Sierra’s first day at school

While Vero tells me that Sierra hasn’t started school yet, I have to say that she’s over at the building that she will be occupying until Grade 6 (maybe Grade 8?  Not sure.) so to me, she’s started school!

Sierra is attending a new daycare centre which is attached to her eventual school.  It was super weird to hop in the car and thirty seconds later, arrive at her daycare!  To put this into perspective we were driving twenty minutes to the other daycare.  I have to say that I will miss our car rides involving seeing Old McDonald had a farm.

This girl looks like she is SURE she wants to be there.

I have to say that the scary part of this new chapter in her life is that it’s a new chapter in our lives!  I’m staring at the walls and seeing things like sign-in sheets, calendars indicating days like ‘wear purple day’, sign-up sheets for before/after school programs…there are so many sheets to read!!  I feel like I need to level up on my parenting game!

Anyhow, I’m sure she will be fine today and all the time that she is there.  It seems like a loving environment.

Update: Yeah…it’s been two weeks and we’re not really worried about daycare.  I mean…our biggest problem is that she doesn’t want to leave!


I found out today that Joel passed away.  I hung out with him a bit during high school and lost touch since 1997.  Here are some stories I would like to share:


I remember seeing Joel play Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town at an assembly/music night at KDHS.  I would have to say that this exact moment was what inspired me to learn guitar.  I remember hanging out in his basement a few times listening to him and his band jam.  For the life of me I cannot remember the name of that particular band but I remember a song I quite liked entitled “I, Vampire.”

Monty Python

Remember in Monty Python and the Holy Grail there was King Arthur riding on his mighty steed followed by Patsy with his coconuts?  Well, for an OAC presentation Joel got to go as the King and I was his humble servant Patsy along with the coconuts.  We had a laugh planning that all out.  I’m pretty sure he was the one who introduced me to Monty Python.  I remember sitting in his room while he introduced me to a few comedy albums of theirs.

Editing videos

I remember our love of horror films.  I was just getting into them and he was a mentor in all things macabre.  I specifically remember helping him after school on editing a horror film that he and his friends had filmed.  For the life of me, I don’t even remember if we ended up completing it.  It would neat to see it if it actually exists somewhere.

These are just three examples of how much of an impact Joel had on my life…while we only hung out for a few years (and not much at all even at that), he was a soul that introduced me to so many things that I hold dear in my life right now…guitar, Pearl Jam, Monty Python, laughter, making everyone comfortable, and horror movies, TYPE O NEGATIVE!  How could forget them?  I borrowed October Rust from him, accidentally got it scratched, felt horrible and ordered a replacement copy right away.  I felt pretty sheepish when he asked for it back and I told him I ordered a new one for him.  I’m pretty sure the last time I saw him and Robin was when my Dad dropped me off at their place one Friday night when we had all started college in the fall of 1997.

Here’s more of Joel’s story as it was documented in Maclean’s over the past few years.  Article #1  Article #2

And here’s a bonus for all those who knew Joel.  Years ago when I started a website, I asked him if he had any concert reviews to add.  He loved live music as much as I did (a lot of us from Kapuskasing ended up with a love of live music) and graciously passed along some excellent reviews which I have placed onto this website for historical reference.

Warped Tour ’98 at The Docks

Concert Review: King Diamond Lee’s Palace Toronto ON May 27, 1998

Coal Chamber, Anthrax, and Pantera at The Warehouse, 01/29/98

Oliver Stone at the University of Toronto, 11/06/97

Concert Review: Bruce Dickinson The Guvernment Toronto ON September 21, 1997

Review: Henry Rollins University of Toronto September 30, 1995

Rest in peace Joel.

Sierra’s 30th Month

Whoa, 30 months = 2.5 years!  That’s a little crazy to wrap my head around.  I feel time is passing by way too fast.

Sierra love singing tunes these days.  She has always loved Skinamarinkadinkydink, but now enjoys Itsy Bitsy Spider (Thanks Grandma!) and the most important tune of all…Old McDonald had a Farm!  Every night as Sierra drifts off to sleep you can hear her sing E-I-E-I-O!  It is hilarious and heartwarming and promising to hear a kid sing in tune.

As Sierra has hit the 2.5 year mark, the daycare in Vars let us know that they have a spot for her and she will start at the beginning of December.  While it is sad to see her leave her existing daycare, we think having her in a daycare centre which is part of the school she will eventually be going to is a great move.  Plus, it doesn’t hurt that it’s in our neighbourhood and not a 20 minute detour from our normal route to and from work.  Vero has grand visions of walking home with Sierra.  I think she will have second thoughts when she realizes Sierra can take an hour to walk ten steps!

Sierra has a longer attention span lately.  When it comes to television shows, she seems to enjoy watching a full 20-30 minutes of a show.  This has posed a problem some nights where bedtime is getting late and she hasn’t watched the entire episode of Charlie Brown!  But so be it, we turn the TV off and put her to bed and she screams for a few seconds until she realizes that she can read Garbage Delight or Hands, Hands, Fingers, Thumbs.

As I write this, Christmas has arrived quite early in Ottawa as we have been blanketed with snow for a few weeks now.  The lights are on and the tree is up and we have a month of Christmas joy to fill the home.  Sierra is currently enjoying Rudolph more than Frosty the Snowman and the Grinch.

Sometimes PJ knocks it out of the park with their Halloween shirts. 

Carving the pumpkin!

We got Sierra to do most of the dirty work.

The Great Pumpkin!

Hey, I got to reuse my old Star Trek outfit from years ago!  I especially like how we dressed up Sam as Gene Roddenberry (middle).

Here’s the little cat going on the prowl for some candy!  Vero said she made it pretty far down the block!  Vero came back after awhile and let me go out with her for a few more houses.  It’s pretty slow-going with a 2 year walking down the street so we only hit up two houses.

Quite the haul!  I think Sierra liked Halloween a lot more than her first year.  I think it helped that she was absorbed with watching It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! over and over again.

Someone really likes barrettes

Spaghetti supper in Vars!  Seriously, what’s up with the lighting in the gymnasium?

After months of avoiding her, I couldn’t avoid Baby Ellie any longer.  I visited Nat and Marc and was surprised to find a girl who was pretty calm and was sleeping pretty well during the evening!  Definitely different than our experience with Sierra!

Luckily Sierra doesn’t realize that this thing moves if you put money in it.

We went up to visit Lynn and Sue one night.  Sierra is teaching Lynn about trains in this photo.

This photo was taken in the doctor’s office before we both got flu shots.  Let me tell you…Sierra is a trooper.  I rolled up my sleeve, showed her how it’s done and when it came to her turn, she just stared at the needle entering her arm.  No crying!  That’s pretty tough to watch the needle go in, let me tell you!  I was super impressed with her.  Plus she got a sticker!

We bought this Spider-Man outfit at a craft fair here in Vars.  She likes waving her arms and going ‘pew pew’ around the house.

Vero was gracious enough to let me out for the night.  Mina, Etienne and I painted the town red.  First stop was Darcy McGee’s to see our friend Dana play.  It was cool to see her outside of work and it was also great for her to show me their live setup.  It was quite neat how they had an iPad plugged into their sound system to control the sound levels remotely.

Next stop. the House of Targ to see The Reverb Syndicate play songs off of their new album!  I always have a good time seeing this band and the House of Targ is THE live venue of the city.  This is the only decent photo I took from the night as my drunken hands weren’t all that steady!

We met up with Clive along the way.  This was probably the last photo with a somewhat sober group of friends.  The rest of the night descended into madness.  I still remember walking up to Etienne and he was telling the drummer “Dude!  You were so tight!  You were amazing!”  The drummer was giving me the look that said “Please save me from this drunken fan.”

The next morning Dad showed up and enjoyed watching tv shows with Sierra.

Dinosaurs also ended up roaming around Mom!

I’m loving how much Sierra loves when family visits.

A morning on the weekend generally starts like this.

I learned a life skill while Dad was up visiting…how to clean the carburetor on my generator!  It wasn’t starting up so we had to tear it all apart but luckily it started up after we reassembled it!  Take note all generator owners…while the manual says that you should just run it until the gas runs out if you are storing it for months…I would have to say this method wasn’t exactly the thing that saved my generator.  This time around I put some gas in and added some stabilizer.  Hopefully that does the trick!

Sierra was gliding on air between Poppa and Grandma.

Mom and I went to a Navan Christmas craft fair and it wasn’t much to write home about.  But the next day we went to the German Christmas market and it was incredible!  I was disappointed that we ate a large breakfast before coming so none of us were hungry enough to sit down and eat some weinerschnitzel.  But I got some currywurst instead which is just as good!

Now that’s a pretzel!

Sierra met up with some friends at the sled hill!

A rare (but out of focus?) shot of the three of us.

Trying to get the perfect picture is definitely an adventure!

Not bad!

We are really liking these lego knockoffs.  They are a lot more versatile.

T-Rex meets mighty tower!

Abigail and I went out to the Prescott for lunch during a conference.  Here’s the famous meatball sandwich!

Someone is definitely fake sleeping here.

At least my nostril made an appearance.

Sierra having fun with Baby Ellie.

Martin’s Birthday!  The Lonestar was calling our name for this mighty event.  I hadn’t been there for years.  I remember pool tables in behind.

While I don’t have a large love for 80s rock music in general, I know when a band is killing it on stage and Hair Force One was definitely doing that!  They put on a great show.  I’m pretty sure most of these guys are probably public servants who have fun like this on the weekends.  Awesome!  Trish told me that she wants them to play at her wedding.

This brings up a great memory of how Maureen and I would jump in Dad’s scoop (way before the days that he had a snowblower).  I’m not really sure if he was frustrated by us jumping in, or if he just gave in and enjoyed the moment.  Probably a little bit of both?  It was a large driveway to shovel!  Anyhow, Sierra was loving life riding around in this thing.


Before she decided to jump into a puddle.

After a morning outside, Sierra went for a long nap in the afternoon (4 hours!) so Vero and I decorated the place.  Look who showed up again this year!

Sierra working hard at putting up ornaments.  Let it be known that this was the only one at a higher than Sierra level.  

The three wise guys.  For the next few days, Sierra insisted that I wear that hat everywhere…including the supper table!



Recipe: Chicken in the Instant Pot

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

Defrost chicken breasts.

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

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

Pour some canned mushrooms and black beans over everything.

Close it up.

Set it on MANUAL for 12 minutes.

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

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

Being (somewhat) of a lumberjack

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

Front yard before the cull

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sierra’s 29th Month

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

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

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

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

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

The Cumberland market even had horses!

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

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

Sierra was a lucky girl getting Maman to carry her!

Tandreane teaching Sierra how to fish.

Prepping Thanksgiving supper!

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

The Cantin Clan!

A walk to the cemetary

Running in a snowsuit is definitely slow going!

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

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

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

It’s that time of year again!

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

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

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

Is it the great pumpkin?

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

The winner!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can’t stop laughing at this one.

Sierra playing cribbage with Grandpapa and Dad.

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

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

We can’t forget Victor in the photo!

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

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

Skeleton dance!

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

Annabelle smartly had a change of clothes before eating chili.

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

Watching Charlie Brown with Fredo

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

Collage of the snowbirds

Sierra helping build a snowman

Sierra has become the torso of the snowman!

I love both of these photos from the same scene.

Sierra’s first snowman

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

Can’t forget the nose!

The neighbours dropped by to do a little sledding.

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




Historical: Paying off the mortgage

This posting will be useful for historical reference.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sierra’s 28th Month

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

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

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

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

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

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

We had Madame Butterfly over for breakfast one morning.

Sierra is becoming a photographer.  Slowly.

Admiring her painting.

One last slide of the summer.

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

Brown Thunder meets White Lightning

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

Bedroom party!!

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

Sierra is loving her new sunglasses!

On the road again with some playdough! 

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

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

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

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

Slow motion trampoline madness!

Practising the Superman flight move!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Super Cantin Bros.

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

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

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

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

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

“You listen when I talk to you!”

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

Someone REALLY enjoyed going on the four wheeler with Grandpapa!

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


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

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

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

This dog is going to miss Sierra.

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

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

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

Good times were had at the Kapuskasing piano recital.

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

Pretty nice spot!

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

Maman’s birthday party woo!

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

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

Check out that corpse pose!

Luckily Papa and Grandma showed up make Sierra feel better.

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

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

Waiting for the legend to grace the stage.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big kids table.

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

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

Double the amount of swings = double the fun!

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

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


Someone loves fudge-icles

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

Sierra in mid-smile

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

A quick snapshot before heading out

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

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

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

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

Sierra figuring out how this contraption works.

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

Always finding treasure at the beach

Looking for adventure

A rare family photo!

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

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

Say no to crack!

Having fun on the swings before bedtime

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

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

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

Every school needs some punching bags!

Nanny showing Sierra how to pass a ball

Sierra and Abbey raided the garden every day for tomatoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tomato sandwich moustache

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

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

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

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

Dad is basically a magician to his grandkids

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

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

Sierra checking out the teepee.

On the boardwalk…boardwalk


Cool graffiti under the bridge

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

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

Poppa having fun with Sierra

Sierra is definitely a fan of hats!

The race is on!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watch out for the waves!

It was quite the windy day at the beach

Fun at the park!

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

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

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

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

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

Squeak squeak!

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

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

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

Look where we stopped on the way back!

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

The start of an epic night!

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Family fun time!

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

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

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

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

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

Sierra enjoying her complimentary feed of cheese curds.

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

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

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

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

Enjoying a nice lunch

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

Figuring out the tricycle is a hard job

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

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