Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Years Eve: Ukulele Performance

Our church holds a special service each year on New Years Eve that runs from about 9pm until 1am. Typically it consists of hearing from various people (ministers from other countries, or local members, etc), and also hearing a lot of singing. Last year we sang with the choir for a couple of songs, and Natasha sang her debut solo. This year, we took a new approach:


Natasha and Andrew, and the Ukulele

Yep, my first Ukulele performance at the church! And my largest audience to date! We sang I'm Using My Bible For A Road Map, a good old song that's fun to play and sing, and that people enjoy listening to. I've played for perhaps 20 people or so in the past, but this topped the list at over 800 people. We did our best and got a lot of nice compliments.

Click the button to hear our song in mp3 format!

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Christmas Report: 2006

We're back home now after five days in Edmonton with the family and friends. Had a great time, ate lots of food, and visited a few places we like to go each time we're there. As always, below are some photos and comments on our trip.

My Dad and I took an hour during our trip to track down a few places where we could get good shots of downtown Edmonton. The weather was beautiful, not a cloud in the sky, and the pictures turned out great.


The Edmonton Skyline

Almost as soon as we arrived there, the feasting began. Our family is not satisfied with small eaters, and big meals are prepared at every gathering. We had at least five meals with relatives, and all of them were great.


My Grandma, Aunt, and Cousin working on the turkey

We also made a stop in at Red Lobster, where Natasha ordered a fancy meal including lobster and crab claws! She had been wanting to have lobster for some time and this was a good opportunity. Not as good as lobster on the east coast, but it's pretty good for Edmonton!


Natasha and her seafood platter!

Christmas Eve is our big day, and we did our gift exchange then as well. There are far too many pictures to show here, but here's one of Natasha and I with our gifts to each other.


A few nice gifts for each other

My Mom bought our younger cousin's hats like mine which they loved. A picture with the older cousin together was mandatory.


Caleb, Ethan, and Andrew

And so went the trip, going from place to place, eating, visiting, playing games with the kids. We took a few hours to go to West Edmonton Mall. We like to go there as it was one of the first places we spent time together at during our first meeting about eight years ago.

By the end of the trip:


Tired

Now looking forward to New Years, and 2007!

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas, 2006!


Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and a great 2007!

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Trump: Saying It Like It Is

You know, I'm a big fan of Trump because of his business success, his great watches, and his very entertaining personality. Okay, he has his faults, but when it comes to saying it like it is, he really knows how to do it:

Donald Trump fires back at Rosie O'Donnell

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

All Ready For Christmas

One more day of work, then we're off on our Christmas holiday. We got our gifts wrapped, have some of our packing done, and are excited to have some free time to spend with each other and with the family.


Our gifts, all wrapped and ready to go!

Can you guess which gift is mine?

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Happy 25th Birthday, Natasha!

That's right! Natasha turns 25 today! One quarter of a century, quite a milestone! We're going to go for dinner tonight at this place we got a $50 gift certificate for, some fancy seafood restaurant down in Vancouver.

Send Natasha a Happy Birthday message, press the comments link below!

Dinner Report

We went to a nice French restaurant down by the water. We each got the full meal deal, which is antipasti to start, then the meal, then dessert. For the antipasti, we chose grilled mushrooms, couscous salad, this mozza cheese ball wrapped in prosciutto, and these small rolls of zucchini and cheese.

Natasha ordered the stuffed pheasant with veggies, and I had the seafood steamer including clams, muscles, scallops, and fish.

And last but not least, dessert! Natasha had the crème brûlée, and I had the sorbet.

All in all, a tasty and fun experience. And a good deal too. The bill came to over $80 but our $50 gift card took a big bite out of that! So, now we can say we've been to a nice French restaurant!

Sorry, we took no pictures!

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Monday, December 18, 2006

Ahmy

The President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is becoming more outrageous all the time, and continues to toss out rather dangerous and aggressive statements.

I don't know what everyone is waiting for. Iraq seems about one tenth as dangerous as Iran, and we attacked with gusto! Then again, there's a lot that is going on behind the scenes that we know nothing about.

The good news is, someone finally came up with a suitable nickname for him that one can easily pronounce! Ahmy!


www.coxandforkum.com

Sunday, December 17, 2006

TrooperScoop Visitor Statistics

I discovered a tool a while ago called Google Analytics which can be used to track a wide variety of information about website traffic. Of particular interest to me is the number of visitors coming here every day, and I check it often to look for trends.

The past month and a half has been interesting, as I had a large increase in traffic due to the information I posted about Natasha's Dad.

The following chart shows visitor traffic from November 1 to Dec 17, 2006.


TrooperScoop Visitor Statistics - Nov 1 to Dec 17, 2006

I appreciate those who have kindly passed along my website address for others to view. As you can see, the number of visits have gone back to maybe a little higher than normal. Most likely not everyone will be as interested in my day to day life, but I do hope you'll check back once a week or so just to keep tabs.

Thanks for visiting, everyone!

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Saturday, December 16, 2006

Shortbread Galore

We went to my parent's place today to spend the day with them and to bake some Christmas cookies. Namely, shortbread!! It was a really great time, and we ended up with a ton of tasty shortbread cookies to eat over the next while.


Andrew & Natasha, baking cookies!


The end result. Yummy, butter laden cookies!

Take time to bake some cookies this year. They beat the store bought kind by a mile, and you'll have a lot of fun doing it too.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

Lots Of Wind Last Night

Last night we had another big storm. Natasha was up around 4am and took the wreath off the front door as it was being thrown around, and took down our IKEA lanterns on the deck. Just a little later, we heard the fire trucks go up our road, sirens blaring.

I drove to work this morning, and it took me just under two hours. Most of the traffic lights were out, and one of them was missing off the post altogether. There were trees knocked over here and there, and I got a few shots from North Vancouver near to where I work.


A freshly uprooted tree!


This tree took out a section of fence

When I arrived at the office, the power was out. It didn't come back over the next few hours and everyone went home around 11am.

We just got home from a bit of shopping, and decided to drive up the road to see what had happened during the night. Check it out:


Top of the house is totally crushed in!


On the right you can see the size of the tree

Where our place is, it's down the side of the hill and protected from the big winds. Where this house is, and where the trees are fallen, is near the top of a hill where the wind can catch the trees and pull them over more easily.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ten Shopping Days 'Till Christmas Eve

My countdown clock shows 10 days until Christmas Eve. I'm counting down to Christmas Eve because that's the big day in our family. Christmas is big too, of course, but we open our gifts on Christmas Eve.

Luckily I'm unconcerned with shopping days now... I have everything already. Trying to avoid going into debt, our family just does a simple gift exchange and a few special gifts for significant others. This rule goes out the window when it comes to grandchildren though, who are spoiled massively.

Do you open gifts on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve? Post a comment with the link below and tell us all what you do for Christmas. Anecdotes, cooking tips and tricks, and any other interesting tidbits you may have are definitely welcome.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Winter Photography


Nothing like a fresh dump of snow to turn a regular scene into a thing of beauty. I took this picture of a snow covered tree a few weeks ago at Mundy Park.

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Natasha's Surprise 25th Birthday Party!

This past Saturday, we threw a surprise birthday party for Natasha. Her real birthday doesn't come until next week but we moved it back a bit so she would have no idea. And it worked!


Here we are with the cake!

We had a few people over, had some food, some laughs, and played a group game of Pictionary... guys vs girls!


The Guys. Great sports even though they lost.


The Girls and a few more guys.

Quite the evening! Everything worked out well and a good time was had by all!

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Movie Review: Happy Feet

We went to see Happy Feet (trailer) last week. Ever since I saw the preview over seven months ago, I've been waiting for it to come out and would have seen it earlier except for all of the stuff that's been going on in the last five weeks or so.

This film is a bit of a parody on March of the Penguins, with something of a storyline, and all the animals can speak. Mumbles Happyfeet, the young penguin and main character, can't sing and therefore cannot attract a mate. He is eventually sent away for his unacceptable tap dancing, and goes in search of the reason for the declining fish stocks that the penguins feed on. He makes new friends, discovers himself, and returns home a hero, and by the end you're left with a warm, happy, covered-with-a-penguin-down-duvet feeling!

My overall impression is that the movie is good, but it could have been better. Perhaps the target audience was really more geared towards children. There was just some element that I felt was missing. I can't pinpoint it exactly, but I think the previews gave me a certain impression of the movie and it turned out to be different than I expected.

Still, it's an entertaining film, and worth watching especially if you've seen March of the Penguins and can't get enough of these flightless birds.

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Friday, December 08, 2006

Seasons Greetings

We're entering the holiday season, and Natasha and I would like to send out our warmest greetings to all our family and friends.

Considering it's already Dec 8th, it doesn't feel too much like the holidays. I haven't seen many lights up yet (although this is likely because of the cold weather we've had recently), and I haven't heard a single Christmas song on the radio besides at the mall (and it was a good one too... Boney M!). Not to mention everything that's gone on over the past month. But we did manage to put up a bit of garland and white lights to give our place a festive look.

To those of you who we'll be seeing in a few weeks, be ready for some good laughs, good food, and good times! Those who we won't see, have a great holiday season and a happy new year!

As you can see, I haven't posted anything for a few days. Not much going on, and I've had a bit of a cold so I've been sleeping instead of playing on the computer at night. Expect to see a lot more coming up over the next while though!

Chestnuts roasting o'er an open fire...

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Monday, December 04, 2006

Moose Stew

Some friends of ours gave me a big pot of Moose Stew yesterday to help feed me while Natasha is gone. And is it ever tasty! I don't know what kind of spices and such were used but the meat certainly adds a unique taste. Carrots, onions, turnips. Mmm-mmm good! I ate it for lunch and supper today, and am packing it in my lunch bag tomorrow too!

While I was in New Brunswick, many people brought over food for the family to eat, and we all thank you for it! With the funeral and other activities going on, and friends and family over visiting, there's not much time to make meals, and all the prepared food was very much appreciated.

Thanks!

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Albert Griffiths' Funeral

The funeral for Albert Griffiths took place yesterday at 2pm in Burtt's Corner, NB. This is a very nice church, and is the same one we were married in just over a year ago. The church was packed out with extra chairs for seating at the back.


Outside view of the church

I need to make a note here. The white building on the left is the old church which is very nice inside but no longer used. On the right is the new brick building which is the church I'm referring to.


Photo table and collages


This was the central picture at the front of the church.


The pyramid urn with an engraved plaque


Flowers that were sent

The picture of the flowers was taken on Friday, and more arrived the next day, so I'm missing a few of them. We really appreciate everyone who sent cards, flowers, fruit baskets, etc.

The past few days have been difficult, but I think we have all gained something from it as well. After the funeral, I noticed that the family seemed more at rest, and while there will still be some rough times ahead, everyone will make it through.

I would personally like to thank Justin Decker for taking the funeral service on short notice after the original minister couldn't make it due to bad weather. He did a great job and it couldn't have been better or more fitting. And I'm sure it's not just me, but the family and others who attended who think the same thing.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Going To New Brunswick

Update: December 1, 2006 10:03 PM

We just got through the two visiting sessions and are back at the house. The number of people who came to see the family was amazing. So many stories, compliments, etc... it's obvious to me and everyone else that Natasha's Dad had a big impact on everyone he came in contact with.

I had a lot of people tell me they read the blog every day, which I was happy about. Seems like all the work we put into it was worth it. Thanks to everyone who kept up with the blog during the last 3 weeks. Hope you continue to visit every now and then.

Tomorrow is the funeral, and based on how many people showed up today, I expect the church will be packed out (especially considering more people have yet to arrive).

I have some really nice pictures of the flowers, photos, church, and people, and I will post some of them for you later. It may have to wait until Sunday when I get back home to my computer.

Everyone is holding in there 'till tomorrow, which I expect will be the hardest time yet. For now, I'm going to visit with the relatives and friends who are over to spend the evening here.

Update: December 1, 2006 9:00 AM

Natasha and I arrived safely on Wednesday and spent yesterday with the family and around town preparing for the visiting hours today and the funeral tomorrow. It sounds like a lot of family and friends are coming in... it's unfortunate that we couldn't meet under better circumstances.

That's all I have time for now. We're heading into town again to pick up a few more things.

November 28, 2006

Natasha and I are leaving in the morning for New Brunswick to be with the family and for the funeral. I'll be back on Sunday, and Natasha later in the week. As time permits, I will try to post, but you may not hear from us for a couple of days.

Until then, take care, and thanks to everyone who's sent us messages.

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