Friday, July 31, 2009


My life is pretty darn blessed.

I follow several bloggers... a few are family, a few are bloggers I stumbled on in some random place or through other people's blogs. One such blogger is Fat Cyclist ( I first linked to his blog through my IronMan cousin's blog. For more than a year I have read the blog (which is, at its core, about cycling) and followed along with his family's battle against the cancer that is slowly tearing his wife Susan from from them. This man, Elden (the fat cyclist), is a man I've never met; a man I never will meet. But I feel like I know him. He is an amazing writer, and an even more amazing husband/father/person. And he regularly brings me to tears. Today I read that the end of this awful journey is near for his family. Today my heart aches.

Update: Susan passed away the evening of August 5, 2009.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I could feed a small third world country with the money I've already spent on the boys' school supplies for the coming school year. And I haven't gotten everything on the lists yet!


Coming off vacation... I'm just sayin'...

Hubby had an appointment today, so he didn't weigh in. He plans to go tomorrow. Assuming he's still within an "acceptable" range, I think he has only one more week until he reaches lifetime!!

Change from last time: +3.0
Change since starting WW: -30.6
Pounds to goal: 11.4

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Day 6 - Not in Really in Canada at All
Yesterday was Day 6; the last day of vacation. Compared to the day before, it was completely uneventful. We met my aunt and uncle for breakfast and then headed down to my parents' house. It took a couple hours. The boys disappeared into the basement (my dad has taped a hockey net to the wall down there and keeps hockey sticks and balls there for them) and we visited for a while with mom and dad. We all went out for a mid-afternoon late lunch/early dinner, and then Hubby and I headed home to Virginia.

We made very good time, and didn't even get too hung up on the beltway, even though we returned to town during rush hour. Bonus! We got home right around 7pm. We unloaded the van, and Hubby proceeded to load up his hockey gear and head to the rink for his game while I went to pick up K-dog from the kennel. Even without the kids we were going in different directions!

Today it was back to work. Vacation over. :-(

We received a dispatch from Camp Grandma and Grandpa. All is well. They went mini-golfing and to the Nike Outlet to get Keeper Boy a new pair of running shoes. I think a trip to the pool was on tap for earlier this afternoon. And Keeper Boy did well with his contact lenses this morning. He got one in and Grandpa got the other one in. One of these days he'll get both of them in by himself! He's just not there yet...

Foot update--for anyone who cares, my foot is pretty much back to normal and has been since Sunday afternoon-ish. It got better each day as the day wore on. Odd but true. I guess I just need to wait until the next time it happens. If it is plantar whatever, I think it'll come and go throughout my life. Not like I'm a stranger to foot issues. I've had my fair share. Just something else to add to the list!


Day 5 - Driving, Driving, and More Driving
I wrote this on my Blackberry Notepad somewhere in New York on Sunday evening...

Today has been spent in the car. Not on purpose; that's just the way it's worked out. We checked out of the hotel in a rain shower. We were going to try to find a little shop to get some inexpensice t-shirts and such, but we abandoned that idea when the shower turned into a monsoon. Instead, we drove toward Goalie Heaven, where we had to pick up Keeper Boy's catch glove around 1pm.

We had seen this intriguing and obnoxious looking store on our way to Goalie Heaven yesterday, so we thought we might stop and take a look around. The closest parking spot to it was about two and a half blocks away, though. We sat for awhile to see if the rain would let up. When it didn't, Hubby just drove up to the door and let us out. He then went to park the car. Good thing the boys insisted on keeping those silly ponchos from the Maid of the Mist Ride!

OMG! This store -- Honest Ed's -- was amazing! Not completely in a good way. It was like the world's largest dollar store. It covered at least a city block... probably two. It was three levels. AND it was Honest Ed's birthday. Well, it would've been if he hadn't passed away last year. But apparently that didn't matter. The city was still celebrating. There were police and news cameras and tons of people (who I think were mostly there waiting in line for the free hot dogs they were giving away). I can't imagine how many people might have been there had it not been monsooning outside!

Anyway, we wandered around for over and hour and left with a bag full of red, white, and maple-leaf covered schtuff -- all for less than $30 CAD. It's the kind of place where you need to be willing to dig through large bins of stuff to find something worthy. But judging by the bags people were hauling around in there, lots of people do lots of shopping there.

As an aside... everywhere we went in Canada we were asked if we wanted to buy a plastic bag for our purchases for 5 cents. I guess that's why we saw people carrying cloth bags around everywhere!

By the time we went outside, the monsoon had stopped and the sun was out. We picked up Keeper Boy's glove and started home about 2pm. We should've arrived at tonight's destination (Williamsport, PA) around 8:30pm, including a dinner stop. Instead, it's 10:30pm and we still have 50 miles to go. What happened?

Well... not too far outside of Toronto (before we even got to Hamilton), we got into a HUGE traffic delay. Turns out the QEW (expressway from Toronto) was closed because Lake Ontario had flooded it. We didn't want to venture off the road because our GPS doesn't have Canadian maps and we were working off a printout from Google Maps. So waited. And inched. And waited. And told the boys to knock it off and keep their hands to themselves. And inched some more.

What should have taken us about 90 minutes to get to the U.S. border took us almost four hours. Ugh. There was also a delay at the border crossing. There were three lanes of traffic going over the Peace Bridge into Canada, but only one going into the United States.

We did pretty well for awhile -- even saw a double rainbow -- and stopped at an Applebee's in Geneseo, NY for dinner. After that, more fun! A detour off the interstate and another monsoon. What a day!

We should be at our hotel in Williamsport in about a half hour (about 11pm), weather and traffic permitting. Right now it's looking good.

Tomorrow morning: breakfast with my aunt and uncle, then on to mom and dad's house to drop the boys off for the week...

Update: We did arrive at the hotel just after 11pm -- even though the road was closed and we were forced to exit one exit before where our hotel was. Luckily I'm familiar enough with that part of Williamsport that I could get us to the hotel with no problem. They had our reservation and I think we were all asleep by 11:30. We had a great breakfast with my aunt and uncle and made it down to Camp Grandma and Grandpa without further incident.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Day 4 - Goalie Heaven/Casa Loma
As has become the norm, today didn't turn out to be exactly as we had planned, but it has been a great day nonetheless.

We did set an alarm to get up and get down to breakfast a little earlier. Unfortunately there was no variety from yesterday's breakfast. That was fine... there's still plenty to choose from. After breakfast, we all got showers and then headed out to Goalie Heaven.

What is Goalie Heaven? Well, it's part of a hockey store (Toronto Hockey Repair Ltd.) in Toronto... it has TONS of goalie equipment. TONS. And Keeper Boy needed some. We found the store with little trouble, and got parking on the street right in front of the store. The owner, Fiorenzo, helped us personally and took good care of us. In little more than an hour, we walked out of there with a new blocker glove, chest protector, neck dangler, helmet bag, and skates. And the skates were "baked" to Keeper Boy's foot to make them more comfortable. And, he's fixing Keeper Boy's catch glove as we speak. We will go back tomorrow to pick it up before we leave. We think we got a very good deal on the equipment. I know we only spent about 50 - 75% of what I was thinking we were going to have to. He gave us a bunch of discounts because we were buying so much, I think. And he threw the helmet bag in at no charge. Can't beat that.

We had kinda blocked off the whole day to equipment shopping, but we were done before Noon. So we decided to go ahead to Casa Loma today instead of waiting until tomorrow. It was a pretty straight shot from where we were, and we found it with no difficulty.

What an amazing, beautiful, and ridiculous place! It's a castle built by Sir Henry Mill Pellatt on a hill in the middle of Toronto. It took 300 men more than three years to build and cost almost $3,500,000 to build at the time. (It was begun in 1911.) He and his wife lived there for fewer than ten years before he lost it to financial ruin. Parts of it were never finished.

We wandered around Casa Loma for a few hours marveling at the intricacy of the wood panels in the rooms, and the molding. Everything about the place oozes wealth. Underneath the castle, there was to be a swimming pool and a bowling alley. Each was started, but never finished. The bowling alley is now the gift shop. The swimming pool is ust there unfinished. There are turrets, acres of gardens, and secret stairways throughout the home. It's one of those places you wish you had free reign to explore.

We drove back to the hotel in some pretty good rain, driving down Carlton Street and the old Maple Leaf Gardens along the way. Keeper Boy thought that was pretty cool.

We've been relaxing in the room for almost an hour. Everyone had a snack and we have the Jays game on TV. Hubby is dozing (at least in between outbursts from J-Mav... he gets very excited over the silliest things sometimes). I think we're going to try a restaurant down the street for dinner. It specializes in southern Italian food. We're going to remain low-key tonight. We told the boys maybe we'd do a pay-per-view movie in the room. We'll see.

So now we have no plans for tomorrow, other than to go back to the store to pick up Justin's catch glove at 1pm. We'll have to look through the guide book and see if there's anything else we want to check out while we're here. If not, I guess we'll head south a little earlier than we'd planned.

We have a reservation at a hotel in Williamsport, PA tomorrow night. We will meet my aunt and uncle for breakfast on Monday morning before heading down to Mom and Dad's house to drop the kids off for a week at Camp Grandma and Grandpa. :)

Less than 24 hours left in this great city...

We ate dinner at the Italian place. Tretorria, I think it was called. It was good, but we probably would've done better to walk over to Yonge Street and pop into somewhere over there. The boys just had plain bowls of pasta. I had a panini. Hubby had a pizza. He said it was good, but he didn't seem over the moon about it. Oh well. After dinner, we walked down Yonge Street, over by the Eaten Centre, and went to a theatre to see Up (Pixar's latest movie). It was very cute. The kids (and us) enjoyed it. Afterward, we walked back and the boys went immediately to bed.

A few observations we've made about Toronto...
It smells like trash. Moreso in some places than others. This is a direct result of the trash strike and we have to assume it is not the norm; however, it's hard to ignore as it's an almost constant visual and arromatic assault.
It seems to be quite environmentally conscious. There are recycling bins everywhere. There are bike taxis. There are Smart Cars. There is lots of public transportation. Lots of people walking and biking around downtown. We have seen ads in the city, in the papers, and on TV for rebates on energy-saving and water-saving appliances. There are recyling bins in the hotel rooms. There are signs posted to turn lights off when not in use. The overwhelming thinking definitely leans toward "green."
It doesn't seem to be overly health-conscious. We haven't seen a lot of people running, or walking for exercise. We've seen several gyms and fitness centers, but not a lot of people in them. There seems to be a lot of people smoking. We haven't seen "health conscious" items on restaurant menus like you see in the United States. I don't know if it's because obesity is not an alarming concern as it is in the United States, or what. Maybe people get their exercise from toting around all the change in their pockets/purses. Because Canadian currency includes a $2 and $1 coin, it seems like we often get ALL of our change in coins. It does get heavy.
It's a modern city. There are a lot of young and "hip" people here. Fashion forward trends, extremely modern hair styles, progressive attitudes. It's an interesting contrast to the beautiful, historical architecture that is all throughout the city.
Rain boots seem to be an "in" fashion trend. I can't tell you how many people we've seen wearing rain boots. It's very weird.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Day 3 - Hockey Hall of Fame/Blue Jays Game
What a great day! Sports, sports, sports!

We slept in a bit and got down to breakfast just before it was ending. With full bellies, we headed back upstairs to shower and get dressed. Then we walked over to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

We were all very excited to spend the day wandering around memorabilia from all the hockey greats. We decided to start in the trophy room and work our way back down and through. We had our picture taken with the Stanley Cup and looked up all the Caps on the various other trophies. Ovie's name has already been engraved on his trophy haul from this past season. Very cool.

We wandered around the various areas of the HHOF and saw all kinds of awesome stuff. Keeper Boy sat in a replica Habs locker room behind Ken Dryden's pads. J-Mav tried his hand at being a goalie in an interactive game (as did Keeper Boy). J-Mav actually got a better score; however, in reality he didn't make any saves at all. If you even touched the puck a little, it counted as a save... even if it went into the net. Kinda silly, but they had fun!

Hubby tried his hand at making the call on an Ovie goal. Keeper Boy and J-Mav also shot on Curtis Joseph in another interactive game. They both scored once, I think. A good time was had by all. By the time we were done wandering, it was after 3, so we went out to the food court and grabbed some "lunch" and then went back into the HHOF store and wandered around for awhile. We each chose a souvenier and then we headed back to the hotel and rested for about an hour.

Tonight, we hopped in a taxi (my foot was bothering me too much to walk, plus it was raining) and went down to the Rogers Centre to catch a Blue Jays game. The Jays were playing the Rays. We had intended to buy the $9 seats in the 500 level. We just wanted to see the game; we had no stake in who won or lost. However, when we got up to the box office, there was a promotion going on. Apparently they have a few games during the season where they designate certain sections in right field (200 level) as "All you can eat" sections (including hot dogs, popcorn, chips, peanuts, soda, water, and nachos). The tickets were about an extra $15 on top of the normal $22 price. Considering the cost of stadium food and then fact that we had planned on eating dinner there, that seemed like a pretty good deal. Well, the seats were great, and I think we definitely got our money's worth. :) Among the four of us, we had nine hot dogs, two popcorns, three bags of peanuts, eight sodas, one water, and three things of nachos. By my calculations, that's probably at least $100 worth of nasty stadium food!

Unfortunately, the Jays lost in 10 innings and Keeper Boy now has a belly ache. Hallady pitched a great game, but he was pulled after the ninth and whomever the reliever was wasn't much of a relief. I did get to see two former Phillies play... Rollen and Burrell... one on each team. Oh, and it stopped raining so they retracted the roof after the third inning. That was cool, too! My foot felt okay after sitting for several hours, so we walked back to the hotel.

J-Mav was asleep before his head hit the pillow. Keeper Boy thought he was going to get sick, so he now has a trash can nearby as he falls asleep. I game him Tums... hopefully he'll feel better in the morning. He's not used to eating that much junk.

I am icing my foot while I write my blog, and then I'm going to hit the sack. Hubby is doing some work. We plan to set an alarm to make sure we get to breakfast a little earlier tomorrow morning. There was quite a lot of people there trying to get in under the wire just like we were. The plan for tomorrow is to go shopping for Keeper Boy's equipment. The shopping list includes a chest protector, skates, blocker pad, and neck protection of some sort. It'll be an expensive day. But it'll still be cheaper than buying it at home.

We have been observing that all of the trash and recycling recepticles around the city seem to be obscenely overflowing. And some just have tape wrapped around the openings and say "out of service." We were commenting that we thought that was odd and that it seemed to go against the grain of the city, as Toronto seems to be very environmentally conscious. There are lots of Smart Cars, Eco Taxis, and recycling bins in all hotel rooms and by almost every trashcan on the street. Tonight I heard from a friend on Facebook that there was a trash strike going on... he asked if it's still going on. I didn't know anything about it, but from what we've observed, I'd say the answer to that question is yes. It's a shame because this is a beautiful city.

More tomorrow...

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Day 2 - Niagara Falls/Toronto
We awoke this morning (too late for the free breakfast at the hotel) to rain. Good thing we did the Maid of the Mist yesterday! Cloudy is better than rainy since you get wet enough from the falls themselves! We ate breakfast at a family restaurant next door to the hotel and then walked up the street a little. Nothing really to see. It's like someone took all the cheesyness from a boardwalk and plopped it near Niagara Falls. We went into the Canada Trading Co. -- I was hoping it'd be a neat store like the Alaska Trading Company was, but it was mostly junk.

We let the kids pick the last two things they wanted to do. Yesterday when we bought the tickets to the Guiness World Record Museum, we bought the ticket that was good for three admissions. There were five other places we could visit on the ticket -- a haunted house, a maze thing, a fun house, a playland, and brickland (Legos). They chose the fun house and the playland. Both were sufficiently cheesy, but they enjoyed them.

That done, we hopped in the car right about Noon and headed to Toronto. It was an uneventful 90 minute trip, and we found our hotel with no problem. After we got settled in our room, we took off on foot and spent the next 8+ hours wandering. We went to the Eaton Centre because we wanted to go to the Roots Store. We were disappointed as we didn't find anything there. We wandered around the mall for awhile and then walked down to Wayne Gretzky's Restaurant. The boys and John had fun wandering around looking at all the memorabilia while we waited for our dinner. All of our dinners were great! And all of our desserts were great, too. Keeper Boy got the "99 Brownie" and it was a brownie that looked like a puck with the number 99 on it. I took a picture. He WANTED the 10-layer chocolate cake. We saw someone get that... no joke, it was AT LEAST 24 inches high. We told him Grandpa would've had to have been here to help him eat that!

After dinner, we walked a few blocks down the road and around the Rogers Centre (where the Blue Jays play) to the CN Tower. We payed the exorbinant fee to go up the tower. But the kids loved it, and we all walked on the glass floor. Hubby was just as freaked out this time as he was when we were here 8 years ago! After that we walked back to our hotel... about a 30 minute walk.

We covered a good amount of territory today on foot. The good news is that my foot actually felt better as the day went on. I iced it most of the way from Niagara Falls to here, so that probably helped. Hopefully it will continue to feel good tomorrow. :)

The plan for tomorrow is the visit the Hockey Hall of Fame (woo hoo!!) and then see how we're feeling. If we're up for it, we might go catch the Blue Jays game. Saturday will be reserved for equipment shopping. And we'll catch Casa Loma on Sunday before we leave town.

Lots of fun still to be had...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Day .5 - Travel
I'll count last night as Day .5 since we didn't leave until 7:30pm. We packed up after work and went to Subway for dinner with Hubby's brother and our sister-in-law. We got on the road and drove until Hubby was too tired to drive anymore. We had hoped to get to Erie, PA, but we made it only to New Castle, PA. That was okay, though. We pulled in to a Comfort Inn about midnight and got a good night's rest before heading out again this morning.

Day 1 - Niagara Falls
We arrived in Niagara Falls around 2pm after an exremely uneventful and quick drive across the border. We found our hotel and checked in. It's very cool... THREE beds, so no fighting among the boys when there should be sleeping!

We immediately walked down to the Maid of the Mist. We bought our tickets and got right on with no wait. We wore our very stylish blue, Maid of the Midst ponchos. I forgot to grab J-Mav's sea bands out of the car before we walked down to the landing, so I slyly got a plastic bag from one of the boat employees (just in case). The ride was great, the falls are just as beautiful as I remember them. The kids loved the ride and how close we were idling next to the Canadian Falls. And J-Mav was fine. I took lots of pictures... hopefully a few of them will turn out well. I thought I brought the cord to get the pictures off the camera, but apparently the cord I brought is for something else. I have no idea what. Doh!

After the boat ride, we walked down to the end of the sidewalk... to the place where Hubby and Keeper Boy had looked at the Canadian falls when they were in January. We stood right where the water goes over the falls and looked down. Very cool. And very wet!

Then we walked back to Clifton Hill (where our hotel is) and we went in the Guinness World Records Museum. Kind of cheesy, but there was some interesting stuff in there. The kids enjoyed it. Dinner at Ruby Tuesday's and now we're relaxing for a few minutes before we head back down to the falls for a concert, the falls illumination at 8pm and fireworks at 10pm.

Don't know what the plan is for tomorrow... we did everything today that we had planned for Niagara Falls. So we might just wander around a bit in the morning and head to Toronto after lunch instead of tomorrow evening.

One thing I need to do is find a drug store and get some ice packs. Something is really wrong with my foot. It started hurting this morning and walking around on it all day hasn't helped. It's a pain on the bottom of my foot, kind of where my heel meets the middle of my foot. I'm hoping it's not plantar facitis (sp?)...


I didn't go to weigh in last week because I was too swamped at work. The week before I gained. I don't remember what the exact numbers were, so I'm not posting the usual stats. I'll get back in the groove next week with the posting.

Hubby has successfully maintained for five weeks now, I think. Maybe four. I think he has two more weigh-ins before he becomes a lifetime member!!


While getting ready to leave for our vacation...

"Mama, will we drive by Florida on our way to Canada?"

~ J-Mav

Monday, July 6, 2009


In my time between jobs, I didn't post for whatever reason... the following is a conglomeration of two weeks of weigh-ins. I don't expect this week's weigh-in on Wednesday to be so great, but maybe I'll be surprised...

Hubby has successfully maintained for two weeks (almost three now)... a little more than three to go before he becomes a lifetime member!!

Change from two weeks ago: -2.4
Change since starting WW: -33.6
Pounds to goal: 8.4