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.

Sierra’s 24th Month

Vocabulary so far:

-Maman

-Da (Dad)

-Yaya (Sierra)

-More

-Mine

-L’eau

-Main

-Ba (Balle)

-Bain

-Pac (Parc)

-Tedo (Teodore)

-Bas

-Pas (Non ou “je ne sais pas”)

-Dodo = auto

-Nana (suce)

-DooDoo = ChooChoo = the train every time it passes in Vars

Sierra is loving, loving LOVING the summer that has arrived here.  She is fairly patient when we put bug spray or sunscreen on her.  I think she knows it means she’s going outside so she doesn’t put up too much of a fuss.

Speaking of putting up a fuss, it’s like the world has ended whenever we need to bring her inside, much like every other kid in the world.

I am quite excited that we finally picked up a bike trailer to roll her around in.  It’s a two seater so it’s great for her and a cooler of beer if need be.  So far we have gone out a few times around the neighbourhood.  I don’t want to go too far down the road in case she doesn’t like long distances.  I don’t think she likes her helmet though.

This was taken immediately after a spaghetti supper where I proceeded to be staring at Sierra’s sitting on a chair (generally we bring one that straps in but thought she might be able to handle a real chair) and then watched as she fell onto the floor headfirst.  Ouch!  I was not impressed with my parenting ability that night.  She seemed to be running around well but we woke her up every once in awhile that night to make sure she didn’t have a concussion.

She was loving the car that they had at the playground at the school.

We were invited over to Mike and Angele’s house for a BBQ.  It’s quite amazing to be going to some events in the neighbourhood.  No need for a car, just a stroller and a cooler of beer!  Here’s Vero having fun with the trampoline.

Sierra sure loves her yogurt.

Sierra sure loved this baseball game!

Good times at the drawing table

I went to the Bon Jovi concert with my friend Marie-Annik and some of her friends.  It was a wild night hanging out in Kanata before the show and the drive over there.  But let me tell you…Bon Jovi just can’t sing anymore.  It’s…really bad.  I don’t think I’ll be going to see him again anytime soon.

Even though Jon Bon doesn’t have the voice he used to have, they still put on a decent show. 

Talk about a blast from the past!  Back in 2003 I was helping run a youth e-consultation/advisory board at work for the youth.gc.ca website.  The group was called the Canadian Youth Connection and each month, in return for youth giving us answers to various questions we sent them, we would send out 10-20 prizes to random youth and wait and see their reactions.  I definitely remember the reactions of people saying “I picked up a parcel and it was a director’s chair!  Awesome!”  I found this director’s chair in the hallway at work a few weeks back and it brought back some great memories of working on that project.

My regular walking partner was in Mexico for a week so I recruited my friend Marijo to try and find the longest route we could within the building (it was raining outside).  I have to say we were both surprised at how far you could get using hallways…we ended up in a hotel a few blocks away!

Fun times with Maman.

This is the moment I dread the most when weekends hit…the moment when Maman brings out the berries for Sierra to eat.

Marie-Claude and Jean-Francois moved to a house in Wendover.  It was quite the day of moving boxes but I’m glad we got it done in one day (or at least I did.  Maybe they had to return for a few items).

There was a windstorm all across Southern Ontario (one where it blew off a portion of the shingles on Troy’s roof!) and this is the result in the park!  Luckily we only lost two shingles in the process.

We got to babysit Maelle one evening which is always entertaining because she shows us her latest gymnastic moves. 

The month of May is really nice for campfires as it’s warm during the day and cool at night.  I’m pretty sure we scared Maelle pretty good with our ghost stories.  I have to remember that she’s only six years old the next time and refrain from talking about killer clowns.

We went to a chip stand in Embrun for Mother’s Day.  It was actually a really good setup…small tables for little people like Sierra, some bathrooms and some great poutine!  I would highly recommend it.  If only I could remember the name! It’s the one on the way to Mike and Melanie’s if that helps?

Niam niam.

When Grand-Papa comes to visit, it’s play time!

We had an early birthday cake for Sierra while Grand-Maman and Grand-Papa were here before their trip to Spain.  In posting this, I just realized she had the same exact reaction on her birthday.  Maybe she thinks the candles are too bright?

Big fun times with big boxes

Ah, the joys of unwrapping a box larger than yourself

Sierra showing everyone how sliding works

I would like to think she looks this excited during the bicycle ride as well!  I’m not too sure about that considering I hear her yell out “Maman!” all the time and she tries to take her helmet off.

I have to say that this Schwinn trailer is quite amazing.  I don’t even feel any drag behind me on the bicycle.

Hanging (or is that smothering) Dad.

Sierra was not a happy camper that we had to go to Embrun to drop the car off at the garage.  Luckily Dong Seng was with us and we gave her a fortune cookie!

Etienne insisted we had a beer along with our caesar.  I can’t say it was a bad idea.  Sidenote:  the poutine at Pele Mele is fantastic.

Hot Maman heading out on the town!

 

 

 

 

Sierra’s Second Birthday Party

The weather was predicting bouts of rain on a Sunday morning and we feared the thought of a lot of kids running around inside the house going stir-crazy.  But the Gods of Rain held off for a day and all was not lost!

We decided to have a brunch from 10am-1pm.  1pm is generally Sierra’s nap time so we figured it would time nicely.  As you can see, the kids were making good use of the coffee table.

I swear this breakfast looks like a pirate.  The pancake pirate patch is a nice touch. 

Vero helping out Sierra with blowing out the candles.  It is still a foreign concept to her.

When rain is in the forecast, load up some Super Mario Bros.

So here’s the thing I didn’t realize about kid’s birthday parties.  When gifts come out, it’s like zombies going after a brain…utter chaos.  I’m not even sure Sierra is actually in this photo.  I’m not even sure if she got to open up an actual gift.  I think the entire event was a little overwhelming for her!

Oh there she is!  Still looking a little overwhelmed at all these gifts being given to her.

The aftermath

Marie-Claude demonstrating a very important skill that all kids need to learn.

I’m not even sure what Felix is playing with here?  Is that a fishing rod?

Trying out the new lawnmower.

Poor Sierra was handling the crowd of people too well so she escaped with Mom outside quite a bit.

After everyone left and Sierra had a nap, we spent some time outside learning the art of blowing bubbles.  Rob and Janice gave us Jenna’s old picnic table which is a great new addition to the deck!

We also tried out this water tower that Grand-Papa and Grand-Maman picked up for her birthday.  I couldn’t stop laughing at how most of the water ended up on Sierra and not on the toy.  How did I not foresee that happening?

So on Friday, I had a few tasks to do and one of them was to pick up a helium balloon.  I went to the Dollar Store at work here but I didn’t plan out the rest of the day an I realized I was heading out for a few pints after work with the team so I had to bring the balloon to the pub!  At least I didn’t lose it!

But by Sunday the balloon lost it’s steam and I had to recruit Marty and Vero to pick up another one on their way over!  But in the end, Sierra was scared of the helium balloon!  What are the odds?  It wasn’t until after everyone left that she was interesting in this thing and started having fun with it.

Having everyone over was fun as always but I have to say that I think we made a parenting mistake in having a large amount of people over for her birthday.  She’s always very shy when anyone comes into the house and it takes awhile for her to warm up to someone.  Multiply that by 30 humans coming in and I think it was a little too much for her and she was hanging around Mom for the first two hours until she grew accustomed to the new norm.  Ah well, we’re new to this parenting thing, how were we supposed to know?  I’m sure there will be no long lasting effects *insert ominous music here.*

 

Sierra’s 23rd Month

Sierra is starting to formulate words quite a bit more these days.  ‘Pas’ is either ‘je ne veux pas ca’ or ‘pas maintenant’ from what we can tell.  She is starting to call me ‘Da’ instead of ‘Maman’ which is quite the improvement.  She also has a hilarious delayed reaction of saying bye-bye.  She will literally wait until someone leaves the room until she waves and says it.  She also likes to say bye-bye to dogs walking by the house.

Other key words:

Mo = More (usually about food)

Eau = water

Nana = soother

doodoo = choo choo = train (every time she hears it go by Vars)

auto = car

 

Sierra loves it when I push her REALLY hard on the swing.

She also loves going on the swing with Maman.  As you can see, it’s finally some warmer temperatures around here so Sierra can hang out in her spring gear.

We were running around Costco one morning and ran out of time to get some food in us so we pick up some McDonald’s.  A first for Sierra!  We weren’t sure how she would like it.  She loved the fries and didn’t figure out how to eat the burger at first.  Her first bite is captured in this photo but then she picked it apart and at the bun first and a bit of the meat.

First fry!

Head start on getting the snow off the ground.

Unfortunately Cousin Troy ended up in the hospital from a heart attack.  Fortunately Sierra decided to send him a Get Well Soon card.

While packing up things in the basement I stumbled upon a Patterson Family Reunion cookbook.  Look at the photo!  Clearly Sierra gets this move from her father!

Anyone recognize what could be happening to Sierra’s feet here?  She has these rough red patches of skin primarily on her feet for the past few months.  We will ask the doctor but maybe someone out there knows what’s going on.  We’ve tried applying different creams on them before bedtime but nothing seems to fix the issue.  Allergic reaction somehow?

Hey, while we’re at it with the flooded basement, why don’t we try and deal with a hot water tank that starts dumping out two cups of water from the pressure relief valve every time we use the hot water?  As soon as we stop using the water, the pressure goes from 50PSI to 150PSI and releases water on the floor.  We’ve had three different people come to take a look and they can’t figure it out.  At the time of typing this, we’re going to get a new combination boiler/HWT to replace it all.  A shame that we can’t figure out the issue!  Ah well…everyone has $6,000 to spend on new toys, right?

Rolling, rolling, rolling out the play dough.

Giggle time!

What a fantastic t-shirt idea!

I quite loved this tribute to Jonathan Pitre and the Humboldt Broncos

We have been introducing good dental hygiene tips to Sierra over the past few months.  After the bath, she sits on the counter, gets her toothbrush handed to her and she can manage to put the cap back on the toothpaste (that was a major victory when I saw she did that!).  Generally she likes running the water and sucking the water.  There isn’t a whole lot of brushing going on.  I do brush my teeth at the same time so she can see what the actions are like.  Maybe she’s making my dental hygiene better since I haven’t brushed my teeth twice in a day since I was a kid!

My friend Alex went to Cuba so Etienne and I sent a photo of us with his fiancé to hang in their bedroom at all times.  It made the rounds around the resort.

There’s always a good time to be had at St-Albert Cheese Factory for some lunch!  Here is Maman and Sierra enjoying some poutine.

Last year we got to see I Mother Earth with Edwin back on vocals open up for Our Lady Peace.  We were blown away.  So when they decided to team up with Finger Eleven for a tour this spring, we pounced on it!  Martin, Eric and I headed out to the Algonquin College campus for a night out.  We also got the VIP package for another $20 which gave us an acoustic pre-show with all members of the bands.  I was hoping to hear some acoustic Finger Eleven/I Mother Earth tunes but they gave us some covers songs like Horse with No Name.  They also answered some questions that were sent into the radio station beforehand.  Well worth the $20!  Finger Eleven still put on a great show and I Mother Earth were fantastic as always.  They even played Summertime in the Void which wasn’t expected since it’s in the “Edwin isn’t the singer of this band any longer” era.  I would go back and see either of these bands in a heartbeat.  They still got it!

A valiant attempt at putting a t-shirt on.  Sierra hilariously wants to try everything on her own and gets REALLY UPSET if we try and help at the beginning.  But as soon as she realizes she can’t do it, she just passes it back to us.

Hanging out on the slides.

If you ignore Vero in this video, Sierra is quite amazing on this gym.

Sierra found some new shoes.

Practicing some tunes for Melanie and Jonathan’s wedding in July.  We have a hilarious track record of one of four band members forgetting/not being informed of band practice.  3 out of 4 ain’t bad.

Vero’s grandfather unfortunately passed away so we headed up to Hearst to visit the family and pay our respects.  Sierra was a true road warrior as she was fine for the entire twelve hours!  She only napped 45 minutes.  I think she was in love with all the trucks, trees and general highway activity along the way.  Here she is eyeing up the treats in Deep River.

Checking out the transport trucks in Cochrane.

Chillin’ with Maman.

Sierra was beginning to laugh at pretty much anything at Hour 11 of our 12 hour trip.

The next morning Sierra awoke and Aunt Maureen and Abbey gave her an early birthday gift.  I wish we had a photo from the other angle but I’m glad we can still see reaction from the side.  

It’s always a battle between Abbey and I.

Strolling with Sierra

Watch out for Grand-Maman!

Hanging with Hugo

Enjoying the sun with friends.  This reminds me, I need to get a lawn chair for Sierra!

While Sierra loves dogs from afar, I think Buddy and Rolo were a little too big for her comfort. Although after three days around them I feel she was getting used to them.  I mean, they are the equivalent size of a horse coming to lick me on the face.  I would be scared as well!

Checking out the stoneman!

Kicking the ball with Great-Grand Maman

Beautiful day to be outside!  

After we left Hearst we came back to Kapuskasing for a day in the sun.

Getting some Aunt time in

Kids playing together always ends up with someone crying

Abbey introduced Sierra to this swing set in Mr. Boudreau’s back yard.  Sierra was loving this thing!  I was holding onto her all along but I noticed Vero left her on it alone with Abbey later in the day.  I guess Sierra can handle herself on those things.

Look at the force they are putting into that thing!

Abbey makes a great pillow.

We stopped by Big Joe Mufferaw on the way back.  We passed by a wildfire that even caught a barn.  We’re pretty sure they closed down the highway 30 seconds after we passed the fire.

I’ve always thought Mattawa would be a nice place to retire.

 

 

Easter 2018

First off, I have to say that Vero and I won the parent of the year award at the park the other day when we were chatting with each other.  Of course, while chatting we didn’t even realize that Sierra had climbed up to a different slide, went down and ended up sitting in this massive puddle of water which was up above her legs!  Ha ha, we had a good laugh when she gives us the look saying “Uh guys?  A little help here?!”

We started the morning not by hunting eggs….but pine cones!

Maman helping gather pine cones.  Sierra hit the mother lode at one point during our journey and I’m pretty sure we stayed three days in this one spot.

That’s an interesting way to gather pine cones.

Trying out the new wheels. 

I had a good laugh when I saw this on Facebook.

Look who came for a visit!  Also, check out the sweet wings Poppa and Grandma supplied Sierra with!

The real Easter egg hunt commenced.  Luckily we had a handful of eggs that we just kept taking from her and hiding in different places.  This might be the best age for an Easter egg hunt!  Instant gratification.

I’m not sure what Tandréane is doing here…is she the Easter Bunny?

Sierra managed to pull of a good prank on Maman!

 

 

 

Sierra’s 22nd Month

I’m surprised I can find enough time to blog about Sierra’s 22nd month considering only a few days we had a flood in the basement.  We’re basically in a holding pattern at this point as people come in to assess the damage.

Sierra is still a ball of energy and love to laugh which is good times.  Although she does have a streak in her which has her turn a smile into tears at the drop of a hat.  We want to go inside after hours outside?  No way Jose!  Haha, I guess all kids are like that.

While she doesn’t say a whole lot of words (I’m pretty sure she’s just messing with me when she still refers to me as Maman), she can understand pretty much everything we ask.  A soother is ‘na-na’ which is really the only important item in her life to know the translation for.

After her bathtime she is enjoying brushing her teeth.  When I say brushing her teeth, I mean putting the brush in her mouth, sucking the toothpaste off of it, rinsing the brush and then sucking the water from it over and over again.  So…there’s minimal brushing going on.

 

Clearly she likes ketchup as much as her own mother.

Sierra is a little mystified as to where the snow has all gone.

Tyler was nice enough to host us lads over for an evening of debauchery.  When I say debauchery with gentlemen over 35 years old, it basically ends with us tired around 10pm.

Showing off her handiwork that she did at daycare

It was Victor Von Dube’s first birthday party and everyone had a great time!

Sierra helping out Mom while she took some photos of Victor eating cake.

It’s pretty nice outside around this time of year so we make the most of the park.

The ladies enjoying the campfire.

I came across this in a boardroom and thought it was hilarious.  Pasta and marshmallows!

Let’s not forget the super fun weekend with Dad where we went to Foret Larose!

Andreane and Vero went snowboarding at Mont Tremblant and supposedly had a fantastic time.  I’m excited to see a bunch of videos from that GoPro they brought with them!

A video from Mont Tremblant

Sierra showing Tandreane how to do a puzzle

The Easter Bunny visited a little early this year around the house.

It was rock n roll t-shirt day at work a few weeks back.  As you may know, I own a few so it was a tough decision for me.  I decided to go with one of my favourite Pearl Jam ones…it encompasses Pearl Jam, horror and comic books..all three things I love!

Another great day for a campfire!  It’s been a beauty month.  We have to keep Sierra fairly entertained as she doesn’t yet see the point of just sitting and staring at fire.

It’s Sugar Shack season around these parts and so we tried out a new place this year – Ferme Drouin out near Casselman.  This place was the cat’s meow.  With a few kids in tow, it was a great spot which wasn’t overly packed like some others we’ve been to…we could leave our stuff at our table, go get food whenever (the food was awesome).  It cost $25 per adult and I believe kids under 3 ate for free.  

Sierra having fun with Beatrice.

It was a chilly day (-15…well, not overly chilly!) so we didn’t bother going for the horse ride.

What kid doesn’t like visiting a farm?

Sierra trying to grab Maman a fourth helping of ‘tire’.

This place had everything!  Food, farm animals, tire/taffy and a sliding hill along with tubes!  Vero went down about three times before she insisted I try and walk back up the hill with a tube and Sierra in tow.

I thought I was being pretty clever by having the tube around my body walking up the hill!

A few months ago, I caught wind that Santana was coming into town.  It was strange because I had ZERO ticket information the morning of ticket sales and I was scrambling around looking for information.  I went onto the actual Santana site and there was a free fan club I could join and get information on upcoming tours.  Twenty minutes later I realize I can log into the site as a member and lo and behold, I had access to ‘fan club’ tickets which are tickets within the first ten rows of the concert.  Is this for real?!  Premium tickets available before the actual onsale date?  Sign me up!  We ended up with fourth row!  It was surreal to be that close.

My favourite part of the past few months was keeping our seat location a secret from Martin and Vero.  I even managed to get the tickets from the ticket booth without them knowing where we would be heading.  I did let it slip at one point that we were on the floor when I said something like “Boy, I hope I can drink this beer on the floor.”  We were all ecstatic when we saw how close we were.  We even had plenty of leg room!

I don’t know a whole lot of Santana songs but it doesn’t matter.  They put an amazing show.  A lot of old tunes, new tunes and everything in the middle.  The entire band is still in top shape!

The day after Santana I took the day off to brew some beer.  Martin hooked me up with some actual hops and I had never made beer with them so it was an interesting process.

I almost needed a bigger pot!

After many minutes of boiling, the hops had descended a bit in the pot.

We don’t like going to stores without shopping carts because Sierra loves them so much!

Sierra figured out how to clean up dust.

My second career as a children’s entertainer took flight on a Saturday morning over at Krista and Ben’s.  I had some great help from my pal Ethan who managed to strum a few tunes for me!  It was quite fun and I learned a few kids songs along the way.  I have to say, those kids loved ‘Happy’ by Pharell quite a bit.  It took a few weeks to learn an hour’s worth of tunes but I think it went over pretty well!

Elizabeth enjoyed my guitar case more than me actually playing (naturally).

Someone really wanted her picture taken.

Luckily it warmed up a bit last week so I got to bring Vero out to Foret Larose to see how wonderful it was.  Jon and Chantal came along and the kids had a fun time being towed in this sled.  Luckily the snow was pretty nice to the person towing them!

This might be the last time Sierra will ride in this backpack.  It’s getting quite tight!

Great spot for a break.

Taking a break from the madness which is a flooded basement.

Definitely one of my favourite photos from this photo series!

 

 

Basement flood

Monday morning I awoke at 5:45am and I’m standing in the bathroom and I can hear some water.  A lot of it.  Oh no.  What’s going on down in the basement?

I rush to the basement and lo and behold, it’s bad.  It’s not two feet of water bad, but there are things floating around!

Now, in my hazy memory, I think I ran over to see what was going on at the sump pit.  And that my friends, is the dumbest thing I could have done.  In the heat of the moment, and the sluggish still-asleep brain, I had forgotten the #1 rule about approaching water…there could be electricity involved.

I started taking some photos after calling the insurance company.  This was taken after I managed to suck up most of the deep water.  Now all that was left was the surface stuff and whatever was under the laminate.

Luckily, I am here to tell the tale, but I have to tell you, I’m very upset and shocked with myself that I wasn’t thinking straight and I could have died going into that situation.  I still can’t remember if I had ran back up to Vero first to wake her up (sidenote: she thought there was a guy with a gun in the house with me screaming ‘VERO!  VERO WAKE UP!  Man, what a way to wake up!) and hauled on some rubber boots.  I’m not even sure if rubber boots would have saved me if I was wading in two inches of water and some electricity ran through it.  Maybe someone can let me know.

At first, I didn’t think there was much water over in the guest bedroom.  Then I noticed that when I stepped on the laminate you could see some water rise up in this crack.  Sure enough, when pulling it all off, there was some water under the floor.

Either way, I’m still a little shaken by the event after the fact and how I could have potentially be dead by now.

ANYHOW, let’s get back to the less morbid part of the story…the discharge pipe of the sump pit was gushing water upwards and outwards.  As in, I got a face full of it when I opened up the door to the pit.  Fantastic!  I remember unplugging the pump and assessing the situation.  Standing in two inches of water and water coming down onto my head meant that there was water all over the sump pit room.  I managed to bring in a new (spare) pump in and attach everything back together again.  After drying the electrical plug I fired it back up and everything seemed to be working fine again (as fine as standing in two inches of water could be).

Next up…how to get rid of all this water quickly.  I couldn’t find the spare portable pump I use to empty the hot tub so Vero suggested the shop vac.  Pro tip everyone: remove the air filter if you want to use it on ‘wet’ mode, otherwise it just stops when the bucket is half full and even at that, it has a really hard time pushing all that water through a filter!  I had to consult a youtube video to figure that one out!  After that, I’m not sure how many times I filled and dumped out the shop vac but at one point I wasn’t standing in two inches of water anymore.

Here’s what the place looked like after a day of work.

Now I can take a step back and analyze the situation.  Who do we call?  Well, we call JF of course who had two floods in the past five years!  He recommended we give the insurance company a call and they’ll arrange to have some emergency crews to come on out and give us a hand.

Sure enough, that’s what I do and those guys were here in about 30-60 minutes (timing is a little hazy writing this three days later).  Either way, their help was much appreciated.  Especially since I noticed the pump sometimes not running well and I was thinking the problem was not the pump at all.  After some tests, the project manager and I determined it was the check valve that must have been busted.  At least the problem was solved!  Now onto the cleanup.

The guys found some black mold under the laminate flooring around the TV.  Ewwww…how long have we been breathing that stuff?!  It’s interesting to see that years ago, they painted the floor as you can see the paint is flaking off now.

The rest of the day was spent tearing up laminate flooring, moving furniture and ripping off trim.  Note that Vero and I did help out but the majority of this work was done by the awesome emergency cleanup crew.  These guys were top notch.  They also put in these huge fans and dehumidifiers to suck the moisture out of the basement for the next 72 hours.

I hope our parents like what we did with their room.

It’s interesting to see what process occurs when a flood happens.  For everything bad that people say about insurance companies, they sure have their stuff together when an emergency occurs.  Within five minutes of me calling my insurance company, the emergency cleanup crew calls me and sends a team out.  Then I get a visit from the ‘field insurance adjuster’ that afternoon around 4pm to take a look around and take photos.  We also get a call from the insurance adjuster walking us through the steps and sending us some emails with information.  The next day we get a visit from an electronics technician who will test out a few thing around the house that may have touched water.  Tomorrow they will send over some people to cut out the ruined drywall.  After that…who knows what will happen but I’m assuming it’ll move into the renovation phase of fixing the basement.

It’s been a killer few days and unfortunately, it’s not like the end is near.  A basement doesn’t get renovated in a day (much like Rome).  We are lucky enough that it wasn’t sewage that had backed up so we can’t complain too much.  Of course we didn’t have it as bad as others do.  But it is a jarring experience and sometimes we find it very hard to absorb all that has happened.

I’m sure I will come up with a ton of tips so you can avoid situations like these yourselves.  I’m sure I’ll be adding them to this post.

  • I guess I should point out that this can happen to anyone…not just people who live in the country.  Inform yourselves about what can happen in your own basement even if you live in a suburb like Orleans.  Here: read this handy handbook this Friday night if you want to avoid a situation like this.
  • Try as you might, you can have a lot of backup systems in place, but they may not cover every scenario imagined.  Try your best and don’t be afraid to spend some money to get to a point where you are comfortable with every eventuality.
  • Keep important documents up high!  We were extremely lucky that the water did not enter the storage room.  There are two important things close to the floor in that room…our filing cabinet with important documents and my X-Men comics.  🙂  I now realize that I should arrange my comics not in alphabetical order but in order of value!
  • Don’t be a fool and rush into a situation involving water without dealing with electricity first.  Seriously.  Dumb mistake.

 

Pearl Jam poster sold

The other day I decided to bring a Pearl Jam poster into work because I’ve been running out of room for posters in my own house.  Why not spread them out into my massive office space?

This is a cool poster from 2010 and the PJ community were having a ball when Ames Bros. released it.  I mean, what’s not to love about this poster?

Anyhow, I brought it into work where a few people were interested about it in general, some people were indifferent and clearly I was in a team of people who weren’t fanatics like myself.  Sidenote: find new friends who love Pearl Jam.

Over the weekend I start thinking about the poster and remember that it was pretty hot on the resellers market.  I checked on Ebay and had a moment of instant regret when I realized that I had left a hot seller of a poster in my open cubicle where thousands of people had access to it!

Luckily, I come in on Monday and it’s still there.  I quickly take it back home and came to decision that if I sell this, it could pay for my trip to Chicago this summer.

Slap it up on Ebay and a week later, it sold for $1,200+.  It was exciting to see the bids climb up over the past week (as any Ebay seller knows).  Sure, I’ve sold video games in the past and have gotten excited when they creep up past $100 but this is a whole other world.  This will help pay for the flooded basement we are in the midst of dealing with.

Super fun time weekend with Dad

Vero went to Mont Tremblant with her sister so that left Sierra and I all alone for the weekend.  This took a lot of mental energy.  Not to handle the situation, but to ensure it was the greatest weekend she has ever experienced in her life!  Much preparation is needed for such an event.  I can’t just have her hang around the house all day long and consider that a ‘super fun time weekend with Dad’.

First stop, Larose Forest!  Google Maps led us astray a little bit and I ended up on a road which is closed during the winter.  I only clued in when I ended up on what can only be described as an ATV trail.  Luckily, my parental senses took over and made me realize I should just backtrack and go check out the parking lot with a giant P7 sign.  Sure enough, we found a lot with three entrances…one for a hiking trail, one for cross country skiing and another up the road for dog sledding.  There wasn’t even any need for the snowshoes that I packed which was a bonus!

The first part of our trek was underwhelming.  But about 300 metres down the path, the actual forest appears and it was like something out of Middle-Earth.  This wasn’t some Vars cemetary path riddled with birch trees…this was something else!  What a fantastic path.

We only encountered two cyclists during our trek for an hour through the woods.  Luckily there are some signs which pointed me towards a lone picnic table in the woods.  Sierra is unfortunately in a tight squeeze on the backpack so it was good to get her out of it and take a break (read: 30 pounds on my back is quite heavy!).  Here Sierra is enjoying a snack while getting really excited any time she heard a bird chirping.

Hanging out.

After our break she still wanted to walk around.  We ended up encountering a bridge which she thought was quite incredible.  She ran up and down the bridge a few times.  Then I realized our trek out of the woods would take us about 6 hours if I let her stare at every branch we encountered so I put her back into the backpack.

I like this picture.  It only took 40 tries.

When we exited the path and were walking up to our car, we heard quite the chatter down the road.  After listening for a few seconds I realized it could only be the sounds of many dogs barking!  There must be some dog sleds up ahead!  We walked down the road and sure enough, we encountered about a dozen vehicles with dog sleds next to them.  I had never seen that many dog sleds in my life.  Sierra was having the time of her life.  I ended up chatting with one of the women there.  Turns out that they pay a membership fee to have the trails groomed and so they go every weekend they can to train the dogs on these trails.  Must be a really interesting group to be part of.  Sierra was not too happy when I decided to head back to the car.  I’m pretty sure I found teeth marks on the security straps of the backpack as she was trying to chew her way back to seeing all those dogs.

Luckily I found something else to distract her with.

If Vero notices some tree sap on Sierra’s jacket, this is where it originated from.

Sierra trying to get one last look at the dog sleds before leaving.  All in all, the Larose Forest was a great success and I can’t believe it’s been there all this time and I only went to visit now!

After lunch and an afternoon nap we headed to the St. Laurent mall so I could look at some frames to hold some comic artwork in.  Unfortunately they didn’t have any in stock so I decided the only way to salvage the situation was to bring Sierra to Toys R Us.  My favourite part was when she found a house set that she already has back at home.  I managed to snap this photo in the split second that the box decided to jump out at her.

Toys R Us…the ultimate daycare?

The next morning our plans for visiting Ethan and Ellie for a morning music session fell apart so I had to rack my brain for something else to do.  It was a beautiful morning once again and the sun was out so we decided to go for another walk.  This time we went back to the Vars cemetary path.  There’s no picnic table in the middle to have a snack at, but it’s a nice path nonetheless.  I didn’t need the snowshoes which was a bonus. 

Another great snack in the woods.

When we got off the path, I knew I needed a break in a few hours (aka, I needed Sierra to nap) and the only way to do that is to make sure she expels some energy!  She walked most of the way home.  However, as any true adventurer knows, you don’t have a time limit when there are wonders around.  Here is Sierra taking a look at an eaves trough making some noise.

One driveway later she encountered a mud puddle!  There was no shortage of things to discover in the span of 20 meters.  It was going to be a long walk home!

My favourite part of the walk home was that at one point, she looks at me, proceeds to sit down on the pavement in the middle of the street and then lie on her back.  I had a good laugh at her.  Clearly she was pooched!  I threw her back into the backpack and we headed home.

In the afternoon I was racking my brain for what we could do, but I saw that it was sunny out and hovering around zero degrees so we decided to have a campfire.  It was a great idea until two minutes into it when she wasn’t having any of it.  I brought her around on her sled for a few laps and when she finally convinced me to leave and go inside, Vero, Andreane and Danielle had arrived home.  The super fun time weekend with Dad had officially closed!  I hope she had fun.  I sure did.