Why ‘Firsts’ Matter

poo cupcakes

A week for 1sts

poo cupcakes
Never, ever look up a picture of poo on the internet.

The best part of being a parent is experiencing the firsts with your kids. First steps. First words. First poo in the toilet.

Sadly, I missed those so the firsts that come my way I eat up like a starving puppy thrown into a pit of pupperoni. But this week had a ton. A cluster of firsts. Even one that was a first for me.

The-Youngest had his first dance. Much of it I have been banned from talking about, but I was so proud of him for going. Alone. No wingman. No backup.

I remember my first dance. It was 70s line dancing. Disco, god help me. And it was such a terrible experience, that (to this day), I am still super conscious of how badly I dance. But The-Youngest stayed an hour, did his best to mingle (gosh, that’s hard to do) and finally left, vowing to have a friend go with him next time.

Soon to come, his first dance with a girl, then first date (NOT a date, Joe, we’re just getting a slice of pizza!), then first kiss, then the next thing you know, we’ll be at a wedding.

Learning to drive in the Toyota Rav4
The training car of choice, Rav4, Toyota. Not the mustang. No.

Next first was first time driving for The-Oldest. As he can’t actually go on the road, yet, we drove in the driveway, going in and out of gear, moving forward, backward, and figuring out what everything did in the car. I was super excited to be a part of that.

I remember my mom trying to teach me and it ended with me getting professional lessons (either that or mom would have ended up in the mental ward).

I honestly don’t think I could teach either of the boys to actually drive, not only because I’d freak out when they came close to clipping another car or running over a baby, but because I’d teach him all my bad habits. “Oh, hit the gas, you can rip through that yellow light.” “A double line passing restriction doesn’t apply to mustangs.” “Let’s see if I can actually do double the speed limit.”

So soon he’ll be taking lessons. I think it’ll go well. He did amazingly well n the driveway. More than I can say about myself these days.

First hockey tournament win
Hockey win!
His first!

Third first was The-Youngest’s, again.

He won a hockey tournament! Or rather his team did. They fought like lions (if lions could, you know, skate) and beat several pretty damn fine teams.

The last game for the gold aged me about 10 years, so if you haven’t seen me in a few months, I look like Stan Lee (may he rest in peace) after a bad night of drinking.

I was so proud of him and so happy to be a part of something he’d remember for the rest of his life. That kick out save at the start of the first game. The other team hitting the post not once, but twice in the final 2 minutes of the gold game. He’ll remember skating around, holding the trophy high. He’ll remember how the team mobbed him after an outstanding last game. He’ll remember the feeling of that win, that success, that payoff for a lot of hard work forever.

Or at least until that first kiss drives everything else out of his mind.

Lastly, something new for me. A first. My first baby shower.

Now, normally guys aren’t allowed to these things, though, why, I’m not quite sure. But we hosted the event, and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and her parents worked very hard at making sure it was a success, cooking up a storm, setting up the rooms for nearly 60 people (YIKES!) and then making sure everyone felt welcome when they came over.

My quick observations of the event are as follows. I don’t think the mom touched her baby in 3 hours. I think both are going to be incredible parents. I think grand-babies are the best anti-aging method out there (and no, I don’t mean eating them or something, but holding them, snuggling them, feeding them) – it takes years off the grandparent’s faces.

baby shower
Cutest baby ever at her first Baby Shower. My first baby shower, too

Apart from all the cool presents, though, I think the best thing about a shower is that the mom realizes that she’s not alone, that what she feels, what she fears, what she hates or loves are all things other moms have experienced. There is help out there. Empathy. Support.

And also a year supply of diapers.

Other firsts zipped by almost unnoticed. The-Oldest’s first sr. concert (he was, as always, outstanding) and The-Youngest’s first time in the front seat (a little ahead of schedule),

But there are many more coming and I mean to be a part of as many as I can, because their firsts are mine, too.

So, if you like the blog, please share on FB or hit that subscribe button (nothing will ever be shared with anyone, ever) or simply tell your friends. 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Tips For a Better Vacation

Mayne Island photograph, BC, 2018
Mayne Island photograph, BC, 2018
Mayne Island Japanese Memorial Garden

Or Photography for Fun

I have a theory. Taking pictures makes vacationing more fun.

Ok, stay with me here for a moment. I’m not saying ‘live behind a camera’ and go around filming every little event (errr, wait, urm, I do that, but that’s not what I’m saying.)

What I am saying is that by taking a camera (in this modern age, most likely your cell phone camera), and walking around with the idea that you’re going to take some amazing pictures, that camera takes you MORE into the moment and forces you to look, (I mean, really LOOK) at the world around you.

Now, I’ve got a few friends who are incredible photographers and if you ever get a chance, check them out (I have links at the bottom of the blog) but I know from talking to them that part of any great trip is keeping an eye open for a great picture.

Lemme give you an example. When The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and I were taking a walk on Mayne Island, we decided to do this. The walk could have been done in ½ an hour, but we took a full hour, maybe more, as we took the time to look at an old stone hut, at the way the light speared through the trees, at the way the sun sparkled off the ocean or the kingfishers took flight.

And take a picture.

Mayne Island tree. BC. Photography.
The lumpiest tree I’ve seen in a long while. Mayne Island.

We found a tree that looked like it was giving birth to other trees. We found a spooky-ass spider hiding in his web (that I almost walked into because I was looking at that stone hut.) We found incredible rock formations sculpted by water. We found picturesque driftwood and spent a while punning it (The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World won with her, “Trying to think of a good driftwood pun but I’m stumped,” comment.)

Taking photos slows down time for you. In our rush-rush world, it’s so easy to miss what’s all around us. But by taking the time to look for cool pictures, every little trail you walk on becomes a chance to see something new, or odd or beautiful or terrifying.

So, this is one of the things we’re doing on our relaxing vacation – Taking time to visually smell the roses.

Check out what we’re seeing on Instagram.

Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World (https://www.instagram.com/mecorinne/?hl=en)

Me: https://www.instagram.com/justjoebc/?hl=en

Darren Lee https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=dc%20lee%20photos

Vespa (https://www.facebook.com/thefactionhouse/?eid=ARBVmP7dec7wZ__iqPzmX2rylc7jPiWIt1r8PmWqV6dYsMhiqc-AFeZsLUEBNmq3ZU_HNbtALitdXynO&timeline_context_item_type=intro_card_work&timeline_context_item_source=1375481955&fref=tag

Allison (and check out her absolutely incredible blog) https://www.instagram.com/alisonarmstrong6558/?hl=en

Wendy https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10155670171170777&set=t.629780776&type=3&theater

 

 

 

And hey, thanks for reading this!  

If you like what you’re reading, please follow on FB, subscribe to my blog, or check out my coming-soon newsletter. Or, heck, just tell your friends, your baker, your accountant and your barista. 

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Mayne Island Getaway

parenting meme
parenting meme
Ah, parenting, the greatest thing we’ll do in our lives. Yes?

I think one of the things guys/boyfriends/husbands/stepdads/gigolos don’t realize is how much work and stress goes into being a mom.

Now that’s not to say that we don’t have our own challenges, stresses or times when we need a break, but moms take on a lot more than they let on.

So, every so often, it’s good to get away from the kids, the dog, the house. Good to get away from all those things that stack up in a mom’s mind and weigh her down.

But going away together also gives us a chance to reconnect as a couple. You might think, well, couldn’t we do that at home? And the simple answer is, not always. In fact, not often.

See, as amazing an experience as being a parent can be, kids can also become the focus of your lives. You worry about them, you nag them, advise them, encourage them, praise them, tease them, make them eat their vegetables, make them take their vitamins and do their homework, make them go to bed on time, take them to hockey games, classical music concerts, out to mountain bike courses, watch Rick and Morty with them, read to them, laugh with them, try to raise them right, and after they’ve gone to bed, you talk about them.

It’s what parents do.

So this year, time and money being tight, we chose to go to Mayne Island for our anniversary. Our 2nd.

I’d never been to Mayne Island before, despite it being part of the Gulf Islands which are not that far away. We chose Mayne over the other islands because it seemed calmer, like a place a stoned sloth would go to relax. Because relaxing was what this mini-trip would be about.

As anyone who’s read my blog knows, I love to plan things out. You know, see all that there is to see, do all that there is to do. But on a relaxing vacation, I must put this aside and simply book the hotel and ferries, then sit back and see what happens. Play it by ear. Wing it.

mayne island resort view, gulf islands 2018
Mayne Island Resort 2018

So here was my plan. Get off the ferry. Drive to hotel. Return to ferry in 2 days.

Sad, right, but also relaxing. No stress of having to be up at 8 to get a kayak. No tour bus to board at 10. No movie at 7.  We could eat when we wanted, watch the ocean do oceanie things, maybe go for a walk, read, write, hold hands, breathe in the fresh, salt air, talk, listen to the silence and take pictures of natural things like huge, frightening spiders.

In other words, reconnect and give mom a chance to recharge a bit.

Our hotel, the Mayne Island Resort. Quiet. Quaint.

Mayne Island Resort would be the perfect place for this.

 

 

 

And hey, thanks for reading this!  

If you like what you’re reading, please follow on FB, subscribe to my blog, or check out my coming-soon newsletter. Or, heck, just tell your friends, your baker, your accountant and your barista. 

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What To Do In Alberta – Summary of the West Ed Mall

West Edmonton Mall 2018 wave pool
West Edmonton Mall 2018 wave pool
West Edmonton Mall. At 3pm, the wave pool was fixed and there was much happiness.

Because school has started and I really need to finish off this trip from July, let me be brief, (which, if you know me, is like asking the Pope to be Muslim for a bit.)

So here it goes. West Edmonton Waterpark – Both boys had fun, and because pretty much everyone in Edmonton had decided not to go to a waterpark that had only 20% of the rides working, there were no lineups. None.

zipline at west edmonton mall, 2018
West Edmonton Mall – the boys gear up for the zipline.

Even better, about ½ of the rides they went on were the ones The-Youngest had tagged as MUST-DOs. As well, they both got to do the zipline with their Edmontonian buddies after The-Youngest reminded me that it would make a good blog.

Then, at 3pm, the wave pool was fixed and they had a blast rolling with the waves and smashing into other kids.

west edmonton mall flowrider 2018
The-Youngest showing off his skills. He was amazingly good at this.

The highlight, though, was not free pop, was not the slides, nor was it even the wave pool. It was the Flowrider. See, you sit on a wave board while water is jetted underneath the board. Looks tricky and both boys took some spectacular falls. I would have broken a hip. And an arm And, likely, my back.

flowrider west edmonton mall, 2018
The Flowrider and The-Oldest. Man, was he good on this ride. Like pro-level good.

On the Flowrider, though, The-Oldest ran into a small challenge that his swim trunks kept falling down. Being me, and sadly flawed, I laughed. A lot. However, it made the attendants very uncomfortable. He was asked to leave or find a way to keep his trunks up.

But despite that, even he said, “Yeah, ok, it didn’t completely suck.”

As well, The-Oldest even got along well with the other kids. Like really well. He and the other oldest boy kinda bonded. Kinda talked. Kinda shared.

The only bad thing, at least for him, was that he was forced to eat. This is something I don’t understand at all. Never has anyone ever had to force me to eat, but then that’s why I’m 600lbs and he looks like he lives in Somalia.

The-Youngest’s only complaint was that they weren’t staying open to midnight. Or later.

Me: I wandered around the mall while the other dad, a superdad by any standards, watched the boys for a bit. Lots of shops. Bought nothing. 

Also got to watch a Timbits hockey game. Didn’t know there was a rink there. The-Youngest shook his head. “Didn’t you do your research, Joe?”

But my best time was watching the boys be goofy, fun-loving goobers.

West Ed Mall has a ship. And shops.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World? Well, she got to spend a whole day with her friend, shopping, talking about pillow fights, and drinking various coffees. Honestly, I have no idea what they talked about, I would find 8 hours of conversation utterly exhausting, but they hadn’t spent time together for a long time so I guess they had catching-up to do.

All-in-all, a great day by any standards, even though it started out looking like a disaster.

We made it home the next day after a very long drive and I would have to say, if you don’t have the time or money to go to Paris, Mexico, or Mars, maybe give a BC-Alberta trip a shot. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

And for a bit of video fun, check out the flowrider.

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And hey, thanks for reading this!  

If you like what you’re reading, please follow on FB, subscribe to my blog, or check out my coming-soon newsletter. Or, heck, just tell your friends, your baker, your accountant and your barista. 

If you want to support a starving writer, check out the coffee link at the top right-hand corner of the website.

 

 

What To Do In Alberta – West Edmonton Mall

West Edmonton Mall, Alberta, 2018, joe cummings
west edmonton mall
EDMONTON, CANADA – JULY 7, 2018 : Ice hockey arena in the West Edmonton Mall. It’s the largest shopping mall in North America and the tenth largest in the world.

There was only one thing to do back in July – Visit the West Edmonton Mall.

The-Youngest had planned for it, dreamed about it, and now the day had finally come. He had one goal. Have fun!  Maybe do a few rides. But most likely he’d spend hours and hours in the waterpark doing waterparkie things.

What could go wrong?

We knew where we had to go (West Edmonton Mall wasn’t far from our hotel), we had guides (The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s best friend’s family) and The-Youngest was out of bed at 7am to make sure we arrived on time (and there is no better alarm clock than an over-excited 11 year-old wanting to get going.)

He knew which waterslide he was going on first. He knew which one he was scared to go on, but would go on if we went with him. He knew where the free pop was located. He knew how high the wave pool would go. He knew what to focus on if it was super busy, but he wasn’t too concerned.  “Joe, did you know it’s a holiday in the US, like our Canada day, and that means there won’t be any Americans there so it won’t be busy.”

In short, he had it all worked out.

So you just kinda know it would go to hell.

The previous night, we’d decided to go in two wagon trains. 1st one with all the younger boys (4, aged from 9-13 plus the 2 dads) would arrive at opening. 10am.

The next wagon train, with The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, her friend, and The-Oldest, would arrive later, at an unspecified time. That way all the kids going bat-shit crazy about the rides would be in one car destroying the soul of only two parents.

Man, forget wind energy! If you could harness that boy energy as they sat vibrating with excitement and goofiness, you could power the world.

To quote Joe Pechi, they f*** you at the drive-thru!

Since some of the boys hadn’t eaten yet, the other dad stopped at the drive-thru first.

“I’ll have two pancake breakfasts, one with sausage, please,” he began.

“That’s two sausage McMuffins?” And this is where we should have known the gods of travel had it in for us.

“No. Two pancake breakfasts. One. With. Sausage.”

“Ok, anything else?”

“Two medium cokes.”

“What do you want in your coffees?”

“No, two cokes, medium.”

“Ok, two medium coffees, two medium cokes.”

“No, no coffees, none, just cokes.”

“Ok, that’s four medium cokes.”

“No. Only two cokes. Two.”

“Anything else.” (I wanted to stop him here, but he powered on.)

“One orange juice, two hashbrowns, and one side of sausage.”

“That’s two orange juices, two hashbrowns?”

“Sure, whatever, and one side of sausage.”

(Me: ”Can you order one coffee for me, now? One cream, one sugar? This should be hilarious.”)

“And one coffee,” he added. “One cream, one sugar.”

“Ok.”

We got almost nothing we ordered, and at least one of the children in the car ended up staring at an Egg McMuffin like a dog looks at a bowl of celery.

But that was just the beginning because when we arrived, we were met by staff just outside the pool entrance.

That’s super friendly of them, I thought. How very Albertan. How very nice.

But no, they were there to apologize – the storms had knocked out the filtration system and 80% of the waterslides were unavailable.

Have you ever seen a face drop?

An 11 year-old face?

It’s a horrible thing to see. First, shock freezes the face, then like it’s melting, the smile dies, the lower lip extends, the face slackens in sadness and there’s a big swallow, like he’s swallowing his dreams.

To his credit, he didn’t shed any tears.

Instead, he studied the waterpark map like Caesar surrounded by Gauls.

He took a deep breath, trying to steady himself.

He knew each slide which would be open. He knew which he’d planned to see. He knew the expected wait times at 10am, the average size of the child on the ride and where they came from.

West Edmonton Mall, Alberta, 2018, joe cummings
Waterslides at the West Edmonton Mall. Only 20% were working. Gah!

The staff told us it would only cost $20 today and they were working hard on getting everything up and running. Maybe by 3, they said, but maybe not, cuz they’d been working on it for a whole day now.

We could go and have fun elsewhere or we could stay and have a chance at a good time at 3, or maybe not.

I looked at the-Youngest.

He said. “Hmmmm.” Then made his decision.

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And hey, thanks for reading this!  

If you like what you’re reading, please follow on FB, subscribe to my blog, or check out my coming-soon newsletter. Or, heck, just tell your friends, your baker, your accountant and your barista. 

If you want to support a starving writer, check out the coffee link at the top right-hand corner of the website.

 

 

What To Do In Alberta – If You’re From There

my dad
calgary alberta 2nd birthday
I should remember the birthday cake, cuz, it’s cake, but I don’t. Me, age 2

Despite our best-laid plans,  we ran out of time to see the places in Calgary where I grew up, or as the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World said, “the places that made Joe, Joe.”

It’s too bad.

Much of my early, happy life was here.

Here I had two parents. Here I had a neighbourhood full of friends. Here I played ice hockey on the icy streets, played soccer in snowy fields, and made snow tunnels so immense that the Vietcong sent me a note saying, damn, boi, that’s some tunneling. (Looking back, maybe we never had summer in Calgary for some reason).

calgary, alberta, home
My first home. I remember the sunporch and the garden.

Of my life in our first house, when I was a small child, I remember sitting in the sun on the porch with our dog, a lab named Bobby. I remember not getting supper one time because I refused to stop watching Lost in Space. I remember digging in the backyard, which I defined as gardening and not, you know, digging up the flowers.

But I recall so little of when I was that young. Most of my other ‘memories’ are no more than extensions of photos taken at that time. Funny how that is.

Of my life in our second house, I have many, many more memories. We lived on a cul-du-sac in LeDuc, and if not every house, then every other house had kids around our age. We built snow forts in the winter, and cardboard forts in the summer. We built used hot wheel car lots and stocked them with our best cars (then forced our parents to pick which one was best and even though I always made the best one, I didn’t always win.)

During those times, we ran wild and had fun, being kids in a time before iphones, youtube and stupid morons like Logan Paul. We had a street full of parents who made sure we never got into any real trouble and sent us home if we got out of hand (and God help us if that happened because, by the time we got home, mom had received a phone call detailing what we’d done!)

Calgary alberta 2018
Everyone getting ready for school. Well, not ‘everyone’ by a long shot, and yes, I played with girls.

I traded and collected hockey stamps in that neighbourhood. I threw stones at the bigger kids in that neighborhood, then spent a year hiding behind telephone poles avoiding getting beaten up by them (strangely, a lot of my childhood stories involve throwing stones at people for some reason I still can’t explain). I watched my first football game in colour at a friend’s house, played tag around the cars, and found the best places to hide for hide-and-seek in that neighbourhood.

We had street BBQs, no crime (at least anything serious), and so many kids to play with, we were never short of company.

Or at least that’s how I remember it.

I remember my dad made a skating rink in the backyard that took too long to freeze and rolled downhill, ultimately creating a very deep, but very narrow skating rink.  I remember walking the dog with my dad beside the yellow grass-way next to the highway. I remember making a lemonade stand with my mom in the summer. I don’t remember selling any, though… odds are, I drank it all myself.

I remember playing with my brother when he was my best friend in the world. I remember watching Bugs Bunny and eating hamburgers and ripple fries while my dad rolled cigarettes. I  remember being woken up one night when one of dad’s friends arrived at our house drunk and playing the bagpipes. I remember the wolf that used to hide in my closet and scare me. I remember my mom coming in and chasing it away with a broom. A whole lot of times.

So for the years that I lived there, did that place help define me?

Without question. I felt loved. I had a street full of friends. I had a small world to play in.

Only much later in life did I realize the magic of that time, of the wonder years of skinned knees and sleepovers, of living in a community, not just a house on a street.

Work dad
Work dad. Suit. Tie. Good accounting glasses.

I understand why we had to move, why my dad made the choice to move.

He hated the long hours at work, hated not being with his wife and sons, and hated that he had not found the balance between money and a quality life.

He made the choice to move so he could read to his sons, throw the ball around with them, or take them to the library. He made the choice to listen to his boys in those terrible school concerts, to coach my soccer team (being English, this was more of a deal than I ever knew), and to be there to cheer us on, wipe away tears or teach us how to be men.

my dad
My dad and me on the first day of baseball.

Did he know he had only a few years to live?

I don’t think so, but I do think he knew that being a good dad, a good husband, a good man was more important than a big paycheck.

And I get that.

He made the best move possible, but I look back on those Calgary years as some of the best in my life.

Who could not? I had nearly everything a kid could want.

 

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And hey, thanks for reading this!  

If you like what you’re reading, please follow on FB, subscribe to my blog, or check out my coming-soon newsletter. Or, heck, just tell your friends, your baker, your accountant and your barista. 

If you want to support a starving writer, check out the coffee link at the top right-hand corner of the website.

 

 

What To Do In Alberta – The Dinosaur Museum

dinosuars in alberta 2018
dinosuars in alberta 2018
Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta. On display, a stegosaurus.

Who could not love a dinosaur museum? Well, not everyone as it turns out.

The Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller may be the most impressive dinosaur museum on the planet, certainly there are signs saying so, so it must be true, but for The-Youngest, it was a big building filled with stuff that looked like stuff he had to learn.

He took an instant dislike to the whole thing.

No matter, we dragged him through the entire museum anyway. Like a mouthful of medicine, it would be good for him.

The-Youngest’s review: Too many people. Not enough popcorn. The bathrooms smelled like poo. It was full of bones and who likes to look at bones? I was bored.

drumheller alberta 2018 royal tyrrell museum
Outside of the Royal Tyrrell Museum, the boys pose like prisoners going to be shot.

(That most terrible curse that afflicts our youth, boredom, like the world must be all flashy images and stupid videos about asshats wrecking a house.)

The-Oldest’s review: Could have been worse. Much worse. Things could always be worse. Or even worse than that.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s Review: Mmmmm. Busy. 3rd visit. Not a dinosaur person, really. It’s cool, but I liked the badlands better.

My review: Lighting is amazing. Seeing the size of those ancient behemoths is humbling. Reading about life before we decided to f**k with the planet reminds me how little time we’ve actually spent on earth.

dinosuars in alberta, drumheller, royal tyrrell museum
Size matters and in the dinosaur days, we would have been a quick snack for something.

I loved the pre-dinosaur history the most. Those creatures that plied the oceans were terrifying and so very different from what we see today.

I loved looking at the apex predators of their time like the Anomalocaris or Gorgosaurus.

I hate how much life has been lost forever in history. The mastodons. The Stegosauruses. George Burns.

But such is the harsh reality of evolution. Those that can adapt, survive. Being cute doesn’t save you. Being scary doesn’t save you. Being able to make a fire and craft a pointed stick does.

There was so much to read, so much knowledge to absorb, but that would take a whole day. Maybe two. And then even that would only scratch the surface of what’s in that museum.

Despite 3 out of 4 of us not being big fans of this particular adventure, I would say see this museum if you’re in Alberta (or go to Victoria where you’ll likely see as many old fossils.)

Next up, Edmonton, which The-Youngest looked forward to like a beaver looks forward to a forest of trees.

But for more pictures, check out this link.

 

 

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And hey, thanks for reading this!  

If you like what you’re reading, please follow on FB, subscribe to my blog, or check out my coming-soon newsletter. Or, heck, just tell your friends, your baker, your accountant and your barista. 

If you want to support a starving writer, check out the coffee link at the top right-hand corner of the website.

 

 

What To Do In Calgary – The Military Museum

Sherman Firefly in Caen 1944
Canadian Sherman tank, Calgary Alberta, 2018
Canadian M4A2(76)W HVSS Sherman “Easy 8” tank . Military Museum in Calgary

Or Tanks for the Memories!

Of all the things we planned to do, the thing I looked forward to the most was seeing the Calgary Military Museum and their collection of tanks.

If you look at my website, you’ll see there’s a whole section for tanks. I love tanks. I don’t know why. My therapist doesn’t know why. There’s a lot of head shaking and eye rolling. But when I found out there was a military museum in Calgary of all places, I had to go.

The-Youngest decided to join me, (part of his plan) even though it meant getting up early. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and The-Oldest were happy to sleep in.

We managed to get there in about 11 minutes. Ok, 16, due to me getting lost despite a perfectly functioning GPS (when the nice GPS lady said take the SW exit and the sign said south, I hesitated too long while I tried to figure out if there was a SW exit as well…. And, ah, no, there wasn’t.)

No matter. We got there.

Most of the tanks were outside, which was fine except that it had decided to rain. Of course. And I had not thought about bringing a jacket. Of course. I debated bringing an umbrella, but apparently, people who use umbrellas here are considered marginally “challenged” in Alberta so I thought what the hell, a little rain never hurt anyone.

Calgary Military Museum 2018
A WW2 “Churchill VII” tank

The tanks they had on display I knew well. The Churchill VII, a huge British heavy tank, a Centurion Mark III, perhaps the best post war 1950s tank built, a surprisingly big Sherman M4E8 (an ‘Easy Eight’), and a soon-to-be-restored Russian T-34-85. Near the entrance, they’d stationed a T-72 with desert camouflage. ‘

Both The-Youngest and I were super stoked to be there, to touch the tanks to look at them close up. Only one of us did a happy dance, and (spoiler alert) it wasn’t him.

t72 tank calgary military museum
A T72 tank with desert camo.

I took tons of pictures while The-Youngest told me stories of the adventures he’s had with the tanks while playing World of Tanks on the Xbox.

I had forgotten how huge tanks could be. Even the Sherman which was supposed to be a fast, medium tank.

No German tanks, though and let’s face it, the best tank builders in WW2 were the Germans. However, despite their Tiger tanks with their huge 88mm guns that could shoot straight through a Sherman, the allies produced so many tanks that we simply overwhelmed the Germans with very reliable, mass-produced machines.

But it makes me realize the courage of our tank crews. It’s all fair and fine to sit in an 80-ton German heavy tank with a massive gun and armor that’s almost impenetrable, and it’s quite another to try and fight one of those beasts in Sherman.

Yet, they did.

Sherman Firefly in Caen 1944
Inside Calgary’s Military Museum were plenty of life-sized displays. This one featuring a “Firefly” tank fighting in a city.

Often at great cost.

Inside, the museum itself was fantastic for its size. They had great displays set up in regimental rooms, from the famous stand of the PPCLI against the German gas attack in WW1, to the famous victory for the Canadians at Vimy Ridge, to the battles in Italy and France in WW2, to the heroic stand during the battle of Kapyong, in Korea, and finally, to the peacekeeping missions around the world.

Check out my history section if you want to see more about all of this.

After seeing all the regimental rooms, we quickly toured the naval part of the museum, then the air force section, but had to pass on seeing their collection of planes due to a particularly scary entrance into those hangars (though The-Youngest had been so awesome coming with me that I didn’t mind we missed the planes.)

I could have spent long hours there reading of the heroic moments of these Canadian regiments, but we had a lot to do and The-Youngest, while vaguely interested in guns and tanks had no stomach for reading, which seemed way too much like school work.

No matter.

We were off to see dinosaurs next.

However, if anyone gets to Calgary, has an interest in the military, a family member who served, or hell, you just love a good museum, check it out. The staff were awesome. The displays fantastic. Fun was had.

And the sacrifices of our armed forces should never be forgotten.

 

Hey, if you’re interested, here are a few other links.

World of Tanks (the best tank game ever!)

Tanks in Canada

PPCLI (Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry) Regimental History

Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) History

The King’s Own Calgary Regiment History

The Calgary Highlanders History

**********

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What To Do In Calgary

Calgary tower in Downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada
in Downtown Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Tower of Terror, AKA the Calgary Tower

When in Calgary, why not do the Tower of Terror?

Our zoo experience couldn’t have been better, unless, you know, the pandas danced or sang Oh Canada or re-enacted the battle of Waterloo. The weather had turned nice. The crowds were light. And the animals were mostly out and about doing animal things. We had fun.

And the day wasn’t done.

Next up, if we had time, was to see the Calgary Tower. Now, back in my day, it was the tallest building around and my Uncle Jim would take us there for ice cream for a very special treat. Today, though, it sits in the middle of downtown Calgary, nestled amongst the new buildings of glass and steel.

Now, why go here?  I mean, it’s a tower. In the middle of a city. No pandas up there. No waterslides. No pianos.

But it did have something that it didn’t have back in my day. A glass floor extension out from the observation deck. It’s the kind of terrifying thing I try to avoid in my elder years. Being petrified of heights, I can think of a lot more fun things to do like scoop my eyeballs out with a stained crack spoon or see how many fire ants I can eat while juggling flaming scimitars.

However, both The-Youngest and The-Oldest boy wanted to go. Both of them. That is like Di Vinci and Michelangelo agreeing to spray paint the Sistine Chapel. Or (to quote The-Oldest) “Like Stravinsky and Prokofiev agreeing to compose together.”

So, after finding a great area for restaurants (in a very trendy, former warehousie area of downtown Calgary that reminds me of Yaletown), we marched off to see the tower. The elevator that took us didn’t have any windows, which is like a car not having windows (which I guess is a van) but that’s what this elevator felt like.)

On the observation deck, I had to face my fears and go walk out on the glass floor that was at least 10,000 feet from the ground below. (Truth update from The-Youngest, it’s 525 feet down.) As I walked out, everything that could clench, clenched. Even a few things that normally don’t clench, clenched. Had anyone asked, I could have pooped out diamonds.

Calgary Tower glass floor
The glass floor in the Calgary Tower. In my mind, I stepped out a lot farther

But I did look down. Shaking. Dizzy. My stomach filled with angry butterflies, I did it.

Then I walked off it and went in search of a bar. Finding none, I decided to read all the plaques.

Honestly, that glass floor aside, it was an amazing view of the city and they’d done a great job on making the information about the various locations interesting.

Glass floor on the Calgary Tower
Overcoming your fears is part of growing up. I guess I am still growing up

The boyz, however, couldn’t get enough of the glass floor. The-Youngest, when he actually stood on the edge of the glass, had serious second thoughts that stepping out onto the glass floor would be a good idea. Like Oppenheimer looking at the explosion of the first nuclear bomb and thinking, “oh dear, can I take that back?”

Calgary Tower
The-Oldest is fearless when it comes to heights.

But when his brother walked out, fearless as always, being the younger brother, he had to do what his older brother did. And when he overcame his fear, he wouldn’t leave the area. He sat down on the floor, lay down on it, and even took about a hundred selfies. Only when he started jumping up and down on it did we stop him.

The real success, though, was getting The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World to step out onto the extension. Like me, she was terrified, but unlike me, she is not motivated by overcoming her fear, of not being shown up by her children, or by needing to write a blog about something.

But when The-Oldest took one of her hands, and The-Youngest took the other, they were able to lead her over to the glass floor. She had that same look on her face that she had on her first date with me, that is to say, one where she wasn’t sure she was going to make it out alive.

She didn’t stand long on the glass floor, but she did try and I love her for trying.

In the end, part of any good adventure is doing stuff you simply wouldn’t do at home.

Tomorrow would hold more of those adventures.

 

 

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Why Does the Calgary Zoo Matter?

Calgary zoo alberta 2918
Calgary zoo alberta 2918
Zoos can bee punny!

The Alberta Zoo

There is a move these days to get rid of zoos. It comes from good-hearted people who have not thought through the idea. Oh, they FEEL the idea, for sure, but they miss a fundamental concept.

Zoos connect people with animals, many of which are in danger of disappearing.

Now, we’re not talking about zoos that treat animals cruelly, those should be reformed, but zoos like the Calgary Zoo allow people (kids in particular) a chance to see something real. Not something on TV. Not something on YouTube. Not a poster somewhere of something that once existed.

Too often now, we make choices that distance ourselves from the real world. In a sense, we are putting ourselves in a cage.

Think about it.

Ok, ranty-rant over.

Back to our regular programming.

After the pandas, The-oldest joked had an attack of pun-iness. “I was expecting total pandemonium. Or at least a pandemic.”

To be fair, considering his usual puns take 3 mins to set up, (“so if I was a lion and it was telling me a story, and I didn’t believe the story because it wasn’t very truthful, then, you could say it was lion), those panda puns were good puns. As was his remark about Himalayan Deer ‘they must be very valuable because they’re dear.”

His favourite animal, though, was the markhor deer. It had curlie horns and looked like it was about to shed about 40lbs of fluff. I think the Taliban ride them into battle. He tried to talk to it. A lot. But it didn’t respond so we moved on.

alpakas in the calgary zoo 2018
Alpacas! Perhaps the most cuddly of the camel family.

The-Youngest hated that all the food stands were closed, and he didn’t get any cotton candy, however, he did get to see the alpaca that looks a lot like our spazadoodle. He, too, tried to talk to it, but it wasn’t in the mood for a conversation and simply pooped.

For The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World, her best time was at the panda exhibit. She loved how the pandas snuggled, but I think she enjoyed watching the baby gorilla explore his world, play with his food and look for things to play with.

lions at the calgary zoo 2018
The Lion does not sleep tonight! I am not lying. They were not lion around.

Me? I liked hearing the lions roar and watching them stalk about the cage. I haven’t seen lions move much (they mostly pull a panda and nap most of the time), but they were magnificent creatures this day, powerful but not as elegant as a leopard.

The highlight for all of us, though, was our time in the lemur cage.

See, this is where my whole zoo-is-good thing comes to fruition.

The zoo had set up an enclosure with nets overhead and Fort-Knox-like gates that allowed people to BE WITH the lemurs, you know, those cute little things that appear in Disney movies.

We were told not to move too fast or touch them or feed them or talk to them about Liszt, but we could watch them as they watched us, get close enough to them to touch them (but not, you know, actually touch them) and have a chance to see real live animals up close, no bars, no windows, no metal mesh separating them from us.

It was fantastic, even if one idiot did try to touch them.

One lemur even took a liking to The-Youngest, and if you want to see how he reacted, check out the video.

Hippos at the Calgary zoo, alberta 2018
Hippos! They taught the pandas what to do

But we all loved seeing the animals (though no one seemed to appreciate me singing “Walk with the animals.”)

We scouted out the tigers. We waved at the giraffes. We shook our head at hippos that looked suspiciously like me after a turkey dinner. We watched momma gorilla look after her little one.

And then I think the family pranked me with the idea that porcupines shoot quills. They were so convincing that I had to load up wiki-thing to show them otherwise, and then they all just smiled at me and giggled.

So, go see a zoo some time. Spend time with the animals. Make a conscious decision to experience an amazing part of our world instead of watching a documentary about our friend the lion or leaving it up to Disney to show us what animals are like.

 

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Will the Pandas Be Awesome at the Calgary Zoo?

pandas at calgary zoo
Calgary Alberta Zoo and pandas
Pandas at the Calgary Zoo. Posters and signs were everywhere.

The Truth About Pandas.

We had a choice to make early in the planning stage. The Calgary Zoo or the Calaway Amusement Park. The-Youngest argued for the park, since it had, you know, rides and cotton candy and rides and pop and rollercoasters and popcorn and more rides.

All good points.

But since we were going to the West Edmonton Mall, and they had rides and waterslides and rollercoasters, it was decided to see the zoo. The zoo had pandas, and pandas trump terrifying machines of death every time.

We arrived at 3:10, the panda exhibit reservation was at 3:30, at the far end of the zoo. We knew if we hoofed it, we’d arrive there.

We confirmed the location of the pandas with the ticket guy who seemed vaguely amused that we thought they’d moved them, but then again pandas are known for their blinding speed and ability to Tarzan from tree to tree so who knows, right?

We speed-marched to the panda exhibit like housewives trying to wiggle walk-off 20lbs in one journey. All along the way, there were posters of pandas looking cute. We weren’t deceived, we knew they were ferocious killers that took down mammoths once upon a time. They were known to move faster than cheetahs, and make homes from rocks they carved from the mountains.

Ok, all we really knew is that they were super cute and ate shoots and leaves. We’d seen pictures. And watched videos. Seems they did a lot of looking cute, a lot of munching on things and, every so often, they’d lumber around their enclosure like me with a foot cramp.

To our surprise, there were no line-ups and we got to go right in.

It was then we found out the real truth about pandas. Like me, also super cute, they like to nap. A lot. Seems it’s their favourite thing to do.

So, we got to see one napping on a big rock. She had managed to lay in such a way that it looked like one bad shift in her dreams and she’d fall off the rock and into the water. There are a lot of videos of pandas sleep-falling off of trees, rocks, and buildings. It could be that they are not the smartest animals in the kingdom.

I waited for her to fall off, but she didn’t shift a bit, happy to be inside, and warm and with her children safe and sound in another room. Her children were likewise asleep, happy to snuggle with each other. They weren’t as white and black as I thought they’d be, more a muddy white and a greyish-black, but their cuteness was undeniable. I waited my turn with all the other children who wanted to get close and take a picture, then snapped a few of them cuddled up.

The biggest difference between the older generation and the younger could be summed up here. I waited for my turn. Kids pushed their way in (and I’m not talking 5-year-olds who have an excuse for bad manners) but those horrible teenagers, the ones without social skills, no understanding of lines and raised by parents who thought that being their friend was the same as, you know, parenting.

pandas at calgary zoo
The panda babies didn’t really look like babies. If they had cell phones, they would have been taking selfies. http://joecummings.ca/travel/

No matter. I snapped a few pictures of the cuties, then took a bit of time to actually watch the pandas with my own eyes while teenagers cycled past the glass taking selfies. I took in the smell, which wasn’t that great, the sounds (only one seemed to snore) and wondered why they’d chosen those spots to snooze. The kids took a picture and moved on to something else.

Drops mic.

To be fair, the boys couldn’t really see the point of watching pandas sleeping either, but at least they didn’t just selfie the darned things.

As for the pandas, well, they really needed to do better. I’ll be writing a letter to their leader in China. They need to be more active and entertaining. Cute is not good enough.

But that was the great panda adventure.

The rest of the zoo, however, didn’t disappoint.

 

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Family First in BC.

Osoyoos Okanagan BC

Family First…

As I write out my notes, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s Baba has just gotten out of the hospital after having major emergency surgery.

At 94, she may be one of the most incredible people I’ve met with her Old World wisdom, quick wit, and constitution of Rasputin.

Osoyoos Okanagan BC
Osoyoos Camping Atop a Mountain

But as we pulled into her parent’s driveway high atop a mountain in Osoyoos, we had no idea how sick she was.

So no matter what adventures we would have, this was a good reminder of what’s important.

Family.

As we ate like kings (endless amounts of scrambled eggs, toast, sausages, bacon, hash browns), we caught up with our relatives. We learned that names have been chosen for a soon-to-arrive baby, though none of them are mine (frankly the world needs more Joes), and listened to everyone’s adventures since we last saw them.

We joked with The-Youngest about catching rattlesnakes by kissing them, which, in hindsight, may have been bad idea –  and if he dies while trying to catch one, that’s on me.

I also may have advised him on such things as how to talk to girls, how to sleep while driving, and how to find gold in abandoned mine shafts. More great examples of epic parenting from me.

The-Oldest held up well during both visits, trying out his new social self. Like me, he’s more comfortable talking to himself than others, but he was on fire with the grandparents, asking engaging questions, making terrible puns, and being able to explain musical theory so it doesn’t sound like new math.

The-Youngest did his best not to fiddle with stuff, like the hot BBQ, the brakes on the RV, the nailgun in the house being built, or the satellite cable dish.

He’s a fiddler, and not the musical kind, oh no, he’d fiddle with the wires of a bomb as you tried to disarm it, and not because he’s cruel, but because his fingers have to find something to do. Stick in something. Twist something. Worm their way into something. Dismantle something. Poke something (mostly his brother).

Give him 20 minutes and I swear he could completely dismantle a tank.

Family first
Vacationing with family in Osoyoos, BC.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World was in her element, though.

Unlike me, she’s a people person and her friends or family are the whipped cream on top of her ice-cream life. If she had her way, she would have spent days with her family, sitting under the RV awning, looking out of Osoyoos Lake and talking about life.

But, sadly, The-Oldest’s head would explode without a piano to play, The-Youngest would end up finding a way to pry out every nail in the house under construction and cause it to collapse, and me, I would be run out of super witty things to say and be forced to share.

It would be traumatic.

So we stayed a few hours, had a great time, then drove off. The schedule demanded we be on the road by 12. We had a long drive ahead of us, a drive more eventful than we planned, but I was glad we’d stopped to catch up with family. It was time well spent!

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Alberta Trip – Day 1 in BC

traveling from BC to Alberta

traveling from BC to Alberta

Every penny counts when saving up for a vacation

Our plan began well enough (like most plans). Let’s see how it unfolded once reality got its grubby hands on it.

We were all packed and ready to go by the time The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World came home from work. By the time she had changed into comfy clothes, we had the car packed and sat waiting to go.

I think she was a little stunned she didn’t have to drag one away from the piano, one away from gaming and one away from looking stuff up on his computer. You can guess which is which.

We drove as fast as we could through all kinds of weather. Sun, rain, more rain, great splattering rain and then through fog, and out into the sun, again, which by this time had given up on the day and decided to leave the sky.

how to drive in the rain
Safety tips for driving in the rain

Having a family, now, I’m like a little old lady driving to church with a  basket of eggs balanced on her lap. Not long ago, I was seeing how fast my rental sports car could drive in the desert and there was one time when I decided it was a good idea to double the speed limit on the California highway. But then I was only risking my own life. Now, I have the proper distance between cars, largely obey the speed limit and leave the texting to The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World.

Safety first.

The mood in the car was buoyant, though, and the boys were outstanding in the back seat, neither complaining or fighting or spilling something sticky on the car seats.

So far so good.

Suspiciously good.

We stayed with the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s dad and stepmom. We arrived late but they had stayed up to make sure we were settled in and fed, even though it was way past their bedtime. To be honest, it was past my bedtime, too, but such are the things parents or grandparents do. We ate chips and homemade salsa (which was to die for),  and quesadillas cooked on a super fancy version of the George Forman grill.

Then it was time for bed, and even then, the boys were great. Even quiet.

I began to worry that they’d been replaced by clones, or that The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World has drugged the juice in their sippy cups.

For breakfast, we had homemade jam that was simply outstanding and drank perfectly brewed coffee (the adults, that is, not the kids, no, God, no, on coffee for them until they’re at least 25 or not traveling in a car with us).

But despite the good food and the outstanding behaviour of the boys, the highlight for me had to be hanging in the garage with the-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s dad. The garage had the perfect smell. Pipe tobacco. Oil. Gas. And he’d set up a table there, his mint ’67 Dodge Dart behind him, his tools and automotive signs on the wall to one side.

Now, I’m not a car guy. The-Youngest knows how to tell the difference between a ’67 Mustang and a ’68. He could probably tell you how fast it is and what the car sells for, but me, I’m more likely to comment on the pretty colour or cool sound the engine makes. I have no idea if there’s a 250 CID (4.1L) Thriftmaster inline six-cylinder underneath the hood.

Now I can’t say we talked about anything important or waxed philosophical or discovered a cure for stupid, but it was nice to connect with him, just two guys in a garage, one nerdy goober, and one ex-customs agent finding common ground on sacred ground.

It was a nice, quick visit, the type of visit where you think, damn, I wish I had more time to spend there.

the hangover
Not all road trips end well

A perfect start to what I hoped would be the first vacation that actually went according to plan and didn’t end up like some version of The Hangover.

Next up, another visit. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-world’s mom and stepdad, and her amazing Baba.

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Alberta Trip 2018 – As Planned By An Eleven-Year-Old

Trip to BC, Rockies, Alberta, Drumheller, West Ed Mall

 

Trip to BC, Rockies, Alberta, Drumheller, West Ed Mall
This planning a trip to Alberta is serious business!

The-Youngest Made Plans for Our Trip

Unlike his brother, The-Youngest looked at the google map we printed out, and then planned out what to do.

First stop, Oliver.

See Grandpa and Grandma. 5-hour drive to get there, so, download movies. Lots of movies. And bring something to play in the car with his brother. A good card game. Arrange ice tea and candy at top of food bag for easy access. Keep a bag of chips near feet for late afternoon snacks.

Remember to look for Ogopogo. 

When we arrive, it’ll be at night. Right. Not much to do at night. Talk with adults as needed. Sneak away to watch TV if possible. Take brother’s music out of his bag and move it to mom’s bag.

******

 

Trip to Alberta
The plan is put into effect. On the road to Cranbrook, the Rockies, Calgary, Drumheller, and the West Edmonton Mall.

The next day, Sunday,

Visit with other grandparents, endure another 5-hour drive. Presort snacks by sugar content. 

Begin the campaign to see the Calgary Tower.  Talk to mom about how unscary it really is.

Watch more movies. Arrive in exciting Cranbrook.  Try not to sigh heavily when Joe starts talking about the history of Cranbrook.

Continue to point out how awesome Calgary would look from the top of the tower. Swim in pool. 

If weather bad, bug brother until he snaps. If good weather, bug brother until he snaps.

******

Monday, sleep in, endure 3-hour drive to Calgary. Start by eating pancakes. Look at the mountains. Try to see a bear. Or a unicorn. No, no unicorns. Sheep. Find some sheep on the side of mountains, yeah, that would be cool. Or a cougar chasing a hitchhiker. Assign the job of keeping an eye out for neat stuff to Joe and mom.

Arrive at the zoo, see pandas, snakes, elephants, and alpacas. Alpacas are cool. Eat popcorn. Point at Calgary Tower a lot. Try not to look embarrassed as Joe reads all the plaques and sings “I can talk to the animals.” Make sure to not let mom hang with the pandas too long. If it were up to her, we might be staring at them for hours and saying, ‘awwww, aren’t they cute?” a lot.

Hope that my campaign to see the Calgary Tower is successful. If so, visit the tower. If not, rethink manipulation strategies. 

Try not to look bored when we go to see where Joe grew up. It’s a big thing for him. Don’t mention it’s not a big thing for me.

At the hotel, swim in the pool. Eat at Mr. Mikes so we can play board games and eat. Stay up as late as I can. No reason, but staying up late is cool. Take all of my brother’s pillows while he sleeps and hide them in the bathroom.

******

Tuesday, a big day. Get up early with Joe and see the tank museum. Joe likes tanks and no one else has any interest, so go with Joe so he doesn’t feel bad. Climb on a tank. And under one. And stick fingers in all the tankie holes.

Drive out to Drumheller. Run through the museum at top speed. Finish in 10 minutes. Take a selfie with a dinosaur. Ignore Joe’s joke about being a dinosaur or meeting a dinosaur or having one as a next door neighbour. Read no more than 1 plaque. Sit and play games because the museum has wi-fi. Avoid getting all interested in dinosaurs since that’s way too close to learning stuff. Eat a hot dog. Finish off chips in the car.

Endure yet another long drive. Plan out nerf war strategies. Review guns brought. Recount nerf bullets. Roll eyes every time Joe remarks on how straight the roads are. Try to see a buffalo. 

Get mom to talk about her friend and how many nerf guns her kids have.

Arrive at mom’s friend’s place. Say hi. Play nerf wars until 2 am. Try not to win every time -That makes people not want to play with me. Try not to gloat and giggle and point at the losers – That seems to make people really, really not want to play with me.

Food unnecessary. Nerf wars will feed me. Hide my brother’s underwear somewhere. 

******

West Edmonton Mall
St.Maria pirate vessel in the West Edmonton Mall. It’s the largest shopping mall in North America and the tenth largest in the world.

Wednesday, West Ed Mall. 9am-10pm. Waterslides. Rides. Free pop. Eat hamburgers. Eat Fries. Drink slushies. Refer to specific 4-page waterslide plan made a month, ago. Refer to specific 2-page ride plan made at the same time. Do not deviate from the plan. Try to eat my weight in pizza.

Mom will not be there. She’ll be off with her friend, ‘catching up’ which totally means drinking. Joe will look after us so look for opportunities. “No, Joe, you said you’d buy me a t-shirt, don’t you remember?” or “Wait, Joe, I know that zip-line costs a lot, but wouldn’t it make a good topic for a blog?” or, “Joe, if you buy me this new controller, we can play games together and that’s fun, right?”

Should be easy pickings.

The goal, come back sore, exhausted and feeling like I need to throw up. At night, take all the laces out of my brother’s shoes.

******

Thursday. Get up. Visit with mom’s friend, again. Talk to adults if needed, but if it can be avoided, even better. Remember to thank moms’ friend for breakfast. Remember not to complain if it’s something that tastes terrible – like anything with vegetables, fruit or healthy meats.

Watch more videos on the drive back to BC and tell mom about nerf wars, the West Ed Mall, and playing the Smash-up card game. Ignore pleas to stop. Ignore anyone saying they’ve heard all this yesterday. Poke brother a lot.

Try not to look afraid in freaky cabin we’re staying at. Keep nerf gun close. Keep it loaded. Keep brother closer to doors and windows so bears, ghosts or rabid unicorns will eat him first. 

*****

Friday, long drive, again. Watch last of my movies. Eat last of snack supplies. Avoid asking how much longer will it be? Avoid talking about last report card. Avoid talking about the trip ending.

Plan the next trip. Harrison. Plan sleepover with friends and next nerf-war battles. Plan which Youtube videos to watch over summer. Interrupt brother whenever he wants to talk about Liszt, Beethoven, Wagner, Rachmaninov, or any composers. In fact, interrupt him whenever he talks. 

When home, log on to the internet and see what Logan Paul is up to. Ignore Joe yelling at me to stop watching that freaking moron.

Go to bed only after being asked 12 times.

Remember to thank Mom and Joe for taking me on the trip. Give mom a big hug. She’s the best.

******

And that’s about it.

Too bad it didn’t turn out the way he planned.

1st Anniversary – Part 1 of 2

Wedding Oct 2nd, 2016

Well, The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World hasn’t gotten rid of me after 1 year. That’s a good sign, right? Something to celebrate?

You bet!

But what would we get each other? How would we make our day an adventure?

To celebrate the occasion, we ended up getting something we both needed. Romantic?

Well, maybe not, but practical and marriage saving.

So what did we get?

1st Anniversary Gift should be paper. I got silk.

I went paper (as was traditional), but I kinda went 7 degrees of paper. I got us big silk trees.

Ok, hold on. Lemme esplain…

Now, I fully expect our marriage to last our entire lives, but trees, living plants, even small, fearless cactus will be lucky to last a week in our house.

So, paper, like totally comes from trees, and trees are good to have in a home, but live trees would die and since an anniversary gift is a symbol of our marriage, then it wouldn’t do for some ficus to shrivel up and die, right? So. Silk plants.

Big beautiful ones.

Made sense to me.

The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World also got us a marriage saving present –  a huge duvet cover to fit our huge duvet. In the past, our duvet has looked like, well, ever seen an extra large pillow stuffed into a small pillowcase? Yeah, that’s what our duvet looked like. One wrong move and it could explode cotton and feathers everywhere.

Not the actual duvet cover, but kinda funny? Isn’t it? Sweetie? Funny?

But now we have one that no one can claim the other one is ‘hogging all the blankets.”

It’s nearly big enough for a king-sized bed and nothing saves marriages more than an equal distribution of blanketish assets.

But dinner… ah yes, that’s a moment for romance. And we had something cool planned. Or so we thought….