Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunny Days and Sad Ones, Too

We have been having a stretch of beautiful weather. It’s crisp and a little chilly still, but the sunshine has cheered us all up a ton. It was just gorgeous for our 25 Club’s Cross Country Skiing this month. We went up to Cypress yesterday (yes, I realize it was only the 24th of the month, but in order to fit something like skiing in we had to bend the rules a smidge) and the weather was perfect. My triceps are a little sore today, but otherwise it was just a nice exercise in the fresh air. The downhill stretches are crazy freaky on x-country skis – you feel WAY out of control. It was a little weird for the three of us, who have been downhill skiing for years, to be screaming as we hurtled down hills that would have seemed tiny and insignificant if we were on our regular skis. We all dressed in layers, and were down to just a base layer almost immediately after the first hill. After the sun went down, it cooled off quite quickly and we stopped at the cabin halfway through the trails for a bowl of soup. Unfortunately I couldn’t handle much more skiing as my throat was pretty bad, so we called it a night soon afterwards.
Mike and I have both caught The Cold from the boys. Jack is still coughing a bit, but Ethan only had it very slightly. It doesn’t look like this is a bad one (famous last words?) if we use the boys as an indicator, but the two of us feel pretty sub-par today. We had one of those little unspoken wars this morning in bed (Mike may have just been sleeping innocently, but I know I was battling) as to who would get up first. I stretched it to 7:30 then rolled out of bed with a sigh. A split second later, Mike was up too so I think I lost the war. I’m not really sure – I’ll tell you after I finish my Honey Latte from Starbuck’s. They made it especially for me (do I really look that bad today?) even though it’s not supposed to be released until tomorrow. I can tell you it’s pretty tasty and the honey has soothed my throat a lot.
Jack and Ethan have been embracing the outdoors with the good weather we’ve been having. Jack is hooked on biking and Ethan is SO into hockey. Ethan loves playing goal (he thinks he’s Luongo) and had Mike out there for 2 hours yesterday shooting pucks. He’s actually getting pretty good, and would be even better if we weren’t using our garage door for the net, which is so huge in comparison to a real hockey net. Jack’s almost ready to try his bike without training wheels, which hopefully will spur Ethan into taking off his own. Stubborn little mule...
We had a very successful Spirit of Celebration event for the Credit Union on Thursday. All my videos were well received (I think). It was hard to tell since I was up in the tech booth with Lesley on headset to catch all the lighting, audio and video cues. But the 300 or so employees in the audience seemed to clap in the right places and laugh in others so I think it was all good, and the live feed to Calgary worked as well. It’s exhausting and exhilarating all at once to be involved in calling the show like that! It was a big relief that everything went smoothly, and we finished on time too!
The only negative from this week happened at kindergarten. Ethan refused to kiss me goodbye! I was shocked and the other moms had to comfort me. As Carla was giving me a hug, Michelle said, “Ethan’s behind you” and I turned around, thinking he had changed his mind. He said, “I’m not here for THAT, Mummy, did you remember my granola bar?” It figures: he just wanted food. I had a couple of tears, I’ll admit it – I didn’t think it would happen so soon. SIGH.
I’m going to go huddle under a blanket with a hot lemon drink and try to make it through the day. I can hear the kettle whistling now... :)

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Daily life, February style

So have you ever done this? When I need to remember to buy some grocery item, I write it down. No problem there, right? My problem is in purging that item from my memory. What I do is I buy that item three or four weeks in a row. I finally realized this yesterday when I opened the cupboard. I have three containers of cupcake papers, which quite frankly I hardly ever use but I suppose I ran out of them sometime in the past. Also, in the pantry area I have made out of my hall closet, I have my Costco supplies. I keep buying the same things: croutons, ketchup, soda crackers. I have amazing amounts of these items, and yet every time I go to the store I have temporary stupidity and I say to myself: "Something's missing... oh yes, I must need ketchup." And into the cart it goes. Again. Please tell me someone else does this - or am I the only one who is fully prepared for a natural disaster that somehow depletes the world's supply of Premium Plus crackers?
We’ve had a fun, full couple of weeks. I took the boys to their friend Hudson’s birthday party at the local bowling alley a couple of Sundays ago. The boys had so much fun that I could barely snap a picture of them standing still. That brings to mind the fact that we are having a really hard time controlling the “excited voice” that Ethan uses. It’s so over-the-top annoying, and it was out in full force that day. It came about after his surgery – I think he was trying to talk loudly but couldn’t because of his sore throat. So he developed this Kermit yell which apparently has to be delivered at top volume as close to a person’s face as possible. Oh boy, does it ever drive me over the edge...
I also had some quiet moments, too. Chantal and I got out for a lovely lunch to celebrate her birthday. We went to Vij’s Rangoli, a delicious Indian restaurant that is something of a local legend for Indian cuisine. Since my parents were watching Ethan and Jack, and Chantal’s two boys were in daycare, she and I actually were able to talk for close to two hours, without being interrupted in 10-second increments by the little men. What a novel concept! I also got out for a Movie Night with my Book Club. We saw 27 Dresses, which was enjoyable even though it was a predictable romantic comedy. It was exactly what we were looking for in a chick flick!
Our next swim lesson segment started up, too. We registered the boys into classes that run 6:30 – 7 pm every Monday and Wednesday. It’s later in the day than I would have liked, but it was the only time where both lesson levels ran concurrently. This means that, miracle of all miracles, I can get into the pool myself and swim lengths for almost 20 minutes! So my triathlon training has officially started. I plan on doing one local triathlon in April, and another in August or September. The April one is a Sprint distance with a pool swim, so I won’t need a wetsuit. The swim is 700 m (28 laps of a 25 m pool), the bike is 20 km and the run only 5 km. So my goal is to complete it in about 1 hour 25 minutes, which would put me middle of the pack. Then the summer one will be an Olympic distance race – a 1500 m swim, just under 40 km on the bike, and a 10 km run. If I can finish that one in 3 hours, I would be ecstatic! I’m running a bit faster these days, but whether I can manage a 45 minute 10k run after the other two legs remains to be seen.
Another key to accomplish all these goals is to stay healthy, and I’m having a really hard time with my back. The problem is, of course, kid-related. I was putting some clothes away in the closet about 10 days ago when Ethan shouted, “Hey Mummy!” I turned around just in time to see the blurring mass of elbows and knees launch himself off the end of my bed into my arms. Upon impact, I took a step backward and of course stepped onto some sort of transforming vehicle which quickly slid out from under my foot. I stumbled backward straight into my closet, and fell right onto the little dresser in there. I definitely bruised my ribs and back and, for good measure, gave myself whiplash on the laundry basket too.
That was not the end of my stellar day. We went to the Superstore and as we were leaving, Jack wanted to be the one to retrieve the coin as it came out of the shopping cart. Of course, it jettisoned out past his outstretched hand and rolled under the long line of carts. I had to explain to the kids that I didn’t have $25 to detach all the carts to get at our $1, but they insisted I try to reach it. So I got down on my knees and stretched... of course my arm was about 15 feet too short, but I’d proved my point, so I stood up to walk back to the car with them. I had forgotten that there was a giant metal beam about 8 inches above my head. There was this big “goooonnnnng” sound and I collapsed into a puddle watching stars flying around my head. It was an actual rain puddle I had collapsed into, not just the figurative “collapse into a puddle” kind, so not only was I injured for the second time that day, I was now covered in mud. Lovely. The boys each took an arm and led me back to the car, where I recuperated for a few minutes before driving home for a Tylenol and a strong cup of tea. I didn’t go anywhere for 24 hours!
But that weekend, we headed up to Whistler again for some more skiing. Mike and I took the boys on the bunny hill for the day Saturday, and although our backs were killing us by the end of the day, it was really fun to ski with them. We had Jack in a ski harness, and it was all we could do to rein him in. He was tucked down, skis pointing straight down and yelling “Look out everyone” and “Faster, faster!” while we’re trying to hold him back and snowplowing as hard as we could to slow him down. Ethan really improved on his turns, too, and their enthusiasm is infectious. On Sunday, Ethan skied with his Gramps while we spent some time with Jack. Jack was not amused that he didn’t get to ski that day! We have promised him some alone-ski time with Gramps next time.
The boys enjoyed this past week at school, too. Jack had a Pink Day on Tuesday. I had taken him to the store to see if he wanted to pick out some pink socks or something to wear that day. He chose a cute pink long-sleeved t-shirt and said that he wanted to give it to his best friend Cassia after Pink Day was over. My little guy has a girlfriend! On Valentine’s Day, they got all hopped up on sugar at school. Jack had a dance-a-thon where they collected pledges and danced all class to raise money for World Vision. Ethan raised money of his own for his skills-a-thon, to benefit the Red Cross and for classroom supplies. He had six skills to complete (he was tested by his Big Buddy Zack from Grade 7): tying his shoe, doing five push-ups, reciting his phone number in French, counting to 20 in French, and naming the city and country we live in. We had to work hard on the shoes and the push-ups, but he passed all six of his skills!
I made us a nice dinner on Valentine’s Day. Mike and I had a cocktail and a nice salad while the boys had spaghetti and meatballs decorated with sauce in the shape of a heart. Then, after they went to bed, we enjoyed Coq au Vin, roasted potatoes, and baked asparagus with Chocolate mousse for dessert. I made all of it from scratch and it was truly delicious! We had wine, a tablecloth and real napkins. We even lit a candle – how decadent!
Now Mike and I are working hard on our deadlines for work. After this Thursday, I hope to have a little reprieve, just in time to play more Rock Band and do a little scrapbooking. With that said, I must get back to work. Until next time!

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Lehns Hit the Slopes

The past couple of weeks have been very busy at work for me. I was sent to Calgary to shoot some video of a new leasing group the credit union acquired in 2007. My video will introduce those employees to the rest of the organization. Somehow, my co-workers are under the impression that since I own a video camera and I have created a couple of photo-montage videos on Moviemaker, that I am expert enough to be let loose. I’m now responsible for 6 videos for the Awards night, to be held in 3 weeks. Calgary was -20° celsius. A little nippy, to be sure. But everything went well with the filming. One funny thing happened – I stepped onto the back balcony to film the Calgary skyline and set up my tripod in the calf-deep snow. Well, don’t you know it was too cold for the video camera to even work? So I turned around, shivering, to get back inside only to find myself locked out. In -20 weather. In dress clothes and loafers. After banging in futility on the window for a while, I waded through the snowy bush round the building to the front door. I stomped the snow off in the lobby as the receptionist innocently asked “What happened to you?” She may have chuckled too, or maybe that was my teeth chattering.
Calgary was a little adventure, anyway, and I got some good footage that is at this stage very close to a cool video, with a soundtrack and everything. I’ve also done a lot of filming around New Westminster and at some of our other branches, for other videos for the Awards night. Those are coming together, too, and I am anxiously looking forward to their debut on Feb 21st.
We’ve also been spending some time playing a little game called Rock Band (Mike's going to kill me for including this photo...) It attaches to the Xbox 360 and it comes with a drum kit, a guitar and a microphone. You listen and watch on the TV as you sing and play, and it rates how well you’re doing. We bought an extra Guitar Hero guitar so each of us would have an instrument! I am addicted to the mic and I have completed my first solo world tour as well as assisting in our band world tour. Remember that I really can’t sing, but apparently I can follow the guide and sing the right words! I rock at Red Hot Chili Peppers, if anyone’s interested.
25 Club this month was Martini night at Mar’s. We each made a special martini and sampled some great food while we looked at holiday photos everyone had brought. Three martinis later, I was done, and we retired for the evening. I had arrived late – silly because I was by myself all afternoon so I had all the time in the world to get ready. The boys had driven up to Whistler with Mike and Aaron just after lunch, and Mar and I were coming up together the next morning. The reason why I was late was that I was working on my solo tour, singing my little heart out all by myself in the basement, when all of a sudden I looked at the clock – oh no! I still hadn’t made my food, shopped for my martini ingredients, or packed for Whistler. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – I am a nerd. Now I am a nerd who is addicted to a video game.
Marzia and I drove up to Whistler the next morning (after her beautiful husky Siska woke me up with a big face whuffle that scared me half to death) and arrived to meet Mike and Aaron for lunch. I got all settled in the cabin while the boys were finishing their ski day, and then we had a relaxing evening. The boys were all tired out from their ski days – Jack had been in ski camp for the first time, and Ethan was skiing with Gramps for the first time. The next morning was awesome – the first time our whole family was on the mountain together! Jack was in kids’ camp again, and by the end of the day his instructor said he was a natural, with great balance, and that he should be bumped up to the next level despite being the smallest kid in camp. He’s not interested in any of the snow play they do between mini ski runs; he just wants to go go go. The faster, the better! He wears the smallest boots and the smallest skis they have and everywhere we go people just gush over the cutest kid on the slopes.
Ethan had mastered the Magic Chairlift runs by midday with Gramps. Mike and I got to ski the morning with Aaron and Mar, and met Ethan and Gramps for lunch before skiing together for the afternoon. Ethan has improved so much; we’re so proud! He skied from the gondola all the way down to the village – quite a way for those of you who don’t know Whistler Mountain. He had his entourage with him, of course, Mike skiing in front of him and Barry and I fanning out behind. Mike even skied backwards in front of him videotaping him – it’s jerky video, but so cute! You can see the secret service protection of Gramps and Mummy in behind, making sure no out-of-control punk plows into our boy. The “bestest” part of the day was how excited both boys were, and seeing their ear-to-ear grins as they each proclaimed, “I love skiing!” My sentiments exactly.
I’ll leave you this week with my new real-life definition of IRONY:
The boys pick the lock on the bathroom door and break in as I’m trying to steal 15 minutes to myself in the bath to read “The Hair-Raising Joys of Raising Boys”. Sigh.