First, let me apologize for the lack of updates. My excuse is that I was working on another project but that is at a point now where I have a bit more time and I am trying to catch up. Rather than just put up some new content though, I have completely revamped the website and I think it looks much better. Check out the new content and let me know what you think of the website changes.
In late September, Grandma and Poppa flew out to California to visit with us. Samantha and Matthew loved having them around and to this day, Samantha may just blurt out “Poppa” at the oddest moments. They stayed in the computer room on the spare bed and I hope it was somewhat comfortable.
They stayed with us for a couple of days and then met some friends from London and spent some time in San Francisco. Then, another couple of days with us before taking a tour of the area with their friends, seeing some incredible parks, small towns and wineries. Having used most of my vacation time with our trip to Ottawa, I ended up working most of the week anyways and Matthew was at school. But, by the weekend, they returned to stay with us before flying back home a couple of days later.
We watched movies, played Rock Band, relaxed outside on the patio and swam in the pool. Somehow, Matthew convinced Grandma to play “War Of The Monsters” with him. That is a video game where you can be King Kong, Godzilla or some other similar monster. I think he enjoys being the one who knows how to play so if you come to visit, expect to be pressured to play a video game with Matthew.
For my birthday, they bought me a wonderful picture of Samantha (see the pictures of Uncle Steve’s wedding and you will likely guess which one). And, they got a kite for Matthew. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough wind while they were here to fly it but Matthew ran across the field several times to get it into the air. Since then, we have been back to the school’s field and had it flying a couple of times.
It was great to see them and the kids loved having them around. We miss you.
At the end of August, school started again here and Matthew began first grade. He was excited to see his friends again but I think he wasn’t sure he wanted to go back. Since then though, he has adjusted well to the usual schedule and is doing great. And he has an excellent teacher. His reading is very good and he gets math homework every week. Although he doesn’t want to do the homework, once we get him started, we have to slow him down because he wants to just plow through it and be done with it. Even though he goes through it quickly, he gets the answers right. We just want to talk about it a bit more and make sure he really understands but he wants to get on with it and do other things. So, Matthew’s school year is going very well.
Samantha turned two late in August. On her birthday, we celebrated at home. After a bath, Samantha opened her presents. We gave her a toy laptop which she loved and you can see her playing with it in the pictures. It was a quiet birthday celebration but we had bigger plans for later.
We invited many friends to come join us to celebrate Samantha’s second birthday. We rented a “jump house” for the kids and there was always one or two and often many bouncing in there throughout the day. I bought a case of Canadian, partly to enjoy a beer from home but also to introduce people to Canadian beer but not many took advantage of the opportunity. So, I had Canadian beer in the fridge for a couple of weeks after the party.
I baked a cake and Cynthia decorated it. I did some calculations to estimate the carbohydrate count of the cake because Samantha was going to get to enjoy eating some chocolate cake on her birthday. After opening presents earlier, Samantha was very excited to open more and I was hard pressed to keep up with her.
Later in the evening, some families left but others stayed and we had a BBQ and some more dessert before they came to dismantle the jump house. It was getting late and Samantha was very tired. So, soon after that we said our good-byes and Samantha’s second birthday party was over.
Thanks everyone for your gifts and birthday wishes.
Aunt Ali was going to be at Disneyland for a conference for a week in August and she suggested that we join her for the weekend. So, we piled into the car late in the afternoon on Friday and drove south. After a long drive, we arrived late in the evening but in time to enjoy the fireworks that night. We spent the next two days at the park and Matthew and Samantha loved it.
We had breakfast at Goofy’s Kitchen Saturday morning. There, many characters came to our table but Snow White and Belle were the highlight, especially for Matthew. After breakfast, we went to the park and went from one ride to the next. By noon, it was time for Samantha to have a nap so she and I went back to the hotel room where I took advantage of the time to catch some sleep myself. Cynthia, Aunt Ali and Matthew remained in the park and went on the It’s A Small World Ride (by the way, to our readers you will appreciate that I did not post the 10 minutes of video of that ride) and a Toy Story ride.
But, for Matthew the thing he will remember the most was a Jedi training area. There, they dressed as Jedi and practiced moves with a toy light sabre. After some training, Darth Vader and Darth Maul arrived and each had the opportunity to battle one of these characters. I have put together a special movie from the video clips Cynthia took that day which you can see here.
After her nap, Samantha and I rejoined everyone. We went on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride which Samantha found too scary but Matthew enjoyed. Afterwards, we ate in the New Orleans area which was pretty good. Then, we went looking for rides more appropriate for Samantha before we called it a day.
On the way back to the hotel, we walked past a band and Samantha insisted we stop so she could dance. She picks up her skirt and then bounces and spins around. Check out the video to see her dancing.
I don’t think we watched the fireworks that night since everyone was exhausted. The next morning, Aunt Ali got up early to catch her flight home. We packed up the car and checked out of the hotel but planned to spend the day in the park and head home late Sunday. So, we went to California Adventure the next day. There, we saw even more characters, especially while having lunch at Ariel’s Grotto. The character which was the biggest hit though was Sully from Monsters Inc. Leading up to our trip, we made it a point to watch Disney movies with Samantha to introduce her to some of the characters she would be seeing so she wouldn’t be scared. She loves Monsters Inc. and when she saw Sully walk by, Cynthia had to run after her as she chased the monster.
After another long day, we got into the car later than planned. I think we were on the road around 9:00 PM and I didn’t pull into the driveway until just after 2:00 AM. The next day was a bit rough for me at work but the kids loved it. Thanks Alison!
In July, we spent three weeks in Ottawa. Honestly, Cynthia and I debated how long we should spend in Ottawa. I argued for two weeks but Cynthia wasn’t sure that we would have enough time to see everyone. In the end, we filled those three weeks and I am sure there are people we didn’t get to see and we are sorry we missed you. In the meantime, send us an email and let us know how you are and we will see you again on our next trip.
We spent the first couple of weeks at Cynthia’s mom’s place. Part of the plan was to be there for Canada Day and we spent the day at Aunt Stefanie’s house. The weather kind of cooperated and it would be a bright and sunny day but then suddenly it would pour. Then, it would clear and be great again. The kids spent a bunch of time in the pool and loved seeing their cousins, Mia and Jacob. That night, Matthew and I walked to the Ottawa River so we could watch the fireworks. Along the way, we watched the sky and counted the bats that we saw flying overhead. Matthew hadn’t seen a bat before and he was excited to see them that night.
We also spent a day in Montreal and saw much of Cynthia’s family at Aunt Jaynee’s house. We ended up staying later than planned but time got away from us enjoying spending time with everyone. After some pizza, we decided we had to get the kids back to Ottawa and their beds and said our good-byes.
Zaida Steve and Nannette made the trip from Toronto to visit with us while we were in Ottawa. Samantha wasn’t feeling 100% that day and she and I stayed back that morning so she could rest. In the meantime, Matthew spent the entire time in the hotel pool and he was still in there when Samantha and I arrived. We look forward to a visit from them here this fall.
Cynthia also had day visits planned with lots of friends all around the area. We have some pictures from some of those days but other days, including a trip to Prehistoric World in Morrisburg with Fred and Melanie.
In order to not use my entire vacation, I spent about 1.5 weeks working at the Kanata office which was a great way to extend our time there. The final week we were in a hotel in Kanata which was convenient for me getting to work. In the last half of the week, Grandma and Poppa joined us in the hotel for a couple of days. They took Matthew to see Ice Age 3 at the theatre right beside the hotel and after work, I would spend the evening in their room enjoying a drink and chatting.
It was a long time to be away from home but in many ways, it was tough to leave everyone behind and return to California. Thanks everyone for your hospitality while we were there and we look forward to our next visit.
Early in the spring, we bought ourselves a patio set. Back in Dunrobin, we would have never considered having a patio set in our back yard. Either it was too hot, too cold or too buggy. There were just too few days where it was comfortable to enjoy our yard. But, here almost every day is beautiful and we have had many of our meals on our back patio. The video here was taken right after our meal and starts with a trick to try and get Samantha to eat some more but mostly shows Samantha playing outside afterwards.
At the end of May after returning from Ontario, we spent a day at Maker Faire. Maker Faire is an event which celebrates people who build useful, cool or strange things and encourages everyone to become a producer and not just a consumer. One of the first things we saw when we got there was a rocket kit. The deal was for just a few dollars, you got a rocket kit that you assemble at there and then take to another part of the faire where they would launch it. So, Matthew and I got a kit and started putting it together. Checkout the video and read more to hear more about our visit to Maker Faire and see some photos.
Matthew did most of the assembly of the rocket and decorated it before we walked quickly to the launch area. There we found a short line where we could watch a few launches before Matthew’s turn. First, we gave the rocket to someone to inspect it to make sure everything was OK and then he installed the rocket engine and the igniter. Then, we took the rocket to the launch area where they had many pads. The setup a rocket on each pad and brought forward the rocket builder to do a countdown and press the button if they wanted to. Of course, Matthew did his countdown and launched his rocket. Years ago, I did some model rocketry and it was a great place to introduce this to Matthew. He is still too young for the hobby but maybe in the future he will pick it up.
After that, we wandered through the faire, gawking at the cool and crazy exhibits. I think the next highlight was a building which had lots of different robots. Matthew had the opportunity to control one of the robots and that is on the video also. Also, there was a huge Lego exhibit and an area to build your own Lego creations.
We will definitely be attending Maker Faire next year.
In May, we travelled back to Ontario to be a part of Uncle Steve and Aunt Katherine wedding. What a wonderful day! Matthew carried roses for his two Grandmas and Samantha was the flower girl. Steve and Katherine had a lovely wedding and we were proud to be there and do our part on their big day. While there, it was great to catch up with many different people.
We flew into Toronto a couple of days before the wedding and rented a van to get us to Tillsonburg. There, we stayed with Grandma and Poppa. Grandma Kaye was there also and we had a great time seeing everyone again. We spent time playing soccer in the back yard and taking the kids to the park. Matthew and I also braved downtown Tillsonburg to run some errands and get some haircuts before the big day. Oddly enough, in the time we spent there, we didn’t get any pictures of Grandma or Poppa.
After that, we all checked into the Lamplighter in London and the night before there was a party for Steve and Katherine. There, we saw many friends and family we hadn’t seen in a long time and it was great to catch up when we weren’t chasing Samantha and keeping her out of trouble. The wedding day was wonderful and the pictures of Steve and Katherine speak volumes about how happy they are (if I can find a link to the photographer’s photos, I will link to them here). Most of the pictures I am including here are taken by Cynthia, except the black and white photo of Samantha. That picture is just too perfect and I had to post it. I hope Dawn doesn’t mind.
During the reception, Matthew and Samantha danced until late into the night. I think the highlight for Samantha was when they played the Chicken Dance. She picked it up right away and to this day, she still loves to do the Chicken Dance.
Thank you Steve and Katherine. It was a great day and we were so happy to be there with you for it.
For the last few days, we stayed at Cynthia’s dad’s place in Toronto. We visited with Scott and Karyn, Cynthia’s friend Kay and Cynthia’s mom also. While in the big city, we also made day trips to the Royal Ontario Museum and the Ontario Science Centre. I think the kids liked the science centre the most. We actually stayed in an area for younger kids the whole time and didn’t really venture beyond that. But, they ran around having a great time and we had to convince them to leave at the end of the day.
We didn’t get to the Ottawa area on that trip but we did get to see most of our friends and family in southwestern Ontario. Sorry if we missed you but we will likely be back for a visit next summer.
Matthew played T-Ball this past spring and summer. He started out not sure how to play baseball at all but over the course of a few weeks, he learned the basics and he improved his throwing and catching quite a bit. I used a few clips from early in the season to create this video of Matthew playing T-Ball.