Sierra’s 32nd Month

Is it odd that I’m writing this on January 28th and Sierra still has three gifts she hasn’t opened?  They just sit there on her table waiting to be opened.  Something tells me next year she doesn’t need a lot of gifts?

We had the week of Christmas off with Sierra so it was full of fun activities (aka things to tire her out in the morning so she sleeps all afternoon!).

She has also been getting the hang of potty training this past month.  I didn’t realize potty training translates directly to ‘the ultimate test of patience of a parent’.  Some days I’m thinking she’s getting the hang of it and then other days I’m looking at how many times she has peed in her pants and thinking “Maybe I should try when she’s five years old?”  She does know her routine though…pee, wipe, put everything in the toilet, flush, wash hands, collect a sticker and put it on your sticker board.  I love how she generally picks the smallest sticker and then proceeds to put the sticker on top (or quite close) to the sticker she put on earlier.

Can I say that Sierra is much like her Grandmother and really loves puzzles?  This is our go-to activity these days and it’s quite fun to watch her brain in operation.  Every time we approach the same puzzle, it’s a different way of going about it.  I’ve been trying to teach her the concept of making the border first but I feel that she’s finding it easier to just start with an object (let’s say a dragon’s face) and find another piece with a dragon’s face to connect it to.  A few days ago I brought out a huge 36 piece monster of a puzzle which blew her mind but she’s really enjoying it and it’s an adventure each time she does it.  I think the interesting thing about puzzles is that they get progressively harder no matter what age you are.  1,000 piece puzzle?  No problem!

I figure I should write a little about her routine so it doesn’t get lost in the history books.  I’ll write about a day in the weekend.

Typically on a weekend, one of us wakes up with her and she turns off her dehumidifier, grabs her water bottle and heads for the fridge to get the hummus and crackers.  Then we go downstairs and eat.  Lately I have been hopping on the elliptical and we watch Star Trek Deep Space Nine together.  She’s pretty good with the show…she generally likes it until about 30 minutes into it and then says “Pas ca.” and I have to explain that I’m still going to watch it until the end.  She gets a little fussy but hey, that’s life kid!

We generally hang out downstairs for a few hours until Maman wakes up and then we will go have some breakfast (generally crepes and fruit).  I would say that if we don’t have any major plans made, we are ready and dressed by 10am and then we figure out what we are going to do with the rest of the morning…go to the park, go sledding, go snowshoeing, etc.  Anything to tire Sierra out.

We come home for lunch and then Sierra has a nap around 1-2PM and generally will sleep until 4-5PM.  Then it’s supper time which Sierra really likes helping with.  After supper it’s bath time which is generally a struggle to get her into but as soon as she’s in, she doesn’t want to leave!  Afterwards we get dressed in the PJs and settle down with a tv show.  Lately she really likes Moana, 1967 Spider-Man, Paw Patrol and She-Ra.

I feel like we were in the novel Dune, but the complete opposite.

Vero did some research and found one of the best hills in town for a little kid.  It was located in North Gloucester so one morning we headed out.  I wasn’t overly confident that it would be in any shape to slide on considering the day before was an ice storm.  When we arrived we saw a family try and scale up the hill and they gave up.  The entire thing was coated in thick ice.  At one point we were considering leaving and thought “No way.  This might be the ULTIMATE sliding experience and we need to go down at least once.”

Guys, I’m not kidding here when I say this was a nearly impossible feat.  It took everything we had to scale up this hill.  Once we got to to the top I had to hold the slide in place while Sierra and Vero got onto the slide and even at that, I couldn’t hold it and they went flying down the hill!  This was Chevy Chase Christmas Vacation speeds!  I went down on my arse with the video camera in hand and you can see how fast they were going.  IT WAS AWESOME!  So much fun!  Imagine having your own hill and it’s just a sheet of ice.  In hindsight if we would have brought those grip things for the bottom of our shoes, we would have stayed there all day.  In the end, we went three times.  The second time I managed to go down with them (I almost fell off!).  So much fun.  While I went in there with trepidation, I came out thinking this may be THE event of 2018.

Ski Hill Park!  Quite the appropriate name.

Over the holidays we had a homework assignment.  We needed to take photos of what Sierra was doing over the break so her teachers would talk to her about her activities.  Of course this one made the cut.

Felix and Sierra got to hang out one night as we had an excellent supper over at Melissa and Jeff’s place.  I love how the TV was definitely on their minds as they posed for this picture.

Look who moved out of the crib onto her crib mattress!  We decided we may as well give it a shot and I have to say that other than her crying the first night and me having to sleep next to her on the floor, she has adapted quite well!  In fact, we’re not even sure if she was crying because of the mattress or because we had her out late a few nights that week.  Either way, it’s quite amazing that she pretty well sticks to her mattress and doesn’t roam around her room at night.  I just assumed that would be an issue but she never really strays too far.  If she falls out of the mattress she manages to get back in there eventually.  I’m also liking story time a lot more now since I can just hang out on her mattress and read instead of trying to share the rocking chair with her.  She insists that we squeeze together on the rocking chair built for one person!

Sierra quite enjoyed receiving an activity book in the mail from Nat.

Marie-Claude and Jean-Francois hosted a dinner for all of us over the holidays.  The kids were loving the food!

The kids generally love putting on a play for us.  1) It gives them something to do. 2) It’s hilarious.  In this particular play, Jona was tasked with kissing the princess.

I have to say a sight like this warms my heart.  Sierra still is a little overwhelmed in the first few hours of hanging out with her friends.  It’s only later in the night that she settles in and doesn’t want to hug our leg.

Sierra’s first time playing a Nintendo Switch!  We were over at Oncle Yves place for a great January 1st brunch.

Yum yum!

Maman and Sierra testing out the new silicone muffin trays.  They are fantastic.

It might be cold out but I can’t deny a walk down near the river where I can see Parliament Hill!

Having breakfast with Yoda before he gets packed up for another year.

Oh look, Sierra is being nice and letting Maman have a nap.

Yeah…nope.

This is in the washroom at one of my favourite spots to eat.  So weird!  So funny!

We got to go over to the Hill’s place for breakfast one morning which was fun times.  

While it wasn’t Ski Hill Park, the Vars park had great sliding conditions!  Sometimes an ice storm isn’t a bad thing.

I love how strong Sierra thinks she is.

Look at the beauty I picked up in the park!

Having fun on the swings.

Sierra imitating Dad.  Look, she even brought out my guitar pedal!

I’m assuming we were watching Spider-Man before bed time.

Someone trying to steal Dad’s beer!

I love how Mina bought this new parka and said “It looked really good on the models on the website.  Does it look good on me?”

It’s been a LONG time since Etienne and I could walk down by the river.  It had flooded over a year ago and they were rebuilding the path.  

Ellie’s birthday party!

I love how Ellie is sneaking some cake before it’s cut.

Sierra quite loved receiving a piece of cake the size of her face.

Batman decided to photobomb us.

Max and Sierra playing some cards over at Andre and Karilee’s place where they hosted an excellent brunch!

Did someone sneak chocolate into their plates?

Karilee has this book that her parents gave her when she was a kid with diabetes.  I especially enjoy how the kids look like they all shooting up heroin.

What are those…vultures?  Wild turkeys?  Pretty rare sight for me!

The next day we saw a couple more and they were out on the ice!

Hanging out at Rob and Janice’s place listening to Jenna play piano.  She’s been learning on my old keyboard and it’s still sounding great!

Yes, we love Star Trek in this house.  I’m starting to watch Deep Space Nine again.  The first time through I got through the first three seasons when it was on TV for the first time.  This time, I’m finishing it all!

Sierra is really loving puzzles these days.

This year Vero’s family decided to give some money to get a new CT scan machine at the Hearst hospital instead of exchanging gifts at the annual Christmas gathering.

Big snowfall on the weekend!

Sierra pushing the snow monster!

Mia came over for a visit.  I specifically remember that we didn’t manage to get a fire started this day.

Dance party!

Waiting for some Kraft Dinner.

Making some music!

Super proud Sierra with her new painting! She would show everyone who walked by her.

Tandréane came up for a visit.  Sierra introduced her to the path in the backyard.

We were thinking of bringing Sierra to the Rideau Canal but the weather had whiteout conditions on the roads so we decided to drive down the road to Larose Forest.  We decided to try out a new snowshoeing path which would bring us near a cemetery.  I have to say that I preferred this path compared to the northern path near the parking lot.

No lie, going for a snowshoe trip with Sierra is a slow process.  She doesn’t stay in this sled too long!  But as long as she’s having fun, that’s what counts!

Tandréane was nice enough to carry Sierra for awhile.  All I could think about was “Oh man, now Sierra knows this is a thing and we’ll have to do it all the time!”  Ha ha.

This day may go down in the history books as the best snowshoeing day ever.  The pine trees were swaying in the wind the entire trip and it was dead quiet in the forest.  Beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

Death of a hot tub? Update: Death of a hot tub.

We’ve all been there.  You have a good run..nothing major is turning your life upside down.  You feel you have a lot more free time to read or write music because life is working out pretty good!

Then you shovel the back deck for a few hours because the heavens have dumped about two feet of snow in the past week and then you decide to open up the hot tub after a month of leaving it on its own.

To find this.

Aww yeah baby!

Say goodbye to your afternoon nap folks, it’s time to get to work!

I honestly had to sit and think for an hour before tackling this project.  I wasn’t sure where to start.  After reading a few websites I decided I should see how thick the ice was.  If it was a giant block, I may as well shut that breaker off and wait until the spring.

Turns out that it was about an inch thick so after I broke through it with a hammer I thought it opened up some options.

Second up…let’s check the pumps!

That’s not the definition of a good sign.

I had a space heater running on the spa pack while I sat and thought about what my next steps were.  Honestly, my options were limited.  There’s water definitely coming out of the spa pack pipe.  Even if I ran the space heater for a day, what would it accomplish?

I can’t tell if there’s water coming from this pump or not.  I think the water from the spa pack may have just seeped under the pump and froze.  Actually, the pump sounded like it was running fine.

Then you encounter something like this and think “Well, that isn’t too good either.”

Time to pump the thing out and deal with it in the spring.

I’m not entirely sure I did the right thing by pumping out the water.  In my head I was thinking “The spa pack pack has water coming out of it, there’s water dripping out of various pipes, what can I really do while working in sub-zero temperatures?”  I was thinking that I may as well drain as much as I can so it doesn’t become a block of ice and potentially crack something else.

But Etienne sent me an article and it says I should have been filling the tub up with hot water and see if it would just melt everything.  Take a look for leaks and so on.  If there’s a steady leak, drain the thing and wait until the spring to replace the parts.  Maybe I should have done that?

At this point I’m sitting here thinking it’s already too late in the day to attempt another rescue attempt but I wonder if I’ve made things worse…there’s going to definitely be still water sitting in those pipes now.

Hey, in terms of perspective, no one died and I may have to repair a luxury item.  It’s not the end of the world.  Of course, I’m saying that with some hot apple cider after spending a few hours out in the cold.  My favourite moment was when the sump pump was pumping out the water and I was uncoiling the hose and at one point the hose had a split in it and started spraying my face with ice cold water.  Fantastic!  i looked and felt like a drowned rat.  I’m sure if the neighbours saw me they would have been rolling on the floor with laughter!

Update: Well, I figured I was a glutton for punishment so I decided to throw away all my plans I had on Sunday and sit outside in the freezing cold with the hot tub to try and breathe some life into it.

First up…fill it up with hot water!  To accomplish this I always run a hose from my basement sink up through the window and into the tub.  An ingenious method I devised a few years ago.

Hanging out with the tub on a Sunday afternoon.

Remember the agonizing amount of time I spent contemplating whether to block the bathroom window with the new deck and ultimately deciding against it since it would be a good emergency exit?  Yeah, those plans definitely collapsed as the deck rose an inch with the frost and now you can’t open the window all that much.  COME ON!!

I managed to squeeze the hose through the tiniest crack and then bring it to the hot tub.

The rest of my three hours outside (thanks the maker that is only -5 degrees outside and not -50 like up in Kapuskasing!) was spent watching the water go in, setting up a space heater near the pumps and generally just praying to the hot tub gods.

I was sitting outside all this time because I had this fear of the space heater somehow catching fire which is probably improbable and besides the point, maybe it’s due time the hot tub goes up in flames?

Around 4pm I realized that if I’m going to freeze my ass off, I may as well freeze it off with a beer in hand.  It’s a telltale sign that it’s cold outside when my porter froze into slush within five minutes.

Space heater doing its work!

As I type this, the tub is full of warm water.  It’s not piping hot because there was a lot of ice that was in the tub beforehand so that’s bringing the temperature down.  I also noticed that there was an inch of ice at the bottom of the tub so I’m not sure what to think of that.

Andreane thought it was amusing that I was coming in once in awhile and warming up.

What’s my best case scenario here?  The water defrosts the pipes and all works again.

Mid case scenario…nothing changes, I get the water out of the system and I just have to replace a few pipes in the spring.

Worst case scenario?  Star Trek style hull breach in the hot tub shell and we look for a new hot tub.

Like I said before, it’s a luxury item so it’s not the end of the world, but it still sucks nonetheless!  My bones are quite cold right now!  I warmed my toes near the exhaust of the gas furnace a few times today.

Will my next update have great success or great failure?

I guess I shouldn’t have tried to get that puck dispenser out of the block of ice.

Update!  Monday after work I went into the backyard to check on things.  Along the walk I encountered an ice patch on the path I have in the backyard.  That’s strange, I didn’t remember freezing rain that day.

I opened up the hot tub cover and there was no water in the tub.  Maybe an inch of water near the bottom.

So that’s that.  I now have a new skating rink in my backyard and a hot tub which will sit until the spring so I can take a closer look at it.  I can only assume that the hot water I put in thawed out some ice somewhere which was plugging a leak.  I still don’t know if the leak is in the shell of the tub or in the piping somewhere but let’s be honest…it’s on its last legs.  I drowned my sorrows last night by checking out new hot tubs online.

In honour of the good life that the hot tub has given me, here are some great photos of its life.

When Vero and I picked up the keys to our house on June 30, 2010, we jumped right into the hot tub!  I don’t even think I walked around the house yet.

First visitors to the hot tub.

I guess we have a seven person hot tub?

I still remember this night was ridiculously cold.

I love how this was for a bachelorette party for Melissa and I’m pretty sure the hostess (aka Vero) didn’t even have enough room to go in!

I have to admit that I don’t mind losing the hot tub, but I really mind losing the cool tub for the summer months.  The kids love it!  Have fun in hot tub heaven, we will miss you.

Recipe: Roast in Instant Pot

For historical reference.

Put a 1kg roast into the instant pot for 60 minutes and about 15 minutes depressurize time.  It wasn’t enough.

Put it in for another 20 minutes and zero depressurize time.  It was like shoe leather.  Maybe put it in for 70 minutes total next time?

New veggie rack worked out great with some potatoes and carrots.  Actually, the carrots were a little hard after the 60 minute mark as well but were fine after the 20 minutes.

Sledding to daycare

One of the benefits of living where we live is that we are quite close to the daycare.  A snowfall last night brought forth perfect conditions to take the sled to daycare instead of strapping into the car.

Sierra’s snow pants were already at the daycare so I decided to load up a few blankets for the ride over so she wouldn’t get too wet and cold.  It was hovering around zero degrees so I didn’t think it would be an issue.

The first half of the trip was quite a peaceful trek through the snow.  There’s something to be said for walking on an untouched snowfall, seeing the glow of the street lamps while it’s still dark and forging your own path.  Sierra was having a great time dragging her hands behind the sled for awhile.  The second half of the trek consisted of Sierra wanting to haul the sled herself.

We arrived to the daycare in one piece and I got to walk back enjoying what winter has to offer while Sierra had fun with her friends.

 

Review: Hero-U

It’s been a long while that I have played a computer game but after a Kickstarted project from 2012 finally was released this past year I figured I kickstarted it for a reason and should play it!  The real challenge is finding the time to do so!

Hero-U  is an adventure game with role playing game elements within it, much like the Quest for Glory series.  Corey and Lori Cole were the creators of the beloved QFG series and have come back into the adventure game world for this new game which is in the same universe, but in a different area of the world where QFG inhabits.

If I had to describe the game, it would be like you are a character going to a Hogwarts type university as a rogue.  A rogue is quite like a thief but one with a conscience.

The game is time based so you have 24 hour days and 50 days in total in your semester.  It definitely was hard to figure out how to make the best of my time during a day as you have a limited supply.  Practising lock picking eats up an hour of your day.  Chatting with people also takes up time.  I had to find some general strategy guides on the internet to figure out the best way to use my time.  Sidenote: it’s definitely a different world with the Internet available.  Gone are the days of spending literal weeks trying to open up a trapdoor in Mordack’s library…all I have to do is type in what puzzle I’m having trouble with and BAM, problem solved.  Being a parent, my time is quite limited and I don’t have more than ten minutes to be stuck on an element of the game.  I get enjoyment out of seeing the entire story unfold, not how long it took me to figure out a puzzle.

The story is quite a good one…you are a young lad named Sean O’Connor who wants to become a thief but is caught in the act and given a chance to redeem himself and join the Hero University.  There he takes classes with other classmates who he befriends over his semester and also fights monsters in the basement and solves problems that arise over time.

Personally, I really enjoyed the connection to the Quest for Glory series…there are frequent mentions of other events from other games in the series which I remember fondly.  But the game just makes little mentions of them and doesn’t dwell on them.  It almost feels like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them based inside the Harry Potter universe that we’ve grown to love.

33 hours later, I finished the game on New Year’s Even with 30 minutes to spare before midnight.  I have to say that I hope to see more games in this series and I am glad that I helped Kickstart this one.

Sierra’s 31st Month

WordPress just introduced some new method of creating posts using ‘blocks’.  Years ago, I would have been excited to be on the cutting edge of technology.  Now, I just don’t have time to mess around with this stuff!  It wouldn’t let me insert photos from Google which is basically my bread and butter.  After ten minutes, I said “Screw this!” and noticed they were allowing old folks to use the classic editor until the year 2021 when the robot overlords will be writing these posts for me.

There was a silent auction at work and may or may not have snuck into my colleague’s locker and put up his coat for auction.  Hey, we even threw in a Wunderbar!  He was such a nice guy about the whole thing…he only had to pay $33 to get it back!

For historical reference, this is the schedule that Sierra will be following at daycare.  If only I was that organized!

Sierra seemed to be enjoying the first few days of daycare.  I don’t know the legalities of taking photos within a daycare AND posting them on the internet…I guess I will only show the pictures that don’t have any identifiable kids in them.

Maman and Sierra were due for a haircut.  This was a big deal for Sierra because it was her first haircut ever!  

Firstchoice Haircuts in Embrun know what’s going on…look at the apron and the toys they gave Sierra to keep her mind off of things!  Granted, we all knew that it wouldn’t probably be an issue.  Remember, this is the girl who watched the flu shot needle enter her arm!

“A little off the top please.”

After her haircut we played on this carousel while we waited for Maman.  I haven’t told Sierra that if you insert money the things moves.  In fact, a few minutes later we noticed that another (better than us) parent was going to put some money in for their daughter so we rushed Sierra out of the mall!  She’ll figure this out one day, but today’s not the day!  

Vero cracks up every time while watching this video.

For some reason I can’t hear the audio on these videos so I’m going to assume by the amount of rocking out that Sierra is doing, she’s listening to some Metallica!

I come out of the washroom and a solo snake appeared in our living room!!

Someone got a Christmas card from Great Nanny!

On our way to our team Christmas party, we realized that our boss’s new condo in Westboro probably needed a little Christmas cheer.  Luckily the LCBO was right next to a grocery store with Christmas trees available!

Now, I have to say the worst part about this entire prank is that I accidentally hit STOP on the recording of the epic video we made.  So all we can do is recount the tale of how we trucked this tree into this posh condo lobby in Westboro and there’s some dude giving us the devil stare while we waited for the elevator.  We also headed to the second floor, started to get the tree ready and realized we were on the wrong floor.  To the people on the second floor with a couple of inches of pine needles in front of your door…Merry Christmas?

We did manage to prop the tree up against Mina’s door so when he opened it, it fell right on top of him!  Hilarity ensued and we even managed to hang up a few lights on the tree.

However, a few things went a bit wrong with this plan.  1) We forgot he was heading to Alexandria in a week’s time.  2) We didn’t realize the condo board had strict rules that forbade Christmas trees in the building. 3) Even if Mina would have this tree over the holidays, it would have been dead in a few days as he didn’t know you had to water the thing.

Good has come from this story though…our Director managed to give the tree to her neighbours and we received a lovely photo of their two girls decorating the tree for Christmas!

I have the rare privilege of working on a team that I enjoy just as much outside of work as I do at work!

Santa’s elf getting ready a few weeks early.  We got a bonus year out of this outfit!

Someone’s anxious to go sledding.

The annual Christmas party started with some fun with watching the Grinch.

Fredo clearly was having a great time at the party.

The gingerbread challenge was won by the women, but we definitely gave bonus points to the guys who didn’t do anything on the left roof and said “You told us to make it exactly like the photo!  You don’t see the left side of the roof in the photo!”

In lieu of the neighbours coming over for the first time, we decided to bring back turkey bowling this year.  The conditions were good as there was a few snowfalls in the weeks prior.  

 

No surprise, but the guys won the trivia cup yet again.

Quite the turnout this year and this wasn’t even everyone!  Each year is definitely a gamble on how many people will actually show up.  Good times were had by all and the morning after wasn’t entirely harsh on the noggin.

We love our community and we love the Christmas celebration where Santa pays us a visit each year.  I didn’t appreciate it being the day after our Christmas party!

Santa and Sierra!

The aftermath.  

Sierra disappeared from the daycare one day but they gave us a consolation reindeer.

The past few years I’ve brought some excellent gifts to the gift exchange…first it was a St-Hubert meal…next was a bucket of KFC.  But I couldn’t figure out how to top the bucket of KFC.  Etienne came up with the killer idea to bring in a live lobster!  It was genius!  Aquarium and everything!  But at the last minute we both realized it may offend some people if we brought a live animal as a gift so we opted for the already boiled version of the animal!  The woman who received it was super happy!  The rest of the people in the bar smelling a lobster…not too impressed!  Ha ha!  Totally worth it.

Max’s third birthday was super-hero goodness!

Bruce showing the kids how to fish.

My secret identity finally revealed.  Why didn’t I remember to put the mask back on?!’

Check out the killer cake that Mel made!  I love how the hulk smashes through the wall.

When Mom is asleep in the morning, there’s really only one thing we can do…build towers the height of ourselves!

Vero has been taking fiddle lessons and her teacher said that she was heading out on tour with Natalie MacMaster during the Christmas season.  I convinced Vero that she should go see a Canadian legend at work on the fiddle and so she went and managed to get only the greatest seats in the house!  I mean…look at this photo!  

Full disclosure…the previous daycare was a pretty simple thing to handle…drop kid off, wish for the best, pick kid up.  Those days are long gone!  We are now in full parent mode with a calendar of events and activities to follow!  This photo was taken the morning of ‘Christmas sweater’ day at the daycare.  While I’m not going to get too upset if we miss a few events here and there, if I have something easily available in the house, I don’t mind putting it on Sierra to parade around in.

Rasta-Sierra?

Behold, Mom’s famous sausage dip!  The only issue with this dip is that everyone keeps the casserole dishes at their house afterwards and then I don’t have one to make my own dip!

Party time at Tyler and Amy’s house!

I love Mel’s face in this photo.

I had Tyler pose for this shot for about 3 minutes.

I think Home Alone was blowing these kid’s minds.  Too soon?

My favourite part about introducing Sierra to new things is the fight she gets into…and then she falls in love with something.  This was her first time watching A Mickey’s Christmas Carol and it was her go-to show for the remainder of the Christmas season.

Sierra helping make the tortieres.

It’s always nice to get some family dropping by over the Christmas season…especially those who bring some cinnamon rolls to eat on Christmas morning!  Mmm boy, Grandmaman Joncas hit it out the park!

They also brought some cookies from Grandmaman Danielle!  Here’s Sierra sneaking one from the box.

We’ve finally mastered the Facetime tea party.

On Christmas Eve I brought Sierra into work.  First stop…Le Pierrot restaurant where Chadi had these gigantic cookies on hand for the kids!  Mike and Max were in the area so we all met up for a bite to eat before the hard work day.

Sierra wasting some scotch tape.  Funny story about this particular roll of tape…I had the same roll of tape for the past fifteen years and I finally ran out of it the week before!  I stared at it and thought “Well…how do I get a new one?  This is a first!”

Sierra wanted some milk and there was a genius in the room who gave her the 2% milk shots that come with the Tim Horton’s.  I’m pretty sure Sierra had 17 shots.  It was quite hilarious.

Sierra was lucky enough to have friends who took up and down the escalator.  What a treat!

Like I said…hard day at work!

After we headed home for a much deserved nap, we headed over to the Hart House for some great food on Christmas Eve.  Here’s Ellie and Sierra eyeing up the food.

I’m not entirely sure if Olive knows she has a new best friend.

The band was in full force on Christmas Eve!!!  I’m telling you…I’m definitely eyeing up a side business of being a child’s entertainer.  I just don’t have time considering I’m also a parent!

This animation captures the awesome time which was Christmas Eve.  It was my first time playing a bunch of Christmas tunes.  It worked out pretty well!

Thanks to the Hart’s for the lovely evening!  Merry Christmas!

Before heading home we dropped into Rob and Janice’s place as Rob’s parents were in town and hadn’t met Sierra yet.  We opened a few gifts and had a few drinks and realized that 9PM was a few hours past Sierra’s bed time and it was definitely time to go!  Santa doesn’t wait for anyone!

Christmas morning.  Funny enough, the tree looked pretty much the same for the rest of the week as Sierra was perfectly content to just open and play with one gift that day!  Honestly, why not?  If you have the rest of the week to open gifts, you may as well prolong it!

Sierra definitely grasps a few concepts of Christmas at this point.  I’m assuming next year will begin the full-blown understanding of everything.

Here we are Facetiming with Charlie.

Socks from Nanny is always a treat!

Bracelets from Grandmaman and Grandpapa are the best!

My feet are instantly 150% warmer thanks to Nanny.

Vero picked me up this very cool instrument – a stick dulcimer – made by a guy in the area.  I had seen one at the Cumberland Market in the fall and she tracked him down afterwards.  It’s a pretty neat instrument and I really like the Celtic feel to it.

You know, I thought Sierra was pointing out the wooden ornament she received but that her Maman’s ornament hanging in the tree.  I guess she’s just excited that it’s Christmas?

We were fortunate enough to be invited to Christmas supper at Lynn and Sue’s house in Perth.  They have a fantastic tradition where we all get a paper with 20+ Christmas carols printed on them and each person has to choose one, sing the first line themselves and then everyone else joins in.  While there were a few people who groaned about it, I think everyone secretly loves it.  Thank you very much for the invite and the leftovers!!

Not many Christmas tunes came out late this night but there were still enough crowd pleasers.  I recorded this set so I hope it turned out alright!  Even Ryleigh the dog was singing along as usual!

Sierra showing off her new puzzle the morning after.

Yet another dog who doesn’t realize they have a new best friend!

Who am I kidding..Ryleigh definitely realizes he has a new friend for life!

Did we lose Sierra and gain an alien?

This baby is quite entertaining to Sierra and quite terrifying to her parents when they forget to switch it off and they walk past it.

There’s been some heavy action on this cash register for the past week here at Christmas.  She is always asking us to come play ‘Nyum nyum’ and she processes our food items through the cash register.

A great holiday had by all!  Merry Christmas!

 

 

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!

Joel

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:

Guitar

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.

Wheeee!

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.