Monday, February 28, 2011

Just Hanging Around

Nanny A No Go

As I mentioned back in the fall, we have been in the process of taking on a Nanny. The idea was that this would provide Lisa with the option of working outside the home once we felt the baby was old enough and allow me the option of working longer shifts over the summer, on top of the added benefits of keeping things organized around the chateau.

We had been receiving fairly regular updates through the agency we decided to go through and the last major hurtle was just the visa. Unfortunately, we got word last week that our chosen nanny was denied a work visa so we are left back at square one again with profiles to view, interviews to conduct and then all the inevitable paperwork that follows. We are anticipating having the nanny here for June so this is quite the inconvenience for us. I have no idea why our nanny wasn't allowed a visa. Typical government letting any riff raff into the country yet denying highly qualified people who actually want to come here to work is my guess. How typical.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To The Sumo Wrestling Match

We couldn't pass up the opportunity to have the kids suit up as sumo wrestlers yesterday at part of the ongoing WinterPlay festivities.

Yes, there is a blond in there.

I began to think Nick would be too short to stand up and see properly but he surprised us all.

This was about the only time both of them were able to stay upright for any length of time.

After suiting up, the quickest sumo match ensued. Basically this involved Tamara falling over on top of her brother. In the process, the poor girl had another loose tooth pop out. Lisa spotted it lying in the middle of the mat and I dutifully picked it up for the Tooth Fairy.

Someone New

Initially we thought Elijah may have some difficulty adjusting to the idea of no longer being the baby of the family once the baby arrives. We ask him where the baby is and he'll point to Lisa's tummy so we know he has some idea that he will soon be a big brother. He knows the concept of what a baby is from all of Tamara's dolls that he will sometimes cart around with him.

He seemed a bit confused with the arrival of his cousin Jayce. So this baby is here....why does Mommy still have a big tummy? Do babies arrive from the airport? What ever happened to the stork?? So far though he seems to be quite fascinated with his new relative. The two photos below were taken just before heading out to the fireworks last night. He is very gentle with him and is proving to be a good little helper. We think he will adjust just fine.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

For Unto Us A Scaffolder Is Born....apparently

As I mentioned in my last post, WinterPlay has kicked off here in Fort McMurray. What I didn't realize was that my employer was one of the sponsors. Lisa took the above photo while we were at the fireworks display the other evening.

Now, just for a laugh, because I was in one of my goofy moods, I started pointing out all the parts of this scaffolding structure and naming them for Elijah. (His vocabulary has been steadily growing as of late.) So I point out a ledger and say, "ledger". To my pleasant surprise he repeats "ledger," quite, um, legibly actually. I show him a couple other pieces and within a couple minutes he was pointing them out and saying their names as we walked around the structure. It's truly amazing the amount of information his little brain picks up and what he retains. The kid sure knows his ledgers, standards and braces!


Yesterday marked the opening of WinterPlay, a series of winter events that will be held at different venues around town over the coming weeks. We ended up missing the opening ceremony at the rec. complex last night but it was a chance to show off the facility to Lisa's mom and sister, who, as I've mentioned will be staying with us for the next little bit. After a quick tour we headed to a local park for a fireworks display. Free coffee, hot chocolate and Timbits for all, which Lisa and I loved since its pretty rare to get anything for free, especially here in Fort McMurray.

Group shot of the kids and I along with Lisa's sister Charly and her son, Jayce.

Jayce, the newest member of my extended family pretty much slept through the evening's events. Cute as a button for sure.

Waiting, more or less patiently by the bonfire for the fireworks to begin. That's Nicholas in the striped toque and Tamara in the pink one.

Elijah keeping warm by the fire. I'm not sure why he's all hunched down. Just being his usual silly self.

Night view of Haxton Park, or at least a small part of it, and the small lake where the fireworks were set up.

A few scenes from the light show.

Friday, February 25, 2011

34.5 Weeks!

A couple of belly shots for our 34 week update. Time seems to be winding down and we expect baby within the next couple weeks. The longest Lisa has gone with a pregnancy was with Tamara at 36 weeks and 3 days so we know we're close....and definitely excited!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Weekly Run Down

Most of the last several posts were written up last weekend and between that time and now a lot of things have happened. With tomorrow being my 22nd work day this month, finding time time to blog has been a bit of a challenge. Here then, is a brief rundown of the goings-on around the chateau here.

1. There will soon be a baby in the house. Yes, I know I've already posted on our pregnancy but here I am referring to Lisa's sister's baby. Lisa's mom, sister and baby Jayce will be arriving from Ontario tomorrow for visit and to lend a hand. Jayce will be 3 months old next month so once our own little bundle of joy arrives we will have 2 babies in the one toddler, two kids, a dog, a Darcy.....yup full house.

2. This past Tuesday marked the start of Week 34 of our pregnancy. The end is near. Lisa was feeling a lot of pressure earlier this week on her pelvic bone and posterior and last night we watched a few birthing videos on YouTube to give me a taste of what to expect. We were already into the hospital a short time ago when Lisa experienced some bleeding so things have suddenly become very real. I vowed after that experience about which end of the bed I will be sitting at when the moment comes but am now having second thoughts. The fathers in the videos we watched were pretty calm and composed and I'd like to be able to say I was right there to see the crown and pop right out. I'm sure I'll do just fine when its all said and down. I know at least I won't be acting like this guy here.

3. Work has been particularly busy with shut downs/turn around starting back in January. This is when the various plants around Suncor are shut down for annual cleanly and maintenance. All the scaffolding around the plants needs to be taken out for this and replaced and of course any new building will also require scaffolding. What this means for me is that I can expect a lot of hours (I've worked a 10-hour shift every day this month except for two) and this process will continue for the next little while.

4. Last weekend the kids and I caught another hockey game. This time is was the Oil Barons last regular game of the season. The kids enjoyed it and our team won, out shooting the visitors by a rather ridiculous margin. With luck we'll catch a play off game or two as the team (like last year) is expected to go quite far into the playoffs.

5. Inspite of a heavy work schedule, I was still able to participate in this year's Great Backyard Bird Count. A total of 68 Common Ravens were swooping in the distance while I was waiting to board the bus home from work Sunday evening. It's the only time I've seen that many altogether out on site. Its like they somehow knew I had to get a big count in. For a few minutes I felt I was back in Nunavut since, for the most part, Ravens are all you see this time of year.

There are a few more things I know I've forgotten about but its beginning to get a little late in the evening here and a 4am wake up comes early.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Great Backyard Bird Count

I'll try my best but it looks like, due to my work schedule, I will miss this year's Great Backyard Bird Count. This is an annual project that was first brought to my attention by Clare three or fours years ago and I've had various levels of participation in Nunavut and now Alberta.

So my participation will likely be limited this year. For the most part, sightings at work have been limited to either Ravens or Magpies, though I was pleasantly surprised to catch a good view of a Downy Woodpecker up a telephone pole back before Christmas. But don't let my lack of participation stop you. Check out the GBBC website and don't this opportunity to commune with Nature pass you by. I took up the challenge not that long ago as I mentioned early and a sunny day on the northern tundra turned into a rather interesting new hobby.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Nursery

Here is a quick photo of our nursery Lisa has been working so hard on the past several days. It occupies a the far end of the master bedroom and I love how it looks. We just need a baby to make it truly complete.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Unique Style

Lisa did Elijah's hair up a few days ago and couldn't resist a few pictures. What can I say? The kid has style.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


After the Common Raven,Chickadees are probably the next most common bird I see here, particularly now as Spring draws slowly closer. So common that after awhile I tend not to pay close attention to them. This little guy caught my attention since its been awhile since we've seen chickadees in our front yard trees.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Rare Moment

Three kids and a dog....all nice and still....

Who'da thunk it?!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Good Old Hockey Game

Fort McMurray is fortunate to have a pretty decent Junior A team here and last night I took Tamara and Nicholas to catch a game. It's something I had been hoping to do for some time but things kept getting in the way. Originally I had plans to take them to Friday's home game but as I mentioned in the previous post, we got last minute tickets to a musical.

With the season winding down, we took in one of Oil Barons' remaining home games before the playoffs. The kids had never been to a live game before and it had been a good 10 years since I had last caught an OHL game back in Windsor. So we were pumped. Since we picked up our tickets at the door, I was a bit worried at first about getting good seats and I had momentary thoughts of being stuck up in a corner somewhere. As luck would have it we had amazing seats, 7 rows back from the glass and high enough to get a good look at the action.

Shortly before the drop of puck, the excitement builds.

The Oil Barons played arch-rival Spruce Grove and while we did get a quick goal to start off, the visitors answered back quickly and kept the momentum for much of the game. The home team scored late in the match to make a game of it but fell short 3-2. No shame in losing a close match to what is easily the best team in the league and better than suffering through an Edmonton or Calgary Flames game for sure.

The obligatory first intermission Zamboni shot.

The kids had a blast and picked up a couple little foam pucks as mementos. We were hoping to get our hands on an errant puck over the glass but it wasn't to be on this night.

During the second intermission a man went around tossing t-shirts into the crowd. Of course you had to be cheering very loudly. With two kids in tow, that wasn't a problem for us. Even the announcer made a remark about how our section was pretty darn enthusiastic. Tamara wound up with a t-shirt she has actually been wearing around the house all day today. (It's a New York Rangers t-shirt so we'll have to work on that.) A big thank you to the kind gentleman beside us for catching the t-shirt and giving it to my daughter.

Late in the game and still hanging in there.

We're hoping to be able to catch a playoff game in the coming weeks. We are looking forward to seeing another game real soon.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Stage Drama...Life Drama

Lisa and I did something last night we haven't had much opportunity to do lately - have a night to ourselves. We went to see a production of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" at Keyano College. Turns out life imitated art and we had our own little drama afterward...but I'll get to that.

I had put in an extra work day yesterday and was on the bus home when Lisa gave me a call. One of the daycare clients manages a hotel here and as his establishment is a sponsor of the Keyano College Theatre, he ended up with a couple free tickets and had passed them along to Lisa. Its been a long time since I've seen any sort of live theatre event and so I didn't want to pass up this opportunity. The tickets came with two free tickets for the bar and since obviously Lisa isn't drinking, I was found with two in my pocket. No, I didn't get a chance to use them but at least I got to walk around with them in my nice dress up clothes and feel like "the Man," however illusory.

I'm not as familiar with Victor Hugo's novel as I wish I was and like I said, it's been a long time since I've been in a theatre. Fort McMurray has a reputation as a backwoods, lunch-bucket town without much in the way of culture (very undeserved, I should add), so I came to the show not knowing what we'd see. Turns out we loved it. Much of the cast went through the theatre program at the University of Alberta and we were treated to a high calibre performance in an intimate setting.

Even the baby enjoyed the performance as we started to feel a lot of movement during all the big ensemble numbers toward the end of the first act. We were looking forward to partaking in some of the yummy food in the lobby that came as part of our free tickets but Nature had an alternate finale to the evening's performance.

Lisa made a quick bathroom stop right after leaving the auditorium and returned to the lobby to tell me she was bleeding a little bi, and wanted to head to the hospital right away. Luckily, the hospital is only a short drive from the college so off we went, with a million thoughts in my head. To cut a long evening short, things turned out okay. The doctor was convinced it might be a urinary tract infection that may be causing some premature labour. We found the doctor a little gruff and frankly a tad ignorant in some of the comments he made. I'm no medical expert but I'm confident that since this is her 5th pregnancy, Lisa knows her body quite well.

At any rate, we now know exactly where to go to find the maternity ward (2nd floor, hang two rights once you get off the elevator) and she is far enough along that we can head directly there if and when needed rather than wasted time going through emerg.. I remember at one point saying something like, "So I guess this is our dry run, huh?" while we were waiting for the doctor. Lisa made out okay in the end though I know there were moments of discomfort for her.

As for myself, well, I sat at the business end of the bed and I'll admit there were moments of awkwardness. Throughout the checkup I stayed pretty much in the background as the medical staff mostly addressed Lisa so I felt a bit like an added appendage. On a brighter note, I now have a small taste of things to come which is a good thing. I plan on being "hands on" and involved as much as I can. If the impending arrival of baby was a bit of chimera up to last night, it is definitely very real in the mind now.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


.....because the front yard trees aren't just for grosbeaks and waxwings.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Three Forts Sled Dog Race

A major winter event that kicks off toward the end of the month here is WinterPlay. It's something we weren't able to take in last year when we were down in Janvier but I'm hopeful that as the festival takes place over several days I will be able to fit a few of the festivities in around my work schedule. Feel free to check out the Municipality of Wood Buffalo's website or the press release for more information should you find yourself up in our neck of the woods.

One of the big highlights for me will be the Three Forts Sled Dog Race early next month. While I know I won't be bombing down the winter road in person as the race progresses, I will be following the event with great interest as it brings back pleasant memories of similar type races from while I lived in Nunavut. While this race is a staged race, the hope is to slowly grow the event, gradually turning it into Alberta's version of the Iditarod.

Let the racing begin!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super Test

Every morning when I take the bus to work I head up a pretty impressive hill known locally as Super Test. It has an 8% grade which is just the same as the road up into our subdivision but for some reason, Super Test just seems more awe-inspiring.

These pictures (which never really do it justice)were taken last May but give you an idea of what it looks like. This time of year it's still pretty dark during my drive home but one can clearly make out the lights of the city 30-km down the valley.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Blue Jay

Initially I thought we were a little too far north of the Blue Jay's normal range. But no, we have managed to catch quite a few glimpses of these loud, fast-moving guys since moving here.

Man, I love it when I'm wrong.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Knock, Knock, Knock

This past Saturday, suffering from a big of cabin fever I grabbed the camera and binocular and set off for the river valley, hoping to get a couple shots of the river. I hadn't been down to this particular area since last Spring, all the more reason in my book to get out and explore. On this occasion I wasn't alone, as Nicholas decided to come along with me. I was fortunate to have the extra pair of eyes as it turned out.

It was later in the afternoon and a bit chilly so we didn't make it down into the valley before starting to feel the cold. On our way there we did make a new discovery. I was pointing out a red-headed woodpecker to Nicholas so he could get a look at it through the binoculars when he swung the glasses around behind me. "Whoa, Daddy! Look at the size of that bird!"

Thinking at first that, well of course, a bird is going to look bigger through binoculars, I looked up in the direction Nicholas was pointing the glasses and saw a HUGE woodpecker, much bigger than either of us had ever seen before. A look through the guidebook once I got home revealed it to be a Pileated Woodpecker, though at the moment I was convinced we had stumbled on the Godzilla of woodpeckers. Nicholas got a kick out of the sound it made (like the tree was being hit with a big hammer, as he explained to me) as well as all the big pieces of back that came falling down as the bird searched for a snack.

Not the best of photos but hopefully enough detail to make it out.

It was cold but Nicholas was a good little trooper and eager to tell everyone about our little discovery when we got home.