Sandbanks weekend

Our usual Sandbanks weekend was significantly changed this year as Marlene and Nic stayed home, to enable Nic to complete his homework (a rather last minute issue) and Doug and Eli didn’t go until Saturday morning. The Cavanaughs didn’t make it to the famous Diner en blanc as Brendan was in the emergency department of a Montreal hospital and although the health issue had been resolved they didn’t release him in time. Nonetheless Doug and Eli had a lovely time with the Richer-Bellemare family and their friends.





Eli made French toast for all on Sunday morning
french toast_sm

Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

My two performers shine again

As the school year end approaches both boys had the chance to show some of their talent. For Nic it was playing trombone with his Grade 9 band at the spring concert. For Eli it was playing the role of ‘le conducteur’ (go figure!) in a French play then as the narrator for Robert Munsch’s “Mud Puddle”. The latter was the starring role and with his animated delivery Eli out-Munsched Robert Munsch. And he had memorized all his lines!


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Chilling with band buddies after his performance, and watching the Grade 10 and senior bands.20150527_210420

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Birthday parties and other fun

A couple more photos from Eli’s cooking class — the scrumptious apple turnover he made (and I partially ate before I photographed) and him in class. Unfortunately Eli doesn’t like most of the foods they are preparing but he still likes cooking them.


We have two boys on the street that Eli often plays with, Aaron (pictured here) and Brandon. Brandon’s little sister Ava tags along too. With some hot days this spring the boys enjoyed water gun fights. And our grass needed the watering.
aaron and eli

I’m always keen to check out the endless opportunities around Ottawa to learn, explore, and experience. The rest of the family is less keen. Here Eli’s face shows what he thinks about the Ontario Scene hip hop event I dragged him to.
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hip hop

Eli’s 9th birthday party was at Laser Quest. In attendance were brother Nic and friends Corin, Thomas, Darian, Brandon, Jack, and Ben. Nic was a fill-in as all 3 girls Eli invited (Gabi, Zoe and Ariana) were unable to attend.


The following weekend was Gabi’s party — on a pirate ship! Gotta love a girl who’s into pirates and is also an avid reader (i.e. brainy) and a talented dancer. Most photos courtesy of Gabi’s mom (I didn’t go on the ship).

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pirate 4

pirate 3

Normal Eli…
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Evil Eli!
pirate 1



Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

Nic’s band invades Banff, April 2015

I think the trip can be classified as an invasion as there were 107 Gr 9 band students, at least 75 from the upper grades, and about 18 teachers and chaperones on the 5 day trip. Marlene was a chaperone. What an amazing trip!

Here’s an article about the trip that Marlene wrote for the local paper: Making_Music_in_the_Mountains draft

A view inside one of the three buses that transported us everywhere. We even got bused up to the Banff Centre from the Brewster Mountain Lodge, where we stayed. It’s only a 15-minute walk but with all the instruments and the very real chance of losing a student or two, we always took the bus. In here somewhere are the 10 lovely young women in my chaperone group.
on the bus

Students arrived in Calgary on different flights throughout the day so as they did they were bused to the Calgary Zoo. Brilliant plan on the part of Gord Birkinshaw, the senior band teacher who planned everything. The kids got free time to hang out, adjust to the time zone, see a nice zoo and were corralled into a confined area (easier for the chaperones!) Once all the kids had arrived and had some time at the zoo we filled three charter buses and headed to Banff.

En route to the zoo (Marlene & Nic were on the earliest flight, with about 80 others) we stopped at a mall food court for lunch. The place was just opening but we’d been up for about 9 hours by then.
zoo food court

zoo food court 1
At the zoo. Gorgeous day, about 22 degrees and sunny.

Being the first group to get to the zoo we had something like six hours there — more than anyone really needed. But the kids found ways to entertain themselves while everyone else arrived, like a mass card game near the entrance.zoo card game

Despite having to be up around 3:00am the day of departure we were scheduled for a 5:30am wakeup call the next morning, to grab our bag breakfasts and get on the buses at 6:30am to get to our Columbia Icefields tour. We were booked on the first tours of the day, but the tour company definitely over-estimated the travel time from Banff and we were easily an hour early. That gave us time for a scenic lookout stop enroute.icefields enroute 2

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icefield enroute

Here’s the massive ice explorer vehicle that took us onto the glacier.icefields 1_sm


Glacier underfoot selfieglacier selfie

Apparently it’s something of a tradition for the boys to bare their chests while on a glacier — at least that’s what happened on the previous two band trips to Banff, and the 2015 guys were up to the challenge.icefields 2_sm

A food court in Banff — right around the corner from our hotel, with lots of choice, so we went there for several quick lunches. Mostly the kids were on their own for dinners, to go out, buy groceries, get takeout, court

The senior concert band performing — a mix of the Grade 10 and senior (11 and 12) bands.senior band_sm

Chaperone style selfie. You get to boss all kinds of kids around when you’re dressed in a band shirt.selfie chaperone

Some of Marlene’s fellow adults, left to right, Karen Baird, Krista Norton, Josee Witherow (my roommate), Peter Littlefield, and Catherine Roberts. All chaperones, and experienced ones, except Krista who’s the Grade 9 band teacher (and fearless leader in all kinds of fun non-musical activities).

lunch chaperones

Josee and I enjoying an exceptionally delicious Bloody Caesar (garnished with a pickled bean and a yummy s+p chicken wing) at the Eddie Burger. Got to watch the Sens whip some Montreal butt there too. The whole chaperone contingent joined, plus teacher Krista, making a party of 12 (and I do mean party). The Eddie is right across the street from the hotel so we took turns popping over to make sure the kids weren’t getting into as much trouble as their chaperones were.chaperones

Managed to fit in a hike at Johnson Canyon, about 20 minutes west of Banff. The kids needed to see why this place is a national park. Despite the trail actually being paved (when Marlene was a local she shunned it along with all locals who considered it too tame) it was gorgeous. The kids loved it too. They half ran the whole thing and were constantly taking pictures of the scenery and each other. It wasn’t very cold — definitely well above zero — but we had a little snow flurries to make it even more mountain-ish.canyon sign

johnson canyon_sm

Nic’s band performing — part of Loch Lomond. Look for Nic amongst the trombones.

The junior band waiting for their clinic to start, which was the day after they performed. Follow the arrow to Nic.nic in clinic 1

nic in clinic

Getting set up for the formal festival photo — not only did it take forever, this band being more than twice the size of most, but the benches the kids had to stand on were rickety and narrow. One poor kid fell off from fairly high up. Banged himself up a little and ripped his pants but curled around his sax when he fell so the instrument was unscathed. Follow the arrow to find Nic.
junior band_sm

group photo

The last full day in Banff the kids had the option of skiing at Sunshine Village (which Nic and I chose) or going on the Sulphur Mountain Gondola and Mineral Hot Springs in town. It was amazing spring skiing at Sunshine. sunshine 1_sm

It doesn’t get much better than this.
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Our last evening in town the whole band dined together at the Olde Spaghetti Factory.spaghetti factory

What I haven’t posted in photos are the nightly get-togethers in the band teacher’s room, where we had ‘tea’ and laughed well into the night. I haven’t slept that little in a week for decades! The final night there I had 2 hours sleep, because I just had to take part in the evening social and had to wake up at 2:15am to escort one student flying on points to the Calgary airport for our very early flight home. Krista says I was a great chaperone so I’m hoping to have many more band trips with Nic.

Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

Happy Mother’s Day Mom/Boubi!

Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

The winter continues, early 2015

Third harsh winter in a row, and the worst of all of them. We set a record for February’s unbroken sub-zero streak and also a canal record for longest continuous days of operation. I skated there once — too cold most of the time! At least there was a good amount of snow (after a late Dec thaw). But too cold for me most of the time. I practically didn’t run all winter (turns out having a training goal is necessary for me now) and only skied when I was coaching (no personal outings). My biathlon training attendance was spotty too, because standing still with a large hunk of metal does not keep you very warm!

Mid January Eli and I attended a Cub Scout camp. Beautiful place, not far from Ottawa, and it was well programmed. Even the food was good. Unfortunately the leadership of this Cub pack is not. I’d hoped Eli and I would get to know folks better so he’d like Cubs more. But not a single leader there even introduced themselves the whole weekend (similarly I could never figure out who was who at the weekly sessions and again no one would really talk to me). Plus the leaders didn’t always show the respect to the kids (i.e. Eli) that they promote so much. Nevertheless it was fun for me to spend the weekend with Eli.cubs camp 2

We shared a room with another mom and her son. cubs camp 4


cubs camp 1

Sleddingcubs camp 5

Yes, it was very cold!cubs camp 3

Saturday evening back in the cabin we made bead geckos.cubs camp 7

cubs camp 6

cubs camp

Sunday our last activity was hockey on the frozen lake. It was warmer than Saturday and Eli really enjoyed it.
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Nic’s Grade 9 class went skating on the canal. Follow the orange arrow to find Nic.canal_trip_feb_2015
Nic in his new ‘natural’ environment: in the den playing a multi-player online game with his buddies and Skyping them at the same time.
Nic new glasses

Nic played indoor soccer through the winter and his skills improved remarkably. He was one of the best on his team of mixed ages (2000 was the oldest year), with one of the hardest, most accurate shots. I think they came 5th overall, when they won their last tournament game.
soccer tournament

For March break we spent just a weekend away. Marlene and Eli took the train to Kingston, while Nic and Doug drove. We stayed at the waterfront Holiday Inn and went to Rail O’Rama in Kingston but otherwise none of the museums and historical sites were open. Nice little get-away.
eli on the train

Eli in the hotel pool.
hotel pool

I didn’t end up traveling to any biathlons but did compete in the local one near the end of the season, at Chelsea Nordiq, my home range. It was a lot of fun! I managed not to get disqualified (there is no end of little things you might do wrong with your rifle that will get you disqualified, like starting to take it off without both skis on the mat). I shot poorly and skied worse! I called the course, which I skied both days in the two different formats, ‘puke and tuck’ because it was either a gruelling uphill or a cruising downhill. Here I’m trying to get my empty mag out (always a challenge with frozen fingers and too-big gloves).
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Usually the 14 lanes were almost full with shooters and thus exciting to watch (with folks cheering loudly as shooters next to me hit every target). This photo must be from Sunday’s race where the Master Women started near the end and skied fairly far so by my last time shooting there weren’t many left on the course.
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Shooting standing, with reasonable form. Being watched by the head of Chelsea Nordiq, Pierre Dupuis. 
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Turns out with so few women in the Master category I could take home lots of bling! Silver on Saturday and gold on Sunday. Because the race was both an Ontario Cup and a Coupe Quebec I got two of each colour. 
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Eli had a ton of dental surgery at CHEO — 5 teeth removed (including an extra one embedded in his upper palate), two crowns and a few fillings. We had no idea it would be that rough on him — he looked like he’d been in a car crash, ended up with an infection (possibly from pulling all the stitches out within the first day), and needed a week off school. When he awoke from the anaesthetic he was so angry and yelling even the most seasoned children’s nurse couldn’t calm him down. Eventually he whimpered, “I feel so weak without my teeth.”

Nic’s Grade 9 concert band (all 120+ of them) played at the National Capital regional music festival. They did really well. Especially because the school went into ‘safe in place’ status while the band was setting up. Half were on stage already while the other half, including the teacher, were in the warm-up room and no one could leave where they were. It lasted a half hour or more and the kids on stage were so quiet and focused — one of the percussionists (Nadia) went to the front and started warming them up. The adjudicators noted their maturity and probably helped them get a gold rating. These photos are from the school library where they had a clinic right afterwards. The safety status happened again and we were stuck there quite a while. Again, the kids were great. The teacher, Krista Norton, told me it’s the most remarkable group she’s ever had and Nic is lucky to be part of something so special.
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For Easter weekend Mar and the boys went to Toronto and stayed at Mom’s. It was also Passover so we went to Rob’s for a seder with lots of Liebermans. The boys were great and it was a lovely weekend. We stopped at Tim Horton’s in Tweed for lunch and somehow Nic let me take his photo. Love his new glasses!
nic at Tim's

Eli at Tim’s.


eli at tim's

We visited the new aquarium in Toronto. We drove downtown so Marlene could check out the CB2 store (usually we take the TTC so Eli can ride the subway, streetcar and bus). We had lunch at a sushi place in Liberty Village, where the furniture store is. The aquarium is across the street from Steam Whistle Brewery, which has an actual roundhouse and steam engines and a caboose. Eli was thrilled.



Inside the caboose
in caboose

Purple rice sushi!
purple rice sushi

Urban rail love (behind Liberty Village)
urban rail love

Seder bound. Photo by auntie Leslie.
seder bound

Eli is taking a cooking course — first lesson was French toast, which he treated the family to on the weekend.

There are also photos of Nic cooking over March break — a perfect cheese sauce and a grilled cheese sandwich. But you’ll have to check Marlene’s Instagram account for those:

We had a very fun-filled evening at Cormac and Renata’s late in the winter, except that Eli had an allergic reaction to something (the guinea pig, perhaps?) and Doug left early to take him to CHEO. So he missed out on the Dominican Republic cigars (thanks Mike G) and port.cigars 1

Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

American Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays, 2014

After the ultra we spent another day in Hagerstown, and visited a local railroad museum. We took a scenic route (along the spine of the Appalachians and through the Shenandoah Valley) down to North Carolina to visit the Taylors. Enroute we stopped overnight in Spencer, NC (only a couple hours from Raleigh) to visit the NC Museum of Transportation the next day. That museum sounded great and Marlene had contacted them to make sure they were open around Thanksgiving — they said they were but something changed and they were closed. Eli was in tears! Also closed was Dan Nichols Park, which likewise sounded like an interesting attraction. A sign at the park gate mentioned something about the state budget causing extra closures. At least we could walk around those grounds.

Marlene initially booked the wrong motel (Courtyard — more $$ and no breakie included) so spent one night there then switched to the intended place, Country Inn & Suites, where we’d stayed before. All we could get was a little suite but Nic was happy with the pullout couch and it was still cheaper than the Courtyard and included breakfast.jfk maryland

Before we left Hagerstown we went to the mall near our hotel where there was a Christmas train display.
jfk trains

There was a little railway museum in Hagerstown, which we visited.

Dan Nichols Park
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jfk dan park

The boys with Lois outside her residence, Preston Pointe. We rented a room there which worked out great. We got to see the grandparents a lot but they didn’t have us underfoot the whole time. In this photo we were on our way to Dave & Karen’s for Thanksgiving dinner, hence Nic’s proper shirt and Eli’s tie.

my boys

Not in focus but the only shots I have of dinner and Karen, Keelie and Jenna.
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Dave took a day off work and went out to lunch with us in Raleigh.

The morning we left the Preston Pointe had just put up their Christmas tree in the foyer. I still had swollen eyes — that happened after the ultra and lasted for several days. Other than that and some dizziness (perhaps both related to dehydration?) the old bod felt great.

On the way back we routed through Washington DC and had a short but fun one-night visit with the Vervuurts. At home in DC with Eric and Danielle (actually, Falls Church Virgina).
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We were leaving the Vervuurts early for the long drive home and stopped shortly after for gas and lucked upon this wonderful steam train and old station.

random train

And soon it was Christmas, which overlapped with the end of Chanukah this year (but don’t seem to have taken any menorah photos). The lovely-looking strangely symmetrical tree is artificial — as much as I’m reluctant to have a tree, I’m even more opposed to a fake one! (More crap to store somewhere and eventual go to landfill). Unilateral buying decision on Doug’s part. Maintenance free though. Eli left cookies and a note for Santa, plus water for the reindeer. We tracked their progress courtesy of NORAD — I think I was even more excited than the kids (nerdy mapping geek that I am).

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santa letter 2

santa letter

Kelly was in town and on her own Christmas Day so we had her over for a somewhat traditional festive dinner.
xmas 2014

Kelly brought the dog she was minding.
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After Christmas we traveled to Toronto to spend a few days with the Alt family. Doug stayed back in Ottawa so there was room for me and the boys to stay at Mom’s apartment. Rob and Risa hosted a belated Chanukah dinner. True to form she got the kids some great (and whacky) gifts (as in these hats with scarves and mitts attached).


Aaron and Vicky opening her giftchanukah 1We stayed over New Year’s and had a lovely visit.


Posted in 2014 | Leave a comment