Instant pot: spaghetti

I modified the recipe from the site above and it came out decent.  Vero really likes it.  I feel there’s a little bit of flavour needed.  The comments section mentions someone adding some brown sugar as they like a sweeter taste,  I may try that next time.


  • 2 Pounds Lean Ground Beef 
  • 3/4Teaspoon EACH Salt, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder
  • 1 Pound Spaghetti Noodles (this is one package of noodles)
  • 1 jar of tomato and basil spaghetti sauce
  • 1 1/2 Jars of water (just use the jar from the spaghetti sauce)
  • 1 large (28 oz) Can Diced Tomatoes
  • Set the Instant Pot to saute’ and add the ground beef.  Add the salt, garlic powder, onion powder.  Cook the meat and seasonings, breaking the meat up until it’s completely browned.  Turn the Instant Pot off. Drain any excess grease from meat if necessary.
  • Break the spaghetti in half and place on top of meat in the Instant Pot.  Pour over the spaghetti sauce, diced tomato, and water.  Push the spaghetti down with a spoon if necessary to make sure it is completely covered in liquid.
  • Seal the instant pot and set it to manual mode, high pressure, 8 minutes cooking time.  When the time is up, use manual quick release to open the Instant Pot.  Stir the spaghetti well.  Serve immediately

Theres a lot of spaghetti to eat,  I wouldn’t be surprised if we have leftovers for two more nights.



Ezra’s Fourth Month


Sometimes they are like this:

But then sometimes they are like this:

And if you’re really lucky, they give you this once in awhile:

Ezra is full out screaming at me 50% of the nights but then other nights he’s content to hang out with me.  You never know what you’re going to get!  But he’s doing good for the most part.  I don’t feel he’s got any health issues that we need to be concerned about.  What do I know?  Maybe the 50% of the time he’s screaming at me is because he’s allergic to hanging out next to his Dad?

A typical evening for me is to return home, help out with Sierra to put her to bed and then I bring Ezra downstairs and we watch some TV/movies.  Somewhere along this ride he gets a bottle and then if I’m lucky he’s all smiles for 30 minutes and then he starts to get cranky so I rock him to sleep or wrap him in a blanket and he falls asleep next to me for an hour until the next feeding.  Feedings are slowly stretching past the two hour mark.  Sometimes he’s can go another 30 minutes, sometimes not.  That’s on a good day.  On a bad day, he’s crying after I give him the bottle and he doesn’t let up for two hours.  I even had to employ this handy device one night:

I’ve learned to watch Star Wars with the subtitles on.

He’s enjoying the Christmas lights we have put up.  Vero tells me that he stares at the Christmas tree a lot.

Onto the pictures!

Mom’s still got the Midas touch!

We’re teaching Sierra how to take photos.

Two beauties!

Maggie Simpson.

I’ve never seen this outfit before.  Is this supposed to be Mickey Mouse?

Sierra gets some cuddle time with Ezra before bedtime usually.  At a quick glance you would think Sierra is looking at the camera but we all know she is staring at the television behind us.

Vero goes out for the night and the supper of champions emerges!

Vero would probably tell you that this is a typical morning for Ezra.  Having a nap while taking a walk around the neighbourhood.

Taking Ezra for a sled ride.

It was the just the three of us one night so Sierra helped give the bottle while I cleaned up the kitchen.  They both did quite well!

The snow comes and goes around Ottawa so we took advantage of it when we could.  It’s interesting to see how Ezra reacts in the cold.  If there is the slightest gust of wind it takes his breath away so we generally have to bundle him up in blankets.  But on a day like today he was doing good.

I think they are both getting used to having photos taken.

I saw this at the Canadian Tire toy section and I thought “Yep, that sounds right.”

Fredo and Ezra hanging out.

THIS is what we like to see in the evenings!

Ezra enjoys the time spent in his little play yard.

Checking out what the family is doing.


Watching Christmas specials on a Saturday morning.

Sierradinosaur and Ezra were really into Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Ezra was loving playing with this.

And this!

Damien Robitaille!  Trish and Vero got to see him play a few Christmas tunes down near City Hall.

He has a new Christmas album out this year which is a great listen (and a great gift under the tree!)

And so it begins!  With the Rise of Skywalker coming out in a few weeks I decided to take Ezra on the journey of watching six Star Wars films with me.

For Holly’s Christmas party I infiltrated with a gift of my own…a photo book of my life!  It was a hot ticket item for the gift exchange!

Sausage dip!

Ezra was helping put the Christmas tree up.

Ezra and Sierra got to meet Santa at the Vars Christmas celebration!

I have to take tips from this guy.  He was a great entertainer.

The afternoon was a hit and we give thanks to the Optimist Club for putting on this great event each year.

Watatow!  Four months old already!


Sierra’s 42nd month

It’s been a rough month with Sierra as she has caught a couple of viruses from the daycare.  This year was the worst the daycare has seen in a decade.  It even wiped out some of the staff for close to a week!

I remember hearing Sierra over the monitor saying her bellybutton hurt.  I went in and asked if she rolled onto her doll’s head and she said yes.  Then I went back to bed and she kept complaining that her bellybutton hurt.  It dawned on me….she wasn’t talking about her bellybutton, she was talking about her belly!  I rushed back in but the damage was done as she had vomited in her bed.  Poor thing.  The rest of the night was spent over a bucket and watching Dora the Explorer.  Pro tip for parents: if you notice that there is a really bad stomach bug going around the daycare, don’t decide one night to pound back a couple of beer, and head to bed around 11pm when there is a high probability that you will wake at 2am and have to stay awake helping out a poor girl being sick!

Sierra really enjoyed Halloween and is gearing up for Christmas now.  It’s great to see that she fully grasps these things and now it’s up to us to figure out what sort of traditions we want to have.  Sierra’s already forced us into the “let me have a Halloween candy after supper!” tradition!  We are starting to let her know about Santa Claus visiting the house at the end of December which has always been a welcome visit in my house!

Sierra is 95% self-sufficient at 3.5 years old.  Saturday and Sunday mornings consist of me getting some hummus and crackers for her, going downstairs and turning on Dora the Explorer for her.  I can go to the office and do things like updating this blog for you all!

I’m not sure why I took this photo one morning but I must have been proud of the work I put into her hair that morning.  These days it’s rare that she wants a lulu or clips so when I manage to convince her it’s a treat.  I’m trying to think of what a lulu is in English…hair elastic?

It was an exciting day at the daycare as everyone got their nails and faces painted!

Halloween!  Sierra’s Dora outfit came out pretty good! 

Our team decided to have a clown theme this year.  Nick put it best “I really enjoy how all of us came as different versions of clowns!”

So here’s the thing…Halloween was a wash.  Literally.  Torrential downpours hit the Nation’s Capital this year and it sucked!  Vero was nice enough to head out with Sierra and I stayed at home with Ezra handing out candy.  We ended up giving only half of the regular amount (around 45 pieces) which must be because of all the rain.  Kids weren’t venturing too far outside this cold, rainy night.  Vero did come up with a genius idea of putting Sierra in her parka but with a Dora apron.

Ezra and I watched An American Werewolf in London while handing out candies.  Did you know the director of that film also directed Michael Jackson’s Thriller video? 

What a haul!

I think these poppy stickers are a great idea (except they didn’t really stick to this type of jacket).

Bahaha!  Facebook has some gems sometimes.

The neighbours missed Halloween due to illness so a couple of days later they managed to score a LOT of candy considering we had boxes of it left!

I get a call from Vero saying there is a water leak in the basement.  GREAT.  Luckily the leak was not to the boiler as I had originally feared.  But it still was a pinhole leak spraying water in behind a wall.  Vero said the latex paint had a giant bubble forming out of the wall that she has to poke with a fork to get the water out!

I took this picture to show all home renovators what NOT to do.  When you have an unfinished basement and are thinking of putting some walls up, please don’t build a wall where it’s impossible to get to some shut off valves!  Ridiculous!  I actually ended up having to cut a piece of the joist out of this because after I fixed the actual leak down the line, when I went to turn the water back on this valve wouldn’t stop leaking!  This was happening to me at 9pm at night!  I managed to get the valve into a spot where it was dripping once a minute.  I put a towel in there and decided to wait until Dad showed up that weekend to give me a hand.

I have to thank my parents for giving me the skills to repair things in the house.  Generally I can wait for someone to help me but this was one of the first times that I looked at the issue and said to myself “I have the skills required to fix this.  Just get it done no matter how long it takes.”  It was a pain working on the piping in behind the wall but I managed to get it done with the help of some Sharkbites.

I also love how I just realized I spoke about this already on the blog!  

Sierra is a big fan of Passe-Partout so I took this photo at work for her.

Troy and Connie sent up these nice earmuffs for Sierra.  She wears them all the time!

We’ve always had this doghouse on our property.

No more!  Dad was itching to get outside and do something one morning so we decided to take down this doghouse.  What a pain.  It had this really sturdy rooftop built with shingles that we had to take down and cut up into manageable pieces.  What a job!  I’ll probably find a bunch of things in the spring that need cleaning up.  I am thankful I figured out there was a Vars dump just down the road to drop things off to!  If anyone needs 50 feet of chain link fence and some of the accessories, they are yours!

Sierra’s getting pretty good at putting her snowsuit on.

First snow of the year came quite early in November this year!  Sierra wasn’t too excited about going to the daycare until I mentioned we could go on the sled.

A typical Saturday morning for Sierra.

Heading out for a walk.

Sierra is really nice when it comes to letting Maman have a nap.

At least the snowfall let us get some holiday photos done in time for Christmas.

I died of laughter for this one.

Sierra trying to catch Maman.

Sierra is now understanding the concept of what cashiers do.

The snow left us as fast as it came in!  Sierra and I took a walk around the neighbourhood and ended up at her daycare’s playground.  

Krista and the kids came out for a beautiful Sunday afternoon so we could see the Russell Christmas parade.

Fire trucks!

Merry KISSmas!  Vero couldn’t stop laughing at this float.

Nor the dinosaurs!

The main man and lady themselves!

I hadn’t been to a Christmas parade in years.  I had forgotten that the kids get A LOT of candy.

Sierra surprised me a few days ago when she drew this picture and said “This is for your friend Etienne.”  She must hear me speak about him a lot.  She’s only met him once in the summer.  How nice of her!  She also drew another bunch of pictures for him later in the weekend so I suggested they go to my other friends.  What a pleasant surprise my friends have in store on Monday morning!




Ezra’s Third Month

Ezra has finally entered what I like to call the ‘Guy Smiley’ zone.  Every time we smile at him he returns them to us!  I think I even got him laughing a little the other day.  This is the beginning of a great addition to the family.  Before this moment I’m sure there were a few times where I thought “What am I gaining from having this kid in my arms who is crying?”

There have been quite a few evenings in the past month where he is a fussy baby.  Sometime after supper.  Which coincidentally turns out to be when I take him downstairs to give Vero a break.  There are some good nights where he takes the bottle, smiles at me for awhile and then falls asleep (like last night!).  There are other nights where I give him the bottle, he smiles for a bit but then for the next hour and a half he is NOT liking life and cries at me for the entire time.  I rock him, I walk with him, I twirl him around like pizza dough.  Nothing works.  These are some trying times!  I wonder if he is developing an intolerance like Sierra had even though Vero isn’t eating any dairy.  Is there some soy allergy sneaking in there?  Who knows?  I’ve even had to put the subtitles on Star Trek Deep Space Nine while I’m watching with him because there’s no way I can make out what the actors are saying!  Ha ha.

In the past week we are starting to see a transformation for the better.  Vero has said that he is starting to sleep from midnight until six am which is a welcome change.  He has done that consistently for the past five nights.  I also stumbled upon a position that typically makes him comfortable.  If I sit him on my knee and lean him forward he seems to not cry as much as was before.  This is good!  It’s really exciting when a parent finds a little trick that seems to make their kid feel better.

We have been giving him one bottle in the evening of four ounces of milk.  So far he doesn’t seem to want anymore.  At this point I can pretty well feed him the entire 4 ounces without giving him a burp and then he sits up and burps on his own.  Of course, this can vary from time to time but it’s exciting to see that he’s starting to do things on his own.  When will he be able to hold his own bottle!?

He is a happy baby and that’s what counts!

After bath time!  He seems to enjoy bath time these days.  He didn’t care for it entirely at first.  Even now I don’t seem him laughing at the thought of water but I’m sure that will change.

Wow, was it this nice outside one month ago?  I’m typing this as we got dumped with 10 centimetres of snow!

Some visitors for Thanksgiving

Beautiful morning for a campfire

“And that’s why we don’t talk about politics at the table!”

Ezra’s getting ready for Halloween!

Ezra sure loves snuggling up to Grandmaman.

Et Grandpapa aussi!

Sierra is such a funny person when posing for photos with Ezra.

Sierra wanted to help feed Ezra.

Ezra was lucky enough to get a bunch of more visitors in the past month.  Here is Melissa making sure he sleeps well.

He couldn’t stay asleep when Tante Carole wanted to hold him.

Hanging out in the playground.

A typical evening….just the boys hanging out downstairs on the couch watching Star Trek.

Some moments are pretty cool hanging out with this little dude.

But most moments were from a series I like to call “Don’t kid yourself.  Behind every good photo of Ezra smiling on this website is ten more of these videos where he is crying for an hour.”

This was probably the last campfire of the year.

Rob and Ezra singing.

This kid cracks me up!

Sierra taking Ezra for a walk showing him all the Halloween decorations.

Who would have thought that 24 years after Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was released, we would be hanging out together watching a concert video from that era.  Ezra and Billy sure look alike!

Ezra is taking it all in at the pumpkin patch.

I’m not entirely sure what Ezra thought of my costume!

Nanny Ruth and Beth came to see what all the fuss was about.

To avoid crying, let the kid bring a book to the photo shoot.

I must have been telling a pretty good joke here.

I told Nanny she would have to stay for another few months considering I haven’t mastered this move yet.

I think Sierra was trying to take a selfie.  Not bad!

Out for a walk with Maman.

Maman must have been waving a chocolate bar in front of him.

Maman found this pumpkin in our backyard!

This pumpkin definitely moves a lot.

Vero took 20 photos to find the perfect one.  I chose this one to post.  I’m not sure if she would approve?

Pretty scary business handing out candy.

Ezra was guarding the candy at the front door whenever I would sneak off for a beer.

I had a good laugh when I saw where Ezra’s hands were heading on this photos of Mel and Jonathan!  The look on his face says “Awww yeah, watch this!”

Hanging out.

Out and about at the St Laurent shopping centre.

I worked from home one day and Vero passed Ezra to me for a few minutes while she had a shower.  He fell asleep!  We didn’t bother moving him.  It was quite interesting trying to type while he was laying asleep on my arm.

Basement chatter.

Vero called me one day to tell me that there was a leak in behind a wall in the guest room. FANTASTIC.  I get home, take a look at snap at photo of this lovely position where the leak is coming from.  It’s in behind a joist AND in behind a wall where the suspended ceiling doesn’t have access to.  Future home renovators: if you decide to build some rooms, why don’t you move it over a foot or two so you have actual access to the piping when it decides to leak!?  What a pain to fix.  I had to slice out some sections of the joists and will have to brace them again later.  I ended up using sharkbites for most of the job even though they are more expensive.  They had a slide coupling which made my life easier as I couldn’t move the two pipes much.  

The best part of the job was when I went to turn the water back on and a leak developed from the cut off valve.  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?  I managed to get it down to a drip every 60 seconds so I waited a few days until Dad came down so we could patch that up.  It was also a pain of a job which required another section of the joist to come out.

Sierra bringing Ezra around the block.

I had a good laugh at this one.

Speaking about good laughs, here I was trying to get Ezra to laugh.

I took Ezra in this contraption for a spin around the house while vacuuming.  I’m not sure if he liked it or not.  I think he enjoyed it after getting used to it.

Mom, Dad and Nanny came for a quick visit over Remembrance Day weekend.  Here’s a photo of four generations of family together on the comfiest couch ever.

Troy sent up some beer from local breweries around London, ON.  Thanks!  Here’s Dad dipping into the many that were consumed that weekend.

Nanny was quite amused by Ezra, or was is the other way around?

Ezra is amused by anyone, even Poppa!

Three months already!  Ai ai aieeee.

Review: Matt Mays and Skye Wallace at the Babs Asper Theatre (National Arts Centre)

Some really, really close seats.  I could see the sweat on their faces!

Sunday night in Ottawa…what is there to do?

Head down to the National Arts Centre to see Matt Mays on the Howl at the Night tour, that’s what there’s to do!!

You all know my love for Matt Mays.  He can do no wrong in my eyes.

This tour was the culmination of everything that has come before it.  His band is top notch and the way the night unfolded was magical.

I had no idea Etienne and I got tickets so close to the stage…third row in a the small Babs Asper Theatre at the  National Arts Centre.  It was uncomfortably close at first but once the show started and the crowd gathered it just made it all the more intimate.

Pretty sure I could touch the stage if I reached out my hand!  I was also kicking myself for leaving the good phone at home.  The iPhone5 camera does NOT take the best photos.

Skye Wallace.  The Dream Weaver.

Skye Wallace opened up the set and it was a rocking good time.  The band was firing on all cylinders and Skye Wallace is a force to be reckoned with.  She had an incredible stage presence and is definitely worth seeing again.  I even picked up all her albums at the merch booth after her show.

Starting out the show nice and slow.

The Howl at the Night tour was a combination of their past few tours.  They opened the show with a bunch of acoustic tunes and morphed into a full out electric show.  I really enjoyed how the set unfolded…first up was Matt solo on piano.  Then he invites a bandmate.  Then another, and another, and another.  8 songs into the set we finally get to see the full lineup.

I really love the latest touring lineup of Matt Mays.  I always enjoy Adam Baldwin as the right hand man and now the stage is flanked by Leith Fleming-Smith is an insane keyboardist who has his own legion of fans.  I even saw someone with a homemade t-shirt of Leith and it said Leithal Weapon.  Fabulous!

I’ve seen Matt Mays a lot over the years.  I remember seeing him open up for the Sam Roberts Band on their inaugural tour back in 2003.  They’ve been around Ottawa quite a bit and I have to say that this was the best live incarnation of the band I have ever seen.  Everything coalesced into a fantastic night.  I was glad that Etienne got to experience the power of Matt Mays for the first time!


I almost forgot to write about a highlight of the night…Matt brings the mic out into the crowd through the aisles at one point and then decides to hook back in on good ole Row CC which was our row!  Sure enough, he starts walking on top of all the seats to end up smack dab on Etienne’s seat and singing to the rest of the theatre.  So basically, we had to stare at his butt for the rest of the song which was hilarious.  Good times were had.

Check them out on this tour!

Here’s the tour poster created by Ottawa’s very own Ottawa Gig Posters.

Setlist (Matt Mays)

Howl at the Night
Drive On
Dark Promises
Ola Volo
Ain’t That the Truth
The Past
Spoonful of Sugar
Building a Boat
Station Out of Range
City Of Lakes
Take It on Faith
Let There Be Love
Terminal Romance

Tall Trees (country version)
On the Hood

Review: The Dead South and Elliot Brood at TD Place



A few months ago my bud Matt got me into this bluegrass band called The Dead South who hail from Saskatchewan.  They had this incredible video:

Anyhow, when I heard they were coming to town a bunch of picked up some tickets for a Tuesday night in Ottawa at the TD Place.

Elliot Brood in full Hallowe’en garb

Thanks to Vero for letting me head out on a Tuesday night to check out this band!  Going to a concert is a game day call when there are two kids in the house.

I missed the first couple of songs of Elliot Brood which is a crying shame because the first song they played was C’est L’Halloween which I had been talking about the week prior at work.  Supposedly this song is super popular around the world but no one has heard about it.  But out of nowhere, Elliot Brood opens their set with it!  My friends were freaking out.  Here‘s an interesting article about this song.

Great stage setup by The Dead South!

I found Chanelle, Matt and Matt’s mom a few rows from centre stage.  The TD Place floor was packed but they had shut down the stands for the event…probably due to lack of ticket sales?

Elliot Brood was a great rollicking time and I will definitely be checking some of their music again as I was not familiar with them.

The Dead South put on a great show as well.  I’m not entirely familiar with their catalogue of tunes but the crowd seemed to know every word!  You can tell the band is embarking on a larger production type of show where they choreograph some moves (like the swaying of their instruments at the same time) as well as some extended jams to fill in some time between songs.  I was wondering if the lack of a drummer would be an issue but with a bluegrass band, there are no worries!

Also, can I put a shout out to Danny Kenyon who handles the cello strapped to his back like a champ?  He is crazy good.  Let’s be honest, the entire band is great.

Two thumbs up for this show.  Catch them if you can!

Can I just say I think it’s really interesting how they are huge in Germany but this will be the first tour that brings them to the Maritimes?  I can’t wrap my head around that considering they are a Canadian band!

Now…onto my one gripe.  It’s a large one so hold on the for the ride.

Who the heck charges $20 a CD to ticketholders?!

I was walking in there thinking I would plunk down my cash to pick up their three albums.  I have listened to them on Google Play Music but it was time to support this band with some dollars.

Now, I’ve been to a few concerts over my lifetime.  As I type this, it shows that I have been to 610 of them.

In my experience, I have never seen a cd priced higher than 15 bucks.  Generally you’ll see CDs hanging around the ten buck mark.

Now, on one hand, you would think that maybe the price of CDs have gone up over time and that’s how they can justify their price.  I do agree that the price for CDs are slowly creeping into the 20 dollar range.  In fact, The Dead South albums are all hovering around 22 bucks on Amazon.

But the other hand is the following: you’ve already got fans coming in the door.  You also are hoping to win new fans with your awesome tunes and your show.  You want to melt their brains and have them wanting more when they leave.  What better way to do so than to have a cd at a bargain?

Case in point: I walked out there with nothing other than a poster.  I didn’t even bother picking up one CD.  But I was ready to buy all three CDs if they were priced at $15 or less.  My friend Chanelle was thinking of picking up a CD to support the band but balked at the $20 price point.

I went to see Skye Wallace a few weeks after this Dead South show and she blew me away much like Dead South blew me away.  I went and picked up all her albums for ten bucks each.

In today’s market, buying tour merchandise has become even more of a showing of support for a band.  We already have your music via streaming services.  Why do we need a CD?

To show our support.  So please don’t gouge us.

Hey, what do I know?  Maybe you end up selling enough $20 cds to a smaller group of people but still make more money?  I’m trying to wrap my head around what the ultimate goal of selling tour merchandise is. Is it to make the most profit, or is it to get something in the hands of fans to show their support, or is there a middle road somewhere?  I have a feeling the middle road is what most bands take.

Rant over!  Still a great show and I encourage everyone to check out The Dead South!

Setlist (Elliot Brood)

C’est L’Halloween [Matt Maxwell]
@Unknown[Lyrics: …I could hear them coming over that hill…]
’til the Sun Comes Up Again
Jigsaw Heart
Dig a Little Hole
Woodward Avenue
@Unknown[Lyrics: …come out with your hands held high…]
2 4 6 8
The Valley Town
Without Again
Write It All Down for You

Setlist (The Dead South)

Diamond Ring
Time for Crawlin’
Miss Mary
The Recap
Honey You
That Bastard Son
Blue Trash
Fat Little Killer Boy
Snake Man
Black Lung
Heaven In A Wheelbarrow
In Hell I’ll Be in Good Company


Crawdaddy Served Cold
Banjo Odyssey

Sierra’s 41st Month

Sierra caught wind that Hallowe’en was sometime in October so every night after supper she asks for her bonbon d’Hallowe’en.  Luckily she never ate any of her candy from the year prior so there is still some decent candy in there that hasn’t expired.

The key this year will be to see if she will wear a costume or not.  Sierra LOVES Dora the Explorer so we are going to outfit her in that and see how it goes.

Sierra is quite the independent soul around our house.  While she does insist that we help her put on her shoes and clothes from time to time, for the most part she refuses any help with anything.  She is also getting used to playing on our own.  The other evening I had to take care of Ezra on my own so I asked her to go play downstairs and she didn’t encounter any issues with it.  Saturday mornings are quite fun as I can just set her down in front of Dora the Explorer for a few hours while I catch up on things that I haven’t been able to do throughout the week.  Then we typically hit the road and do something with Ezra during the morning.

Sierra is still taking afternoon naps and we are quite lucky she does.  I don’t know how we would function if we had to work with Ezra AND Sierra without getting a nap!

I will write more about the creation of this music box I built for Sierra but for the time being, I can say that Sierra enjoys being able to choose her own music to play out of this box.

Having fun outside in the rain!

Sierra was a fantastic helper for me on Sunday morning.  For years we never did anything around our fire pit and we ended up with a layer of pine needles that we cleaned up last spring.  Now that it’s Autumn a new batch have fallen down and I decided we need to get ahead of the game and pick these needles up!

It’s interesting not having a hot tub for the moment.  We have made a lot more campfires this Fall.

Sierra was having a grand old time drinking a giant mug of apple juice.  She didn’t care for the onion rings at all and we had to go back and order some fries for her.  Also, I can’t believe Vero didn’t know I don’t like root beer!  She shows up with a mug of it and I’m thinking “I’ve been with you over a decade and you don’t know this about me?!”

People, don’t forget to lock up your car at night!  Someone ransacked our cars and the neighbours cars.  I have officially hit old man status when NOTHING was taken from my car.  I guess CDs and GPS systems aren’t in vogue for thieves?

With the mornings getting darker and darker, you get to see some really great sunrises from our front lawn.

Spaghetti supper!

Here’s a typical Saturday for us.  Hanging out on the shopping carts at Canadian Tire.

We scored some great Halloween decorations from Canadian Tire!  Sierra really liked putting these up in the window.

Last year all Sierra wanted to watch was It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown.  This year she watched it for a week and switched back to Dora.

My friend Nat came back to work after a year of maternity leave.  Here she was excited to go back.  Two hours later she was wondering why people have to sit inside cubicles all day.

It was school picture day so I worked extra long on her hair.  I decided to take a photo in case she destroyed it before the photo session.

Still some beautiful lunch hour walks to be had with Etienne!

Vero bought a tool that helps slice up vegetables into spaghetti like noodles.  I have to admit that it was pretty neat eating zucchini spaghetti!

I’m not sure why the photos are reversed order, but Sierra thought she could escape a photo taken of her but AHA!  I managed to capture her joy on riding her little scooter.

Happy Hallowe’en Jason!

This photo was taken on a BEAUTIFUL Friday lunch hour where Marijo and I found a sunny spot on the patio at Le Troquet (best bar ever).  Could it be the last patio day of the season?

Here is Sierra strumming the ukelele at the campfire.

This is the birthday card we prepared before the party.

The birthday girl and Sierra checking out something interesting on the Internet.

Getting some cake is always fun!  For some reason Sierra did NOT want to sing Happy Birthday when the cake came out which was strange considering she had been singing it for a few days prior.

The piggyback rider lives again!  Sierra really likes hopping on this thing now.  I’m enjoying the fact that she likes hopping on it.  In fact I was at the shopping mall the other day trying to figure out how to finagle a baby stroller and a toddler and she saw the piggyback rider and wanted to hop on around the mall!  Problem solved.

Vero’s family came to town for Thanksgiving so we went out to the Mer Bleue bog for a walk.  We had to park a kilometer away due to all the traffic.  Someone said there were no spots available ahead but lo and behold if we had just kept driving we would have seen that they were not speaking the truth to us!

The bog is neat as it has a boardwalk stretching through the entire thing.

Clearly Danielle didn’t want to be in the photo.

There were only a million people in the trail with us.  We were lucky to get a second to take this photo without people cutting through!  For historical reference this was also the weekend when the Gatineau Park had to close their doors to car traffic early in the morning!  Beautiful day for a hike though.

Sierra was pretty sure we could push this tree down.

This was a shot before we ate twenty pounds of turkey.

I’m not entirely sure what happened here but it sure looks like Sierra and Grandpapa are fixing some closet knobs.

I really like what they did on the walking path behind my work.

I wish I had seen this particular photo last weekend when I spent 30 minutes looking for our rake.  Grandpapa and Sierra left it in the leaves near this tree!

I was really intrigued by this macabre artwork we saw at lunchtime.  Turns out that each piece is inspired by a children’s tale.  They had a gruesome one of a dismembered hand being eaten with a fork and knife.  Turns out it was Captain Hook’s hand!

Dana’s hair is quite versatile.

Oh boy oh boy, we got to go on a tractor ride for an excursion to Ferme Drouin!  The daycare kids loved the entire day.  I was quite tired at the end of my day which ended around 2PM.

After the tractor ride we got to pick out one pumpkin to bring home.

SOMEONE wanted to get back to the tractor before all the others.  Someone amongst us says “Wow, Sierra is quite independent.”  In my head I’m thinking “Yeah, if you call a kid running away from her Dad when he’s wanting her to stay next to him independent…then yes, she’s quite independent!”

After the tractor ride we entered the spooky woods and looked at the spooky creatures hanging out in the woods.

Let’s be honest, the best part of any farm is the park they have set up.

Sierra was nice enough to give this goat some lunch.

This farm is well set up for kids to come and visit.  After the park we had some lunch and then visited the barn.  Afterwards we go into another barn/hall and they have a bouncy castle and some fun things like this alien picture to play around with.  Ferme Drouin is a great spot to bring the kids!

I would like to thank the daycare for inviting me along for the trip!  It was a cold but fun day outside with all the kids.  Next time I’ll have to figure out how to sneak my way onto the bus because that always seems like the best part!

It will be a costly day when she realizes that if I put a toonie in the machine the horsies actually move!  But until that day comes, she is content with just sitting on them and saying hello and goodbye to them.

Sierra and I spent some time at the shopping mall one Saturday morning when Ezra was still sleeping in.  We put a dress on and went looking for some new shirts.  We also found a popcorn stand and sat on the bench watching people while we ate some popcorn.  A small bag of popcorn could probably last 2 weeks with a kid eating it!

We unfortunately have a new critter giving us a hard time in the house….a lobster!

Saturday afternoon was a beautiful day to start mulching up some leaves on the lawn.  Before that we needed to hit up the pumpkin patch!

Sierra having more fun playing with Maman than actually picking out a pumpkin!

This was the moment immediately after Sierra tried to pick up the pumpkin by it’s top and the top fell off in her hands!

With a little wash this will be the perfect pumpkin.

Saturday night brought me to Mike and Melissa’s place for Mike’s birthday party.  I really love this picture as it looks like I’m the head of a group of evil masterminds!

My team at work are dressing as clowns so I this was my attempt at a minimalist clown costume.  I feel I need to find a coloured vest to make the outfit work.  Also, wearing lipstick for the first time was weird.  My lips were always super dry!

Nanny Ruth and Beth came for a visit on a rainy Sunday.  We had some soup for lunch and then we carved a small pumpkin with Sierra.  She was very excited to see a pumpkin come to life.  We still have two more to carve out in the next few days.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Sierra!




Ezra’s Second Month


“How is Ezra doing?”  “How is Vero?”  “How is Sierra?”

All valid questions when you are two months into living with a newborn!

Life is Ezra is definitely easier than it was with Sierra.  We know what’s going on.  We are looking at a problem to solve (“How do I change a diaper again?”) and muscle memory comes back from three years ago and we know how to fix the problem.

Even going to the doctor results in amusing moments where the doctor asks if we have any questions and we reply “No.  Everything is good.” whereas with the first child we had a laundry list of questions!

Vero is still avoiding dairy products in case he has an intolerance and so far we think this is the good path to be on.  Ezra has split personality.  Some times he sleeps a lot during the day, is pretty calm and life is good.  Other days he doesn’t get much sleep at all and subsequently probably makes him quite irritable later on in the day!  I can’t speak for Vero who is with him the majority of the nights and days but there have been a few times during the evenings where I’m with him and he just won’t stop screaming at me.  Then there are other nights where he takes a bottle, settles down and passes out with me on the couch for four hours.  🙂  We are trying a few things like anti-gas drops for colic and all of that stuff when he gets irritable but we’re not sure if it’s making a difference.  So at this point, I would say 50% of his days and nights are great!  50% are not so great.  But considering we have a two month old human being in our house, I suppose that’s par for the course?  Although Vero tells me that her grandmother told her a story of how all her kids slept from 10pm until 6am!  Must have been the cow’s milk?

But Ezra is pretty amazing right about now.  He’s starting to smile!  That’s why people have children…to experience those small moments where they start smiling or talking or laughing.  It’s infectious!  It makes life worth living!  Ezra is doing great and we are doing great as well.  Who cares about sleep?  As many people have said before…I’ll sleep when I’m dead!

I took five weeks off (thank you Employment Insurance!) to help Vero out and I really appreciated the time I had with the both of them.  I had a good routine going on…when Vero would wake in the morning 9am, I would take Ezra off her hands for a few hours.  I would generally have a destination in mind like Best Buy or Wal-Mart and we would hit the road.  He quite enjoys the shopping cart and would fall asleep.  My ongoing joke when people would stop me and ask about Ezra is “I’m thinking of picking up one of these shopping carts for the house because this is the only way he sleeps!”

I realized my five weeks were ending soon so Ezra, Vero and I hit up the Casselbrew brewpub.

I think he enjoyed his first sip of beer.  I’m kidding!  Can I just point out I find this outfit hilarious because it has teeth on the feet?

This collage didn’t get the sequence right.  I find the sequence of these three photos hilarious if you start at the bottom left and see Sierra taking care of Ezra.  Then in the leftmost photo she takes her eyes off of Ezra and starts watching Dora on TV.  Then in the top right we see the consequences of her actions as Ezra proceeds to fall off the pillow!

It was a nice Fall day when I decided to hang out with Ezra near the fire.

Grandma and Poppa dropped by for a few days on their way back from Gaspe.  They grabbed Ezra for themselves and didn’t even say hello to me until a day later.

I get a sense from this picture that Dad must remember how it is to handle two kids at the same time and he’s thinking “Boy, I’m glad I’m not doing this full time!”

Just like his Dad…sticking his tongue out during hard tasks

Here is Ezra with his new toy called Ruth after Nanny Ruth who made it for him.  Hilariously when we asked Sierra what the dog’s name was she says “Ruth Ruth!” like “Woof woof!”

Hanging out with Maman on the deck.

Welcome to our life…staring at a baby trying to lift his head!

At least one of us is sleeping.

Ezra doesn’t look too sure about this situation.

Matante paying a visit with Ezra for the first time.

This is a typical spot for Ezra during the evening.  Cuddled up next to me trying to sleep while Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is on.

We decided to drop by the Buhr Clan for a visit.  It was a long time coming since Rob somehow came down with shingles a few weeks prior!

“I can do it!!”  I’m not sure what he was trying to do here but he seems pretty excited that he accomplished it.

3 out of 4 people looking into the camera isn’t bad!

After a good walk.

Guy Smiley!

Pretty sure Ezra saw a ghost walk by.

Franco-Ontario day!

This was Ezra at the neighbour’s BBQ.  Maybe he really likes white noise?

JF doesn’t look so sure in this photo.

Maelle has the knack for holding babies.

This guy does as well!

Either that ghost walked by again or he finally saw my face.

This guy looks content.

After six weeks of purely breast feeding we managed to get a bottle into the rotation!  Here is Ezra’s first bottle.  He took it like a champ.

Emeric managed to find this retro Star Wars toy for me at Toys R Us!  Sweet!  I am on the hunt for the other five figures if anyone sees them in the wild.


Laura knit this amazing elephant which we have dubbed “Laura the Elephant”.  

First Vars community supper for Ezra!

Sierra spending some time with Ezra before bedtime.

Here’s Mononcle Etienne with Ezra at Alex and Gisele’s wedding.  It was a little loud in there hence the earmuffs.

The wedding was held at a farm on the Quebec side.  We got to take the Thurso ferry for the first time which is neat.  I have to say this about fall weddings…when it’s nice out, you automatically get a 10/10 for a great wedding day.  But if it would have rained, it would have changed it to a 2/10.  Lucky for all of us, it was a great success of a day!  Also, you can’t go wrong with a wedding where I had a beer in hand during the actual ceremony.

Ezra isn’t so sure about flying through the air.

End of the night before we headed home from the best wedding of the year.

Ezra and Sierra watching “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

After a year away taking care of her baby, Nat gets back to work!  We are going to try carpooling together.  We are already in talks to create a podcast which would basically just record whatever we are laughing about during the ride to and from work.

Look at that smile starting to form!

This Jedi seems a little scared of the Empire.

Bundled up for a walk.


Review: Great Lake Swimmers at 27 Club

I’ve been following Great Lake Swimmers for years now but have never been able to catch them live.  Until now!  Going to a concert while leaving Vero home alone with a newborn is a tricky feat but she had a great day leading up to that evening so I was able to escape for a few hours.  Thanks Vero!

I’m going to chat about two things here…the concert itself and the opportunity I had to record the concert.

The concert itself

Opening for Great Lake Swimmers was the touring keyboardist; Colleen Brown.  She played a couple of tunes on the guitar and followed up with more on the keys.  I really enjoyed her songs and while nervous at first, I think she found her footing after a few songs.  Who isn’t nervous when performing?

I am super freaked out by this picture as it’s like she is staring directly at me.  It’s like those horror movies where you see someone in a photo staring into your soul!

Next up we had a special treat in the form of Tanya Davis who recited a few poems of hers.  The lighting went down accidentally during one of her poems but she kept on going like a pro.  I ended up being a substitute lighting rig for a few minutes as the sound guy asked me to point a flashlight at the stage so people could see her!  It’s not often I hear poetry and I enjoyed her style and delivery.

Great Lake Swimmers finally took the stage to a decent sized crowd.  After the first song it was apparent that we were in for a treat and the band has a relaxed nature to them and crack a joke here and there.  It makes the moment more intimate.  They had a good selection of new tunes mixed with old tunes.  They are a top notch live act and I will definitely see them if they pass by in the future.

Colleen Brown setlist

You’re Only A River Away
Moncton, Flight 179
Love You Baby
I Remember
Will You Still Love Me? [Carole King]
Lead Me On

Great Lake Swimmers setlist

The Real Work
In a Certain Light
Side Effects
The Great Exhale
Put There by the Land
Everything Is Moving So Fast
Alone But Not Alone
Your Rocky Spine
Something Like a Storm
Visions of a Different World
The Talking Wind
Come A Long Way [Kate McGarrigle]
Changing Colours
Pulling on a Line

The recording of the concert

Considering I was heading out to the concert alone I thought this might be a great time to try out my Tascam recording unit and try my hand a recording a live concert!  I love live music and I love bootlegs of concerts.  I scour the internet in hopes to find a recording of concerts I’ve been to in the past.  But I’ve never been the person who has attempted to record a concert myself.

Until now!

The band!

At first I was just going to bring my Tascam unit in and hit record and see what happens.  I had no idea if the venue would allow it or not.  But then I thought “Why don’t I email the band to see if they would mind if I recorded the show?”  It’s not like I’m going to be selling the show to anyone.

Sure enough, Tony of Great Lake Swimmers got back to me the next day and said it would not be a problem as long as I stayed out of the way with my equipment and it would be great if they could get a copy of it!  Fantastic!  What an opportunity to fulfill a dream!

I spent the next few weeks learning everything I could about the Tascam unit.  I even managed to velcro a portable battery pack to the unit so I wouldn’t be just running on double A batteries which may not last 2-3 hours.

My rig

I arrived at the 27 Club with fifteen minutes to spare before the opening act.  There wasn’t a lot of people in there and I could easily go chat with the sound guy.  I don’t know why, but I was super nervous going to the sound guy to ask if I could get a direct feed from his board.  Leading up this event I knew that there would be two eventualities…he says no and I just set up the Tascam unit somewhere and hit record and use the external microphones.  Or he says yes and I get the best quality recording ever.  He had no issues with it whatsoever and we chatted about what I was hoping to accomplish and we decided to run two XLR cables straight from the board into the Tascam unit.  Fantastic!

I had a couple of minutes to spare before the opening act started and I set up the recording unit on the edge of the sound board area so I could monitor the input levels to ensure they wouldn’t peak.

Not going to lie, this was my view for 50% of the night as I was constantly keeping an eye on the recording levels.  Recording a concert is work!

Colleen Brown came on and I could see inputs 1 and 2 bopping along and I adjusted the levels accordingly.  I think it was working!  Half way through her set I realized that I must have been still recording using the external mics and not the soundboard feed and sure enough, once I listened to my playback I found out that my hunch was correct.  What was I doing wrong?

I figured out that for whatever reason, the soundboard feed was coming on input 3 but not 4.  So I’m not entirely sure why this wouldn’t let me record two XLR cables but I had to figure out what I wanted to do.  In the end, I figured that one mono track of the soundboard feed was still going to be better than whatever the external mics were going to get me.  In hindsight, I have to admit that after comparing the two recordings the Colleen Brown concert still turned out quite decent in terms of an audience recording.  It picked up a lot more noise like the venue’s air conditioning unit and the chatter from the crowd but it wasn’t that bad.

I still don’t know what was wrong with Input 4 and I’ll have to do some more testing to figure that out.

What’s interesting about recording straight off the soundboard is that I must have been recording post-mixer so I didn’t even have to monitor for peaks because the sound guy was already handling that for me.  I did have to crank the input gain to the max and I’m not sure why that is.  Perhaps it was just a really low output coming from the board?  Either way, it all worked out!

It was really interesting standing near the ‘behind the scenes’ area of a concert.  There’s a lot to think about.  The sound guy is constantly keeping an eye on levels and how the sound is.  He’s also handling the lighting which was a disaster when the computer decided to crash along with the software handling all the lights.  But it’s neat to hear the band chat with him before the show asking for certain types of lights to create an intimate setting.

At the end of the night I packed up my gear, thanked Joel the sound guy for his help and went to the merch booth to introduce myself to Tony.  I picked up a few CDs and said I would send him a copy when it’s ready.  He seemed excited to hear that I got to plug into the soundboard.

I got back to the car and started listening to what I captured and I was overjoyed to hear that everything came out great!  My first outing with the live recording rig was a near complete success and I’ll troubleshoot input 4 before the next time I head out.

Special thanks to Joel for helping me out along the way and to Tony of Great Lake Swimmers for allowing me to capture a moment in time.

Until the next time!