Tuesday, 21 August 2012

"The neighbours will think we're rednecks!"

Why, Grandma?

Because of all the shooting?


Did I say quadding?

Or was it the dirt biking?

I think it's all good. Really, I don't mind the redneck label.

What the neighbours couldn't hear was the golfing,



(This guy goes down as the most photographed cousin of the weekend.)

And sidewalk chalking.

And temple attending! Can't leave that out! Grandma keeps us supplied with family names - this was a sealing weekend. 

In heaven and on earth, actually.

Monday, 20 August 2012

It looks like it fits, but it doesn't.

Because if we put a crinoline under that dress it would be too short!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Pressing Forward

I spent last week cleaning and tidying my house to make it as clean as I like people to think it always is. (We were having company for Sunday dinner and it took several days to prepare.) While I was working on the den I found the DVD Finding Neverland. I have no idea of when we got it or who gave it to us - presumably quite a long time ago.

Tonight on our first real night of summer holiday freedom (sad, but true) Carmen and Chloe cracked it open. In the movie, James Barrie says that little boys should never be made to go to bed, because they just wake up a day older.

My kids seem to press toward getting older.

This summer Carmen completed the bronze medallion in swimming - she is another step closer to her goal of working as a lifeguard.

Jaclyn passed her graduated driver's licence exam, which, for her, ironically was the end of driving because one of the privileges of the graduated licence is supervising learners-licence'd individuals. Steven was happy to become her chauffeur. 

And then Steven got a driver's licence of his own (and he's still driving Jaclyn to and from work, I'm pretty sure). He also advanced to the office of a priest - thus the clean house for Sunday.

He only pretended to blow out the candles. Oh, darn: 16 girlfriends.

Carmen and Chloe wrote their first RCM piano examinations this week. Chloe's was on Tuesday, Carmen's was today - what a relief to be done. (From now on we are working harder during the school year so that they are prepared for the June exams.)

We are barrelling towards the next school year, and my taking the summer off from working out isn't slowing it down one bit.

(Oh, yeah, and I finally relented to Chloe riding her bike to her friend's house in another community across a major road without me.)

Edit: August 25th: Chloe completed the Red Cross Babysitter Course

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Mount Assiniboine

Over the August long weekend Steven, Ken, and I went out to fulfill Steve's silver Duke of Edinburgh adventurous journey requirement. We took a 53 km backpack trip.

We started our trip at Sunshine Meadows (a ski resort).

Steven plans on taking this exact same picture again in the winter.

Rock Isle Lake, a popular day-hike destination.

We cruised through the first part of our day. Flat. Plenty of water - not that we needed it at this point.

When we got to Douglas Lake so quickly we couldn't believe it, and Citadel Pass was a breeze. At this rate, we'd be to Og Lake by 3pm!

Mount Assiniboine is the peak in the background.
Here we thought we'd hit Valley of the Rocks. If only. We actually don't have any pictures of Valley of the Rocks - we were working too hard. The terrain was uneven, and we went for hours without crossing another water source to refill our water bottles.

We finally came across this little pond at just the right time. We pumped water up through our new water filter system, which I was extra grateful for since I wouldn't normally want to drink standing water.

The last 5.5 km seemed longer than the previous 16 km we'd already hiked that day. (I'm sure partly due to the fact that we'd already done 16 km.) We reached the campsite, set up our tent, and then went to the cook area to make our dinner. We were in bear country, so cooking isn't done near the tents - this makes the whole experience more social with all the campers gathering together. I was fascinated by the other backpackers who were doing this purely for *fun*. We learned a thing or two about backcountry cooking, and shared adventure stories around our stoves. One guy brought chocolate-dipped fresh cherries in a pyrex dish. We all laughed at him packing in a heavy glass dish, but we also all enjoyed the treat.

All of our pictures of Og Lake are from the next morning. We actually did make it to Og Lake in the daylight (7pm) but we were crazy tired and I didn't even think of taking pictures.

Steven should really do all of our photography.

There's Mount Assiniboine again - much closer.

We left Og Lake at 10am, and arrived at Assiniboine Lodge about an hour and a half later.

Magog Lake at the base of Assiniboine. (There's also a Gog Lake - Og, Gog, Magog.)

It is possible to helicopter up to Assiniboine and stay in huts or the main lodge. (Ken figures we could go to San Francisco for the same money.) Anyhow, there were plenty of people around to ask to take a shot of us. Even better, we could buy a cold can of pop and use their beautiful facilities.

This marmot walked right up to us at Wonder Pass. You think it's been fed by a hiker or two?

Love these guys! Steven and I each started out with about 25 pounds on our backs, Ken took 30. We teased Steven we were going to give him more weight the second day to slow him down but we didn't. It's hard to keep up to a 16-year-old athlete.

The west end of Marvel Lake. The photo doesn't do it justice - the colour was incredible.

We needed to hike the length of the lake, which was much further than first glance.

There was waaaay too much of this on day 2.

Pumping water on an almost dried up creek. There were not nearly as many water sources as the map showed. We were totally fine, but we were smart and took advantage of water every chance we got.

Just after this we caught up with a family group of 19 people, parents and children down to 6 years old. I couldn't believe it! They'd hiked down from Magog that day, so not quite as far as we'd come, but still, I was amazed they took this on with young kids and that the kids did so well. I wish I'd asked if they'd taken the helicopter up.

Once again, the last 5.5 km were tough. Our feet were throbbing with the severe impact of trekking downhill with weight on our backs. Ken was starting to blister.

We camped for the night at the Bryant Creek 14 site. This site was a little ridiculous for separation of tenting and cooking, plus the water source was in the opposite direction. I hiked a few extra kilometres just to meet our camping needs that night.

Next morning we got up a little earlier, truly ready to get home. We hit the trail at 9am this time. This was supposed to be the easy day, and it would have been if we hadn't already hiked 40km in the two previous days. 

This Ptarmigan wasn't one bit afraid of us.

It was pretty flat. Lots of water.

A confluence where two rivers meet.

Same spot, less zoom.

The very last 5.5 km. Brutal.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The 3 Night Sleepover

Really, this is the best part of summer when you're a kid. The open schedule. 

After Sunday dinner at Grandma and Grandpa's house, sleepover plans were made with Erica and then renewed the next day and the next.

The girls  rigged up a slip-n-slide with some plastic in the camping bin, which worked better with dish soap and a garbage bag.

We've done sledding on the concrete swale in the backyard before, but in 11 years we've never done a water slide.

We crafted some flip-flops.

They turned out cute, and so far seem to be holding together. Just a little something Chloe saw on Pinterest.

And cooking was big. Here we have a late lunch of fresh squeezed lemonade and salad rolls in pajamas.

We would have kept her longer, but her family wanted her back!

Friday, 3 August 2012

July 17 - Home!

Our very last night we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Gatwick, which was in walking distance of our terminal. Tuesday we woke up, skipped the shuttle, and actually beat it the airport.

The Scrabble card game that had served us so well the whole holiday kept us entertained one last time. We didn't sleep much on the flight home, and arrived in Calgary at 2pm. I thought it was going to be a long 6 hours until we could go to bed. 
Wrong again!

Chloe wanted to get her ears pierced. Immediately. That way her ears would be healed over and ready for her Eiffel Tower earrings on the first day of school.

Funny she was wearing her Tough Chick t-shirt. Did she think she needed the extra strength?

Chloe always knows how to fill my time!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

July 16 - Oxford University

We spent Sunday night just south of Oxford. I have to confess, that I was feeling done and ready to go home. I was not remotely excited to visit Oxford University.
But, we were there, so might as well.

We drove to a park and ride location, caught a bus, wandered around for a little bit, and met up for our tour.

Dynamite. We had the best day!

This hall is where Professor McGonigal taught Ron how to dance.

Oxford University is a confederation of 38 colleges. Each student is assigned a tutor, and essays are read aloud by the student rather than handed in on paper. Class sizes average around 20 students per class. The whole system is so interesting.

It was a beautiful campus.

Here's where they hold convocation.

From the street the whole thing seems a little brown, but each college has a park hidden behind its walls.

The history and the prestigious graduates are staggering.

Rhodes House

The only brick college in Oxford. The patterns of the brick replace the decorative carving in the stone of the other colleges. Visiting Oxford did make me think I'd like some gargoyles on my house. One representing every member of our family, maybe?

We did a little shoe shopping before we left to drive back to London for the airport hotel. 
(We didn't buy these ones.)