Monthly Archives: August 2008

Samantha’s First Birthday

First BalloonsSamantha celebrated her first birthday this past week. Last weekend, we had a party for her and lots of friends and family attended. Samantha wore the dress Grandma Heather made for her. It was a great party and Samantha was very happy as the photos show.

We will add some more details later. For now, check out the pictures.

Moving?

P1000888.JPGWe have been considering an opportunity which would involve moving from our home in Dunrobin to Silicon Valley in California. The opportunity is a job with the same company I am currently working with but the job is in Mountain View, California. We are very seriously considering it and as part of that, the company offered to fly us all down there to see the area. Plus, I was there to learn about the job and work with the people in that office for a few days. But, this was also Samantha’s first trip in an airplane.

We flew down on a Saturday and the flight was OK. Matthew was reasonably easy to entertain because we had some books for him and some movies on an iPod for him to watch. Samantha wasn’t as easy and she was pretty upset for a few minutes. In fact, I am pretty sure that her screaming at one point was probably bothering Lewis Black, the comedian, who was sitting in first class just a couple of rows ahead of us.

But, we arrived safely and once United Airlines found our bags and brought them to us at the hotel the next day, we were ready to look around. We drove around through several neighbourhoods and also visited another family who moved from the Ottawa area in the last couple of years to ask some questions. We visited a few schools and they are very different than what we have here. Here, the rooms are all joined together with halls inside the building. There, because the weather is so good year round, each room opens directly to the outside. The kids even eat their lunches outside, unless it is raining.

I worked during the day Monday through Wednesday while Cynthia and the kids walked around and explored a bit of Mountain View and Sunnyvale. In the evenings, we tended to order room service because it was just easier with Samantha to eat in. Also, while Cynthia was putting Samantha to bed, Matthew and I would spend an hour in the pool. The plan was for Samantha to be asleep by the time we got back but it never really worked.

The trip back was actually a bit easier and Samantha slept well on the plane. We haven’t made any final decisions yet but we will let everyone know if we are moving. If we do go, we will definitely use this website as a way to keep in touch with friends and family.

Zaida Steve and Granny Nanny Visit

P1000766.JPGIn early August, Steve and Nannette drove from Toronto for a visit. They visited with Stefanie and Dan at their house first. They arrived in Dunrobin just as Samantha was waking from her afternoon nap. The kids opened some presents and you can see Samantha eating some paper in the photos. Matthew loved his Batman backpack which he will be using soon for school. Also, he loves the gecko Webkinz named “DaCount” and he still keeps it with him wherever he goes and visits the website occasionally.

We spent some time in the afternoon playing with Rubik’s cubes. Samantha loves mixing up the cube for me. Nannette was especially enthralled with one and I think she may find she gets one as a gift soon. 🙂

I cooked some steaks on the barbeque for dinner and we enjoyed a nice bottle of wine. After dinner Zaida took Matthew for a walk and bike ride. They had so much fun that they were surprise to realize they had been gone for nearly an hour.

The next morning, we went to their hotel. Already there and in the pool was Stef, Dan, Mia and Jacob. We quickly got our swim suits on and hopped in. This was Samantha’s first time in a pool and you can see her enjoying it in the photos. After the swim, Zaida Steve treated us to a pizza lunch in the hotel room. We watched some of the Olympics as we ate a few slices.

Unfortunately, Auntie Alison wasn’t able to join us because she was away on business.

First Visit to Grandma and Poppa’s New House

P1000744.JPGIn early August, we all piled into the van and filled the back with bags and other stuff and headed down the 401 to visit Grandma and Poppa at their new home in Tillsonburg. Also in the back of the van was Matthew’s bike and he rode along the sidewalk for hours everyday. It was a wonderful visit and much of my family stopped by to say hello.

The first evening, my cousin Darcie came for a visit. Another night, my brother Steve and his fiancee Katherine and my uncle George and Barb came by for a visit and dinner. Matthew had a bunch of fun playing soccer with everyone and was sure to show all of his Pokemon cards to everyone, whether they wanted to see them or not.

The van developed a nasty noise on the trip and my dad helped me fix it. The rear brakes had worn on one side and we checked the local Canadian Tire to see if they had the right pads. Luckily the Canadian Tire in St. Thomas had a set and Steve was nice enough to pick them up for us. The next day, Dad and I mounted them without much problem at all while Matthew rode his bike to the lamp post and back.

We spent some time at the beach in Port Dover and that was Samantha’s first visit to a beach. The water was nice but it was a bit cool and windy for Samantha. We got some ice cream and then called it a day, just as the rain started to fall.

Another day, we traveled to Port Stanley to visit my friend Jeff at his house. We looked at some pictures from his sister’s recent wedding and went for a walk to get some ice cream (actually, we think we had ice cream every day on this trip). Our timing wasn’t as good that day as we huddled in the ice cream parlor for the storm to ease up before walking back to Jeff’s house.

Just before we left, Grandma and Poppa gave Samantha her first present for her first birthday. It was a beautiful blue dress with sailboats that Grandma had made for her. Check out the photos to see Samantha opening her card with Grandma. Also, look for the photos of Samantha’s first birthday party to see her in her fancy new dress.

It was a wonderful trip and we look forward to seeing everyone again soon.

Visit to Stefanie’s

Waiting for LunchAt the end of July, Matthew, Samantha and I went to visit Auntie Stefanie and Mia and Jacob. Matthew got in the pool but got out 30 seconds later because it was freezing cold. The kids had a lot of fun playing inside and out. They especially enjoyed watching the garbage men come and pick up the garbage and yelling to hello as they stared out the window.

Visitors from Montreal

P1000687.JPGNana Rose, Zaida Julius, Jaynee and Howard visit from Montreal. After visiting my sister Stefanie in the east end, they came out to Dunrobin to spend some time with us. Matthew was ecstatic to see everybody and loved the gifts they brought for him. Samantha was very happy as you can see in the photos. We look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Trip to South Dakota

P1070180.JPGMatthew and I went on a trip in mid-July to South Dakota for a few days. It was actually a trip we had hoped to take last year but Cynthia was pregnant and the doctor did not want her flying. We considered driving or taking a bus or train but couldn’t imagine traveling that far by those methods with a 4 year old and while Cynthia was that far along in her pregnancy. So, we decided to look into making the trip the next year, and Matthew and I did.

We decided against bringing Samantha because she is still so young and Cynthia stayed home with her. Matthew and I went mainly to see the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, South Dakota. We flew into Rapid City and drove our rental car from there to Hot Springs. Along the way, we stopped at Mount Rushmore. It is very impressive and Matthew enjoyed it but the long day of traveling shows on his face in the pictures. So, we didn’t stay there long and continued to the hotel.

We were staying at the Holiday Inn at Hot Springs. I requested a special room which had an alcove with a bunk bed, a small table and a TV which was Matthew’s little room. That way, Matthew could go to sleep and I could stay up and watch TV without disturbing him. Better yet, the TV’s had video inputs on the front so we were able to plug in our iPod’s and watch movies. I had rented a couple of movies to watch on the trip so I had something to do in the evening when Matthew went to sleep. The room was perfect for us and would have worked well for the whole family had Cynthia and Samantha came also.

The first evening, we went to the restaurant next door. It was called Woolley’s Mammoth Family Fun and of course Matthew had a great time there with lots of mammoth stuff on the walls and everywhere. They had great food and had lots of coin operated games and a selection of console games. At home, we often play Lego Star Wars on our PS2 before bed. So, at Woolley’s, we paid for some time on an XBox 360 to play the game that night. We went back there one more time to eat and a couple more times to play games on the trip.

The first full day in Hot Springs, we spent at the Mammoth Site. We went first thing in the morning and went on a tour. They walked us through the excavation and showed us replicas of jaw bones and femurs of mammoths. Matthew had a great time seeing where actual mammoth fossils are being found. Thousands of years ago, that site was a sink hole and dozens of mammoths over the years had wandered into it and been unable to escape. They perished there and now we are finding the fossil remains.

After the tour, Matthew participated in the junior paleontologist excavation program. A couple of staff taught Matthew and a few other children how to dig for fossils. Then, in a large box filled with dirt and replica fossils, they each got the proper tools and started digging. Matthew started digging very carefully right away and was making slow progress which is normally good. However, he wasn’t digging where he would find something, so one of the staff suggested he try another spot where she thought he might have some more luck. Sure enough, in a minute or so, he had reached a fossil. He exposed a fair bit of it using his trowel and brush when other of the staff stopped by to see how he was doing. When asked, Matthew said he was still working on digging out the fossil and didn’t know what it was yet. The staff member commented to me that most kids are fairly impatient and want the fossil identified even though very little of it was exposed but Matthew seemed to be patiently trying to expose it for himself first.

He worked away for a while and eventually had it completely exposed. We looked though a booklet of possible fossils to see what it could be. We decided it looked like the skull of a short faced bear. I was worried Matthew would be upset he didn’t find a mammoth fossil but he didn’t seem to care. Since then, if you ask him, he will tell you he found the skull of a sabre-toothed cat. I am not sure why he has decided it wasn’t a bear skull he found. Probably because a sabre-toothed cat is a bit cooler.

After lunch, we went back to the Mammoth Site and looked closer at the exhibits and took our time looking at the excavation itself. Matthew found it fascinating and we easily spent the whole day there. While exploring in the afternoon, we bumped into a staff member from the earlier dig and she was surprised we were still there. But Matthew loves mammoths and he didn’t get bored of it at all. That night, he fell asleep early and I have a photo of him cuddling a stuffed mammoth we bought at the gift store.

The next day we spent at Evan’s Plunge. Matthew enjoyed playing in the water and there was a large pool which was just the right depth for him. Later, we borrowed a life jacket from them and we spent a long time in one of the bigger deeper pools. I encouraged him to go down one of the slide with me but he was too scared. But, they looked like fun. I didn’t get any pictures from this day because I didn’t want to take the camera to the pool.

The next day we went to Wind Cave National Park and went on the Fairgrounds Cave Tour. It was a great tour and Matthew enjoyed it. As we walked, Matthew hummed the “Darth Vader” theme from Star Wars and other people on the tour near us thought that was pretty funny. At one point, we sat down and the guide turned off the lights in the cave so we could see how dark it is with no light at all. Matthew found that a bit scary and he held my hand until the lights came back on. At the end of the tour, we considered another cave tour but it was getting close to lunch and Matthew’s knee was a bit sore.

So, we went back to Hot Springs for lunch. That afternoon, we played mini-golf and had a quiet day before I return home the next day. It was a great trip and I am considering trying to go on a father/son trip every year.