Sunday, February 28, 2010's over

As much as the Olympics were a fantastic diversion from everyday life,
all good things must come to an end. The frantic pace of keeping up
with the Games is pretty exhausting. Plus, that last gold medal hockey
game was super stressful...I kept leaving the room to give my frazzled
nerves a break. All the honking on Broadway made us think that a trip
downtown was in order, just to feel the vibe for ourselves. We drove
and parked, then walked up to Robson and Howe. At the advice of
friends, we decided to forgo Granville Street. They said it wasn't
exactly "family friendly" other words, congested with slobbering
drunkards convinced that their epic beer drinking and armchair athlete
criticisms somehow helped vault the team into glory. Although, the
drunkards had their perks: the kids were thrilled that if you
"wooooooo" at a stranger, they'll "woooooooo" back. The two pictures
of the kids in the car above show their amusement...lukey wasn't too
sure. Molly loved it and giggled every time.

The bottom picture is the view from the third floor of the Chapters
bookstore at the corner of Robson and Howe. It was a great, safe way
to see the mob. A big group of people like that looks like a great
heaving beast from above. Kind of creepy. Thanks to the gold medal
victory, the beast was happy. It was more high fives than punches,
thank goodness.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Olympics (hey, we're in Vancouver, give us a's big news here)

I promise, there are other things happening in our family, but the Olympics are the dominant focus of each day.

Today, the girls and I ventured downtown on the Canada Line to check out the big action. We were impressed. The vibe downtown is very different than our little bubble here. There is lots of foot traffic around here, but nothing to compare to the crowds clogging the pedestrian areas of downtown. The most transformed neighbourhood has to be Yaletown. It actually looks very cool when I don the unjaded perspective of an Olympic visitor. There were buskers and street entertainers galore. Tons of people walking around with the giddy touristy expression that only comes when you don't have to return home that same evening to cook dinner in your own kitchen.

We watched the Checkerboard Guy at Robson Square. He was pretty good. Then we watched Circus West. They were not good. I watched the girls experience the discomfort that comes from watching public failure. They wanted to watch and not watch. They wanted to be honest ("she is trying...but not doing very well") and generous ("it DOES look hard" my head, I was thinking that the point is to make something look EASY). We saw sports on big screens and cheered for Canadians. We had hot chocolate and cookies.

We walked down to the foot of Thurlow Street to see the cauldron. As we made our way down the hill, the girls' excitement built. Molly was psyched that the pillars looked like ice. She and Finny waxed poetic for the whole walk, praising the majesty of fire partnered with ice. We got up to the chain link fence and Molly's shoulders slumped. "Up close, it looks plastic...", she moaned. Not so much with the majesty, then.

We walked along the water on our way back to Waterfront Station. The Olympic tour was deemed a success. Home for dinner, then out for an evening family swim.

Tonight, the kids stayed up late to see the fireworks at Livecity Yaletown (yep, that was us...the only parents with little kids out. Seriously. The only ones.). We watched from the seawall next to their school. Lukey said fireworks are beautiful, but he insisted on keeping up his jacket know, so the fireworks wouldn't fall on his head.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

My heart is aflame...

Last Friday was a dream day for a kid. It was the Valentine's Day party day in class. It was the Olympic Torch relay passing right by the school on its way to Granville Island. It was the Olympic opening ceremonies evening, plus the last day of school before a long weekend (Monday is a PD day). Phew.

The days (weeks) leading up to Valentine's day at school were filled by Finny dragging me over to the calendar in her classroom to point out how many days she had left before her valentines needed to be done. EVERY DAY she asked me to take her out to buy supplies to make them. Apparently, the store bought variety WAS NOT going to be an option for our family. No Strawberry Shortcake drugstore specials. Nope. Glue and construction paper was clearly in my future. So, as with so many things that involve Finny...if you can't fight them, join them. I found a really cute valentine idea in a magazine and went out to get the glow stick bracelets we needed. Of course, Molly wanted in on the action and suddenly we were making 39 Cupid arrows for school. And gummy flowers for the party.

You know when things seem like a great idea in the abstract? I want to be the kind of mother who does this sort of thing. I imagine myself, with the children gathered in a semi-circle around me, lost in an afternoon of crafting and laughter. Inevitably, these fantasy events devolve into a chaotic free-for-all that has highs and lows of giggling, squabbling and massive messes.

Despite breaking the crafting into two nights, I spent Thursday evening in the kitchen with a glue gun while the kids slept upstairs. I was finishing up affixing the heart arrow tips onto the "You make my heart glow" glow sticks, wondering to myself how I became the stereotype. But the girls were happy.

I stayed with Finny's class for their party, but since I took Lukey along as well, he ended up as an unofficial kindergartener. He had his own plate of food and sat proudly alongside his sister.

He was totally loving it.

One of the teachers at the school has a sister who was a torchbearer. She volunteered her official torch for a photo fundraiser for the school. All the kids and each class had their pictures taken with the torch.

Here is Finny with the torch.

I popped out when Molly had her picture taken and she insisted that Lukey join her with torch. She gave him a flag to wave.

After school (and all the parties) were over, Lukey and I picked up the girls to walk down to Granville Island to see the torch. Molly and I had seen it the day before up by Children's Hospital. There was such a neat energy in the crowd of people waiting by the curb for the millisecond that it took for the torch to fly by and I knew Finny and Lou would like it.

We hightailed it down to GI and got there just in time to see the torch pass by RIGHT in front of us.

We managed to cross it's path again before we rushed to the water to see it go past on the dragonboat.

The girls practiced their torch run the whole way home. Over and over. I have video that I will spare you. There was much passing of the white tube balloon. Many directions were shouted between the two of them. They got pretty good.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Kiwis up and down

Molly has some morning issues. Being a born night owl, she doesn't exactly spring out of bed when I wake her. Plus, her tummy often hurts...this is something I also experienced as a kid and is likely the main reason that I don't eat breakfast as a grown up (I know, I know, breakfast is the most important meal of the day...just not MY day).

The problem is that Molly often complains of tummyaches in the morning, but then heads off to school without a hitch. Sometimes, she complains a bit more than normal. I have to decide if she is genuinely ailing, or just malingering. This morning was a toss up. She told me she felt sick, but I got her all the way to school before I decided that she looked legitimately green. I brought her home and she puked in the kitchen sink.

As she ralphed her guts out, here's what she said:

"Hey [looking at what she was producing in the sink], that's my kiwi from breakfast. Oh no, I wanted that kiwi. It was so yummy..."

I reassured that little girl that there were more kiwis to be had. And as my mom told her, she got the best part...

Olympic fever is building

Slowly but surely, our Olympic interest has been on the increase. The community here in False Creek has had a decidedly tepid reaction to the pre-Games hype. It has seemed like corporate-induced buzz, which has cast a cloud of cynicism over our neighbourhood. In the last week though, it has been becoming clearer that this is all building up to a real event. There are actual people coming...I've noticed super keen tourists all around us. Their head-to-toe official merchandise and eager expressions are hard to ignore. Maybe their enthusiasm is a wee bit contagious? The kids, who sense approaching fun the same way a divining rod hones in on water, are getting into countdown mode. I'm not convinced they know what they are counting down TOWARDS, but they're into it nonetheless.

After celebrating my brother's birthday this evening at my mom and dad's we checked out the huge lights beaming across the entrance to False Creek. After parking at Vanier Park, the kids burst out of the car and chanted Canada slogans at the top of their little lungs. This week, we'll catch some of the torch run and Molly has a field trip to the House of Switzerland. You know you are at Ground Zero when your kid is walking from school to a Olympic site.

I sense the time has come to quit my grumbling. The kids are gonna dig the Olympics in a serious way and my glum chum guise has got to go. Go Canada.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

What a guy

My granddad passed away on Monday.

People have said all the usual thoughtful things you say when someone dies. They always start with "sorry" but somehow it doesn't apply. Granddad was 102. If life is a giant towel soaked with water, the man wrung out every last drop.

He was born in 1907. He was alive when the Titanic sank, my age in the middle of WWII. Heck, he was retired before I was born. Granddad struck a very good deal with the Fates, I think.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to John Jennings McKnight. In the genetic lottery that is a family tree, seeds are gathered from every branch but they aren't scattered evenly. I got more than my fair share of the super-charged positivity serum that flowed through my granddad's veins. While the details of his life weren't inherently extraordinary, his perspective on life most definitely was. He had a natural optimism and a glass that was perpetually half full, if not overflowing. He had the recipe for happiness and he shared it with me.

I have so many snippets of moments with granddad stored up in my brain. The way his workshop smelled. The way he let me jump in bed in the morning, while I am sure that he and Nana wanted to sleep. The Lego surprises he'd build for me after I'd gone to bed. The stretchy skin on his elbow and the crazy one-handed clap that I can do too. The wooden dollhouse he made me from scratch. Springtimes in Florida where I'd follow him around the golf course. He'd always say yes to a game of cards. A hug at night, when he'd tell me he'd see me "in the morning's milk". I don't even know what it means, but I loved it.

Grandfathers are funny creatures. We see them with the eyes of the child, even once we're grown. In this child's eyes, he was a most wondrous man. I can't tell you what kind of friend he was (though I suspect he was fantastic). I don't know if he was good at business or if he filed his income tax returns in a timely fashion. Was he punctual? A great dresser? A safe driver? I don't remember.

Here's what I DO know. In the grandfather department, he was the best you could ask for. All the things a kid could want, he was.

One hundred and two years he was here and I got to share the last thirty five. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I am now three weeks with my new hip and finally up and mobile. I am still using the crutches because it is the only way to get a normal walking gait back, but am strong enough not to need them all the time. I now seem to be over my low hemoglobin issues too. It's great not to feel weak and run down, but unfortunately I no longer have the ultra hip "Twilight" look of pasty white skin.'s January and I can't tan I do have pasty white skin......just not the death pallor that I seemed to have for the first few weeks.

One of on my first trips out was a meeting with Howard Kelsey and Terry Hughes from the Burn Fund to see if we could arrange for an affiliation between the fire fighter's charity and Kitsfest, a growing multi-sport tournament down at Kits beach. We had a good meeting and came up with lots of ideas how we could make things work for both parties. It will be really exciting if I get to be further involved in the fundraising and promoting the$ 25 million building the Burnfund is organzing at Main and 23rd in Vancouver.

Now that February is here we are finally starting to see some of the much anticipated build up for the Olympics. However, considering it starts in a week and we live only a few minutes away from the athletes village, the atmosphere around here is surprisingly low key. It almost seems like there is less traffic on the streets than normal and we haven't yet seen a huge influx of visitors arrive. No doubt it will all change next week but for now nothing has been as anticipated.

One thing visitors can't expect is snow. With the warmest January on record and February starting off the same, the Olympic committee is having to truck in snow from hundreds of kilometres away to put on Cypress Mountain. When Les and I picked up the kids after school yesterday we let them play outside for 45 minutes. As we were leaving I noticed Molly had been wearing nothing but a t-shirt the whole time and she wasn't cold at all. Only in Vancouver.