crossfit on vacation

Crossfit people… this is for you… I know that you are awesome… I am super impressed with the rope climbing, headstands, medicine ball throws against a wall, kettle ball squats, macro dieting, burpees, early morning gym time, box jumps, pull-ups, rowing, dead lifts, multiple sets…  I could go on and on and on at what I am blown away by…  life changing really…

but when you go on vacation at Christmas time, you are not allowed to turn the resort’s workout centre into a Crossfit gym…  stop it…

first of all, us commoners see you ‘Crossfitters’ coming from a mile away… your giant glutes and muscle bound legs…  huge pecs and arms that are so full of muscle they barely can swing as you walk…  as if the muscle bodies wasn’t enough to tip us off, you always travel in a group… there is never just one lonely Crossfitter by themself… this must be part of the Crossfit code of ethics…  you can never be alone…

I see you at breakfast… with your plate filled to the brim with bacon, sausage and eggs…  as my children have to wait in line for more bacon… you turn down the coffee for your protein drink that you brought with you…  just in case the bacon, sausage and eggs wasn’t enough protein for your muscles to make more muscle…

I’m not completely sure if playing the game Spikeball on the beach is something also required of Crossfit athletes, but it seems to go along nicely with the whole persona…  this way, you can set your game up on the beach, directly in front of the lazy people reading books enjoying the view of the ocean, and proceed to take your shirts off and oil each other up and play Spikeball for 4 hours straight…

 

I realize this stereotype I am writing about might be painting with a broad brush a bit…  so I will be more specific…  this is dedicated mostly to the French Canadian Crossfit community… you have found a way to make the rest of us annoyed with you… I have a few Saskatchewan friends that do Crossfit and they seem reasonable and normal so I should qualify my opinion… 

I can get over the oiled up Spikeball games on the beach, the tight dress shirts and pants to dinner while you complain about the service and the food, the constant protein shakes and piles of meat on your plates… but the one thing that I cannot forgive is your behaviour in the gym…

at a resort, you will see some strange things in the gym… especially at an all inclusive resort where some people use the gym because they feel like they have paid for it so they must use it…

I have seen a woman walking backwards on a treadmill (I stared at her while I was waiting to use it… that did not hurry her up at all)… a guy sit on the leg press machine and chat with the Mexican working there while having a towel around his neck to mop up the sweat from not working out…. two teenage boys trying out just about every piece of equipment in the workout room (oh wait – those were my boys)… a man sweat more on the stair climber than I would have believed possible… a young woman start sprinting on the treadmill only to realize she was still inebriated from the night before and head to the bathroom sick… a guy grunt his way through his weight lifting like he was a Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon…  a man checking Twitter with a coffee while in his workout gear sitting on a bike (I’m assuming hiding from his wife or family or both)

but the absolute worst I have seen was this group of Crossfit guys… I feel like Yoga people know they can go to sunrise yoga on the beach, runners know they can either hit the treadmill, run around the resort or run on the beach… but Crossfit athletes apparently have no idea how to behave on vacation…

when the workout facility is roughly 800 square feet to start with, if they take up 600 that leaves very little room to even maneuver your way to get to a treadmill or bike… there is a reason why Crossfit gyms are usually in old warehouses or storage facilites… you apparently need some space to go through your 2 hour long workout… and just because you are doing lunges with a 50 lb weight does not mean you get to look down on me doing my lunges with no weights… or ask me to get out of the way – which I did not understand anyways because I never learned French… even though I am a Canadian…

so Crossfitters, if you must take over the resort’s workout facilities, please at least put on a class for the rest of us… make it interactive… teach us the ways of your muscle bound lifestyle…  and then perhaps we will forgive you for being you…

ten simple steps to ruin your family vacation 

upon reflection of our family Christmas vacation to Costa Rica, the farmer and I have come to the conclusion that family vacations are similar to giving birth…  you swear you’ll never do it again and next thing you know you are up in the middle of the night with a child wondering how you could have forgotten your oath to never do this again…

I’ve decided to at least write down some of the pitfalls of family vacationing… in hopes that if we ever find ourselves on another one we can avoid making the same mistakes…

I’ve titled this – ‘ten simple steps to ruin your family vacation’

Step #1 – take your children on your family vacation

this is a sure fire way to ruin your family vacation, particularly if you have babies or teenagers…  those are the ones you absolutely need to leave at home in order to enjoy your well deserved vacation

Step #2 – ‘unplug’

otherwise known as ‘no devices’, this is when parents tell their children that even though there is free wifi at the resort, we are going to leave our iPads and iPhones in our hotel room and bring books, games and beach toys with us and see how it goes…

you generally only take phones away from kids when you know you won’t be around them – this is a classic move the farmer does to me all the time – confiscates the boys phones and then proceeds to leave me alone with them…

but for some reason, we decided it was a great idea to do on vacation… when only one of our children enjoys reading…  (this only lasted three days… before we came to our senses and stopped punishing ourselves on our own holiday)

Step #3 – work out for 3 months to get your beach body and then let loose on the buffet

before heading out on vacation, you workout, starve yourself and try to fit into your bathing suit only to throw caution to the wind when you arrive at your destination and attempt to get your money’s worth out of your all inclusive buffet…

the farmer, being rather frugal, insists on everyone eating every meal, every course and attempting to order the most outrageous items off the menu because ‘you’ll never get this at home’

the result is I get asked by day three if I’m ‘with child’…  no sir, I simply have not stopped eating since I got here…  thank you for noticing…

Step #4 – leave your ‘all inclusive paradise’ to venture out on 10-14 hour ‘excursion’

resorts love to offer their guests chances to see the sights and mingle with the locals…  ways to travel more even though you have just spent 8 hours in a plane…  ways to not have you eating at their buffet all day…

on this particular family vacation, I had booked three of these excursions… all involving hiking, horses, rainforest, bugs, zip-lining, mud baths, local meals (another way of saying rice and beans) and brushes with death in a foreign country…

the farmer, upon realizing the family schedule, cancelled the one 14 hour excursion saying he got a sense of the countryside on the 1 1/2 hour drive from the airport to the resort…

when you arrive back to the resort after your brushes with death, you wonder why you ever left in the first place…

Step #5 – go to the Spa and forget to do your seat selection for the plane ride home

I forgot to do the seat selection on the way there and the way home…  when you do this, your family will be given the back seats of the plane adjacent to the bathrooms…

if you are a child, you apparently can sleep through anything…

if you are an adult, the changing of babies diapers, the people that get onto the plane and immediately use the washroom (like they were holding it just out of excitement of using the washroom on the plane), the stewardess’ that have a very loud conversation about their ex-boyfriends with their lights on while you are trying to sleep, the older fellow who has a leaky bladder and uses the washroom every 28 minutes and the combination of the entire passengers body odours wafting to the back… this is your punishment…

Step #6 – pack 2 extra of every clothing item for the whole family

‘just in case’...  just in case you decide to wear something other than your bathing suit in thirty degree humid weather… you need options…

just in case your kids don’t pick their favourite bathing suit and one tank top and wear it the whole vacation…

just in case you think anyone at the resort remembered what dress you wore the night before and is waiting with anticipation to see what you are going to dawn this evening…  at the buffet…  you need to pack 8 dresses…

because this is fun to come home to… clothing that got dirty just by being packed in a suitcase and never worn…

Step #7 – be brutally honest on your custom’s form

this is good advice when you have less than a one hour connection to make…  go ahead and check the boxes that say you’ve ‘been to a farm and are returning to a farm‘…

because you are an honest Saskatchewan farmer that went for a horse back ride and feel like you should let the proper authorities know this… 

what happens when you do that is you have someone go through all 5 of your bags and assist you in missing your flight home…

Step #8 – let the airline decide what ‘star rating’ of hotel your family is comfortable with after missing your flight

WestJet decided our family looked like we would enjoy a 26.3 km taxi ride at midnight into the bowels of Mississauga, Ontario to find us a 2-star Comfort Inn…

I’m assuming that was the closest 2-star hotel they could find near the airport…

our first clue that this was going to be a frightful layover was when it appeared we were the only guests at the hotel and many families were just living at the hotel…  relatives of the owner we were assuming…

the surprise on the faces of everyone at the hotel when we arrived was something I will always remember…

4 1/2 hours of ‘sleep’ and back to the airport to find we were in a snow storm…

as it turned out, the vouchers WestJet gave us for our dinner and breakfast at the airport were double what they had to pay for our hotel room for the night…

Step #9 – don’t fly direct

if there is anything that will bond a family on your family vacation, it’s connections in airports…

WestJet does offer direct flights from Calgary to Liberia, Costa Rica… which we did on the way down but in order to get an extra day I decided that a pit-stop in Toronto on the way home sounded like a good plan…

27 hours of travelling in order to have one more evening at the Italian restaurant is not worth it we have concluded…

Step #10 – vacation during peak seasons

I love to book during Christmas, New Years or Spring Break…

this way you never miss a sunrise when you are attempting to save pool chairs with books, sunscreen and flip flops…

I really should follow this up with ten ways to enjoy a family vacation…  but really it’s just one way… and it’s called Gin…

July in Camrose

my google search this morning was ‘top things to do in Camrose, Alberta’…  the number one thing was ‘get in your car and drive away’…

then immediately I googled ‘top things to do in Dodsland, Saskatchewan’…  there was only one option for fun in Dodsland and it was the museum…  which in my 17 years of living in the area I have not ventured in…


when I googled ‘top things to do in Plenty, Saskatchewan’ (the other town I am near)… google did not recognize it…

apparently there is a theatre here in Camrose, two museums, an art gallery and an 18 hole mini golf…  all of these options, attractive and enticing as they are, did not peak my interest this morning…

let’s back up a step… why am I laying in a bed in a Canalta Hotel in Camrose you ask?  in the middle of lake season?

because I tend to like being near the farmer and follow him on all of his life adventures…  this one I maybe should have skipped…  and just let him tell me the story later…

he is in a coaching course…  for coaching hockey…  for 7 days, from 8 am – 9:30 pm, he has sessions, practices, coaching and evaluations and the most dreaded for him ‘team building’ element…

I came here late Tuesday night and spent the day today living it up in Camrose…

it all started with a morning trip to Jiffy Lube to get my oil changed…   $234 later I was all set to go…  when the farmer finally was able to check his texts and see what I spent on an oil change his comment was ‘well they saw you coming’…  which I interpreted to mean that I possibly did not get the best deal on my oil change…

next, I headed to the Starbucks for some free WiFi…  I had a few things I had to take care of…  now, being a farmer myself, I am not accustomed to hanging out in Starbucks for free WiFi…  quite the crew in there… every conversation was solving the worlds problems… and a few other ‘writers’ or ‘students’ with their laptops…

I found it difficult to concentrate and after two Venti Americano Mistos I was shaking so badly I could barely close my laptop and pack it up to get to my vehicle…  (which, by the way, purred like a kitten with the top end oil pumping through it)

after a lovely soak in the hot tub by myself, I had a shower and got ready… luckily my brother and his wife live close so I headed to Sherwood Park to go out for supper…  just a 45 minute drive but when you are this bored it was really lovely…

now, as I wait for the farmer to return as it’s nearing 10 pm, I eagerly await his return and our night out in Camrose… which most likely will entail laying in bed watching sports highlights…

it is moments like these that I think to myself…  ‘is this what it’s like to be married to a rockstar?… and if so, sign me up’

coulee camping 

‘things I knew when I was young… some were true and some were wrong… one day I pray I’ll be more than my father’s son’  (the Lumineers)

why do we  think some things are so important for our children to do?  and it gives us such joy to see when they actually ‘get it’ and enjoy it…

the farmer camped in a coulee 8 miles north of our farm with his buddies when he was younger… twice… they quadded there, set up camp, stayed the night and came home… alive…

our memories are a tricky thing and memories of when we were young are often tainted by pictures or videos we have seen or someone else’s recollection of the events…  and we suddenly think that was our own memories of the events…

his memory is far better than mine and these two overnight camping trips to the coulee stood out… and somehow formed him into the man he is today… and caused a deep desire in him to show his three children the coulee and have a night there to remember being young…  with them…

we were 20 when we married… 22 when we had our first child…  we had no idea what we were doing…

so we copied our parents…  we basically combined the ideals (which were pretty similar) of our two sets of parents and tried to mimic them in raising our first boy…

at times it almost felt like an ‘out-of-body’ experience because we had no idea why we were doing the things we were doing… other than the fact that we were doing it exactly as our parents had done it with us…

time goes on… other children come along… another boy and then a girl…

and we get older and we experience more of life…

and the thought occurs to us…  ‘did our parents have any clue what they were doing when they were raising us?  or did they just copy their parents and hope for the best? were they as terrified as we are?’

I tend to like to control everyone in my life that I possibly can control… the farmer tends to allow people to be who they are because somewhere along the line he realized that people are going to be who they are no matter what you do anyways…

but this whole parenting thing is daunting…  super scary…not to be taken lightly… or maybe it should be…

here… all along… I’ve believed every word that has come out of my parents mouths to be gospel truth… truth be known it was a lot of gospel…  and never stopped to consider that they were young, influenced by the church and society they were growing up in and they were most likely scared of messing up and trying to do their best…

what if they didn’t have all the answers but were putting forth the best effort anyone could ask out of people in their 20’s raising small children?

what if they felt like me? and the farmer? completely inadequate to raise these children but knowing that you have to and want to and need to do your best…

what if you set up a tent, in a coulee, with no cell service and then your three children start talking about ‘life’ with you?

this is what the farmer was after…  he wanted the kids to have axes and chop down branches of trees… and build a fire and wonder about moss and ladybugs…

and talk…  talk about things that life has us too busy to talk about…

he wanted his daughter to hear a coyote bark at 2 am and sit straight up and then snuggle in close to him…

there are moments where you feel like a good parent… like you are having a day and doing it right and giving good advice…

and then there are days that you feel like a hypocrite…  like your 14 year old is seeing right through your charade and he knows that you have no idea what you are talking about and you feel like he might possibly be more wise than you… but you still have to raise him…

and make rules for him… and guide him…

the farmer finds it easier to teach life lessons with backpacks and tents bought on Amazon packed with waterproof matches and flint…

somewhere in life… when you create the time to be alone in nature… it will teach you…

and you will discover what your parents must have discovered…  that traditions are good..  and God is good… and we do our best… as does everyone else out there…

but the only thing that we can guarantee our kids is that we love them and we are proud of them and we are here for them…  no matter where life takes them…  they can always come home and go camping in a coulee and it will all be ok…

to my parents… the farmer’s parents… and all the parents all over the world…

thank you for trying… for deciding what you believed in and then teaching it to your children…  and being courageous enough to live it out in your own life…

and now we will do the same… as frightened as we are about really messing up our child’s future and costing them a lot of money in therapy someday…  we have to attempt to know what we believe in (as of now) and teach them, guide them, cheer them on and discipline them when we think necessary…

knowing that our parents were young once…  without all the answers… doing the same thing we are doing now…

and we are forever grateful for it…

i thought it was a secret, Victoria

I got felt up at security in an airport…  after choosing to not get felt up…

I’ve had a lot of different experiences in airports… this was a first…  and everything about it seemed as though I was wanting it to happen…

my general attire, since college, has consisted of jogging pants or lululemon pants, sports bra, t-shirt and bunny hug…

so on certain occasions I like to try to jazz things up a touch…

I used to say, if you dress up and do your makeup all the time no one compliments you… but if it is a shock when you do then you get so many compliments…

it’s little life tips like this that I’ve always been really good with…

so I thought a surprise trip to Mexico for the farmer’s birthday warranted a bit ‘jazzing up’…  this included wearing jeans and spicing up the undergarments a touch…

Victoria Secret has been helping women for 38 years to feel sexier…  and I sprung for the ultimate push up bra…  not only did it have unnecessary support but it felt like I was donning some body armour…

customs at 5:30 am and I set off the metal detector going through security…  I was given the choice of a friendly ‘pat-down’ or the x-ray scanner device…  it felt a little early in the morning for a pat-down so I opted for the scanner…

well I continued to set off alarms and the young woman in charge of the scanner indicated to me that the area in question on my body for ‘something foreign’ was my bosom…

all of a sudden it all became crystal clear to me… my bra was setting off security…

Victoria’s secret was about to become not so secret…

as she told me this, I quickly admitted to her that the size of my chest might be enhanced due to the brassiere I was wearing…  and in the sprit of full disclosure to her I let her know that my husband fully knew it was all a facade…  I continued to tell her that we had been married for 16 years and I was just trying to spice things up a bit…

I felt like she believed me… to a certain degree… but was obliged to give them a bit of a feel just to check…

the problem was, this might have been a slightly enjoyable experience for me, seeings how I have been with the same man for 16 years… life has not presented many other experiences of my breasts being fondled…  but due to the amount of padding and wiring going on with this ‘Miracle’ bra I had no idea that her hands were even on me…  I was still chatting away and completely unaware she was mid-search…

she was satisfied that it was just a giant bra and not key components to a weapon (unless the weapon is breaking a man’s heart with the false illusion of boobs)…  she allowed me to continue on with my morning, all be it a bit flustered and she even gave me a look of compassion… or I liked to believe it was compassion…

my last statement to her was ‘you’ll see… after three children and years of marriage you’ll get one of these ridiculous bras as well’…  she muttered ‘oh I’m sure’ but her eyes gave away the lie she was trying to sell…

at that moment I knew she thought I was sad and pathetic and she’d never let her life get to the point I had allowed mine get to…

but the look on the farmer’s face watching me go through this whole ordeal was well worth the attempt to spice things up with some wire and foam…

on the return flight home, I packed the bra in my checked luggage (it took up the better part of half of one suitcase) and selected my normal sports bra as to not set off any more metal detectors in airports…

I figured vacation was over and it was back to reality for the poor farmer…

happy birthday honey

 

overnight field trips

 

Someone came up with the idea of overnight field trips.   I’m guessing this is the same person who thinks sleep-overs are awesome.  Possibly same person who thinks ‘boys will be boys’ and kids should be allowed to scream in rink lobbies.

Common sense (aka the farmer) told me not to chaperone the field trip.   But my overwhelming and constant desire to spy on my children trumped common sense and I signed up for what I tried to tell myself would be a fantastic adventure to break up a rather dull winter.

The farmer had suited my son and I up for this overnight adventure.  He hit up Cabelas and got us sleeping bags, Therm-A-Rest Trail Pro Mattress’s, earplugs and head lamps.

When he proudly showed us our gear, I did mention to him that I was not on a backpacking trip and space was not an issue as I was driving a giant vehicle. (other chaperone’s with a similar vehicle brought actual mattresses)

I’m assuming when he bought this it had more to do with his outdoor survival plans for the summer and nothing to do with my overnight stint in Drumheller Museum.

But I thought he’s the camping expert so I’ll trust that 2” of foam/air and reviews of the product saying that it was ‘light enough for the trail, decadent enough for car camping and versatile enough for everything in between’ would get me through the night comfortably.

So at 8:30 am we head out from the school on our adventure.  We form the traditional line of vehicles.  In our area it is seven white suburbans all following each other like we are secret service and the 4th suburban contains a very valuable hostage.

We stick to this method of clogging up traffic with a train of seven white suburbans for safety reasons.   No one will get lost.   If there is a flat tire, the person following you can assist you in changing it.  Pee breaks can be co-ordinated.

The thing is, times have changed.  I believe we all have Google Maps now and there are a limited amount of highways in Saskatchewan so getting lost is really not an option.

The seven vehicles were all driven by women.  No offense to the women who can change a tire, but I’m pretty sure if the white suburban ahead of my suburban has tire issues I’m driving by them and telling them to call OnStar and get someone to come help them.

The pee break logic is faulty because some vehicles are full of girls who might make the entire 4 hour trek with no bathroom stops where-as the vehicles with boys (such as mine) had to stop and pee on things roughly on the hour.  They also like to mark their territory and were trying to claim most of southern Saskatchewan/Alberta.

We arrived at Royal Tyrrell Museum exactly one hour before we intended to.  Time Zone changes always are tricky to remember.

This gave us time to get our belongings stored in the rooms they gave us and to stretch after the long trip.

The fun began with our Edutour, Alex, filling us in on the fun we were about to have and the house rules.  Alex, who was extremely enthusiastic about his job and I thought was fantastic, sounded exactly like Professor Frink from The Simpsons.

The kids had a one hour lesson on the history of the Badlands, then a snack, then a one hour workshop on solving a dinosaur crime scene, then toured the museum for an hour, then supper, then another hour of measuring dinosaur bones and then a final hour in class of learning about fossils and casting them.

By this time, one of the boys in my care had just about gone down for the count.  It took three Advil and a mystery pill to get him through it.   (I like to fill an Advil bottle with an assortment of pills and then get a little surprise when you take one.  Some options are Aspirin, Aleve, Gravol, Melatonin, Immodium –  bit of an adventure sometimes. You can fall asleep, get constipated and cure your headache all at the same time)

After all these hours in the classroom we got to take them to the Aquaplex, which is Drumheller’s pool, to recharge them before we attempt to make them sleep.

We waited at the Aquaplex for a Zoomba water class to finish up and then the kids unleashed a torrent of energy on the diving board and rope swing to try to forget the whole day of learning about millions of years of history.

Truth be known I skipped out on quite a big portion of the learning.  I said I was a ‘Creationist’, believed in the ‘flood’ and the earth being 6000 years old and stormed out.  This gave me more time to watch people come into the museum and wonder about their lives.  It should be noted that museums are a hot spot for home schoolers.

Something about museums I’ve always loved.  The farmer and I have toured many a museum and just love seeing things from another time.

Bedtime was 11:00 pm (which was midnight in my timezone) and they literally shut all the lights off in the museum.  Flashlights were necessary.

The kids had all set up their sleeping areas, with the girls camped around the T-Rex and I was in charge of the boys who were nestled under some sort of Therapod.  I did notice some of the children actually brought blow up air mattresses, or cots, or actually memory foam mattresses.


I quietly rolled out my ‘pack’ that I could have made the trek to the summit of Everest with it was so light.  What I compared it to, in a quick, light-hearted text I sent to the farmer before I nestled into my side of the hallway for the night was that I might as well have brought a piece of cardboard and curled up on that for the night.

As the hours went by, I could hear the kids sleeping and fans buzzing and saw the dinosaurs all come to life and wander around, my thoughts started to wander.

I suddenly felt a sense of camaraderie with those that have slept on hard floors before.  My mind wandered to Hurricane Katrina victims who had to camp out in the Superdome or of refugees in their camps and the thought dawned on me ‘I think we are paying to do this’.

I was up before the wake up call at 7:30, mostly due to the fact that I had around 2.5 hours of sleep.  The museum is a eery place in the morning.  Wandering around, feeling like I didn’t belong there, stealing items from the gift shop.  (I jest…  the gift shop was locked up)

The kids washed up as well as they could in the public bathrooms.  I took a sponge bath out of a sink and asked everyone to stop staring at me.

We headed off for breakfast, which was two hashrowns, one sausage, two pieces of bacon, one scoop of eggs and then help yourself to apples and oranges.  I thought this was excellent, but some of the boys felt it was similar to being in prison where you were rationed your food, told when you could eat, drink, pee or go outside (which was never).  I told them that I thought there might be a few other elements in prison that weren’t on their list.

As the kids went to the Auditorium for their last presentation, I slipped out for a stroll through the walked paths around the museum.   It was a crisp and beautiful morning and the cool air woke me up and I actually had the thought that this was a fantastic idea and I would love to chaperone another overnight field trip.  (this is when I should have known I was not making clear decisions and should not drive)

When the kids were done, we headed out.  We stopped to climb the stairs to the top of the world’s largest man-made dinosaur (not a real one) and took some selfies.

Then we stopped at the HooDoo’s and climbed a hill.  When I was young, my parents would make a day trip out to the badlands to do some hiking.  We’d pack a picnic lunch and we got to climb for hours, finding caves and ‘fossils’ and cactus plants.  I had so many good memories doing this when I was young that I was super excited to share it with my son and his classmates.

Turns out 11 and 12 year olds are slightly more agile climbers than myself.   But I scrambled up the best that my 36 year old body could do it and the kids put a flag at the top of it and again took more selfies.

 

A few things I took away from this trip.

  1. Field trips are important.  As much as us adults grumble about them they are moments that will forever be in the memory of all of the kids, even the ones that get to travel with their own families.  There is something neat about doing it with your classmates.
  2. Whoever made the no drug or alcohol policy for the adults at the museum has never tried to fall asleep on the hard floor of the museum.
  3. Make as many stops as possible at anything that looks slightly interesting so the kids can explore it and take selfies.  This is the only way that generation can remember anything is through their Snapchat account.
  4. Field trips will always be one of your best chances as a parent to spy and snoop on your child.  Oh, and connect with them of course.
  5. Teacher’s should get paid a bonus for overnight field trips.  That is above and beyond the call of duty could drive many a teacher to a ‘mental health leave’.

So, would I recommend going on a overnight trip with your child’s class?  Yes… once… and then you’ll be good.

dad does dallas

my dad … started as an engineer… then became a teacher for the money… then was a chef at my grandparents restaurant… then back to teaching…  and is now retiring at the age of 65…

he is so dear to me I have trouble putting into words how much I love him and respect him… in a world filled with people trying to get ahead, use others to make money, define success with trophies and possessions, there is my dad… who is almost oblivious to that world… because he has focused his life on different things…

all you would have to do is ask students he has taught over the years or missionaries he has supported or grandkids he loves…

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so my brothers and the farmer decided my dad deserved a trip to Dallas for his 65 birthday and retirement…  he has always had two NFL franchises close to his heart… Cowboys and Giants… the way he explains liking two teams in the same division is that when he was a kid they only showed Giants or Cowboys games so he ended up liking both teams…

although of late I would guess he is more more inclined to the Giants…  but a trip to see AT&T Stadium in Arlington trumps Met Life Stadium in New Jersey…

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highlights of the weekend included the farmer getting to laugh at the jokes my brothers made…  Mavericks game at American Airlines Center… they enjoyed watching my dad use Uber and then get to leisurely enjoy a 25 minute drive listening to Drake in a vehicle with an odd skunk odour…

they took a tour of the Stadium and had another highlight moment… my dad in a picture with two Cowboys Cheerleaders…  the moment I was sent this picture it was one of the strangest things I’d ever seen… it would be like seeing evidence of a vegan/gluten free person with a steak sandwich…  when I was young I recall every year when the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue showed up and my dad would throw it out… often right at the post office…  and he would change the channel when a cheerleader came on… and in every Bond movie him and I enjoyed watching he censored the opening credits…

so this photo was the highlight for me… normally I’m all feminist and protesting the humiliation of women being seen as objects but for some reason this was so odd that it was so fantastic to see…

the farmer went first to make sure that it was safe…  and you can tell by his hands that he’s totally comfortable holding cheerleaders in his arms…

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other highlights included eating at the Pecan Lodge and La Hacienda Ranch… my dad enjoying guacamole for the first time in his life and a meal titled the “Trough” which was a bbq sampler and very manly and the men all enjoyed it…

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most of all the time the four of them got to spend together… and this is why people travel with each other… my dad had told me he thought there were three elements to the trip that he thought he’d enjoy… the anticipation, the experience and the memories…

and it’s so true…  that’s why I never surprise anyone with a trip because I feel like the anticipation is a third the fun…  and you attempt to be fully present in the experience so you enjoy it as much as possible… and then the memories are often the best part of all…

unless you are 65 and your memory is dicey…  so I’m just hoping he enjoyed the moment… love you dad…

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city of dreams

Friday night Paris was attacked… a city that many love as much as I love New York… it was shocking… and yet I wonder why I still am shocked when these things happen…  as it is happening in other cities all the time and the news is filled with these stories constantly…  it does bring a feeling of futility and frustration that our world is broken and bleeding… I watch with my son in a hotel room the news coverage and politicians saying what should be done to fix the situation…  and my 13 year old says… ‘I don’t think they’re going to fix this situation’…

and I’m drawn to look back at day four in New York when the farmer and I woke up to rain… when you wake up in the rain, every human beings first response is to want to stay in bed…  I haven’t polled every human being but this urge is in me so strongly I can only imagine I am correct in assuming everyone wants to stay put in bed…

waking up with a farmer to rain is unlike waking up with anyone else to rain… because for farmers rain means money…  the properly timed rain is the difference between a bumper crop or not… and thus the saying ‘million dollar rain’…

so unlike others who romanticize rain…  for the farmer it is much more… which made it fun to experience it in New York with him… where it can’t make him money… or lose him money…

 

rainy day in New York and for us it was spent sneaker shopping at Flight Club… walking through Washington Square Park… walking through SoHo and looking in windows at art… wishing I could buy art…

this is what makes me so sad about Paris…  like New York, these are cities that are attacked because they mean so much to everyone…  even farmers from Saskatchewan, Canada…

I’ve dreamt of visiting Paris with the farmer someday… dreamt of a rainy day in Paris and knew it would be even more romantic than a rainy day in New York…

 

we stopped by our hotel… put on dry clothes and headed to the Blue Haven to have a bite to eat while watching the Mets play in the World Series…

while eating we watched out the window at people bustling by…  some with their dogs, some lost tourists, some so comfortable with where they were going you knew they had lived here a long time…

and my thoughts drift this morning to how a human being could kill another…  the only conclusions I could dream up in my head this weekend were…  desperation, poverty, power and a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself…

raising children in this world is a frightening thing…  I see God and truth and light in everything… and I also see a pure evil out there as well…  and I want to protect my kids from the evil and keep them close to God…

and yet I would love for them to experience living in a large city…  I wish I had the chance when I was younger… the farmer and I have decided someday when we are old we will live in different cities for a month at a time every year…  and my hope is our world is still open enough and friendly enough for us to be able to experience living in other places…

as we wandered we came across a parking garage where cars are on top of each other…  I realize to most this is not a big deal but to us farmers it is odd…

city of dreams…  this morning sitting in my farmhouse, having coffee and pondering the fight in the world of good vs evil…  I choose to believe that good wins every time… not just because I’ve watched a lot of Disney movies growing up… but because it is the only way to believe without losing your mind or happiness…  I choose to believe that God is here, with me, in me and everywhere… and where ever there is evil, God is also there and will triumph over it…

you have to know someone

one of the reasons we went to New York in the fall was to wander around Central Park and see the trees in their Autumn colours…  we found watching the ‘ice skating’ to be humorous…  one man fancied himself quite the skater and was just ripping around at dangerous speeds and ‘snowing’ strangers that were convinced he was going to run them over… oh wait… that was the farmer…  he was doing that…   I’ve boycotted zoos and aquariums for quite some time now… I even made a complaint at a Cabella’s in Phoenix one time that their trout tank was not big enough… and why not put the trout back in a river?

but we figured this zoo didn’t really have any animals in it anyways so we might as well wonder through it…  our favourite part of Central Park Zoo was the volunteer ladies that were at each station and would give us little tidbits of information…

I did a little research into becoming a volunteer at the zoo… kind of a retirement dream of mine…  living near the Park and volunteering a few times a week… I found out that it is rather difficult to become a volunteer… it is a prestigious position that helps if you know someone… the perks are you get free admission to the zoo and the surrounding three zoos…  you get 25% off merchandise and tickets to a volunteer party held in September…  and you only have to work one day a week…

these little old ladies were the highlight of the zoo for me… not the Red Panda’s that did not move or this goat that was only interested in head butting a post… no the volunteer old ladies were the real draw…

as we wondered farther along we saw two dads pushing strollers through the park… it is my middle child Ethan’s dream someday to find a lady that will financially take care of him and he will raise the children and most importantly strap one to his chest and wander around with other dads who have babies strapped to themselves…

so this picture was for him.. so he’d keep the dream alive…


we had intentions of stopping at the Boathouse and taking a romantic row boat ride… instead we opted for watching… due to the fact that I am not co-ordinated… the farmer also would not let me rent a bike… he’s seen me ride a bike…


we have been to the MET museum and loved every moment of it… but we were starved and needed to eat… we had already had hot dogs off of food stands but needed something more…

we stepped into a place called Nectar of 82nd Street… mostly because of the name and our curiosity as to what nectar they were serving up…  it was yummy and the people watching was excellent…

last stop of our wanderings was Grand Central Terminal…  I dream of attending a party here someday… or spying on a party here…  just beautiful…

to tide us over until our next meal we stopped in Chobani on Prince Street and wow… how refreshing… gave me some ideas of how to jazz up yogurt breakfasts for the kids…  you can look over their menu and get many great ideas…

probably my favourite supper was at the restaurant attached to our hotel… David Burke Kitchen… they had pictures of farmers all around the dining area… just no grain farmer… we took offense…

  

the farmer was too hungry and spoiled my picture of his crab cake…

a leaf fell in the farmer’s drink…  yes… his drink… watching him trying to navigate holding a martini glass was fantastic entertainment…

he tried to switch drinks with me because mine looked more manly… I made him drink what he ordered… for some reason he didn’t look like James Bond with his leaf martini…

in my ignorance I ordered a giant cheesecake lollipop tree that the server said he’d bring a small portion out for me… apparently they serve larger trees than this…

just down the street at City Winery I had tickets for us to see Joshua Radin perform… it was lovely… we chatted with some Manhattan moms that had their kids in fencing…  and they call hockey ‘ice hockey’… like there is another form of hockey…  the farmer was not overly impressed with the sad love songs that kept coming from Joshua but enjoyed his evening…

one thing we did learn is that there are single, available and aggressive women in New York… looking for love…  screaming at poor Joshua Radin…  if you are looking for a single woman in her early 40’s… go to New York… there are a few…