Spring updates

Ezra was the happiest boy ever after finding this piece of ice

Reading a book

April Fool’s Day is a big day around here.  When I came upstairs I faked that I had broken my toe.  “Ow ow ow, we need to go to the hospital!”  The kids were very scared until they looked at my toe and found this!

The kids hung up poisson d’Avril’s around the house and thought it was hilarious each time we found one

Vero pulled a great prank on me this year.  She aimed the shower head so it would spray in my face when I turned the shower on!  It worked perfectly.  She was worried that she wouldn’t be able to get a video of it but she showed up at the split second that I turned the water on!


Last year I started reading reports that gas stoves weren’t exactly the best to have in your house.  They even mentioned a rise of asthma in children because of them!  With that, we decided to change our stove but when we pulled it from the wall we noticed there was not an outlet!  Months went by and we finally called an electrician in to do the $1000 job.  Now we are on the hunt for a new stove.

April 4th, first BBQ of the year!  Picked up some steaks.  We don’t eat much steak anymore so I was surprised to see that I was paying $60 for three steaks!  I remember cooking this a bit longer than I should have and was a little disappointed in myself but everyone enjoyed it.

Showing Ezra the game Mixed Up Mother Goose

Board game morning

We don’t know if it’s because of the lack of front teeth but Sierra figured out how to whistle!

Horsing around

There may still be snow in the yard but the streets are ready for some bicycles

I laughed when I saw this photo.  I remember the first family trip I took with Vero’s family down to the Dominican.  I was still trying to get to know everyone and Vero and I were with her dad on a boat and he said something about hoping his dentures wouldn’t pop out or a fish might take them.  I said “Well, imagine the smile on that fish!”  He had a good laugh at that.



What is a bellybutton for?

The scene: the breakfast table.  Home of some of the most interesting conversations you will ever witness.

Ezra: “Je met des crottes des yeux dans mon bellybutton comme Sierra!”

Me: “What?”

Sierra: “Yeah!  Mon bellybutton est une bonne place pour mes crottes des yeux.  Je peux jouer avec!  Mais pas les crottes secs, juste les autres.”

Me (internally): “And this is the generation that will save us all?”


No more front teeth for Sierra

Look at that front tooth hanging!

Not ten minutes later Sierra came crying saying that her tooth was hurting!  Sure enough it was dangling from her gums so I pulled it out and now this is what she looks like without front teeth!


Songwriting challenge

Sierra is quite the songwriter.  I hear her singing all day long about things that are going on around her.  She puts on some concerts once in awhile.  I believe her last concert was 15 original songs!

I gave her a songwriting challenge the other night on the drive home from gymnastics.  I asked her to come up with a song about a unicorn who was lost and then found her friends again.  It’s really interesting to see her come up with songs on the fly!

The next challenge I gave her was to think of how to make lines rhyme.  That was a little tougher!


Review: Arthur L’aventurier (Australie)

A month ago Ezra came come from daycare and would be singing songs that we didn’t recognize.  “Tom…Tom le cowboy” or “Whoa oh!  Super Croco!”

We found out that he had been watching specials by Arthur L’Aventurier whom we weren’t familiar with.

Turns out Arthur is a child entertainer who has been working for 28 years.  It seems like he started out releasing music but also released video specials that included music.  For example, his latest special was him travelling to Australia and you watch an hour of him travelling around and singing songs about Australia.

Vero and I think it’s a clever way to get to travel around the world!  We are jealous.

Anyhow, we started watching these specials with the kids and they were entertaining and we found out that Arthur was playing a show in Buckingham which is fairly short drive away if we take the ferry across the Ottawa river.

It was a complete surprise for the kids and I’m not even sure they understood what was going to happen when the curtain opened in the theatre.  I think they were expecting us to watch a movie with him!

The show was great.  Our seats were great.  We could get up and dance with plenty of space.  Arthur and his guitarist Pierrot (?) would ask for kids to come up on stage to hop like a kangaroo.  Or parents and grandparents to come up and dance to “Super Croco”.  They are catchy songs with kids in mind as they latch onto very easy words like “Koalalalala”.  I think I would have loved to be a children’s entertainer.  You get afternoon gigs that don’t last too long (an hour?) and you’re not playing in pubs until 2am in the morning!  What more can you ask for?

The show itself was pretty good.  They would sing a song and have clips from the Australia trip playing in the background.  They would ask the kids questions and then sing more songs.  The show was primarily from his Australia special but he played a few older tunes as well.

Ezra said he enjoyed it but he’s still at an age where in public he doesn’t dance around like he does at home.  But Sierra was loving every moment of it…dancing, clapping, singing along.  It’s fun watching how much fun she has at events.

We are quite lucky to be able to see these things around the Ottawa area from time to time and we look forward to the next time Arthur comes to town!

Also, the merch table was great.  $5 for a DVD that I can get for $20 off of Amazon?  Come on.  What a steal.


New desks and tables for all!

Ezra is 3.5 years old now and he spends a lot of time in Sierra’s room so it was time to start thinking of giving him new things in his bedroom to make it more fun.

Here he is with Sierra’s old table and chairs that Grandma and Poppa made for them.  In the spring we will give it a fresh coat of paint.  He is quite excited.

But what will Sierra use now?  We ended up getting a desk from Ikea that can raise up as she gets bigger.

We ended up swapping their dressers to make room for her new desk.  It surprisingly worked out pretty well.  But Sierra went from six drawers of clothes down to three large drawers so she had to get rid of some clothes that she never wore.  That’s not a bad thing to do!

The six drawers in Ezra’s room is a little bit of overkill for the moment but we don’t want to get rid of furniture if we don’t need to.  His room is still in a transition phase anyhow.  Probably when he moves to an actual bed we will rethink how his room layout should be.


March Break 2023

Sometimes ulterior motives actually become less important than you originally thought.

When Muse announced they were coming to Montreal during March Break Vero and I hatched a plan which involved inviting my parents to babysit the kids while we took off for the evening.

Then as time went on I realized that it would be fun to have my sister and her family up for March Break at the same time.  It’s not often we all get together.

The Muse concert was a blip on the grand scale of fun we had during the entire week together.  I think we all thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m pretty sure I’m still hearing Mom’s laughs sliding down a hill on a tube!

An hour into everyone showing up for March Break, Abbey hit Sierra and her tooth fell out!  At least we were expecting that tooth to fall out!

I don’t know who started the ‘pile everything possible on top of Uncle John’ game but it was a daily occurence.  I always laughed when the girls would say “Please come downstairs Uncle John, there is no trap.” and Erra not understanding the subtle art of lying would say something like “We have a trap set up for you Uncle John, please come down!”

Ezra told Aunt Maureen that only kids could fit in his bed.  He thought it was hilarious when she tried out his theory.

Day 2 – a big surprise was in store for the kids.  We went to see Disney on Ice!

We didn’t know how Ezra would enjoy a show for more than an hour but he was surprisingly ok with it!  I think the popcorn and cotton candy from Poppa helped!  I managed to sit with everyone in the same row as Ezra sat on Mom for the entire show (I had managed to get a ticket right behind everyone at the last minute).

Treats!  I joked to some folks at work that Poppa is like a dog off a leash whenever he sees popcorn or french fries available.

The show was great and I was excited to see how excited Sierra was.  She clapped and sang along the entire show.

Day 3 – Heading to the park

Looks like someone is stuck!

We had a Don’t Fret session lined up for Friday so we started to practice out a few tunes.  Here we were practicing the Unicorn song.

Aunt Maureen picked up barrel of monkeys for Ezra.  Poppa was showing him how to play it.

Poppa and the girls having a movie night with some snacks.

Day 4 – Vero brought out some balloons to show everyone how to make animals with them.

We went to Montreal to check out ONE OK ROCK, Evanescence and Muse.  It was a great triple bill of bands.  Muse had a great show with less production elements than previous tours but that didn’t take away from the great show.

I usually complain about the photos Vero’s iphone 8 takes but this was was a winner!

(not our photo) A cool shot of when the streamers shot out.

Day 5 – It’s rare that the Ottawa area gives us some sun but it sure did the morning we went tubing!  It was a great spot that Vero had been to a few weeks back with the kids while I was out of town.


There weren’t many people out that day so it was great to walk up the hill and not wait long to go back down.

Poppa spied a chipstand and picked up some fries for us.

Before our attempt to all go down at the same time.  Hilariously we were all six feet from the hill so it took a lot of pushing to get us down from where we were!

I messed up and went ahead of everyone else!

I always laugh when I see Poppa and Ezra go without us.

A rare photo of the girls on top of Uncle John WITHOUT a pile of blankets and pillows!

Day 6 – Just hanging out

1 Abbey = 1 Sierra + 1 Ezra

Only took us 75 takes but we got a decent photo of all of us before Grandma and Poppa left.

Photo with the grandkids

Grandma made us a few loaves of bread before leaving.  Thank you!  The kids still ask for grandma’s bread and jelly each morning.

Day 7 – Ezra’s first time on skates!  We had been waiting all winter to go skating on the Vars rink but I think it opened for two days during the week.  We did find some skate time in Embrun during March Break so we took the kids out.  Ezra did pretty good for his first time!  He got about 50 feet ahead of where he started and then was done for the day.  

The kids showing Vero how to skate.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

A treat after supper.  I thought we had some photos from our Don’t Fret session that evening but I guess not!  The entire family got to participate and it was great to sing and play with John and Maureen for the evening rather than playing solo.  The highlight of the week!

Day 8 – Abbey almost couldn’t leave!  

Day 9 – The end of March Break and what a great day it was!  It was so windy that we brought the kite out.  It was Ezra’s first time flying a kite by himself.  

It was a great March Break spent with family.  Tons of laughs and the kids and parents were entertained and that’s what counts!  Thanks for everyone coming for the visit.


Varsnaval (Carnival)

Me wondering if the snow will ever end.  We just had another 15 centimeters dump on the last day of February when I’m typing this!

The winter carnival season is upon us and this year the Vars carnival made an appearance outside again.  I can’t remember the entire history of the Vars carnival but I feel that we went once after a spaghetti dinner with Sierra as a baby (there was a bonfire and some Beavertail on a stick that Vero still talks about!) and then another year it was so cold that they just limited the carnival to a day of kids activities inside the school gym which was fun as well.

Painting snow hills!  How cool.

But this year it was outdoors and an afternoon of fun was planned.  Horse rides!  Treasure hunts!  Sliding!  Snacks!  Crafts!  Drawing pictures!  Hot chocolate!  It was great.  The kids really loved it and Sierra enjoyed seeing a few of her friends from class at the event.  Ezra enjoyed seeing the horses and going for a ride.

“No Dad, THIS is how you paint.  Let me show you.”

We also lucked out that it wasn’t OVERLY cold.  The week before had temperatures around -20 and I would say this day gave us -10?  -15?  Whatever it was, it was manageable for a few hours with the kids outside.  Vero even loved the carnival so much that she went back to pick up some pulled pork sandwiches for supper!

To whoever was involved with the carnival this year, well done!

Enjoying the horse wagon ride around Vars.  We even passed by our house!

Meeting Tom and Wilson.  The horse ride itself was quite hilarious as the fellow in the back had jokes to entertain us for the ride.

I’m pretty sure sharing a pogo was the highlight of the carnival.  Two days later Sierra is still asking if we can have a pogo.  I think I will reserve that for special events!  To this day, I don’t think I’ve had a pogo yet.  I’m saving it for a special day.

Chatting around the fire

This photo was on the town councillor’s Facebook page and you can see all of us in the wagon.

Another photo from the town councillor’s Facebook page.  At first I thought it was just a pile of wood and then I spied Ezra sipping some hot chocolate in the background!  That was the part of the day where we surrounded the hot chocolate to cool down.


How to record streaming audio on Mac (loopback) using Focusrite Clarett 4Pre

This is a note to myself for future reference.  Sidenote: Future you, you’re looking good today!

I wanted to capture an audio stream which I couldn’t download.  It was streaming only.  I encounter a lot of these through Patreon or Substack pages of artists that I support.  E.g. Dan Mangan who shares one audio file of a concert he performed.

For awhile I had a complicated system involving my laptop feeding into my mixing board recording to an SD card but I figured there must be an easier way.

The easier way is a concept called loopback where it loops your stereo output from your computer BACK into your digital audio workstation (in my case Logic Pro) as an input.

I was looking into software that could do this (Loopback, Jack Connection), but then I stumbled upon a video which explained that some audio interfaces already support this feature.

Sure enough, my Focusrite Clarett 4Pre supported this.  In the manual it says that Inputs 11 & 12 are designated as loopback.

Here are the steps to enable this for future reference:

  1. Open Logic Pro and create a new audio track.  Do NOT choose inputs 11/12 immediately.  Choose something else.
  2. Mute the track.  At first I was creating a massive feedback loop when I selected 11/12 because I hadn’t muted the track and it just kept feedback through my speakers.
  3. Once track is muted, selected inputs 11 & 12 as your inputs.
  4. Go into your browser click play on the stream.
  5. You should see the meters bouncing and you can click record.
  6. Once done, make sure the stream has stopped.
  7. Unmute the track.  Note that if anything plays on your computer while unmuted will create a feedback loop.
  8. Play the track and it should work!

Winterlude 2023

We were lucky to have Poppa and Grandma drop in for the weekend on their way back from Gaspe.  The kids were very excited and I suppose the big kids in the house were also excited!

Horsey rides for all!

Teaching Ezra how to play tic-tac-toe

Friday had us hitting the road in a snowstorm (seems like this is a trend every time my parents visit) to head downtown to see about Nanny’s investments after she passed away.  I hadn’t realized that the World Exchange Plaza was under complete renovation so it took a few minutes to figure out how to exit the building from the parking area.

I am not overly familiar with downtown parking but I will now know that if I need to return to Meridian Financial I can park under the building we need to go to instead of trekking through a snowstorm downtown!  There was an increased police presence in case of a protest to mark the anniversary of the trucker convoy.  We didn’t see much action on the streets other than snowplows.

We had a few hours to kill before our next appointment at the notary so we headed to Casino Lac-Leamy where my parents haven’t been before.

Mom and Dad got remarried there.

I had a great Parisien burger (brie, mushrooms and onions) and my parents had a smoked meat sandwich.  Dad was feeling extra generous as he slipped me twenty bucks to play at the slot machines!

Dad went off on his own and I went along with Mom as she told me she was having trouble reading and I didn’t want her to end up at the $1 machines instead of the 1 cent machines!  We had some fun and I ended up at a machine that gave me some bonus games where I won $10.  As many adventures to the slot machines ends, we came out there as losers.  However, it should be noted that Mom won $1,500 (or close to that?) years ago so I think she’s ahead of us all in terms of slot machines.

It didn’t take too long to drive to the notary and I found out interesting things like how an original will is sent from lawyer’s office to another and then kept there for life (whose life?  The lawyer’s life?) in a fireproof box/vault.  I also think that the notary was talking about it was a huge issue when the trains exploded in Lac Megantic and lawyers’ offices lost original wills.  Fascinating stuff.

The Last of Us (TV Series 2023– ) - IMDb

I managed to convince everyone to watch a new show called The Last of Us that night.  I always laugh when Dad says “That was different” which is code for “That was silly.  I won’t be watching the next episode.”

Saturday morning was pretty nice so we decided to head to Larose Forest to take in their trails.

Good day for hot chocolate and a snack!

I couldn’t figure out if the first photo or the second photo was a true reflection of how they feel about each other!

Always fun to have others around to snap a family photo of us

Dad and I managed to fix a few things around the house in the afternoon.  My speed selector cable on the snowblower stretched so all we had to do was adjust a hex nut on one end and it reset the speed selector switch.  Good to know for next time as I had bought a spare cable thinking I would have to replace it.

We also fixed up the heating system and I will update the other post about it.  It went extremely well and I am comfortable doing this change in the future and saving a few bucks.

Troy, eat your heart out

We also had a great porketta that my parents had brought up last time.  For future reference, we did it in the Instant Pot but Mom and Dad pointed out that if you want the crispy outside we will need to bake it next time.  Thanks to the Tarzini brothers for this!

Sunday we decided to head over to Jacques Cartier Park to see the Snowflake Kingdom.  It was 4 degrees out and the final weekend of Winterlude.  It was very warm over the past three weeks – the Canal never opened the entire Winterlude and ice sculptures quickly melted.  But it was great to go to Snowflake Kingdom in warm temperatures as the kids could be there for hours and not be cold.

We parked near the McDonald’s in Hull and I didn’t realize that we had to walk to the NORTH end of Jacques Cartier park this year as the south end was under construction and Snowflake Kingdom had moved.  It was a one kilometer walk with the kids but we had a sled and it wasn’t that bad.  I suppose we wouldn’t have been able to find parking closeby anyhow as they had streets blocked off.

Sierra really loved the labyrinth they had set up.  She went through four or five times.  I had a minor moment of shock when I found Sierra wandering the labyrinth with a group of twenty people and no adult I recognized in sight!  It was a good reminder that we all need to communicate better with each other and make sure each adult is assigned to a kid!  

We wisely packed some porketta sandwiches for lunch instead of waiting in lineups.

I always laugh when we go out of our way to do something fun and new with the kids but every kid loves regular playground equipment!

Ezra and Sierra had a fun time trying to jump onto a moving sled

We asked Sierra if she wanted to line up for any activities (it was an hour wait for the sliding hill!!) but all she wanted to try out was the tug of war.  It was a fun event.  People could join in whenever they saw a side needed help.  Sierra won 4 out of 5 times!  She was so happy.  She would have stayed there all day.

Grandma and I were wondering why we were so sore the next day…it was from tug of war!  What a workout!

Sharing some hot chocolate

A ride on a dinosaur while waiting for Grandma in the washroom.  SPEAKING OF her in the washroom supposedly she came out of the washroom and was wondering why it was so hard to walk.  Was there a trip wire across her ankles?  Nope, she had forgotten that she had pulled down her snowpants around her ankles and they were still there!  I wonder what the poor fellow thought waiting outside of that porta-potty when Grandma emerged with snowpants around her ankles!  We all had a great laugh.  As Nanny Ruth had wrote: “Remember me kindly but the stupid things I have done make the best stories!”

A photo of Mom laughing after her misfortune

We ended the day with a snowball fight when we returned home.  It was such a nice day that Sierra and I stayed out there for another hour or two.

The rest of the weekend was spent playing Jamaica with Mom (who at one point was half a board away from me and I managed to catch up!) and watching movies and relaxing.  Well, as much relaxing that we can manage with two kids running around the house!  Lots of laughs were had.  I did feel bad when I smacked Grandma in the eye with a snowball though.  She said the worst part was when it slid down her shirt!  Nothing much else was happening on the Family Day Monday other than picking up some wood from Tommy and Monica’s garage and taking an afternoon nap.