Recipe: Chicken in the Instant Pot

Last night we were running late and Vero suggested we dump everything we had available into the Instant Pot.  I have to say it was a genius idea so I’m writing down this recipe for historical purposes.

Defrost chicken breasts.

Put a cup of bazmati rice and a cup of water into the pot.

Put the wire rack that holds the chicken above the rice.

Pour some canned mushrooms and black beans over everything.

Close it up.

Set it on MANUAL for 12 minutes.

After the 12 minutes have passed, let it sit for another 10 minutes.

Thought it was quite tasty!  I mixed some piri piri sauce into it once on the plate.  I’m sure with some more research we can figure out how to have the sauce/spices added into the actual pot.

Being (somewhat) of a lumberjack

We have a few ash tress on our property that unfortunately met up with the ash borer beetle.  In the middle of the summer, I would be staring up at the sky and notice that there weren’t any leaves on a few trees.  This reminds me of a funny story where Mom said to me “I think that tree over there is dead.”  “Oh really?  How can you tell?”  “Because it’s August and it doesn’t have any leaves!”  I now realize I’m not the most intelligent person when it comes to the outdoors.

Front yard before the cull

Anyhow, after some searching around and getting some estimates around town, I found out that my neighbour has a lumberjack friend that would help us out for a great deal.  Hey, I can’t complain about a friends and family discount of $100 a tree!

Of course it had to be pouring rain on us the entire Saturday that we worked.  Bringing down trees is quite the activity.  Cut the tree down, take the branches over to Claude’s fire pit, burn them, then cut the tree into blocks of wood.  Move the blocks of wood over to an area where we would split them later.  These were pretty large trees…one of the ones in my front yard was 42 years old, older than the house itself!

I have to say that we were moving at a decent pace for the first four trees and then we stopped to have lunch and of course it’s always harder to go back out into the rain after being in a warm house!

There was one tree leaning directly towards the house so we set up a cable attached to another tree to convince it to fall away from the house.  Four of us were pulling on the cable as the tree started coming down.  I looked to my right and saw the wife of the guy cutting the tree hauling on the cable.  I realized I should be putting a LOT more effort into pulling on this cable when it was coming down!  We lucked out and the thing fell within inches of hitting the eaves trough at the corner of the house!  Phew!  We screamed in excitement about how we managed to avoid disaster.  I have to say I wasn’t even thinking it was a possibility but you could see that the guy cutting the tree definitely wasn’t happy that it came so close to the house.  I can understand…it’s a lot of worry on his part!

We ended up with a backyard full of branches and we thought it would take all Fall to burn it but I’m happy to report that we got half of it burnt by the end of the weekend.  Yes, there is this giant pile of ashes in Claude’s back yard now, but we’ll deal with that later.

The sun came out on Sunday which was a welcome sight.  We started splitting the wood early in the morning and by mid afternoon we were piling it.  Vero and I managed to get it all done next to our garage and ready for the winter.  I don’t even know how many cords of wood we have but I have four large trees worth.

My body is quite sore but the job is done and I have to say we didn’t encounter any issues…just a lot of grunt work for the job to get done!

Sierra’s 29th Month

I feel that Sierra is forming more complete sentences this month which is interesting!  I would say at this point she’s speaking 90% French and 10% English.

Sierra was enjoying our time at the outlet mall.  This was the best part.

Me and my helper working on a new piece of music.

On a cold day at the end of September, we headed to the Cumberland Farmer’s Market.  Man it was cold that day!  I was not prepared for that temperature drop and wind.  No matter, we still had a great time and Sierra liked helping carry some vegetables.

I’ve been showing everyone this video of Sierra hanging out near the geese.  It’s hilarious!

The Cumberland market even had horses!

Etienne and I stumbled upon this gem at a hair salon downstairs at work.  Etienne managed to bring the guy down from $50 to $20!  We gave it to Mihai for his birthday.  He still doesn’t know what to say.

Andreane came up for a visit at Thanksgiving so we decided to go out to Larose Forest for a walk.  We stuck to the same trail that we had taken in the winter but I’m excited to explore different areas!

Sierra was a lucky girl getting Maman to carry her!

Tandreane teaching Sierra how to fish.

Prepping Thanksgiving supper!

Sierra was quite interested in the cutting of the turkey.  I was perplexed as to why it wasn’t going as usual until I realized that the bird was upside down!

The Cantin Clan!

A walk to the cemetary

Running in a snowsuit is definitely slow going!

Testing out one of the Halloween choices…a cat!  Meow!

Here`s the other contender which is good for a cold night out…a warm outfit of a witch!

Sierra has really been into the new music video for Silvery Sometimes by the Smashing Pumpkins.  We’ve had a dance with her babies each night for a few weeks.  Sidenote: the new song is pretty good!

It’s that time of year again!

Slowly but surely I will assemble an army of leave rakers!

We bought a LOT of pumpkins. this year.  Just kidding, this is the patch!

Sierra picked out her own pumpkin but it was a little heavy.

Is it the great pumpkin?

What’s the difference between a pumpkin and a gourd?

The winner!

We checked out the Navan elementary school park right next to the pumpkin patch.  They had some neat play structures but I felt a lot of them were geared to older kids.  But Sierra really enjoyed these things!

There were a few photos from this series, but I like this one the best because Sierra is having a fun time in it, even if she is covering her face.

This picture makes me feel great.  So here’s the thing…at this age, Sierra is quite shy among people.  Every time we go to the neighbours house or our friends place, she hangs out on her own or plays with toys.  This worries me a little but so be it…maybe she will grow out of it or maybe this is how she will be forever.  ANYHOW, after a few hours among friends, I come into the living room and there she is eating some strawberries on the couch with everyone else!  No more worrying!

The next day Sierra definitely recognized her friend when we met up at the Vars craft sale and she was excited to see her.  So I really don’t have much to worry about.

When sifting through some boxes in the garage, Vero found a ton of extra power tools for Sierra to play with. 

After hitting up the pumpkin patch, I thought it would be good to show her that pumpkins are an important symbol of Hallowe’en.  Considering there aren’t that many short kid-friendly Hallowe’en specials available compared to Christmas, my go-to had to be ‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!”.  She was enthralled with it.  She has never sat down for an entire 20 minutes of a show before but something in this really spoke to her.  Maybe it was the pumpkins that she had just played in the day before, maybe it was the appearance of witches, maybe it was the rocks that Charlie Brown receives in his trick or treat bag.  Either way, in the last week of October she was watching this once a day, sometimes twice.  The day before Hallowe’en we started showing her the concept of holding the bag open for people to drop candy into.  Last Hallowe’en was a disaster so we’re hoping this year is a little easier on her and she enjoys going around to the neighbours.  Can I also point out how much I love that kids shows from the 1960s have hilariously high levels of adult dialogue in them?  It’s fantastic!  I suppose this was the concept of ‘giving something the parents could laugh at as well’.

I’m pretty sure Gaetan is showing Sierra some highly complex calculus equations.

I can’t stop laughing at this one.

Sierra playing cribbage with Grandpapa and Dad.

JF shoved five kids away from this thing so he could have a turn.

Sierra wasn’t entirely interested in posing for this picture!  Great outfits from all.  I love how Annabelle snuck a trophy into the picture.  It wasn’t even part of her costume but now it makes it looks like she won first place in a contest!  I had a good laugh at that.

We can’t forget Victor in the photo!

I was showing Sierra and Victor how to run trains down this ramp.

I’m pretty sure I asked them to show me their Dad’s face.  Yep…Maelle pretty well nailed it.

Skeleton dance!

Chantal and Jon were nice enough to host an afternoon Hallowe’en party along with chili!  I had forgot how much I love Chantal’s chili.  She makes it with black olives!

Annabelle smartly had a change of clothes before eating chili.

Here I was worried about Sierra not playing with her friends…she seems to be having a great time near the end of the night!

Watching Charlie Brown with Fredo

Where are we…Northern Ontario?  We received quite a bit of snow Saturday evening into Sunday.  It was the best snow ever…great for snowmen!  I don’t even remember making a snowman the year before!

Collage of the snowbirds

Sierra helping build a snowman

Sierra has become the torso of the snowman!

I love both of these photos from the same scene.

Sierra’s first snowman

Vero said the snowman reminds her of Gord Downie with his purple hat

Can’t forget the nose!

The neighbours dropped by to do a little sledding.

Last snowmen of the year?  Who knows?!  Three days after this shot, they are the only things still left in the yard consisting of snow.



Historical: Paying off the mortgage

This posting will be useful for historical reference.

On Tuesday October 16th 2018, our mortgage was paid off.

I personally started having a mortgage in 2005 when living in Orleans.  After selling that house, Vero and I purchased a house in Vars in 2010.

So it took us 8 years to pay off our mortgage of $300K.

We went from a 25 year mortgage, down to 22 years (as soon as you choose accelerated biweekly payments, it automatically achieves this), and over the years, we made lump sum payments when we could.

Upon final calculations, we paid around $50K in interest between 2010 and 2018.  If we had continued paying regular payments for 22 years, it would have been an additional $76K.  This is not including the five years I had a house on my own in Orleans.

By saving up money and putting a lump sum (generally we were targeting $16K a year), we managed to cut 14 years of payments which would have equalled $76K in interest.


  • I have to admit the first time I dumped a lump sum on the mortgage, it was NOT a good feeling. In essence, you don’t get any instant gratification for throwing money onto your principal.  I wish I would have done some calculations to show me “Hey, if you throw this lump sum on, it’s saving ‘x’ amount in interest and ‘y’ amount of years!  I think that would have made me feel better.  A good example of this is I did some calculations for a friend a few weeks ago and showed them that if they threw $1,000 onto their mortgage ONCE in 22 years, they would save $969 in interest!  That’s quite the savings!  Anyhow, no, no one was around to reassure me I was doing the good thing AND here’s some facts to show you.
  • That being said, it got quite addicting near the last couple of years to see a mortgage pretty close to the finish line. You started coming up with schemes to put more money onto it.  Then you had to pull yourself back and say “No, you still need to drink beer!”

Sierra’s 28th Month

I literally just finished up the 27th month blog post yesterday and here is another post to write!  Clearly I am lacking time to properly keep these posts up to date.

With the fall arriving, we have pulled things out of storage and I stumbled upon a box of toys for 2 year olds.  I cracked it open and Sierra is really enjoying Mr. Potato Heads lately.  She calls them ta-ta.

Unfortunately Sierra was quite sick with an ear infection earlier in the month.  We noticed a fever which resulted in sleepless nights until four days later when Vero brought her to the doctor and gave her some antibiotics.  Let me tell you, antibiotics may be the greatest scientific discovery ever!  I think the next time we suspect something is wrong, we may not wait the four days that Telehealth recommends and just go after two days.  It definitely felt like having a newborn baby all over again!

I think the transition from summer to fall will be hard on Sierra as she can’t play outside as much as she used to (or at least play with the water toys she enjoys so much).  Ah well kid, the change of seasons make you appreciate when they come back again the next year!

We’ve started to leave the baby gate open to downstairs as she is quite stable going up and down the stairs on her own.  Sure, accidents will happen, but for the most part she is good to move around on her own.  Of course, this just adds a new level to the game where I have to think “What trouble is she getting into downstairs?”  We don’t tend to leave her alone down there for more than a few minutes.  It is hilarious how I will be watching her one minute and she disappears and I find her upstairs with Maman.

This is a classic scene when dropping Sierra off at daycare.  She insists on opening and closing the door.

We had Madame Butterfly over for breakfast one morning.

Sierra is becoming a photographer.  Slowly.

Admiring her painting.

One last slide of the summer.

I think this may be the first time Sierra went on the tire swing.

Brown Thunder meets White Lightning

A nice Labour Day breakfast at Jon and Chantal’s house.

Bedroom party!!

Sierra is basically a fish now at the end of the summer.  Shawn and Kim invited us for a dip in the afternoon.  I predict Sierra may be jumping into the neighbour’s pool in the many years to come!

Sierra is loving her new sunglasses!

On the road again with some playdough! 

We stopped into Haileybury for the evening on our way back up home for Grandmaman Cantin’s 90th birthday party.  For supper we stopped into Gilly’s Truck Stop in New Liskeard.  I quite liked how they had reusable cups of milk for the kid.  We smartly don’t order much of anything for Sierra, we just let her munch on our food.

There’s always fun to be had outside a truck stop!

Sierra enjoyed the company of the dog at the motel we stayed at.  I believe he enjoyed her company as well!

Having fun at Grandpapa and Grandmaman’s place in Hearst!

Slow motion trampoline madness!

Practising the Superman flight move!

Having fun in Amelie’s driveway.  I took this photo after collapsing a lung when the kids were playing tag with me.  While I think I’m in shape from going on the elliptical, playing tag is a whole other game.

So I don’t know much about hockey, but I know it’s a big deal when Evan gets into this travelling team in Hearst.  It’s the talk of the town if these guys get onto the Lumber Kings!  We went down in the afternoon to check out an exhibition game vs. Kapuskasing.  Of course we all know what team I was cheering for!  Unfortunately Kapuskasing lost by quite a large margin which supposedly was a big upset considering Kap is known to be a killer team.  No longer now that Evan is on the ice!  Evan and Antoine also both scored a goal which was awesome to see.

Of course he is going to give this puck to his Uncle at Christmas.

Mae’s only goal in life was to play with Sierra this weekend.  I’m not sure if she was disappointed that Sierra doesn’t play well with others at first…especially if they are trying ot make her smile for a photo! 

A great tent setup for the 90th birthday party for Grandmaman Cantin

Vero worked really hard on compiling all of everyone’s photos of Grandmaman over the years into this video.  It was a packed house inside the gazebo where they were watching it so I got to watch it from outside.

Playing ball at the breakfast the next morning.  It’s important to note that this was morning after we spent the evening outside in what felt like zero degrees.  I should have brought my parka up!  I had to borrow a jacket from Gaetan.  I even took my guitar out for a songs and a string snapped two songs in and the guitar was just twisting from fear of the cold in my own cold hands.  Unsurprisingly, we all came down with colds this weekend.

I had a good laugh when I saw this person’s parking job.

Super Cantin Bros.

That afternoon we headed out to Vero’s family cabin in the woods.  While Sierra took a nap, Andreane, Vero and I headed out on the four wheelers which was a fun time.

I have to say September may be my favourite time of the year to visit up North.  No flies!

Evan and the others found us out by the river.  Here’s Sierra hanging out with her cousin.

Francis was nice enough to lend us the side by side for the ride back.  I have to say that I think side by sides are great when you have a good trail to follow, but I didn’t really care for it when you’re going at slow speeds through the woods.  It’s almost like it wasn’t built for that and you have to really feather the gas pedal to find a good constant speed.

Only took a few dozen photos to get a good one of Sierra and her aunts!

“You listen when I talk to you!”

Sierra really liked playing with Buddy (or is it Rolo?  I can’t remember which dog is which of Andreane’s!)

Someone REALLY enjoyed going on the four wheeler with Grandpapa!

We had a nice pizza supper (Danielle had this interesting pizza oven that you put on the BBQ) with all the family.  That was the end of the festivities for Grandmaman’s 90th birthday!


Someone hid Sierra’s shoes in Grandpapa’s shoes!

Supposedly this is THE toy to play with Grandmaman’s.  It was one of her son’s and Vero remembers growing up and playing with at her place and now her daughter can play with it also (here’s a photo of a rare moment where Vero wasn’t hogging it from Sierra).

We sneaked in a quick visit to Grandmaman’s place before we hit the road that afternoon!  Bonne fete!

This dog is going to miss Sierra.

Thumbs up for one last ride before we headed out of town.

I love this picture because Abbey has mastered the look of laughing in a photo.  She wasn’t even laughing…she was just holding her face like this for when I snapped the shot!  The results are quite hilarious.

Oh look, it’s some girls with a creepy doll!

Good times were had at the Kapuskasing piano recital.

We stayed in North Bay for the evening on the way back to Ottawa and across the street was the bay!  I hadn’t even planned it.  Sierra yelled ‘BEACHAAAA!’ as soon as we saw it!

Pretty nice spot!

Here’s a proud moment in my life as a geek dad.  Andreane had purchased a book of Star Wars sounds that Sierra was quite enamoured with.  It has pictures of Luke and Leia and Darth Vader and all the characters so when I’m reading the story, at various points I stop talking when it’s time to press the button.  One morning she was playing with the book and I asked “Would you like to see the movie that these characters are from?”  “Yeah.”  I loaded up A New Hope faster than the Millenium Falcon doing the Kessel Run!  As you can see, she was quite excited by the intro music.  She was having a good time when R2-D2 or C-3PO came on the screen.  “Dad.  DAD!” she would yell, pointing at the screen.  I have been watching the movie with her in 15 minute intervals as that’s about the amount of interest she has in sitting down for.  

Maman’s birthday party woo!

Trish made this fantastic cake and you can see that I tried to make it hard for Vero to blow out the candles.

Poor Sierra came down with a fever the night of Vero’s birthday party and it lasted four days until we started giving her antibiotics for an ear infection.

Check out that corpse pose!

Luckily Papa and Grandma showed up make Sierra feel better.

Mom and Dad were nice enough to babysit for an evening so Vero and I could go to Montreal to see Paul McCartney!  I messed up and didn’t book a hotel soon enough so we ended up at Hotel des Arts which I had assumed would be a pretty bad hotel but we were pleasantly surprised when we showed up!

I’m not sure who the woman at the back of the photo is, but Vero told me she is some sort of TV celebrity.

Waiting for the legend to grace the stage.

I don’t know many 76 year olds that can put on a three hour show like Paul McCartney and his band put on!  It was fantastic as always.  I quite enjoyed the stripped down set of older Beatles tunes in the middle of the concert.  And Live and Let Die is always so over the top that it makes me laugh every time.  Thanks to Mom and Dad for letting us out for the night.

I couldn’t get over the amount of pigeons on this roof!

One last visit to the Casse-Croute in Embrun before the winter hits.


Sierra’s 27th Month is starting to form complex sentences in her language.  ‘Yaya no num num la bas’ = Sierra isn’t eating over there?

It’s fascinating to see her string words together into difficult combinations.  For the most part, I would say that her vocabulary is primarily French (understandable considering she attends a) French daycare and her Mom speaks French to her), but she understands both languages.

I am also enjoying how she’ll be walking beside us and then say “Bye bye Dad” and I look at her and she has this mischievous grin on her face.  She likes standing still in place, waiting until we walk farther away and then running towards us.  I don’t know where she got that game from but it’s entertaining her so that’s what counts.

Sierra continues to be very shy when she enters a situation that she is not familiar with.  For example, if we go visit the next door neighbour’s house for 20 minutes, she spends 10 of those minutes slowly approaching from the edge of the lawn while I am sitting and chatting on the deck.  After 10 minutes she has crept up to me and we ease her into how safe the situation is.  I constantly say “We’re amongst friends.  It’s a safe place.”  After 15 minutes she comes around and enjoys herself.  I wouldn’t say she immediately gravitates to playing along with little friends that are around, but she does play in the general area where they are.  But…every case is different.  If she hangs out with Max, they seem to play together from time to time.  If she’s at a neighbourhood party, there are a bunch of kids, but they are older than her so automatically it’s hard to interact with kids who are faster and more agile than you.

Sierra continues to eat like a champion, although she is starting to become a little picky.  Which is fine in our books.  If you don’t want to eat the mushrooms in the dinner, no problem.  But I do have concerns with her eating an entire bowl of grapes or strawberries that are left out for everyone at the party.  On one hand, she’s getting healthy fruit in her.  But I always am concerned about whether we are teaching her bad eating habits at a young age that will continue later in life (aka, when she likes potato chips, is she going to try and eat the entire bag much like she does with all the strawberries?).  Andréane tells me there is nothing to worry about considering she’s eating healthy stuff.  I suppose I shouldn’t worry too much considering there’s a lot of other kids that have trouble eating ANYTHING!

I got an early birthday gift from Sierra and Vero.  Sierra loves opening up those gifts!  I’m pretty excited by this Tascam DR44WL portable recorder.  I’m a fan of live recordings and it’s time to start recording my own live shows (aka jamming with family).

Muffins made by Grand-Maman are a big hit in our house

Sierra has a fierce independent spirit in her.  You can’t open a door for her or she freaks out.  You can’t put peanut butter on her toast or she freaks out.  Basically…she freaks out all the time unless you let her do things.  Case in point, here’s our regular trip to the park…with her towing the wagon!

The Pope clan showed up to try out the cool tub!  It was definitely a hot few days when they were here so we all had fun in the pool.  Sierra was also trying out her water wings and she ended up loving being in the water!

Sierra with cousin AB-BEEEE.  Sierra is hilarious when she says her name.

Big kids table.

Wait, kids can play on their own without constant parental supervision?

Sierra and Abbey came with me to the park for the morning while John and Maureen heading into town.  It was very hard for Sierra to share her wagon.  I also think it was very hard for Abbey to understand how her cousin never wanted to share things with her!

Double the amount of swings = double the fun!

I’ve finally figured out how to change the in and out points for the slow-mo effect.  But…this video wasn’t privy to that knowledge yet.

Enjoying an apple snack after the park.  Man it was hot out there at that park!!  I’m still sweating a month later.


Someone loves fudge-icles

We headed down to Gaspé for a family reunion this year.  On the way down we stopped in at the Madrid 2.0 truck stop.  I have memories of stopping here as a kid sometimes (or maybe all the time?).  Here’s Sierra with the dinosaurs!

Sierra in mid-smile

We stopped into St Jacques des Leeds for a quick nap for Dad and Sierra and then headed to Thetford Mines to take Mami out for some supper! 

A quick snapshot before heading out

Here is Valerie showing Sierra how to balance things on her head!

Oncle Normand and Tante Sylvie were nice enough to let us stay over for the evening.  Here’s a photo that Sierra took of them since she didn’t want to be in a photo with them!  I have to say it turned out quite nice.

Ready for the second day of the trip!  We decided to drive to Gaspé in three days on the way down and two on the way back.  Next stop…Matane!

We ended up in Matane and it was quite cold.  I had forgot how cold living by the water can be!  I have to say I was pretty disappointed as I had planned out an evening at the motel right next to the water so I could just sit with Vero and drink some beer while we watched the sunset.  It was rainy and cold when we hit Matane.

Sierra figuring out how this contraption works.

Rain or no rain, we were excited to bring Sierra to her first ocean experience!

Always finding treasure at the beach

Looking for adventure

A rare family photo!

The most important point of this photo is to point out the sky!  The rain had stopped and the sun was coming out!  My dream evening was about to begin!

We couldn’t manage to find a spot to eat at a brewpub downtown so we just decided to pick up some St-Hubert and sit on the picnic table outside the motel.  It was a beautiful evening to do so!  Also, can I just point out that it’s hard to find something that doesn’t have french fries while you are on the road?  I was french fried out after a few days!

Say no to crack!

Having fun on the swings before bedtime

While Vero put Sierra to bed, I got to stare at beautiful vistas like this one

Yep.  It’s time to retire here.  That evening posed an interesting challenge for me.  When the sun went down, I knew I couldn’t go back into the bedroom right away or it would wake up Sierra and it’s not like we were ready to go to bed right away.  So we hung outside for awhile until it got too cold and then we settled into the car and watched episodes of Riverdale on the iPad.  It was like camping out!  Vero went and picked up some treats from the gas station across the street.  Let’s be honest…this wasn’t the challenging part.  The challenging part was trying to find a spot to take a leak after a couple of beers!  I had to nonchalantly sneak down to the beach and avoid where people were hanging out.  Don’t worry, I didn’t pee in the sand!  There was no sand.  It was all rocks at this beach.

The next morning we hit the road in search of microbreweries along the way.  I obtained a map the night before of all the breweries along the coast so it was now my quest, no…my MISSION in life to visit all of them!  That mission died pretty fast when we showed up around 10:30am at the first one on the map and it wasn’t even open until 11:30am.  Forget this!  Let’s head to Murdochville!  It was a cloudy, rainy day when we arrived in the town my Dad grew up in.  We stopped for a few minutes to stretch our legs in this schoolyard.  Vero thought the entire school was abandoned considering the shape of some of the schoolyard equipment but I’m pretty sure I saw movement inside the school.

Every school needs some punching bags!

Nanny showing Sierra how to pass a ball

Sierra and Abbey raided the garden every day for tomatoes

Dad was SUPER excited to cut up some baloney for supper!

It turned out to be my birthday when I arrived into town!  Mom made the greatest orange cake in the world

I got to hang out at the big kids table along with Mom

All I wanted to do on the night of my birthday was to jam for the fine folks at the Patterson reunion.  And jammed we did!  We had John on guitars and Captain Kahone on the kahone.  That was a surprise appearance and brought the tunes to the next level!  I even got to set up the new Tascam recording unit to try it out.  I was super upset after a three hour jam session to find out that the SD card in the recording unit was full after 30 minutes!  I was not impressed.  There was a version of Crazy Train that will go down in the history of rock and roll and when I say go down in history, I mean in legend because no one captured that moment!  The next morning I went to The Source to pick up the largest SD card I could find.  Anyhow, I felt the jam session was a good start to the rest of the week.  My voice wasn’t used to singing that much and I could feel that it got a lot easier (and sounded better!) by the end of the week of jamming.  Sidenote: Captain Kahone and the Jokers is definitely a great band name.  Another sidenote: I love playing with John.  If I lived in Kapuskasing, I think there would be a dynamic duo out every week.

The next morning we went out and explored some family history.  This was a Miller family reunion and my grandmother is a Miller.  This structure behind us was an old house that the Millers lived in and it caught fire one day and here’s what’s left to it one hundred years later.

Here’s a shot of the actual fireplace, still intact!  I have a feeling not many people know about this structure otherwise I would assume we would find the regular amount of vandalism.

Vero said that if we wanted to buy a piece of land in Gaspé, this is the piece of land to purchase!  Look at the waterfront!

This may be a contender for a new photo over our mantle

Tomato sandwich moustache

Day Two had a mini golf tournament set up at Uncle Frankie’s place.  Here’s everyone listening to the very strictly enforced instructions

Sierra getting some practice swings in.  She’s pretty good!

Our team did pretty good!  By pretty good, I mean we did pretty good at cheating.  I still can’t believe we didn’t win.  There’s definitely another team out there that cheats more than us!

Uncle Fred and Mark showing up some of the prizes from the tournament

Dad is basically a magician to his grandkids

The next day we had all the time in the world to do some activities of our own so we went for a walk down on the boardwalk with Uncle Greg and Kim and Quinn.  This boardwalk is relatively new to the area and it looks like they put A LOT of money into it. 

Uncle Greg was telling me this structure cost $1M to put up.  It does double as a projection screen which is neat!  Supposedly there is live music down on this boardwalk every week and Nanny tends to go and check it out.

Sierra checking out the teepee.

On the boardwalk…boardwalk


Cool graffiti under the bridge

I can’t figure out if Abbey is intrigued or scared of the lobster!

Having some fun on the swing set while we waited for our order from Joanne’s chip stand

Poppa having fun with Sierra

Sierra is definitely a fan of hats!

The race is on!

A nice speech by Nanny at the official family gathering.  We had a good feast and it was nice to see friends and neighbours show up for a party afterwards.  It was quite hot and noisy in that hall!

We got Uncle Greg to snap this family photo.  THIS is probably the contender for the mantle this year!

Sierra loves walking with us and then falling to the ground so we have to yank her back up

I’m sure I’ll eventually get a hold of the official photo, but until then, here’s a sneak peek of all the family

Sierra at the beach!  Now, it’s very important to note that this was not her first time at the beach.  That happened earlier in the morning.  While Sierra generally was waking up between 7-8am, she somehow decided to wake up around 6am and was making some noise and all I could think about was “I have to get her out of the cottage now!!”  I scrambled to get some clothes on and brought her out to the car in her pajamas and hit the road.  Half a kilometer down the road I felt the need to go to the washroom.  Where the heck was I going to go?  I decided to double back, lock Sierra in the car, go into the cottage and then come back out.  I was worried to find Sierra screaming her head off, but it turns out she was doing fine with her Cheerios!  I would like to thank my wife for packing the diaper bag full of goodies.

Anyhow, I decided there was really only one place to go that early in the morning…we were off to Haldimand Beach!  When we arrived, I had to figure out what to dress Sierra in.  I wasn’t really thinking we were going to the beach this morning.  I ended up putting rubber boots on her, some splash pants, a sweatshirt and Vero’s fedora on her.  It was a motley assortment of clothing items!  I wish I had brought my camera with me.  It was a beautiful walk along the water.  Sierra didn’t really know what the heck was going on when the waves would come and hit her feet.  She was a little scared of it at first but by the end of the walk she was getting used to it.  We found some excellent beach glass and a couple of nice shells.  She really enjoyed bringing those back and showing them to everyone.  My bucket list for the trip was officially complete at that point because I was excited to introduce Sierra to what a beach was. 

Watch out for the waves!

It was quite the windy day at the beach

Fun at the park!

Uncle Greg and Aunt Mariette moved into a new house down in Gaspé.  When we went for a tour, we spied this interesting renovation choice in the bathroom!

I’m not even sure if this contraption actually got built with the amount of brain matter working on the job

Sierra sure loves her tomatoes!  This was taken the morning before we headed home

It was a rainy, cold drive back home for the first day.  We ended up stopping into an excellent restaurant along the way.  For the life of me I can’t remember which town it was.  At least they had games to keep Sierra entertained.

Sierra is a big help at the fromagerie that we stopped in for supper.  We were all getting a little tired of french fries and St Hubert (how is that even possible?!) so we picked up some sandwiches and other assorted goodies

Squeak squeak!

Fromagerie des Basques (Trois Pistoles) had a great picnic area where we could eat their food.  Look at the storm clouds coming in!

Of course we had to treat ourselves to an ice cream after supper!

We stayed at Motel au Fleuve D’Argent in Riviere-des-Loups and we hit the jackpot again.  It had a great view of the river and a fun play area for Sierra.  Plus we had our own personal mini-cabin which proved quite useful when I had to go to the washroom and couldn’t enter into the cabin in fear of waking up Sierra!  Our typical evening when traveling consists of putting Sierra to bed and then Vero and I hang outside until the time comes to go into the car and load some Netflix on the iPad along with some beers and potato chips.  I have to say motels are quite convenient compared to hotel rooms.  Would we just sit in there from 7PM not making a sound while Sierra slept?

Look where we stopped on the way back!

As soon as we got back to Ottawa, I was on a flight the next day to London, Ontario to hang out with these jokers.  I had originally planned to head to Chicago to see the Smashing Pumpkins but they ended up adding a tour date in London so I decided to hit that up with Troy and Rick instead! 

The start of an epic night!

We had some great seats near the stage.  The only issue was that certain elements of the show weren’t visible to us.  Not the end of the world considering the view we had.  Metric were great as always although they were road testing a bunch of their new songs which is always a tough sell when you are opening for a band.

There they are in all their thirty year glory…the Smashing Pumpkins! 

Here’s an example of how we couldn’t see the center screen sometimes.  Not a huge deal.  I’ll hunt down some visuals on YouTube.

Luckily everyone had a great time at the show.  I was worried since the Pumpkins usually are a hit or a miss with the casual fans.  They played for 3.5 hours (!!) and played all the hits and then some.  Rick and Troy were impressed.

I’ve seen the Smashing Pumpkins A LOT of times over the years.  Back in 1996 at the Maple Leaf Gardens, they sparked my love for live shows.  I have to say that this show was the best I’ve ever seen them.  I was shocked at how much the show moved me.  They’ve embraced what they are as a band over the past thirty years.  The past ten years have been a shocking time as a fan where Billy Corgan wouldn’t want to play many hits and wanted to forge a new path with new music.  Hey, I’m all for that…but embrace your heritage a little and give the fans what they want.  Well…they did and I would go see this show again in a heartbeat.  Hey, we even got a picture with the Zero statue at the end of the night!


After a night of debauchery, no one is entirely sure how this ended up in the kitchen.  I had a great time at Troy and Connie’s and we even managed to record a few songs while I was there.  Bonus!  Thanks for putting up with me!

Look at the fun Vero and Sierra were having while I was away!  Jon and Chantal’s annual corn roast was a hit!

When I got back into town we decided that we needed to see some beaches again so we went down to Petrie Island one morning.  The only issue I have with Petrie Island is that there are a LOT of geese there which leads to goose poop all over the place.  I need my salty air and not goose poop!

Family fun time!

What a blast from the past!  I got this birthday postcard from Trish in the mail!

The corn on the cob wasn’t the greatest this year (perhaps due to the sweltering heat?) but that didn’t stop us from enjoying some.

Nat was commenting at how awkward it is to be pregnant.  I didn’t understand until this happened at lunch.

It’s mid-August so that means it’s Festival des Curds out in St-Albert!  They had a petting zoo set up there so Sierra got to hang out with some kangaroos.

More importantly, we got to try out these awesome go-karts!  Check out how I whizzed by the competition.  It’s basically Mario Kart in real life.  Sierra threw a couple of turtle shells at the opponents.

Sierra enjoying her complimentary feed of cheese curds.

It took a LONG time for Sierra to get comfortable with the idea of getting in this bouncy castle.  I would say fifteen minutes were spent examining it.  But once she was in, she was enjoying it!

Who knew that if you showed up to festivals before noon they have kids’ entertainment?  Ari Qui Qui was entertaining.

After the festival and an afternoon nap, we went over to the neighbours for a birthday party (aka a hot tub party!!)  Sierra has really grown comfortable with the water.

The next day I was extremely hungover so it was a fortunate coincidence that we were invited over to Mike and Melissa’s pool for the morning.  A pool is a surprisingly great remedy!

Enjoying a nice lunch

I had to share this photo of Marty down in Florida.  I`m pretty sure this is an album cover in the future!

Figuring out the tricycle is a hard job

We headed out to Val-Des-Monts for Etienne and Nadine`s wedding.  While it rained off and on, it was a great evening full of adventures.  Félicitations!

Krista and Ben were nice enough to invite us over for a BBQ near the end of the summer.



Sierra’s 26th Month

This summer has been jammed packed.  So much so that I’m writing this recap of July around mid-August so I’ll have to scour my brain for what happened with Sierra over her 26th month.  Luckily I have photos to job my memory banks!

July was HOT across the world and when it’s hot, there’s really only one solution.  Splash pads!  We had never been to the splash pad before and I have to say this is definitely a great idea from a taxpayer perspective.  Look at the happiness on that kid’s face!

You can’t go to the splash pad and not partake in the fun.  Sierra had a great time at the splash pad but it did end up being quite cold and I think after 30 minutes her lips were blue.  Rob, Jenna and Janice came out to see us and we hung out in the park afterwards so Sierra could warm up.

On the hottest day of the summer (or one of them), a few of us headed over to celebrate Mike’s birthday.  I luckily got to hang out with the kids and the water hose.

Caesar fun day!

Relaxing by the pool.

You can create any type of game if you involve water and a hot day.

Check out this sweet ride!

Watch out!

Happy Canada Day!

In the morning we headed over to the Vars park on probably the hottest day of the year.  I’m pretty sure it was 45 with the humidity.  So…it was a little ridiculous to be out in the sun for any length of time. 

They had an awesome hose set up just spraying water into the air.

The local firefighters were on hand with some gigantic Mr. Freezies for everyone!

There’s no harm in hanging outdoors in sweltering heat when you know your friends Joelle and Alan have hooked you up with an awesome Canada Day BBQ with friends!

Check out Josh mid-cannonball!  Also, you can see Sierra in her mom’s arms.  Hilariously Sierra did NOT want to be in her Maman’s arms, but she also doesn’t know how to swim.  We would spend the rest of the summer bringing her into the cool tub and practicing.

When we arrived home we found out that there was no power in the neighbourhood and the culprit was right outside our house!  I asked the guy working there what was going on and he said that once he resets something, it’ll either be working or we will hear a loud bang and they’ll have to replace the entire unit.  20 minutes later all we hear is BANG!  Oh well….it was entertaining watching other trucks show up over the next few hours.  Too bad it was sweltering heat!  The neighbourhood was great to them though…I saw a bunch of people drop by offering water and Mr. Freezies.

Sierra having fun in our bed in the morning

The most important thing about this photo is not the tricycle, but the fact that it may be the first time I got Sierra to smile for the camera!  Hilariously she just knows how to show her teeth. 

Pouring water takes tongue concentration

Bluesfest!  Vero and I went down for three days.  Good times were had and it wasn’t ridiculously hot outside.

I was introduced to The War On Drugs at Folk Festival a few years back and have fallen in love with them.  They put on another excellent show.

I went over to see St. Paul and the Broken Bones and I was highly impressed.  This band was top notch and anyone who has the chance to see them should not pass the opportunity up!  Not my photo.

After St. Paul, I wandered over to see Jethro Tull.  As much as I am a fan of most classic rock, I never gave Tull much of a listen.  Let me tell you it’s an odd experience when you walk into the middle of a Jethro Tull concert and you see videos of dancing dwarves and a flutist on stage.  I felt like I was at a Spinal Tap concert!  I can’t say I was blown away by the show and when I talked to some fans, they also said that the band is beyond their prime.  Makes sense…they’ve been around for fifty years!  Not my photo.

I flew to London, Ontario to spend a few nights with Troy and Connie before heading to Uncle Tony’s celebration of life.  We ended up at Stormstayed Brewing Company one night where we realized we both love playing cribbage.  Troy does not appreciate losing two games in a row.

Troy and I on our second run through of ‘Back to the Sea’.  Turns out that a month later I would be sitting in the Red Room recording it in its proper form.  Thanks to Connie for capturing this!

Troy, Connie and I headed out to Kitchener to meet up with a whole lot of people who showed up to Uncle Tony’s celebration of life.  Like..A LOT of people.  I couldn’t believe the amount of older vehicles out in the parking lot.  If you were a fan of older cars, then chances are, you were there at this celebration of life.  I will miss Uncle Tony.  Even though everyone knows I have zero knowledge about cars, I do admire people with passion and he sure was passionate.

Two nicest people in London, Ontario!

When I got off the airplane in Ottawa on Monday morning I saw someone who worked in our building and then I thought “Hey wait a second!  I think my colleague Samantha is heading out to Sudbury this morning!”  I roamed the halls looking for her and sure enough, there she was waiting for her flight.

Practicing that smile!

Nat hanging out at Gainsbourg before the Foo Fighters show.

Greta Van Fleet opened for the Foo Fighters and they were quite rocking young lads.  Not my photo.

It’s not often you get to see these two out and about together!

In a crowd of 30,000 people, it was quite hard to move around.  Luckily, everyone seemed to find us.

Foo Fighters have officially achieved what I like to call the AC/DC status of a touring band.  You can go to a Foo Fighters concert, not know one song, and still come out being highly entertained.  The band gave it their all.  It’s really great to have seen them over the past 20 years and see how they have achieved ultimate rock and roll status.

30,000 people looks like this!  Not my photo.

Our friend Nat is around six months pregnant so we developed a maneuver to protect her from anyone coming through the crowd towards her.  We had all angles covered in making sure the baby and mom were safe!

The next night was a little tamer.  Mike and I saw this band called Oh Wonder in the River stage tent.  Not bad?  We only stayed for a couple of songs but people seemed to be really into them.

Together again!

Here’s my deal with Dave Matthews Band.  People love them.  I…am ok with them.  I like some songs, but I’m not a diehard fan.  I know people follow them from show to show to show.  I just can’t understand it.  I thought by seeing them in concert something would click.  It did not.  They put on an amazing show and they are amazing musicians.  But I guess I’ll just be one of those fans that don’t follow their every movement.

Last night at Bluesfest with these jokers!  It was a great three days.  I don’t think my body could handle going an entire festival any longer, but never say never.

I love how Vero begged her Dad to play a tune on the accordion (note: he doesn’t play often) but when he begged her to play the fiddle she outright refused.  How fair is that?!

Sierra somehow loves putting the fear of god in me when I’m thinking she’s going to fart on me.

Oh look!  Another sweltering day hit Ottawa and guess who was invited to play at a wedding along with his buds?  Yeah, that’s right.  We sweated our asses off with that gig!  After setting up in the morning, I returned home and got us all hats to wear because there was no way we would have survived without them.

Here’s a fine example of us sweating.

And another.

And another!  Martin’s amp literally overheated and was cutting in and out!  All kidding aside, it was a fun gig and I’m happy with how it turned out.  Plus, who can say they played music in a cornfield?!

My smoking hot wife and I.

Vero and Vero were helping out at the water stations, looking cool.

Annabel was trying to hang out at the cool kid’s table.

The next day, Evan shows up showing me some new dance moves that I clearly needed the night before at the wedding!

Heading to the park!

After a hard day at the park, it’s time for Mr. Freeze!

Slow motion videos of kids are definitely my new favourite thing in life

Big gang for supper!

Having fun in the sprinkler!  Special thanks to Danielle for coming up for a week to take care of Sierra while the daycare was closed.  Very much appreciated!

Sierra`s tradition with Maman after a visit to the park.

We took a few days off of work to hang out with Sierra while daycare was closed.  We decided to head out to Mooney’s Bay/Hogs Back for a visit one morning.

Pulling a wagon uphill is quite tricky!

Vero said that Mooney’s Bay had the largest man made park in Canada.  So we definitely had to check it out!  It has a good variety of park structures for kids of all ages…which was a pain sometimes when Sierra wished to go on one for the older kids!

Taking a break with a banana

Check out the stare down between Sierra and Yogi Bear!

I am definitely not the greatest parent to have on these rides.  I was getting motion sick just from being on this merry go-round!  Also, merry go rounds have definitely changed since the 80s.

The grilled cheese from Five Guys wasn’t the biggest hit for Sierra but the fries sure were!

Maman makes a good couch.

Is this the cupcake train?

It’s always a great day when I stumble upon Jonah and Maelle at the gas station!  Look at the amount of babies going on tour to the cottage!

Mike and Eric came over to try out the Whiskey Trail set of scotch that Mom and Dad bought for me at Christmas.  We enjoyed the trail!  We did not enjoy staying up to 2am and waking up early the next morning.

Always a sweetheart for photo with Maman

And then Dad comes along

I love how roles get reversed a lot in our family.

Sierra is learning that jumping is part of any good dance routine!

There’s that awesome smile again!  Also, don’t worry folks.  Uncle Billy won’t be rolling in his grave.  I am not buying a ride-on mower.

But we WERE eyeing up some clearance patio furniture sets.  We ended up picking this set up when we got back from Gaspé.  LET ME TELL YOU…I never knew how much a couch in my backyard would change my life. 

Having fun on the ride home

Having fun in the driveway!

Team Awesome reunited!  Nicki was back in town for a few days before moving to a job in London England so we managed to get Laura and Nat out for lunch at the same time.  To this day, this is still the best team I’ve had the pleasure working with!







Sierra’s 25th Month

It’s been a busy month around here and no wonder…when summer hits, essentially everyone we know and love decides to come and enjoy the sun in South Eastern Ontario!

While the mosquitoes have been dying off in the past week, they were pretty fierce around our house over the past month.  We finished up a lot of the deck work and are contemplating if we want to invest money in a gazebo or not.  Unless a gazebo can prevent 10,000 mosquito armies from coming in, we’re not sure if it’s worth it?  We still need to think about that one.

Sierra is…an interesting human being these days.  I have heard about the ‘terrible two’s’, but I have no idea if we are in the middle of it right now, or if it’s just going to get worse?  She is easily frustrated these days and generally says ‘Pas’ (‘Je ne veux pas’) to everything.  It’s her automatic response even if she realizes two seconds later that she does, in fact, want to eat some yogurt.  Mornings are especially rough.  But hey, I’m preaching to the choir here!  Everyone goes through this!

She really enjoys going to the park, and blowing bubbles and going on her swing and her slide in the backyard.  The slide is called ‘hee hee’.  Where does she come up with this stuff?  It’s like her soother is a ‘na na’.

Words we’ve noticed in the past month:

Poppa = she’s starting to ask for her grandfather which is cool

Hee hee = slide

Pa = the park

La = lait

I’ve realized if I slow down words she can sort of piece them together.  I think this will be the key to unlocking her vocabulary a little more.

Honestly, we can’t complain one bit about her comprehension skills.  She understands most of what we are saying in both English and French which is quite incredible.

She is also starting to learn how to use the potty.  I have to admit I haven’t been doing as much research as I should be on this front so I better start figuring out what this game is all about!

Did I already post a picture of this?  Ah well, even so, I thought this was my favourite photo from her birthday.

The Al Mouna shawarma restaurant was nice enough to give Sierra her first shawarma on the house!  They were very excited to see if she would like it.  I would say she definitely didn’t like the turnips but she picked a most of it for the first few minutes.  I consider this a win in my books, but I don’t think I’ve sold her on it to the level that she loves St. Hubert.

Remember that basement flood months ago?  Well, the contractor who was going to renovate in August called us up and said he had an opening in his schedule for the entire month of June so he slotted us in!  We were ecstatic!  I was not as ecstatic when he showed up on a Saturday afternoon when I was having a nap and I proceeded to help bring in all the flooring you see in the corner of the photo.  Ha ha!  Ah well, I needed some exercise that day.  This is a photo of after we ripped out the ceiling and everything else downstairs.

While not at the levels we saw last year, this Ottawa River was still pretty high near the beginning of June.

When a kid finds some mitts in the car and wants to play with them, why stop them?

Bam!  Look at that ceiling grid!

Also, a last minute decision allowed us to take a spot in the rec room and expand a storage area!

Bam!  Another day done and look how much is getting done!  These guys were working at breakneck speed!  Honestly, they had most of the stuff done in the first week and definitely had 95% of the job complete in two weeks instead of the estimated 4.  They said at one point they had seven guys in there working!

Vero and I aren’t known for making decisions at breakneck speed but Mom convinced us (and the contractor) to put in a large door on this wall instead of the originally planned smaller door on the further wall.  It was a great suggestion!

It’s pretty incredible when you come into the house one day and find a new floor and a new ceiling and new lights all from one days’ work!  I can actually pinpoint the moment in my life where I said “Yep, I have too much going on in my life with Sierra.  There’s no way I am going to take on large renovation projects on my own any longer.”  I’m sure we can also pinpoint this moment in my life to the point where I made a horrible financial mistake?  🙂

Nat arranged to be the impartial person picking the winner of our charitable 50/50 draw.

Etienne and I had a sandwich down near the river at lunch and lo and behold, we saw this incredible tap system set up for the Festibiere!

That’s right, Sierra can be hired out to take care of flies!

I’ll have to go back in the history books to figure out when I introduced her to this Lego Animals game but she has now mastered the game whereas at the beginning it was a tough go at tapping on items on a screen.

The Buhr Clan picked up a slide for Sierra’s birthday.  We didn’t bother opening it up the day we got it…we figured we would wait a few days so she could play with her other toys.  She loves this thing!


If only I could convert this into a water slide one day.

Martin and I hanging out with Sierra at the park.  This was one of the first times she was trying out this particular slide.

I love how this picture captures her excitement!!

Vero and a bunch of other crazy people went to Mud Hero which wasn’t too far away from where we live.  I’m not sure if I could be convinced to spend money to jump into some mud, but they seemed to love every moment of it!

Tandreane with some birthday gifts for Sierra.

I love this photo of Abigail so much that I stole it and put it on my own blog!

I quite love working in Hull.  One of the reasons is that they come up with quirky artistic ideas once in awhile.  Look closely for the Pac-Man at the crosswalk.

We built a mobile app for Job Bank that won us a Deputy Minister Award.  Here was part of the team on their way to the ceremony.

Showing off the medal.  Someone told me it was made of pirate gold.

Sharing a drink with fellow award winner Michael.

Claude, Joelle and I went to Montreal for the day to see U2 on their Experience+Innocence tour.  Here’s Claude and I hanging out next to this guy who was clearly posing for our picture.

I was pretty amazed our elevator had a television in it.  Fast fact: I don’t stay in a lot of fancy hotels.

Members of Arcade Fire hanging out for the show.

I didn’t take this photo.

We were insanely close for the opening songs!  I love the stage layout of this tour.  It allows us to get closer to the action.

The Blackout is a blistering opening tune to get people in the mood!

I really enjoyed the part of the show where they played at the further stage and Bono adopted his Mr. Macphisto persona from the ZooTV tour.  All in all, this particular tour may be one of my favourites.  They are really playing up the concept of telling U2’s story of formation and demise (Pop album) and resurrection once again.

We ended up pretty to close to Adam when the band split up and went to the four corners of the arena.  I love how Joelle was so absorbed in getting a picture of him that she didn’t realize they had played Pride.

Definitely my favourite picture of Claude.

Definitely my other favourite picture of Claude!  We feel this one looks like someone had punched him in his face!

I definitely enjoyed this show more than the Innocence+Experience tour.  It probably has to do with the fact that I enjoy their newer album a lot more.  I also predict that this will be the last time we see them put on full out arena tours.  They deserve the break.

Future U2 fan right here!

Maman was gone for the weekend with her friends so it was time to hit the town and see what the city had to offer.  Nat, Sierra and I met up with Benoit and Cinthia as a flea market down at Lansdowne.  I have to say that Sierra doesn’t really like the backpack as much as she used to.  

Luckily she likes dragging the wagon around!

Sierra telling Cinthia how the playground works.

Sierra kind of messed up our plans.  Originally we were going to stick to our regularly scheduled nap from 1-3PM and head over to a BBQ at Clayton and Pam (neighbours).  However, she dozed off in the car and didn’t feel like a nap in the afternoon.  I knew this was  a recipe for disaster so I brought her to the park to tire her out.  It definitely worked as she slept until 6PM!

Who knew the park could bring so much joy?

Taking a break.

I’m going to assume this photo was taken after wrestling a Yeti at the cottage.

I felt my Dad skills were put to the test when trying to push two separate swings full of children over at the BBQ!  No broken bones so I must have accomplished the task.

I’m pretty sure they weren’t too impressed I was stopping their ride to take a photo.

Look who’s ready to go for a bike ride in the morning!

We stumbled upon a lemonade stand where I also purchased this year’s Halloween outfit…a cat costume!

We needed to go to the emergency room to get this thing off of Maman’s back.

Enjoying some bubbles on the new deck.

Marijo and I recording some voiceovers for a video at work.  This sound booth we found is ridiculously hot when you have two people cramped in there!  We call it the sauna.

Nanny Sybil sent some money up for Sierra’s birthday.  We felt it was quite fitting to outfit her with enough bubbles for the entire summer season!

“Turn the volume down.”  – a surefire solution to figuring out the navigation system in a new car!

I went down to Kitchener with my parents to see Uncle Tony and Aunt Lana.  We decided to stop by Nanny Ruth’s apartment and snapped this photo from her porch.

Unfortunately, Uncle Tony was too weak to see any of us.  It was nice to see Aunt Lana but it was definitely a rough time for everyone waiting to see what would happen each day.  Uncle Tony passed away about a week after this photo was taken.  I hope to write up a little more about him later, but for the time being, I can say that he was a good man and will be missed.

I brought my ukelele down as I couldn’t bring the guitar on the train with me.  Here I was entertaining Mom and Aunt Dinah one night.

A nice photo of the four of us.

While I was away, Sierra and Maman went to the Franco-Ontarien festial where Sierra had her first yummy ice cream cone.

Also while I was away, I guess Sierra had to be my backup in the house!

Ryley and I enjoying a walk.

Mom had plenty of room in the backseat after we went to Home Depot to pick up a few things.

Sierra got me a very nice photo book for Father’s Day.

Grandma showing Sierra how to use this crazy bubble wand

Etienne and Nat enjoying these neat umbrellas hung up around Hull.

Poppa and Sierra playing with some toys.

Checking out the workbench.

Ah, the hunt for the great photo while holding a child.  Nothing is perfect!

Mom, Dad and I went to the slot machines one evening.  Dad realized that if you signed up for a member card, they give you $15 to play with!  I ended up coming ahead by $9 that night, a first!  I was ecstatic considering I brought in $20 to play with.

A quick photo before everyone had to leave for the day.  Thanks to Mom and Dad for dropping in and helping us set up the basement and finish off the deck!  Without the help of others, we would be sitting on a bunch of 2×4’s that weren’t even screwed together!

Tante Anne-Marie up for a visit!

The greatest photo ever taken?  Perhaps!

Nice night to hang out.

I feel this is what a horse jockey looks like before a race.

Thanks to Anne-Marie for taking care of Sierra a few nights so that Vero and I could go out!

The morning Anne-Marie was leaving I noticed a pool of water near the sump pit.  Unfortunately the pipe leading to the outer faucet was leaking!  Are you kidding me?!  Vero and I took a look at it later in the day when Sierra was napping but we decided to call the professionals in because it was still dripping when we shut the water source off.  Better not take a chance!  It was fixed the next morning.  What a pain!  We are thinking that the increased pressure in the system over the past few months is a little too much for the older pipes which doesn’t look like to have had the best solder job done to the joints.  The person installing our heating system already had to fix four leaks!

Who would have thought a tarp drying on the driveway could be so much fun?!

Band practice for our gig at a wedding in a few weeks.

Lazing around while Mom was out for supper one night.









Review: Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival

This past weekend I attended the Ottawa Dragon Boat Festival which was also unofficially dubbed My 40th birthday party awesometime festival.  Yes, that’s right, I’m turning 40 this year and it was time to party it up!

I will be away at a family reunion when my birthday rolls around in August so I thought about it and with all Vero and I have had been through with the flood renovations and the heating system problems, we figured it was best to have a low-effort outing.

What better way to celebrate than to attend a kick ass festival with free concerts, manageable beer lines and great views of the stage?!

The Ottawa Dragon Boat festival has always offered up free concerts and I believe they are getting larger every year.  I have heard that it’s due to the incredible beer profits they make so don’t forget to support your local festivals and drink more beer than usual.

It was a great summer weekend of fun for four days.  I was blessed with having a lot of friends show up over the weekend and while it rained a little on Saturday (rubber boots were in tow!) and a little on Sunday, for the most part it was a perfect weekend.

I want to thank everyone who came out to make the event extra special!  Let the summer of fun begin!

I would also like to thank Anne-Marie who ended up in town for a meeting and graciously offered to babysit a few nights so Vero could come out to the festival as well.

Sam Roberts Band always puts on a great show.  According to my records, this was my fifteenth time seeing these guys.  They never disappoint!

Martin and Ryan never disappoint either.

Birthday girl Mern found these great sunglasses for me on the ground at the end of the night.  She also got me a guitar pick from the band!  Thanks!

It was a cool night out there.  Too bad Amy and Tyler were hanging out for so long and nearly froze!  They did happen upon some free Hard Rock Café t-shirts to warm their souls.

Ah yes, me without my shirt on.  So for years I have been eyeing up this one particular Sam Roberts Band t-shirt.  I love the design, but it was a little pricey with the shipping and eventually they ran out of my size so I missed out on it.  But lo and behold, they had the shirt at the merch booth this time around!  I was stoked and I told Vero I was going to buy it.  She said she would pick it up for me for my birthday which was super nice of her.

The grizzled old guy at the merch booth says he only has an extra large left.  I wasn’t sure if it would fit and he said “I’ve been working for 25 years in this business.  I can tell that this shirt will fit you like a glove!”  I can’t really deny a man with that much confidence!  I put it over my existing shirt and while I thought it may be a little tight, I figured it was due to the other shirt.

When I get back to our group of friends, I take off my shirt (in which James proclaimed “I have never seen zero hair on someone’s back before!) and when I put on the shirt, I feel it’s really tight around the arms and the chest area.  Then it dawned on Amy: “You’re wearing an XL WOMEN’S SHIRT!”  We all had a good laugh.  Vero returned the shirt and ended up with a 2XL men’s shirt which the guy assured her would shrink in the dryer.  I’m pretty sure we all know that this 25 year veteran of the merch booth is full of it, but whatever.  We’ll see if it shrinks!

The next night brought Broken Social Scene to the stage.  I was excited to see them as I had missed them the last time they passed through town and I really enjoy their latest album.  At one point I think they had 15 people on stage!

The crew enjoying the nice summer nights.  Trish managed to escape the clutches of working for the Senate and this was her first night out of her summer of fun.

As one would do after a killer night of tunes and beers, a trip to McDonald’s is sometimes in order.  I challenged Trish to order something she had NEVER had off the menu.  Thinking we would find something crazy like a chicken szechuan burger, we soon realized we had both never had the staple of the McDonald’s menu…the Big Mac!

Unfortunately, the Big Mac was a big bust.  We both weren’t impressed with the sauce and it was a pretty unwieldy burger to eat!  Way too much lettuce!  We are both quarter pounder lovers at heart.  Oh well, I’m sure my stomach enjoyed the 1,000 calories sitting in it overnight while I slept about 15 minutes after.

Killer band after killer band showed up at the festival.  I really enjoy Wintersleep and see them every chance I get. 

Here’s a great photo of the group of us who braved the elements for Wintersleep.  Vero also got me the s wetlist from the band!!

The fourth and final evening had us venture out into what I thought would be a decent evening for weather but then it started raining on us for awhile!  Talk about me being unprepared!  At least Trish was prepared with her poncho.

But lo and behold, the clouds parted and we were presented with a once in a lifetime event…a double rainbow which literally lasted 20+ minutes!  I had never seen a rainbow that long.  Coupled with Matt Mays playing one of my favourite tunes ever (Standdown at Sundown), I knew we were in for a killer night.  The mood was just right…whereas the last time I saw the band they were full on rock and roll in a sweaty room…this time the setlist was geared for those summer nights where you want a little melancholy but also a side of rock and roll as well! 

Trish and I tried to get a photo of us under the entire rainbow.  My arms needed to be a kilometer longer to get the entire rainbow.

Trish reacting to seeing a dove of peace fly by.

Truly a transcendent night.  It went from rain to double rainbows to a moon in behind the stage.  I was inspired.

Or at least I was inspired until I realized I was drinking beer and paint chips.  Ew!  I have to write Waterloo Brewery about the paint on their can.

I don’t often take a video of what’s going on, but the music was moving me so much that I wanted to capture the moment.  Enjoy!

Thanks to everyone who came out to my birthday bash!  It was one for the ages.