Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas 2006

Christmas 2006 was a relatively uneventful year. As usual, on Christmas Eve, the Ngs invited our extended family (both Grandmas, Grandpa Hans, the Tso family and Aunt Joycelin) over to our place for a giant roast. We had not noticed that our dining area was so small until we discovered that we were actually accommodating two additional people at dinner this year! It took some creative thinking to crowd 9 people around a table designed for maximum 6. This is of course not Erich and Elias' first Christmas - that was held last year at St. Paul's Hospital. However, this is the first year they have joined family dinner.

Photo (above): The family gets together for a family photo. Left to right: John, Erich, Grandma Lam, Aunt Joycelin, Karen, Katherine, Grandma Stein, Elias, Grandpa Stein. Photo (below): Karen browns the roast in preparation for dinner.

For the roast, we purchased a giant uncut 12 lb rib roast from Costco. It tasted wonderful after we had carefully cooked it to just the right internal temperature. We'd just never cooked anything quite so big before in our oven!

The boys were well behaved for the most part. It appears they particularly enjoyed the carol singing which we did this year without the aid of a piano - just a few guitar chords to keep us in tune. We cannot wait until they can sing along with us!

Christmas Day was spent mostly delivering Christmas presents to those whom we had not managed to see prior. After seeing the Erich's grandparents again, we dropped off a small token of appreciation (for helping with Erich during Jonathan's business trip) at Nick and Rebekah Bansback's place and was subsequently drafted into their annual Christmas quiz. It was great meeting Nick's parents, albeit "online" via web cam, and we enjoyed being part of their Christmas tradition.

Photo (above): The Ngs join the Bansbacks and their Chilean friends on their yearly Christmas quiz.

After the Bansback's place, we headed off to Uncle Preston's to drop off another few gifts before doubling back to meet up with Katrina. We wanted to express our gratitude to her as well for helping us out with Erich. It was also great to see Katrina's mom.

We spent the evening just the three of us. Thanks to Joe, I was able to show Erich the Dr. Seuss film "How the Grinch stole Christmas" for the very first time. I wanted to treat him to a cartoon I thought he might enjoy, and he obliged. In fact, he loved it except for the exclusive shots of "Mr. Grinch". He didn't take too kindly to his character.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Erich celebrates ONE year!

Erich celebrated his first birthday today at Grandma and Grandpa's place amidst many friends and family. It was so exciting for us to see so many people from past and present celebrate this momentous day with Erich. A friend of ours, Tanya, baked Erich a birthday cake in the form of a sailboat complete with sails. Thanks Tanya! Grandma, in her ingenuity, bought a lettered candle set that spelled "E-R-I-C-A" and then promptly substituted the "A" with an "H". Thanks Grandma!

For Erich, it was a day filled with intrigue. "Why did mummy and daddy invite all these people over and what are all these weird boxes wrapped in funny looking paper for?", he must have thought. Well, he soon found out that some very fun toys were inside those boxes with the the funny looking paper! Thanks to all who came and thanks for the wonderful gifts you brought Erich.

Of all the gifts that Erich received, one brought about much laughter. If you've had any contact with Erich (or have otherwise been reading this blog!), you will know that he is somewhat of an adventurer - insisting on learning how to climb and fall by himself. So when he received a T-shirt with the words "I do all my own stunts", people roared in laughter. Erich, apparently, didn't find that so funny. :-P

Happy Birthday Erich. May you have many more, and try not to do too many stunts! :-)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Trip to Alberta and Saskatchewan

As part of my (Jonathan's) work, I was sent to three municipalities in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan to deploy some new workstations and VPNs. Although there could be much to be written about the fascinating IT work (and indeed my colleague has written a bit about this in his tech blog), I found more interesting the opportunity to see how the various parts of my company's operations work. Seeing the more industrial end of how things work puts into perspective the work that I do on a day to day basis. Shown above is our plant in Brooks, AB.

While I was away on my trip, I kept in touch with Erich and Karen through the use of a web cam. I have a web cam mounted on top of our TV. This camera feeds into the computer underneath the TV which normally serves as a digital VCR. I was fortunate enough to borrow an additional web cam for the road, and so every night just before Erich's bedtime, I had the opportunity to say hello to him. I learned afterward that when Erich was told that daddy was on the phone he would point at the TV in eager anticipation of seeing my face. How very exciting!

During the trip, I also had the opportunity to stop briefly in Calgary where I visited my good friend Kyle and his family. Shown here to the right is a picture of Kyle, myself and his youngest daughter Cora.