Tuesday, November 7, 2017

$40 and a fractured foot.

This past weekend Brad went hunting.  he was supposed to go with the boys, but they both decided to stay home.

Zach has never really been into hockey.  In those first years, he hated it.  We didn't keep him in it because we under some false illusion that he would make the NHL.  We kept him in it for the social aspect.  It was good for him to get out and interact with other kids his age.

Over the years, he has gotten much better and this year seems to be his best year yet. As boys age, they drop out of organized hockey. School commitments, part time jobs and girlfriends are all contributing factors.  As a result the headcounts dwindle.  This year there was not enough kids to make both a 13 year old and 14 year old league, so they combined them.

Each year the boys tryout and get slotted into a team.  Zach is a bubble kid.  That's what they call the kids who are on the fence between 2 categories.  In Zach's case he's an A2/A3 bubble.  Some years he made A2 and others A3.  Brad and I are not the type of parents who care what group our kid is in, so because we didn't really show any inking towards one or the other, neither did Zach.

This year he got put in A3 and I couldn't be happier.  The reason is that he is now one of the best players on the team and is the strongest (and biggest) defense man.  At 6'3" on skates, he's a force.  At the 13/14 age groups there is a huge range of heights.  Some of the boys barely come up to Zach's shoulder.  He had started to take on a leadership role on the team and it's  really boosting his confidence.  Cherry on top of the whole thing is that his best friend is the goalie.  It's common for kids to get down on the goalie when they lose, even though they know it isn't always his fault.  This year though, Zach has become rather protective and won't let any of the boys talk down to Patrick.  His coach is amazing as well, so I think it has the start of being a great year.

Logan's team is looking good too.  Last year was rough.  The two St. Vital teams weren't properly sorted.  One team got all the rockstar fowards, the other not so much.  Seeing as forwards are pretty integral to scoring, to say that we didn't win as much is a glorious understatement.  At one point I think we went 5 games without a single goal.  The boys got down on themselves and justifiably so.  In addition, the coaching style was different than Logan was used to and he didn't respond as well as we would have hoped.

This year, there is a much better sorting of skills and our team looks well balanced.    We are two games in and we have won one, and tied one.    The coach on this team has a style that Logan responds to, which is great.  We paid considerably more for ice time this year, more than we have ever paid before.  Each year you have to pay the registration fees, which are nothing to sneeze at.  Then once you get slotted into a team, you have to pay the additional ice time fees.  Fees vary on the amount of practices your coach plans to have as well as the number of kids on your team.  Zach's team only asked for $200 and are having scads of fundraisers.  Logan's team asked for $600 and are doing no fundraising.  Go figure.

So that's the background.  Both boys are enjoying hockey and didn't want to miss the weekend events.  Zach had a game and a practice and Logan has 2 games and a practice.

Ordinarily when Brad goes away, I muddle through.  We hitch rides from other families, take the bus up to the mall, that kind of thing.  However, since Brad left Thursday that was a long time to be without a car.  For the first time ever, I decided to rent a SUV for the weekend.  I looked around at the various places, Hertz, Enterprise, Budget and the cost was in the $75 range for all of them.  I found Alamo that was only available at the airport, which isn't exactly convenient.  I went to their website to the "deals" section and found a weekend special for $64 dollars for an SUV.  DONE!  Even better was that if you signed up for the newsletter you got an extra 5% off.

  I left work early on Friday and took a bus to the airport.    I went up to the counter and after the forms and what not, the clerk said, "Ok that will be $90 please". 

Uh.. What's that now?

 I explained to her that the deal I had reserved online was for $54 and showed her the receipt I had via email.   It turned out that there systems are very sensitive and I had shown up 10 minutes before my scheduled pick up time and that caused the cost to change.  So I sat on a bench for 10 minutes and then got back into line.  I'm not even kidding.

They gave me a Honda Santa Fay.  I think it was a Honda anyways.  It was ok.  While I wasn't super wowed by the SUV itself, I LOVED driving it.  It was so much more manageable than the truck.  I could see a parking space between two cars and effortlessly pull in.  With the truck, I need an extra space on one side to make the turn.

Getting the hockey bags in and out was much easier too.  While it isn't realistic for us to get another vehicle right now, I sincerely hope that we look at getting one in the Spring.

The weekend was great, we puttered around going from hockey game to practice with ease.  On Sunday Brad came back early.  Logan and I were at Corydon rink which was close to the airport and Brad comes back into the city via that direction, so we decided that Brad would meet us there rather than go home and have to come back later. 

We ended up dropping the SUV off 4 hours early.  Remember that super sensitive system?  Well it works both ways and when we handed in the keys we were told that the cost would only be $40.

$40 for the whole weekend.  Unbelievable!

Sunday night we got Brad unpacked and had a quiet night.  Later that night Stella had to go for a pee. Stella sleeps in our bed at night and when she has to go out, so snuggles up my your neck and licks your face.  If that doesn't work, she jumps down off the bed  and makes these soundless barks.  It's hard to explain, but it's kind of like she is chomping air.

I picked her up and off we went downstairs.  All was well until the last step and I tripped and went a$$ over tea kettle onto the floor.  I had twisted really goofy because I was holding Stella and I didn't want her to get hurt.

It hurt at the time, but falling down stairs will do that and I hobbled over to the door to let her out.  I went back upstairs and tried to fall back asleep.  Usually I can take Stella out at night without really breaking REM and falling back asleep is effortless.  This time, the fall and resultant adrenaline has woke me up and I was WIDE awake at 3 am.  Add to that my foot hurt.  Like really hurt.

It was throbbing so much that I had to get up and get some Advil.

The next morning, I figured it would be bruised, but fine.  Yeah, no. The first step onto the floor sent a searing pain up my foot.  Awesome.

There was absolutely no way I could go to work, so I had to boys get themselves breakfast and lunch and sent them on their way.  I knew I had to go get my foot looked at.  I took a cab to Diamond Athletics where Brad works.

The Pan Am clinic is THE place to go for any muscle/bone type injuries.  As a result of being THE place to go, there is a huge line up each morning.  The clinic opens at 7 am and there is always a line to get in before the doors even open.  Getting there at after 7 and you run the risk of not getting an appointment at all.  As it is getting there at 7:30 will most likely result in a late afternoon appointment.

This is where knowing people helps.  Diamond is attached to the clinic and has a special relationship with the Doctors.  There is an arrangement where any Diamond staff gets to fast lane treatment to the doctors.  The fast lane is usually reserved for employees only, but they made an exception.  I got to the clinic at 8:30 am.  I was seen by a doctor, xrayed and then in a cast by 9:30.

The doctor determined that I had weird dislocation/fracture thing on the outer side of my left foot.  The type of injury isn't super easy to asses properly within an Xray, so i have an appointment for a CT scan in the next few weeks.  In the interim I am in a non-weight bearing half cast.  They put a half cast as my foot was still pretty swollen.  This way the swelling can go down and we can wrap a tensor tightly around the cast to keep it from getting loose.  With a full cast you wouldn't be able to do that.  I have an appointment in 2 weeks to go back and have it looked at.

It's been just over 24 hours and this whole situation suuuuuuucks.    Crutches are the devils work.  My armpits are so sore and I know my hands will have blisters by lunch.  Brad is going to be bringing a scooter/tricyle thing home.  It has handlebars like a bike, but instead of a seat there is a long foam bench.  The idea is you kneel you injured leg on the foam bench and use you other foot as a source of locomotion much like a skateboard.  It's much easier than crutches, although I don't know how well it's going to work at the house.  Brad is having another one delivered to work as well.

So that's where I am now.  I am nested up on the couch with my work laptop beside me trying to  get things done while popping advil.  I am supposed to go back to work tomorrow but my mobility is so poor that I really don't see that happening, but I will see how things look tomorrow.

Good Times.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Comic Con

In my entire adult life I have never attended a Comic Con.

I was never into video games growing up, which sounds like it was by choice, but it wasn't.  Not that I was chomping at the bit to play Atari, it's just that my family was not big into screens.

We didn't have cable and I wasn't allowed to watch a lot of shows, especially Three's company (for some inexplicable reason) Exceptions were made for CBC and Canadian TV, like Degrassi Jr High, Littlest Hobo and Beachcombers.  Of course all British shows were allowed, East Enders, Coronation Street, Are you being served and Keeping up Appearances all made the cut.

My boys do play video games.  Zach tends to gravitate to the adventure, futuristic games like Tron or Overwatch.  Logan goes for sports games like NHL 18.

I had first heard about Comic Con in the summer.  I never realized that comic con came here, but the second I read about it I knew that Zach would want to go, Logan not so much.  The reason being is that comic con does not cater to the sports games.  Initially my plan was for Zach and I to volunteer so he would get to go to comic con but still get that volunteer spirit I want to instill in him.

I have volunteered at tons of things over the years, it's kind of my jam.  First when we signed up, she said we weren't eligible because Zach was 13 at the time.  However, I pointed out that he would be 14 by the time comic con came around, so we were able to participate.

They emailed us information about a mandatory "training" event a few months ago at a lounge next to a comic book store on Sherbrook.  I had to juggle some things around to make sure that our schedule was clear to go.  Zach and I hopped in the truck and headed over.  It wasn't the greatest area of town, but what are you going to do?

We got into the lounge and made our way to the sign in sheet.  You got to choose what you preferred to do; general info, crowd control that kind of thing.  Since a lot of the roles required you to be over 18, we signed up for crowd control.  You wrote down your email and that was that.

After that I asked where we were supposed to go.  The guy looked at me sort of perplexed and said that was it.

Hmpf.  We drove all the way there to write down our email, when you already knew our email because you emailed us  the meeting information.  I thought it was kind of odd, but whatever.

It was crickets for the longest time and then 2 weeks ago we got a email on a Friday saying that there was a mandatory 4 hour meeting at the convention center that Sunday from 6pm - 10pm.  Sweet Christmas.

Our  schedule is crazy packed and blocking off a 4 hour time frame on a weekend needs to be booked weeks in advance.  I looked at the calendar and we had one hockey practice, one hockey game and one team building event.

I wrote the coordinator back to see if we could get the information ahead of time, although I had a sneaky suspicion the answer would be no as it the training likely would have involved walking around the convention center getting a feel for the venue.

Sure enough she said that it was mandatory, no exceptions, so Zach and I had to back out.

Jacob Fry

That being said, we still decided that we wanted to go.  Zach was planning on dressing up.  He wanted to go as Jacob Fry from Assasin's Creed and wanted me to go as Mae from Overwatch, who bears a striking resemblance to me, complete with the curvy physique wink wink.  We set out to get some accessories for his costume.  The first was was his cane.  Seeing as Halloween was coming up, we headed to Spirit Halloween and found the perfect cane.  It came in 3 pieces that screwed together with two hidden weapons.  Zach loved it.

We got home and he quickly took it out of the package.  An hour later he came rumbling up the stairs fuming with anger.  The cane had broke.  Right a the junction of where one piece screws into the other, it had snapped clean off.  We tried to glue it back together, but since the cane was hollow, it was like gluing the edges of a thin pipe together and it didn't work at all.

Zach was beside himself as he had paid a portion of the cost by himself.  To make matters worse, one of the hidden weapons decided to no longer be hidden and kept popping out.

Zach asked if we could return it, but I wasn't convinced they would as it was fairly apparent that we had tried to glue it.  That being said, I figured if I went and they didn't take it back, we were no worse off than we currently were so I decided to give it a shot.

As it turns out the fact that one of the hidden weapons wouldn't stay hidden saved us as that put it into the "faulty" category, so the manager agreed to return it and gave us a new one.

Hallelujah.  Zach was over the moon.  I knew that this cane was a piece of garbage, so I insisted that it stay in the package until comic con as I didn't want it to break again.

Brad and Logan had decided to go hunting that weekend so it was just going to be Zach and I.  Given the fact that we only have the one vehicle, it meant that we would be busing it.  I wasn't super excited about the idea of taking the bus in a costume, so I decided to forgo the costume.  Zach said that he still wanted to dress up a bit as a modern day Jacob.

The day of comic con I got a nasty nosebleed.  It took forever to stop and when it did, the second I washed my face, it started again.  The delay meant that we weren't going to be there when the doors opened and Zach was getting anxious.  Sine weekend bus service can be spotty, I decided to look online to figure out the schedule ahead of time. A quick look confirmed it was going to take us over an hour and a half to get to comic con.

In the interest of time I opted to call a cab and we got there in 20 minutes.  The event entrance was slightly disorganized to be honest.  You walked in the main doors and up the escalator.  Once on the second floor, you had to go down a flight of stairs, then OUTSIDE and enter at the weird somewhat unused side door and go back up the stairs to the second floor to register at a desk you passed when you came up the escalator the first time.

We finally got our wrist bands and headed up to the third floor.  It was like a whole other world.  The people in costumes were AMAZING.   It's like Halloween took steroids, a sprinkling of speed and washed it all down with a tumbler of tequila.

 There were all sorts of cool merchants with everything game related.  Items available for sale ranged from real life forged metal swords to Wookie bathrobes.  Zach ended up buying a latex/foam Halo energy sword and some Watchdog mask.

We had been there all of 3 seconds and Zach ran into his friend Patrick and before I could blink I was walking around comic con solo.  While it was supposed to be a bonding thing for Zach and I, I was really happy he had found a friend.

I walked up and down the aisles taking in the sights.  In addition to the merchant section, there was cosplay alley, autograph signing, artist alley, VR demonstrations, game testing and game tournaments.

The artists are incredible.  These folks are so talented it's mind boggling.  I didn't know any of the people in the autograph signing except for the guy grom from Goon (awesome hockey movie).

After a couple hours, Zach called.  Patrick was going home, but he wanted to stay.    Zach and I met up and wandered over to the game testing area.  Immediately he sat down and with ABSOLUTELY NO instruction he started playing this game.  How the h*ll do these gamers do that?  I would be spending 20 minutes working my way through a tutorial.

Zach was totally into it.  When he was done, the game creator came over and Zach gave him the rundown.  What followed was a 10 minute conversation with the creator taking notes as fast as he could write them.  Zach had found a couple game glitches and had some recommendations for key strokes required for various moves.  The creator was super impressed and gave Zach his card so he could continue his game critic abilities online.

After the game testing, we went over to watch the game tournaments.  The amount of computers set up was nuts.  The picture here was only half  of the gaming tournament teams.

They had a big screen protection tv with for spectators to watch tournament games. We watched the Overwatch event and some other one that centered around a castle.

There was voice over announcers just like in football games and after each event there was a recap rundown (highlights if you will).  It almost seemed satirical to an outsider like me, but the people watching the viewing area took it really seriously.  There was whoops and cheering when certain teams made achievements during a tournament bout and yells and F bombs when they didn't.

We continued to watch the tournaments until it was Zach's turn for VR testing.    The VR testing was free, but the waiting list was really long.  I had signed him up when we met up after Patrick left and they told me it was a three hour wait.

When it was close to his turn, we made our way over to the VR sector.  They strapped a visor on Zach and away he went.  Zach is really good at VR.  He came in second at the DoVr tournament a couple of months back beating out guys 15 years older than him.

Watching Zach at VR is really engaging.  He doesn't just stand there, he moves around, crouches down and even does matrix like back bends.  People began to congregate around just to watch him play.

Zj in the back with the VR visor

After 6 and a half hours of this, I was just about done.  As we were leaving we saw some of the best sights of the day.  I saw some guys dressed up as what looked like a Alien with Dread locks putting ketchup on a hot dog and my personal favorite was Alien having a smoke break as we left.

It was kind of cold when we left and I was not up for taking the bus home, so we called another cab.  It was a really great day and I'm so glad that I had a chance to go.

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.

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