Sunday, August 31, 2008

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

The end of August is upon us and recounting the past couple weeks takes us to the water's edge.

We took a trip to Shelley's parents' new cottage home on the waters of Georgian Bay for a few days of family time and an increased adult:child ratio.

Just inland from the Muskoka Lakes is Santa's Village where the admission price caught us off-guard but made us all the more determined to milk the experience for its full value. The kids and I made an ornamental portrait; what you can't see is some random kid also behind the board between Reiko and I.
holey-day picture

Our little elf enjoyed the Ferris Wheel, Boat Ride, Train Ride, Airplane Ride as well as the little dragon rocker at the playground.

Our bouncing, bubbly girl also had a rollicking good time.

After a brief turnaround time at home, we ventured to the shores of Loughborough Lake, north of Kingston to visit old friends at their new home. (While en route, we stopped at Colborne's Big Apple where Kai wondered aloud as we approached, "Will it be seedy inside?" His vocabulary is not extensive enough to appreciate the true brilliance of his question, but that doesn't mean we can't marvel at his insight).

I had to cut that visit short to attend Kairos 2008, a national young adult conference for The United Church of Canada, at the confluence of the Grand River and Whiteman's Creek. I worked as a chaplain there and was surprised by the degree that death, grief and loss formed an ongoing pastoral theme.

After many late nights and early mornings, Labour Day weekend offered some time to catch up on sleep and relax on the shores of Lake Huron for a beach day before it's back to school/work/church.
Ipperwash Labour Day

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Train Ride

One fine Tuesday morning, we got up early so Shelley could put her husband and kids on a train to London. Anticipation was high at Strathroy's train platform:
strathroy station

As the scenery sped by, Kai had a little snack of Alpha-bits:
kai train

And Reiko sipped her apple juice:
rei train

We disembarked in London, waited for Shelley to meet us at the train station and we went for second breakfast. And that was our great train adventure.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Karma at the Pig Roast

I try not to comment or pass judgment on other parents, and especially not their kids. (With an intro like that, you know what's coming).

My parents, sister and her husband had a pig roast a couple of weekends ago for some friends, leading to a disparate grouping of young, working world 20-somethings, an older set of Polish family and friends and an older group of Japanese Canadian friends and acquaintances. The only other child that was there was a 5-year old boy who wheedled and ingratiated himself into everything Reiko and Kai were doing. That I could understand and appreciate, you're looking for peers and something fun to do. I get that.

But he continually jockeyed and manipulated others to get preferential treatment and attention. (Really? You're going to supplant my kids at their grandparents' place of dotage?) One example was the issue of seating for the meal. The rain that arrived altered the plan somewhat and seeing that there was going to be a conflict about the child-sized lawnchairs that were set out, I got Reiko and Kai's chairs that we had brought with us.

Naturally, the usurper wanted one of those newer chairs, despite his heated efforts to lay claim to the now-inferior seats. He sat and watched Reiko and Kai eat their meal, whined to his father and grandmother, telling them that Shelley said he could have one of the chairs (I didn't know if she did or not, but doubted it). When he pointed me out and asserted that I said he could have one, I had to disagree because I did not ever say that. At this point, Shelley had to point out the folly of arguing with a 5-year old. But still, I wasn't going to let him get away with an outright lie.

My sister's mother-in-law has always been very good to the kids, sending along little treats and gifts for them. She was there at the pig roast and had brought them each a Kinder chocolate bar. She happened to give out the chocolate in the presence of the other boy. Everyone could see what was about to happen next, so thinking quickly she sent my brother-in-law to get some other chocolate treats that she had brought.

Out came a large, bright, purple box of chocolate treats that she presented to the other boy. It was with great satisfaction that we saw him get his just desserts: chocolate-covered prunes. Smooth move.

Dishwasher Camping

As in, camping with access to a dishwasher. Our annual "camping" get-together with refugees from the long-defunct youth leadership cult called TOC ALPHA has evolved (or degenerated, depending on how hardcore a camper you are) to a weekend of hanging out in tents in someone's backyard.

We got the full benefit of pirate ship backyard equipment, fully stocked playroom and satellite TV for the kids, and for the adults - beer fridge, hot tub, and Guitar Hero. It did rain on our parade, but the festivities continued in the spacious farmhouse.

As part of our 4-places-at-once weekend, we ducked out for a pig roast at my parents' farm but got back to our campsite in time for some Settlers of Catan.

Lest you scorn our sissy camping, I will inform you that we did pack up camp in the rain.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Sunday Sabbath

So I'm currently untethered from Sunday morning responsibilities for this month. It's a bit strange, having an entire month of Sundays off. The first couple of weeks, I'm on Study Leave and then a couple weeks of proper vacation before heading to Kairos 2008 as chaplain for a national church young adult event.

Away for the pulpit for all this time, it hasn't happened before (if you don't count Parental Leave when Kai was born). My previous churches kept going in the summer, one church was in its busy season at that time with campers, cottagers and vacationers in the area. The other one continued through the summer because I was working and preparing worship for the other church anyway, and what's an extra hour or two on Sunday morning anyway?

Anyway, Sunday mornings come and I'm not in a mind-churning tizzy, preoccupied with worship content and performance. Weird. And to think that some people actually live like this all the time!

Check Engine

For many months (maybe not that long, but for several weeks at least), I've been driving with the "check engine" light on. After going to the garage and receiving only a "random misfire" diagnosis from the sophisticated computer equipment, and only expensive educated guesses (ignition coil?) to go one, I thought I'd drive the car until something really wrong happened and we could identify the problem more conclusively.

Finally, the engine light started blinking! And a chime dinged once. But I wasn't sure if that was better or worse. I called the garage but they were busy rebuilding someone else's transmission and couldn't fit me in (hopefully, they wouldn't have to do the same for me). Eventually, I got in and was told the car wasn't driveable ... whoops ... but in a couple days' time we were back on the road with a new ignition coil.

I never appreciated before how smooth a ride is without the jittery, sputtering, start/stop, herky-jerking of the engine. Or how sleek and high-functioning a dashboard can look without amber warning lights. Vroom vroom!


Before getting to the latest news, it's time for a bit of catch-up.

Reiko's first season of soccer concluded earlier this month with a couple of sparsely-attended games. What with summer vacations in full swing, and a long weekend, there were a number of absences that required multiple shifts from most players.

The first of these games, none of the kids wanted to play in the fourth quarter; they were tired and just wanted to continue snacking. For her last game, Reiko acquitted herself well, playing 3 quarters and, by her count, "touching" (read: kicking) the ball multiple times.

We missed the final tournament (can't be 4 places at once, more on that later), but when we took her uniform to her coach so it could be donated to a developing country's children's soccer program, we received her trophy (everyone got one).

Apparently the team won both their games during the tournament. Perhaps they were inspired by the absence of one of their best runners. And that was the 2008 season of The Accelerators. Vroom vroom!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Summer Slipping Away

Since the last entry, things have been as busy as ever. We're heading up to the new and improved cottage / summer home of Shelley's folks. I'll be back at some point with updates on Reiko's soccer season, check engine lights, having Sundays off, dishwasher camping and the kids' first train ride.

But yes, we're alive. And well.