• Thoughts on virtual learning

    We decided to try out virtual learning when Sierra started her maternelle class this year.  There were many questions on top of mind but the most poignant one was “Will this even work for our four year old?”

    In our case, virtual learning consists of having Sierra sit in front of an iPad for most of the day.  But let’s get into the actual details of her schedule:

    8:30 – 9:15am (recommended exercise videos and meditation videos which I’m assuming any parent can just blatantly skip since it’s not like anyone is monitoring us) – While I’ve never checked out the meditation videos, I have to say that I’ve been checking out the exercise videos for ten minutes and then let Sierra do whatever she wants until 9:15.  Vero sometimes even joins us in the living room to get some aerobics in!

    9:15 – 9:45 – school time!  Sierra has learned how to mute the microphone when she is not using it and she knows how to connect to the classroom via Google Meet when we are not around. Actually, a week into this, she INSISTS that she does this herself.  Generally around this time there is O Canada, the Lord’s Prayer, and some other things that I don’t pay too much attention to.

    9:45 – 10:00am – Break

    10-11am – School time

    11am – 12:15am – lunch break where I try and get Sierra outside doing stuff for awhile and then go back in and make lunch

    12:15 – 1pm – school time

    1-1:15pm – break

    1:15 – 2Pm – school time

    Then it’s all done for the day.

    It’s taken some work to adjust our schedules (our household generally ate around noon), but these are minor points to adjust to.

    After the first day, we felt comfortable that this wasn’t an utter trainwreck for our household.  Sierra generally had enough interest to listen and do some activities.  On the first couple of days, Vero and I (mostly Vero) were paying close attention via a monitor to understand what is happening and to help her understand what she needs to do.  But here we are at the end of the first week and while I do have the monitor on, it’s mainly to hear if she is calling for help…sometimes she has touched the wrong button on Google Meet and her camera has flipped, or something like that.

    School activities range from singing songs, playing with blocks or play-dough, finding an object on an image on the screen, coming up with stories surrounding an image.  I find the most fun Sierra has are with the activities that has her running around the house.  “Go and get a red object and come back and show the class!”  “Now go get a blue one!”  I was on the way to the bathroom one afternoon and Sierra zoomed by me and I said “Whoa, what’s going on?” and she said “I need to get the toilet paper!” and I thought “Boy, I’m glad I wasn’t sitting down and she came in and stole the toilet paper!”

    I’m sitting here writing this on a Thursday and I’m not sure if it’s because it’s a Thursday and everyone feels like the week has dragged on after four days, but I noticed that Sierra completely missed an entire activity and read a magazine instead.  I was furious in my head but then I realized that at the end of the day, this is maternelle, it’s not like she is going to fail out of this program, and if anything, she stayed in front of the iPad and read a magazine in front of her teachers so I just have to remove myself from the situation more and more.  If she was in regular school, I wouldn’t even realized that this stuff happened.

    Vero and I are experiencing something that doesn’t happen all too often…it’s like we are sitting inside the classroom while the teachers teach.  We can’t help to want to give assistance to Sierra in understanding the activity or not to get lost sometimes, but I have to learn to pull myself away and just let Sierra and the teachers figure out how to do this whole virtual learning thing.  I can only imagine how hard it is for the teachers to try and keep an eye on 30 four year olds via a video conference.  It’s wild.

    After the first week, I think Sierra is enjoying class, and she does seem to pay attention to most of the class.  There are a few days where she will come out and show us stuff she is making and we prompt her to return and listen to what the teacher is telling her, but we can’t really complain about this virtual learning experiment.  In our household, it’s going good.

  • Sierra = The next Céline Dion?

    Yesterday I heard Sierra singing an original song she came up with.  The lyrics were something like “The sunnnnn…in the skyyyy!”

    Later on when she was getting dressed for bed she was singing another tune and singing it quite well and I thought “Wow, what does the future have in store for her?  Will I be traipsing her back and forth to Montreal for singing gigs?  Will she be the next Céline Dion?”

    Then she proceeded to sing ‘MACARONIIII, MACARONIII, MACARONIIII!” For twenty minutes and I thought “Yeah, there goes that idea.”

  • Small leak in Kenmore dishwasher

    Vero started noticing some water coming out from under the dishwasher so one day we took a look at what it could be.

    Note for future reference: don’t forget to disconnect the actual electrical cable from the dishwasher!  We were hauling on the dishwasher for a good hour after taking out the screws and realized that it’s a really short electrical cable so it just wasn’t letting go without it being disconnected!  Rookie mistake.

    Once we got it out, we turned it over and took a look around and figured out that the leak was coming from something called a diverter and that research showed that it was probably a seal that had gone bad over time and needed to be replaced.

    What should probably cost in the $5 range to purchase ended up looking like a hundreds of dollars purchase from Kenmore because they didn’t sell you just the seal, they sold you the entire assembly that you would have to re-install.

    We were a little upset at this and so I got onto Ebay and did some digging around and found this listing:

    For $30 I was willing to take the risk.  A few reviews said it worked on their Kenmore dishwasher (which I found out is really manufactured by Whirlpool so if you’re looking for parts, you can add that to your search query.

    The instructions with this seal even told us we didn’t have to take out the dishwasher, we just had to take a screwdriver to the seal from within the dishwasher and then put some lubricant on the new seal and shaft, and bam, it should be good.

    As I type this it doesn’t look like we have any leaks so we’ll let it run for an entire cycle and see what happens!

    For $30 I am a happy camper and for future reference, I don’t even need to disconnect or pull out the dishwasher to replace this seal.

  • Thoughts on live-streaming…months later + Matt Mays Shore Club

    Live-streaming has currently levelled up in my opinion.  Gone are the days of dudes hanging out in their living rooms with subpar cameras and sound equipment…now it has become a really good experience from the comfort of my sofa.

    Case in point, I checked out the Matt Mays livestreams this past weekend which was put on by Sonic Records/Concerts.  For $20 I get a password which gets me access to a webpage to watch the livestream.  This livestream can be delivered in 1080p and I encountered only one minor hiccup in the feed near the end of the second night.  Actually, now that I think of it, I was watching on both my iPad and iPhone and the iPhone feed kept freezing for some reason.  Strange?

    You might think it’s odd that I am watching on two devices.  Well, how about three?  I had one iPad hooked up to the TV via an HDMI adapter.  Then I had another iPad recording the concert.  Then I had my iphone recording the concert as a backup if the iPad didn’t work.

    Both days had the iPad emerge as the victor over the iPhone in terms of recording.  It never dropped it’s connection.  Strange isn’t it?

    Anyhow, back to the livestream.  Great quality, great soundboard feed…live-streaming has become a really great experience for me considering I have no other alternatives at the moment.  The only issue I’m starting to have with livestreams is that there are starting to be too many of them!  I missed a Trews concert going on at the exact same time and this upcoming weekend we have a double header of Pearl Jam and Big Wreck.  So many choices!  But that’s not a bad thing is it?

    Two thumbs up for the livestream future.  I believe this will become a new alternate source of revenue for bands if the amount of people paying to watch offsets the costs of running the livestream.  I can only imagine a film crew is not cheap.

    A note about the Matt Mays concerts at the Shore Club

    I tuned in to both nights of Matt Mays because a) I want to support the band b) I didn’t have anything else going on and c) It’s Matt Mays.  Always a good time, he will deliver.

    But here’s the thing…the set list was pretty much the same except for one song.  This makes sense considering they got the band back together during a pandemic and were only playing four gigs at the Shore Club.

    Now, as a guy who spent money on watching the concerts, I was a little disappointed that the set list didn’t vary.

    But I can’t really fault a band on this…a lot of bands play the same set list night after night.  Look at U2!  It’s the exact same show for 200 dates in a year.

    Watching the same set list over two nights did give me a unique perspective into what I have theorized as the “ebb and flow of a touring band”.

    The ebb and flow of a touring band

    I theorize that most bands go through a cycle (maybe this even occurs in any live entertainment industry like theatre?).

    The first show(s)

    The jitters are there, they’ve been practising for awhile now and it’s showtime!  Issues do arise (hopefully minor!) like hitting a chord at the wrong time or forgetting the odd lyric but for the most part, it goes ok.

    The next show(s)

    This is when the band gets their groove on.  They are familiar with the material and all is good.  They are as we call it, a well-oiled machine.  This can either translate to a second show or if you look at a year long tour, the first third of the tour.

    The grind

    When you’re passed the first third of the tour, that’s when things get a little relaxed.  Maybe the band has grown tired of playing the same songs every night…it’s the same routine and they are getting tired of it.  Mistakes creep in, they laugh it off but it seems just a little bit more sloppy.  I feel this is what I witnessed when I saw the Matt Mays livestream of August 28th.  It was a great show but I felt sometimes they were going through some motions.

    The final night

    Considering I saw Matt Mays play both the 28th and the 29th, I would say that the band was a different beast on the final night.  They were tighter, everything was coming together and they had a force to them.  I think the final night can go both ways though…in the theatre world it’s quite common that the last night of a show is when things get looser…the actors have fun with the show and pull pranks and maybe have a few more drinks than usual.  In the music world, I can only assume that it can go either way…you’re either on fire knowing that this is the last hurrah of the tour and so you give it your all, or it’s the most loosey goosey concert there ever was.  I’ve seen both over time and they are equally great to watch.

    Even though I was watching the same songs as the night before, I was paying a lot more attention to the show on the final night because of the energy being put out on the stage.

    In conclusion, I was not overly disappointed with paying another $20 to see the same songs being played because a) I probably would have been paying $50 to see just one night in real life b) the show was the better of the two so I’m glad I didn’t miss it.

  • Grand-maman

    Vero’s grandmother passed away last Friday.  She was a fun woman which is evident in this photo from a trip to the Dominican Republic.

    My favourite memory of her involves one Christmas party where I decided to ask her for a dirty joke as a Christmas gift the next year.  Some members of the family thought I was crazy to ask but lo and behold, the next year, I got a dirty joke delivered on a piece of paper and we all had a good laugh!  She had a great sense of humour and I knew she would go for it.

    Rest in peace Grand-Maman.

  • Sierra is quite smart for a four year old

    Context: We’ve been getting her to go to the bathroom by herself, including wiping.

    Sierra: “Dad, come and check!”
    Dad: “Ok, so…if there’s nothing on the toilet paper when I wipe you, that’s a good thing. So…what do you want if there’s nothing on it?” (insert positive reinforcement ploy that rarely works anyhow).
    Sierra: “Uhm…I DON’T want the iPad at quiet time.”
    Dad: “Don’t you mean that you do want the iPad at quiet time?”
    Sierra: “No, I DON’T want it at quiet time if there’s nothing on the toilet paper.”

    I stood there trying to figure this out and then it dawned on me.

    Dad: “Wait, that means that if there is something on the toilet paper (which 99% of the time there is), then that means you get the iPad for quiet time?”
    Sierra: “That’s right!”
    Dad: “Nice try. That’s not how it works.”
  • He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

    He-Man | hobbyDB

    Five minutes ago I had a great discussion with Sierra about He-Man so I wanted to capture it while it was fresh in my mind.

    Yesterday I got word that the new Masters of the Universe Origins toyline had hit Wal-Mart stores in Canada so I was quite excited.  These things look pretty  much like the toys I collected as a kid.

    With that, I figured I should introduce Sierra to He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  It’s probably been 35 years since I’ve watched the show.  Would it stand the test of time?

    I would like to thank John and Maureen for having the He-Man episodes available on Plex because they weren’t on Netflix.  They saved the day!

    I fired up the episode for the family and Sierra was skeptical at first because it wasn’t her new favourite show called Fancy Nancy (on Disney Plus), but soon enough, the show hooked her in.

    There are so many incredibly cheesy moments but everything is super interesting to a kid and so after the show her and I went to her bedroom for storytime and instead of a story, we got to have an extended question period about He-Man.

    Here are some questions that came from a four year old’s brain after seeing their first episode of He-Man.  Sidenote: I don’t even know if I’ve ever seen the first episode of He-Man but I have to say that it did a really good job of introducing the good and bad guys.

    Sierra’s questions about the first episode of He-Man

    • Why did He-Man not disappear from the ray?
    • Why was the skeleton man laughing?
    • How did the sword not disappear when the ray hit it?
    • Why did He-Man go into the crack?
    • Who was the floating guy with a wizard’s hat?
    • Why did the kid of the King and Queen hide?  (this prompted a really interesting discussion about secret identities and heroes but I think it went over her head)
    • Why does Prince Adam and He-Man not look the same (didn’t we all have that question?)
    • Why did He-Man hit the guy on the blue flying thing?
    • Why did the lion have He-Man riding on his back?

    I can’t even remember all the questions but they were great questions from a four year old after watching He-Man for the first time.  Honestly, I was contemplating setting up a video camera to capture this moment because I knew they would be great and hilarious and thoughtful questions all at the same time!

    I think I wasted my favourite series of Thundercats on her at 3 years old.  She breezed through them but didn’t have the brain to ask questions about it.  I think she just liked the fast moving pictures.

    I’m really excited for the toys to hit the shelves and maybe her and I can play with them!

  • Ezra’s First Birthday Party!!

    How do you celebrate a first birthday within a pandemic situation?

    With lots of friends!  We drew inspiration from this comic strip from Calvin and Hobbes:

    The day before Sierra and Maman worked hard on a cake

    We started out the morning with the king sitting in his mighty throne

    We hung up some photos of the past year of his life

    Sierra hid a few gifts for him downstairs.  This firetruck was from Sierra.  Back when she had her birthday she was so impressed by the gift that Ezra got her that she said “I want to get him a firetruck for HIS birthday.”  He seemed to enjoy it!

    Here’s how excited he was!

    After the firetruck we decided to take a bike trek around the village

    Happy Birthday song!

    Maman took some nice photos of Ezra on the front lawn

    Birthday smiles

    We asked some friends around the house to come join the party after Ezra’s morning nap.  Yes, that is a Mr. Zucchini head!

    A lovely cake before Fredo and Ezra tore it apart

    Some friends dropped by with some gifts and balloons!

    Sierra is getting pretty good at taking photos

    The birthday boy arrives!

    Always the polite host, he thanks everyone for coming to his party

    Everyone gets a birthday hat!

    Mega balloon

    Snapshot with the parents

    Nabbing Maman’s hat

    Maybe having the ceiling fan on wasn’t a good idea

    Looks like he is enjoying it his first birthday cake!

    Of course Maman will take some cake!!

    Playing with a new gift

    Hanging out on the playset

    Baby Yoda from his great grandmothers.  I should let them know that this is what they purchased for him.

    In no way did that gift enter this house for me to play with.  None whatsoever.

    All in all, if his smile were an indication of how he enjoyed his birthday, it must have been a hit!  Thanks to all who phoned, Facetimed, dropped by and sent gifts.  It was much appreciated.

     

     

     

     

  • Ezra’s 12 month

    Clearly we have a music lover in the house because whenever a good beat comes on he just bops along with the greatest squat dance move there ever was!

    Ezra has been a fun person to be around in his 12th month here on Earth.  He is generally a happy kid and plays well with his sister for the most part.  Sierra does have her moments that she likes to play with Ezra (like in the tent) but other times she likes to play on her own.  Ezra is the same though…there are times where I just sit and watch him chewing on a sneaker near the patio door and other times he loves horsing around with us.

    While not walking yet, he is very steady on his feet (he can pick up a ball by squatting down and then picking it up) but he doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to start walking.  When we try, he just resorts to going on his knees again.

    Bopping to the music!

    I can’t remember the story clearly but I’m pretty sure Vero and I found this set at a garage sale years ago and it was the same set that she grew up with.  Here is Ezra and Sierra enjoying it as well.

    Ezra had the privilege of having Grandma, Poppa and Nanny Sybil spend some time with us this summer.  It was extra special because it has been awhile.

    Getting ready for a walk

    Ezra and Sierra wanted to show Grandma the trails in Russell

    We thought it was hilarious that Ezra would just lie down if we fell over.  Maybe he enjoyed the sun?

    Ezra was in awe of seeing a balloon blown up!

    Playing around with Poppa

    Everyone was patiently waiting to dive into some cake!

    This was before the silly faces photo

    Silly faces!

    We put this photo up above the fireplace to replace the winter themed one

    I can only imagine they were playing an intense game of Carcasonne on the iPad

    A common sight around these parts…not actually riding it but pushing it along as a walking aid!

    The first time he sipped water from this cup we found it funny.  Then he decided that this was the proper way to drink water at all times and proceeded to douse himself with water every time he took a sip!  I’m pretty sure I changed him 23 times one day!

    What kid doesn’t love hiding behind curtains?

    Maman got to join us one morning at the Castor River

    Like every kid on Earth, he does enjoy things that light up and make noise

    Double fisting like a champ!

    If this video doesn’t make you smile, you are dead inside.  Ezra likes playing a game where he lays his head down and everyone follows.

    Another day, another visit to the Castor River trail

    Who needs park equipment when we have a perfectly good hill?

    Ah yes, the ole ‘fetch the gas can toy’ game

    It’s fun when Sierra can snap a photo of Ezra and I

    It’s rare that we see an actual bird have a bath!

    It’s rare that he isn’t putting his hands on the fretboard and preventing me to play!

    I brought Eric and Mike out for a drink at the Castor River one evening.  Definitely the highlight of the summer!

    Trying to find dinosaurs

    Sharing a rubber ducky is a sign of love

    Enjoying a summer treat

    Wrestling with Fredo

    Enjoying the backpack

    Here is the poster we ordered for Ezra’s 1st birthday party

    Future curling champion

    We drive by this giant rooster every once in awhile so it was time to get a picture with it!

    Can’t forget the giant cow down the road

    Dipping our toes in the Ottawa River

    I asked Sierra to take a video but she took some photos instead.  This was Ezra air drumming to Thunderstruck.

    Pushing Sierra around

    Nap time

    Nom nom nom

    Smoothie The Serpent decided to make a home in the tunnel

    Who wants milk when you can eat ice cream?!

    I had a good laugh at this photo

    Teaching the kids how to play piano on my birthday

    This was definitely a highlight of a gift

    Mmm boy!

    A nice stroll with the family on my birthday

    Vero took a few weeks off before I returned to work on August 10th.  We decided to head to the Petrie Island beach one morning.  It was quite cold and windy!  We didn’t stay too long.

    Vero even had to steal one of the kids towels to warm up!  It’s not the end of the world…considering Ezra naps around 10am, we don’t get much time to spend at the beach

    The next day looked a little sunnier so we went back and I took Ezra home for his nap so Sierra and Maman could spend some time together

    Must have been a good joke!

    I’ve lived in Ottawa over twenty years and I never knew that Petrie Island was more than a beach.  They have some really neat trails to walk around as well!

    What better treat than watermelon at the beach?!

    Enjoying the piano, clearly!

    We dropped by Uncle Mike and Aunt Melanie’s place to check on the house and had some fun!

    Look at the size of this thing!  It was a seven pounder!

    He doesn’t look too impressed!

     

     

  • How to play Splendor with kids

    With a four year old, sometimes they look at what of your tabletop games on the shelf and say “Let’s play this!”  This is kind of impossible when the game has strategy involved and is meant for kids over the age of ten.

    But Dad, it looks fun!  Let’s play it!!

    I realized that with the power of creativity we could create a brand new game using whatever pieces are available to us.

    These instructions are for a 2 player game but I’m sure you can use creativity to adapt to a multiplayer game.

    What do you need to play this?

    1 Splendor game

    1 child who wants to play the game with you

    What is the objective?

    To have the most chips of each colour (minus the gold, we don’t play with them) at the end of the game.

    Look at all those chips!

    How to set up

    Take out all the chips from the box except for the gold ones and put them on the table somewhere.  It’s like a money for Monopoly, it’s off to the side somewhere.

    Now take all the playing cards and separate them into the green, yellow and blue cards.  Put the green back in the box.

    Deal all the yellow cards between the two players.  You should end up with an equal amount of cards.

     

    Two piles.  They are pretty neat.

    How to play

    Each player takes a card from the top of their deck and flips it.

    Whoever has the largest number on the card wins the round.  In this game, we are looking at the number which appears in the top left corner.  Ignore all other numbers.

    The winner of the round picks up a chip which corresponds with the gem that appears in the top right corner of the card.

    In the picture above, the player that has the 3 wins the round against the 2.  The player gets to pick up a green gem chip for their collection.

    In the picture above, the 3 card wins the round against the 2 card.  The winner gets to pick up a white gem (aka the diamond) chip.

    Go onto the next round by flipping cards and battling it out to try and win the most gems!

    What happens when there is a tie?

    In our house, a tie breaker is battled out using rock-paper-scissors!

    Only rock-paper-scissors shall determine the winner of this round!

    What happens when we run out of yellow cards?

    This depends on your kid.  Some days the kid is really tired of playing and you can move onto figuring out who won the game.  But sometimes they want to continue on so that’s where you can deal out the blue deck.

    Ok, we’re done playing, who wins?

    Now it’s time to put your gems against the other player’s gems and see who wins!

    Each player moves their stack of gems against the other players, according to colour.  Whoever has the larger stack wins one point.

    In this example, I had a lot more white gems compared to Sierra’s one gem.  Therefore I win one point.

    What happens if there is a tie when counting the gems?

    Rock-paper-scissors of course!

    Who wins?

    In the example above, you can see that we have battled it out.  Sierra had the most brown gems (1 point), and the most blue gems (1 point).  I had the most red, white and green gems (1 point each for 3 points total).

    I win!

    What skills does this game teach my kid?

    • Dealing cards
    • Understanding numbers and how they relate to each other.  “What number do I have?  A three.  What number do you have?  A two.  Which is the higher of the two numbers?  Then who wins this round?”
    • Counting gems
    • How to revel in the happiness of winning a game
    • How to deal with the feeling of utter defeat when you lose a game and Dad dances around the room

    Why do we put the green cards back in the box at the setup stage?

    The green cards don’t seem to have numbers appear a whole lot so it was getting tedious to always have a tie.  If you want to play with them, go for it, but you’ll end up with a lot more rock-paper-scissor challenges!

    Is it fun?

    I think so!  I’m sure others may come up with variations they enjoy more.  As long as you’re having fun with your kid inventing a game, that’s what counts!