever, I was just thankful.

Monday morning the dentist called bright and early saying they could get me in.  Since it felt so horrid in my mouth, I was worried they were going to say there was nothing they could do and pull the tooth.   But that didn't even come up in the conversation.  My dentist said that a crown was our only option.  I agreed.

Before we could do that though, a temporary filling had to be put in.  Next thing I know, dude was coming at me with a drill.  WTF man!! Did you not miss a CRUCIAL step whereby you put in some freezing?  Apparently it wasn't necessary, but I was extremely reluctant.  Not surprisingly he was correct, but the smell of tooth dust as he ground off the jagged edges were utterly revolting.

When he was done I headed up to the counter to get the estimate of the crown.  $1250.  Sweet Lord of the dance that is expensive.  Brad has no coverage for major work.  I get 40%, so about $500, provided they agree to covering all of the 40%.  Sometimes, they disagree with the treatment plan and only cover a portion.  But I can use a spending account to cover another $400.  So in the end it will cost me about $350.

Later that day I got a call from the Orthodontist at U of M.  Zach got accepted into their dental program for his braces.  We had initially got a ridiculously high quote from a regular ortho;  $5,000 as a base and would likely be more.  Good lord, how much would it cost for a complicated case???  A friend recommended the orthodontic program at U of M.  Since Zach's case was simple, mostly cosmetic, we could get student into the program to handle Zach's braces.  Each procedure is overseen by a resident dental professor, so you have confidence that they are being done correctly.  The cost is almost half, $2,650.  Zach wanted invisalign, but to use those you have to be diligent about dental care and I know that would be a constant battle.  Plus, if we get traditional ones, he can't lose them.  Decision made.  We are going to spring for an upgrade to get him clear braces on the top portion.  He will still have the wires, but they will be less noticeable.

His first appointment is September 29 and we have to pay $350 for that one.  My crown is scheduled for October, so a couple hundred there.  Then the second braces appointment is in November... yet another $350 and then $350 per appointment, every three months. The fall is going to be quite the expensive season when you add in back to school, hockey registration and new equipment to the mix.  Ugh.

Honestly though, I really can't complain.  A friend of mine has three kids and they all have complicated cases that require braces.  She said it is easily going to cost them $15K.  Holy Mother.

Not going to let it get me down though.  I am T minus 8 working days until my holidays.  Eyes on the prize.

Thursday, August 3, 2017


I'm back.


I keep telling myself that quarter ends are going to get easier.  The thing is that technically they do in the sense that with each passing month I learn a whole bunch more and am better able to field questions.  However, the hours don't seem to change.

But whatever... that's in the past.  It's AUGUST.

August is right up there with my favorite months of the year because everyone takes time off and it's quiet at work.  Case in point I'm taking tomorrow off.

There has been a lot going on the past month.  Zach was in a Virtual Reality tournament, Stella started puppy kindergarten, I messed up on the kids camp dates... it's been busy.

First up was the Virtual reality tournament.  It was held at DoVR in the new Outlet Mall.  It's Zach's favorite place.  Zach is an introvert by nature.  It's strange because he so wants to be part of the group, but has such a hard time introducing himself.  Then when he gets into the crowd, he pulls back because too many people drive him crazy.  So malls aren't exactly his go to on the weekends, unlike his retail obsessed brother.

I do drag him out with me though.  Not just shopping but to all sorts of places.  It's nice to spend time with him and it gets him off screens.    The first time we visited the outlet mall, we passed this weird store front.  It had the standard display windows, but with nothing in then.  A peek in the store and there were no items for sale, just big black change room looking things and a cashier at the back. Brothel maybe?

Turns out it was virtual reality arcade and the change rooms were the individual gaming rooms.  Zach's eyes just about jumped out of his head.  It's $25 for a half hour.  Seems ridiculous to me, but I spend $25 on a bottle of wine that lasts that amount of time, so it's all relative.

I bought Zach a half hour and browsed the mall while he was doing his thing.  When I came back to get him he was SWEATING!  Apparently VR is not like Xbox where you sit making butt imprints in your chair.  Nope, with VR you MOVE.

Needless to say he loved it.  As we were leaving he noticed a sign on the door for a VR tournament.  Oh boy.  I knew without him asking that we were somehow going to have to make it work.

It was a pretty good deal.  You paid $25 to get into the tournament and were guaranteed an hour of play. Right off the bat, you've saved $25.  But if you do well, you move on and continue to play without any extra charges.

Now I knew Zach was good at these things, but I didn't know how good.  He vanquished everyone.  He kept winning round after round.  At one point between games, he asked Brad if they could go to the food court to get a drink, "I need to hydrate Dad!".  Too funny.

Back at VR, he continued to dominate and ended up in the final.  His opponent was a guy in his early thirties and Zach nearly took him, but he pulled out at the end.  Not too shabby for a 13 year old.

People had been coming into the store asking what was going on.  Since Zach was waiting he talked to them and explained how things worked.  He even talked about the games and how to play and control the equipment.  We were so impressed because with Zach's shyness, that never happends.  Apparently, he just needed the right topic.  The store manager was impressed as well and told Zach to come back when he was 16 for a job!   Wouldn't that be something!

Coming in 2nd place earned Zach 2  - half hour free plays at DoVR in addition to the 2 hours he played during the tournament.    All in all he got $250 worth of VR game time for $25.  Nooice! (as Zach would say).

The week following the VR tournament, he was at Mini University for a gaming coding camp.  They learn how to write code for game mods.  I would like to write more about it, but honestly that is as far as my understanding goes.  I like to think of myself as a fairly techy person but Zach has me beat.

This week we took a hard left from anything techy and he's spending the week at the cabin with my parents.  It's quite interesting.  He LOVES gaming, but then he loves being at the cabin going hunting with his Dad.  I'm thankful for that though as it is something that they have bonded over.

Logan has been going to camps this summer too. He was supposed to be in more, but I kind of messed that up royally.  We had signed Logan up for days camps with Mini U, Humane society and Camp Cedarwood.  Logan's buddy Seth is going to Cedarwood too.   When we were planning it, I had already registered Logan for the Humane society and we had been going over with Debbie (Seth's mum) what dates for Camp Cedarwood.

Logan and Seth were at Mini U together and Logan mentioned he was excited for Cedarwood the following week, but Seth said it wasn't until the week after. Good Lord, I somehow I had it differently in my head and  inadvertently scheduled him for both camps on the same week. Ugh.

The brutal part is that I didn't even realize it!  Thank goodness we got it found out in time.  I couldn't get him out of the Cedarwood camp as it is a sleep away camp and very expensive.  The Humane society one was fairly cheap and so if I couldn't get the week changed and lost our fees it wouldn't be the end of the world.

Humane society was great, refunding our money and said we could register in a different week.  PERFECT!  But when I went online to register him, they only had the age 6-12 camps.  The one he had originally been in was for 12-14, which would have changed the dynamic considerably.  We ran into that last year when I registered Logan for Mad Science Camp.  He was on the high end of an age band where most of the participants were on the low end, so they had to cater to the majority.  Burnt by that experience Logan was ok with skipping Humane Society camp all together.

It's nice that we have finally got to the age where the boys can stay home by themselves.  So much more freedom!

Speaking of freedom, I'm off to free some delicious wine from it's crystal casing.  Ta Ta!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

PS400 dollars

 Last week Brad was doing some work on the deck and needed some shims.  We had some buried in the chaos that is our "storage room" in the basement.  By storage room, I mean a collection of shelving units.

While he knew the shims were there, it wasn't immediately obvious as to where they were.

Next to all the shelving units is a table with a TV and Logan's PS4 game console.

Logan wanted one so badly and it was a big Christmas present for him. Sensing something ominous?

As Brad was shuffling things around, he got caught on the PS4 cords which pulled it off the table and sent it careening towards the cement floor.  Boom.

There wasn't any obvious immediate damage.  He turned it on and the power light went on, so he thought all was well.

Logan doesn't play the PS4 everyday, so it wasn't until a few days later, that he tried to play it.  He went to turn it on and while the light on the PS4 went on, nothing happened on the screen.


While this was bad, what made it worse was that Logan was having friends over for a birthday sleep over and they would be playing a NHL PS4 tournament.  His frien'Dds were bringing over their controllers so that everyone could play.

Brad went online to see if the PS4 one year guarantee covers accidental damage.
 I knew before he checked that it wouldn't.  After he had spent some time searching, I checked in. Did you find out anything?  Does it cover drops?" ..."Nope".   He just looked at me with a frustrated face....    I mean what company covers bumping your son's PS4 while looking for woods shims are part of their warranty.  Not many, but FYI console makers, if you were to have an all encompassing warranty that would cover any number of sins such as concrete drops, drink spills, jammed discs etc, I would so pay for that.

I did everything I could think of and nothing worked.  Everyone was so convinced that I would be able to fix it.  I could see how I would be their best shot, but I can't fix a broken circuit board.  Logan unraveled, "so that's it? my PS4 is done?  You guys SUCK!".  As much as I was annoyed at him for talking like that, I really couldn't blame him.  He had every right to be upset.

Since this was our fault, we felt that we had to rectify it, but holy mother.  A $400 plus unexpected birthday gift?

I had the Friday off, so I got up early and headed out to find a PS4.  Apparently, the consoles usually come in packages with a game.  However all of the packages came with games that we already had, so there was really no point in buying one of those.

After some searching around I found it.   It was one of those moments where a light shone down...hal-le-lujuah!! hal-le-lujuah!! hal-le-lujuah!!

It was a limited edition 1 terabyte GOLD PS4.  It had just been released that morning.  Talk about serendipitous! It was the same price as the other consoles, however, it had more memory instead of coming with a game, which was perfect for us.

I was nervous about the gold because I wasn't sure if Logan would go for it.  I figured if I brought it home and he didn't like it, we could exchange it.

As it turned out, he was THRILLED!  The fact that it was limited edition released that day meant that none of his friends had it yet, which in and of itself made it awesome.  We got everything set up and installed about an hour before all of his friends showed up for the party.

Whew crisis averted.

I mess up all the time.  Clog sink drains, dent cars, make payments to a closed visa account, you name it.  Brad doesn't not even a little.  While this whole debacle was an expensive one, the fact that it was his fault was a beautiful thing.  He felt bad enough as it was, so I didn't mention it, but you can better believe the next time I royally mess up, this event is coming out of the archives.

Until then, all consoles are going to be bubble wrapped.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Goose Chase

This past week we went on an urban scavenger hunt.  Not an actual goose chase of course, but given our rednecky track record, you never know.

This particular goose chase was through the exchange district and downtown Winnipeg.  Sean had bought the package for our crew, which was super generous of him.  With this hunt, you have to "collect" urban items and accept challenges to earn points while competing against other teams in the area.

He's how it plays out; you and your crew download the app and are given a login name.  As you collect the items and submit them through the app, your "guide" reviews your submissions in real time to see if they are acceptable. Your guide also gives words of encouragement throughout the night.

I didn't know what to expect to be honest and at first we weren't sure what to do, but did it ever pick up momentum!  Next thing I knew we were running all over the exchange district taking pictures of anything and everything... a cornerstone, historical landmark sign, a horse's a$$, a fish, a sculpture of pioneers, a no left turn sign....

In order to collect the items, you have to take a picture.  The clever thing is that you can't upload a picture.  At first I thought it was garbage, because we were all texting photos to Sean who was the keeper of keys with respect to the submissions.  The more I thought about it though,  it was pretty ingenious!  This way you couldn't google or snap the pictures ahead of time. Nicely done.

Some of the items to collect where Winnipeg landmarks; specifics murals or sculptures.  Others were more generic.... a restaurant for example.  That being said, some of the items, while seemingly simple are quite hard to find downtown. A fish? A squirrel?  Even if you did see one, good luck getting your camera out in time to snap a pic of that nutty b*gger.

Then, in between all of that  running around, you would occasionally get a notification from your guide to do a challenge.  The first one was to have a member of your group act like a coyote and "howl at the moon".  Now there are a varied bunch of people downtown, but not a lot of coyote impersonators.  I was pretty impressed when Brad stepped up.  He perched himself up on a plant potter and howled.  Funny thing was that Sean didn't record it properly the first time, so he had to do it again.  Although  I wouldn't put it past Sean to have done that intentionally lol.

Some where mid challenge we had a interesting sort of fellow following us.  At first he stayed back, but then we noticed that he would "walk by" every five minutes. Considering we were running all over the place, it was pretty weird.  But I guess he eventually got bored chasing a bunch of people taking pictures of fountains.  We passed a lot of really cool places that I never knew existed and am definitely going to check out in the future.  We also passed this masterpiece who's sign genuinely looked like it was written in a sharpie.

It is a testament to Winnipeggers that we were stopped to ask if we needed help finding our way.  Admittedly, we did look like a bunch of tourists shouting out, "I think it's this way!" while staring at a map on google. But still, it's nice to know that those type of people still exist.

The list of things to collect was insane.  It was pages and pages and pages long.  I didn't think we would even remotely come close, but we rocked it.    As a bonus, if the pictures you took were creative, you got bonus points.

A highlight of the night was one of the challenges.  It was to act like zoo animals.  It just so happened that we were walking past a iron gate at the time.. and cue monkeys.  If you look closely at the end, Brad is throwing his own sh*t which was a nice touch.

This video makes me happy.  My friends are crazy and I love it.  I'm pretty sure we got a bunch of bonus points for that one.

Amazingly enough, two of our friends Kat and Gerrit came along as well.  What makes that amazing is that they just had a baby.  I mean, she's NEW.  In the weeks after I had the boys, it was incredible if I even left the house to get groceries let alone go on a walking tour of downtown with a newborn. Kat and Jerrit take Avery everywhere. They are parental rockstars.

Getting back to the hunt, the app for the chase was cool.   It had a facebook like feed where you could see not only your submission, but those of other teams.  It also had a leader board where you could see how you were faring against other teams.  Somehow that motivated us to move a little faster.  15th didn't seem anywhere near what we were capable of, so we stepped it up.  15th!.... 13th!!...11th!

As we were winding down the challenge, our guide gave us some good news.  We were one of a few teams to hit 100 pts.  EVER.  Woot!  So he asked for us to send in a picture of the team. At the time we were right by the city hall sign, which seemed as good a place as any to take the photo.

I'm not sure how this all came to pass, but I believe that two girls stopped Erin to ask what we were doing as they saw us running all around.  They were from Saskatchewan visiting town.  Next thing we knew, they offered to take our picture. One of then even asked to be in the photo...uh...  Kinda weird, but ok I guess.

After the photo, we called it a night and hit the King's Head for a celebratory pint as we came in 2nd overall.  I learned two things from the evening; there is an elegant mix of local gems and beautiful art along with super seedy spots in downtown Winnipeg.  On Wednesday night, my crew was one of the gems.
From left, Gerrit, Avery, Kat, Brad, Me, Sean, Debbie, David, Random stranger and Erin.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Natural Grass Prairie

The natural grass prairie that was our backyard is gone.


Brad and Dave (s) spent last weekend building our deck.  It was a labor of love.  Friday night, David came over to help Brad get the groundhogs in.  There was six to drill and one had to go in a super awkward spot, so it was really great that David was able to come help.

Saturday morning, Dave (not David) came over and he and Brad build the frame of the deck.  That was as far as we could go because the inspector has to come sign off on the framework before we can put the top boards and railings in.

Withe deck all but done, next up was landscaping. Brad and I ordered 30 yards of soil.  30 yards people.  In case you have no frame of reference....

In layman's's a b*ttload.

It took two dumptrucks to drop it off on our driveway.  When the first one came and went, I was thinking it wasn't going to be that bad to move it all to the backyard.  Then the second one showed up.  F*ck.

Now we have 30 yards of soil to move.  What do you think we should have had in place?  4 or 5 wheelbarrows and a group of friends?  Well, we had the group of friends all ready to go, but we had one wheelbarrow.


Everyone we asked didn't have one. Apparently in our entire circle of friends, only Brad and I own a wheelbarrow.  We didn't really have a choice, so one by one, we took loads to the back yard.  Two guys stayed in the back spreading it around, two guys were shoveling soil into the wheelbarrow and one was shuttling back and forth between the two.

We did luck out in one regard.  The weekend before the weather had been garbage, rainy and damp all day, which would have been a dog's breakfast if we had moved soil that day.  Thankfully we had the soil delivered on Tuesday.  Brad had taken a few days off, and the weather was perfect.

Believe it or not between Brad's parents, Sean, Dave, Yonas, Sylvie, Brad and I we got all that soil moved by late afternoon.  After the driveway was all cleaned up, we kicked it old school and ordered pizza and had some beer.  It was reminiscent of having your friends come help you move when you're young and the only compensation you can offer is of the cured meat and cheese variety.

The next day I had to go back to work, but Brad was off.  Early Wednesday morning the sod was delivered.  Sean and Brad set to work and got it all laid out.  Brad even built me a raised garden. Woot.

The weather has been quite cooperative.  It was clear and sunny, but not overly hot when we were getting the soil and sod, but once we got it all in, the weather went cloudy and rainy.  Perfect for watering the newly laid sod.  High five mother nature!

Inspector comes tomorrow.  I have my fingers crossed that he will sign off on the frame so that we can finish it all off.  I am chomping at the bit to turn my deck into a mini rum hut.  I even found the perfect umbrella and tiki fountain.  The only stumbling block will be getting Brad to agree to it.  That might be a bit of a hard sell, but I'm up to it.

We were also planning to build a stone fire pit, but I think we are going in a different direction.  Since we aren't 100% sure how we want the layout of the backyard to be (outside of the garden) as we will be getting a hot tub in the future, we didn't want to build something permanent.  So we have decided to go with a standing fire thing...What do you call them?  You know what I mean though right?  A enlarged bird cage type thing.  Beauty with that is you also don't need to get a permit, which is a good thing because I have no desire to ever go back to that little shop of horrors.

Just think, by this weekend, I could be sipping my morning coffee in an my new mother's day Adirondack chair sitting in the sun on my deck.  I can't wait.  Bring on summer.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Full Circle

On May 11, 2002 Brad and I got married.

We were practically babies, I was 24, Brad 25.  Now, I'll hear about people getting married in their early twenties and in my head I think they are so young!

If we were to do it all again now, our wedding would be an entirely different event.  But at the time, we were trying to please everyone while keeping it all under budget.

Our wedding reception was held at the Canad Inn Polo Park.  It was a great party with friends and family including Blue Bomber offensive lineman Matt Sheridan (this is only relevant for a certain reason... read on).  My cousins got my Grandma drunk.  It was definitely in my top 10 days ever.

Fast forward 15 years.

Dakota Collegiate Institute has been fundraising for 4 years to build an elaborate sportsplex that will include a football field, cricket practice cages, tennis courts, basketball court and an indigenous learning center.  Every year they have a gala event to raise funds.

Diamond Athletics, where Brad works, always buys tickets to the event.  However, his boss Ben couldn't make it this year and offered Brad a ticket to go.  Diamond does this a lot. They buy tickets to support various causes and then sends staff from the store to represent.  So given that, Brad would be going to the dinner with someone from the store.  He noted the date, May 11 and told Ben that it was our anniversary.  Ben suggested that Brad take me and we make a night of it.  The event promised a fantastic dinner with Bomber guest speakers Milt Stegall, Matt Dunnigan, Rod Hill and Troy Westwood.

Brad got the tickets a few weeks ago and put them in a drawer  We pulled them out as we were getting ready last night to figure out where we were going.  Lo and behold, the event was being held at the Canad Inn Polo Park.  We smiled at the coincidence and set off.

Once we got there, we figured out where the gala was and had even bigger smiles.  The gala was in the EXACT SAME ROOM that we got married.  Come On!  What are the chances of that?  I can count on my hand the number of times I have been to Canad Inn Polo Park since we got married and we just so happen to be there in the exact same room 15 year to the day later with the same blue bomber presence at an event raising money for the school our son is attending next year.  Now that is a series of coincidences I will not soon forget.

The event was lovely.  Diner was great.  Speakers were... um... varied?  The schedule of the event went something like

- Intro
- Soup
- Principal speech/teachers speech
- Salad
- Superintendent speech
- Dinner
- MLA Politician speech.... back to Superintendent to add more to his speech
- Dessert.

The superintendents speech was interesting.  Honestly.  Super awkward jokes carpet bombed with mildly motivating rhetoric. At one point he gestured to a picture on the screen behind him of a bunch of kids sitting on a bench looking happy.

There was a wonderful array of culture and ethnicities represented in the photo.  He then said, "This is the new Canada" followed by a long dramatic pause before continuing on saying,  "Look around the room", followed by another really long dramatic pause and he ended with, "Not a speck of pepper in a sea of salt" and cue awkward laughter...Uh....

He is a very tall black guy, so he was obviously referring to the large percentage of Caucasian folks in the room, but I just wasn't sure what he was trying to get at because he didn't follow up that comment with anything else.  He just continued to  ramble on like a prison letter, repeating himself a bunch of times, but I think that his main sentiment was a good one and you could tell that he really cared about the project.

With the Speech/Eat/Speech/Eat/SUPER long speech/ Eat playbill, it was getting really late, pushing 10 pm and they hadn't even got to the main event speakers yet and there were 4 of them!

I had no desire to sit through any more speeches, but I know that Brad is a bomber fan, so I ordered some wine and got comfortable.  I was pretty surprised when Brad suggested we bail.  The Bomber guys were just getting ready to take the stage, so it was a good time to sneak out.

 So that was our anniversary dinner.  We came home to Logan asleep on the couch and Zach chilling out playing some video games.  15 years has gone by pretty d*mn fast. Still in love, but there is lots more of it now.

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