Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Florida 2012

We recently got back and made a video of our trip to Florida.'s a bit long with gratuitous shots of sunshine, amusement parks and smiling kids. If those make you gag, don't watch.

 I appreciate it if you hit the LIKE button above. I know lots about basketball so there's great content on the site...but know little about building a following online so I can use all the help I can get. Thanks.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

E- Killing time at the airport... kid style.

E- Florida to ice hockey in 24 hours

Blogger still seems to be out of commission when it comes to uploading regular sized we'll have to stick with iPhone ones for now.

Our month in Florida meant no skating or hockey for Lucas, and upon return, a quick change of focus from beaches to the ice rink. The day after getting back he had his first ever game against another team. He was a bit nervous but mostly excited to be finally playing a "real" game.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Happiness is...warm doughnuts on a cool December day. And picking up fresh tourtiere to eat while decorating the Christmas tree tonight.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

E- back to blogging soon

It's been a frustrating couple of weeks as far as our blog goes.  Les and I decided that writing this blog would be a good way to capture our family memories, both in terms of pictures and little stories that we would otherwise easily forget.

It's been better than we would have ever imagined for that.  We get to share our lives with many people that mean a lot to us.  We're grateful that people care enough to check in every once in a while and see what adventures our family is up to.

Each year we print up a book with all the entries and have an instant journal with all our best pictures in it.  I'm pretty sure that this will one day be our most treasured possession.

However, since the middle of our trip to Florida, a glitch in Google's system has meant that we haven't been able to upload any of our pictures.  Bad timing for us and pretty frustrating.  

Not that I've been carrying my share of the blogging for the last year anyways.  Instead I have been pouring my free time into making a website to help basketball players develop great habits.  

It's taken a lot of time (partly due to my lack of website building experience) but I am happy with the result.

Please take a couple of minutes to check it out....there's lots of good stuff there.  Also, it represents a big part of what I've spent my life learning and now am teaching to lots of young players.

The site is filled with good quality free information and I'd really appreciate anybody willing to LIKE it on Facebook or sign up for the newsletter.......because it all helps to spread the word.  

Anyways, check it out while Les and I wait for Google to fix their glitch!

Ringling Museum

As much as I adored being at the beach and hanging out with Eric and the kids, I would be lying if I didn't say that my day at the Ringling Museum all by myself wasn't a highlight of the trip for me. Last year, it was a stolen afternoon at the Hemingway House in Key West that set my heart a'thumpin'. This year, it was this magnificent property, filled with romance, art and...wait for it...circus lore.

I know...that sounds a bit creepy, but it was magical. Really.

One of the first things I saw was this incredible and immense to-scale model of a circus in the heyday of its popularity.

The detail of the model was mind-boggling. It took one man ten years to create this masterpiece.

It was stunning, but also taught a lot about the hierarchy and organizational structure of a big circus, which basically amounted to a gigantic mobile city.

Looking at this model, it isn't hard to understand how running away with the circus attracted a lot of people with an urge to escape a more mundane and/or confining life or community.

I must have spent about half an hour walking around, reading the display and looking at the little people and animals. Each scene told a story. I was captivated. 

In fact, the entire story of the Ringling brothers and the circuses they ran is remarkable. It represents a different time, when the United States was a playground for those with great ideas and the energy and courage to see them through.

Below, you can see the railcar John Ringling and his wife rode in as they visited their circuses all over the country. They operated this railcar like their mobile home. However, since they were insanely wealthy and privileged, their railway car was like a moving mansion. I can only imagine the adventure of traveling in this way, clickey clacking your way across the continent...the world passing by your window. So cool.

Of course, riding the rails is a little tougher when the house you are leaving behind looks like this:

Spectacular. This home the Ringlings constructed on the intercoastal waterway in Sarasota was meant to be a showcase for their wealthy friends. The Ringlings wanted Sarasota to become a cultural centre and they figured the best way to promote it was to invite friends to stay and then spread the land's riches out before them.

All I can say is, well played Ringlings, well played. If were a gagillionaire and I was standing on this patio, I'd plunk down some cash to enjoy the view from my own Venetian palace.

I mean, really.

The house is pure magic. Meant to evoke the beauty of the Doge's palace in Venice, it does that and more (for me).

It is a charming mix of Old World and New. Avid collectors of art, the Ringlings were their own people, lead to what they found beautiful instead of simply following the hoardes. The result is an eclectic and charming collection.

You wouldn't find this painting on the ceiling in Venice:

I would enjoy spending my days in this room:

Especially with a view like this:

Sadly (don't all these sort of stories end badly?), the wealth and luxury wasn't permanent. If you are interested, you should read up on the Ringlings, but suffice to say that the Crash and Depression in the 20's was no better for them than it was for most Americans. Mabel Ringling died and John Ringling had a rough few years before dying in New York virtually penniless.

But the fun they had before then might have made it worthwhile...I don't know, you'd have to ask them, but it looked pretty spectacular to me.

*An interesting footnote: while money was certainly no object for the Ringlings, they did make small economies along the way. This one made me chuckle. Look at the floor in the picture below. You can see that one side is black and white marble, while the servants' side is actually asbestos tile. Why bother continuing with marble all the way back there for servants. Asbestos is good enough for them...

It was a stunning afternoon in the Ca' d'Zan.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Busch Gardens

The third park on our pass was Busch Gardens. Molly in particular was looking forward to this park, since it is very animal focused (as is she). 

Sure enough, our first stop was...elephants.

We were able to get very close to these lovely, grey ladies. Molly was over the moon.

There is an immense and impressive emphasis on education at both SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. We learned a lot over the course of our days in the parks. Moll soaked up all the info on elephants.

She was able to ask the trainers lots of questions about her favourite animals. Including why this elephant so loves to sniff her trainer's sneakers. Apparently, it's just her thing...

There were animals everywhere.

A lot of great rides, too. Lukey has a love/hate relationship with rides. He is pretty conservative in his interest. He examines each and every ride in detail and generally says no. Occasionally, he surprises us by being really keen on a specific ride we would expect.

One thing he doesn't love is getting wet. He and I stayed behind while the Eric and the girls went on a log flume ride. Even though it was a gentle ride, he wasn't sure he could handle the splashing. So, we watched. Sure enough, the three of them got a little damp.

Two minutes later, we turned the corner and saw another water ride. Eric said it was my turn to go this, the girls and I lined up and got on a larger flume ride. Lukey stayed back with Eric.

Hilariously, there is one spot in the spectator area of the ride that is absolutely drenched by a giant wave every time a log comes down the final hill. Lukey happened to be standing RIGHT THERE when we came down.

His entire back was drenched.

Luckily, he was able to laugh about it.

So, we laughed, too.

The irony was...the girls and I were mostly dry when we got off the ride. Lukey got far, far wetter by standing on the sidelines.

Here is a picture of the type of wave he got nailed by...

I think the water gave him some nerve, because he went on a few rides right after that.

...but he balked at this one. It looked pretty tame to me, but you never know what's scary for kids.

This one was fun for the girls because all I could hear was maniacal giggling. A lot of it. Especially from Moll.

Oh, and we saw this tiger. She is beautiful.

This is Lukey being a tiger, Molly being scared of a tiger bush and Finny...well, I am not too sure. It's less beautiful, but it makes me laugh.

The tiger (and tiger bush) were on our walk towards yet another water ride. This one, Lukey decided to go on, so all five of us climbed into one round raft and headed out.

We explained that it was possible to get a little wet and we wisely put our sweaters and bags in the centre.

But, we were pretty confident it wouldn't be that bad.

We were wrong. At least, some of us were. Eric and Lukey (poor guy) got SOAKED. Like they had taken a shower. Eric got nailed by someone shooting a water cannon from the side of the ride. When he spotted the shooter...he may or may not have shouted a threat that he would "hunt them down". He was laughing, but I felt like adding my own advice that the person should immediately leave the area. For real.

Molly, Finny and I were unable to control our laughter. We all got a bit wet, but man, it was funny when they got soaked.

Here is Eric wringing out his shirt.

Now, this picture needs a little explanation. This is Eric threatening Finny. He was yelling that he was coming for her in the bumper cars. It was playful. Look at the expression on the kid next to Eric. He was concerned. Very concerned. This might be my favourite picture of the day. In fact, I am laughing right now as I am typing.

We took the SkyRide to the other side of the park so we could ride the Cheetah Hunt. This was Lukey's piece de resistance. We talked the ride up all day. He loves cheetahs...they are his favourite animal and we knew he would love the ride. It was super fast and smooth and only goes upside down once. I was confident that if he went on it, he would love it.

Sure enough, he did. He even bought a little cheetah cub to commemorate the event. He named him Ralph.

And Molly tried on sunglasses. Love the tag on the nose. Very 2012.

We took a final walk around the park as the sun started to set.

We visited the lions.

We rode a couple of rides in the dusky light and all acknowledged that our passes to SeaWorld had been fantastic. It isn't the same as Disney, that's for sure. But the differences were also valuable. We enjoyed to animals and the bigger kid rides. We liked that our days at these parks were a little shorter and more relaxed. The Disney passes really urge you to squeeze the most out of each day, whereas this one felt more leisurely. Every extra day you went on our unlimited pass felt like a happy bonus. We learned a lot and had a lot of fun.

I was sad when the sun set on our last theme park day. They are consistently awesome ways to spend time as a family. Who knows what we'll do if we travel to Florida next year.