Category Archives: canada

Loving Grandpa

DSC_0487-6We got our first big snow.

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DSC_0485-5The first thing Sawyer thought of was going to the “old people’s house” across the street to shovel their porch for them.

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DSC_0483-4I’m not sure if making a buck was an incentive or not. But I explained how he needed to do it for Grandpa back home in Maryland.

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DSC_0481-2“Remember how the neighbors help Grammy and Grandpa? We can’t be there to do it, but you can help across the street just like you wish you could help your own Grandpa.”

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DSC_0477-1I think he got it. At least at the time, I think he got it. As it turned out, the nice old lady handed him $2 and he pocketed it before he remembered himself.

And that’s okay.

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DSC_0489-1It was the spirit of the thing that mattered.

We love you Grandpa. We wish you lived across the street from us.

Tree Flying

DSC_0024-1 - CopyHave you ever been tree flying? Maybe they call it zip lining. Earlier this summer our kids got to go as birthday guests of a family that I will just call The Christmas Morning Family, because that’s how they make you feel, all the time. They won’t be here long because they hail from Singapore, so we have to soak up every moment we can get.

We soaked up these moments in the trees. First, a trusty guide sees that all your equipment is on correctly.

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DSC_0028-2Then you walk over to get instructions from Tinkerbell.

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DSC_0030-3You think I jest?

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DSC_0031-4I jest not.

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DSC_0034-5It was a very serious session, as serious as a guy in a tutu can get.

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DSC_0035-6Sawyer just couldn’t bring himself to laugh when his very life would be on the line.

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DSC_0046-8“What was I supposed to do with this again?”

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DSC_0182-24It was kind of important to remember exactly what to do. After your instruction session, you were on your own. The guides left you alone and only responded to emergencies.

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DSC_0102-18Somehow in all the hubbub, Sawyer ended up going first on the course with the rest of the kids following gamely behind him.

This was great for a little brother. First? That hardly every happens.

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DSC_0064-10He’d never felt so important in his whole life. I see a hint of fear there, do you see it? I see it.

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DSC_0179-22But if you hooked yourself up correctly, you didn’t fall very far.

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DSC_0201-27We never found out what happened if you didn’t hook yourself up correctly.

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DSC_0084-15I’m kinda glad about that.

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DSC_0120-19We decided that if Mckenna had on pants as bright as her shirt, you wouldn’t be able to see her at all.  It’s a new look for deer hunters this fall.

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DSC_0196-26It’s Wipeout!, Canadian style.

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DSC_0210-28The course lasted 3 hours. Can you imagine being that careful for 3 hours? My muscles would be in tense knots.  The kids weren’t even phased. They LOVED it. Afterward we had the birthday celebration for…

DSC_0259-34The birthday girl, with apples fresh-picked from the orchard.

What did the boys do while the girls ate politely?

I’m glad you asked….

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DSC_0300-39Boys.

Wicked Stepmother Winter

DSC_0486-1It’s cold here. Why am I surprised? It’s not  just that we had a cold day, it’s that winter shook hands on it. The deal is sealed. No warm days from here on out.  This is Canada cold.

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DSC_0485-25 Cold in the states is a little more forgiving.  Like Cinderalla scrubbing floors, you know there’s a better end to the story.

Meanwhile, I am stuck with the wicked stepmother.

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DSC_0496-27That’s why I relished our last trip back home to America. The spring birds had flown south, but this was our south.

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DSC_0468-21If you look closely you can see the rarest of winter birds here to make their home. It looks like one needs a little help.

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DSC_0477-23You can do it, little bird!

Doesn’t this bring back memories? Why did we stop climbing trees?  It seems like I went from–just being big enough to reach the first branch– right to not caring that I could.  I care now, but I don’t have enough get-up in my go.  That’s sad.

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DSC_0475-22Sawyer, never stop climbing trees.

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DSC_0649-55Now,  this is something I can do.

Take pictures of people throwing a football.

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DSC_0580-50And cheer them on, “throw it, throw it!”

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DSC_0577-48Go Daddy, go!

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DSC_0578-49 Tristan will throw it…

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DSC_0629-51And take an intermission. It reminds me of my cheerleading days.  Handstands are a habit with Tristan. He also has another habit-

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DSC_0641-53Tristan of the perpetually chapped lips. Tristan, stop picking your lips!

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DSC_0642-54It’s okay, we can forgive him because of the golden glow about his head.

Besides, who can resist those dimples. One of his friends got confused and called them dumplings. Now it’s a running joke in our family; Tristan has dumplings on his cheeks. Fitting.

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DSC_0680-57It was time to go home way too soon. We left fairy land behind and returned to scrubbing floors in the stepmother’s castle.

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evil catComplete with the evil cat, but that’s another post.

What She Drove Up In…

20130904-DSC_0388If the law says you must pay $1000 for driving school, I guess the school might as well have a car to look cool in.

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20130904-DSC_0392Please tell me that driving school doesn’t cost $1000 in the states. Restore my faith in the department of motor vehicles.

Driver’s Ed used to be part of high school when I was her age. I remember turning right on a red light without stopping at all and giving Mr. Shuffleburger a heart attack.  What happened to a reasonable driving education like that?

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20130904-DSC_0405Does this look reasonable?  “Mom!  Kiki’s outside in a Bumblebee car!”

That’s all it took for every boy in the house to race through the front door.

This was a two hour session where they let you show off the car to friends and family.

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20130904-DSC_0396Who’s more excited, the driver or the drivee?

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20130904-DSC_0419There she goes. I wonder if they’ll deduct points for not using two hands on the wheel?

I wonder if that Camaro is embarrassed to be wearing a sign like that?  We are one, that Camaro and I.

 It’s exactly how I feel when I try to put on hipster clothing and pretend I belong.

The Ugly Park, Lame Version

DSC_0075Can you see me in my boot-top reflection?

I couldn’t either.

We saw the sun break through the clouds and decided it was a day for the park.  By the time we got there, the sun was blanketed by clouds again.  But that didn’t stop us.

The ankle deep slush puddles didn’t stop us.

The freezing breeze whooshing down the causeway didn’t stop us either.

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DSC_0078There was ugly park scenery to be found, by golly, and winter weather had kept us sequestered for far too long.

Do you know what I found out?

Besides the fact that arthroscopic knee surgery does not lend itself to stepping gingerly on deceptively stable snowbanks?

I found out that fat dogs can run fast. Fat moms can run fast too (if they haven’t had knee surgery).

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DSC_0009I had to hang out on the sidewalk while the kids gamboled about the wilderness like gazelles. Daisy went with them. I was left with my Nikon:

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DSC_0016But my camera and I had a good time. How much ugliness can I make pretty here?

Women are used to doing that with laundry, wardrobes, makeup, housework, it wasn’t hard to transfer that skill to photography.

DSC_0032It’s a challenge I thrive on.

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DSC_0061This is reminiscent of long tangled strands of kelp on Zuma beach.  Who expected to find kelp in the frozen forests of the North? I’m pining for my Southern Cal. days.

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DSC_0067Do you think these brittle knots will spring forth into verdant splendor come the equinox? I’ve never checked back to find out.

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DSC_0082It’s Narnia. Do you have red twigs in your neck of the woods? All we need is a squirrel named Pattertwigg.

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DSC_0087This is the Tarzan willow. We swing on the branches during summer. Someone ought to hang a rope swing from that horizontal branch that would launch you well out over the river.

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Now I know these have been dowsed in snow, drifted up to 3 feet. How do they stay upright and intact? It’s a life lesson. Keep these in mind next time you’re dowsed and drifted up to 3 feet. It’s possible to withstand the onslaught by the grace and strength of the great Designer.

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DSC_0091These were the only berries in sight; the whole bush had been picked clean by hungry beaks.  I was thankful they left me a few.

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DSC_0105These always remind me of feathers, but not the kind you’re thinking of.  Did you “feather” your hair in high school? My friend Janet had the most beautifully feathered hair.  I still remember it 30 years later.  Probably mostly because my own hair was so ill suited for the Farrah Fawcett era. I had big going for me…

but that was about it.

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DSC_0029I spy!

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DSC_0025I spy a Greyson.

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DSC_0014And a Munch.

Are you guys cold yet? I think I’m going back to the truck.

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DSC_0098They were cold. It was a 40 degree day, a lot better than four degrees. This is March in Canada.

The next thing that happens is the disappearance of snow. Then I can photograph barren branches against mud.

We’ll throw the pig on a leash and venture out again next time we see the sun taunting us from its cloud bank.

I can’t wait.

 

Fun with Crutches

DSC_0012Yes, this is where you want to be Jupiter, inside safe and warm while somebody else cleans the snow off the deck.

It’s 17 below zero.

My son reports that he took his glove off for a second to open the mail box and his hand got stiff and numb from the cold.

I would not know anything about this because I have been sequestered inside on crutches.

CRUTCHES, you say.

Yes.

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DSC_0020But it’s not as dire as it sounds.  They are only to help me hobble around after arthroscopic surgery on my knee.

You know what I found out? Besides the fact that hydromorphone does nothing to touch the pain but doubles your nausea? I found out that crutches can be fun…

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DSC_0021You’ll need a 5’10 – 6’2 crutch size for maximum potential.

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DSC_0024Several feet of snow on the ground and a house full of cabin fever also helps.

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DSC_0025Mix in the component of -17 degrees and you’re good to go.

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DSC_0026His birthday is in a few weeks and these just made the wish list.

Odd, but strangely fitting the bill for fun in a hallway.

Hero Party

It happened.

In all my years of living near ice covered bodies of water and dreading what could happen, IT happened.

Remember that wonderful sledding day I told you about recently?  While the girls were sledding, the boys went over a rise to see what was there.

What was there was not visible to us– only to those who crested the hill.  It was a frozen pond. The kind that likes to tempt adventurous boys out upon it and gobble them up. One of the boys went out onto the ice to “test” it.

It all happened so quickly, the ice cracked, he fell through and caught himself on the edge unable to touch bottom. Just as quickly Tristan and the boy’s brother who were just behind him yanked him out.  It’s a miracle really, that they all didn’t fall through and that Tristan and his friend had the strength to pull this bigger boy out.  I think God had angels there helping them.

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DSC_0610Here they are alive and well.

We left the sledding hill that day lecturing and scolding and trying to get wet pants dry, worrying about hypothermia.  It wasn’t until the parents called to thank Tristan that I even considered what a heroic act he had done.

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DSC_0608The family threw a party for Tristan and the brother.

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DSC_0602Frozen Jello is a lot less threatening than pond ice.

Although Sawyer isn’t depicted here, he had a background role to play…

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DSC_0605Much like his background role here, if you look closer…

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DSC_0606He was very much a participant.  He stood behind the heroic boys and yelled,

“Get him! Get him! Get him!’  like only a little guy can do.

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DSC_0609The card the boy’s sister made shows it all very well.

We talked around the dinner table that night what we would be doing  at that moment if the boy hadn’t been saved. It was sobering. There would be a trauma center, and disbelief and weeping.

Thank God that our days are numbered and His sovereignty covers every one of them planned for us on this earth.

And thank you Tristan, for being a hero.

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If you live near ice, here is a helpful link for ice safety:

 Lifesaving Society

 

It’s So Much Fun, I Promise…

DSC_0536If you’re going to live with snow, you might as well learn to enjoy it.

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DSC_0526We found out that Canadians take their sledding seriously.

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DSC_0590All large parks devote a huge hill to the sport and most families have a selection of sleds.

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DSC_0549Every store has a sled section because they know– if they stock them, we will come.

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DSC_0415Our kids are no exception. They beg to go sledding every year…

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DSC_0417Because it’s so much fun.

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DSC_0418There’s just something about the wind whistling through your hair,

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DSC_0419as you make that descent.

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DSC_0421The fresh air, the blue sky,

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DSC_0424the sun shining on the sparkling snow.

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DSC_0426There’s magic in the air– it’s palpable.

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DSC_0402You can find large parties making  a day of it.

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DSC_0458Mountain trails with scenic views, sticky thin branches just the right distance from the path to avoid slicing your face,

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DSC_0460Powder just the right consistency to kick up in your eyes,

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DSC_0461blinding your path and confusing your sense of direction.

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DSC_0413I know, I know, Tristan.

He wishes every day could be a sledding day.

The Penguin Post

I learned something about penguins…

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Would you have guessed that they can scratch their head while only standing on one foot?

It doesn’t seem feasible.

We were lucky to have hit the penguin area at feeding time. The penguin handlers have developed some sort of training system that keeps things orderly. There was no penguin mobbing…

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Every penguin waited patiently for its turn.

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A little polite clearing of the throat always works to get you noticed.

“Ahem.”

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One for you,

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And one for you.

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“That should have been mine.”

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Everything was going smoothly until a fight broke out in the ranks.

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And you know what?

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It looked just like my house.

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You could tell that the handler knew each penguin by sight and appreciated each of them as a separate personality.

His care was very evident. I wish I had gotten this next picture crystal clear. At least in focus–See that penguin with his head bowed?

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He came over for a hug. They liked their handler.

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Some of the more shy penguins would hang out on the periphery until the bossy eaters were done. Then the handler would look straight at them and pat the ground.

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And they would come.

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This little guy ate his fish.

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Then stayed to chat.

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Such a cute little penguin.  I used to feel sorry for them cooped up in a cage. But not when I see how loved they are.

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I wonder if given the choice, would they choose the wild raging ocean, or the gaze of that handler’s eyes?

Both!

Ugly Fish

It was worthy of filming.

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It was a Dr. Seuss character come to life.

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And it looked at you.  What more could a boy want?

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We were at the Montreal Biodome to see what we could see.

Oh, the things that we saw, the things we could see, the things, oh those things, both Things Two and Things Three!

(sorry)

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Parrots, not in their naturally lush, rainforest habitat, but oh, look at the twigs they were given to gnaw on!

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What is it?  A cute little seal?  A baby otter?

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Tristan!  What could possibly elicit such a disgusted reaction? Can it be that bad?

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Yes.

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Yes it can.

These are the kind of fish I would find on a delightful snorkeling trip in clear blue water. They don’t show you that in the brochures.

What we found next, we almost didn’t find…

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Can you find it?  It’s my own seek-and-find shot.

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There was lots more of this…

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and this. (Pointing was big.)

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More pointing.

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 Leaning.

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And summoning of the troops: “You guys, you’ve GOT to come SEE this!”

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These didn’t get by without references to potty jokes which I won’t repeat here (boys).

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There was some peeking.

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Posing.

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More pointing.

But what happened next was something we took home with us.

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“Hey guys, this is the cool aquarium tank where you can touch things.”

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“Well, then.”

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Turns out, it was the cool aquarium tank where you couldn’t touch things.

I wonder why?

It must be because that swirl of grey that you see beside the orange scrubber brush is a moray eel.

We only found that out after a security guard came RUNNING up motioning frantically and French-like about getting fingers chopped off.   The pantomime was great.

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He came home none-the-worse for wear.

Tristan, on the other hand…

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Came home with an eye infection from the water that you weren’t supposed to touch.  This picture doesn’t show his infected eye, but it sums up how he feels about the ointment that has to be applied twice a day.

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The Montreal Biodome: an educational experience of pointing, posing, peeking, poison, pantomime and penguins.

The penguins deserve their own post which I hope to get to this week. This is the time of year when I work on our Family Yearbook using all the images from the past 12 months. It’s a race to meet the deadline so I might fall behind on letting you know What’s Going On Here. But come back for the penguin post, they were SO cute!

Oh, and also my favorite pictures from the year will be coming up soon…