Monday, March 18, 2013

Christmas Holidays

We had a lovely Christmas Holidays this year.  After dealing with constant colds during the fall, all of us struggling with coughs, congestion, sore ears, fevers, aches and what not else we where very thankful to have a sick-free holiday time.  (We won’t mention that only a few days back into school and we all had a nasty cough again.)

It was a relaxing holidays with sleeping in, visiting, playing games and just not having to rush around.  We paced ourselves on plans and made a point of not planning much as all … all of us were rather done from the busy fall with back to back to back bad colds that wiped us out, many appointments, lots of homework, tons of meetings for Rob and just life in general.  So we all welcomed just doing nothing and Rob even had time off between Christmas and New Year’s so we could enjoy some extra family time.

The kids trying to smile in the freezing cold pool at the hotel we stayed in on New Year’s Eve


We spent New Year’s Eve in Chatham this year.  It was good to catch up with old friends.  It always feels like we never left when we go back there.  We checked into our hotel early so Rob could go visit with Ben before we did some other visiting in the afternoon.  We discovered a pool at the hotel, a rather cold pool, so the kids didn’t last very long and instead opted for a nice long long hot shower.

2013 was started off with some sleeping in and then enjoying lunch and Carmen and Gerald’s before heading towards London with their family for some sledding time.   

They say the older you get the fast time goes and it sure feels that way.  As I sit here I cannot believe that it is March already.  It feels like we just finished Christmas Holidays and now we’ve completed the March Break.  We’re two thirds of the way done another school year and in another month the weather will turn nicer and spring will be here again … winter always seems so long when you’re in it, but when it’s suddenly spring you can’t believe how fast time goes.

So this pretty much completes the year 2012.  I have one more very long post to do which I’m pretty much done, just waiting to complete a couple more pictures for it and then I’ll get around to posting it (which at the rate it’s coming together might be a week or so yet).  The kids have already been asking when I’ll publish the next book … hopefully they won’t have to wait 3-4 years for this one.

Family Pictures 2012

Fall time usually means Family Photo time and this year was no different.  We scrambled outdoors one evening after supper to quickly take pictures before it got dark.  I think we managed to get them done in about 15 minutes, the fast photo shot we’ve ever done.  Okay, it was probably more like 30 minutes by time we got ourselves out into the field and got the tripod set up … but regardless it was quick.



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Monday, March 4, 2013

Santa at Grandpa and Grandma’s

On December 15th my side of the family gathered together for a family evening and chance for Grandpa and Grandma to spoil the grandkids with lots of presents.

First we enjoyed a Gourmetten dinner.  It has been many, many years since I have done Gourmetten and the kids had never even heard of such a thing before. 

We let the kids enjoy giving a try first.


Then the adults got a chance to sit down together while the kids enjoyed a movie of Frosty the Snowman.


Present time

Matthew and Aiden comparing that they got similar presents.

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Matthew got a new hockey helmet that actually has a face mask, which he will need next winter when he starts playing school Saturday morning hockey.

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The girls had taken note of the fact that there were only a few presents under the tree for them, so they were handing out presents to the other kids and skipping their turns (we usually do it from youngest to oldest) until I suggested that maybe they should open those big presents instead of waiting until the end.  Much to their delight inside the big present (locking filing cabinets so they can keep their private things stored away from each other) were many smaller presents … needless to say we ended up waiting for them at the end as they had some catching up to do on their unwrapping.


Matthew overheard me on the phone talking to my mom one day and our Santa evening and so he picked up on the fact that Santa was coming to Grandma’s.  We decided it was probably time to let him in on the secret that Grandpa and Grandma would be the Santa.  We also explain where his other gifts came from a couple weeks earlier.  He still talks about Santa and has a hard time comprehending that he’s not real, but yet he does now understand that his presents came from mom and dad, sisters and grandparents, aunts and uncles.


And here is miniature James aka Noah.  Mark and Val’s son Noah is around 18 months old here and if you took the red highlights out his hair he’d be a pretty close resemblance to James.  Those cheeks and that grin is definitely James.  There are often pictures of Noah that I have to take a second look as at first glance I see James.


Friday, March 1, 2013


The blog books arrived and this is what I seen for the next few days … noses buried in books, talks about various pictures or things that happened in the past, lots of questions from Matthew who can’t read so he wants someone to explain the pictures.


The girls each worked their way through each of the books and so they could often be found curled up reading pages of their history.  Expensive books, but when you see the kids loving them it seems like an expense worth it for the memories it brings and refreshes.


I printed the books through Blog2Print.  As far as convenience goes I don’t think you can find another place that works more effectively … as least not that I could find and I spent a lot of time looking through my options.  As far as the finished product … I would have to say for someone who like things to be just so (okay somewhat of a perfectionist in some aspects of my life) you are not going to get that with this printing program.

I would really have loved to print through Blurb.  I have used Blurb in the past for smaller projects with no problems.  I love how it designs and how you have control over every detail.  Blurb has a program that slurps up your blog so you can bring it.  Unfortunately I have had no luck using this program.  Blurb would effectively slurp up my blog but then the program would run soooooo sllllooooooowwwwww that it was impossible to work in. The computer would be bogged down and I found I would have to reboot.  I did not have the patience to sit waiting forever for a picture to move position (when you move one item it needs to adjust all the following pages and when you have 200 pages afterwards that’s a lot of work).  I tried it on three different computers so I know it’s not my computer that’s the problem.  I did some research and found that others also seem to have the same problem, but there doesn’t seem to be any answers on how to fix it.  I tried it several years ago and then again before I printed these books … I finally decided I had to give up on Blurb and find another option.

So I did research and looked around for a simple but effective way.   Really I found nothing, although I tried lots of things.  Even copying and pasting each post did not work well … so I finally decided to settle on Blog2Print because either I could spend hours and hours and hours trying to put a book together perfectly or I could spent about 10-15 minutes to have Blog2Print put it together.  Either I could not ever get the books printed, or I could finally have a printed version.  I decided I had to settle for less then perfect so that at least we had a printed version that we could sit down and look at.  Originally I wanted to buy a copy for each of the kids … but at the price of each book (approximately $100) and them being less then perfect I decided to purchase one copy.  Ten years from now they may have a nice, simple, fast, program that allows for the perfect print blog at a fraction of the bring … we’ll wait for that time :)


So here’s the finished project of my 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 blog books:

I put a picture of the family on the front covers

As you can see the title is small and you can’t even see in this picture that the year is printed on the side by the pictures (see picture below for a close up … yes it’s that small).  You have no options with regards to fonts or font sizes.  You have a few designs to pick from (I chose the same design in different colours) and you can write in a title, something on the side, and add a picture … it loads it in, you can change anything, take it or leave it.





There was an option to put a picture on the back so I put a picture of just the kids

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That’s it … a couple clicks to upload pictures, write in a title and subtitle (or author) and hit process and it creates your blog book by creating the cover and sucking up your blog information according to the dates you asked it to.  A few minutes later and you have a blog ready to print.  You cannot change or edit anything inside the book, you either take it or leave it.  You can preview it, but it’s pointless to look to closely at the preview since you’ll just have the desire to want to correct and fix things.

Some inside page shots

The pictures are all printed the same size, doesn’t matter what size you had them on the blog.  They are not very big and so you won’t get detail if that’s what you’re looing for.  I also noticed that they are no all crisp and clear, so they seem to be low resolution.  You get the basic idea but you’re not getting high quality.


The next shot show how there are often large spaces at the end of the pages.  This is usually because the next thing is a picture and there was not enough room to put the picture. 

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Or here when you have a title to a new post at the end of the page


There will be other random spaces in the book .. not too often but still you can find them here and there and wonder why they are there.  When you’re paying per page this is rather annoying.


Sometimes the writing would get all cluttered up on one page and the pictures be on different pages, as is the case with the one below where I wrote comments beside the pictures but it put it all together in paragraph form and then lined the pictures up aftewards.


Am I happy with what I got?  I got what I expected so in that sense I guess I’m content.  These would not be my idea of a good, well published books (although I must add the that quality of the printing material is good), but if I factor in the time spent preparing the books and that it’s all computer generated I am happy that I didn’t spend hours and hours on them.  I do hope that some day there will be a better program for doing this, although it likely won’t matter anymore by time there is as I probably won’t be blogging anymore. 

I am not very dedicated to my blog anymore and the only reason I do it is because the kids keep getting after me to publish more.  They love to read it and can often be found looking back through old posts and therefore I printed them so they could curl up on the couch or in their bed and read it.  I like that the pressure me to try keep up (which I never do) so that I do actually get things written down and the pictures that are taken do actually get put to use (since I’m rather far behind on PhotoAlbums/Books).  I like that we have something to look back to to remember things, but I find if I’m writing it half a year later I’ve already forgotten most of the details anyways and it seems rather pointless … I like to catch the details of the moment.

For some time I have been contemplating whether to carry on with the blog and I really think the best thing would be to stop.  The majority of my readers are looking for fructose malabsorption information and since I no longer deal with that on this blog it really is not worth the work just for the kids.  I would instead try to create a blog/journal photobook in Blurb so that at the end of the year I would have the same thing as my blog but be able to print it in a nice good quality book format with crystal clear pictures in various sizes etc. and no wasted spaces.

The girls have begged me to carry on blogging and Marietta has offered to help, but I think for the time being I am going to finish off 2012 and try using Blurb for a bit … whether I continue to post random thoughts and stuff on her instead of a family journal only time will tell (don’t hold your breath).

That said, I still have a few more posts before I hit the end of 2012 … maybe I’ll get them done before the end of March (I can’t believe it’s March already)