Tag Archives: birthday

3 Cakes, 3 Kegs and 3 Cheers to 40 Years!!

40. It’s just a number, isn’t it? Well, I would argue the answer is both yes and no. Having recently attained this milestone in my life, I thought I should wax philosophical about my entry into ‘middle age’ and moving into a new decade. However, that is a bit challenging and difficult. I’m not quite ready to start talking about shaking off this mortal coil, or anything like that. So, I’d rather just focus this post on the awesome party that Deanna pulled together to celebrate. After all, your life is defined by your experiences and your relationships, isn’t it? I’ve been blessed to have both in spades to this point, and this post is at least an opportunity to acknowledge that. Have I gotten any wiser in my age? I think so. Any more mature? I certainly hope not! What’s the fun in that? With that, please read on for a bit more detail on my 40th birthday celebrations.

Off the bat, I would say that it likely wasn’t fair for poor Deanna to be faced with the task of meeting my expectations for a ‘blow-out’ for my 40th. After all, I’ve been imagining this party for quite some time, and all sorts of crazy ideas surfaced. However, now that the time was upon us, the reality was that I was not going to be sky-diving into my backyard pool and have a 3-day on-site music festival. The permitting alone would have been too complex, and funds just a little too tight. Guess those things will have to wait for the 50th!! What we did have was an awesome party with a great range of friends spanning several decades of ‘experiences’ that I’ve shared. In addition, we had 3 delicious kegs of beer and lots of other beverages to keep people ‘hydrated’ and smiling. And yes, there were in fact 3 cakes as well. Two were beer-battered bacon topped monstrosities of awesomeness, and the third was a kid-friendly simpler cake. Needless to say, all kegs and cakes were consumed by the masses by the time the evening / morning drew to a close.

The weather wanted to play tricks on us, deciding to unleash some pretty heavy rains throughout the day, but by 7pm or so, things cleared up and merely left us with brooding skies and a wet deck.  To give Deanna time and space to prepare, I left the house earlier in the day to go for a long run. I laughed out loud as I ended up runninng through some of the heaviest rains I’ve ever experienced in Gatineau Park…. at the FURTHEST point in my run! Happily, the weather did NOT stop us from enjoying the pool, hot tub, and fun games in the yard. We ended up forgoing the giant outdoor beer pong match in the front yard (till the next morning), but we DID have a super-cool scavenger hunt. In a nod to my adventure racing spirit, Deanna had set up 10 mini checkpoints with clues scattered around our yard, our neighbours yard and the neighbourhood. It was really fun watching people scattered around our little ‘hood searching for the clues. With each CP was a letter or letters which could be unscrambled to ultimately spell ‘Artisans Alehouse’, the name we’ve attached to our humble abode. Ironically, I was one of the LAST to unscramble the answer, much to Deanna’s amusement!

For the most part, the fun was in simply hanging out with so many great people that I’m proud to refer to as my ‘family’. They came from all over, comprising people I’ve been hanging out with since University up to my latest family of endurance training and racing friends and new neighbours. Lots of great conversations and ‘cross-pollination’ all around. And of course the best wife ever, Deanna, and her sister Cheryl to round out the ‘family’ side of things. Sadly, no blood relatives were in attendance, but plenty of well wishes had been sent our way from all over the world (Switzerland, Netherlands, Belgium, Montreal, Nova Scotia, South Africa, Las Vegas, and Australia to name the more ‘exotic’).

The music was continuous, and as the night wore on, the obligatory dance party busted out in the lower level with plenty of laughs and funny hats. Outside, tiki torches were lit, bathing suits donned, and kids and parents enjoyed the hot tub and the pool. For the main course, we kept things simple by going with BBQ sausages, but that seemed to keep the hungry masses more or less satisfied, especially when it was paired with the many other snacks and side dishes laid out in the dining room.

As the hours rolled by, the numbers dropped, but the noise levels and silliness continued to increase. My self-proclaimed goal was to stay up until at least 5am, since that was the actual hour of my birth a mere 40 years ago. I’m happy to report that I was the last man standing (or rather, sitting at that point), making it all the way to 5:20am. Big shout out to my closest circle of buddies (Matt, Rob, Andy, and Dave) for crashing overnight and making it the perfect ending to the night. In addition, my new neighbour Mark also showed he was no slouch by also being amongst the last people there, and also providing the 2-keg kegerator and helping with some set-up and tear down. It’s really great to finally live somewhere that I feel like I’m part of a ‘community’! At one point, the remaining 4 guests along with Deanna and I were soaking in the hot tub, and Mark was actually fetching beers for us! Now THAT is service!

To complement the memories that I will hold in my head of the night (and perhaps supplement some of the ‘blanks’), we tried to do some documenting of the festivities. I’d set up a ‘truth booth’ where people could record personal greetings to me, and I also wore a GoPro for several hours snapping a picture every second. The results of these two experiments were mixed, so I have yet to put together a final video. If I do, I’ll post it on YouTube. Otherwise, it’ll just stay in the ‘personal files’. We also had a couple cameras floating around to take pictures, so I’ve put up some of the best shots on flickr. Thanks to Dave McMahon for snatching one of those cameras and wandering around taking all sorts of pictures of guests for us.

All in all, this was definitely a night to remember, and I’m so happy so many people could share in the merriment with us. Between the many beers and other random shots that were consumed, I was not exactly a happy camper the next morning when Rob insisted I get out of bed and celebrate more! At 9am, I was being physically kicked out of bed to join Matt, Dave, Andy and Rob on the deck for fresh beers. Although I was definitely not feeling great, I was handed one to drink. After that, Rob wanted to try his hand at giant outdoor Beer Pong, which he and Andy did as I watched on (laying prone in the grass). I can’t help but look back and laugh at that. It must have been quite a sight. Once they finally packed up and left around noon, I crawled back into bed to ‘recover’.

As it turns out, the rest of my ACTUAL birthday, which was Sunday, was very low key. My sister and family initiated a Skype call which I woke myself up for in order to talk for a while. We shared some laughs, and I opened a gift they had sent me and saved to open in front of the kids on the video. It was pretty swell. I only talked to my dad the next day as well. As for my birthday supper? Well, let’s just say I only made it as far as the closest McDonald’s for a feast of terrible comfort food, which I enjoyed while laying on the couch watching something on Netflix. Not exactly a fancy birthday meal, but it had to do. I only felt slightly bad for having not trained that day, but in truth, that was pretty much what I had planned!

With that, I will close off this post. As mentioned, I truly feel lucky to have such wonderful friends and family, and such an exciting and eventful life. I have never taken it for granted, and certainly don’t plan to start. Since I live in the present, every day is a gift! With that, we found ourselves a mere week away from the next adventure, Rideau Lakes Bike Tour, a 350km weekend bike tour from Ottawa to Kingston. Stay tuned for that next post! Till then, may your days be sunny and warm, and if they aren’t, enjoy the refreshment of rain!

Happy Birthday to a Great Nephew!

Julien Blows out Candle

Hello friends! Well, here I sit on a grey and dreary day, so it seems like a good time to dash off a few words about one of the recent events I had the pleasure of taking part in. November 11th marked the 2nd birthday of my cool little nephew Julien. I’ll say this right off the bat. The first year and a half was a bit of a struggle as Julien was a bit of a cranky-pants a lot of the time. I say that with the greatest amount of love possible though :-). He just tended to cry a fair bit. However, he’s settled down remarkably, and like his sister before him, is turning into a pretty interesting little person. Helena and Julien are now quite fun to watch and interact with, particularly when it comes to seeing how they view the world around them. For example, at the moment, Julien is all about wheels and watching them go around. It’s very cute to see him flat on the ground watching the wheels of his toy train going around. Anyway, back to the birthday festivities. Not only would he be celebrating his birthday, but his baptism was also slated to take place on the same weekend. For that reason, lots of family and friends could be around to celebrate. To see some pictures and video of the weekend, check out the folder I put up on flickr. Afterwards, I can share a few more thoughts of the weekend with you.

With the birthday and baptism on the same weekend, and the fact that some of us had the Friday off for Remembrance Day, it was a weekend chock full of family fun. Before it all started, I took advantage of some nice weather on Friday to do a full biking loop in Gatineau Park before my dad and his wife were slated to arrive at our place. While there were some family members at my sisters for the actual birthday on Friday, we just spent a quiet night with dad and Nicole in order to catch up fully. It was great to chat with dad all about what was new with him and with us, as we seldom get to see each other in person. Of course, Skype helps bridge the miles pretty well, but it’s still nice to have the actual company on occasion.

Saturday was the full family birthday celebrations at my sisters place. Much of Patrick’s family from Toronto made the trip down for the weekend, so the house was full of aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and well-wishers. We were treated to a nice feast of chili (two kinds), as well as cheese and crackers and other finger foods. However, the piece de resistance was not 1, not 2, but 3 homemade cakes courtesy of Julien’s grampy, John Hill. They were to mark the zero birthday, the 1st birthday, and the 2 birthday, and went over smashingly well. I had at least one piece of each 🙂 As with the night before, much of the time was spent just catching up with all the various family members. Our day had actually started our quite a while earlier, when Deanna and I took dad and Nicole to the War Museum to catch the special exhibit on War and Medicine before it was gone completely. For that reason, but the time we finally took leave from Andrea’s place, we were all pretty pooped (and very full!). Given that we had to all be up and fresh for church in the morning, we had a pretty early night.

Sunday morning rolled around, and we all got to work preening and grooming ourselves and getting into our ‘Sunday best’. Ironically, my dad had brought up about 4 dress shirts, but not a single tie. Lucky for him his son now has a pretty good collection. We had a quick bite to eat, and all headed off to Julien’s baptism church. The church is actually an Anglican church just outside the fence surrounding the Governor Generals grounds, and serves as the church for the Governor General’s Foot Guard. There are even 4 seats of honour reserved in it specifically for when the Governor General pops in for a sermon, which apparently is about once a month. As luck would have it, I was asked if I could be the photographer for the event as well. Sadly, due to a lack of lighting, many of the pictures I took were a little to fuzzy to use, but at least a few turned out nice enough in my opinion.

The service itself was a pretty nice sermon with a lovely choir singing in the back. For one hymn, they even sang completely acapella in beautiful 4-part harmonies. It was nice to hear something like that for a change. For his part, Julien behaved very admirably the entire service. He didn’t make one peep, and seemed attentive the entire time, with a nice big smile and wide eyes for most of it. Even as he was being baptized, there was no complaining or crying. It was nice to be a part of this ceremony. However, admittedly, it did make me just a little sad that I had missed Helena’s baptism, seeing as I am her Godfather. However, since it was in Switzerland, it just wasn’t very feasible at the time from both a monetary and vacation time perspective.

Once again, there was a lot of family present in the service, and afterwards, there was even more fun to follow. My sister had booked an upstairs room at The Courtyard restaurant in the market for another little celebration. Sadly, the service at the restaurant was a bit lacking, and led to a rather prolonged meal and some frustrations on both sides of the table. However, that certainly didn’t put any damper on our fun, jut made for a rather surly hostess. This event once again saw a few more faces around the table that I hadn’t seen during the rest of the weekend, which meant there were plenty more conversations to go around, including discussions on unicycling and barefoot running! For all my love of the Internet and technologies, there is still something to be said about spirited discussions in person with relative strangers!

All in all, it was a great weekend, and we were very happy to be a part of all the celebrations for Juliens 2nd birthday. Ironically, even though we live in the same city, our schedules and commitments often makes it challenging for my sister and us to get together very often. In spite of that, every time we do get together, I’m reminded how lucky I am to have such a great big sister, and what a great family she and Patrick are building. Congratulations to both of you! I’ll leave it there, but don’t forget to hug whoever you’ve got in your life right now, and remind them how happy you are for having them in your life!

Happy Birthday to Me

Hello friends far and near. Prepare to read another self-serving blog post from your humble narrator, me, ActiveSteve! I’ll keep it short and sweet, as there isn’t all that much to say on this one. As my blog post title implies, I recently celebrated a birthday, and yes, it was a milestone of sorts. While I will definitely agree that I am a year older, the jury is definitely out on whether I’m any wiser 🙂 Being wise sounds a lot like being responsible though, and that certainly isn’t my modus operandi now, is it? As my birthday weekend was sandwiched between 2 races, I decided that I’d take advantage of the timing, and host both my house-warming, and birthday bash! Food, friends, fireworks and festive libations! I didn’t take too many pictures, as my hosting duties precluded such frivolous behaviour, but I did snap a few, and you can check them all out on my flickr page. For a few more deets, come on back, and click ye olde ‘read more’ button!

As alluded to in the opening, my race and training season is in full swing, making any sort of advanced planning complicated. As evidenced by my recent tardiness when it comes to bloggy posts, I’m just not feeling super-organized these days. It’s a good thing though, as I’m spending more of my time doing awesome fun things with awesome fun people! Speaking of which, I want to thank everyone who came out (and/or tried to) to help me celebrate. It was the first time I got to host a gathering at my new place, so I was a bit nervous and excited. In fact, the week leading up to the shin-dig was a filled with a lot of ‘hidden’ prep work, like wiring, patching and painting walls, setting things up, etc. On the plus side, it forced me to get my house properly set up, and ready for the rest of the summer fun! Yay!

So, about those awesome people. I put out the word, and the word was heeded! There was great mix of friends both old and new to help me celebrate. Let’s see, we of course had the Ottawa people, but then there were bodies from Chelsea, Aylmer, Stittsville, Richmond, Arnprior, Montreal, and Toronto! How cool is that? The cross section included racing friends, school friends, work friends, Ottawa friends, family, you name it, they were representin’ 🙂 How did I get everyone there? Well, I’m sure the promise of fresh sausages and burgers from my newly-discovered local butcher, along with fixin’s and beers, helped, at least for some. I decided buying or making myself a birthday cake would have been a bit excessive, so I simply bought May Wests for everyone.

However, I was very lucky to have Deanna arrive a bit earlier than the rest, and she baked some nice banana chocolate-chip bread for us. It gave a nice baking smell to the house that would have otherwise been absent! Also, later in the evening, my sister decided to bust out her cake-proxy, a stack of 3 Jos Louis’ with a big candle stuck through the middle of them! Too funny! Like they say sis, it’s the thought that counts! I couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate cake!

Apart from the food and drinks, I’d also gotten all set to unleash an amazing set of karaoke on the world in the basement in the home theater, but in the end, no one took the bait. People seemed quite content to hang out either in the back yard under my gazebo or on the deck, or in my main living area. Mental note though, I need a bit more seating in that area!

To sort of crown the night off, I’d also bought some fireworks to launch once it got dark. Lucky for me, there is a small patch of dirt in one corner of my yard where there is no sod. It was the ideal place for Rob and I to [attempt to] correctly bury the fireworks before lighting them off. I did the best I could with a frisbee and a drywall knife as digging tools! Once they were all laid out, I suggested Rob retreat closer to the deck and let me take the risks. Ha! I had a blast lighting them off one by one, and apparently the crowd got a kick out of me lighting them, then diving for cover each time. What can I say? I wasn’t convinced that we’d really properly buried them. Not to worry though, I had a small bowl with about a half liter of water to douse any flames. Oh yeah, did I mention the fireworks were basically right against my fence!?!? Apparently, a number of neighbours snapped on lights to see what the fuss was all about, and promptly switched them off to watch the show. Sweet! Much better than them calling the cops. What can I say, we Quebeckers love our fireworks 😉

All in all, the party was a great success in my eyes. Hopefully people have realized that I’m not *that* far away from everything, and may even be tempted to visit me from time to time. Hee hee. The house is all set up, and Google maps is almost current with my actual address now! Special shout out has to go to Mike and Lydia, who apparently spent 45mins. trying to find my place due to bad GPS directions (sorry guys, my road is too new!), and sadly had to admit defeat and head home. Sadly, I missed their messages that evening.

Party mode has ended for a little bit at least for me, as in the coming weeks, I have (had) both my 24 hour Wilderness Traverse race, as well as the upcoming 3-day Ultimate XC! Yikes! Time to buckle down. Of course, that means I’ll be ready and willing to party come July. I’ve opted to make July a race-free month (almost), so there will be plenty of chillin’ out, and enjoying music festivals like Ottawa Bluesfest and the Beaches Jazz Festival. Hope you’re summer is also full of fun in the sun!

Super Niece Helena Turns 4!

Howdy everyone out there. Quick post to send out a great big Happy Birthday to my favourite niece in the entire galaxy. Helena celebrated her fourth birthday yesterday, on the 13th of April! She’s been quite excited about the big event some time now. In fact, a couple months ago she was already telling me that I’d be invited to her party. Lucky me, right? Well I think so, given that not too many people were invited personally by her 🙂 Instead of having to deal with a big group of little people in the middle of a work week, parents Andrea and Patrick opted to throw a little party for her over the weekend, and it went swimmingly well. The weather definitely co-operated, and the venue was a great location for a group of wired youngsters. If you’d like to check out how that unfolded, you can have a look at a set of pictures I put up on flickr. Afterward, come on back for a quick re-cap of the day.

As you are all pretty much aware, I’ve been pretty busy getting settled into my new place, as well as getting ready to tackle the Boston Marathon this weekend. As such, I’ve been trying to cram a lot of things into every day and every night. Sunday was no different, as I had to complete my last long run of the training plan. I got up bright and early and did a 16km run before the 10am start to the party. As a result, I was running a little late, but as it turned out, so were most of the guests, and even the Birthday girl! When I arrived just before 10:30am, it was Andrea, Rebecca, Sue, and one other person handling the decorating duties. I helped as best I could to set up streamers, balloons, etc., but it wasn’t long till the guests all started arriving.

Once they were on site, the focus shifted to getting food sorted and making sure the little ones were properly entertained. On the menu were fruits, cheese, bagels, scones, pancakes and other assorted little things. As you might guess, brunch was the key word here 🙂 Rebecca was helping out a lot by leading the kids through craft time, and some fun party games. Everyone was very eager to participate, and there were no little person breakdowns, which was nice. Once we were all fed and happy, there were more games to be played, and general kiddie fun. I retired to the kitchen to do some cleaning up of the cooking mess. After all, unlike most of the adults present, I had no small person that I had to watch. Helena was nice enough to pop in an visit me a couple times, which was pretty cute.

Once the kitchen was cleaned up, I headed outside to the park to join in the fun. The venue was the New Edinburgh Fieldhouse, which is right beside the Rideau River, and has a nice playground and lots of running around space. As such, all the kids were having a ball playing on all the structures. I tagged along with Helena for a while, playing on the teeter-totter with her, and the swings, as well as the climbing apparatus. She’s a great climber. Methinks we’ll have to get her to a climbing gym in the near future. Good excuse for me to get back into that as well!

After we were all sufficiently played out (well, at least the adults were), it was back into the fieldhouse for the birthday cake. I made sure everyone had their party hats on as we sang to Helena and she blew out the candles. Luckily, 4 candles is pretty easy to handle, so she pulled that off well 🙂 Fill up on cake, and it was on to presents. Everyone was very generous and she walked away with a big haul of great new things to play with, including dress-up clothes, dolls, books, music, movies, etc. Lucky girl. The party had been going on for about 3 hours, so things started winding down, with people making their way out. We obviously stayed till the end, and then finished dismantling all the decorations and packing up before leaving.

After the party, I squeezed in several errands, including getting the rest of the things I had stored over at my friend Carl’s house (desk, storage unit, wood, etc). I also headed over to Home Depot to pick up pegs for my peg board (can you believe Rona carried the pegboard but no pegs? I still can’t!). Then I jetted back to Andrea’s place to hang out with the family for a couple more hours. John and Jill had come up for the day from Picton, so it was nice to catch up with Patrick’s parents as well. They are still doing well, and keeping quite busy! By about 5pm, we were all feeling kind of pooped, so I decided to head home and get back to work on the house projects. However, not before Andrea gave me a nice housewarming gift consisting of a big Yucca plant, as well as a Home Depot gift card. Sweeet! Thanks sis and bro-in-law :-).

Well, that should be enough for my ‘short post’ right? Once again, Happy Birthday Helena! You’re a great kid and know how to make us all smile when you want to 😉 Next stop, Boston baby! Bye for now.