Wednesday, January 25, 2012

STACKHOUSE SOAPBOX (Yorkton This Week Jan 25)

My family and I are back from a great week of holidays in Manzanillo, Mexico.  It was the first hot holiday we’ve taken as a group of five and it was even better than my expectations.  The kids were as well behaved as they’ve ever been and that was my main concern.  We all had a blast.  I documented the week at .  The people around Manzanillo made a concerted effort to tell us that it was very safe in their area.  I’ve always believed that trouble will find you if you are looking for it and that is why we hear about the negative stories concerning tourists in Mexico.  Still, you can’t help but get a little edgy when you hear of violence on a visitor.  And, in the last week I have heard of a few.  There was even a report of a Canadian killed in Melaque; which is closer to the Manzanillo Airport than Manzanillo itself.  The most disturbing one comes from Mazatland, where it sounds like a woman was beaten right in her hotel room.  The only bad experience I have to report (other than going from +35 to -41 in about six hours when we arrived home) is that housekeeping ripped off my brand new ear phones.  I’ll take a bit of blame for that though.  It’s suggested you put certain valuables in the safe that is made available to you; and I didn’t do that with the head phones.  The iPhones, passports, and money were in there.  But, I should have put the ear phones in too.

It was an expensive first week home.  I always figured since I have been, especially, critical of what I had perceived to be ‘quotas’ for the Yorkton City RCMP, that I would be pounced on as soon as I was ‘caught’ breaking a traffic law.  My vehicle isn’t exactly hard to identify.  Well, it happened the other day and here is (from what I can remember) how the stop went:  “Do you know why I’m pulling you over?” asks the officer.  “I haven’t any idea,” I reply.  “You blew that stop sign on 4th and Argyle.  Drivers/Registration please,” he continues.  As I’m reaching for the documents I’m trying to determine where 4th and Argyle actually is.  He also asks me if the vehicle is registered to me.  As I get my license and registration, I asked if 4th and Argyle is behind RBC.  He answers with a terse “yes” and disappears to his squad car.  He comes back and hands me the ticket and tells me how long I have to pay the ticket or else appear in court.  And, that was it.  I never admitted guilt.  In fact, I didn’t have a chance to agree I blew it, disagree I blew it, or offer an explanation (not that it would matter) as to why I may have blown the stop sign.  It wasn’t a concern to him.  And, maybe it shouldn’t be I guess.  After all, he’s got to get moving to write more tickets (which I think he did just moments later unless it was another officer).  Maybe I misread him, and that’s why I won’t publish the officer’s name, but I felt as though he was, personally, offended by the alleged infraction.  It was as if it was ‘his’ stop sign.

****UPDATE THAT ISN'T IN THE PAPER:  Apparently, there was a blitz province wide to nab those that blow stop signs and they, collectively, wrote upwards of 500 tickets last Wednesday and Thursday.  I wish we could have a 'Break and Enter' blitz where anyone caught doing so and is found guilty would be automatically given the maximum penalty allowed under the criminal code.  The bleeding hearts will say it's not that easy because maybe there are special circumstances surrounding the B&E.  I say nonsense.  Maybe someone has a special circumstance for going through a stop sign.  

Don’t forget the speed limit has been reduced just north of Yorkton on Highway 9 and so don’t get yourself caught being absent minded and not double checking or else you may get a ticket.  I’m not sure if authorities are giving folks a grace period or issuing warnings or not.  Technically, they don’t have to.  And, I don’t expect them to.

I don’t expect I’ll ever be accused of anything beyond a traffic violation, so I have no way of knowing if this is the case or not, but I certainly hope police are as vigilant on criminal code offenses as they are on traffic ones. 

Congratulations to the City of Melville for their great job hosting Hockey Day In Saskatchewan on Saturday.  I was in attendance for the SJHL game and the place was packed.

I don’t like to admit that I, sometimes, agree with Calvin Daniels; but he threw out the notion the other day about the SJHL maybe trying to attempt to do an outdoor game and I think it’s a great idea.  Wouldn’t Yorkton vs. Melville be great at The Grandstand? 

Nice person mentions this week to Nadine Swan (from Fred Schrader), Mike Kardynal, Ryan Sturgeon, Darren Fenske, Kevin Krause, and Gina Flett.

Saturday, January 21, 2012


View of our resort from a distant hill

January 15
Two full days left and we are going to spend both of them on the beach or at pool side.  I was never quite right though after my ordeal through the night.  I felt better.  Not sick at all, but still felt strange.  Hard to explain.  Not much energy, but I could get up and go just fine if I had to.  I didn't really want to think about food, but knew I had to get something in me just the same.  I drank lots of water and this day I have decided to have no alcoholic drinks at all.

I've met a great family from Brandon, Manitoba.  They are the Sturgeons.  29-year-old Ryan Sturgeon is a source of motivation for anyone.  When he was 16, he suffered a life altering injury when he jumped off a dock at Lake Minnedosa and thought he had about 16 feet of water to cushion him.  Instead, there was a sand bar just 3 1/2 feet under water.  He broke his neck and back in several places.  Doctors told him he'd never move his limbs again and to be prepared to live in this state for the rest of his life.  Well, Ryan and I had a nice conversation today, both of us standing poolside.  He still uses a wheelchair on a regular basis, but is capable of walking, with assistance, and appears to have almost full use of his arms.  His surgeon, who also instructs at the University of Manitoba once paraded his entire class in front of Ryan because he wanted the students to see, "a walking miracle".  Ryan has a great job with Assiniboine Health Region and gives motivational speeches.  He has no idea he motivated me just with a casual talk.  His dad is just as amazing, as I watch him do things most of us would take for granted several times a day in an effort to help his son.  In fact, I'm sure his entire family is special, but Ryan and his dad are the two I got to be most familiar with.  I've met a few people in my life that have had to deal with life changing events that I would not have the power to handle the way these few people have.  Maybe that's why I have never had to deal with such ordeals.  God knows I can't and, as a favor, hasn't forced me to.  Still, it's frustrating to see really bad things happen to such good people and it makes me angry.  

We have a supper reservation at the Mexican Restaurant at 6:30 to use our second a la carte coupon.  Most days, this is a challenge for me.  I'm fussy and don't like Mexican food, but the restaurant overlooks the ocean and has the best view.  Everyone wants to go.  But, I'm also still not looking forward to any kind of food, so I know already this is going to be impossible.  I ordered a chicken something or other and poked at it before the waiter came to collect it.  "No good?" he says.  I answered something politely, but he didn't understand and took it away.  Oh...I took a blast of tequila before supper because I thought maybe that might get me going.  It didn't.  I would've had another, but nobody else wanted a shot and having two or three without anything of real value to eat may have resulted in another cozy night at the toilet for me.

5:30 - 6:30 was family picture time.  Lots of pictures.  It went pretty good, actually.  Usually, we have a heckuva time getting everyone to smile.  Looking at the pics, I'm officially tanned.

We got back to the room again around 8:30 and after a game of Trouble with the girls, it was bed time.  I always go to bed to music or a tv show on my iPhone.  I'm all set for NYPD Blue, but I can't find my headphones.  New $50 headphones I just bought a week ago at Best Buy.  Skull Candies, I believe they are called.  Anyway.  I can't find them.  Anywhere.  As I type this, I'm convinced housekeeping lifted them.  Fuck.  I'm pissed.  As I type this on January 16th, I'm hopeful they still turn up as we pack our things for home, but I'm not optimistic.  Jenn and I looked high and low.  If I find them, I'm going to be even more mad for assuming someone stole them and also for being very irresponsible, but that's par for the course.  I forget EVERYTHING.  I'm not sure why.  It's a little early for Alzheimer's.  I think it's because I have about half a dozen things on the brain at any given time and so I'm never concentrating on where I put things.  I'm famous for losing keys.  My next vehicle will be keyless entry, keyless ignition.  Then, I shouldn't have to worry about keys.  Our house is keyless.  The only thing left would be work.  Not sure if Kirk and Sheri would go for changing the locks all in the name of me being forgetful and irresponsible.  Speaking of keys, I have no idea where I put the van keys.  Might be fun in Winnipeg.

I dug out my $10 spare set of headphones and I'll get by on those for now.  But, I'm spoiled.

January 16
Last day = best day.

We were poolside from 8am to 5pm.  I never saw the inside of our room from when we left for breakfast until we got back to get cleaned up for supper and to try and type this diary on a keyboard that is, increasingly, working better.  Maybe it's my charge chord?  I dunno.  

Moneyball is finished.  Good book.  I'm not convinced Billy Beane is as smart as people think.  But, that's just me.  Ron MacLean's book is almost done.  Very good book.  And, I've selected a few pieces from The Business of T-Shirts to read too just to keep my mind on work a little bit.  I've also read a little of Willy Mays' biography.  This looks promising.  I also read a couple of chapters of Cold Terror and had to put it down.  It's about how our country harbors terrorist organizations.  We are so politically correct and passive in this country, that reading about terrorists thriving in Canada doesn't come as a surprise to me; but the how much we have funded them is enough to make me as sick as I was two nights ago.  You see, a lot of these guys disguise themselves as aid organizations or charities and the government sends millions.  No questions asked.  I am reluctant to share any thoughts, publicly, on what I think of this stuff because I will come across as racist.  But, consider this:  I have watched sports announcers ridicule Tim Tebow for his outward show of Christianity on the football field.  Nobody says an objectionable word back in favor of Tebow.  We put up with it.  But, if Tebow was a Muslim and displayed something Islamic instead of Christianity, we would tread very carefully on how we criticize.  Why?  To me, we have rules and regulations in this country and they should be followed, not altered or changed so that select interest groups can do what they want when they want.

At the same time, I'm all for people coming to Canada and making an honest living and abiding by the laws of our nation.  In fact, I'm thankful.  The young white man has become lazy and feels a sense of entitlement to his life.  So, it's refreshing to have those from other countries come to a place like Yorkton and show everyone else what's like to earn what you get instead of having it, simply, passed on to you because your parent is a hard worker.

Macey had another siesta poolside.  About two hours she zonked out.  She only awoke when it was time to leave.  She did provide me with a laugh earlier in the day when she thought she saw an iguana hiding in the bushes where she, normally, exits the pool.  So, she started crying and felt helpless to get out.  I went after her and then we sat in the pool together for awhile and I started to get the gospel according to St. Macey.  She informed me that the real big iguanas are grandpas.  And, the one in the bushes had really big eyes and, therefore, it's a grandpa.  In the same conversation, I asked her if here was anything left that she'd like to do in Mexico.  She says, "No."  I answered with, "Are you sure?  This is our last day."  She gets in a snappy, "Good."  She was still upset about the iguana.

I put on a bit of a show later for some strangers as we were walking by another pool to look down at a waterfall when, honest to goodness, an iguana stepped out in our path.  She screeched and proclaimed it as a grandpa one right away.  I said she should reach out and touch it because grandpas like hugs.  Not a chance.  More screeching and some laughter from poolside.

We retired to the room shortly after supper to pack all of their things for the trip home.  Still no headphones.  Gone.  Stolen.  Let this be a lesson.  Use that safe in the closet for ANYTHING you decide is valuable.  I, clearly, didn’t put enough of my possessions in there.

Oh, and I was sick again.  Heat stroke?  Maybe, but I’ve been out in intense heat for a full day lots in my life and never suffered from this.  Jenn thinks it might be the cheese.  Honest.  I wasn’t drunk the entire week.  So, it’s not what you are thinking!  I was a very well behaved father on this trip.  The illness this time wasn’t as bad as the other night.  I got it over with and I was, pretty much, better immediately afterward.

I didn’t sleep well.  Some of the newcomers to the resort didn’t know how to go to bed after the disco shut down at 3am.  

January 17
We had one last breakfast before checking out of the resort.  Macey and Mallory both had chocolate Rice Krispies.  Matthew had the biggest helping of bacon you could imagine.  Jenn and I had regular breakfast meals.

I reported the stolen headphones at the front desk, but the clerk looked at me like I was crazy because he said I’d be long gone home and couldn’t get them back.  I said the point was not to get them back (like I want them after they’ve been in someone else’s ears), but rather for them to establish a possible pattern of behaviour with a particular employee.  He didnt’ seem interested.

The help from the doorman was much better.  He took all of our bags to the front of the line and ensured we got on the proper bus that was shuttling us to the airport.  Extremely helpful.  On the half hour bus ride to the airport, all I could think about was how, in about ten hours, I would be experiencing a temperature difference of 75 degrees Celsius from what I was currently experiencing.

It was so cold in Winnipeg that it caused our plane to be delayed an hour and so we sat in the sweat box, otherwise known as Gate 3 at the Manzanillo Airport for about two hours.  Again...the kids were very well behaved.  I was so proud of them this week.  Best ever for them.  Someone even said to Jenn that, "You guys make having to parent three kids look very easy." Oh, if that person only knew the truth! I should point out it was later revealed that water pipes on the airplane broke because of the extreme cold and, therefore, there was no coffee or tea on the airplane and if you had to go to the could flush...but had to stick to hand sanitizer to wash up.  Good thing I don’t pee on my hands.

In Winnipeg, we waited forever for the luggage to come around on the belt.  Turns out...the last bag off the plane was ours.  How fitting seeing as how we have a 4 ½ hour drive ahead of us.

January 18
Home at 1am.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Matthew, in his glory, holding an iguana.  I passed on this opportunity
January 13
They say the crime rate in Manzanillo is very low, but I've been awake in the wee hours of the morning two nights in a row to the sound of police sirens.  Just saying.  My walk through the city, by myself, didn't make me any more uncomfortable than walking through any other unfamiliar city.  It seems very safe, indeed.

This was the earliest we've been out of bed.  7am.  We hit the breakfast buffet and then packed up for a half day excursion to Cuyutlan, a small village with a turtle harvesting farm.  All five of us loved this.  The best part was launching mini black sea turtles into the ocean.  They were born four days ago.  We also got to see iguanas and a professional coconut cutter.  These guys are real life monkeys.  They climb the trees barefoot and start hacking away at the coconuts.  Our tour guide says it's a dangerous job.  Sometimes, the worker will fall out of the tree and never work again.  No kidding.  We also took a small boat ride through the mangroves and that was a treat too.  In addition to seeing some nice new vegetation, we also got a glimpse of a baby crocodile, sitting on a lilly.  Even though he was the size of a domestic cat, he looked like he could chew my arm off in a nano second.  We also saw a snake curled up around a tree.  I hate snakes.

There are plots of land for sale in Cuyutland.  $30 000 for the land, $70 000 for the home of your dreams built by hand.  It takes two years.  Where do I sign?  This is the 'real' ocean too.  Waves can be six metres high.

The kids are lucky.  They got to do and see things today some kids will never ever do.  None of the three realize this, but it's okay.  It's easy to take it for granted.  When they get back and talk to their friends, I'm sure there will be some envy.  Kind of like the envy I felt growing up every time a classmate told me about his family's trip to Florida.  I still have never been to Florida.  Mind you, I have no interest now.  I'm not a 'ride' guy.  The kids would love it though.  So, I'm sure it'll happen at some point.

Macey has mastered the siesta.  She took one right on the beach yesterday and, today, she napped twice.  Once on the bus out to Cuyutland and once on the bus on the way back to the resort.  Both times on my lap.  It was a back breaking experience.

I hit the gym this afternoon for about 35 minutes.  It's amazing how quick one gets out of shape.  I figured an interval workout would be best.  Mentally, it worked.  I feel better.  

We have two televisions in our room, which is more like a one bedroom apartment.  Neither tv has been turned on even a single time yet.  Although I have to confess to watching NYPD Blue re-runs, HomeLand, Big Bang Theory, and season 3 of 24 on my iPhone and iPad in the evenings when everyone is settling in.  If everyone in our house would do this....what would be the point of cable?  

Sleeping pill update:  they work so well, Ed is thinking of buying a couple of boxes to take home and use them instead of his prescribed medication.  Love it.

Matthew is right at home.  He's got the science of having a waiter wait on him hand and foot down perfectly when eating.  He's very good about speaking Spanish where possible and you'd think he was on his 4th or 5th vacation to Mexico.  It's old hat for him already.

Tough supper for Mallory.  Two meals in a row without hot dogs.  Up until today, every single meal (other than breakfast) has been a plain hot dog in a bun with a helping of ice cream for dessert.

Oh, I wonder if that fish that bit me yesterday was actually a crab.  I spotted a bunch on the rocks today and thought they were giant spiders.  Oops.  Do crabs bite?  

January 14
It's actually January 15 and I have found something with Apple that pisses me off.  The keyboard for this iPad.  Works 60% of the keys 75% of the time.  So I'm stopping for now before I launch this off the balcony.

Trying again on January 16 and the keyboard still sucks.  But, most keys are working.

This was shopping day for some of us.  Generally, I like this part of the trip, but I found the market to be no fun as most vendors were not willing to play 'Let's Make A Deal'.  Things have changed in the last few years, I guess.  Upon further reflection, the prices weren't all bad to begin with, but it's fun to make deals.  

In fact, I was in position to buy for higher than list price a few times.  Jenn and the kids are not good at all about hiding their enthusiasm for merchandise.

The tour wrapped up by 2:30 and we had been to three different markets.  The last one was a big Mexican garage sale, essentially.  For my own personal collection, the only thing I ended up with was a new bandana.  Jenn thinks I'm a sexy beast when I wear bandanas!  Jenn and the girls got dresses and some other odds and ends.  Matthew's big thing was that he wanted a necklace with a shark tooth on it.  Mission accomplished.

We spent the rest of the afternoon poolside and then hit the Italian Restaurant to use up one of our a la carte coupons.  I ordered a calzone.  It tasted fine.  We got back to the room by 8:30pm.  We, quickly, made the decision to check out the entertainment stage that was putting on a show at 9pm.  None of us lasted very long.  It was 100% in Mexican and all of our interest levels were low.

I had my first and only run-in with security today.  I had been indulging myself on the craziest waterslide ever since we got here.  Turns out, it’s for ages 5-15 only.  I got in one turn today before a security officer came flying out of the bushes and informed me I was too old to be on the slide.  I told him okay, and that was it for my water slide escapades.  Picture happy Jenn wasn’t thrilled.  She failed in her attempt to get a photo of me going down.  Shucks.  It was a tremendous piece of work though.  Made, entirely, of cement you could really fly on it.  And, suffer incredible burns on your elbows if you weren’t careful.  The thing spit me out with such velocity that I actually missed the bottom lip altogether and usually would crash into the buoys that divided the water slide part of the pool from the main swimming area.  Such fun.

I struggled to fall asleep.  I had this annoying heartburn type of sensation that I couldn't shake.  Around midnight, I took three Pepto Bismol pills and one Gravol.  By 2am, I was as sick as a dog.  In fact, I've been sick from a hard night of drinking and felt better than this.  Both ends paid hard.  Jenn can't stand the sound of someone throwing up, so she quickly jumped out of bed and stayed on the balcony in an effort to avoid it all.  I don't think she was successful.  Let's just say there was quite a bit of force to my sickness.  Whether it was heat stroke or a bit of food poisoning I'll never know, probably.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


View from our balcony in Manzanillo
January 11
Keeping a diary is not easy.  It's January 13th, about 5:15pm as I attempt to get myself caught up.

The day started with normal behavior from the kids, IE-I was annoyed well before we even started breakfast.  It's almost like they know where my buttons are, what it takes to press them, and then there is a surprise crackerjack prize after the buttons have been pressed.  The prize isn't usually a good one, but they like to play the game anyway.

We are on the fifth floor and Macey thought she'd see how much of a rise she could get out of me by dangling over the balcony.  Sorta Michael Jackson style, only it's not the parent holding the child.  It's the child doing it on her own.  My opinion is you don't get do-overs if you fall off the fifth floor.  So I snapped.  We also had a breakfast incident with Macey whereby she was carrying an empty glass and tripped on a step, smashing the glass with her landing on top of it.  She had a couple of minor scrapes, but she was okay.  The glass was a write off.  The butler was terrified of a lawsuit.  He provided more than ample care.

We connected with Jenn's parents and it was brought to our attention that Ed forgot to pack his sleeping pills and was contemplating booking an emergency flight home as the anxiety was getting the best of him and he hadn't slept a wink and didn't know how he'd cope all week long.  I can't let them leave.  Without any concrete plan, I said we'd solve the problem without them having to leave.  

In Mexico, you don't need a prescription to get a drug from the pharmacy, unless it's for antibiotics.  So, Ed phoned back to Dauphin to get the specifics of the two drugs he needed and we headed to Farmacia Guadalarja.  I can't spell either word.  Anyway, we showed the note to the pharmacist and he turned pale and shrugged his shoulders.  I tried my best to communicate with words like 'insomnia' and 'can't sleep', but to no avail.  So back to the hotel we go and I can see Ed's anxiety level increasing a bit more. At this point, I'm thinking we could call the local doctor and get him to write a prescription, or else see if the Dauphin pharmacy could email us the prescription and I'd give the Farmacia a second shot.  Despite the advances of today's technology and despite pharmacies making scads of money, they are somehow unable to send an email with a prescription.  Fax only.  Wow.  So, I go to the internet and find a website that has a list of all the drug names that these two sleeping pills may fall under and I convince Ed to give the Farmacia a second shot.  This time, we get a different pharmacist and she ponies up the first drug right away.  She checks stock and doesn't have the second one.  Ed starts to panic, but then I try the same thing as I did before using key words like 'insomnia'.  The lady grins and brings back a $6 box of Simplex.  Ed said "We'll take it." and his anxiety was, instantly, over.  After two nights, Ed has slept like a baby for a fraction of the cost of his medication back home.  Drugs....sheesh.  They are like the price of gas, I think.  A big gouge.  And me?  I should be a pharmacist.  Just think what I could do with years of schooling!

I took a lot of satisfaction out of this incident today.  Jenn's parents have always helped us out on whatever we need.  We do a lot for ourselves, but if we are in a bind; we go to them.  And they always deliver.  They don't ever need us.  Ever.  And if they did, I don't think we would ever know.  But, after today, I saw such a thankful look from both Ed and  Adeline that made me think, "Finally, we have done something for you."  I could've have stroked him a cheque for $1 million dollars and it would mean nothing compared to handling this issue today.  Jenn's parents and my parents are very different.  First of all, my parents divorced when I was a young boy.  So, I don't often get (or seek) help from my parents.  It's, generally, the other way around.  And that's okay.  It's not like I had a bad upbringing or anything.  And since I was a less than appreciative son during my child/teenage/young adult years, I am really glad to give something back at this point in all of our lives.

January 12
My favorite day so far.  After breakfast, we hit the beach and I got in a morning swim.  I was also bit by a fish on the bottom of my foot.  Didn't hurt, but I was startled.  And I don't like wildlife.  Cats and dogs are great.  But, my animal affection pretty much ends right there.

I've never understood people who say they are reading more than one book.  Until now.  I've got three on the go.  Ron MacLean's autobiography, Moneyball, and The Business of T-Shirts.  The latter Sheri picked up from the trade show in Toronto.  All three are excellent for three different reasons and I am having a hard time dedicating enough time to any of them!  Moneyball got my attention on this day at the beach.  

I also like seeing the 'real' sights, but dragging three kids along on a trip like that might be counter productive.  Oh....not sure when she said this, but I have to get this in somewhere.  Macey said on a walk to the beach at one point, "When I grow up and get my babies, I want to live in Mexico."   Anyway, I hopped a taxi (solo) to the local Walmart  to grab a cheap pair of running shoes and socks to try out the gym.  I'm not a muscle head, but I don't like being fat and I haven't worked out in a week.  I gotta do a bike or something and soon.  Turns out, Manzanillo also has KFC, Domino's, Office Depot, etc.  They also have Monkey's.  Monkey's is famous for...wait...fried chicken!  Prices were a bit better than back home, but no real bargains.  I walked about 30 minutes back to the resort.

We skipped supper and the ten of us got on an excursion that saw us sail the Bay of Santiago for about two hours in search of dolphins or whales.  Nothing.  When we hit our destination, we were treated to some traditional bongo drumming, a fire pit with the kids getting to roast marshmallows, and a nice supper.  I opted for the chicken instead of the catch of the day.  Big mistake.  Jenn got the fish, which I think is called Mahia Mahia.  Again...that's not spelled right.  We took the open-air bus back to the resort and that was an experience for all.  My bum doesn't have a lot of cushion after all.

Mallory, who was terrified of flying, had a similar outlook on sailing out on the ocean.  She gave me the same two handed death grip that I received on the airplane and didn't let up for well over an hour.  Towards the end of the ride, I was able to disconnect myself from her, only to find out from Macey that she was upset about me spending so much time with Mallory.  So, she clung to me until we were on the beach eating supper.

Fast forward to the present:  Jenn doesn't sit still.  In a matter of a couple of hours, she hit two or three pools, a craft table, went back to the hotel room, and then convinced us all to go for a walk before supper.  So, I'll finish later.  

Back at the computer:  8pm January 13th.  We finished January 12 by getting back into our rooms by 9:30 from the sunset/beach/supper excursion and after the kids went to sleep...Jenn and I stayed up to play a game of cards.  We were bushed too.  There wasn't a ton of enthusiasm to it.  I think I still won.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Mallory's vice grip on the airplane just prior to take-off
January 9
It was my first and only day of work after spending Thursday through Sunday in Toronto on a work related weekend that saw me experience the Green Day musical American Idiot on Thursday, two full days of the imprint trade show on Friday and Saturday and then an early day Sunday when we had to be out of bed by 4am (Sask Time) to fly back to Regina.  Needless to say, I felt like a zombie on Monday trying to get caught up from what I had missed and also trying to set up the work week without me being a part of it.  I have fantastic bosses, so it wasn't very hard and I felt comfortable when I walked out the door just before 3pm.

We were on the road to Winnipeg by 4pm and I was, pleasantly, surprised by the behavior of our three kids.  Usually, I'm ready to slit my wrists when we reach our destination because I can't stand, constantly, telling them to smarten up.  It's not like it's our first day on a long highway jaunt.  All three should be used to traveling.  This time, they traveled like pros.  They even behaved at the Neepawa Dairy Queen.  While there, I picked up a local newspaper and read a really nice article on the MJHL Natives and how they were trying to make something positive out of the hazing experience that had put Neepawa in a negative national spotlight just a few months earlier.  What a train wreck society we are.  We'll watch, listen, and read stories all day long about a 15-year-old kid who is forced to tie a milk carton to his scrotum, but nobody seems to care when the team declares January 9-13 a special week where we raise awareness on hazing and let fans into an MJHL game for free.  Still, my hat goes off to the Natives for trying to do something right.

We got to our hotel shortly after 9pm, and that's where the behavior goes south.  Macey, the 4-year-old, gets going with 10-year-old Matthew and it takes some unpleasant parenting to settle them down.  Fortunately, 7-year-old Mallory has bunked with the grandparents, so she wasn't part of the tom foolery.  Macey and Matthew, I should point out, are essentially the same person.  Their characters are mirror images of each other, only Macey is a little wiser because she has the benefit of watching and learning from the older one.  By 10:30 we have all settled in for the night.  I don't think the tv was even turned on.  Even at the discounted price of $129 for the room, the hotel has done well on the Stackhouse family.  Works out to a little over $20 an hour for us to stay there.

January 10
My wife Jenn isn't a morning person.  So she says.  But, she's always the first person out of bed and today is no different.  She is up at 3:45am and ushers me to the shower.  I come out to a couple of groggy kids.  Macey, apparently, was in the midst of an interesting dream.  When Jenn told her it was time to get up, she said, "First I have to get on the school bus."  She doesn't go to school at all, by the way.  Just Nursery School two afternoons a week and the bus is mom and dad (or Mr. Weinmaster if mom and dad are busy).  

We get to the airport and drop off the luggage and four passengers.  I head to the parkade and am torn as to whether or not I should leave my jacket in the van.  It's plus-5 outside and I have a five minute walk to the terminal.  No big deal.  I just envision it being -35 on January 17th when we get back and that five minute walk feeling like a twenty minute walk. I leave the jacket in the van.  Tough guy.

The ten of us get in line (five in our family, Amy-Ryan-Reese, Baba-Dido) to get our assigned seats.  I forget that most of us really aren't seasoned travelers as I hear the term 'rush seating' and cringe.  I picture hundreds of people charging for the plane when they announce it's boarding time.  I know better.  An attendant comes to us and tells us that we will be given seats and while we won't be placed together as a group of ten, the children will have adults that they know to sit beside.  

I'm pleasantly surprised for a second time when all three kids pass through airport security with flying colors.  Excellent behavior.  Love the system.  Matthew is, randomly, selected to have his bags checked.  He's a text book terrorist.  I often wonder how we can expect to find terrorists when the people going through the bags look more like terrorists than the passengers.

We are all excited.  But Baba and Dido are uncomfortable when I have discovered ten seats in gate six that are unoccupied so we can all wait together.  Apparently, I'm too far away from where we actually leave to get on the plane.

Mallory is the Nervous Nelly of the five of us.  She asks to sit with Dad and Jenn gets Macey and Matthew in front of us.  We are in the middle row.  So no window seats for anyone.  Mallory asks me 34 times while we are waiting to take off if we are in the air yet.  Just in case there's an issue, she spends the one hour tarmac wait double clutching my left arm.  She had a vice grip on it.  We take off and the event is uneventful.  Mallory asks one last time if we are in the air.  Uhhh, yes.  Matthew is doing something on his iPod and MaceyBear is hibernating.  Didn't even stir as we took off.  Mom gets the upper hand despite having to look after two kids and I have just one.

The flight was almost five hours long.  During the flight, it's discovered Mallory has taken her brand new sandals out of the bag and left them in Yorkton or in the van.  Not sure.  Regardless, she is without sandals in Mexico.  Flip flops, yes.  Running shoes, yes.  Sandals:  no.  Over the course of five hours, Mallory asks 28 times if we are almost in Mexico.  She asks 14 times if we are still in the sky.  

The landing process has a bit more drama.  Matthew has picked this particular time to pull a tooth.  Serious.  Macey is fine, but her ears are bothering her due to air pressure.  Mallory is almost crying because of the air pressure and asks three more times if we are on the ground.  

We land just around noon and get in the very long line to go through Mexican Customs.  Matthew and Mallory are fine, but the free spirited Macey left her ears on the plane.  She's also the smartest of the five of us.  Did I mention that?  A more rigid country surely would've thrown some, or all, of us in the slammer.  She likes being told what to do and then, purposely, not obeying it to see if she's going to be in any trouble.  Of course, the trouble is never that severe, so she carries on as if a parent hasn't asked her to stay in line, don't go far, stay quiet, etc.

We get on the bus to head to the resort (Barcelo Carmina Palace Deluxe in Manzanillo) and Macey starts annoying Matthew and Mallory.  We, attempt, to punish her by moving her away but her loud crying outlasts the parenting attempt and she gets her way and ends up sitting beside Matthew and Mallory again.  Maybe she has learned something though.  She actually behaves this time.

After a 30 minute bus ride, we end up at the resort and get assigned our room (5032).  Everyone is pretty pumped.  Tired too.  But, excitement wins out.  Throughout the last few months, the girls have definitely talked about this trip more than Matthew.  Maybe he's hitting the 'too cool' stage.  But, in my opinion, he's the happiest of the three once we hit the water.  I can relate to him well.  When I was ten (January 1985), I was living in Gagetown and jumping from our apartment to the Nickerson's while my mom pursued a chef diploma from NBCC Moncton.  I didn't like it.  The Nickerson's were a great family, but I hated their cooking.  It was always full of vegetables I didn't like and it wasn't....home.   But, it was a necessary evil for mom to provide for our family better.  Needless to say, I never got a vacation in Mexico when I was ten!  I take a lot of pride in being able to provide for our kids in a manner I never even dreamt was possible when I was ten.  I know exactly how thrilled I would've been to be in his shoes today.

I'm a social guy.  I like to meet people.  On the plane, I met a retired teacher from Winnipeg and she was good at helping to pass the time.  Poolside, I met Kent from Winnipeg.  He works at Great West Life.  Seems like a real good person.  We chatted about everything.  From family, to work, to football.  Also at poolside, I met Armando.  He's a Mexican, who has lived most of his life in California.  He's a General Manager for Anderson Pea Soup.  Very interesting person.  He was very curious as to why I'd bring my family to Mexico despite recent negative publicity about tourism here.  I told him as long as you mind your own business, Mexico should be as safe as anywhere.  He agreed and appreciated my honesty as we got a little more in depth on the subject.  

We met up with the rest of our family for supper and I was in the pasta line with a guy from Winnipeg who is here for a wedding on Saturday.  I told him I have always wanted to be a real life Wedding Crasher.  He invited me to do just that.  Another nice person.  Supper was excellent.  As I finish up, I look at the table next to me and Macey looks like she's hit a wall.  The extended family is ready to call it an early night just after 7:30pm, but Matthew has his heart set on a walk along the beach, camera in tow.  It was a great walk.  Reminded me of Puerto Vallarta, only I did a bunch of those walks alone...unless you count a cigar.  It's very relaxing.  

The five of us are back in the room by 8:15pm and as I type this, Macey is on her fifth life.  Will she wake up in the morning, or will she hibernate like a real life bear and maybe miss Wednesday altogether?  

Sunday, January 8, 2012


We've had some problems with the SJHL Twitter account being hacked.

So, there is a new one and you may want to sign up fast as that's where the bulk of the January 10th player moves will be found the quickest.


It's not currently showing up in searches, so be sure to tell your friends too.