Review: CityFolk 2023

*most photos are not mine*

I’ve said it for the past few years and I will say it again.  CityFolk is my favourite festival in Ottawa.  It’s a more relaxed vibe than Bluesfest, they have a good beer selection and if the weather is right, it’s a perfect end to the summer.

The weather this year was great for the most part.  One night my feet got so cold I had to leave before Arkells took the stage but other than that, I was prepared and even sported a new jacket which prompted a compliment from someone while I was navigating the crowd at Hozier: “That’s a great outfit!”

Here’s some mini review in order of how I enjoyed these bands:

Gov’t Mule:  I’ve been waiting years to see Gov’t Mule and they didn’t disappoint.  They only had an hour to play but what I heard wanted me to hear more.  I hope to see them more in the future.

Bush: They put on a great show!  I’m a fan of their first album so I didn’t know what to expect but they played a lot of the first album and a bunch of newer tunes that I was a fan of as well.  I gave up on this band after their second album but it sounds like I will have to dip my toes in their discography again.  We went to this show for Vero’s birthday along with Andreane and the other Vero.  We all had a great time although I’m not sure if I’m a fan of the Chung Chan uber-pogo that we had afterwards!

Kaleo: Andreane and Donovan came to Ottawa to see this group from Iceland.  I listened to a few of their albums but I wasn’t blown away but if experience has told me anything, it’s that a good live act can change my opinion quickly.  This blues rock band has what it takes and I was happy to have seen them.

David Kushner: Ever go into a show and not know what to expect but then your entire soul gets sucked in and you’re absorbed with what’s going on?  That’s what I felt seeing David Kushner.  I can see this person becoming a large act in the future.

Busty and The Bass: This “electro-soul and hip-hop” band (Wikipedia’s words, not mine) were a fabulous start to the festival.  They had some great musicians up on stage and I was digging them.

Iggy Pop: I don’t know much Iggy Pop or Stooges music but that didn’t matter.  Witnessing 76 year old Iggy Pop strutting around the stage was inspiring.  He brought the energy for the entire show.

Headstones : I only caught the last three songs but even that blew me away.  I’ve seen Headstones before and they know how to put on a great show.

Hozier: This was the largest crowd of the entire festival and it was on the closing Sunday night.  I couldn’t believe it.  I don’t know much of Hozier and I’m not sure if it was because I was surrounded by chatters for the first hour, or if I was just tired of going to a festival for five days but I wasn’t blown away by Hozier.  He had a stage of incredible musicians and some songs that piqued my curiosity but nothing that blew me away.  Hey, you can’t all be winners!  I did enjoy the show more after I navigated away from the front and went back near the sound tent where there were less chatters.

Claire Coupland: I showed up a couple of songs into her set and what I heard was ok.  I enjoyed a few of her tunes, a few less so, but isn’t that true of any singer?

Ruby Waters: While she seemed to have her share of fans (some of them even got engaged to be married during the show!), I really wasn’t a fan of her.  I always scratch my head when lyrics are fairly x-rated and I think “Is that genuine?  Do they really want to sing about this kind of stuff?  Or are they just doing it to get a reaction?”.  THAT BEING SAID, she has her fans and that’s great.  I’m glad others are appreciating her.

My new hobby is recording audio of concerts which brings an interesting challenge (and excitement!) to the concerts I attend.  I’m always scoping out better spots to tape (less chatters) and focussing on things like not drinking beer so I can avoid going to the washroom and interrupting a perfect capture.  But at the same time I always have to remember to prioritize just having fun and fun I did have at CityFolk.  I even managed to snag some older posters from the festival that were signed by Matt Mays and Corb Lund.

Two thumbs up to the organizers and volunteers of CityFolk festival.  I hope to see you again next year.



Sierra’s 7th birthday

I believe it about March 28th when I heard whispers in the house about ‘birthday party’.  This didn’t make sense to me considering the next birthday party on the list was two months away!  But there were Sierra and Maman, plotting up every little detail about Sierra’s birthday party.

There is some mystical qualities surrounding the number seven and seeing that Sierra was turning seven, it was going to be a big deal.

The first step in any great party is figuring out who you want to invite and what limits your parents have put on the number of kids they can handle.  Sierra thought long and hard and with pen and paper in hand made a list that looked like a wedding guest list.  ‘Must-have’, ‘Maybe’, ‘Only if a bunch of people have dropped off’.  At the end of the week the list appeared like Ezra had raided the pen drawer and had went to town creating an interesting collage.  Blue pen, crossed out with red.  Arrows everywhere.  But it was finalized and the next step were invitations.

Now, I’m usually involved quite heavily in these plans but this time around Maman and Sierra had everything planned out so I was watching from the sidelines as I saw Amazon box after Amazon box arrive in the mail.  Unicorn invitations, unicorn gift bag treats, unicorn cookie cutters (were we serving cookies I wondered?).  Sierra is still at the age where princess dresses and unicorns occupy her thoughts and I encourage she continue until the inevitable goth phase in a few years.

She prepared the invitations and licked the envelopes and brought them to school.  The teacher inserted the invitations into the backpacks of the invited.  This process was probably a little less insulting than the 1980s method of seeing invitations delivered.  “Hey, here’s an invitation to my party, oh Ryan you’re not invited.  Neener neener.”  Every kid in the 1980s must have felt like Charlie Brown with the football at various points of their lives.  But nowadays kids in class are probably oblivious to parties that are happening without them.

Slowly the responses came in and Sierra kept track of them.  The excitement was building and this was now only a month away.

One morning it was decided that we MUST fill up the treat bags.  Sierra carefully thought of each one and who would get what.  To put it into context, Maman ordered a unicorn themed treat bag kit that came with things like different coloured unicorn erasers and bags and those snap bracelets.  Sierra would pick one bag and say “This was is going to be for Mia.” and sat and thought about each item and colour she was choosing for that person.  I thought it was quite considerate of her invited guests whereas nowadays if I invite folks over for a birthday party all I’m thinking about is how much of my food and drink will I be left with after the party!

The plan was to hold the party at the park.  Vero managed to book the fieldhouse so we would have access to the washrooms which are usually locked up.  We even got the keys to the gate so we could drive all the supplies instead of hauling them down the street.

It was a cool 35 degrees outside when we packed the car with all the decorations and the step ladder to hang up all the decorations.

I am extremely happy that we managed to have some shade for most of the day because it was killer outside.  There was a baseball game going on at the same time at the park and you can see them roasting out there.

Vero wisely started with a butterfly hunt where she placed little butterflies around the park.  I say wisely because the prizes at the end were frozen treats to cool everyone down from running around!  It was so hot out that the popsicles were even losing their shape so luckily we had some freezies on hand for everyone.

Sierra losing her freezie down her dress.  There was a minor meltdown (ha!  Just caught that pun) as that happened but we managed to clean it up.

Next up was the pinata!  I always assumed that they came pre-filled with candy.  It wasn’t until Vero sent me to the Bulk Barn on a mission that I realized this was not the case.  My colleague Matt enjoyed searching around for candies to put into the pinata with me.

I had forgotten that these new pinatas don’t involve a stick but they have little ribbons to pull on.  Everyone lined up for a turn and Ezra was the lucky winner to pull out the ribbon that created the candy explosion!

I thought I had seen some chaotic situations before in my life but when I see a dozen kids fighting over candy I sometimes wonder if this is true brutality.

The kids had all this candy but nowhere to put it!  Sierra (I think?) suggested giving out the treat bags now so everyone would have a bag to put the candy in.  Great idea!  So everyone was excited to see all the treats they were going to get for the day earlier than expected.  But it turned out to be a great idea as everyone took some time to play with their new treats and have some candy.  Anything to keep us cool in the heat!

After some fun time at the park we brought out the cupcakes.  It was hilariously windy so the candle kept blowing out.  Here is a photo of everyone covering the candle from the wind which worked out pretty good!

Enjoying some cupcakes

Someone REALLY enjoying their cupcake!

I was mentioning chaos earlier in this post but it was nothing compared to the insanity that erupted when it was gift opening time.  My eyes will never witness something more intense then girls yelling “NO, OPEN MY GIFT FIRST!”  “NO MINE!”  “BACK OFF GET YOUR OWN SANDWICH!”  Hair was pulled, teeth were lost, eyes were gouged.  It was a gnarly scene.

But in the end, a lot of unicorn themed gifts were acquired and Sierra and everyone were quite happy.  Except that one girl who realized she brought the same gift as someone else.  Luckily we explained that having two of the same thing is great if they are great gifts!  She seemed to cheer up after that.

And with that, the party was done.  Two hours flew by and it was all because Vero and Sierra did some great planning for the party.  Some great events were held to keep everyone entertained and we lucked out being in the shade because it was sweltering hot when I walked out into the playground area for a few minutes.

I was around her friends pushing them on the swings near the end of the party and Emilie decided to take a flying leap off the swing.  In my head I’m thinking “Oh hey, that’s wild.  I know Sierra can’t do that yet.”

Clearly she couldn’t either as she landed on her hand and started screaming.  Visions of a broken arm floated through my head as I carried her back to her parents.  Luckily it seemed to be ok after fifteen minutes, but what a scare!

I have to take a moment and thank all the parents who stuck around for the party.  I never realized how much work it is to keep an eye on 10 kids running around for two hours!  It’s one thing if it’s your own kids, it’s another if I’m on the hook for the safety of someone else’s kid!  So it was much appreciated for the folks who stuck around.

SUPER SPECIAL THANKS to Vero for her party preparations.  Sierra and everyone had a great time and that’s what counts.

I always giggle at this photo.  It looks like Ezra is trying to attract some older ladies at the park and they aren’t too impressed.

When we got home Sierra got to see her last gift…a gymnastic set to practice her moves.

How could I forget that somehow a birthday party wasn’t enough?  She insisted on having an actual cake later that night and Maman made a great cake for us all.



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.