Bobbleheads

This trip has been full of bobbleheads – otherwise known as children under the age of 5. Our circle of friends must have taken notes from the rabbit handbook, because procreation has happened en masse. This is just fine with me – I dig a good bobblehead. In spite of their limited impulse/bladder control, they got their priorities right: eating and sleeping are my favourite activities, too. Here are a few of the little dudes’n’dudettes we hung out with before Todd left to go back to Bangkok last week (I’m livin’ large and in charge in Canada until early August):

1. First up, we have little Theo.

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As you can see, Theo is one gorgeous little dude. While I guess his parents may have had something to do with his genetic makeup, I attribute his good looks mostly to the fact that he was born in our house. That’s right: our frenants (friends/tenants) Eric and Laura decided that our little love shack would give their birth experience that certain extra somethin’ somethin.’ Clearly, it worked out. I generously offered to let them pay their rent using Theo as the currency, but they were strangely disinterested…

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“Excuse me!?! Of course Theo belongs to me – he was born in MY HOUSE!!”

**If you’d like to birth your child in the Abode of Attractiveness, contact us – we are currently offering sweet package deals. Beautiful Babies guaranteed. **

2. Next up, we have my favourite twins/goddaughters Bobble and Yoda. We have known these two pixies since birth, which is probably why we felt the need to give them such thoughtful and concise nicknames. As a baby, Bobble (otherwise known as Esme) would flail her limbs and head all over the place as though she’d been given a major sugar hit. We assumed that she was just a really active baby until we noticed that Yoda (Maelle) was eerily quiet and focused: clearly, she was manipulating Bobble’s movements using The Force.

The twins try to control me using only basic hand motions

Now that they are 2.5 years old, both twins have gained full control of their limbs, and have learned to use The Force in less conspicuous ways, such as helping Elderly Math Geeks (ie: Todd, and their father Joel) design water features out of old pipes, and using their oversized brains to learn both of Canada’s official languages. I take comfort in the fact that they still can’t speak Pig Latin, so at least I’ll have some party tricks to impress them with when they’re older.

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The twins instruct the Elderly Math Geeks on proper hose and pipe placement.

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“Ahh. My strategic instruction paid off.”

3. And finally, we have a whole litter of kittens. Todd and his two buddies Mark and Andy are basically Tweedle-dee, Tweedle-dum, and Tweedle-dumber, except that Mark and Andy hopped on the procreation train before Todd did, and cranked out two kids each before Todd could even procure his first.

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“Dude. Todd is DEFINITELY Tweedle-dumber”

We got to spend a weekend with the Tweedles and their wives and kids, which gave us plenty of time to hike, catch up on life, and have multiple philosophical discussions with their 3 year old daughters, Anna and Emily.

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Todd and Emily debate that age old question: What flavour is the colour red?

We learned that a 3km hike with 4 children is an epic endeavour, and requires numerous chocolate bribes and rest stops to throw rocks. However, I’ve never had adult hiking buddies pick flowers for me; or ask if the dog walking toward us on the trail is a bear; or refer to my husband as “That boy,” so I’m calling it a winner.

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“That boy” helps Emily and Anna search for magic swimming bunnies

I got to hang out with some additional awesome bobbleheads after Todd left, but I have to cut this post off somewhere. Before I sign off, though, let me just reassure you that amidst all the hangouts with our friends’ kiddies, I didn’t neglect my own wee bairn. Nope. Bannock got plenty of high quality food:

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Enjoy it while it lasts, little Bannock, cuz after you’re born, no fast food will ever touch your lips.

And heaps of rest:

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And one last photo for all of you who have bugged me for photos of the bump: rest assured, it is growing.

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Photo courtesy of my Aunt Jeanette. She is a Dutch Oma, so if you ever bump into her, ask her to make you some Butter Beef.

Mmmmmountains

If there is one thing that T-bone and I were looking forward to when we planned our trip home – after seeing family/friends and eating Vietnamese subs, of course – it was heading to the mountains.

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Ahhh. Eating a Vietnamese sub. What would this blog be without my flattering self-portraits?

Hiking, skiing, and eating the equivalent of our body weight in trail mix (“I have DEFINITELY burned enough calories to necessitate the consumption of 10 lbs of chocolate covered coffee beans”) are among our favourite activities in the Calgary area, and we were eager to head fer the hills ASAP once we recovered from our jet lag. As luck/planning would have it, two of our favourite siblings were visiting from California at the same time, so we got to roll a whole bunch of favourite things into one big favourite day.

Todd is displaying all of his favourite teeth at the thought

I was a little nervous when I heard that Todd’s brother Dean “The Machine” and his Cute’n’Perky wife Jane were planning the hike. These two eat mountains for breakfast, and I wasn’t sure that my beluga-esque body would be able to keep up.

They look innocent, but they are beasts

Fortunately, Machine and Cute’n’Perky had a plan: we would all hike to Sentinel Pass together, at which point they would split off and climb this Mothah:

The bony finger of the Grand Sentinel points in the direction that you need to climb (up)

It worked out great. Machine and C’n’P dealt with cold, wind, and severe exposure, while I hung out at the pass and psychoanalyzed our friend Tanis; tried (not very hard) to resist feeding the chipmunks; and mocked our friends Justin and Cory as they attempted to “skateboard” down the side of a mountain riding a slab of rock. It was a pretty good division of labour.

Dean and Jane prepare to climb…

Not exposed at all.

More my style: watching Cory trying to feed a chipmunk with his teeth

When Machine and C’n’P returned from their climbing adventure, it was time to head back to the valley. T-bone’s day was complete when he realized that he could squeeze in a little skiing along with the hiking and trail mix eating:

The view from Sentinel Pass. In the words of that wise sage, Taylor Swift: “I don’t know if it gets better than this.”

It was such a good day that we felt the need to head out to the mountains again the following week. This time, it was just me, T-bone, and Bannock.

Bannock and I scope out the valley (on the Stanley Glacier trail)

We ended up following the same pattern as our first trip, though. We climbed to the highest clump of trees we could find, where Bannock and I hunkered down to read a few chapters of Game of Thrones. Early literacy is extremely important, particularly when it involves raping and pillaging. Meanwhile, Bannock’s father decided that he needed to touch the toe of the glacier looming above us.

Have fun, T-bone 

On our way down, we discovered several fresh springs. A nice change from Bangkok’s bottled water. For any of you Old Testament buffs, these photos remind me of the story in Judges where God tells Gideon not to choose any men who bend down and drink like dogs for his army.

Good biblical technique

And dog technique

It worked out in the Old Testament, but in this case, poor Gideon would have ended up with the prego.

Leaving Todd free to continue his favourite habit of smirking next to mountain lakes

We actually made it out to the mountains a third time, but I’m saving that story for an upcoming post on bobbleheads….

Summer School’n’Reality TV

Sorry once again for the gap between posts, folks. And sorry for another rambling update – the last few weeks have been a little manic. While the school year officially ended at the beginning of June, life actually sped up after the school hallways were emptied of precious little cherubs. Here is a synopsis of our life during the latter half of June.

Summer School

We really felt that the regular school year just didn’t give us enough time at the school, and if there’s one thing better than being at school when it’s fully functional, it’s being at school when it’s undergoing substantial renovations and there are numerous migrant workers catching naps under the rickety scaffolding (when they’re not using jackhammers). So we signed up to teach summer school. It’s a three-week, mornings-only program, plus you are given a (dubious looking/tasting) lunch – a good deal all around. Todd taught grade four, and I taught grade one. If there is one lesson that I learned, it is that I should be extremely grateful that I am not expecting dectuplets. After spending each morning with ten small people screeching “Ms. Ruth! Ms. Ruth! I drew a line with my pencil! Can I go to the toilet?! Pancake was mean to me on the playground! What are we doing next, Ms.Ruth?!” I had to spend the afternoon sleeping it off. They were extremely cute, but even extreme cuteness won’t repair my eardrums.

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Jacqueline – the other grade one teacher/my personal hero – shows our students how to make Oobleck

Todd’s students were a little less screechy, but a little more weird. Every time he would read aloud to his class, he would find three or four students stroking his arms. They weren’t trying to be funny – they were obsessed with his arm hair. Not sure if these kids have been deprived of pets, but they seemed to think that Mr. Todd was their own personal ferret.

Reality TV stars

My blog has brought me some really interesting opportunities. Case in point would be the never-ending stream of offers I get from UK-based plumbers hoping to contribute guest posts to my blog (I would be grateful if someone could explain this to me). One of the best though, has been our stint on reality TV. Back in February, I got an email from the US TV show ‘House Hunters International’ asking if Todd and I would like to be on their show. Essentially, it is a show that films expats looking for new homes in new countries. As soon as they told me that participation in the show would land me a free ticket to Canada, I was in. Many interviews/questionnaires/audition videos later, T-bone and I found ourselves taking part in a three-day shoot in Bangkok. It was a great experiences, although we discovered that reality TV is not quite as “real” as one might think – we had to pretend that we had just moved to Bangkok. The crew captured hours and hours of inane conversations between us that went something like this “Oh wow, Todd. What a pretty flower. Can you believe how crowded it is here? It is sooooo different from Calgary.” “I know, Ruth. And it is sooo hot. Oh look. It’s a fresh coconut. Can you believe that you can actually buy that here? Oh wow.” I no longer wanted to hear my own voice after the experience. Here are a few photos that the director took during the shoot (sorry for the low resolution):

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Meeting our real estate agent: “And we would really like space for our seven favourite cats”

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“Oh my goodness. It’s a fresh coconut.” “I know. And it’s, like, so crowded here. Crazy.”

Changing Houses

Ironically, no sooner had we ‘chosen’ a house for the TV show (sorry to ruin the magic, but on the show, you always “choose” the house/apartment that you already live in) then we decided to give our apartment by the school the ol’ heave ho, and moved into the city. Because the show had to the depict our apartment as un-lived in, they hired movers to pack up our stuff, which helped a bit with the moving process. However, it was still a bit of an ordeal to move apartments, and between filming, teaching, medical appointments, and preparing to fly home, we only had two afternoons to finish the job. Fortunately, Todd went and found us a dude with a pick-up truck who was willing to cram all of our stuff into his vehicle and haul it to our new place for around $25. You know it’s a good business deal when both parties can’t believe their good luck.

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Feelin’ lucky

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We never were able to shut the back of the truck – good thing Todd found some twine.

Canada ho!

Four days after filming House Hunters in Bangkok, we headed to the airport to fly home to Canada. While there were many good parts of our first year in Thailand, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t counting down the minutes before we could get on that plane. I’ve never been so homesick, and it was such a gift to be given a flight home. 25 hours after leaving Bangkok, we arrived in Calgary, and it has been a non-stop filming/visiting/eating bender since then. I decided in advance that I would gain all my pregnancy weight while we’re in Canada, and I’m proud of the work that I’ve done so far. But more on our Canada trip to come in a future post…