Category Archives: Matthew

Spring Finally Arrives

IMG_0671It has been a very long winter this year.  But this past weekend, we had our first real spring day.  Saturday was a bit cool but by no means cold.  It was windy so we took one of our kites to the park.  Samantha spun all the line out and flew the kite for quite a while.  If you look at the pictures, you will see her holding an umbrella between her legs just in case the weather changes.  I guess after that winter, she has come to expect the worst but the umbrella wasn’t needed.

After several minutes, she was done flying the kite and passed it over to me.  She ran to the swings while I flew the kite for a while and slowly wound it up.

IMG_0669A bit later, Matthew and his friend Ryan came home from their curling practice.  Ryan had never flown a kite so we set it up again and they both passed the kite back and forth between them for a while longer.  Before we knew it, we had spent the entire afternoon at the park and it was time to head home and prepare some dinner.

Sunday was even better.  It wasn’t windy so we left the kite at home.  We spent a couple hours setting up the patio furniture and just cleaning up the lawn.  With our chores done for the day, it was back to the park for a few hours before dinner.  After dinner, we spent another hour at the park.

Something tells me that we were suffering a bit of cabin fever from the long, cold winter.  But it seems that is well and truly behind us now.  On to BBQs, kite flying, park visits, walks through the neighbourhood, bike rides and lots of other outdoor activities.


Christmas 2014

This year, we attended the Alcatel-Lucent Christmas party as we normally do.  Matthew and Samantha sat on Santa’s lap and passed along their wishes for Christmas Day.  Samantha got her face painted to look like a cat and really enjoyed the magic show.  Matthew is getting a bit old for this event but he was fairly patient.

A few days later, we got our tree.  Joey didn’t know what to make of it and spent a fair bit of time under it, batting at the lower branches and ornaments within reach.

On Christmas Day, Matthew and Samantha found that Santa had come.  He left some wireless headphones for Matthew.  I guess Santa was as worried as I was that Matthew would eventually walk away from an iPad which he was tethered to with his old wired headphones.  Samantha got an iPhone 5 which she will be using as an iPod Touch (i.e. no cell service).  Again, Santa seems to think the same way as I do that a used iPhone 5 is a better deal than a new iPod Touch today.

Samantha also got an American Girl doll and some accessories which she was very excited about.  Matthew got a fair bit of Lego for Christmas also.  You can see a picture of Matthew working on assembling one of his new Lego sets while Joey sits on his shelf wondering what is going on.

After Christmas, we are headed to London and Toronto to visit my brother and his family and Cynthia’s dad.  We will be back home in time to ring in the New Year and before you know it, we will need to be back to work/school.

Christmas with Friends

The weekend before Christmas, we had Natalie, Louie and their kids over for a Christmas/Hannuka dinner.  I was roasting a turkey, the kids were playing the basement and the adults were relaxing in the living room.  Suddenly, all the kids came running up the stairs saying that water was pouring out of the ceiling.

We all went downstairs and a section of the basement ceiling was definitely wet.  It wasn’t clear where the water was coming from though.  The water wasn’t pouring from the ceiling any more so whatever the kids say was probably a pool of water which suddenly found a path out and emptied.  But water was definitely collecting in the ceiling.

Figuring that all the drywall would have to be replaced anyway, I started to cut away pieces to try to find the leak.  Eventually, I found a copper elbow which seemed a likely candidate.  Sure enough, it was wet.  With it exposed and a bucket under it, we could hear a slow drip.  This is the second time we have had a bad elbow in the plumbing in the basement.  The first time, I had to remove and replace about a one foot square section of drywall.  This one is much worse and the cleanup job will take longer.  The leak has since been repaired but we still have a hole in the ceiling.  It will eventually need attention.

The excitement kept me from checking the turkey but everything ended up working out OK.  Shortly after that, we served dinner without any more hitches.  However, Natalie did pull a knife on Louie for some reason just before dessert.

Matthew’s 12th Birthday

Matthew turned 12 and he celebrated multiple times.  He had two different sleep over parties.  One with his “outside school” friends and one with friends from school.  At both, they watched The Lord Of The Rings movies one after the other until late in the night.  You can see Matthew with his cake and the candles which read 1100, which is 12 in binary.  Binary candles have become a “thing” in the Rand household since Cynthia’s birthday party last year when I did her age in 1’s and 0’s.

On his actual birthday, we went to Boston Pizza as a family which is Matthew’s favourite restaurant.  For dessert, he ordered a “panookie” which is a huge cookie in a pan with ice cream and whipped cream.

Next year, Matthew officially becomes a teenager.

Halloween 2014

P1100288Here is a picture of Matthew and Samantha a couple hours before going out to do some “trick or treating” this year.  Matthew is dressed as a hobbit.  Cynthia tried to curl his hair to more closely match the hair of the hobbits from the movies but it just didn’t work.  His hair is straight and is going to stay straight it seems.  Samantha is dressed as princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid.

The pumpkin came out pretty good this year also.  There was a diagonal ridge on one side which we thought looked good as a scar.  So, we made it look like our pumpkin lost his right eye in some kind of accident leaving an odd hole and the diagonal scar.

The weather cooperated.  It was about as cold an evening as we have had this fall but it didn’t rain on us or worse – snow.  Samantha went around our block for the first time.  In the past, she would give up before completing the circuit but she made it this time.  Matthew scoured the neighbourhood and brought home two large bags of candy.

And we seemed to have fewer kids come to our door.  We have ran out of candy the last couple of years so we had more than ever.  I think we have candy enough for Halloween 2015 and then some.

Tobogganing with James

Steve, Katherine and James came to visit us this winter and we spent much of the time at the local tobogganing hill.  I grabbed some video of the kids as they enjoyed the day with their sleds.

Matthew Learns to Type

Matthew’s handwriting leaves something to be desired. So does mine for that matter but it was becoming a problem at school. It was slowing him down and keeping him from getting his work done. The school suggested that he could have access to a laptop so he could type some of his work instead of writing it if only he could type quickly. Matthew needed to learn to type.

My first stop was the Mac App store. I searched for a good typing tutor and started with “UltraKey”. It seemed to be well reviewed so we tried that. He worked with that for a bit but he quickly got bored. UltraKey was definitely targeting an older user and Matthew wanted something more dynamic.

So, I picked up “Typing Tournament”. This was highly graphical with little games you play by being able to press the right key in time. It was definitely a good program for him and he started improving when using it.

But after a while, it seemed like his biggest problem was the keyboard. We have a wired Apple keyboard hooked up to our iMac. The keyboard actually is very much like a laptop keyboard. The keys are very shallow and one false move and you will type the wrong key. I figured Matthew might need to practice on an easier keyboard.

I have no shortage of computers and keyboard handy and the first one I thought of was the Apple //e I have. I have an old typing tutor on a 5 1/4″ disk and I pulled it out and booted up the machine. Matthew tried typing on the Apple //e for a short time and he did seem better. But then he moved to the machine to his left and just tried that keyboard. He said he really liked that keyboard and would like to use a typing tutor on that one.

Well, that was my Replica One which is a reproduction of an Apple 1 from the mid 1970’s. As far as I knew, there never was a typing tutor written for the Apple 1. But Matthew insisted that he liked that keyboard best. What should I do?

What I did is I wrote a typing tutor for the Apple 1. I had a C compiler working for that computer so I quickly coded something in C. It starts with a menu. One item on the menu allows you to select the set of keys you want to work with. You can focus on the home row, all letters, letters and numbers or all keys. Then you can either do a typing drill or the typing game.

The drill gives you eight characters randomly from the set of keys you are working with for you to type back. You type them and it tells you how many you got right and then gives you eight more until you decide to quit and press escape.

The game just prints a random character from the set you have selected over and over again until you press it. Once you press it, it prints a new random character. The goal is to press the key as quickly as you can and get as few characters printed as possible.

Matthew used the program a few times but he gravitated back to the Typing Tournament on the Mac. I guess the simple text based output couldn’t compete with the colourful graphics in that program. But Samantha liked using my typing tutor and probably used it more than Matthew.

I posted my program online for other people with a Replica One or maybe even a real Apple 1. According to the forums, my program has been downloaded 38 times which is pretty good I think.

Learning To Swim

IMG_2642Matthew and Samantha took some swimming lessons this summer. Some good friends of ours have a pool and wanted to put their son, Alex in some private lessons. Matthew and Samantha had the opportunity to join in also. Samantha had one on one lessons with the instructor and Matthew and Alex both had instruction at the same time. Both Matthew and Samantha showed great improvement in only one week of intensive lessons.

Samantha’s lessons were mostly about being more comfortable in the water. She spent much of her time jumping in and swimming around with a bit of flotation. Matthew made great improvements and by the end of the week, he could jump in the water from the deep end and then swim all the way to the shallow end and grab the far edge without any extra flotation.

Cynthia and I would like to get them in some more lessons this summer. Perhaps if they can get to be better swimmers, we may even consider getting a pool of our own.

Summer Visiting

IMG_0315This summer, we have had lots of visitors here in Ottawa and we have travelled ourselves to see friends and family. Cynthia’s grandparents from Montreal came to visit early this summer and we all met for a wonderful dinner out. My mother came to visit for a weekend and Cynthia’s dad and Nannette also were in town at the same. You can see some pictures at a park where many of us took turns on the swings.

Both my mom and dad came for a visit in July and then by the end of July and into August, we travelled to SW Ontario. We stayed at mom and dad’s place where dad and I worked on a special project which I will have to post about separately. Also, we had a chance to see my brother, Katherine and James, my nephew. While there, we caught up with Jeff who is an old friend who I don’t get to see often enough these days. We also spent an evening with Erin and Dennis and their kids who moved to London from the Ottawa area not long ago. You can see some pictures of Dennis and I making some noise with a couple of guitars and having a great time doing it.

Over the long weekend just past, Steve, Katherine and James came to visit which was their first time to see our new house since moving back to Ottawa. James was lots of fun and helped us by pointing out all of our doors. While he was hear, we engaged to child locks on the cabinets in the kitchen which was always good for a laugh when Cynthia and I would forget and struggle to open the door. I don’t have any pictures from that visit up yet but hope to soon.

Now with school started again, most of our summer visits are done. Hopefully we had a chance to catch up with you but if not, drop us a line or stop by some time.