Matilda, My Baby Girl

Wow, I can’t believe that it’s been over a year since my last post and yet so much has happened that I don’t know how I could even write about it. The biggest, and to this point in my life, most important, thing that happened this year was the birth of our first child, Matilda. Our baby girl joined us on her due date of October 10, 2014 at 21:25 after over 20 hours of labour. Both Jackie and I were exhausted by the time she was born but that tiredness went away as soon as I held her for the first time.

She had a slight infection when she was born so she had to go on antibiotics but I was with her in the NICU while they were giving her the initial shots, tagging her, and putting a tag on me since I was the parent with her. Jacq had to go for a small surgery post-birth and so she wasn’t there right away. This little 6 lb 7.4 oz baby, who looked more like a little alien with a bent little nose, had just come into this world and I was partially the reason for her existing. The weight of that reality quickly settled on me and my nervousness passed, being replaced by a determination. That determination was that this little being was my responsibility and I would do everything in my power to save her from pain, discomfort, heartache, and sadness. It was a realization, unlike anything I had ever felt in my life to that point, that life would never be the same again.

The first 6 days in the hospital were difficult with Jacq having to recover from her surgery and also having to start dealing with everything that’s required of a new mom. As with everything she does, she handled it like a champ and we were finally able to bring our little girl home. We had Jacq’s parents, youngest brother, and his wife staying with us so they got to meet Matilda right away. Zeus was also pretty excited to meet her but I don’t he realized what he was in for!

The first few weeks were definitely an adjustment period for everybody but we noticed that Mati seemed to constantly be in pain after feeding. We brushed it off as colic since that is very common in newborns and continued with trying to adjust to being new parents. After consulting with Dr Amanda who Jacq had been seeing throughout her pregnancy, she suggested that the antibiotics at birth may have wiped out Mati’s good bacteria and so she didn’t have those, for now, to help with the breakdown of what was in the milk. Of course the milk was coming from Jacq and so Dr Amanda suggested that Jacq go gluten/dairy/soy free to see how that affected Matilda. She was a completely different baby in just over a day and so Jacq, being the champ that she is, changed her whole diet to gluten/dairy/soy free. After a few months she was able to introduce soy again but is still gluten/dairy free. Ya, my wife is amazing!

Over the next few months we settled into a routine of feed, burp, cuddle, change diapers, sleep, repeat. Matilda continued to feed well and hit, and sometimes surpassed, her growth milestones during this time and as proud parents, we were happy to take hundreds of photos of her in the various outfits that we decided to put on her. During this time, I wasn’t too much use except the post-feed burping, diaper changing, and cuddling, but most of the time she was mommy dependent.

As we hit the 4 month mark and she started seeing and focusing better and recognising faces, then it started to become fun. This gave me my first glimpse into the innocence of a newborn child, going through the world full of experiences for the very first time. Watching her absorb absolutely everything she could see and focus on was simply amazing and quite a humbling experience. She saw, and still sees, the world with such naivety and innocence that is so amazing because as we all know, that innocence is lost as one gets older and “grows up”. I pray that she can keep hold of that innocence for as long as she can and look at the world with that unreserved curiosity for as long as possible.

After the 6 month mark we went on a 15 day trip to Beirut for her to meet Dede & Mema, my parents. I’ll write about the trip in a different post but it was simply amazing to be in the other room and to hear Mati giggling and my mom laughing along with her, as well as seeing her sit quietly, mesmerized as my dad sang to her. As parents, the jet lag was horrible and Mati basically reverted to a 6 week old newborn, wanting only mommy when upset, however it was all worth it for those moments she had with her grandparents.

The next few months seemed to me to be a blur of progression on her part. She went from simply rolling from side-to-side, to crawling, to pulling herself up on furniture, and finally to walking at only 9.5 months old. I was a 9 month walker and Jacq walked at 10 months so it makes sense that our daughter was also an early walker. She’s also been developing her motor skills, eating solid foods, and learning how to sign. She’s started understanding things that she’s not supposed to be doing and sometimes tries to test us by doing things she knows she shouldn’t be doing. She’s starting to communicate with the signing and little noises, and is starting to develop her little personality.

The last few months have truly been amazing, though. Matilda has been getting so much more confident with everything she is learning as each day progresses. She’s starting to not only run, but hop, dance to music, and she does the baby sign language like a boss… especially when she’s hungry; she makes it known! I’m so blessed to be able to spend the day, today, on her 1st birthday, with my family. I was raised with the fundamental belief that family is the most important thing in the world and although I felt it deep down growing up, I never truly understood it until I became a dad. I’m so proud of Jackie for everything she’s had to go through so far, and will continue to go through over the next few years. And, of course, I’m so so proud of my little baby girl, she’s growing so quickly, so curious to discover the world, and I love the fact that I get to ride along with her on this journey.

Dear Baby Simonian

Dear Baby S,

Words can’t express how excited your mom and I are to meet you in a few short weeks. As you’ve been growing in your mom’s belly we’ve been keeping up with your activity along the way. We’ve seen some blurry black & white “pictures” of you on 3 separate occasions, one of which you tried to give me an upside down high five, and another one you were hiding behind your mom’s spine and making it very difficult to photograph you. I’ve used your mom’s stethoscope from work to pick out your heartbeat, beating away at a healthy 140 bpm. I’ve lain down and put my ear to her belly and you’ve proceeded to kick me in the head which I guess serves me right because I was poking you to get you to move.

I was in cold, cold Russia when your mom told me she was pregnant and I remember my heart racing at the news and my eyes tearing up with excitement and joy. The first trimester was pretty tense for us but once that was past, it seemed that the second trimester whizzed by. We took you on a little road trip to the northwestern United States and I’m sure you enjoyed all the great food we ate along the way, making sure you got enough to keep you growing strong. And here we are now, approaching the end of the third trimester and you’ll be among us soon. We’ve been busy getting ready for your arrival and fixing up your nursery. I’ve got your bed and dresser built, your mom’s got your tiny clothes all organized and ready for you, and we’ve got the car seat bought and ready to go. We went to a pre-natal class, took a tour of the hospital, and we have a few names picked out whether you’re a boy or a girl.

So as the day gets closer when you decide you’ve had enough of being cooped up and you want out, keep growing strong, saving your energy for your push into this world. As I will be for years to come, I’ll be there to catch you when you come into this world and help guide you to becoming a good person like our parents were there to guide us. I may not have all the answers all the time, and we definitely will butt heads along the way. But all you need to know, is that no matter what happens, whatever life throws your way, I promise you I will be here to hug you, kiss you, talk to you, or just sit here and listen to you breathe while you sleep.

I’m so excited to welcome you into this world and help you get started on this first of many adventures that we call… Life.



Growing By 2 Feet!

So as of a couple days ago we put our news of the family growing by 2 feet out there for the whole “social media” world to see when Jacq and I posted the photo below on each of our profiles.


Winner! This is the one that we shared with the world

When we we were going through the various poses and positions we were thinking of, we were able to get a few runner up and blooper photos that I’ve shared below:


Runner Up #1: This was the original concept but we felt Zeus got lost in the photo by just showing his feet.


Runner Up #2: Zeus had enough and went to sit by himself and so I tried a photo like this but we thought there was too big a gap between him and us, and although the irony of the space did not escape us with the new one on the way, this was not the winner.


Runner Up #3: This was a top contender too but we decided we wanted to have Zeus in the middle because he’s very much a part of the family.


Blooper! Zeus was sitting and waiting so patiently and we took a few photos where he wasn’t looking at the camera. So I took a piece of gravel and as the countdown timer was about to expire, tossed the gravel towards the camera to get his attention there. For this photo, he decided to give chase!


WHAT Camp 2014

On the weekend of February 21st, 2014, I attended Balance Point Racing‘s (BPR) Winter High Altitude Training (WHAT) Camp for 2014 at Silverstar mountain. The camp was to be a 3-day affair which included some snowshoeing, swimming, and running at higher altitude than Kelowna. In comparison to Kelowna which is at around 300 meter elevation above seal level, Silverstar mountain ranges from around 1500-1700+ meters above sea level so it was definitely higher altitude than normal.

The first event of the weekend started with getting together and going on an night time snowshoe on Friday evening. Going into this weekend, my thoughts were that since we were at high altitude, we would be going on longer snowshoe hikes with lower intensity. Boy was I wrong!!! Normally there are perfectly groomed snowshoe trails and that’s where people go. Apparently that’s not eXtreme enough for the BPR people because we jumped into the backcountry right away. On the first day there were 8-10 of us and although I thought they were a little crazy, I trusted that they knew what they were doing and jumped in feet first… and got stuck for the first time.

After to get myself out of the snow hole, I quickly realized that although my snowshoes worked great for packed trails, they were not long enough to give me enough flotation in the deeper snow. Nevertheless, I traded snowshoes with the Guardian, who’s snowshoes were a bit bigger, and was able to get through the night. I got through it, but it was definitely one of the hardest, and funnest, workouts I’ve ever had to do.

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Still capture from the video below of Luke taking a leap

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Still capture from the video below of Ian in a monster front flip

Day 2 had us starting with a morning snowshoe, another 2 hour adventure in the backcountry, followed by a swimming session in the afternoon that Luke recorded for stroke analysis on day 3 at lunch. Day 2 started with some jumping around as can be seen in the video below and the still captures from the video seen above. Luke was nice enough to get me some awesome 36″ long snowshoes from the store so that I wasn’t sinking every time I took a step and these were exponentially better than the ones I used on the first day.

Even with the bigger snowshoes, however, I needed learn how to go up steep inclines and since the way the rest of the group was going was a bit too steep for me, my coach, Emma, and I split off from the main group and went adventuring on our own in the fresh snow. The next couple photos show some of the fantastic backcountry in Silverstar.

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Coach Emma and I trekking through the gorgeous fresh snow

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A selfie in the fresh snow

Day 3 started with a run session and once again, I was amazed that even though there was a perfectly good road to run on, Luke led us through the packed snowshoe trails. Let me tell you that this was quite an experience as well because it all fine and dandy running on the actual packed snow but if you accidentally deviate ever so slightly off the packed portion of the trail, you quickly find yourself knee deep in snow. We had a good 50 minute run after which I was adequately tired and famished and headed back to the lodge to get some food, rest, and change into dry clothes.

We spent our time waiting for the rest of the group who had gone cross-country skiing and Luke took each of us through the swimming videos he had recorded the previous day. After everyone had a chance to recuperate, we got ready for our last session of the weekend which was the third and last snowshoe session. Of course we jumped right into the backcountry right away and as you can see from the videos and photos below it was quite a hike. At one point I was taking a break, having some eLoad, and the rest of the group had gone ahead around a bend so I couldn’t really hear anyone else. It was snowing and I looked around at the trees and the landscape of undulating snow and felt like I was inside a snow-globe. An to top it all off, all the athletes who attended, who are in way better shape than I was, were so supportive and encouraging the whole time. Quite an adventurous weekend for me, eXtremely challenging, and very satisfying!

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Panorama of the trees and snow

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That’s the path we took to start this adventure on day 3. “X” is for eXtreme!

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Another view of the path we started this “hike” with on day 3


Operation iMac Upgrade

The main house computer that we have is our 21.5″ iMac. Since I have a MacBook Air, I have been using it for most of my computer work over the last few years which mainly consisted of photo editing, surfing the internet, and creating/updating this blog. However, the screen on the iMac being 21.5″ is much bigger than my Air’s 13″ as well as having a 1920×1080 resolution vs. the Air’s 1440×900. So it dawned on me that it would make more sense for me to use the iMac to do most of my computer work and have the Air for when I travel.

The iMac still had all its stock components other than having upgraded the RAM from 4 GB to 8 GB. However, I am used to a solid state drive (SSD) on my Air which is around 6-10 times faster than your standard hard drive and so trying to do anything on the iMac in comparison was painfully slow!! Therein begins our story and the reason for Operation iMac Upgrade.

iMac Upgrade 1

First look at the interior of the iMac once the LCD and glass cover were successfully removed

For one of my previous Apple laptops, I had removed the SuperDrive (CD/DVD drive) and bought a special mount in the same shape but it had room for a laptop hard drive or a SSD. I successfully got 2 hard drives in there and installed the operating system on the SSD and got a speedy-fast computer. So my concept for this upgrade was the same, to replace the SuperDrive with an SSD as well as upgrade the internal hard drive to a larger capacity while I was in there.

Off I went to the wonderful world of the internet to do some research and came up with the following items and tutorials that I would need to make this operation a success:

I ordered all the components I needed, got my USB stick set-up with the MacOS install files, and got started on the upgrade. From everything I read, it seems the trickiest part was removing the glass covering the LCD and then replacing it afterwards without getting any dust particles stuck behind it. It was really easy to remove with suction cups since it’s only held on with magnets. I actually thought the trickiest part was removing the LCD display because after you unscrew it, you have to gently lift it so you can get to 4 separate connectors on the motherboard and remove those before you can take the whole thing off. Regardless, it all came apart pretty easily.

iMac Upgrade 2

Removed the stock 500 GB hard drive

iMac Upgrade 3

About to install the new 2 TB WD Black hard drive

Removing the hard drive was a matter of 2 screws and a few more to swap over the mounts to the new drive after which it went back in place pretty swiftly. Removing the SuperDrive was also a matter of 4 screws.

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New 2 TB drive installed, SuperDrive removed

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SSD installed on mount, mount installed in iMac. Ready to close up.

I had to make a slight modification to the new “SuperDrive” mount that I bought because it had some plastic nubs in the wrong places but a quick tweak here, some scotch tape over there, and it was all ready to be closed up looking like the photo above.

iMac Upgrade 6

Successfully showing the 2 new hard drives installed and ready to be used

Once I had the LCD screen physically back in place, I just replaced 2 screws to hold it in place and stood up the iMac to turn it on and make sure I had made all the connections properly. Lo and behold the 2 new hard drives showed up when I booted from my OSX installer USB stick and I got the process started to install the operating system. It was a little frustrating to make sure all the dust was off the LCD and the back of the glass cover before I placed it on, but after 3 attempts I got most of it removed to the point where what was left was no longer annoying me. 🙂

iMac Upgrade Summary

Upgrade Summary

All in all the tutorials worked really well. My only modification over the tutorial I used was that I was not able to install the temperature sensor onto the 2 TB hard drive because it wasn’t from the same manufacturer as the stock one. However after doing a quick Google search, I found a nifty little software called HDD Fan Control that uses the hard drive’s S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) protocol built into the drive rather than the actual temperature sensor to control the iMac’s internal fan speed.

So far everything has been running at the wonderful superspeed that I was expecting. The SSD allows for the computer to go from being turned off to fully logged in and ready to go in 15 seconds which is fantastic! The applications run blazingly fast so now I can actually consider this iMac usable as opposed to a computer that needs to be replaced soon. I figure with these fairly minor upgrades, this computer can last another 2 years or so before needing to be replaced!