Saturday, January 29, 2011


Yesterday was a PD Day for the kids here (don't they get enough of those?) and for the most part they are quite good at entertaining themselves. I wanted to get a picture of some signs on Tamara's door. Earlier this month I wrote this post about how it seems we now have a teenager in the house. Her door kind of reminded me about that post.

It seemed pretty quiet to me after I took the above photos and Lisa told me to open the door. I thought I might get a cute candid photo of her playing away.

I got one of her typical cute smiles and a question, followed by a giggle: "Daddy, didn't you see the sign on my door?"

Friday, January 28, 2011

A 3D Womb

As promised, here are a few pictures from last week's 3D ultrasound down in Edmonton. The baby has Lisa's cheeks along with my strong jaw line and a full head of hair. It also tends to have its arms and hands up by its face so we are expecting a cuddler.

Lisa has always delivered at between 35 and 36 weeks. At the moment, we are just about at 30 weeks so the count down to baby is on.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


The one thing that was been discussed and debated a lot lately between Lisa and I is a name for the coming baby. Initially, we had a name picked out depending on whether it was a girl or a boy. A couple weeks ago though we decided to change one of the names and that led to our list potential names to grow, seemingly by the day. Our only real criteria were that I should have 3 syllables, like the other children and that a biblical name would be preferred, again, to fit in with Tamara, Nicholas and Elijah. Also, we wanted a name that fit with the others children's when you said them all in order.

Fortunately, we have discovered after our most recent ultrasound that Mother Nature has taken mercy on us and we no longer have to worry about picking from this long list as we only had one name picked out for the gender of child which this one happens to be. Sorry for the awkward wording. I'm just trying to phrase things in a way that doesn't give things away quite yet.

The only other issue that came up (one that I admit I hadn't given all that much thought to) was that of the baby's surname. Tamara, Nicholas and Elijah are all Quennevilles felt that by giving the new baby my surname, it might make it feel a little left out....or make Tamara, Nicholas and Elijah feel left out with one sibling born a Steele and Lisa taking on my surname once we get married. In the end, we decided to cut the Gordian Knot down the middle and will quite likely hyphenate the baby's last name, making him/her a Quenneville-Steele, which we think has a nice ring to it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

...And The Result Is In!

Lisa and the kids left yesterday morning for Edmonton for her 3D ultrasound. It was a date we had been looking forward to for sometime since this whole 3D thing is new to both of us. We look forward to having some really nice keepsake photos and it was videotaped for us as well. I will have to wait a little while longer to see it as I stayed back in town for work. The appointment also cleared up the long-running issue of whether the child will be a girl or a boy. Our two previous ultrasounds, taken at 17 and 23 weeks, failed to give us a solid answer. But now we know.

I had given Lisa the cellphone to take with her so the plan was to call her for the news once I got home. Patience isn't one of my strong suits however, and I borrowed a cell off from a young lad at work and called her on the bus ride home to hear the big announcement.

Now I'm sure this will become one of the world's worst-kept secrets and will leak out eventually so if you're on either mine or Lisa's Facebook page and catch wind of it......mums the word for now.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


What a difference a day can make. For much of the past week it was down-right, pulverizing cold. The first day of my shift, it was something like -43C with the windchill, cold enough for a "stop work" order to be put into affect this past Tuesday...a rather lovely way to start the shift. While I am accustomed to such temperatures, it does become a little tough to bear at times when you work primarily outdoors handling aluminum scaffolding. Yesterday the temperature was something like -39C or so.

Fast forward to today and the mercury climbed up to around -10C. Quite to jump in a 24-hour period. And apparently we can expect more of this as temperatures are expected to creep a little above the freezing mark for the next 4 or 5 days. The only depressing thing, other than the sloppy mess that I'm sure will happen as some of the snow melts, is that the temperature will be sure to plunge again.

But for now I'll take a little January thaw.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Small World In A Big City

Fort McMurray being what it is, we soon discovered it's pretty difficult to find people who were actually born and grew up here. Everyone seems to be from somewhere else. The one place I can compare this city to is Iqaluit and while I never lived there, I did pass through there a number of times and with its relatively young population hailing from a plethora places, flung all over the Canadian landscape, well, I can see the two places having this characteristic in common. Fort Mac is just on a much larger scale.

Something like 17% of the population is from Newfoundland. No big surprise there as Fort Mac is often referred to as the unofficial capital of Newfoundland. But we're finding that our home province of Ontario gives Newfoundland a run for its money. (We also have a pretty vibrant Philipino and Somali community here I should add.) One of the guys I work with grew up in Collingwood, Ontario, where I was born and not long ago, I randomly passed a couple girls and overheard them mention Brockville and Cornwall, both places where Lisa grew up. I also struck up a short conversation with truck driver who was making a pick up at work who hails from Peterborough. Back in the fall, I bumped into a couple of people in the course of my day who mentioned they were from Colborne, Ontario, a small town not far from where my parents live. I actually went there a couple times for a dentist visit back when I was working up in Nunavut. The kicker though, happened Christmas Eve when I bumped into some familiar faces at the mall while out picking up some last minute gifts with the family....friends of my parents, who used to live just down the road from where I grew up and who are now working here.

Small world.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Getting appointments in for the pregnancy should be a pretty straight forward thing, particularly in a community pushing 80 000. You would think. Our preparation for baby has gone quite smoothly, except on this one issue. It's been a few weeks since we've had our last appointment. Lisa is the expert, so I defer to her. I'm thinking that a good 7-8 weeks between appointments is a little ridiculous. We have yet to have an appointment with a gynecologist yet and the next appointment she does have is with a nurse! Are you kidding me?!

We've had no cause for alarm. I just hope the medical services here get their collective act together, especially since she has always delivered early. She's told me that if she goes full term and the baby is more than about 7lbs, I'm in big trouble as she prefers natural childbirth. I'm not sure I can deliver on that but I hope the powers that be get their act together.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Getting An Answer......Maybe

As I mentioned a couple posts ago, we are now into Week 29 of our pregnancy here at the chateau. The big question still remains to be answered - boy or girl? And the answer is...well, we still don't know. BUT this coming weekend, Lisa is heading down to Edmonton for a 3D ultrasound. With luck we will be able to put the question of the baby's gender to rest as the suspense has been killing me especially.

Babies have been very much on my mind particularly since a young fellow at work just gave birth (well, his girlfriend really) and another girl I work with (who has also become a good family friend) is also expecting shortly after us. There's a good chance we might not find out until the delivery since the baby has reached a size that it can't move around as much so if it has its legs crossed or is lying in some funky position, we'll just have to wait a little longer.

But I'm cool with that. Nature will take it's course. It will just take a little longer than expected. In the meantime, we are all prepared for baby and we will soon have some really neat 3D images to pour over and share.

Monday, January 17, 2011


We're shivering through a bit of a cold snap here, waking up yesterday to a windchill of -43C. (With luck, it should warm by the end of the week. Tomorrow would be even better since I go back to work.) Fortunately, this hasn't kept the birds away and I continue to delight at the diversity of bird life we see without even leaving a warm house. Grosbeaks, waxwings, redpolls, chickadees, the ubiquitous raven....even a bluejay have all made an appearance either in the front yard trees or at the backyard feeder.

The only unwelcome visitor we've had has been the neighbourhood squirrel. While the little sucker can't get at the one feeder, he's figured out a way to get to the other one. I had picked up a second feeder a couple weeks ago but somehow between the store and the house, the cord to hang it went AWOL. For the time being (because trudging through the snow that's built up in the back yard is a chore and I was inpatient to get the feeder up) I've hung it from a low-lying branch and will have to get something sturdier to tie it on so our little squirrel can't pilfer birdseed.

The squirrel has become such a fixture that the kids have taken to calling it Cookie. Why this name, I have no idea. But Cookie, I know where you that big pine tree two houses down. Enjoy your snack for now because as soon as I get a chance to move that feeder, you'll be looking for a meal somewhere else.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

29 Weeks

In a couple days we will hit the 29-week milestone of our pregnancy. Isn't she glowing?

This was a little bit of a strange picture. I was trying to kiss Lisa's belly but it just looks a little funny.

Saturday, January 15, 2011


With a few days off work I actually get to see what the house looks like in daylight. I also get a clearer view of incoming invasions, though in this case it was a welcome one. Rather than the big flock of Grosbeaks we usually see, we were treated to some Bohemian Waxwings. They mustered over in a neighbors tree before landing in our front yard trees.

As an added bonus, I also caught a glimpse of a Common Redpoll at the backyard feeder. This was easily the one songbird I've waited for the longest to see since we moved here and I'm glad to finally be able to add it into my birding journal.

Things Are Bound To Happen

By now I'm sure many people have heard the news and seen the video about the coker explosion up at the CNRL site. It's fortunate no one was killed. There's a lot of dangerous work in the oil patch and everyday you can come home safe to your family is a blessing.Initially I wasn't going to post anything as I don't want to get sucked into any debates with rabid environmentalists and unionists and I don't want to sound all alarmist. (My job site has its share of hazards and you do your best to be aware of them and not obsess over them, otherwise you won't get very much work done.) Statistically, I'm sure I have a higher chance of getting dinged by a car on the way home (and there were several accidents yesterday) or getting clocked crossing a busy Fort McMurray intersection (which almost happened last month.....why people here can't simply slow down a little is beyond me).

Anyhow, in such massive operations like the oil sands, accidents are bound to happen inspite of the best of precautions. (I was told Suncor is the size of downtown Calgary.....and that's just one site.) That's just the nature of the beast you're dealing with. I'll leave all the nasty rhetoric to all the armchair analysts, activists, politicians and anyone else who frankly cares more. I'm sure I won't be getting any offers anytime soon from any of those advocates for shutting down the oil sands to pay my mortgage on my behalf. In the meantime, I just keep soldiering on.....but I think I'm going to enjoy my time off first.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sometimes We Just Have To Look Out Our Front Window

One of the things I really love about the house is the fact that we have two big ash trees gracing our front yard. Whether I'm in the living room or the master bedroom, I can usually count on some colourful surprises. In this case, it was a flock of 15-20 Evening Grosbeaks that have been making fairly regular mid-morning appearances.

This past weekend we looked out to see not only Grosbeaks but also some Waxwings mixed in. As much as I'd like, I can never seem to get a good picture of the Waxwings (one of my favorites) before they take off. They are rather skittish and usually a single raven or magpie will send them scattering. The Grosbeaks thankfully tend to stand their ground a little better. At any rate, the trees' red berries are making quite a smorgasbord for our feather friends judging from the mess they leave on the ground and the van.

I also caught a glimpse of a reddish coloured bird a few days ago amongst the Grosbeaks. At first, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me and that it might have just been a female Evening Grosbeak. (It flew by quite quickly and I have learned not to assume every new bird I see is a new species when it is usually just a female or the light is playing tricks on me.) Anyhow, the mystery bird showed up again and though it's not a great picture, I'm pretty sure it's a Pine Grosbeak.

Always nice to start off the new year with a new sighting to add to my list.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Week 27 Checklist

We are now into Week 27 of our pregnancy! The last trimester has arrived and we are in serious baby mode. We won't know the baby's gender until our 3D ultrasound later on this month down in Edmonton (hopefully). In the meantime, we're prepared for either with plenty of boy clothes....

...and girl clothes.....

We actually have quite a lot of clothing for a girl as the consensus among family seems to be that we will soon be having a girl. Either way, though, we're prepared. We have a cradle.....

...a jumper.....

...and a dresser/change table....

We have a car seat and a bassinet too.

We even have the diapers.....or at least enough to start out.....

Now all we need is baby.

As an added bonus feature,here is our most recent belly shot from New Year's Eve.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Definitely Not A Carpenter

Along with the new job has come membership in a new union. After putting in the requisite 30 days, I headed down to the union hall back in the fall with a few other fellows from work to sign up. (Tomorrow evening is the swearing-in ceremony when I guess I learn the secret hand shake and all that fancy stuff.) Anyhow, this is just a short little preamble to last week when I got a call from Lisa after work. Apparently, my membership ID (along with photo) arrived in the mail and she was having a good chuckle. When I looked at the card later on at home, I could see why: I was listed as a carpenter rather than a scaffolder and even more bizarre, the photo on the card wasn't even me.

2011 is getting off to a strange start.