Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas in Saskatoon

From December 20 - 26 we were in Saskatoon to celebrate Christmas with Natasha's parents. We also did some work on the house but that's a separate post! Despite the fact that they were still in the house trailer (not the first trailer and not the fifth wheel but a trailer designed (mostly) to be winterized!), Natasha's parents managed to make it quite Christmas-like indeed.

To get a Christmas tree, Natasha's dad went to a pile of trees the nursery had bulldozed and sawed the top off of one of them. It was a lovely blue spruce.

Natasha's niece,Kaelin, and her mom were visiting relatives in Saskatoon and we got to spend one day with Kaelin. Since it wasn't Christmas Day she got to open her presents early. It was great to see Kaelin again and she has grown up A LOT! Natasha's nephew, Liam, came over to play that day too. And Ainsley, Jason and Erin came over later that evening.

Kaelin checking out her presents from Oma and Opa.

Natasha's dad points out the stickers in one of the books.

It is tradition at Opa and Oma's that when Kaelin and Liam are there at Christmastime than Oma makes peppernuts with them. For those of you who don't know, peppernuts are a German Christmas cookie and they are each very small so you can eat about a million of them.

Once the dough is made it needs to be rolled into long strips.
Dave tried his hand at it and realized it wasn't as easy as it looked.

Once the strips are frozen they get cut into little circles. Then Kaelin and Liam put the cookies on the pans to bake. Auntie Natasha "helped" by eating some of them before they could make it onto the sheets! Ainsley industriously coloured the entire time.

Sheri was visiting from Newfoundland for a few days while we were there and one evening things got silly. Below are some pictures, as proof (for those of you who needed it!).

But there were relaxing times as well when we just sat around and read. Or Natasha's mom checked out the wedding albums that we made. As a thank you to our parents and Natasha's Auntie Lorna, who let us get our wedding pictures taken in her backyard, we made them each an album of wedding photos. We think they liked them :)

On Christmas morning we opened presents. Dave was curious to see what was in the big one for him! (Natasha already knew, even though it was from her parents.)

Dave was very excited about his new grill and is willing to make pancakes for anyone who wants to drop by for some :) Unfortunately Erin got the stomach flu on Christmas Eve night and wasn't able to join us on Christmas Day. Jason, Liam and Ainsley however came over to open gifts and eat Christmas dinner with us. Later that night Dave and Natasha's dad cleaned up the kitchen.

Early on December 26 we flew to Ontario, but once again, that's for a different post!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Attila's second photoshoot

Here is Attila at 22 weeks, 2 days. You can see his/her face on the left and then shoulders, arms and ribs (or spine) on the right. We are looking down at Attila, if that helps your orientation at all. This photo was taken yesterday. While we were able to spy on Attila it opened and closed its mouth (maybe it was saying "Hi!") and also attempted to suck its thumb. Or it punched itself in the head. Who knows?!?!? (Click on the photo to see it closer.)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Attila at 21 1/2 weeks

Here is a picture of me, tired after a long day of work, and Attila, growing as he/she should be!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Hallowe'en Party

For Hallowe'en we were invited to Donny and Marika's Hallowe'en party in Calgary. Costumes were optional, according to the invitation. However, we took our costumes very seriously -- especially Attila's! Dave put an extraordinary amount of work into Attila's costume, with amazing results :)

How many kids get a handsewn costume?
Let alone, when they are inside the womb.

Attila's costume, before it was attached to Natasha's costume.
Didn't Dave do an awesome job? Individual fingers, and everything.

The two of us weren't as intentional about our own costumes.
Thus Natasha was "a person whose job requires them to wear scrubs"
and Dave was a "doctor-pirate-ninja-type person."

Appropriately, Donny and Marika were sushi -- tuna and salmon, to be precise. For those people who don't know them, Donny and Marika LOVE sushi!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Burning Dad's chair! And Thanksgiving too...

For Thanksgiving we went to Natasha's parents. It was a nice fall weekend. Definitely one of the highlights was the burning of Natasha's dad's recliner, which spent the summer living outside. Natasha's dad had the brilliant idea (or not???) of sitting in the chair while it was on the fire. Unfortunately he didn't warn Natasha that she should get her camera ready until he was already on the chair, in the fire. It takes Natasha's camera about 5-8 seconds to warm up. It was a... dicey... situation, to say the least. But we got a good photo out of it...

Natasha's dad looking, rightfully, a little worried. About three
seconds after he jumped off the chair it looked like this...

A nice fall picture of Natasha's mom's garden. It provided
great food for them (and us too!) all summer.

Natasha's mom relaxes in front of a more... sedate... fire.

Natasha's mom made excellent pies, despite her worries
about preparing Thanksgiving dinner in a small space.

The turkey was duly, and excellently,
cooked in a wood pellet burning BBQ.

The remains of our dinner. Natasha's nephew,
Liam, is looking for something to do!

Natasha's niece, Ainsley, displays her new status :)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Attila at 15 weeks, 4 days

We had an early ultrasound because of some concerns our midwife had. The concerns ended up being unfounded but we did get our first picture of Attila out of it. (Hint: Attila is sitting in a V position and his/her head is at the left side. Its bum is at the bottom and its legs are to the right.)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dan and Lisa's wedding

On September 27, Daniel Flaming and Lisa Outinen got married at the Toronto Zoo. And we were there to celebrate with them.

First order of the day, lunch with Donny, Dan,
Dan's brother Mark, and Marika, who took this picture.

Donny made a stellar best man and Marika was a lovely bridesmaid --
even though it was a little last minute :)

A nice picture of us at the wedding site.

Attila was there too!

It was great to see friends again.
And to have a chance to visit.

Dan and Lisa were happy, despite the rain.

Not only was it fun to visit with friends again;
it was also fun to play games. Although we've never
played games at a wedding before!

Three couples got married this year -- Donny and Marika,
Dan and Lisa, and us. This is all six of us with our
wedding rings all in place!

To Beijing and Back

Back in March, Dave submitted a course project to a competition on web services-based applications. Much to his surprise, the project was selected for the final round of the competition, and as a result he was invited to attend a week-long conference in Beijing!

The conference itself (the International Conference on Web Services) was pretty interesting; Dave got to hear about some cutting-edge research, and meet cool people from China, Germany, India, and the U.S. who are working on similar projects. However, the highlight for him (and likely for you, reading this) was getting a chance to see a bit of China.

Dave took three main side-trips while he was there. His first excursion was to the Great Wall, which he *really* wanted to make sure that he saw while he was there! It was well worth going to (even with the somewhat exorbitant taxi fare), and was an interesting mix of ancient architecture and very modern signs and billboards for the recent Olympic Games.

View of the Great Wall

A huge, "HOLLYWOOD"-size sign for the 2008 Olympics

Dave on the Great Wall. Note the people with red ballcaps.
This was, apparently, the mandatory hat of Chinese tourists,
and there were crowds of them everywhere!

Dave mimicking a floral depiction of some Olympic sporting event...
Possibly softball? Or maybe ten-pin bowling?

Dave's next trip was to the Forbidden City which is, in fact, neither forbidden nor a city. It is a huge palace complex where various Chinese dynasties lived and governed for hundreds of years. The complex was huge, and even with an audio guide and an entire afternoon Dave wasn't able to see it all. Here are a few pictures which will give a flavour of what he saw.

The courtyard outside the entrance to the Forbidden City.

One of the first buildings in the complex -- perhaps a throne room of some sort?

An intricately carved lion guarding one of the pathways into the complex.

These small, gargoyle-like figures could be seen on the roofs of most buildings.
The number of figures indicated the importance of the building.

One of several throne rooms.
The banner over top probably explains what this one was for.

A bit of artwork under the roof of one of the buildings.

An intricately carved pathway, which only royalty was allowed to use.

An ancient, gnarled tree in a garden near the back of the complex.

The view looking out the back of the complex, up into a hilltop garden and temple.

Finally, Dave took a trip to the Temple of Heaven, which is an ancient temple, surrounded by a large park. It was interesting to see similar architecture as in the Forbidden City, but in a slightly different context. The park was a lot of fun to wander around in, and Dave only got lost once :)

The Temple of Heaven.

A collection of gateways leading to the Temple.

A view from the Temple into the park.

A pathway surrounded by trees.

Another pathway, surrounded by a different kind of tree.

Finally, here are a few miscellaneous pictures from Dave's time in Beijing.

The hotel where Dave stayed, and which hosted the conference.

It's Wu-Mart, the Chinese equivalent of a certain well-known department store.

The traffic in Beijing was a bit nuts, as indicated by this chaotic photo.

Eventually, it was time to head home...