Friday, 27 July 2007

Bev's Birthday

Today is Bev's birthday. Enjoy your special day Nanny.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 22 July 2007

It's Nanny Time

It's that time of year, aka summer vacation, when we need some help from our mothers. We booked Bev aka Nanny for two weeks in July. My mom is booked for two weeks in August. Jeremy is still going to daycare, but we needed someone to watch Corbin for three days a week.

Tina and Corbin brought Nanny back in one piece. Hopefully, having Nanny will free up some time for Tina and myself to go out one or two nights.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Another Home Alone Weekend

Jeremy is at Aunt Lorelei's house. Tina and Corbin went up to Goderich to get Nanny. That left me alone with the fish and Guinea, the guinea pig. What to do?

Speaking of Guinea, seems she didn't like the fact that no one was awake by eight in the morning and decided that banging her feed bin was the way to get my attention. Annoying but I have to give it to her, very effective. I got up and fed her and got myself some food.

My goals this weekend are to install the closet organizer and do some touch up painting in our bedroom and in the basement. Maybe I'll do some other stuff, but it depends on my degree of motivation.

Posted by Adam

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Back To The Grind

It was Tina's first day back and my second day back at work after vacation. I had over 150 emails waiting for me. It took me a day to work through the emails, in-tray and phone calls. Both of us were exhausted.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 15 July 2007

I'm An Adult Now

I assembled the other side table and the chest of drawers (all in white and all from IKEA). The side table took about 30 minutes. The dresser took considerably longer. But it's done. We have matching furniture in our bedroom. Between the new fresh paint, the dresser and side tables, even our bed, our bedroom is finally looking like a real bedroom.
© Inter IKEA Systems B.V.Future projects: install a closet organizer, curtains over the window and closet, a new door and new flooring. The first one will be done in the coming week. The curtains and door will likely be done before the end of summer. Flooring will be in 2008 or 2009.

Posted by Adam

Friday, 13 July 2007

Toldeo Zoo

Not wanting to do anything around the house, we decided to head to the Toledo Zoo. The weather was sunny but pleasant - perfect weather. It took a while to get through US Customs - 20 minutes or so - but no problems - as usual (it pays to have cute kids).

We decided to have breakfast at Denny's in Monroe. Much to our surprise, both boys ate their entire breakfast - guess they were hungry. We arrived at the zoo around 11:00 am. First stop was to wait in line to see the polar bear cubs. The wait wasn't too long - maybe 15 minutes - but the cubs were cute.

Before leaving, we decided to not bring the stroller, but that was a big mistake. Jeremy is not used to walking, so Tina rented a stroller. We wandered around the zoo. Jeremy seemed very interested in the animals today - he loved the primate exhibit - the monkeys and gorillas really caught his attention. I had to slightly push Jeremy to the front of the exhibits to get a better view. Corbin, on the other hand, was totally uninterested.

They had a special butterfly exhibit, where there are hundreds of butterflies flying around - sometimes landing on you. Corbin seemed to like this exhibit. Jeremy was in awe. A quick pass through the Children's Zoo and a stop at the penguin exhibit - where luck would have it - they were just about to feed the penguins. Jeremy sat on the ground and watched and watched and watched. He simply loves penguins - they are his favourite animal.

It was a nice day out with Tina and the boys.

Posted by Adam

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Northern Vacation - Day 5

Gaylord, Michigan to Windsor, Ontario

Last day of our northern vacation. Not much planned today other than some shopping before returning home. Had a great breakfast - gotta love those cinnamon rolls at Holiday Inn Express. The drive down was uneventful, but you could feel the heat the closer we got to Detroit.

Just before we got to Pontiac, Corbin had to go to the bathroom, so I pulled off and drove into Holly. Back on the highway and five minutes later, we were at Target. Let's go shopping. I bought some jeans, Corbin got a metal detector and Jeremy got a toy. I also bought Shawshank Redemption and season 2 of 24 on DVD. No problem at Canada Customs at the tunnel. Naturally, I stopped to get Tina some Tim Horton's.

It was nice to be back home, however, the house was a mess. Oh, well.

Posted by Adam

Monday, 9 July 2007

Northern Vacation - Day 4

Sault Ste. Marie to Gaylord

Seems the boys like to sleep in when we are in hotels, so Tina and I take turns going to breakfast, which is a nice break from the hectic 'hotel life'. Tina went down first and brought some stuff up for the boys, who were just starting to wake up.

Each Holiday Inn Express has a standard line of breakfast items - cinnamon rolls, boiled eggs, bread, bagels, cereals and drinks. Some have additional items like omelettes, sausages, or local specialities like biscuits and gravy. Tina told me than had omelettes.

I went down and had a couple of warm omelettes, coffee, OJ, banana, toast and an omelette. It was tasty and filling. The boys finished their breakfast - cereal, oatmeal and whatever else Tina brought them. We packed up and checked out and headed to the Soo Locks Boat Tour dock. We arrived just before the 10:00 am departure. It was a overcast day - much cooler compared to when Tina and I took the same tour about six years ago. The boys seemed excited.

We arrived in the lock and Corbin was mesmerized by the rising water level. A friendly employee of the dock shook Corbin's hand when the boat was rising above the top of the dock. Jeremy was confused as to what was happening but seemed interested in the boat ride. About two hours later we arrived back at the dock. We were going to play some mini-golf, but Corbin had a small breakdown at the gift shop, so we nixed that adventure for now.

The last time Tina and I were in the Soo, we happened upon a small Italian restaurant, Ang-Gio's, on the main road into town. It's a fairly non-descript building in a plaza, but the food was amazing. We were hoping that the place was open for lunch - fortunately it was. I ordered fettuccine alfredo with fried mushrooms, Tina ordered fettuccine carbonara, Corbin ordered spagehtti, and Jeremy had a grilled cheese. We also ordered garlic bread with cheese. Our orders also came with a side salad.

The food came out quick and hot. The sauces are homemade and are downright sinful. They are rich but not in the usual overpowering way. I ate all my plate - there were plenty of mushrooms. Even the boys finished their meals. Tina was happy again. So we headed down to Mackinaw City.

It is about an hour's drive to Mackinaw City from the Soo. The drive was pleasant - sunny and warm with little traffic. We parked on the main road and proceeded to find a restroom because Corbin needed to go. With that out of the way we checked out the shops and bought a few things like candies and popcorn and some toys for the boys. After spending about an hour, we headed down to Gaylord, which is about one hour south of Mackinaw City.

We stayed at another Holiday Inn Express in Gaylord. We checked in and set out to find the Bavarian Falls adventure golf (mini-golf) - one of the things on this trip is that we were going to play mini-golf with the boys. After a round trip around the town, we found it. We got out clubs and balls and proceeded to play 18 holes of thoroughly enjoyable family time mini-golf. Corbin and Jeremy had to be told to sit a few times. Jeremy would have gotten a hole-in-one if Corbin didn't stop his ball from going in the hole. Everyone had a good time.

Before stopping at the hotel, Tina went to the Wal-Mart behind the hotel and got some pop and munchies. Back at the hotel, Tina supervised Corbin while he swam and I watched Jeremy.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Northern Vacation - Day 3

Sudbury, Ontario to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

We managed to get some sleep, but it wasn't enough. So what did the hotel offer in return for booking us into a room they shouldn't have booked us into? One free breakfast. Yup. Though there were two adults (kids stay and eat free), they offered us one free breakfast for a lack of sleep. Unacceptable. We packed up and loaded the van. I stopped by the front desk and politely told the staff that I am not paying for last nights stay due to the circumstances and that the room offered was subpar. The manager was called up and reversed the charge. No apology. No nothing.

I don't understand why it seems that the level of service at Holiday Inn hotels differs from Holiday Inn Select or Holiday Inn Express hotels. It seems you get better service and amenities from the latter two than the Holiday Inn. I'll be sending an email to Intercontinental Hotels Group when we arrive back home.

Headed out to the Discovery Earth attraction. This is the location of the Big Nickel. When I last visited this place back in the early 80s, there was not much to the attraction other than the Big Nickel and few other things at ground level. Now there is a building with several galleries, a theatre and an underground mine.

The boys were in awe of the big nickel. Corbin wanted to take it with him and buy lots of stuff. He wanted to touch it, so I lifted him and he managed to get the bottom of it. Jeremy used the umbrella to touch it.

Inside, we checked in and booked a 10:30 am visit to the mine. While waiting to descend, there is a control room where kids (and adults) can talk to people in the mine, control a camera and control a digging machine. There is also a playground where kids can play with 'iron ore' bits (foam).

Eventually, we were called into the Miner's Dry - the room where Miners change into their work clothes. We entered the large glass elevator and were given a visual history of mining through an interactive film.

With our hard hats on, we walked into the tunnels, which are about seven stories below ground. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and made sure that everyone could see what was being talked about. Corbin obsessed about the tour guide's light, so he let Corbin hold it. The mine is divided into several sections and illustrates the evolution of mining over the past 100 years. The first section is a mine from the late 1880s, followed by the 1940s and finally the modern mine.

Corbin and Jeremy volunteered to insert 'dynamite' into blast holes and we were asked to go around a corner and stand on wooden platform. Then there was a blast and some shaking. In the modern part of the mine, we visited the lunch room aka the safe room. Then it was back to the elevator. The tour was about an hour long.

Tina and Corbin spent some time in the gift shop, where Corbin purchased some big nickels and gems. We walked over to the Earth Gallery where you can pan for gold, check out some minerals and learn about the history of the Sudbury basin. It was good way to get the day going, and the boys thoroughly enjoyed the place.

Saying goodbye to Sudbury,we headed out on Highway 17 to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Traffic was good and the weather was cloudy and sunny - not a bad day for driving. We stopped in Espanola for some KFC. Just past Bruce Mines, we pulled over at rest stop to stretch our legs, eat some food and use the facilities. After, about 3 or so hours of driving, we arrived in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

US Customs was backed up - it took about 30 minutes to get to the booth, where no problems were encountered. The Holiday Inn Express in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, is located at the first interchange on I75 when you enter the US. We checked in and Tina headed over to the McDonald's beside the hotel to grab some food.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 7 July 2007

Northern Vacation - Day 2 Part 2


Well, after a full day at Science North, we were looking toward relaxing at the Holiday Inn. We made a quick stop at a grocery store and headed back to the hotel.

At the hotel we 'dined' on leftover pizza and munchies. The boys watched a movie on the portable DVD player, I browsed the net and Tina read a book. Around 5 pm or so, we started hearing a loud noise - it was music. Oh, no. The music was coming from a wedding reception below us. Wonderful

Tina called the front desk to see if we could get a room elsewhere. Staff did not call right back which means that no similar or upgraded rooms were available. Eventually, they called back and offered a room with two doubles. I don't think so. The staff member did say that the rooms we were in were supposed to be 'off block' meaning that they were not supposed to be let out.

I took Corbin down to the pool while Tina played a few games with Jeremy. Coming back to the room the music had stopped. It started up an hour or so later and didn't stop till 1:30 AM.

Posted by Adam

Northern Vacation - Day 2 Part 1


The main feature today was Science North. I had never been to Science North since it opened a few decades ago. We had planned to go a few years ago with Corbin, but the satellite attraction, Dynamic Earth, was being expanded.

We arrived not too long after the facility had opened. The parking lot, which cost $4.00, was not even partly full, which meant we had a close parking spot. I purchased the Dynamic Duo Passport, which included admission to Science North, Dynamic Earth, an IMAX movie and a Virtual Voyages ride and it was good over three days. A little pricey, but it made for a full day today. We decided that we would the Dynamic Earth attraction tomorrow on our way out of Sudbury.

Our first stop was the Wings Over the North: A 4D Bush Plane Adventure - the wait was not too long (we seem to have good luck on vacations with arriving at certain attractions or events at the right time - in other words, not waiting too long). This is a show that you wear special glasses for a 3D effect. The 4D comes into play with additions such as compressed air and water. Both Jeremy and Corbin enjoyed the show.

We walked up to the exhibit areas and the boys got hands on. After an hour we headed back down to the IMAX theatre to watch Fighter Pilot: Operation Red Flag. The movie was spectacular. The images are so crisp that they look too real. Tina said that she almost got sick a few times, especially the during the take-off scenes. Corbin loved the movie - planes, bombs, missiles and explosions - what else could a boy ask for. Jeremy was a wee bit weary, but survived the show.

Back to the exhibits. Both boys laid on a bed of nails, though Corbin was worried that he was going to get hurt. Jeremy had no qualms laying down. There are plenty of hands-on exhibits and both boys had a great time. We grabbed a bite to eat and lined up for the Virtual Voyages ride. I had some reservations about this since Corbin and I went on one at the CN Tower - it was unimpressive. Now the ride at Science North, is much different and much better - even Tina had a fun time.

After a six or so hour day at Science North we headed back to the hotel for munchies, a swim and relaxation. But that was not too happen. See Part 2 above.

Posted by Adam

Friday, 6 July 2007

Northern Vacation - Day 1

Camp Winston to Sudbury

After having lunch at Camp Winston, Corbin said good bye to the staff and we headed up to Sudbury.
Camp Winston - Counsellors and FriendsWe took Southwood Road (County Road 13) north from the Camp to old Highway 169. Southwood Road was exciting. It is a narrow twisty and hilly road - which made for a fun drive. You know you are in trouble when a sign warns you that the road is twisty for the next 22 km and you see additional signs for even curvier sections. We travelled through the quaint cottage country town of Bala.

The drive up to Sudbury was beautiful but uneventful. The Province of Ontario is upgrading Highway 69 into the four-lane limited access divided Highway 400. The only problem we encountered was the passing lane areas. Seems many people are translating the Passing Area sign to mean Speed Up and then Slow Down. It was infuriating. I can't wait till the 400 is built all the way up to Sudbury.

Finding the Holiday Inn in Sudbury was not too difficult - it's on the same road you enter the City from the south. We checked in, relaxed and then headed out for some dinner and some mini-golf. We had dinner at Pizza Hut - it was affordable, fast and provided us with leftovers to eat the next day.

Now about the mini-golf. On the way into town, I stopped at Tourist Information and grabbed some info about places in and around Sudbury. One was a mini-golf place near the Pizza Hut. After supper, we went looking for it but could not find it. Eventually, I saw a place that looked like a mini-golf place - seems the place when out of business. Fair enough, but it looked like it had been out of business for some time - yet the tourism center had brochures about the place.
No mini-golf tonite.

Back at the hotel, the business was still listed in the yellow pages. Very odd. So, the family put their bathing suits on and we headed for a swim, in a cool pool. Why can't hotels heat their pools?

Posted by Adam

Good Bye Brantford, Hello Camp Winston

Well, our arrival in Brantford last evening was interesting. Seems that Jeremy worked himself up so much, that he threw up a few times. He was anxious to see us. Poor little guy.

This morning we are driving up to Camp Winston to pick up Corbin before heading on vacation. I'm sure that Corbin will have many tales to tell us.

Posted by Adam

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Off To Brantford

Well, I suppose that all good things must come to an end. It's time to drive to Brantford to pick up Jeremy and then head up to Camp Winston the next morning to get Corbin, and then began our mini-vacation of northern Ontario and Michigan.

Oh, almost forgot - and a stop at Stan's Chip Wagon in Brantford.

Posted by Adam

Painting, Part 2

With Tina's help - she did all the edging in the bedroom - I managed to finish both the hallway and bedroom. Both look much better than two days ago. Our bedroom looks fresh and inviting. New matching side tables and a dresser need to be built, the curtains changed and a closet organizer installed. A new door and flooring are all that is left to do - the door this year and the floor next year.

Posted by Adam

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Painting, Part 1

Today, I began painting the hallway and our bedroom. It was a long, exhausting day.

I did manage to prime the walls and, with Tina's help, get one top coat on the walls. The Blue Silk has transformed our bedroom - no more dirty pink walls AND ceiling. The Amish Linen in the hallway makes it much brighter. Just one more topcoat and it's all over - for now.

Posted by Adam

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Night Out

With no kids around the house, Tina suggested to Jen that the four of us should go out for a dinner and movie. Jen found a babysitter for her boys.

We headed to Tony Macaroni's in Tecumseh for a pleasant dinner. The food was hot and tasty, but the service was faster than anticipated. So we decided to squeeze in a game of mini-golf - Tina won.

Next, it was movie time. We picked the new Transformers movie. We arrived early enough to get good seats. The movie was a riot - non-stop action from beginning to end - the perfect summer time movie. The visual effects were amazing - the Transformers looked real and blended right in with the 'real world'.

All in all, a great night spent with good friends.

Posted by Adam

Happy Birthday Babcia

Today is Adam's mom, Jadzia, 65th birthday. Sto lat.

Posted by Adam