Sunday, October 30, 2005

Hotels & Motels

We have stayed at numerous hotels and motels over the past 12 or so years. Some great. Some good. Some okay. A few bad. We will recount our experiences with the hotels and motels of North America. We'll let you know if the room was comfortable, if the breakfast buffet was acceptable and if the swimming pool was really heated. Nearby amenities such as restaurants, shopping and entertainment facilities will be noted.

All rooms are non-smoking unless otherwise stated. Room rates are usually the best rate we can find and may include government and CAA/AAA discounts. We will try to note discounted rates where possible. "N/A" means that no information is available (we can't remember). "Nearby Amenities" refers to amenities that are within a short (walking or driving) distance of the hotel.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

New Eavestroughing

We had some major problems with the eavestroughing last winter. One trough totally froze up and was on the verge of falling of the house. The hole at the downspout was blocked up leaves (we have two honey locust trees that do a nice job of clogging up the troughs). A few other troughs were getting clogged up too and some of the hanger nails were coming out. To avoid a repeat of these problems, Adam decided to get replace all the eavestroughing and downspouts around the house.

He called Gauthier Roofing and Siding. Ron Gauthier, President visited the house on October 7th, conducted a survey and provided an estimate for all new eavestroughs with 6" (3x3) downspouts and with Gutter Clean System gutter guards. He also recommended a number of changes such as larger downspouts, altering the design of two short throughs and their downspouts to prevent leaves and other material from bunching up and giving more support to the downspout, and the relocation of one downspout so that it splashed into our sideyard instead of into our frontyard (which would have required hacking our fence). A price was quoted and Ron said the work could be done in about 2 to 3 weeks. The following Tuesday, Adam called in and confirmed the job.

On the 26th of October, Tina received a call stating that because another job finished ahead of schedule, that they could work on our house on the 27th. The installer arrived around 9 am and introduced himself to Tina. The old troughs and downspouts were down in no time. By 3:00 pm the job was complete. The short troughs look much better and sturdier. The downspouts look like they can handle a lot of volume without being overwhelmed. The leaves are just starting to fall, so we will report back on the performance of the gutter guards.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Pucher's Visit Windsor

Today, we had the pleasure of hosting the Pucher's - John, Cindy, Samantha and Heather. Seems the Pucher's wanted to visit us and see the newest addition to our family, Jeremy. Corbin was very excited about their visit and spent countless minutes, maybe an hour, standing at the living room window on the look out for our guests. Around 11am, the guests arrived from Woodstock and several stops along the way. Samantha, 4, and Heather, 1, did their best to make the trip interesting. We had a lunch at a local restaurant, Dirty Jersey's, which was an interesting exercise in feeding and watching four children and feeding ourselves. Returning to our house, Jeremy and Heather went down for naps, Adam showed John the new Pontiac Wave and a quick tour of the backyard, and Cindy and Tina watched Corbin and Sam play video games. It was a great visit and we look forward to visiting John & Cindy in the winter for a good session of tobogganing down large hill in their backyard.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

A Day With Corbin

One of Tina's co-workers offered to take Jeremy for a day and we gladly took up that offer since it would give us some quality time with Corbin. We decided to take Corbin to XS Family Fun Centre. They have laser tag, go-karts, batting cages and arcade games. The go-karts were not running despite the wonderful weather, so we inserted a $20 bill into the machine and received 100 tokens. We played video games, shooting games and arcade games. Tina and Adam did well with the arcade games. Tina hit the jackpot on one machine and won almost 400 tickets. Adam played a couple times on an arcade machine and won about 250 tickets. By the time we were done, we had over 800 tickets. The prize selection was good and Corbin walked away with 3 toys, vampire teeth and candies.

Corbin recommended McDonald's for lunch, so that was our next stop. Adam read the Globe and Mail and Tina and Corbin chatted away. After finishing our 'gourmet' lunch, we headed out to Leamington to eventually pickup Jeremy. We took the back road along the north shore of Lake Erie and saw several Heron's standing in the water, looking for fish to eat. We stopped at the Wal-Mart in Leamington and picked up some day-to-day goods. It was nice to spend some time with Corbin, and he seemed to appreciate it.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo

Given the prospect of nice weather today, we headed out to the Toledo Zoo - about a 45 minute trip south from Windsor, Canada (including time getting through US or Canada Customs). This was Jeremy's first trip outside Canada since he became a member of the Szymczak Family. At about the five minute mark of the trip, still in Windsor, Corbin asked how long will it take to get the Zoo. Adam politely reminded Corbin that we had not yet crossed the river.


Traffic at the border was moderate. US Customs had plenty of booths open, so it took about 5 minutes to get through Customs and on our merry way. Traffic on I-75 was typical. When we left Windsor, it was sunny but cool. When we arrived at the zoo, it was overcast but pleasant. We managed to find a parking space close to the entrance - probably the closest space we have had in two years. Jeremy was placed in his stroller and we walked to the admission gate. Being members, parking and admission are free.

We visited the Aviary for the first time. Jeremy was mesmorized by large birds. When a bird would squawk or chirp, Jeremy often would squawk of chirp back. It took Corbin some time to settle in. Next was the primate exhibit. The monkeys, apes, gorilla and orangutans were out in full force. Jeremy liked how the monkeys were swinging and jumping. In particular, he liked the slide they had. We are sure he wanted to try out the slide. Next was the aquarium, which Corbin loves. He has several tanks that he must see before leaving the exhibit. Jeremy was bored after a while, so Adam took him outside.

After lunch, we checked out the hippos, rhinos and elephants. Much to our surprise, Corbin wanted to see the elephants. He is not a huge fan of their smell, but the elephants were outside and that seems to make the difference. Jeremy had an interesting interaction with an otter. The otter was swimming and diving right by the window. Jeremy was intrigued and ran right up to the window to check the otter out, but about one foot away the otter, Jeremy froze and backed away slowly - seems the Otter was a wee bit scary to Jeremy. A few seconds later, Jeremy was still in awe of the otter and headed back to the window and again realized that "whoa, that thing is closer and all wild; I need to move back". It was fun to watch.

We spent about 3 1/2 hours at the zoo and both boys did an awesome job. The trip home was uneventful. A longer than usual wait at Canadian Customs but no problems there, though we were asked for ID - the first time we have been asked for ID at the Canadian border in Windsor. All in all, it was a well deserved family outing.

Monday, October 3, 2005

Corbin's 7th Birthday

Corbin celebrated his 7th birthday this past weekend. On Saturday, Corbin had a birthday party with 10 or so of his friends. This year's theme was "Spy Academy". As usual, Tina outdid herself. All activities were based around the spy theme. All attendees were given badges with their real name and an alias, and a loot bag to be used during the scavenger hunt. The next event was an obstacle course that had spy students go through a tunnel, around a dangerous sand dune, toss blocks into a tub and dress up as a spy. Loot bags were placed in a box beside the secret treasure chest and key to the chest. But at some point during the party, the evil agent, KAOS, stole the loot bags and key and hung the chest from a tree.

Upon discovering the items were missing, the spy students had to find and answer 6 clues. After eating some birthday cake, spy students had to answer the last clue: the location of the chest. The correct answer was a tree and we all headed outside to find the chest dangling from the tree. The key and loot bags were discovered. Next, each spy student was given an opportunity to crack open the chest with the key. Eventually, the contents of the chest fell to the ground and the spys went into a frenzy. Yet another successful birthday party.

On Sunday, Corbin's actual birthday, Corbin woke up and danced to the Captain Zoom Personalized birthday song. Corbin opened presents from Babcia & Grandpa and Nanny & Poppy. He eventually found his present from Mom & Dad outside - a brand new bike. He was most excited and wanted to ride it right away - but Adam had to put a damper on that since the tires needed air and the seat needed adjustment. Tina cooked up pancakes with chocolate chips especially for Corbin. Later in the day, Jeremy gave Corbin his present. Corbin said the entire weekend was awesome.