I am coming to you late in the week for a rare Friday afternoon installment. It has been an amazing couple of weeks to be outdoors in Prince George. Most years at this time we are already dreading the long winter slog that lies ahead in the not so distant future. None of those thoughts have entered my mind. Hockey season is starting, the Spruce Kings our local junior A team have their home opener tonight, and it is currently 28C/82F 3 hours before puck drop. My soccer team is scheduled to play our semifinal game on Sunday afternoon. The weatherman is calling for a high of 30C/87F that day. Luckily, the Terry Fox Walk takes place at 10 that morning, so the inbetween time cam be used to cool off.
During the past 2 weeks I have managed to squeeze in a few fun outings with Jasmine and Asher. Last week we took a drive out to Miworth after I had realized that 10 years after moving to Prince George, I still hadn't seen the area. We drove to Wilkins Park and found ourselves right on the banks of the Nechako River. Asher, Jasmine and I went out to water's edge to check out the slow moving water. We found a few shells, but the baby toads got Jasmine most excited. She carted a couple of the them around as we went for a short hike down the river. We toyed with the idea of bringing them home, but then decided that mom might not like that. After playing soccer for a bit in the nice grassy area, we were on our way. I hadn't really planned the day, but as we were getting hungry I decided to stop off at Dana Mandi to try their lunch buffet I had heard about. Jasmine dug right in, and Asher was so riled up to be out at a restaurant that he could hardly eat. He stayed in his seat for the most part unless Dad or Jasmine was up getting more food. Then, he was up. And around, and in the back area of the restaurant. It was quiet in the place, so he wasn't as disruptive as you might imagine. Jasmine and I ate our fill (always have to have 2 plates at any buffet is my rule (Jas had 3!)) while Asher ate about 7 pieces of Naan bread and 2 bites of Butter Chicken. I went to pay, and the ladies working (all part of the owner/operator family) told me that I need not worry about paying for Asher "he is just little" were her words. A nice gesture that you rarely see these days. I added to the tip and we were on our way. Off to the swimming pool for some fun and exercise, then a stop at the Pastry Chef Bakery as is our custom, and an exhausted Asher passed out in the car on the way home. It was a nice way to celebrate Jasmine's last day before school started.
This week, Asher and I have taken advantage of the nice weather by walking each of the last 4 days. Tuesday, we walked to the high school and stopped to play soccer while watching the school teams work out. Wednesday, we walked to Jasmine's school to attend Strong Start for the first time this year. Asher had a lot of fun seeing all of his old friends, and getting his stamp at the end of circle time from his teacher. He has been looking forward to "school" for weeks. In the afternoon, we went swimming with Jasmine.
Thursday, as we got ready for another walk, I looked around the house for Asher's hat. Having no luck, I grabbed one of mine and he was happy to borrow it from me. We made it to the high school and started golfing. Asher insisted that we bring the "real" clubs, telling me that his plastic ones were old and didn't work anymore. Smart boy he is. Well, the junior version of the "real" clubs are too heavy for him. Did he care? No, not at all. The only way he could connect was by pushing the ball along the ground with the 7 iron, but after getting plenty of praise from me he didn't know the difference. Many of the highschool kids were commenting on how cute he was with his oversized ball cap and giant club. He didn't get discouraged, instead he got a lot of fun out of chasing the balls that I hit across the field. After a bit we decided to put the clubs away and take out the soccer ball. We moved over to the big goal to take some shots. Then I hear, "hey Dad! My hat!" I turn around and see Asher holding up what appears to be a ball cap, but it has been mangled by the lawnmower. I get closer, and sure enough, it is Asher's roots ball cap that he wears regularly. Though I don't remember, we must have left it at the field on Tuesday when we were there. The coincidence of him finding it himself got an interesting reaction from him. He thought it was kind of funny how it was shredded with grass all stuck to it, but he was also quite sad that his hat was wrecked. Later, as we were leaving to finish our walk, we loaded the wrecked hat in the stroller so we could toss it. Asher got a little sad about it until I told him he could keep my Expos hat because it was my fault that his was ruined. "That's pretty funny Daddy!" It was still on his mind a while later when an older later waved hello to us, then stopped to oogle Asher. She got to hear all about the mean lawnmower and what it had done.
As we were walking, a thought crossed my mind. It is so nice out, it would be cool to head to the lake. Jasmine would get a kick out of it, expecially on a school day. We had a nice time, even though it was sooooo hot. Jasmine did plenty of swimming, but Asher was too scared of the little fish that were swimming everywhere. We left after a few hours that ended with Asher getting stung by a wasp. He had already had a wasp land on his face 5 minutes before so this was ridiculous. 2 wasps in 5 minutes? I would have expected a 2 year old to be more upset when stung by a wasp, but man is he tough. A little bit of crying, calmed down within a minute, then he held the side of his face quietly for the whole drive home. No fussing at all. He calmly told his mom what happened and had a cold cloth on it for 2 minutes. Then he moved on with his day, never mentioning it again. After eating dinner we decided to go to the pool for some more swimming, then topped the day off with an ice cream cone. Asher was so tired out from his long day that the sugar jolt had little effect and he fell asleep quite quickly after we got home.
While all of my time with Jasmine and Asher is important to me, there were a few very cool things that happened in the last couple of weeks that reminded me just how much my kids love me. Jasmine has recently started grade 5 and is 10 years old. She has already entered that phase where outward affection towards her Dad is not always the cool thing to do. Now, she does still give me a kiss and a hug before she leaves for school, but I know this will not always be the case. She doesn't spontaneously announce her love for mom and dad like she used to. It's been a while since she told us that she planned to live with us forever. Forget all that. I don't need words, when actions provide the same message.
A couple of weeks ago, I looked into minor basketball as Jasmine was considering playing again. I got confirmation that the games would be Sunday morning this year instead of Saturday meaning that I could no longer Coach due to work commitments. When I broke the news to Jasmine, she was quite upset. She wasn't sure if she wanted to play anymore because as she put it: "you have always been my coach Dad." It's true. She hasn't played soccer or basketball without me being one of her coaches. I was happy to see that I am still wanted, and not yet a source of embarassment made me tear up a little. Sheila and I did convince her that playing was still a good idea, and she went ahead and signed up. On Tuesday night after she had soccer, Jasmine tagged along to my practice. She was going to sit and watch, and get some reading done for school. Instead, she spent a bunch of time booting the ball around with me while I warmed up. She was genuinely disappointed when I told her she couldn't play with the guys during our scrimmage. Jasmine doesn't take much interest in soccer practice, so this was awesome to see.
A little while back, we started hearing from Jasmine that she wanted to be in the school band. As parents, we are always happy to hear about new interests, and we were supportive of this one too. The first week of school she came home with information about the band program. There was to be a meeting where the kids could try out the instruments, and Jasmine was going to go and decided that night what she was going to play. We talked about the band a few times during the week, and I told her a few stories about my 2 years spent playing the trumpet. By the time the meeting came along this past Wednesday, Jasmine had already decided that she would play the trumpet. Her two best friends were also signing up for band, but Jasmine wasn't worried about what instrument they were picking. She picked the trumpet solely because I had played it, and she told me just that. Wow, that blew me away. I told her that maybe we can look into getting 2 trumpets so we could play together. Not only did this not repulse her, she actually got excited about it! We signed up for a 2 month rental which gives me time to shop around online. The trumpet market is pretty competitve, so getting 2 of them won't be that expensive. The opportunity to bond over music is too good to pass up.
Jasmine is now signed up for band, minor basketball and Girl Guides so she spent plenty of time joking with me and Sheila about all he clubs and teams. She let us know that she was also going to do lunch time monitoring for the younger grades, and decided that this counted as another "club". This is probably enough to have on her plate, as she will have regular homework, plus plenty of swimming outings, as well as winter fun when the snow flies. It's good to keep 'em busy somebody once said.
One last story to pass on as I my time runs out. Asher has been pretty excited about the whole trumpet development this past week. Last night, as Jasmine was practicing, he even got in on the act, blasting a couple of notes and getting a good laugh out of us. Jasmine, Asher and I were all downstairs listening to some trumpet music on the computer. I have a modest collection of ska music, a style that incorporates elements of punk music with big band style brass instruments. On most records, the trumpet is just a bit player, but we found an album that featured trumpet playing on every song, and it was the lead instrument on a number of the songs. We played a few songs off of the "Skatalites - The Best of" album and then Jasmine strolled off with her mom to the band meeting. The next morning as Asher and I engaged in a spirited session on blanket hiding ("the bad guys is coming! close up the windows!") he abruptly turned to me and asked for "trumpet music". He does tend to be in awe of the things Jasmine gets to do, but this was still pretty shocking. I put the album on, and a little later after we finished playing he asked to lay down. What? Still wondering what was going on, I set him up with a pillow and blanket on the couch. It was only 930 in the morning. Asher will sometimes initiate this as a prelude to a nap, but tends to be closer to noon or later. He didn't seem tired, and he wasn't. He laid quietly listening to the music. As confirmation that he was indeed listening, he called to me a couple times when there was gaps between songs, wondering when the next one would start. He fell asleep after about 45 minutes of listening to "trumpet music". Fast forward to this morning, and right around 930 he once again asked for "trumpet music". This was in response to me telling him I was going to put music on. He immeadiately asked for help getting up onto the couch and he once again set himself up to listen to the tunes. After about 30 minutes he was once again having an early morning nap after relaxing to the sweet sounds of Johnny Moore on the trumpet.
That's my time. I'm glad I got the chance to share today, as many of the little things in life have led to me smiling constantly over the last few days.