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Ezra riding his bike on his own

Ezra is still four years old and managed to ride on his own (mostly, he still needs help starting and stopping).

He was so excited to hear that he achieved this accomplishment at a younger age than his sister.

At school every day someone has to present ‘what they want to do’ when they grow up.  Supposedly one of the kids were sick yesterday and the teachers asked if anyone wanted to present.

Ezra lifted his hand and volunteered and he told the class that he managed to bike all by himself the day before!  One of his classmates (Adriana?) said she saw him.   Perhaps she was driving by in the back of the car.  He must be quite proud to volunteer to get up in front of the class to talk about something.

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Mulch and water seal

While my body is screaming at me for doing so much work over this past long weekend, I did pick up some tips for future years.

Mulch

This year I bought 18 bags of mulch (52L or 2 cubic feet).  I had four spare bags now.  But I will need to look into whether it’s cheaper to get a load of mulch delivered instead of going for two trips of picking up bags.

Water sealing

I decided to seal the deck again.  I first used some Behr All Purpose Deck Cleaner.  I have to say that I wasn’t really impressed with it.  It first said to dilute it with water at a 1:1 ratio.  I did that and I didn’t really see a difference, especially with the green mildew.

I then used it without diluting (as per the instructions) on the entire deck again hoping it would clean up something.  Once again, the mildew wasn’t removed.  It did seem cleaner but I have a feeling maybe a pressure washer would have been better?  I already tried the pressure washer on the first four deck boards and they looked great.  At this point in their life cycle (4 years in?  Even longer?) the brown is starting to fade anyhow so if I strip some off with the pressure washer, who cares?

I only did the main deck so I still need to tackle the rest at another time.  Maybe I’ll just pressure wash that area and see the difference.

For reference, the main deck took a jug to cover.

Take a close look at this photo.  This is after cleaning it twice.  The boards closest to the house were cleaned with the pressure washer.  So…is that black stuff all mold that just didn’t come out?  Do I need to use an even harsher chemical?  I didn’t want to get into ‘staining’ the deck…maybe I’ll have to?

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March Break 2024

We sent out a few invitations for folks to come visit during March Break but no takers so it was a good week spent doing little activities here and there.

The kids are at the age where waking up with them is a thing of the past (thank the maker!).  I usually hear them rustling about and they settle in watching the iPad (usually stuff on YouTube Kids) together in Sierra’s bedroom, or they split up and someone watches the iPad while the other watches the TV.  This allows me to roam out of the bedroom around 9AM most days and it wasn’t uncommon to see us emerging from the house around 11AM.  March Break was pretty golden for sleeping in and taking it easy.

Before March Break started, Vero had done a lot of research to make maple syrup from our trees.  While we’ll probably dedicate another blog post to go over the process and lessons learned, the majority of March Break was spent making syrup every day.  At one point we had TOO much sap and Vero had to scramble to get griddles and use BBQs which was amusing.

Saturday was a day of pouring rain.  Luckily I had seen the forecast and decided to order a couple of ‘escape room’ type board games.  I have to admit I had fear in spending $50 on a game where you solve it once and it’s useless to play again because you’ve solved all the puzzles.

But the game turned out to be a giant hit in our house which took all week to finish up (on and off.  I would say we probably played 8 hours total)!

We played Escape The Room – Mystery at Stargazer’s Manor.  The game is pretty neat.  You’re supposed to set a 90 minute timer but we didn’t want to feel rushed which turned out to be the best idea for trying to play a game with your kids and trying to drag it out as long as possible.

You start out with one envelope and they have a puzzle to solve.  When you think you have the solution you align symbols on a ‘solution wheel’ and if you get it right you will see two symbols of the next envelope to open (e.g. two stars).  There were a few easy puzzles that Sierra figured out immediately but there were two that took a few hours to figure out!  We let Sierra do a lot of the puzzle solving but it was neat when she was stumped and we all came together to figure things out and it STILL took a couple of hours to figure out!

Like I pointed out before, $50 to spend on a one-time board game is a hard pill to swallow at first but once I saw how long we spent on it and how it came in and out of our lives during the week, I realized that I could be spending $50 taking our family out to McDonald’s so this was money well spent.

Now all I have to do is convince others to buy similar games and then we can just swap them!

Rainy Saturdays also consist of doing science experiments.  Ezra wanted to just mix flour and water and other ingredients together to make a fun mess.  But then he realized that he might be able to make some bread with it!  So we popped it in the oven.  After tasting it he said “Oh no, it’s not very good is it?”  Ha ha!  That’s what recipes are for!

Sunday we headed out to Gatineau to see Arthur L’Aventurier with his new show promoting his travels to Morocco.  Ezra watched a lot of Arthur at his daycare so he knew all the old songs.  His latest video hasn’t had as much airplay in our house but he said he recognized most of the songs.

He’s a great children’s entertainer.  Lots of storytelling, singing and even inviting kids on the stage to participate.  I even got to hear my favourite song Emeu (French for Emu) which is a hilarious song.

The last time we saw Arthur Sierra seemed disappointed that she didn’t go up on stage when she had the chance.  But both kids didn’t want to go up on stage this time either.  But Ezra was clapping along a lot and they seemed to enjoy the show afterwards.  During the show it’s hard to tell if they are having a good time or not…maybe their rock n’ roll parents are expecting a lot more clapping and singing along?  Maybe I’m the odd person out and everyone else likes to watch the show?  Ha!

All week long the kids were making leprechaun traps for St. Patrick’s Day.  It was neat to see them expand a bit each day during March Break.  I’ve never caught a leprechaun so I told them not to get their hopes up.

But come St. Patrick’s Day they came out of their rooms to find that the leprechaun had nibbled on a few chocolate coins and ate all the Lucky Charms but evaded their traps!

This poster of Taylor Swift reminds me of the afternoon that I convinced the kids to help clean up my CD collection.  It was growing over the years and I don’t have much more shelf space so Sierra and Ezra helped me move half the collection into some drawers.  Sierra really enjoyed the game of ‘alphabetizing a collection’ for a couple of hours but bailed on the ‘now we get to put 200 cds back in their cases’ game!

Tuesday morning we headed over to the Embrun arena where they had free skating.  It wasn’t as packed as last time which was great.  Ezra was not in the best of moods going to the arena and he wasn’t enjoying skating.  But out of nowhere we came up with a game where we would try and reach each of us and he was having the time of his life!  He made it around the rink the entire way which is the most he’s done in his life.  Sierra is really good at skating and she goes around on her own quite easily now.  Maman was zooming around when the kids and I took a popcorn break.  Sidenote: the popcorn there is top notch…it’s the stuff that looks like a yellow nuclear bomb of salt hit it.

Ezra and I took a break while these two kept going around

Hilariously Maman and Sierra shared the same ‘tight helmet’ impressions

I can’t remember why he looked so shocked but he always laughs at this photo

Look, another batch of syrup!

The bowling lane in Embrun was a bust when we tried to go so we set our sights on the Casselman bowling on Wednesday.  It was our first time there and it’s a pretty great spot.  We didn’t have to wait for a lane when we showed up so that always helps.

Ezra is not someone who enjoys trying new things.  He kept saying “I don’t want to go bowling.” but he thoroughly enjoyed himself and every day since then he asks “Are we going bowling today?”

Sierra was excited to go bowling as she had won a game when she played at a birthday party last year.  But she didn’t feel too good after this game and she said she didn’t know when she would want to go back!

Another maple syrup update as I go through all my photos from March Break.  It’s interesting to see the change of colour throughout the week.

Thursday I headed out to Hawkesbury to pick up some new tires for the old car down in Gaspe.  Now I just have to figure out how to get them there!  It was a nice day for a drive down the highway.  A balmy 15 degrees in March is not a bad thing.  Of course I had some Rebel Force Radio (best podcast ever) along with some Backstage at the Vinyl Cafe to keep me company.

I also managed to make a quick pitstop in Wendover to play some ball with friends.

I guess the kids went for a bike ride while I was away as this is the first time I’m seeing these photos!

Vero had way too much sap to boil by this point of the week so she went into overdrive and started using the BBQ and the neighbour’s griddle to keep up with the amount of sap coming out!

The kids were nice this week and got to choose a reward so they decided a picnic in the park was a good idea.  I’m pretty sure they packed the entire box of Ritz Minis because we didn’t have any come Sunday when we were making lunches for the kids!

I told Ezra he looked like Jaws.

I think this photo was taken at the park where they have this spinning wheel contraption.  Supposedly they had created a ‘no’ game when Matante Andreane was visiting where if you say no while on the spinning wheel then you get pushed over into the snow.  We were playing the same game all week but the kids wanted us to be pushed into the sand!  Luckily Vero and I didn’t fall into the ‘no’ trap but they kids hilariously said no quite a few times and ended up in the sand.  Ezra was dropping sand out of his shoe every two minutes.

Here I am trying not to get motion sickness on the swing

Friday we invited some friends over for ‘tire’ which is…taffy in English?  I think it’s maple taffy.  Here are the kids enjoying some hot dogs.

Melody sniffed out the good toys hiding inside the house so I stayed and played with her for awhile.  Here we were identifying the colours of gems.

Tire time!  I also put on an appropriate French folk music playlist for the event.  Lots of fiddle.

This was after their fifteenth serving.  Look at the smiles!

It was interesting to see Ezra and Melody interact.  Ezra was very bossy to her.  We had never seen that before.  But perhaps this was his first real time in his life where he got to boss around a younger person after years of being bossed around himself?  There were some hilarious interactions like “No Melody, you cannot put your juice box on that swing!” and then they would argue about it.

Friday night I went to see Lisa Leblanc at the National Arts Center (photo from the NAC Facebook page).  I’ll write more later but it was a great sendoff to an incredible Chiac Disco tour.

Saturday Sierra went over to a friends house so Ezra got some quality time with his parents.  We went for another picnic and we had a hot tub later on which wasn’t too hot considering the tub was accidentally set to economy mode so I was sitting in 98 degrees for a half hour with Ezra.

On Monday Ezra has to do a presentation on someone he admires.  After candidates such as Robert Munsch and his sister, he finally decided to talk about his Maman and how much he admires her production of maple syrup.  We did a photoshoot and sent a photo to his teacher so he can show everyone.

And here I am on a Sunday night, lunches packed, baths done and the kids upset that they will have to wake up early to go to school tomorrow morning.  You and me both!  It was a good break with fun activities to do together.

 

 

 

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Review: Sam Roberts Band at Bronson Center

Tonight’s show was not just a new tour promoting a killer new album. It felt like a celebration of everything fans love about them.

I was surprised at more than a couple of tunes I hadn’t heard live in a LONG time. It was part looking in the past but embracing the future. Loved it.

Ever since seeing them at the Capital Music Hall in 2003, they’ve gained a fan and they continue to put a fantastic show. Catch them on this upcoming tour.

It was also a rare night out for Vero and I at the same time!  We had a couple of babysitters (or as the kids call it…kidsitters) take care of them.

The opening bang was Grand Public from Montreal.  Shoegazing type music which wasn’t bad but I don’t generally get excited by that type of music.

This certainly is different than collecting paper concert tickets.  All I have is a screenshot of the ticket from the Ticketmaster app!

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Photos and the following article are from A Journal of Musical Things.  I’ve copied and pasted the text in case that site ever dies.

[Ottawa correspondent Ross MacDonald was at it again. – AC]

Six-time Juno award winner Sam Roberts has kicked off his 2024 North American tour in support of his new album The Adventures of Ben Blank. He started his tour in his hometown of Montreal on Friday 2 February, then on Saturday he drove two hours down the highway to perform at Ottawa’s Bronson Centre Music Theatre to a sold-out crowd.

Starting off the night was the Montreal alt-rock band Grand Public. Their music was shoegaze-style, highlighting a pair of guitars (with single-coil pickups) and lots of effects pedals. Fortunately, the band weren’t stuck to their pedal boards and moved about the confined stage.

It was refreshing to hear some french lyrics at an Ottawa concert. And the music definitely drew inspiration from the 90s and 00s rock boom; lead singer and guitarist Gregory Paquet was formerly in The Stills, so they come by their sound honestly.

After a quick stage setup, Sam Roberts took the stage with his band and without delay broke into the first track to their new album ‘The Ballad of Ben Blank’, followed up immediately by another new song ‘Afterlife’.

Sam Roberts Band in Ottawa

The night was packed with two solid hours of music, a mix of new songs, deep cuts from previous albums, and of course all the singles that the Ottawa crowd is familiar with; Sam Roberts deservedly gets a lot of airplay on the local Ottawa alt-rock radio station Live 88.5.

Sam Roberts Band in Ottawa

Sam let the boisterous crowd take over lead vocals for his biggest hits like ‘Where Have All The Good People Gone?’, ‘We’re All In This Together’, and of course the powerful ‘Don’t Walk Away Eileen’ that closed out his main set.

Sam Roberts Band in Ottawa

The extended encore opened with Sam Robert’s new hit single ‘Picture of Love’. After over 20 years, Sam is continuing to create relevant music that appeals to his new, and long-time fans.

Sam Roberts Band in Ottawa
Sam Roberts Band in Ottawa
Sam Roberts Band in Ottawa
Sam Roberts Band in Ottawa

Fittingly, Sam Roberts closed out the concert with his huge hit that started his career: ‘Brother Down’. After all those hard beats, it was hard for the crowd to go back to reality, as they filed out of the hall, into the cool night, to the sounds of some ska played over the PA system.

 

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Leaning tower of snow

January 13

January 18

January 23

January 27

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Ezra shovelling snow

While we haven’t had a LOT of snow dumping on us this winter, this past week had enough accumulating that it was time to shovel the driveway!  Ezra was home getting over a fever but he had enough energy to push around some snow which he enjoyed.

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Weekend in the snow

Ezra showing off the toilet for the ‘house’ they built in the front yard

Slow motion snowboarding

The weekend was pretty relaxed considering we had Sierra with COVID but it really didn’t amount to anything but a runny nose which is great news.

Not sure if you can tell but Ezra was NOT a happy camper when we brought him to go snowshoeing near the cemetery.  He refused so he and I just walked around in the forest.

It was a nice day to go for a trek even though Ezra was a poop.

Ezra was a lot happier the next day when we went to a different forest and tried out a few sliding hills.

Ottawa doesn’t get much sun during the winter so it was nice to see it peaking through.

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Baking sourdough + cinnamon rolls + bread machine

Saturday morning the kids had the grand idea to make cinnamon rolls.

If you know me, you know that my adventures in the kitchen are not something I enjoy.  Sure…there are spurts where I get some ambition to try new supper/lunch ideas and I have to say we’ve got a few go-to Instant Pot ideas now because of that…but baking is definitely not a forté nor an interest of mine.

However, Grandma did make some cinnamon rolls the last time she showed up and Sierra wrote a recipe so of course when the kids begged to make some, how could I say no?

*Sidenote: this was a great activity to do with Max and Uncle Mike when they visited a few weeks ago.  Baking is a lot more fun when there is a gang looking for a productive way to spend time together.*

We only made one batch of rolls (I’m not even sure I got more than one in my belly after the week went by but the kids sure enjoyed them for breakfast each morning!) but I also stumbled upon a bag of sourdough brew bread that my folks picked up for me when they were in the United States a few years ago.  Maybe many years ago?  How long has this bag been sitting in my pantry?

It made a tasty loaf of bread which got Vero and I thinking of buying a bread maker.  Life is too short to settle for regular bread, especially if I eat toast every morning!

I’m on the hunt for a bread maker that’s been in sitting in someone’s closet for the past ten years not being useful.  I want to try it out before I buy one.

Edit/update: A few days after posting this, a heavy package from Amazon arrives on the doorstep.  I ask Vero: “What’s in this thing, a breadmaker?”  She replied “How did you guess?  It’s your Valentine’s Day gift!”

So I made a loaf of bread and it was pretty neat.  Vero also attempted a loaf of bread, didn’t follow instructions closely and it resembled an alien.  But hey, it’s both our first attempts here folks!

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Kicking the chunk of ice + COVID

I was amused the other day by the age-old game Ezra and I played while walking back from school.  “Let’s see if we can kick this chunk of ice all the way home Dad!”

I remember many a chunk of ice being kicked down a street in my youth.  Probably every Canadian has seen how far they can go with some ice.

In other news, COVID has finally entered our home.  I have to say it’s pretty wild when I think that it’s been five years and no one had it.  All Sierra has currently is a runny nose so let’s hope that’s as far as it goes!

Ezra has a sore throat so the two of them have been playing Nintendo this morning.  I booted up some Chip N Dale Rescue Rangers on the Nintendo for them.  I’m not sure their brains could understand just using the A and B button for a game.

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Thinking of retirement

* If you don’t want to hear about pensions and stuff, just go to another post where I talk about what I did with my kids.*

Who doesn’t think about retirement?

I know I didn’t really think about it for a long time…I was so early in my career that whenever Dad would ask me specifics about my pension or my plans I would have to admit that I didn’t know a whole lot.  Why would I need to?  It was so far away in the future to think about it!

But Etienne and I were comparing notes today and we both realized we can retire the same year.  What a milestone for two buds working together for such a long time.  Heck, maybe we will even walk out of work the last day and hit the pub!  Sounds like a typical Friday back in the day for us.

2034 is coming fast, especially with a young family.  2034 is the year I can retire but it’s also another milestone…Sierra will be finished high school!  Aye aye aye!  What a thought.  Would I really want to retire while my kids are still/just finishing high school?  It’s too early to tell really.  Who knows what I will want my life to be in ten years.

What I do know is Vero will still be aways from retiring so it will be fun to sleep in while she has to go to work.  Mwahaha.