Tag Archives: celebration

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!

Happily Ever After…

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Hello one and all. Some of you may realize that this post has been a couple years in the making. For those of you not aware, I took that ‘leap of faith’, proposed to Deanna in May of 2012, and have now carried through with the grand plan. I am now officially hitched. I’ve even got a fancy cobalt ring to prove it. The official date was October 5th, 2013, but things have been pretty busy since then, what with a fabulous honeymoon and a ramped-up work schedule which has had me traveling to Toronto a fair bit. I also really wasn’t sure how to summarize such an amazing, life-changing day in my normal fashion. Suffice to say, there were cameras rolling for the event, and plenty of pictures taken, but they can’t possibly capture all that I felt that day. The emotion was on a level I dare say I have rarely ever experienced before, but all in a good way! Read on for a bit more insight into ‘the greatest day of my life’! While the final, edited pictures are not completed yet, we have nonetheless collected quite a few from friends and family, which are now on flickr.

I think I need to get one thing out of the way up front. Yes. I cried. It was impossible not to. It was only once and it was during the ceremony, but I know some of you picked up on it. As soon as my beautiful bride stepped out of the Ark and began descending the stairs, I welled up. It was the culmination of an amazing courtship and friendship started many years back, and I was just overcome with the moment. Yup, I can be a softie, and I DO have feelings after all, for those who were in doubt. But of course, I have gotten ahead of myself, haven’t I? Let’s reverse this tale just a little bit and review how we got here, and how the day shaped up.

I will avoid the long-winded story, but for the record, Deanna and I met in 2006. It was at an adventure race. I was racing, she was volunteering. I had a camera with me (what else is new) on the race, and snapped her picture at a checkpoint, later labeling it “A Friendly Volunteer”. We talked later that night at the post-race party, and got along well. From that time, I saw her at a few more races, and we always chatted a bit and joked around with each other (some may even say ‘innocent flirting’). Regardless, both of us had different lives, in different cities, and didn’t really make any efforts to get to know each other on any deeper level then racer / race staff friendships.

Fast forward to May 2010. We happened to both be in a different phase of our lives. Both single. Some might call it fate. Either way, the flirting was a little deeper after that particular race, and we lingered with each other just a little later into the evening at the post-race party, even taking a stroll by the waterfront of the Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville. We went separate ways the next morning, but my curiosity was piqued. So, on the long drive home, while stopped in Dixie Lee Chicken in Barry’s Bay, I sent out a text that would change my life course. I invited Deanna to come visit me in Ottawa, from Toronto. Failing to come up with a decent reason why she shouldn’t, she agreed later in the week. The rest, as they say, is history.

In the following months, what started as a pretty innocent and adventuresome friendship / romance, grew in ways neither of us had foreseen. The weekdays spent apart felt agonizing to both of us, and I was soon setting up week-long trips to Toronto where I’d work in a local office. Of course, even with that, Deanna decided to make the big move, and in December 2010, we packed her up, and she started a new life in Ottawa! It was heady and exciting times to see where this would go.

The next year and a half were filled with endless fun and adventures, lots of talking and learning about each other, and a realization that we were both completely happy and couldn’t imagine not being together. So what was I to do? It was obvious to me. Propose to Deanna exactly 2 years after we got together, at the same race, in the same location, with her as a volunteer, and me as a racer. I didn’t win the race that day, but I won the greatest prize I could hope for. A lifetime of happiness, support, and understanding. And I do have to stress understanding. I’m so lucky to have found someone who doesn’t only understand me, but can relate and deal with it!! 🙂

Once the proposal was out of the way, the planning started pretty much right away. We knew immediately where we’d want to get married. At the ARK. This is a place where we’ve done snowshoe races, trail running, and is off the grid and in the middle of the woods. We could think of no better place to commit our lives to each other. Met outdoors, got to know each other outdoors, and now, get wed outdoors. It was perfect. Not to mention Mike, our officiant, was a good friend, and had known us for our ‘formative years’.

Being the slightly controlling / engineering / perfectionist -minded fellow, I had a pretty big hand in the process of planning our wedding. We wanted to make sure that all the little things were planned out, but even though we started a year in advance, I was amazed how many last minute things crept up on us. Through the whole process though, we reminded ourselves that at the end of the day, this was for US, and that if we were happy, our guests would be happy. However, to ensure that, we knew early on it would be open bar all day and night 🙂 To make that extra special, Deanna and I made two special batches of wine ourselves, and sub-contracted the Beer Baron (aka Best Brewmaster, aka Rob) to craft two special ales for the wedding.

The choice to go with an Oktoberfest theme was also pretty spur of the moment once we settled on a caterer. We looked at menu options, saw the ‘European Feast’ menu, looked at the calendar, and realized it would be perfect. Little did we know how amazing my Swiss cousins would be at playing the part, with some of them wearing traditional oktoberfest attire for the occasion. It was just so fun! We think most guests also agreed, with the first 2 kegs of beer pretty much gone before we even started the meal!! Good thing we had planned on 4 kegs AND lots of spirits as well. Happily, the bar didn’t run dry at all.

Of course, in my mind, music is also pretty critical, and early on, we also decided we should seek out live music. I was torn between live band all night or not, and ended up deciding to go with cocktail jazz for a couple hours, then personal music curation later in the evening (aka I decided to DJ our wedding myself, lol). We found an absolutely stunning 4 piece jazz band to entertain between the ceremony and reception, and they did a great job setting the mood while guests mingled, and we got our wedding photos taken.

This is probably a great time to also mention that we were VERY lucky with the weather. In spite of calls for rain on the day, instead, we were greeted by a perfect sunny day, with only chillier temperatures in the night once the bonfire was already raging in the back part of the property. This allowed everyone to enjoy the fall colours in the setting just as we’d imagined it. I think the smile was planted on my face the entire day, from the morning wake-up to the very very late bedtime.

The actual celebrating also started the day before, where we hosted a family and wedding party get-together at one of our favourite microbreweries, Brasseurs du Temps. It was a very laid-back evening, just giving a chance for everyone to mingle and get to know each other. With family and friends flying in from all over the world, it was a great chance to catch up without the big wedding day anxiety.

Wow, I have so many thoughts tumbling around as I type this. Big shout out also has to go to all the friends we had helping with the event. From the weeks leading up to the event, and through to the actual clean-up at the end of the wedding night, there were always people offering to help and give us tips and things to think of. In fact, now that I look back, I lied up above. I said I only cried once on my wedding day. In fact, I cried twice. The second came with my best man’s speech (Matt). He barely started speaking before he got choked up, which just got me all misty again. However, I’m pretty sure he made quite a few people cry that night with his touching words. Damn you mega-Matt!! 😉

Also, having Troy and Tanya fly up from Vegas was also pretty special. I can’t imagine having gotten married without all those close friends in attendance. We didn’t have a huge wedding by any stretch of the imagination, but every single person there was integral to making it a memorable day, and every one of them share a part in our story of coming together. They all mean the world to us.

I’m feeling a little disjointed in this post, so perhaps I should close it off. And how better than to talk about the end of the night for me. Don’t worry, this blog is generally rated G, so I’m not going to go anywhere crazy. BUT, I would like to send a special shout-out to all the ‘friends’ that helped prep our wedding suite. Rose petals and champagne? NOPE. Try: short-sheeted bed and a stack of 10 lawn chairs on the bed interlocked and stacked as a ‘puzzle’. Thanks guys! Add to that temperatures at freezing, no firewood or kindling, and you can see why it was a late night. We didn’t finish the clean-up till around 3am. THEN I had to somehow start a fire. Luckily, I’m creative. With only a box of wooden matches, a tiny bit of newspaper, and some logs that I pulled from the smouldering bonfire outside, I got things going. Deanna was a little worried when I stumbled in with two smoky logs, ember side up, staggering over to the woodstove to get things going, but I survived my caveman quest to bring fire to our wedding night suite.

3 hours later, when we had to get up, it was oppressively HOT in there. Ha ha. That was a good thing though, as it helped us get mobile, pack everything up into the car, then hurriedly rush off to a family brunch, before doing a really fast packing job and leaving for our European honeymoon!! But of course, that is for another blog post.

So, with all that, I close off with this thought for all of you. I have found love. Love has found me. Life has forever changed, and brought us both on a new course together, and the world is an even richer place than it was to me before. I couldn’t be happier or more fortunate to have all that I do in this life. I vow to never take that for granted, and in tough times, remember exactly what I have, and why it makes all other problems not matter. I love you Deanna. My love, my life, and now my wife!

Thanks to some great help from a friend at the wedding as well, I managed to get a fair bit of footage to help me edit together a few videos to commemorate the day. I’ve split them into 3 easy-to digest videos below. Enjoy :-). I promise you don’t have to sit through the WHOLE thing again!!

Wedding Video 1: Pre-Wedding

Wedding Video 2: Wedding Ceremony

Wedding Video 3: Wedding Reception

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!