Friday, February 28, 2014

Talent Show

Elise has been taking "hip-hop" dance lessons this winter and when her elementary school announced they were hosting their first annual talent show, Elise jumped at the chance to enter. This video shows her performing her routine for Katy Perry's "Roar". About 15 kids got up in front of the school and performed, and I thought the kids who did solo performances were the bravest!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Birthday Number Eight

The eight birthday party has come and gone. Elise seemed keen, but as the big day approached she confided in me that she wasn’t as excited as she’d been in the past. She said this in a somewhat perplexed manner, and I thought it was an interesting comment. Regardless, she had tons of fun and it turned into a very full weekend.

Her actual birthday was Friday, but we planned the party for Saturday morning since Pam had to work on Friday and thought an after-school celebration would be too hectic. This is how the two-day itinerary panned out:

7:30 am – Official family present opening, favourite breakfast (French toast)
8:30 am – Lego building
9:00 am – Pick up Tim and Josie and head to Whistler to ski for the day with Dad
12:00 pm – Lunch in the Glacier Creek Lodge: fries, hot chocolate and two-bite brownies
3:00 pm – Marshmallow treat at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Whistler
4:00 pm – Lego building back at home
5:00 pm – Hip-hop dance class
6:30 pm – Indian meal out: garlic naan, vegetable pakora and butter chicken
7:30 pm to 9:00 pm – Lego building

8:00 am – Get up, Lego building, get dressed for party
9:00 am – Friends arrive for birthday party, chaos ensues
9:30 am – Pancake breakfast
10:00 am – Crafts
10:30 am – Cake and presents
11:00 am – Climb, jump, dance and rage in the garage
11:30 am – Friends go home, Lego building
1:30 pm – Drive to Levitt Lake, skate all afternoon, bonfire, roast marshmallows
6:30 pm – Drive home in the dark, dinner, Lego building

Opening her presents on Friday morning. She loved all her gifts (thanks everyone!) but she was especially pleased with the Lego Dolphin Cruiser, the present she'd hoped for from Mom and Dad.

Her favourite breakfast, French toast! Wearing the new hat that "Ahnie" knit for her.

Lego work before skiing.

Fooling around in the Horstman Hut with her friend Josie. It was a clear cold day, so we took a couple of indoor breaks to stay warm between runs. While I was taking this picture, some low-life was outside stealing my ski poles form the rack! Luckily the ski patrol lent me a pair so I didn't have to ski the rest of the day pole-less.

A sweet treat from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in Whistler after skiing. We save this for special occasions.

In the dress Grandma Bourdon sewed for her, getting ready for her party on Saturday morning.

The pancake portion of the party.

The cake. She asked for a heart, so Pam arranged cupcakes in a heart-type formation.It worked, and was very tasty I must say!

The craft portion of the party. The kids got busy and came up with some interesting ideas. The two boys used the most material, by far!

Amazingly, Tia emerged from hiding to join the party.This after I told the kids "you'll never, ever see her".

Hazel had my vote for the best craft. She made this little blue bird out of plasticine and feathers.

Digging into the cake.

Digging into the presents. All of the kids brought her lovely gifts, including some beautiful presents that were homemade.

Eric Wild made his own wrapping paper complete with complicated artwork. I especially liked the "angler fish" - I had to take a picture.

After the cake and presents the kids requested some garage climbing. In this shot, I told them to all get on the wall. Elise is hanging from the ceiling. It kind of looks like she's levitating!

Things got a little crazy once the music started. Maya is doing a full front flip (!) and Elise is doing her Madonna dance moves to the song "Vogue".

Cooling off with a bit of playground time in the backyard. It was clear but chilly!

After the party finished, we rested and then joined forces with Jen and Eric Wild for some awesome skating at Levitt Lake north of Squamish. Elise was psyched! She really got the hang of skating this winter and loves outdoor ice. She was the first one on the ice and immediately took off. Pam says Elise now skates better than her.

Atwell (right) and Dalton Dome (left) from Levitt Lake. It was a gorgeous day, but this photo hints at how little snow we've got in the mountains this year.

Check out that ice! It was black - clear as glass.

Eric and Jen...

There was a huge fire that burned all afternoon long by the cabins. We enjoyed hanging out, warming up and roasting marshmallows while we socialized with the cabin owners and other skaters.

When I asked Elise how she liked the skating while driving back to Squamish she told me it was the best day of her life! That's a little dramatic, but she really did have a great time. I'd say the two-day birthday weekend was a success this year.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chulilla Wrap-up

We squeezed the most out of our final time in Chulilla. The weather forecast was poor, but we ended up with three good days and a single evening of rain, which was not bad all things considered. Some last photos from the trip...

Chulilla in morning light.

Cliff line above the Turia River gorge.

One of two bedrooms in our apartment at Las Cuevas. It was very comfortable and started to feel like our home away from home very quickly. The owner, Jesus, was very friendly, although he didn't speak a word of English, nor did his wife.

We saw lots of fish (some large) in the Turia River, but fishing was prohibited.

Another photo from the day in the thermal river near Montanejos. Elise gets full points for putting her head in that water and snorkeling. I didn't dare get my hair wet - it was too cold.

Restored castle above Sagunto, a pretty city north of Valencia.

Climbing route name tag.

Citrus fruit grew everywhere around Chulilla, especially oranges which were truly delicious.

Fishing regulations for the reservoir north of Chulilla. I guess using fruit as bait is okay!

Fooling around in the trees by the river.

On limestone, a water streak that builds up to form a protruding column on the rock is referred to as a "tufa". They form in the same manner as stalactites, and there were many in Chulilla. They're great for climbing!

We can always trust Elise to spot fossils on the trail. She has a keen eye and spots the details that Pam and I miss.

Market day in Chulilla. We were off to the Valencia aquarium and Elise wore her Christmas "stuffies" around her neck along with her purse. She wore this heavy necklace all day and it ended up chaffing her neck, silly girl!

The aquarium in Valencia, which is located in the riverbed that runs through the city. We spent a few hours touring the exhibits. My favourites were the glass tunnels, but Elise liked the dolphins best, of course.

After the aquarium, we went to a park for Elise to play. The playground consisted of a giant statue of Gulliver lying on the ground complete with ladders, ropes and multiple slides. The kids swarmed the statue, much like the Lilliputians in the famed story. It was really unique and Elise loved it. She's posing on Gulliver's fingers.

Valencia city beach at sunset.

For our last day, we gave Elise the choice of a few different activities. She choose a "via ferrata" adventure, which is basically a route that follows a series of metal ladder rungs up a cliff face. These are very popular in Europe, but have yet to gain much traction in North America, partially because they can be a bit unsightly due to all the metal necessary. The one in Chulilla was rated "experts only", but we didn't really know what that meant. I think my very words were, "A ladder's a ladder. How hard can it be?" Talk about famous last words. It turns out that "experts only" means the rungs are quite far apart, the terrain is steep and traversing and an ascent requires a mixture of ladder pulling and rock climbing. To make a long story short, we climbed two pitches which took us about half way up the cliff and then retreated, mostly because the rungs were too far apart for Elise. Regardless of the difficulty, she seemed to have fun and enjoyed spitting (!) off the belay ledges.

Looking up...

Still feeling optimistic.

Pam and Elise right before we turned around and rappelled back to the ground.

After the via ferrata "adventure", we decided to tack on one more activity, a hike to Las Cuevas. The weather was looking a bit ominous, but we had rain gear and it was our last day!

The first cave we visited was the long, horizontal roof near the bottom of this picture. It was quite interesting.

After hanging out in Cueva del Gollizno, we continued on to Cueva del Teroro.

This cave was far different, and kind of resembled a snake hole in the side of the mountain. Pam wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole, but Elise was keen, provided I go first. It was hands and knees all the way and ended with a tight squeeze into a small chamber. Elise kind of panicked when we saw daddy long leg spiders on the walls illuminated by our headlamps. I had to calm her down for the return.

Here she is coming out, looking a bit worried after the spider sightings.


We spent our final evening socializing with our friends from Penticton. Our journey home was long, starting at 4:30 am in Chulilla and ending at about 9:00pm in Squamish, but we encountered no problems along the way.

The trip was short but memorable, and both Pam and I were sad to leave. Elise, however, was very excited to get home, see her friends and go back to school! Sometimes I just have to shake my head...

This is what greeted me on the truck in our driveway the next morning: two weeks worth of frost needles from a dry and cold Christmas break. That's the windshield wiper, by the way.

Back to winter...