Sunday, 28 December 2008

A Wet Christmas in Brantford

After the boys opened their Santa presents and we (including Guinea) all emptied our stockings, we packed the van and head down the 401 and 403 to spend a few days with Babcia and Grandpa in Brantford.

The drive was uneventful. Next to no trucks but lots of cars. No police to be seen.

We had a wonderful turkey dinner and then we opened presents. Babcia naturally had presents for everyone - even Tina and myself. The boys opened their presents with eagerness and excitement.

Corbin loved the new WWE Smackdown Vs Raw DS game and Jeremy loved his Hot Wheels 10 in 1 racing track and Kung Fu Panda DS game.

Babcia was amazed with her Samsug Q1 mp3 player and Grandpa quickly stowed his Tim Hortons Gift Card.

On Friday, Tina and I headed out for some browsing and shopping (Jeremy's race track needed batteries - doh). The stores did not seem that busy. The Christmas section at Canadian Tire was full of stock - there were plenty of lights. I don't think retailers did that well this year. We maximized our time away from the boys, returning after a three hour trip.

Saturday was "Babcia and Jeremy Day". We drove over to Walmart so that Jeremy could pick out his birthday presents from Babcia. Corbin and I checked out the electronic section. We didn't spend too much time at Walmart.

Then we headed over to Future Shop to look for a DVD Jeremy wanted. While the store was busy, we were able to find everything we wanted. I suggested to my mom that she pay at the digital camera counter, thereby avoiding the long line at the front of the store. My mom appreciated that.

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing watching TV, playing games or just hanging out. Jeremy chose Boston Pizza (after some campaigning on my part) for his Birthday supper. Corbin, Tina and I split a Great White North Pizza, Jeremy had the grilled cheese, Alex had the Ribber and Babcia had the Chicken Parm. After dinner, the staff came out and sang happy birthday to Jeremy and gave him a desert. He seemed to enjoy himself.

After a quick breakfast Sunday, we packed up and headed back to Windsor. The drive was okay save for the winds. The van was not driving in a straight line.

Our four Christmases went well this year. No one went to the hospital and the outbursts and breakdowns were minimal. Woo hoo.

Posted by Adam

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

The Szymczak Family wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Posted by Adam

Friday, 19 December 2008

A Snowy and Cold Christmas in Goderich

Despite "Snowagedden", we managed to make it up Goderich with no issues.

We left around 7 pm, stopping for gasoline at the Pilot in Tilbury and a food and bathroom break in Watford. The roads were, for the most part, clear. The worst part was Highway 21 between Grand Bend and Port Franks - the road was not that well cleared.

Arriving at Bev & Gerry's house, we put Jeremy on the couch to fall back asleep and unpacked the van. It was cold. Really cold.

The next morning, Tina and I went out for breakfast. After that I went out looking for a snowblower (none to be had).

As some point, Corbin had dropped his Nintendo DS and broken the case. It still worked. Tina and I told Corbin he had to be much more careful and that he will pay for his replacement. I knew that most of the stores in Windsor were out of the DS, so Corbin and I drove over to Walmart and they had one left. I purchased it but I didn't let Corbin play with it.

I patched up the 'old' DS with some electrical tape and gave it to Jeremy to play with.

Teegan and Madigan came over and the four kids played and played and played. They went outside at one point, but that did not last long.

Late afternoon, Chris and Lisa came over and we opened presents. Then we had a wonderful roast beef dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy. Yummy. We let the food digest and packed the van.

We left Goderich around 6:00 pm and arrived back in Windsor around 9:20 pm.

A nice Christmas in Goderich.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Family Time in Detroit

I decided that the family needed to get out of the house. So we travelled over to the Detroit Science Center.

It took about 20 minutes to get through US Customs at the Windsor-Detroit Tunnel. The drive from the tunnel to the Science Center was about 5 minutes. This was Tina's first time and she could not believe how short the drive was.

We parked in the Wayne State University parking garage and walked over to the center. It wasn't too busy - which was a good thing. We bought tickets to the IMAX movie "Santa Versus The Snowman".

We wondered around and tried every exhibit it seems. Tina liked the fact that the facility was not too large. We grabbed a bite to eat in the cafeteria and then checked out more exhibits.

The movie was at 3:00 pm, so we worked our way down to the IMAX theatre and grabbed some seats. The beginning of the movie was very intense in that your stomach started churning. The boys loved the movie and Jeremy had no motion sickness issues.

It was back to Windsor, with not much of a wait at Canadian Customs.

Everyone seemed to enjoy the time out of the house.

Posted by Adam

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Guess Who Is Really Sick

After almost nine months of being relatively sick-free, Jeremy is sick. Started on the weekend with what Tina believes was a flu.

It has evolved into full blown cold that includes a wicked ear infection and a continuously runny nose. His throat hurt for a while - or in Jeremy's words: "It hurts when I gobble".

He slept with Tina in one of the chairs in the living room to relieve some of the pain in the ear. He looks pale and sick today. Hopefully the germs are losing the battle and today is the beginning of the end.

Corbin didn't look good this morning. We will see in a few days.

Posted by Adam

How Did We Survive Before Cable TV and Always-On Internet?

At approximately 2:00 pm yesterday, our internet and cable TV went dead. Tina called Technical Support at Cogeco and there was a message about system wide issues in Essex and Chatham counties. Okay, she thought.

By 7:00 pm, still no joy. Tina called up tech support again. The message was gone so she was put through to internet tech support. They ran her through the usual gamut of questions. At one point I got involved. The tech person tried to reset the connection but nothing. So we scheduled an appointment for Friday morning.

Tina was none to happy at having no internet or TV until Friday morning. So she called cable TV support. She got a much better response and a service called was arranged for today.

The service person came by just before lunch and found that our connection at the street cable box had been disconnected. Seems the person who installed a new connection the other day decided that it would be a good thing to disconnect a paying customer's connection. The Cogeco service rep couldn't believe that the street box only serviced four houses.

He came in to the house to make sure everything was working. He commented on the monitor and router that we have - something about one of the best monitors and a good router. Can't complain with a seal of approval from a person who is in the know.

Posted by Adam

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

No Kids for Three Hours

In past years, Tina and I would do the boys Christmas shopping on Remembrance Day since we both had the day off. Usually we had an idea of what to get for the boys and would head off first thing in the morning to Toys R Us.

This year was different. Jeremy spent the morning with us. We walked him to school and then headed for lunch and shopping. Lunch took longer than expected, which cut into our shopping time.

We arrived at Toys R Us with no real idea what to get the boys. Corbin is 10 and he is moving away from toys (or at least we are 'guiding' him down that path). He showing more interest in electronic gadgets like a digital camera, video games and science sets. Jeremy is still into toys - he loves playing with his dinky cars and is just getting into Playmobil.

We walked around and grabbed a few things, and got a few ideas. At the end we decided to not buy the few things we had in our cart. It was a very strange feeling, leaving Toys R Us empty handed.

Our plan is to make a list and buy things over the next few weeks, either online or do a day of brick and mortar shopping.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Windsor-Brantford Courier Service

I promised my mother that I would deliver her large purchases from Bronner's in two weeks. Two weeks happened to be this weekend.

Jeremy and I left early Friday afternoon (it was a PD day at school). We arrived in Brantford around 4:00 PM. Jeremy was very excited and wanted to play with Babcia right away. However, she was preparing dinner - pork cutlets and mashed potatoes - and told Jeremy that she would play with him after dinner. Supper was excellent.

Jeremy and Babcia played all evening.

Saturday morning, Babcia, Jeremy and myself headed out to find Jeremy a winter coat. At Bonnie Togs, Jeremy picked out his coat (that came with matching snow pants). The size 5 seemed a little to tight, so we settled for a size 6. Babcia also bought Jeremy two shirts, socks, and some mitts. Did some more shopping at Shoppers and headed back home.

It was a strange weather day. Sunny. Cloudy. Rainy. Repeat. Jeremy and Babcia managed some outside time. Jeremy was looking for his friend, Ivey (next door neighbour's daughter). I watched Planet Earth on my mom's 32-inch LCD TV. I was blow away.

Sunday was more of the same. Eat. Play. Relax. Can't complain.

The drive back to Windsor was uneventful. Stopped at Wendy's in London for a quick supper and managed to miss the rain/snow showers. Got some cheaper gas at the Pilot in Tilbury before.

Jeremy and I enjoyed our weekend.

Posted by Adam

Monday, 13 October 2008

Thanksgiving in Frankenmuth & Birch Run

We left Sunday morning around 9:00 AM. For the first time in a long time, there was no backup at the tunnel and it took only about 5 minutes to clear customs. Had to deal with an I-75 detour but that was no biggie.

Had breakfast at the IHOP in Pontiac at Square Lake Road and Telegraph. It was busy, but we were shown our table in about 15 minutes. Breakfast was okay. My pancakes were warm not hot, meaning that they had been sitting for a while. I thought my order came with hash browns but it only came with eggs, bacon and pancakes. Next time I'll pay more attention to the menu.

Arrived at the Birch Run Outlet mall before noon. The place was already hopping. Stopped in at Guest Services to get all the coupons and then began the shopping fest.

Four hours later, we had reached our limit. We headed into Frankenmuth and I checked into the hotel. The room was spacious - a suite room with two queen beds and a pull out couch. We freshened up and headed to Zehnder's for supper.

The wait wasn't too bad at Zehnder's. About 20 minutes. Eventually we were taken downstairs and seated in the room that had the buffet. Everyone but Jeremy chose the buffet - which included roast beef and turkey in honour of Canadian Thanksgiving. Jeremy had - wait for it - mac and cheese.

Everyone enjoyed their supper. I know I was full between the chicken, roast beef and turkey. We walked and checked out a few stores on our way back to the hotel.

At the hotel we changed into our bathing suits and fun in the pool.

The next day we grabbed a bite to eat in the complimentary breakfast buffet. I had a freshly made Belgian waffle and a sausage-egg sandwich. Jeremy had cereal. It was a decent breakfast.

We packed up and roamed around Frankenmuth. Then we headed back to the Outlet mall to check out the part we skipped and headed back home.

No problems at Canadian Customs. The wait wasn't too long - about 10 minutes. My mom thanked us for the wonderful weekend. We thanked her for spending the week with us.

Posted by Adam

Monday, 6 October 2008

Kalahari 2008

Tina and Jen decided that we should return to Kalahari Water Park in 2008, especially since the expansion was complete. Tina booked the trip. We got a good rate staying Sunday to Monday. Of course that meant the boys would miss a day of school, but no one seemed concerned.

We left late Sunday morning. US Customs was about a 30 minute wait. About 20 minutes later we were enjoying breakfast at Denny's in Monroe. The boys were excited.

About an hour or so later, we arrived at Kalahari in Sandusky, Ohio. It wasn't as crazy as last year. Tina went in to get our passes and check in. Our room was ready, so we unloaded the van and then parked it (finding a sweet spot near the main walkway).

Not shortly after, the Joe and Jen pulled in and they checked in.

We changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the waterpark. It was huge. The expansion doubled the size of the facility and added a wave pool, another surfing ride, and bunch of new waterslides. The new part included a deck which increased the room for lounging around.

The younger boys spent their time in the kids waterpark. Corbin and I checked out some of the new slides. He also did the 'toilet' slide, where you swirl around in a bowl and then fall through a hole into the waiting pool.

The major hit was the wave pool. At first, Tina and I tried it out, but it didn't seem all that exciting. We gave it a second look later and it was fun.

We munched on some pizza and then did some more waterparking. Then it was time to head up to the rooms to celebrate some birthdays - Corbin's and Jen's oldest boy's. We had cake and they opened presents.

Our package this year included breakfast. So the four of us went down before it got too busy. It was buffet style, but the selection was great. Tina and I filled up, as did the boys. Then it was time to pack, change into swimsuits, load the van up, and enjoy a few more hours in the water park.

It was a great time with friends. It could become an annual tradition.

Posted by Adam

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Corbin is One Decade Old

Happy Birthday Corbin!

Our boy is 10 years old today. Wow. Double digits. Before we know it he will be in his teens.

That sure is a lot of candles to blow out.

Posted by Adam

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Soccer Update

St. Alexander's remains unbeaten with a record of three wins and one tie.

Corbin has played in every game as a forward. He goes to every practise and is learning different moves. Going to soccer camp paid off.

Tina has become a soccer mom. Jeremy just wants to go home.

Keep up the good work Corbin.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Bev Is Back

Gerry brought Bev down for the week. They arrived while Tina and Corbin were at karate.

Jeremy was excited at seeing Nanny and Poppy and gave them big hugs . . . and then went back to watching TV or playing Playstation in the basement.

We had a great dinner in the afternoon. BBQ steak, mashed potatoes and veggies.

Posted by Adam

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Bend It Like Corbin

Corbin has been trying out for the soccer team. And he made it. Congratulations.

Recently he was sick and stayed at home, but all he could think about was the soccer practice. The coach said that anyone that dedicated should be on the soccer team

Corbin plays on the forward line and is enjoying is success.

Posted by Adam

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Extracurricular Activities

Our boys need to be kept busy otherwise they mope and ask "what is there to do?"

This fall Tina signed up Jeremy for gymnastics and swimming lessons, both in the morning on the weekend.

Corbin is even busier. He has Scouts on Mondays, therapeutic riding Tuesday mornings, gymnastics Wednesday nights and karate Saturday afternoons.

We think that this will be it for gymnastics. Therapeutic horseback riding may be on the chopping block unless they come up with a new plan for Corbin. We seem him losing interest if they don't give him a new target.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Brantford Via London . . . and Best Buy

It was time to take Bev back home. Fortunately, Gerry was able to meet us in London. We let the hostage, er, Bev go and said our goodbyes.

We had dinner at Swiss Chalet. It wasn't too bad, but the waitress, who appeared to be new and overwhelmed, forgot part of Tina's meal.

Next we headed over Best Buy where I bought my mom a flat panel LCD TV for her bedroom. They had them in stock and I was in and out in about 10 minutes.

The drive to Brantford was uneventful.

While my mom played with the boys, I decided to setup the new TV. I really wanted to see what this thing was capable of.

It was well packaged in the box and was very easy to set up. I went through the setup menu and in no time had the channels automatically programmed. I drove out to Canadian Tire to pick a component cable for the combo DVD/VCR player. The DVD picture was sharp. The analog TV signal was acceptable.

The next day, I realized that only the DVD player uses the component output, so Tina and I went Wal-Mart and bought some stereo and video cables to hook up the VCR side. We stopped by the chip wagon to get some french fries and drove around Brantford. We stopped in at Lowes and Future Shop before going back to my mom's.

I hooked up the additional cables and revised the 'watching' instructions for my mom. She was in awe of the TV. She couldn't believe how big the picture was.

Jeremy and Corbin played with their Babcia all weekend.

It was a very relaxing weekend. Not a single fight or complaint.

Posted by Adam

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Back To School

Three words that most parents love hearing. Let me say it again. Back To School.

Today, Corbin began Grade 5 and Jeremy was starting Senior Kindergarten.

It was a big day for Corbin because not only was he in Grade 5, but he has a new teacher, a new classroom (on the other, or 'big kid', side of the school) and a new EA. He handled the day well.

He gave his teacher from last year, Ms. Mayea, a hug and then started talking to kids and saying hi. When he saw Ms. Johnston, his EA for the past 3 or so years, he didn't run up to her. He walked up and gave her a hug.

The big change for Jeremy this year was that he would be attending in the afternoon instead of the morning. A lot of the kids in the morning were sad to hear that. A few kids from last years JK class were in Jeremy's SK class, but for the most part, he will be making new friends this year.

The day went well for both boys. And that is all we can ask for.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Corbin and I

Tina had to head up to Goderich to get her mom and bring her back for some more medical appointments. She was going to take both boys, but really only wanted to take one. I said, 'take Jeremy - ask Corbin if he wants to go'.

Much to our surprise, Corbin chose to stay in Windsor. That is a first.

So, Corbin spent the weekend home with me. I was not going to be much fun since my main task for the weekend was painting. I don't mind painting - it's all the prep work that I mind. I wanted to repaint the trim in the hallway, paint the patch by the front door (where a shelf used to be) and finishing painting the basement.

While I painted, Corbin watched some TV, played Playstation, spent some time on the computer and even painted a bit. I managed to squeeze in some Playstation time with Corbin.

At one point I had to do some shopping at Shoppers and get some additional paint supplies. Corbin helped with the shopping cart at Shoppers. We got a few supplies at Home Depot and then drove over to A&W to grab some burgers at home.

We watched the James Bond film Casino Royale on the Movie Network - I went back to painting after finishing my burger. After the movie was done, it was bed time for Corbin and I did some more painting in the basement.

All in all it was a good weekend with Corbin. I'm glad he didn't go up to Goderich because he didn't need to get all worked up before going to school.

Posted by Adam

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Passports for the Szymczak Boys

Since I was on vacation today and tomorrow, I decided this was a good time to get our passports. Last week, Corbin, Jeremy and I went to Wal-Mart to get our passports and I had my mom sign as our guarantor.

Today, I took Corbin and Jeremy downtown to get our passports. We left first thing in the morning. I parked in the City Hall employee parking lot (it's free for me) and we walked down to the passport office. Apparently the walk was longer than the boys are used to, since they were asking 'how much further'.

We got to the CIBC building and took the elevator up the 5th floor. It wasn't busy. Passport Canada has a good system where they pre-screen you to make sure you have all the relevant information and then give you a ticket with your number. The boys went to sit down, but sat apart from each other. Seems they weren't liking each other's company.

A few minutes later, our number was called. The friendly gentleman took the applications one by one. He noticed I worked for the City of Windsor and asked in which department did I work in. I said Planning. He said "you must know Jeff Watson". I said, I worked with Jeff for 10 years until his recent retirement. We talked some more and I signed the form and paid the fees and we were off.

Painless and quick.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Thanks Babcia

A week sure doesn't seem like a long time - it sure went by quick.

The boys, for the most part, had a good time with Babcia. She would play with them, take them outside in the backyard or the park, and just hang out with them. She helped Tina and I by making supper, doing the laundry and keeping the kitchen clean. It worked out well for everybody.

Jeremy gave her some attitude, something about Babcia being annoying. As if we let him do whatever he wants.

Yesterday we did some shopping at Devonshire Mall. My mom got a bunch of bed sheets and pillow covers for Alex's room - she even bought the sheets Tina and I picked out. We strolled around the mall. Babcia bought Corbin some Chaotic playing cards. Later we out to Boston Pizza for an early supper.

Thanks for helping out Babcia. See you soon.

Posted by Adam

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Best Buy and Babcia

Tina was at an all-day conference where Henry Winkler was the main speaker, so after an excellent supper, the rest of us headed to Best Buy to look at flat-panel TVs for my mom, video games for Corbin, movies for Corbin and gadgets for me.

After looking at a bunch TVs, my mom settled on Sharp Aquos 32" Flat-Panel LCD HDTV. We didn't buy just yet - not a good idea to take on the train. I will buy just before we go to Brantford some time in September.

Jeremy picked a Scooby-Doo movie. I think he has all the Scooby-Doo movies available on the shelf at Best Buy, so he is going to have to look for other movies.

Corbin picked up Hamster Life for his NintendoDS. It's a game where you take care of a Hamster or two. Don't ask.

I picked up a 250 GB HP Pocket Drive to backup the laptop computer. An added bonus is that it fits into the pocket drive slot on our desktop. That means I could backup our pictures and Tina could scrap book with the laptop and pocket drive when ever we take the laptop with us.

My mother looked at MP3 players and fell in love with the iPod Nano. She wouldn't mind getting one as a Christmas present.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Priceless Quotes


Jeremy's answer to Adam's question "Where would you like to go other than Chuck E. Cheese?"

"I won't melt. I'm made out of meat"

Jeremy responding to Tina's comment about him melting if we don't turn on the air conditioning

"Of course I still stink you, you big masterpiece"

Jeremy ranting when he was mad at Mom and Dad

Posted by Adam

Jeremy's "Gotcha Day"

Happy "Gotcha Day" Jeremy.

It's been three years since Jeremy joined our family. Time sure is flying. From a quiet kid with big curly hair to a on-the-go non-stop chatting boy with short hair, Jeremy sure is growing up fast.

Thanks for coming along for the ride,

Mom, Dad and Corbin.

It's Hot

The air conditioning has been off for about 10 days.

An unbelievable run considering that it is August and this is Windsor. It's usually hot, hazy and humid but this year it's been nice. It gets hot in the afternoon, but usually there is a breeze, so we just keep the windows open night and day.

It's hot today. The temperature inside the house shot up 2 degrees Celsius in one hour. It's mid-afternoon and with no breeze, our south-facing house was getting mighty toasty.

So it was time to turn on the AC. Hopefully, I'll be able to turn off in the evening.

Posted by Adam

Friday, 8 August 2008

Successful Soccer Camp

Tina signed up Corbin for the Royal City Soccer Camp during the week after Civic holiday. It's soccer instruction in the morning, followed by lunch and swimming.

The location of the camp moved from Mic Mac Park to Lanspeary Park, a more central location for Windsor, and one that has a covered over hockey rink that can be used when it rains. The park also has an outdoor swimming pool.

Corbin did well this year. No major problems. His worker was there to assist as required. Corbin did complain a little because he had to do more work because the instructors expected more.

In the end, Corbin admitted he enjoyed the soccer camp.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Ottawa Vacation - Day 4

Last day of the NACAC conference. Tina pulled off another amazing breakfast service. Again, she went to the conference and we headed to the pool.

One family in the pool today, but they eventually left. We spent a few minutes in the hot tub, which Jeremy loves. Back in the pool. It was nice and relaxing. Spent about a good hour in the pool.

Went up to the room, changed and then went down to Laurier Centre to check out the shopping mall. Jeremy knew the way from his previous visit with Tina. One smart kid.

We wandered around and killed some time. I almost bought the boys some Indiana Jones figures at a specialty toy store, but balked at the price. Surely Walmart is cheaper. Complete with our tour of the mall, we went back to our room to prepare to check out. Tina was already in the room.

So I called to get our van one last time - did I mention I LOVE valet parking? By time we were packed, the van was waiting right at the door, and Rob, our boys best friend at the Westin, helped us load the van. Corbin gave Rob a tip. Rob asked where we were heading, and we said Windsor. "Long drive" was his reply and said to say "hi" to St. Thomas, his hometown. One last goodbye to Rob and we were on our way home.

Because the 417 was closed, we took the scenic route down the Rideau Canal. We grabbed lunch at McDonalds and made our way over to the 416 in Neapean. It was around 12:30 PM.

The drive to Windsor was, for the most part uneventful. We did have to deal with some pop-up showers and thunderstorms, but they were short-lasting. We stopped at the rest centres as required. The drive through Toronto was typical. Lots of traffic but nothing major.

When we got to Cambridge, I decided it was time for supper. We pulled off at Highway 24 and had supper at the Boston Pizza. With our tummies full of food, we made the final push to Windsor. A quick stop at the Pilot Travel Center in Tilbury for gas and we arrived in Windsor shortly after 9:30 PM.

For a short vacation with over 16 hours of driving time, it was a great vacation jam packed with things to do and people to see. Tina was glad she attended the conference and I got to spend some much needed time with my boys. It was nice to see Steve, Pam, Owen and Laura and Sarah again. Ottawa is full things to do and see and we will definitely be back.

Posted by Adam

Friday, 1 August 2008

Ottawa Vacation - Day 3 - Part 2

This evening we drove back over to Steve and Pam's house for some pizza, beer and good old hanging out.

I thanked Steve for his suggestion about the Canadian Aviation Museum. He was right, it was cheap and the boys liked it. I also said that I loved valet parking - it's so convenient to not have to drag your kids to the parking lot or garage, especially when the valet attendants park the van right outside the door. Now that is service.

Pam ordered pizza from a nearby pizza place, using us as guinea pigs. We were fine with that. It' can't be that bad, right.

The kids played and played and played. We sat on the patio and chatted away the night. The pizza came and the kids ate inside while the big kids - us adults - ate outside. For the record, the pizza was just fine.

All good things must come to an end and we had to leave. It was getting late and everyone needed some rest. We thanked Steve and Pam for having us over, again, and that we will definitely be back.

Posted by Adam

Ottawa Vacation - Day 3 - Part 1

Tina pulled off another excellent breakfast. Who needs hot cinnamon rolls? After breakfast and showers, Tina headed off to the conference and the rest of us headed down to the pool.

The pool wasn't empty. There were a few families, which gave Corbin a chance to play with other kids. We spent about an hour before going up to the room and getting ready for the rest of the day.

The boys and I drove over to the
Canadian Museum of Civilization over in Gatineau, Quebec. Originally, I was considering taking the boys on a local bus, but then I thought about having to wait at the end of long and busy day. The van was easier and parking cost the same as the bus. It took about five minutes to drive from the hotel to the museum. Parking is underground - which is nice.

In the lobby, I was presented with an assortment of choices. Aye carumba. I settled on the Museum, the Wild Ocean IMAX movie and the Greeks special exhibition. It was just over $40 for the three of us.
The Canadian Museum of Civilization is a group of museums and permanent and temporary exhibits.

Our first stop was the Canadian Children's Museum which includes the outdoor Adventure World.
The web site suggests that you "allow three hours for a visit with children". That is an understatement. The boys could have spent the whole day just in the Children's Museum. The place is amazing.
Kids are given a passport. They find stations where they insert the proper page of their passport and stamp it. The place was filled with all kinds of hands-on exhibits from a ship to a pyramid to a market to a house to, well everything.

Located outside, the Adventure World is a wonderful bonus. Kids can go fishing, fly a plane, drive a boat or make cool crafts. When we headed outside I was faced with the dilemma of Corbin wanting to be outside and Jeremy wanting to play inside. So I left Corbin to his own devices and said we will be back in a half an hour.

Jeremy played on the ship, first cleaning the deck, then loading and unloading some cargo and finally piloting the ship. He could have spent all day on the ship. We wandered around (more like me following Jeremy) before finding Corbin outside.

Fortunately, Corbin's natural clock was working and he was heading up the walkway with a boat in his hands. Apparently, the kid who didn't like crafts, made a boat from wood, corks, straw, paper and a bottle cap, all by himself. Who is this kid?

After spending enough time in the Children's Museum, we grabbed a quick bite to eat (overpriced and poor quality). I grabbed some popcorn and we lined up for the movie. A few minutes later the doors opened and we found some seats. Wild Ocean is a story about the sardine migration off the east coast of Africa and circle of life along the KwaZulu-Natal Coast. Who knew a movie about sardines could be so exciting. It was an amazing presentation and I highly recommend it.

We headed over to the Grand Hall and the First Peoples Hall where we learnt about the history of the First Peoples (aka natives). Corbin was naturally attracted to any exhibits with weapons while Jeremy was Jeremy as in "when are we going back to the Children's Museum".

A quick run through The Greeks exhibit which contained some amazing artifacts, including jewelry that was well over 2000 years old.

Next was the Face to Face: The Canadian Personalities Hall and the Canada Hall. The boys showed some interest in the exhibits, but what caught their attention was the Justice in New France dramatic presentation. Corbin and Jeremy sat and watched the full length of the presentation, which is part theatre and part interactive. Who are these kids?

I let the boys free in the Children's Museum to let off some more energy - if that is possible. Six hours later, we were back in Ottawa, struggling to get to the Westin - traffic was at a standstill. We managed to make it to the hotel, where Rob, the valet attendant, was greeted by the boys.

We could have spent all day at the museum and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting or living in Ottawa-Gatinuea area. We didn't even get a chance to visit the Canadian Postal Museum. If you have kids, you may want to plan two days to take in the whole facility or come when it opens and leave when it closes. Parking is $10 for the day and is located underground with direct access to the museum.

Posted by Adam

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Ottawa Vacation - Day 2 - Part 2

The plan for tonight was for Sarah to hang out with us. Sarah is Corbin's former worker who recently moved to Ottawa (she is from Ottawa). Sarah and Corbin have a special bond - she was one of the few workers who was able to spend two hours playing Playmobil with Corbin. We were sad when Sarah left Windsor.

When Sarah moved back to Ottawa, we promised Corbin that if we were ever in Ottawa, we would call her up and get together. We just didn't expect to happen this quick.

Sarah works in Gatineau, Quebec. She didn't have too much of a problem finding the hotel. Corbin and Jeremy were excited to see her.

We went down to the Elephant & Castle Pub and Restaurant for dinner. Everyone seemed to like their food, and I enjoyed my pint of Guiness. After supper, Sarah took us into Byward Market to have some Beaver Tails, an Ottawa specialty. It's dough that is flattened out, deep fried and then topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. It was very tasty.

We wondered around the market. At one point I had to take Jeremy to the washroom - I was able to find one and Jeremy was happy to have relieved himself. We walked back to the hotel, changed into our swimsuits and joined the mayhem in the pool. Tons of kids to keep Corbin occupied. Sarah helped Jeremy with his swimming. Tina relaxed in the hot tub. I just swam around.

Corbin and Jeremy liked hanging out with Sarah, and it was good to see her again. It was time to say our goodbyes to Sarah.

A nice ending to an awesome day.

Posted by Adam

Ottawa Vacation - Day 2 - Part 1

Day one of the NACAC Conference. Tina prepared breakfast for the rest of us (oatmeal) plus made a coffee for herself and me.One by one the boys woke up and Tina fed them. She went down to register (changing the registration from name to her name).

Once I had a shower and the boys were fed, the three of us went to the pool while Tina went to the Conference. We spent about 45 minutes in pool - we were the only ones. The pool has a great view of the Chateau Laurier and downtown Ottawa.

We changed and chilled out in the hotel while I read the Globe & Mail and figured out what us boys are doing today. Steve had mentioned the Canadian Aviation Museum. I know the boys like planes and the admission was very reasonable and there was free parking. I called the front desk to get my van from valet parking and in about 10 minutes the van was ready - right at the front door. I think I am going to like Valet Parking.

The drive to the museum took us along Sussex Drive. We went by the embassies, 24 Sussex Drive and the Governor-General's residence. The Canadian Aviation Museum provides free parking in a surface lot. The facility is also accessible by public transit.

It wasn't too busy so we were able to walk around the museum at a leisurely pace. Corbin liked the planes, especially the bomber with the gun turrets. Jeremy like the idea but wanted to go back to the hotel and jump in the pool. Halfway through our visit, we came upon a lady standing beside an ejection seat with a helmet and g-suit. That got the boys attention. Corbin and Jeremy put on the helmet and took a turn sitting in the chair. They were pumped.

After 3 or so hours at the museum, we headed back to the hotel. Tina wasn't back from the conference, so the boys and I went for a stroll. We crossed the Rideau Canal and watched the honour guard at the War Memorial. Corbin and Jeremy seemed very interested.

We walked over to Sparks Street where busker's festival was underway. A busker was just starting his show, so we stopped and watched. He was a juggler who juggled torches. At one point, I became part of the show having to toss the third and final torch at the juggler. He thanked me for not burning him.

After the show, we walked some more and watched another show down the street. Then we headed back to the hotel walking past Parliament Hill. Tina was back and the boys were excited to tell her what we saw.

Pictures forthcoming.

Posted by Adam

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Ottawa Vacation - Day 1 - Part 1

View from our hotel room windowWoke up at 5 AM, packed the van and left at 6:00 AM. The boys were in their pyjamas and half asleep, watching whatever was in their DVD player.

Pulled into the Pilot Travel Center in Tilbury for some gas and grub. This service centre is many times better than the Ontario service centres. They are cleaner and have people helping you out.

We arrived in Toronto around 9:45 AM - missing rush hour traffic but still having to slow down here and there. Had a quick pit stop in Pickering for a washroom Tina relaxing and reading about hotel amenetiesbreak, coffee and DVD change.

The drive between Toronto and Kingston was uneventful. It rained a few times, but nothing major. We arrived in Kingston around 1:00 PM and took a break at Cataraqui Town Centre where we had a late lunch and walked around for about an hour.

It was the final stretch - 401 to 416 to 417. No problems save for typical traffic on the 417. Managed to find the Westin Hotel and pulled in just before 4:00 PM. Ten hours on the road (about eight hours of actual driving time) and we all survived.

Jeremy playing with toysWe decided to use Valet Parking. A little more expensive but a lot more convenient. Tina registered us and up we went to our room for a much needed unwinding.

Posted by Adam

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

A Trip To The Toledo Zoo

It was a good day to go to the zoo, sunny but not humid, with the occasional cloud provide a cool down period. We left around 8:45 AM. Took about 30 minutes to get through US Customs. The trip down I-75 to Toledo was uneventful and quick.

The zoo was bustling as we arrived around 10:30. I parked in the lot closest to the main entrance. The Toledo Zoo is in the middle of an expansion/rejuvenation project. The two major projects are a parking lot expansion and the construction of an indoor children's zoo. The parking lot expansion is nearing completion, while the indoor zoo is just underway.

The indoor children's zoo will be a year-round facility, unlike the current children's zoo that is open during summer months. It will be another reason to visit the zoo in the fall and winter. Good job.

It wasn't too busy or crowded. We checked out the penguins, tigers, hippos and sloth bears. Corbin seemed interested in the animals this time. The highlight of the day was watching the elephants get a wash and then watching them walk from the building to their outdoor area. Corbin and Jeremy were literally feet away from the elephants - separated by a metal gate. Both boys were very excited.

Time for lunch.Jeremy started crying hard because of the lettuce on his cheeseburger (it was easily removed). Corbin ate a double cheeseburger with fries. I had onion rings while Corbin and I shared a pop. Jeremy had a juice. Next we checked out the Amphibians and Reptile exhibit before seeing the monkeys, orangutans and gorillas.

We crossed the bridge and headed over to see what the seals and polar bears were doing. I took the boys on the train across the African Savannah. Jeremy was excited to see giraffes and zebras, while Corbin pretended he was in Africa.

A quick snack and a trip to the washroom before heading home. We spent about five hours at the zoo. No problems and everyone had a very good time.

Posted by Adam

Monday, 21 July 2008

Priceless Quotes

"Forgetting things is really hard"

Jeremy to me, after I told him to close the door before he does his business in the bathroom.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 20 July 2008

I Feel Like A Bus Driver

Yesterday, I commented to Tina that every time we made a major stop over the past weekend, we seem to have one more body in the van.

Today was no different.

The reason we stopped over in Goderich was to bring Bev back to Windsor for some more medical appointments. So we had one more body and some more luggage. I felt like a bus driver.

I did manage to break a 'fuel record' with the van, driving for 912 kilometres on one tank of gas. We filled up at the rest stop between West Lorne and Dutton on the 401. So on one tank of gas we drove to Brantford, up to Camp Winston, then across to Goderich and back down to Tilbury. Not bad mileage.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Kid #2

We left Brantford shortly before 9:00 AM. I took the 403 to the 407 (worth the toll to avoid the traffic and tourists) to the 400. Naturally, the 400 was packed all the way to Barrie. Highway 11 was marginally better.

Pick up day was well underway when we pulled into Camp Winston at 11:15 AM. Corbin saw Tina and ran up to her and gave her a big hug. I was the next recipient of a hug with Jeremy finally getting a hug.

Tina walked over to the Cabin to get his stuff. Christina, one of Corbin's Counsellor's helped us with the bag. I watched Corbin and Jeremy who ran to the Dining Hall when the heard the bell ring. The four of us grabbed a bite to eat. Corbin didn't eat, but Jeremy more than made up for that.

Corbin said his goodbyes and we left for the trip to Goderich. That drive wasn't too bad once we got off the 400 at Highway 89. Had a small detour around Harriston that threw me for a slow loop. Seems that the part of 89 between Harriston and Palmerston was renumbered to Highway 23. None of the maps, paper or electronic, I use had that change. Oh well.

It was nice to arrive in Goderich after a long day of driving. And unlike a past trip from Camp Winston, this one only took about 3 1/2 hours.

Posted by Adam

Friday, 18 July 2008

Kid #1

After a quick clean of the bathtub and a quick vacuum (and a cool off period), Tina and I left Windsor around 3:00 PM to Brantford to reunite with Jeremy.

The trip up was smooth. We made good time and managed to pull into Babcia's house before 6:00 PM. Jeremy was very excited to see us - no puking this year.

We hugged and kissed him till he got tired of it. Then he went over to play with his friends. Seems that someone had a great time.

Posted by Adam

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Phase One Cleaning Done

I managed to finish cleaning up the office/Jeremy's room. I put up a magnet board above Jeremy's board, cleaned out the drawers in the desk and cleared out much of the closet (though a few things were put temporarily in there).

Tina put some finishing touches in Corbin's room and completed the major task of cleaning and organizing the rec room. Dusted and vacuumed, the room looks clean and spacious. We managed to put out another four bags of garbage plus Tina took some stuff to Value Village. We have tossed out a lot of stuff - and there is more to toss out in the coming weeks as we attack the Everything Room, Crawl Space, Laundry Room, Kitchen and Garage.

I need to touch up the basement walls with paint and paint those walls that are still dark panelling. I also need to paint the wall by the front entrance where the bookcase was and relocate some hooks from the front closet.

Outside needs some major attention. The weeds have to be pulled, again, and the flowers deadheaded and trimmed. I need to work on relocating the sand box to the former vegetable garden and get some quotes for some concrete work, new aluminum gate and wooden fence repairs. I think I may squeeze in a quote for new windows in the basement - the paint is peeling off and I don't feel like scraping and painting them.

I've decided that next year in the garage, I am going to rip down the 'vapour barrier' and insulation and get some foam spray insulation instead. This will require me to tear down the workbench that is there, but it's a crappy bench to begin with and is too large. Some rewiring and new lighting will make the garage more usable. I've already taken down several shelves over the past two years.

And while we are finally relaxing, the cleaning fun never really ends.

Posted by Adam

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Cleaning Continues

With no kids in the house, Tina and I have been concentrating on cleaning up the house . . . and watching movies and shows on TMN On Demand.

Corbin's room is done save for the relocation of some wall hooks and a non-slip mat under the rug. I'm about three-quarters of the way done cleaning up the office/Jeremy's room. Just need to go through the closet, put away all the CDs and DVDs I found, find a home for some containers, put a wall hook and magnet board, and vacuum and wash the floor. I still need to organize the manuals but that can be saved for a rainy day - or when I have access to the dining room table.

Tina has completely cleaned up the rec room. Lots of space for the boys to play in behind the couch. Everything has been dusted and vacuumed. I just need to spend some time organizing the entertainment unit. Again, could be a rainy day or hot, humid day job.

Tina already vacuumed out the crawl space - where I removed the shelves. I just need to find a decent carpet to cover the imperfections in the floor. I need to redo the lighting.

Our bedroom and the bathroom need a good cleaning - I'm hoping to get the bathroom done Thursday before we get Corbin from camp.

Haven't done much outside, I'll be able to work on that next week during my vacation. I need to get quotes for new windows in the basement, a fence between the garage and house, a concrete pad beside the garage and reconstruction of the concrete porch in the backyard, and get two posts on our wooden fence replaced.

We may clean the carpets next week. Maybe.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Phone Call #2 From Corbin

Early in the evening, we got our second call from Corbin. The purpose of this call was to ask us to send him some mail. Seems that the other boys are getting mail at supper and Corbin was feeling left out.

So Tina said that we can absolutely send some mail. I sent Corbin an email that he should get during Monday's mail call and Tina prepared a card to be mailed out Monday and will hopefully be received on Thursday or Friday. I may send him another email Wednesday. Tina and I have made a mental note to send email and mail next year.

Corbin seems to be having a great time and talked about playing Star Wars with his friends. We also learnt that he changed bunks so another Cabin mate could have the top bunk. Wow, who is this kid?

Most of Corbin's answers were short as in "Yes" and quiet. At one point I told to be more excited and yell out the answer. He had tell the staff that "my dad told me to do that" and they all laughed.

We told him that Jeremy misses him and that Guinea is fine.

Posted by Adam

The Trip Back Home

The train was scheduled to leave Brantford at 8:22 PM. So we left the house at 7:50 and arrived at the train station shortly after 8:00. Jeremy brought an umbrella to 'protect' him from the spitting rain that stopped. He was his usual cute self in the station, having a conversation with a gentleman waiting for someone.

We went outside where the clouds gave way to sun. Jeremy asked many questions. Imagine that. The train was a few minutes early. I was the only one getting on in Brantford. I found a row of seats to myself and waved to Jeremy - who had some problem finding me. Hmmmm.

The trip was largely uneventful to just east of Chatham. We had to wait about 10 minutes where the main freight lines cross, but the engineer seemed to make up time as we sped through Lakeshore. We crossed Banwell Road and the train came to a stop. This can't be a good thing.

Seems earlier in the day, a train jumped some tracks. VIA was told that any equipment would be cleared by the time Train 79 entered Windsor. It wasn't the case. We waited for about 15 or so minutes before slowly inching our way past Jefferson.

At 12:22 AM we pulled into Windsor Station. We were told that we are eligible for a 50% travel credit that can be used in the next 6 months. I was glad to be home. Tina had fun watching all the action at the train station.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Babcia Camp, Here We Come

It was that time of year where Jeremy heads off to Babcia Camp. He has been talking about all week. I think he is excited.

Instead of driving, I decided to take the train to make Babcia Camp 2008 a memorable experience. Jeremy could not stop talking about going on a 'big train'.

Tina dropped us of at the station and we said our good byes. We didn't have to wait long to board, but it did start to rain. Fortunately, we got on the train before the downpour. A few minutes later we were moving.

Jeremy handed our tickets to the VIA staff member who handed back the other half. Jeremy held on to the stubs for at least 20 minutes.

The first hour of the trip was full of question after question. What is this button? What is this thing for? What are these? What is that bag for? What was that sound? On and on. Jeremy had a drink and a fruit snack before heading off to the washroom. He was unsure at first but got the hang of it. He liked pressing the button that opened the flap and gushed in new water.

The second hour we spent playing toys. I let him play LEGO Indiana Jones on my Nintendo DS. Unfortunately, Jeremy saved over my game. Lesson learnt. Another trip to the washroom.

The final hour was a little more touchy. He was getting fidgety. But I pulled out he fishy crackers and all was well again. We got our stuff ready and walked to the front of the car. The motion of the car did not sit well with Jeremy because he was very quiet when Babcia gave him a big hug.

When asked if he liked the train ride, Jeremy responded with a reserved "yes".

Posted by Adam

Yard Sale A Bust

The title sums it up.

There was very little foot and pedestrian traffic - which is so unlike a typical Saturday on our street. And just after Tina dropped me off at the train station it began to rain, hard.

The yard sale was done. Tina and Jen dried off the big items such as the train table and table and chair set and few other things. The rest was loaded into the van and dropped off at Value Village.

We earned a whopping $25. Nothing like the over $200 we earned last year. Oh well. What can you do? Despite the dud of a yard sale, Tina was happy to get rid of the stuff one way or another. There is a lot of room in Corbin's room and in the basement.

Posted by Adam

Friday, 11 July 2008

Yard Sale 2008

In an unexpected move, Tina decided to have a yard sale tomorrow. We weren't planning on having one, but Tina has joined the good side and is getting rid of things. We are selling a bunch of toys, furniture, books, kids DVDs and so forth. Jen is bringing some stuff to sell.

Whatever does not get sold will be taken over to Value Village or similar. No holding on to things for the next yard sale. Sell it or dump it.

Posted by Adam

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

A Taste of Things To Come

Jen's youngest asked if Jeremy could sleepover. We had no problem, so tonight, Tina and I were on our own. What to do?

We drove to the west side and had some wings and beverages at Hurricanes. It was 2 for 1 Wing night so we both got an order of 22 wings and fries. I ordered a Guinness and Tina had a Coke. It was tasty and delicious.

Back home, Tina helped me take measurements of our backyard so that I could enter them into the landscape software I bought. The mosquitoes were out in full force.

Posted by Adam

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Sorry I Didn't Reach For You Two Days

During supper, Corbin called today and his first words were "Sorry I didn't reach you for two days". You see, we had told Corbin to call us at least once near the beginning of camp. Of course, he took this to mean that he should have called Sunday night. Oh well, at least he called.

He told us about some of the activities he had done so far - basically he has done everything. Boating. Swimming. Fishing. Ropes Course. Bike Riding. Hockey. Sports. And on and 0n and on. He sounded in very good spirits. We all said "Hi' to Corbin, even Jeremy seemed interested in talking (albeit with a mouth full of food).

Later that day, Denise, the Camp Director, called and said everything is going fine and she is most impressed with Corbin so far. Apparently, our oldest boy plays with the older boys, get involved in group activities and has become a star athlete. You are talking about Corbin, right Denise? It was good to hear positive things about Corbin and that he is having a wonderful and positive experience.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Camp Winston Via Goderich, Day 3

Part 1 - Goderich to Camp Winston

Camp day had finally arrived. Naturally, today was the day the boys decided to sleep in. So much for being excited, hey Corbin?

Tina and I had our showers and quick breakfast. The boys eventually woke up and had their breakfast.

We packed and left Bev and Gerry's around 9:00 am. The weather was warm and sunny. I got some gas at the Shell station in town. Jeremy watched movies on his DVD player, while Corbin played with his Nintendo DS.

We made our way over to Wingham and followed 86 to 87 to Highway 89. Traffic was light, so I was making good time. In Mount Forest, we saw what must be one of the smallest Canadian Tire stores - the thing could not be more than 20,000 square feet. Compare that to the standard 120,000+ square foot Canadian Store. Around Shelbourne we saw a large wind farm.

Traffic began to increase after Shelbourne. We stopped for a pee break, coffees and timbits at Tim Horton's in Alliston. About 10 minutes later we were heading northbound on Highway 400. We arrived in Orillia just after 12 noon.

Popped into Wal-Mart to get some last minute things and kill some time before heading over to Boston Pizza for our 'traditional' lunch before heading up to Camp Winston - about a 20 minute drive. We made sure to spray on some bug repellent before leaving Orillia.

We take the 'back way' to Camp Winston via S Sparrow Lake Road / Canning Road. This gets everybody into the cottage mood and we get a chance to cross the single-lane swing bridge. We have only seen the bridge swing once. Every year the boys hope to see it swing open.

We arrived shortly after 2:00 pm and the place was a abuzz with activity. A counsellor met us and we headed over to the cabin. Along the way, Corbin ran to Denise, the Camp Director, yelled out her name and gave her a big hug. Denise could not believe that Corbin remembered her name and was amazed at how much he has grown.

In Cabin 5 we unpacked Corbin's stuff. Not wasting any time, Corbin asked if he could go fishing and the counsellor said "let's go". Tina reminded Corbin to say good bye before fishing, so he quickly said good bye and hugged us.

Jeremy played on the Jungle Gym under my watchful eye, while Tina waited in line to see the nurse. Then it was time for the long drive back to Windsor.

Part 2 - Camp Winston to Windsor

I put a new DVD in Jeremy's DVD player and Tina buckled him in. We headed out.

Highway 11 and 400 were packed, as usual. A few slow downs between Barrie and Vaughan, but nothing major. Originally we thought about going shopping but by the time we got to Highway 407 in Vaughan it was 4:00 PM, so we pushed through.

I took the 407 to avoid the 401/Airport area. Yes, you pay a toll, but it is well worth the stress-free drive. Back on the 401, traffic picked up. At the Milton rest stop, Tina took over driving duties, reluctantly. She does not like driving in the afternoon. After 13 years together, I learned something new about my wife.

We had leftover pizza from Boston Pizza, so I had a few slices. Jeremy had some snacks. Even Tina had a slice. Took a washroom break at the rest stop west of Woodstock. Tina got frozen treats for her and I and gum for Jeremy.

The drive was uneventful until mileage 120. Traffic came to a stand still. It was clear that the 401 was closed up ahead. I told Tina not to follow the traffic on the so-called EDR (Emergency Detour Route) and we took a different way back to the 401. The waiting and detour cost us about 45 minutes.

We arrived in Windsor around 9:00 PM tired but happy to be home. The van was quickly unpacked. We let Jeremy stay up a little before we all retired to bed.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Camp Winston Via Goderich, Day 2

The waiting game was on. For Corbin, that meant dealing with the double whammy of waiting to get to Camp Winston and waiting to play with his cousins.

Tina and Corbin headed over to Tims to get some coffee and breakfast for Tina and I. On the way back, she dropped Corbin at Chris and Lisa´s. After eating and showering, we headed over there to check out life on East Street. The kids were playing okay, but Corbin was having some issues.

Lisa bribed Corbin with two dollars to empty and load her dishwasher. He did it with some help from Tina. It seemed to turn him around for the afternoon.

We headed over to Wal-Mart to pickup a few last minute items for camp, some sunglasses for me and some groceries for Bev.

The rest of the evening was okay. Corbin had a meltdown, but a bath calmed him down and eased some of his anxiety. At one point I gave Corbin´s Nintendo DS to Jeremy as punishment for him hitting Jeremy. Corbin was none to pleased. On the other hand, Jeremy cherished the moment.

Tina and Bev did some scrapbooking. I updated our blog. Gerry watched TV. Corbin played with his Nintendo and watched Superman on the other TV.

It´s off to bed to get some rest before a day full of travel.

Posted by Adam

Friday, 4 July 2008

Camp Winston Via Goderich, Day 1

We signed up Corbin for the second session at Camp Winston. So it was time to get ready and make our way to Sparrow Lake. We had to go through Goderich this time to drop off Bev back home.

Tina spent the morning packing Corbin´s stuff for camp and our stuff for the weekend. I cut the grass and then put down some weed and feed (hopefully this will help turnaround the grass in the backyard).

We left Windsor around 3:00 PM. Tina drove and I sat in the back with the boys. Corbin and I played a game together with our Nintendo DS while Jeremy watched a Harry Potter movie. A quick stop at Parks for a bathroom and food break. The drive was uneventful.

After feeding the boys, Tina and I headed out to find somewhere to eat in Goderich. We didn´t want fast food and we didn´t want a chain restaurant. We settled on Thyme on 21, which is located a hop, skip and jump from Bev & Gerry´s house.

It was busy and we didn´t have reservations. But the owner was able to fit us in said it would be about 15 minutes. While we waited, I drove the van over to Bev & Gerry´s so we could enjoy a bottle of wine during dinner.

We were shown to our table and I ordered a bottle of Pelee Island VQA Merlot. The waitress brought over a basket of freshly baked onion bread that was to die for. What a way to begin the meal.

For appetizers, Tina had the Spinach Salad, while I enjoyed the Vegetable Spring Rolls with a Thai Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce. The salad was light and the vinaigrette hit the spot. The spring rolls were piping hot, crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. The dipping sauce was perfect.

For the entree, I ordered the Grilled Lamb Tenderloin (cooked medium) with Port Wine Sauce, Red-Skin Mashed Potatoes and Fresh Vegetables. Tina settled on the Rolled Souffle stuffed with Goat Cheese, spinach and roasted peppers in a sun-dried tomato cream sauce and fresh vegetables.

The lamb was grilled to perfection. It was soft and would melt in your mouth. The mashed potatoes were just that and were the perfect accompaniment to the lamb. The vegetables were mouth watering delicious.

The souffle exceeded Tina´s expectations. It would disappear in your mouth leaving the delightful taste of the goat cheese, spinach and roasted peppers in your mouth. The sauce was simply amazing.

For dessert, Tina ordered the Creme Brulé to share, along with coffee. It was the perfect ending to a perfect meal.

We drank, ate, talked and drank some more. Being able to have a bottle of wine with an excellent meal was something we longed for.

If you are ever driving through or happen to be in Goderich and are looking for a great dining experience, we highly recommend Thyme on 21 Casual Dining.

Posted by Adam

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Happy Birthday Babcia

A big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Babcia, aka Adam´s mom. Hope you enjoyed your day - the weather was nice.

Posted by Adam

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Canada Day

Happy Canada Day.

We spent the day cleaning out the garage. Tina went through her stuff and cleared up a bunch of space in the garage.

I helped the boys go through their outside toys. Jeremy had no problem getting rid of stuff. Corbin had a few issues. We told them that we would be getting some new outside toys to replace the old and worn or broken toys.

I swept the garage and took down two shelves at the back of the garage (a place where I hope to hang the hockey net during the summer and the bikes during the winter). I moved some things around - bringing back some ´order' to the garage. There were eight bags of garbage by the end of the day. It was all good.

Tina barbecued some chicken and made some spinach ravioli with tomato sauce. It was an excellent meal and an excellent way to end the day.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 28 June 2008

A pancake, Swedish Furniture, Bullseye and Simple Fresh Dining

Tina and I decided to take advantage of having Bev in town to head over the border to do some shopping and enjoy some good food in Detroit without the boys. Jeremy was at Lorelie's, so Bev got to spend some time with Corbin.

We headed out of the house around 8:30. The bridge was full but we didn't have to wait too long when two more booths opened. I asked the bridge personnel if I could scoot over and she said yes. So what could have been a 45 minute wait turned out to be a 15 minute wait. Welcome to America.

Fifteen minutes later were pulled into to the IHOP at Middlebelt and I-96. The parking lot had lots of vehicles so we were expecting to wait. But we were fooled - we had a table in no time. Tina ordered the carrot cake pancake, scrambled eggs, hash brown and bacon combo. I ordered the same save for blueberry pancakes. The breakfast was fresh and hot. And the coffee carafe meant that we had a good supply of hot coffee.

Back on I-96 then I-275, we arrived at the already busy IKEA Canton at Haggerty and Ford. The store opens at 10:00 AM. We arrived at 10:15 and people were already loading their vehicles with furniture. Aye carumba.

We browsed, made some mental notes for the future and noted the location of the furniture we wanted to buy. In the Marketplace, we picked up some hangars, a magnet board for Jeremy and few other odds and ends.

In the warehouse, we picked up three pieces of furniture: A MALM 4-drawer chest (medium brown, $99US vs $129CDN) for Jeremy´s room, a Stockholm coffee table (golden-brown $179US vs $279 CDN) for the living room and a bookcase, Expedit (birch effect, $89US vs $99CDN), to be used on its side, for the front door.

Tina was not sure if we should buy the furniture, but I said it is cheaper in the US and we will still be ahead after paying GST and PST. So we headed to the checkout, handed over the credit card and loaded up the van.

We drove down to the new Target in South Canton. There we bought shirts and shorts for the boys, a DVD and a few other things. At Old Navy, Tina bought a few things for the boys. We were done shopping. It was time to eat, again. Our choice was Ruby Tuesdays, just down the road from the Target. Tina and I ordered burgers. They were hot and tasty.

It was time to make our way back to Canada, but first we had to fill the van with some duty-free gasoline. Both sides of the bridge were busy. It took us about 20 minutes to get through Canadian Customs. We declared our purchases in full and, much to our surprise, we were free to go. Tina was shocked.

On our way back home, we stopped at Tim Hortons to get a coffee for Bev. It was a ´thank you´ for watching Corbin. It was a good day for all.

Posted by Adam

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Last Day of School 2008

Today was Corbin's and Jeremy's last day of school.

Both boys had a successful school year. Corbin made great progress in math, music, reading and french. In fact, the school year seemed 'ordinary' - save for a few episodes. Tina and I tend to agree that that is a good thing. Awesome job Corbin - who is already talking about Grade 5 (a new teacher, a new EA and in a new wing of the school - should be fun in September).

Jeremy learnt most of the alphabet, number between 1 and 10, colours, shapes, months and the days of the week. He had some rough patches, but managed to work through them. Jeremy made lots of new friends and looks forward to SK in September. Another change in September is switching from morning to afternoon.

Thanks to Ms. Mayea, Ms. Coolen, Ms. Johnston, Mr. Carter, Ms. Thompson, Mr. Bradacs, Mrs. Marshall and Ms. Ouellette.

Posted by Adam

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

She's Back

Tina and Corbin travelled to London today to accomplish two things: to attend a consultation at CPRI and to pick up Beverly.

The drive up was uneventful, as was the drive back. Corbin had an excellent session at CPRI and he didn't have any major transition issues. Tina even managed to pick up Jeremy, enabling me to get a much needed hair cut.

Posted by Adam

Friday, 20 June 2008

Fries With That?

Williams left a message that our Waring Pro deep fryer was ready to picked up. We chose this model because it is simple to use. It's not a fancy cool-touch fryer with a charcoal filter. It's a deep fryer. This thing even comes with an on-off toggle switch. When was the last time an appliance came with a toggle switch?

Since Tina had to take Corbin for a session at Regional Children's Centre, I decided that we all should head over to the west side. While Tina and Corbin were are RCC, Jeremy and I would pick up the deep fryer.

I dropped Corbin and Tina and headed over to Williams which was a few blocks away. At Williams, Jeremy first had to to go pee and then get some popcorn and lemonade. While we waited for the purchase to processed, Jeremy chatted it up with one of the employees. He told the lady that he had been at the store before and that he likes the popcorn.

After getting back in the van, we headed over to Malden Park to kill some time on the playground. Jeremy tried every piece of equipment, reminding me that he is older and bigger and "can do it". We had fun and headed back to pick up Tina and Corbin.

Next, we headed over to the Columbia outlet store where Tina and Corbin looked for a new raincoat for Corbin to take to Camp Winston. Seems he has a habit of growing just before going to camp. Fortunately, Tina got a deal on the raincoat - it was under $20. An awesome deal.

We headed home along Riverside Drive to make some french fries.

Posted by Adam

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Wild Weather

Well that was interesting. The torrential downpour included hail, lots of it. Some hail was an inch in diameter.

Corbin and Jeremy stood by the front window in awe of the power of the storm. Then I told them there is hail. Jeremy had no idea what I was talking about. I opened the door and grabbed a ball of ice and gave it to Jeremy. He was in awe. About 15 or 20 minutes later, the storm was over. The sun was out and it was warm.

I went to outside to survey the damage and the lawn was littered with hail. I decided to get the hose and wash all the gunk of our driveway. Part way through, the boys put on their bathing suits and decided that they would have me spray them with the hose. I obliged.

They were soaking wet. But they had fun. And my driveway was clean.

Posted by Adam

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Shopping Anyone?

Tina and I decided that it was time to do some shopping. After a quick breakfast and showers, we headed out just past 10:00 am.

Our first stop was Shoppers Drug Mart. It was 20x points day and the place was packed. I had to look for a parking space. That has never happened. Inside the store we stocked up and proceeded to the cashier. Naturally, we ended up in the line with two people checking each price - eventually they paid and the line moved quickly.

We dropped off the stuff at home and headed out to Canadian Tire on Walker Road. There we looked in the patio furniture section and bought two Zero Gravity lounge chairs. We also picked up a tee ball stand and a bat for Jeremy and some other things. We headed across the street where Tina exchanged a pillow she bought.

After a slow lunch at Boston Pizza, we headed to a different Canadian Tire to look for a replacement gun for my pressure washer. For some reason there is a 'shortage' of replacement guns. I really don't want to buy a new pressure washer. But it may come to that.

Our final stop was Williams Food Equipment to look for a deep fryer and a griddle. We found both, but only the griddle (a Cuisinart model with a reversible grill/griddle) was in stock. Tina purchased that and put in an order for the deep fryer (not a fancy 'cool touch' model but a tried and true model that is easy to use and clean). Should be getting a call soon about it.

The boys were happy that we were heading back home. A quick stop at Tim Horton's for a coffee for Tina. Given that we were out for 5 hours, the boys did well.

Posted by Adam