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Ashlyn is 6

Wow this girl has done some amazing things this year. Much like she coined the phrase “Danger 4” she has has assured me that being 6 will be just a dangerous. Just last night I was swinging her on the rope swing and swung her so fast that she flew off like she was trying to clear the fence in our back yard! To add insult to injury as I tried to catch her in mid flight the swing came back and smoked her in the face. Oh what will the road to seven look like?

Chewie

Welcome Chewie the Guinea Pig.

The girls have always wanted a Guinea Pig and every time we go near a Petland we are there for hours picking them all up and snuggling them for hours. The more we went the more they became attached and all of a sudden they were also very good at handling them very gently. Coincidentally one of the teachers at General Byng recently got one as a class pet and seeing the kids all pass her around made me think that getting one might not be so bad.

Also one of the kids I work with REALLY wanted one too so I decided to get myself one. This way I could bring it home and see how it goes and also have it at school for the kids and as a buddy for “Tribble”, our class pet. Long story short, this is Chewie.

I found Chewie on Kijiji for $0 and paid $20 for the cage she came in. I needed a cage anyway to bring her back and forth so it was really a no brainer. The girls love her and are starting to share her nicely (sometimes). Ashlyn wants a friend for Chewie for her next birthday so I made this cool home for them out of an old bookcase I found on Kijiji for $15. Ash helped me with the fancy lid.

I was worried about keeping Penny out but they have become really good furiends so it’s not really an issue. That was another big reason I didn’t want one at first because I though Pen would always need to be barricaded when Chewie was out playing with the girls. She still gets licked sometimes but doesn’t really seem to mind. Chewie even comes to Penny when she hangs her head into Chewies cage.

I really like these little guys. Need to clean the cage here and there but they don’t really need much. They are quiet when content and communicate by chirping ar you when they hear their food or when you pick them up. Fun and easy to care for that is forsure. Not sure what 2 will be like but we am sure to find out!

Santa Fe XL

It’s a 2017 Santa Fe XL with 30,000 KMs and it only took 5 months to find!

Yes we will all miss the van but it was time to say goodbye. Just like the stabilizer bars, the ABS, and the engine mounts on the van said goodbye to us. The “Memory Machine” was traded in but will always be remembered. Especially the next time I need to move something big or dirty.

Shan and I have been looking for a long time for the right vehicle. It had to be AWD, with low KMs and have the ability to pull at least 5000lbs in case we ever upgrade our trailer. That way we won’t need to go car shopping again for a very long time! If I had to give any advice to someone car shopping I would say to them what people said to us “be prepared to walk”. In fact the day we bought our car we walked and the salesperson was on the phone with her manager as we were leaving and I heard her shout “they’re walking, THEY’RE WALKING!”.

In the end we were able to make a deal though and we are very happy with our purchase. It’s “the latest” as Lexi calls it and I think it will be with us for a very long time!

Lexi Is 8

As most of you know I have one of these videos for every birthday the girls have ever had. It’s amazing to look back on just how much they have changed over the years and how much fun we have had as well. WARNING this is 20 mins of Lexi-lash and is intended for family who might miss some of these gems.

Toothbrush Time

OK we’re late getting started this year but the toothbrush/toothpaste drive is underway. Once again this year our family will be handing out toothbrushes at Agape Table during our Christmas break. It may not be the 1000 we advertise but we will do our best to get as close to that as possible. Lexi and Ashlyn are looking forward to doing this again and for that reason alone I know we are doing something really good here.

So, if you have a new toothbrush or toothpaste from a recent dental visit please let us know and we will make arrangements to pick it up. One toothbrush is one person so every one counts. If we don’t see you between now and then…have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tragically Hip Live

It’s hard to (say it’s sad but true) believe that I may have seen the Tragically Hip Live (between us) for the last time this summer (is killing me).

In an effort to truly appreciate and retain this notion Shan and I bought tickets in both Calgary and Winnipeg. It would be futile to discuss which was the better show because they were both brilliant performances. Everything from the outfits to the playlists. Both performances from the heart and genuine like only Gord and the boys could deliver.

For the Winnipeg show we had some shirts made each with our favorite quotes on them. All 20 or so of us met before the concert at a restaurant and looking around that room at my friends with these shirts on flooded my thoughts with memories of the Hip. Camping with Al, Another Roadside Attractions, looking for Gord with Timmy in the Keystone Centre, Pigeon Camera 20 times at Boston Pizza, that blizzard, the countless concerts with the boys, and skating our hearts out as Three Pistols.

Standing beside Ratte at this one when “Ahead by a Century” came on thinking about how many times I drunk dialed that song for him at concerts when we were apart. In fact I remember when the internet was still a mystery and using Ponch’s 56K modem to download that song when it was brand new so that I could play it back for Ratte over the phone. It took like 9 hours but I stayed up.

hip-hip-hip

On my other side; arm in arm with Shannon swaying back and forth to “Wheat Kings” and singing along. Thoughts of our wedding and how we had to have “Are we Family” as our exit song. Tonight her shirt reads “If a song can’t save us, then nothing can” and tonight I believe that.

Watching Gord, Shan said it felt like she didn’t want to take anymore from him. Like he was giving us what we needed in spite of himself. But I also saw a man doing what he loves to do and in the process saying goodbye to the fans who truly adore him. Imagine being diagnosed with terminal cancer and deciding it was time for one more trip across Canada. It’s pretty amazing really and I’m truly richer for having seen them this summer. When Gord stayed out and waved goodbye to the crowd I felt as if I got to say goodbye too.

Hey can we get a little New Orleans is sinking for Paul Ratte? It’s his birthday!

Blue Lake 2016

Last year we camped at Blue Lake on the way to Thunder Bay and the kids loved it. This year we asked the Ratte’s and Morrison’s to meet us there for what would be the most epic camping trip to date!

We were supposed to leave on Sunday but I received a text from Paul letting me know that they were going up Friday. I looked online and could not get the site I booked early so I figured I would just stick to the Sunday departure time. After talking with Shan we decided to pick up a different site for the extra couple of days and we rushed to get packed and ready to leave Friday morning. Seven days is officially the longest we have been camping as a family to date.

campers

Now camping with friends makes it all worthwhile. The kids just entertained themselves it seemed. Lexi was gone from the moment we stepped outside until bedtime. She played with Alyssa, did hand knitting, played games, and read her chapter book by the fire. Ashlyn has become such a swimmer this year it was hard to keep her out of the water. She also kept busy collecting worms, teasing the boys, and playing with her babues. She also loves to play with Haddon so when he arrived she was in heaven. It was such a nice trip.

More Photos

Camping tips for Blue Lake:

Firewood: The first night we arrived I bought firewood at the park like a dummy. I spent $21.00 on 3 tiny bundles that we burnt through sparingly between 6pm and midnight. I like to have fire in the morning sometimes as well so you figure at least 4 bundles a day at $7 each will add another $170 to the fire over the 6 days there. On top of the $300 we paid for the site that adds up. On the second day Paul and I drove to Oxdrift Country Store (about 20 mins past Vermillion Bay). There we met a nice lady who was selling 3 larger bundles of wood for $10. She ended up giving us 12 bundles for $35 which we burnt constantly at $3.00/bundle. Feel free to call ahead to make sure she has stock 1 (807) 937-4052.

The Poopers: At first I always liked Blue Lake for it’s flush toilets. It added that taste of home just in case you wanted to rough it and still have the dignity that comes with a flushable toilet. Of course you must bring your own toilet paper from home. This year I found it much better in the “plop toilets”. My reasoning for this is simply for the privacy it provides and the accessibility. I found myself competing for the flushers too often. Walking toward them with my toilet paper in hand and making eye contact with another camper who also has toilet paper in hand…both our pace quickening…butt cheeks clenched in anticipation just to be elbow to elbow in those tiny stalls! Not me, this year I went plopper. Just me and the clicking the of the automated light timer. Use as much toilet paper as you like in there as well because you’re not going to bung anything up.

Dogs: Bring em. There are lot’s of dogs here and as long as you keep them off the beach nobody complains. There is basically a “no dogs past this point” line on the beach but it’s reasonably close so you can bring your dog to the beach and sit a little further back with your pet and still go in the water. I also noticed several spots for them to swim off the hiking trails so that is nice too.

Busters BBQ: Just because you are camping doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself! “Busters” is a five minute drive from your campsite and guess what? It’s air-conditioned and there are no bugs inside. It was super nice on our last night to break away from cooking and eating in the heat and covered in bugs. Make a reservation though (1-807-227-5256) because we went on a Wednesday night and it was packed.

Busters BBQ

Address: 177 Highway 17 VERMILION BAY, ON
Phone: 1-807-227-5256
Menu: bustersbbq.com

We were camping at Blue Lake again this year and it’s hard not to notice Busters BBQ on the way in. Years ago Paul bought me some of their Blueberry BBQ Sauce and I remember it being a commodity back then and I also saw it on “You Gotta Eat Here” so we decided to make a reservation one night to go and try it out.

We went on a Wednesday night and this place was packed. Nothing happened fast here but the staff was extra nice so it hardly even mattered. Al and I decided on splitting some wings to start because they were $14 and I had to see what that was about. 1LB of wings for $14 is robbery if you ask me. Wing night at “Upstairs in the Village” I usually take down 3LBS and an iced tea for under $13 so paying $14 for a pound is a stretch. To top it off I asked if we could split the flavours up and try a couple and she said “no it’s too busy”. Anyway, it turns out the wings were just wings. No gold dust, no special crisp, just regular wings with the Blueberry Chipotle sauce. Plus we got one of those “defect” wings that is a cross between a wing and a drum – I hate that.

$14 Wings

$14 Wings

For dinner the menu specified a few items that were featured on “You Gotta Eat Here”, so I tried the Beef Bacon Cheddar sandwich and it was pretty dry. Ratte had the ribs and he said they were “pretty good” but he also ended up asking for a side of sauce. Dry seemed to be a common theme which is odd for a place known for it’s BBQ sauce. I think we all wanted the sauce to really stand out. What did stand out for me was the sweet potato fries with a side of cajun mayo. The fries were so good that I called back the morning we were leaving so that I could pick some up for the road home.

The next time we are at Blue Lake I will go back just for the sweet potato fries and end up trying something else with that hard to come by sauce.

Fruits and Veggies

strawberry-ashcakeWe went strawberry picking at Boonstra Farms this afternoon and got to taste what strawberries taste like when they move across plants and not trucks. We filled 2 baskets while Ashlyn filled her face. It was a great day just to be hanging outside really. We did the petting zoo before we left and then stopped for ice cream on the way home. We tried to hit up the “Spotted Cow” on North Main but was surprised to find out it isn’t even there anymore? So we hit “Scoops” on Main where Ashlyn discovered “Tiger, Tiger” for the first time!

OK, everybody knows I am not a huge fan of the fruits and vegetables food groups. Sometimes I will set a good example for the kiddies at dinner time but it’s not uncommon for me to skip the greens when making my plate. The kids have called me on it before asking mommy “why doesn’t daddy have to eat the vegetables?”. That’s when I tell them a little story about when I was their age…

Well you see children, when I was just a little boy growing up I ate soooooooooo many vegetables that when I got older I didn’t need to eat them as much. If you eat all your vegetables now you can be the same as daddy.

I truly believe that. But I also know that my body needs that green rodent food to function so this year we planted a garden! There is something wonderful about eating food you grew yourself. It tastes so much better. So I built these garden boxes, shoveled a bunch of soil, and Shan planted us some seeds. We went to Mandy’s Greenhouse for our seeds and plants because she is one of my favorite people, and because I made her website many years ago. She gave us so much awesome info while we were there too.

BEFORE

BEFORE

AFTER

AFTER

Now I have been fussing over these plants for months now and tonight we got our first taste of the lettuce we planted. We made this awesome garden salad and I have to say I really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed watching the girls eat it too, seeing as they don’t usually touch leafy greens. I think they wanted to try it too, mainly because we grew it ourselves. I can hardly wait to try the rest of what we planted. What have I become?

You don't make friends with salad.

You don’t make friends with salad.

Hip Summer

Summer holidays have officially started.

This summer is being dubbed the summer of the Hip. When the fan club pre-sale started we were all online trying our best to get tickets and luckily I think we got everyone covered one way or another. While I was trying for Winnipeg, Shan was getting seats in Calgary. Looking forward to taking in that show with Tim and Les and then following the band back to Winnipeg for likely the last time we will ever see them live. Pretty sad to think about really.

Brey had the great idea to get some shirts made up with our favorite Hip quotes as a tribute. This inspired me to really listen to some Hip in the past couple weeks and memories flooded in. I also realized I hardly ever really listen to music anymore. I mean, it’s on in the car and in the kitchen when I’m making dinner or cleaning up. It’s on my computer right now but I’m not really listening am I? One night last week I slept in the basement and just put the Hip on random and really listened. I forgot what that was like to be honest and vowed to do more headphones this summer.

If a song can’t save us then nothing can

I am looking forward to a slow paced summer of camping, good friends, and really listening to The Tragically Hip.