Monday, October 8, 2012

Giving Thanks

It's that time of the year again.  We gather with our friends and family and give thanks for what we have.  For some reason I have been reflecting a bit more this year than in the past.  Maybe I am just getting sentimental or just plain old.  In the end I have so many things to be truly thankful for.

First and foremost I am thankful for my family.  They are the anchor that keeps me from drifting out to sea, they keep me grounded and remind me what is really important in life.  I have learned so much from my boys in the last 5 years.  I am constantly amazed at how they see the world and how they interact with their surroundings. 

I am thankful for my wife. Her patience, understanding and belief in me over the years has been inspiring. Allowing me to take a leap of faith last year and change jobs, while she was on maternity leave, was a huge risk. It hasn't been without it's challenges but in the long run I think that it was the right thing to do for us. Having the patience to live in a house with what amounts to 4 kids, all of them male, borders on courageous. Watching how naturally amazing she is with our kids is heartwarming. Her confidence in me and my abilities makes me want to be a better person at all times.

I am thankful for my in-laws.  I won the in-law lottery hands down.  I don't think that there are many like them out there and I can say with all sincerity that the unconditional love and support they have provided us with over the years has been overwhelming.  I almost feel bad because all I have been able to give in return are three kids that continually trash their house, eat their food, occasionally break stuff and wake them up before the sun rises when they have a sleepover.

This summer especially I was thankful for the time that we were able to spend up at the cottage and the freedom that it provided the kids.  I watched them poke and probe their world entirely on their own and it reminded me of being a kid and being able to discover things on my own.  I have watched Declan grow into the role of big brother and laughed as Rhys and Leighton both follow him around like puppy dogs.  I am thankful for the time spent fighting big waves in Lake Huron with Declan and Rhys and time spent snuggling under the huge trees with Leighton.

All in all I have a lot to be thankful for.  Today I am thankful for being able to be around the people that I love and care about and share some food, stories and laughter with them.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer Lovin'

Beginning of the summer
Summer is officially done and I think that I can safely say that the kids loved it.  More time was spent at the cottage than at home which for them is pure heaven.  There were day camps, long walks, swimming, swimming and more swimming, parades and generally tomfoolery.

Declan spent 3 weeks doing day camps both in Kincardine and Hamilton and loved every minute of it. Canoeing at the RBG was a hit and swimming at camp in Kincardine was his favourite.  I think Rhys loved his snuggles with Grandma Shirley at the cottage the most and will miss them terribly.  For Leighton it was a summer of discovering what he could get into and where he could go.  He is now in a forward facing car seat and he is just about to start going to daycare.  They are all growing up so fast.

I turned 35 this summer.  From what I am lead to believe I am now old.  There are certainly days when I feel it.  Today was not one of those days.  I was down at the beach with Declan and Rhys running around in the water and trying to catch minnows in the shallows of Lake Huron.  It was hilarious how bad I was at it.  Leave it to Andrea to upstage me and catch 2 in the span of minutes when I was trying for about half an hour!  At least I know I can count on her to forage if required!  In my defence I had Rhys' huge feet splashing around and scaring the fish.  Yeah, that's it, that's the reason I sucked.

One of the best memories I will have of this summer is watching Declan and Rhys play Crazy 8's with Andrea's Grandmother.  How incredibly lucky these boys are to be able to spend time with their Great Grandmother and at this point in their lives they will remember doing it.  Rhys' enthusiasm when we would pull up the drive with her in the car was absolutely enthralling.  He would almost physically pull her out of the van after opening the door for her with a hearty "Hi Great Grandma!"  Amazing.

On the nights when I would drive her back home we would normally have a quick discussion about the  way things were when she was young.  How amazing is it that I can speak to someone who remembers her Father being out on the ice in the winter on Lake Huron with the horse and sled, cutting ice to bring back to the ice house.  She remembers the first time she left town on a train bound for Toronto.  She remembers what it was like to live without cars, plumbing, electricity and so many other things that we take for granted.  On top of that all she is as sharp as a razor when it comes to Euchre.  She never misses a trick and I have learned more about the game from playing on that old table in the cottage with her, my Mother-in-Law Shirley and Andrea than I have playing with anyone else.  If that makes me old than so be it.  Unless you have had the pleasure of that company you will never understand.

Andrea and I also celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary on September 2nd.  We have certainly packed a lot into that time.  3 kids.  Wow.  Time is flying by so quickly.

Last long weekend at the cottage in 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Time to pull up stakes

I am sitting on my porch right now missing my family. This is longest I have been without them in years and it sucks. The only thing that it has done is give me some time to reflect. Andrea and I moved to this house almost 7 years ago. We weren't married yet and kids weren't anywhere on the horizon. I thought this house was perfect. In hindsight maybe I was rash and pushed too hard but at the time it felt right. I wanted to be downtown, close to what I considered to be a slowly revitalizing Hamilton so we purchased on Dundurn north. I can see the Castle from my porch, walk to the waterfront trail and be downtown in minutes. Sure Dundurn is a bit of highway but so what? I could live with that. Fast forward seven years. We have three young boys who ache for running space and I can't give it to them without supervising them the whole time. I want more for them. I think it's time to sell. Scary thought.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


This post is about a picture.  This past weekend we had the pleasure of going up to the cottage and getting it ready for the season.  The first couple of days were spent getting the grass cut and doing some simple repairs.  The evenings were spent relaxing and watching the sun go down. 

Kincardine is home to some of the best sunsets I have ever seen.  Bar none.  When you see the sun go down on a cloud-free evening it is easy to understand how religions have been created to honour it.  For the first time that I can remember we had cloudless sunsets 4 days straight.  The sunset was never the same and it never gets boring to watch.

On the the third night we were there Andrea asked Rhys if he would like to go for a walk with us on the beach.  He enthusiastically said that he would.  We went out and walked along the beach for a while.  This entailed slowly walking, picking up sticks and stones and throwing them into the lake.  Huron was like glass, aside from the ripples that Rhys was creating.

For those who don't know Rhys let me explain.  At almost 3 years old he is an impressive little guy.  He is a totally different personality from Declan.  Where Declan has always been very sensitive, Rhys just kind of ploughs through everything.  He is a big boy and likes to play rough.  Recently, he has become much more gentle which has been great.  You don't worry that you are about to get a Glasgow Kiss when he goes in for a hug, you don't worry that he is going to hurt Leighton when he pats him on the head.  He loves to snuggle and is genuinely full of love.

While we were on our walk Andrea walked to the edge of the water where Rhys was throwing stones and crouched down.  Seeing her do this he thought he should as well.  I wish I had a better camera to capture that shot but I did what I could on my Blackberry.  It may be one of my favourite pictures.  I wish Rhys was old enough to remember that moment years from now.

I think that it encapsulates everything that I love about being up at the cottage.  Being there with my family, knowing the history that Andrea's family has in Kincardine and seeing how important it is to both her and our boys makes it easily one of the best places in the world.  Watching Andrea with Rhys at the lake as the sun set is one of the best memories I can take from this weekend.

I sincerely hope that everyone had a wonderful weekend.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Get Thee to the Garden

For the second season in a row we are helping Andrea's Mom with a community garden plot.  I am by no means a gardener and have not fully embraced the whole organic revolution that seems to be picking up steam.  The reason we participate is in part practicality and in part learning experience.

From the practical side there is an argument that it is a cheap way of getting fresh, healthy food throughout the summer.  Throughout last summer we always had fresh lettuce, beans, cucumber and beans as well as tomatoes.  In fact, we just finished the last of the tomatoes that were saved through the winter.  The return on that investment is pretty good if you ask me.

I honestly feel that it is also important for the kids to have the experience of getting a garden prepared, planting the seeds, weeding, tending and then eventually reaping the benefits.  I first thought this when we planted beans and peas in our back garden two years ago.  Once they were ripe for the picking Declan would come home from daycare and would go into the garden, pick a few pods, pull them apart and have a fresh, healthy snack.  You can't beat that!  We also have raspberries and last summer the boys and I would get up early and pick them before breakfast to go with their cereal or pick them after supper for dessert.

The plot that Andrea's Mom has is huge!  It is 20 by 30 feet which is more than large enough to feed us for the summer.  There are quite a few plots in the area and they are run by everyone from casual gardeners like us, to very experienced and dedicated gardeners who have obviously been doing this for years.
Sifting rocks out of the dirt.  Hard work!
Amazingly they have to be a bit careful about security because apparently there are people who come in an steal from the gardens.  I thought initially that this is pathetic but in the end what can you do about it?  Last year even Andrea's mom's was the victim of a theft.  She had grown one perfect watermelon that ended up being stolen the week she was going to pick it.  Unfortunately nothing can be done about this.  Hopefully something can be done about it this year.

Lots of space!
I am going to document how the garden does this year as it was a lot of fun.  Like I said we are not gardeners by any means and are learning as we go.  I will let you guys know how it goes.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Snip Snip

After some discussion with Andrea it was decided that it was time to have the big snip. No more kids for us. I have to admit there is a pang of regret that the three perfect monsters that we have will be it. That isn't a longing for having a baby girl believe me, but more just a realization that we have been incredibly fortunate being able to have three amazing children.

I have heard absolute horror stories about vasectomies in the past few years from friends. Everything from people developing hematomas to smelling the cauterization that they perform. I figured I was ready for this whole experience. I was wrong.

My day started out with Andrea dropping me off at the hospital to check in which was done fast and efficiently. I then checked into the surgery clinic and after being given my gown I settled in for a bit of a wait. I was in the pre-op area and was easily the youngest person there by 40 years. The complaints I was hearing are certainly not anything to look forward to as I age.

When I was finally ushered into the operating suite I was done so by a young, good looking nurse and my first thought was "you couldn't be old and fat could you?"

We chatted while waiting for the Dr. who I had met for the first time about 30 minutes earlier. I am sure that to be a Urologist for 40 years you have to develop a unique sense of humour. Mine certainly did. He joked around and had a good laugh throughout the procedure.

From what I had read there are plenty of different ways that a vasectomy can be done. I wasn't given a choice. I had the old fashioned needles in the groin, cut and stitch. The needles are no fun and I had warned him that it takes time for freezing to work on me. Consequently I felt the first cut in full. Let me repeat that: I FELT THE FIRST CUT IN FULL.

All the guys that are reading this can now unclench and relax, it really wasn't as bad as I expected. After some further freezing and some time I didn't feel anything else. The procedure was done in about 45 minutes. After being given the most comfy mesh underwear ever I was ushered to recovery.

There was never any real serious pain while I was recovering over the next week. I was uncomfortable and had some weird muscle pulling which wasn't fun but otherwise with the understanding from Andrea that I needed to rest everything healed up pretty well.

Andrea wouldn't let me do much of anything just in case I strained or popped a stitch. I really appreciated being allowed to recover properly as I am sure it helped out immensely. The boys were really good as well and not once did they jump on me or act too crazy for fear that they may do some damage. They fully understood that Daddy had stitches and could not be silly with them for a little while.

I don't think that you can really be fully prepared for a procedure like a vasectomy. It is full of anxiety and I am sure that for some it is full of doubt and potential regret. Now I just have to find time to get my tonsils out and have some work done on my nose so that I can breathe properly. I am sure that will be a bucket of fun!

Sunday, February 5, 2012


I just had the best snuggle with Rhys. For those of you have kids, or nieces or nephews I can guarantee you know exactly how I feel. He was due to wake up from a nap and when I walked into his room he rolled over and smiled at me. I lay down beside him and gave him a hug and put his arms around my neck and said, "Squeezie!" and laughed. He hugged me as hard as he could and I gave him one back with a kiss on the forehead with an, "I love you monkey.".

I live for those moments with my boys. Declan gets really snuggly in the evening and I normally get at least one good sit with him during the evening. The fun part now is that he and Rhys will sit with me while I read them a story or two. Declan used to fall asleep on me all the time.

The best snuggles I get from Rhys are on a Saturday morning when soccer starts on TV. He climbs up on my lap and we snuggle in under a blanket and watch the game together. Love it!

Leighton is still a bit young for an active snuggle but what I get from him are his gorgeous smiles. He sits on my lap and looks and me and just lights up. I hope that never ends.

They are a handful at the best of times but God do I love them.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Another Year Down

I am sitting on the couch looking at Leighton finally asleep in his chair and I am thinking about everything that happened to us in 2011. What a year! We got back into our house on New Years Day and I still don't feel as though we are fully recovered from the flood we had in 2010. It is hard to explain how disruptive an event something like that can be.

We were fortunate to be able to welcome into our lives a beautiful little boy named Leighton Robert and I have been delighted at how our boys have taken to him. They ask after him and do what they can to take care of him in their own way.

Rhys has developed into a wonderfully sensitive child. He is also almost as big as Declan which is terrifying since Declan is tall for his age. Rhys is going to be a big kid no matter what and I think we are going to have to figure out how to harness his energy combined with the strength that he has.

Declan began JK which totally blows my mind. How is he already in school? I remember when we took him to look at daycare for the first time at 3 months old! He is flourishing in the environment and I am constantly surprised at how much he knows. It sounds corny but Louis Armstrong comes to mind... He really will learn much more than I'll ever know.

I watch both Declan and Rhys with my laptop and the iPad and they seem to instinctively understand them. I remember the first time I used a computer because it was such a foreign and exciting thing. For them it is natural.

My family celebrated two exciting events: My youngest sister Amy got married to a great guy who obviously thinks the world of her and has pledged to love and cherish her while my middle sibling Sara is getting married this year to her soul mate. My heart is full to bursting for both of them.

I was provided the opportunity to take Declan to England to meet my Grandmother for the first time. It was a first for both of us in so many ways. He took a flight for the first time and I was in charge of him on my own for a full week with no back-up. I think that we both pulled through with flying colours! Seeing him run to my Grandmother was one of the most heartwarming things I have ever seen him do and reinforces that he is one incredible kid. I know it made her day and the smile on her face justified the whole trip for me. He and I still talk about that week.

After 5 years at the same job I decided to call time on my career as a Concierge. I had achieved all that I was going to be able to do and was able to leave on my terms which I am proud of. I have entered into a new job which I am confident will lead to a career. It may take some time and will not be easy for the first little while but in the long run it is a good move I think.

Andrea and I made it through the year outnumbered. Three kids is ambitious to say the least and having three so close in age is providing unique challenges but I think that we are up to it. We are fortunate to have the support of our families which helps makes it easier.

It is impossible to explain the challenges that we have endured over the past couple of years but I think that our resilience and love will continue to help us through the toughest challenges that are thrown our way. We began our own blog to air some of our differing opinions and I have had fun writing it thus far. I hope that we can continue it both for ours enjoyment and the amusement of others.