Thursday, January 19, 2017

California 2016: Day 8 (Going Home)

Our final day in California was very low key. We visited with my dad and brother one last time, and then took a bunch of pictures together in the parking lot. After that, it was off to LAX and the flight home. All in all, a fantastic trip, While I wouldn't want to live in California again (I never expected to say that!) thanks to the traffic, it's a fun place to visit, and I hope we get back there in another few years.

Friday, January 13, 2017

California 2016: Day 7 (Santa Monica)

On our last full day in California, we initially thought about driving up to Hollywood/Beverly Hills and doing the tourist thing. But traffic was, as usual, horrendous, so we made it a little more relaxing and just visited the pier and beach in Santa Monica. For those of you unaware, not only is Santa Monica a huge draw for tourists, but it also happens to be my birthplace, way back in 1971.

We had lunch at Bubba Gump's on the pier, which was wildly overpriced for so-so food, but at least we've now marked that restaurant off our "to do" list. Afterwards, we took some pictures on or around the pier.

Despite all the other fun things we did on the trip, spending an hour or so playing in the water and crashing through waves was probably one of my favorite parts of the trip. It kind of makes me wish we lived closer to a real beach.

As for Marilu, she relaxed while we frolicked.

One more day--which basically consists of pictures with my dad and brother--and California is finally done! Only 6 months after the fact. :)

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas 2016

And so 2016 comes to an end. While it hasn't been a bad year for us, it's definitely been my worst at updating the blog. According to the post count on the right side of the page, I've had 54 updates this year (55 after this one). The lowest count prior to this year was 2013 when I managed 64. Quite a ways from the lofty 201 new entries in 2008. Suffice to say, one of my resolutions for 2017 is to update more. God knows I've got a backlog of pictures!

Anyway, before the year comes to a close, I wanted to post the highlights of our Christmas season. First off, Lucas shows off our tree.

We went with a real tree again this year, buying it for $40 from the church up the street. It was a nice tree, and all the money went to charity so everyone wins, I suppose. We may go back to artificial next year though since it just tends to be more convenient, other than finding a place for the box during the year.

On Christmas morning, before we started opening presents, everyone showed off their stockings.

Then the unwrapping began in earnest.

The presents weren't just for kids!

Here was my big gift from Marilu and Lucas. Every year, I always end up putting together Lucas's Lego gifts so this year, they got me my own!

We always get Marilu a puzzle for Christmas, and this year, I decided to get one from Cabela's. It should be interesting since it's in the shape of a wolf head.

Marilu's big present was this, an opal bracelet. I haven't bought her jewelry since the early days of our relationship since she is not a big jewelry person, but I wanted to go with something different. She liked it a lot so I consider that a win. (FYI, opal is her birthstone)

Finally, a picture from later in the day when we were playing some of the games we got for Christmas. This was a particularly funny game called Speak Out, where you had to stick a plastic thing in your mouth and then try to say words without being able to move your lips. I'm not sure what was better: the game itself or how crazy we looked.

So my resolution for 2017 is to update at least twice a week, which should get me back up to the 100 post a year level. This week, I should have this year's update of Christmas Eve where all the boys grow up together on the couch. In addition, I have 2 more California updates coming. I actually uploaded the pictures several weeks ago, but I still need to add some text. So watch for all of those in the coming days.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Camo Santa!

This year, we went with a new option for Lucas's visit to Santa. Instead of going to the overcrowded and somewhat expensive ($20) mall photo, we decided to bring him to see Camo Santa at Cabela's. Yes, only at Cabela's would Santa be in full camouflage. Not only was the wait much shorter, the photos were free!

I even jumped in the second picture for the hell of it. Too bad Lucas was distracted.

Unfortunately, Marilu didn't want to participate (boo! hiss!) so you'll have to settle for just the two of us.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

California 2016: Day 6 (Universal Studios)

The highlight of Day 6 of our trip to California was visiting Universal Studios. Probably the lowlight was getting there as traffic was CRAZY. As much as I liked growing up in California, I think the traffic alone would prevent me from ever living there again.

I'm not sure if it was because Marilu bought our tickets online, but we were able to enter the park an hour early to visit the newest area, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We've been reading the HP books with Lucas over the last couple of years--currently on #5--so it was fun for him to experience the magic firsthand.

After Harry Potter, we made sure to head straight to all the "big" rides. As a result, we didn't have to deal with much in the way of lines, and we'd gone on 90% of the rides (some twice) before it was even noon. The lineups were pretty long in the afternoon, but by that point, we'd been on just about everything we wanted to see.

In sticking with my theme of visiting breweries while in California, I had to get this picture in front of the fictional Duff Brewery from The Simpsons.

A nice picture of Lucas and Marilu with a Southern California backdrop (complete with smog in the distance!).

At approximately 45 minutes, the lineup for the Despicable Me ride was the only long wait we had. The rest of the rides were ones we either walked right on or waited, at most, 5 minutes. Definitely one of the best theme park visits I've had--from an efficiency standpoint.

Being a long-time fan of The Walking Dead comic, I had to visit the new TWD attraction at Universal. Worry not, Lucas and Marilu went on something else while I did this.

Probably the best picture of the day.

The end is in sight: only 2 more days of California pictures!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dad Turns 70

A short time after our visit to Massachusetts, my dad flew up to Ottawa for HIS 70th birthday. He'd never seen Lucas or the Ottawa Senators so we figured flying him up here in November would kill two birds with one stone.

My dad loves fruit pies so we got him one of those instead of a cake for his birthday.

He brought this hockey jersey for Lucas. It may be a few years before we can let him wear it in public. :)

Lucas and my dad making faces at the hockey game. I think Lucas looks possessed. It was a good game though the Sens lost in overtime to the Wild.

Posing with Karlsson and Toews after the game.

I didn't get any pictures from Lucas's game, but my dad enjoyed finally seeing Lucas on the ice. His team lost, but he had a great game so it turned out okay.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Mom Turns 70

Recently, both of my parents turned 70. To celebrate, we wanted to do something special for both of them. Since my mom lives within driving distance, we planned a surprise visit with the help of Kevin. We met up with them in Springfield, MA, at one of their favorite restaurants, a German place named The Student Prince. Even though we arrived a half hour early to find a good hiding spot in the back, we almost got caught as we turned the corner of the street the restaurant was on since my mom and Kevin were just opening the door. I yanked Lucas back around the corner and then we waited a few minutes for them to settle in. Luckily, they were at the bar so we snuck around behind the bar, and with my mom's back to me, I walked up and asked them for their drink order. My mom turned around to answer, and when she saw me, she just about screamed. So mission accomplished! The surprise worked!

We got the waitress to take a picture of our whole motley crew. Family friends Nancy and Bobby joined us shortly after we arrived, in case you're wondering about the extras. As you can see from the background, the restaurant has quite a bit of character,

A nice one of Lucas and Grammy.

And an abnormal one, as only Lucas can do it.

Back at the house, the king rests on his throne.

Birthday cake time! (that's their neighbor Kyle in the background)

During our visit to Webster earlier in the summer, I bought a foosball table that was on clearance at a great price ($30). I didn't have time to put it together then so Lucas begged me on our first night this visit to build it. I got about halfway through the first night and then completed it the next day. We decided to have a foosball tournament, and I think everybody had a good time. I may be a little biased since I was undefeated, and my closest score was 10-2. :)  Seriously though, a fun time was had by all. I think Kevin was just happy it wasn't a board game.

And that was our whirlwind trip to Massachusetts. In the next post, I'll cover my dad's trip to Ottawa.