2021 Speed Skating Meet

Today is the first speed skating meet of 2021. We had the opportunity to have it in our club facility. The last meet that any of the skaters had was in March of 2020. This was a good chance to get back into the competitive side of the sport once more.

As new protocols and Covid safety measures were being taken, we had plenty of vaccinated volunteers doing their part. My job is to tweet out information to parents to keep them updated. This is being done in order to prevent spectators from wandering around unnecessarily.

I set up in the far corner behind the paramedics. My laptop was put onto a gumball machine and I am staying out of the way. A small space heater and coffee are keeping me warm all day as I share information.

I’m glad that the kids have a chance to get back on the ice. Many of them have grown and changed since the last time they competed. It’s also good to see the parents that we haven’t seen in ages. Keeping the groups healthy and safe has been the biggest obstacle in order to get races back on track.

Hopefully we can host and attend more races throughout the season. It’s good for everyone involved.

Eighteen Moons

When I started my blog a few years ago, I had no idea what to write about, hence the name “Making It Up As I Go.” I just knew that I enjoyed writing and storytelling. Within the first few hundred followers, I met a unique community of people in the virtual world. One of whom was Andi Webb.

He discovered my blog and began to write comments, to which I would respond. He was friendly, kind, and encouraging as I started on my hobby of sharing stories. I’d like to think that he was my first “online friend” after decades of me being on the internet. Since I was always skeptical of interacting with complete strangers- I finally found a place in blogging that was filled with support and love. Andi’s encouragement made me want to write more about parenting and being a father.

I also mention Andi because I began to follow his blog- Diary Of A Gay Dad and saw that being a father comes with all sorts of challenges. But the results are fully rewarding. Having entered in to view his life of raising five small children with his partner- I knew there had to be a backstory. There most certainly was.

Last Christmas, my wife gifted me his novel. Unfortunately, it got shelved because of our move. I finally unpacked it and could not put it down. Andi wrote a fantastic book titled Eighteen Moons. This was the first book of many that I have waiting on my bedside, wanting to read.

I don’t want to get too much into his tale, as it could spoil what you would see as a difficult journey. A journey of surrogacy that would take him out of his comfort zone, into many foreign countries; filled with heartache, strength, and a bureaucracy that would try anyone’s patience and sanity.

As a parent, you feel for their hardships. As a father, you understand how far someone would go to have get their family together hoping for a happily ever after.

Obviously I highly recommend the book. Here is a link to it on Amazon: Eighteen Moons Be sure and take the opportunity to read it.

Reds, Yellows and Greens

The tree on our neighbor’s property.

I love autumn. For the first time in ages I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy the colors of the leaves as they change. Our last home was in a beautiful yard filled with pine trees. So we didn’t have much in the way of fallen leaves to clean up. In our new neighborhood- we also don’t have a lot of leaves to deal with, but the neighborhood looks beautiful as the season changes.

Looking out our front door there is a cornucopia of trees and colors. I love being able to witness the world as it transforms. The suburban life is something I never would’ve thought that I’d have enjoyed. I can wave at neighbors and smile a greeting to them. We still have the privacy of our back yard.

As the seasons change, we get to see more of it from our windows. Besides all of the beautiful skies, I’m loving that nature is sprawling out for miles. Plenty of green space separating us from the rest of the world.

Nature is amazing. Red is probably my favorite color of the leaves. There’s something vibrant about the color. Almost passionate.

Do you enjoy autumn and the changes in the world?

Thank You For Sharing Jukebox The Ghost.

Yesterday I mentioned how my son decided to share his VR Gaming. Tonight, our daughter asked to listen to music for the drive home. So I told her to put on something that she wanted to hear.

She shared with me a band called Jukebox The Ghost. I have never heard of this band. But I was ready to enjoy more of what they offered after just the first song. Not bad at all. I smiled inside because of more than just the music.

These moments of what our teenagers want to share are oftentimes more important for them than they are to parents. I know nothing about this band. Not did I know anything about the video game my son plays. Yet my children want to share the experiences with me. Happily I indulge them. Because these moments mean more to our relationship than one could imagine.

I’m hoping that by enjoying what they enjoy, that our bond remains strong. I akin these moments in a similar fashion to my sharing of my beloved films of the 80’s. A fondness is grown for what I like; and I grow fond of what they like.

Do you share entertainment with your kids or teenagers? Do you also find you like what they like?

VR Sharing

Sunday Morning, our son decided that he was going to enjoy some VR gaming. For whatever reason, he also decided that he needed to cast it to our television.

It was odd that he did this, since no one else was around at the time. I walked downstairs and he was just talking away to thin air. When I asked who he was talking to, he said “the people in the game.” It turns out that when casting, he decided to turn the volume off because there was a bit of a lag/ delay and it was throwing him off.

I also asked why he was casting, and he said “So that we could watch him play.” I don’t think he realizes that we don’t all enjoy watching him play video games. especially on a Sunday morning when most of us wish to sleep in or have a quiet start to the day. At least he kept the sound muted, so I was entertained by his wild movements as he played a game called Gorilla Tag.

If we were taking turns playing a game, cool let’s cast. But he had already taken over the living room space, I guess he hoped we would enjoy watching his game that makes no sense? Wanna play tag? Go outside with friends and play tag. Why are you doing it in VR???

A Year With Maki

My wife pointed out to us all that it has been one year since Maki entered into our lives. Over this past year, she has been through a lot of emotional times with us. From Christmas to birthdays, to moving homes to the Loss of Lex– our other dog… Maki has been here with us and for us in many ways.

Yesterday, our daughter shared these images on her Instagram. This was her caption: “A year ago today I met my best friend. The first photo here is the first one I ever took of her. She always knows when I’m feeling down when nobody else does, she’s funny, and she loves me. I love her so so much, happy adoptaversary” When I read that, I really understood the idea that pets can be great companions.

Maki has been wonderful for the mental well-being of our family members. She is always nosing in for a cuddle or rub. Maki is also the first pet that we have allowed to sleep in our kids’ rooms and permitted to jump on the couches. Taking her for a walk hasn’t been problematic either, as we all enjoy talking with her as we walk the neighborhood. Something about Maki is different than our other dogs, and it shows.

We all love her and are happy that she is sharing her love with us in her own derpy way. I can’t believe she’s been a member of our family for a year already.

Monster Express

After my daughter and I had an Early Morning at the Pumpkin Patch, we rushed home for a costume change. Our next adventure was about to happen. A ride aboard the Monster Express put on by the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail.

My wife and I first noticed the trolley heading off in the distance behind our home at the end of summer. We also wandered down to a corn stand and the trolley came right passed it. So we took an interest in seeing this thing in person. A Halloween theme seemed like a fun activity to go on with our two youngest teenagers.

We made the most of the one hour trip. My 17 year old daughter and I dressed up as characters from the anime Soul Eater. Most of the attendees were small children and their parents. We were by far the oldest group there. But we weren’t about to let that spoil our fun!

The museum and trolley are run by volunteers. Many of them retired bus drivers and railroaders. For this adventure, they dressed in costumes and had a great time wandering the car and dancing at the stations. By the end of the ride, they were trying to recruit me to join. Perhaps one day since it is so close to our new home.

In the spring, my wife would like to check out the rest of the museum and take a ride on the trolley when it’s not festively decorated. This is definitely one of those moments where it brings all ages together for a fun and silly outing. Thank you to the volunteers who were having a blast for the guests!

Early Morning At The Pumpkin Patch

This morning my daughter and I headed out early to visit Eagle Acres dairy farm and pumpkin patch. We were invited for an event put on by Thrive Mortgage, similar to the Little Touches they did for us a few months ago.

We had a great time petting and feeding the farm animals to start. We wandered around as my daughter made a few videos for herself. We also took a bunch of pictures for fun.

Before we left, my daughter and I went on a hay ride on the back of a trailer pulled by a large tractor. They took us out to the pumpkin patch where we chose a couple pumpkins to take home.

I’d never been to a pumpkin patch before. I enjoyed having a chance to pick out my own pumpkin from a field. I can’t wait to carve them up for Halloween.

I enjoyed the early morning with my daughter. She chose to dress like Coraline which was perfect for the rainy weather. A raincoat and boots to tromp through the fields. Dressing up is always fun.

Where’d The Time Go?

I am almost finished having a week of vacation. There is one day left to go and I’m hoping to make the most of it. Most of my time off was filled with appointments and keeping myself busy.

Looking back at the week, I accomplished what I need to do- but relaxing wasn’t there. Early mornings and chores filled my excess time. I did get a short nap in on Friday afternoon which was nice.

Saturday will have a few fun fall activities planned. I’ll share the story afterwards. Or follow along on my Instagram and you may see the fun before I write about it. It’ll be silly fun for me and my family. I hope that you enjoy it, as I’m looking forward to finishing my vacation with some fun. (If I say fun enough times, it’ll be fun, right?)

Ending a vacation is always difficult. Work creeps up quickly and then you’re back in the grind waiting for the next set of days off. That’s just how life works.

Covered

Today was the final opportunity for us to see the blue of our pool. The final objective we needed to deal with in our backyard to prepare for the winter, was to throw a cover on the pool. All of our furniture is stored away, and the other day we Wrapped The Palm Trees for winter.

It was a sad moment having to say goodbye to the pool for the season. But we haven’t gone swimming in it for about a month now. What’s great about the cover is that it attaches right to the concrete all around. There are sunken pegs that come up and hold the straps in place keeping the cover taught.

Each spring will be filled with a glorious moment as we view the pool once more. The joy will extend through the summer. For now, we will protect the pool from the winter elements with the cover. Until next spring…

Shatner In Space

Today was another one of those incredible days for humanity. The second customer based space flight took place on Blue Origin. This time the oldest person to travel to space was on board. William Shatner aged 90 was Jeff Bezos’ guest. Which is fitting considering that Star Trek paved the way over 55 years ago. In 1970’s NASA named their space shuttle “Enterprise” as a nod to the 60’s sci-fi as well.

This morning I took thirty minutes out of my day to watch the launch and re-entry into Texas. The take off and landing is always the most exciting parts to witness. As technology has progressed over the years, I am in awe of the accuracy in which these feats are achieved.

I’ve always been fascinated by space travel. I know that I am unable to ever accomplish that goal at this time. Even if money was no object and I forked out that money to get on an Amazon rocket- the tallest a person can be is 6’4”. I’m about four inches too tall. Darn you genetics!!! But hey, if a 90 year old can go to space and safely return home- I’ve got 45 years to figure out how to get there myself.

For now, I live vicariously through the events that NASA and these Private Companies showcase. It’s a brief entertainment value that allows for the imagination to run wild. Congratulations to William Shatner for being the first living Star Trek star to make it into space. As well as being the oldest person to do so as well. I can’t wait to hear his tale of travel once he gathers himself together after such an emotional journey.

That’s A Wrap

The weather was sunny and the temperature was decent, so we decided to take advantage of it. My wife and I went for a 5km walk at the Tynehead Park. It’s a short drive away from our home, so it was nice to wander an area that wasn’t quite at home. Since it’s autumn, the leaves have mostly left the trees and the bare bones of the park remains.

Later in the afternoon as the sun crested over our house, my son and I ventured into our backyard to wrap our palm trees. We used some burlap and created a blanket around the trunk. It was easy enough to do, and I know it is better to do this while it’s nice instead of when the cold snap hits. Hopefully the winter is mild and doesn’t hurt the palm trees.

After wrapping the trees, my son helped to run an extension cord under our back deck so that we could spin some rope lights around the trees. Besides a fun look, this will also keep them warm in the winter months as required.

Next spring it’ll be nice to see everything come back to life and spread some colour in the world. For now, gardening isn’t over- that’s a wrap.

Friends And Thanksgiving

It was Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada. As usual, my wife and I made a turkey dinner. We had a couple of friends over to enjoy the feast. I didn’t take many photos as it was more important to live in the moment.

We had a great time enjoying drinks and dinner. We started the afternoon by sitting on our back deck with our gas fire pit on. We enjoyed the views and had some great laughs as the turkey cooked.

We had dinner at around six o’clock, just as the sun was starting to set and the cool air was closing in. After dinner, we enjoyed the ABC’s of desserts. Apple pie, Brownies, and Cheesecake. Our friend made an amazing cheesecake! Each and every dessert was decadent. We also had a sampling of Apple Pie Bailey’s as a little treat.

I’m always happy to open up our home for friends. Sharing food and drinks is an integral part of kindness and humanity. I am also looking forward to the leftovers and turkey meals we will be having over the next week or so.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends! May you be blessed with good food and good company this weekend.

Apple Pie For Thanksgiving

This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving. Today we are making a turkey for dinner. But yesterday, I made a few desserts that I am really proud of.

Specifically I made two apple pies from scratch- Including the pastry. Which was surprisingly easy to do. It’s just that the pastry needed to cool for a minimum of four hours or overnight in the fridge. So I actually made the dough the night before just to be ready for Saturday. In all honesty, not including baking time or waiting for pastry- apple pie only takes about twenty minutes to prepare.

I did prepare the apples with my daughter’s help. I had done the peeling and slicing while she added the flour, sugar and cinnamon. She stirred it all up and I filled the pie crusts. It was a good team effort and I enjoyed her company along the way.

For the tops of the pies, I did one in a lattice style and the other was just a dough cover with venting holes cut in. Once that was done, I sprinkled some leftover “churro sugar” I had saved. A perfect topping of cinnamon and sugar.

So far I am satisfied with how the pies turned out. They look and smell terrific. After dinner will be the taste test. Not sure what your stance is, but I believe apple pie is far superior to pumpkin pie.

I love warm apple pie a la mode as well. That is the best combination ever created. Mmmm ice cream and pie. I cannot wait for the Turkey to be done so I can enjoy some pie.

Birthdays

Private Movie Screening

This morning I saw an old friend for his fortieth birthday. It’s probably been about a decade since I last saw him. Today, he rented out a movie auditorium and screened the film,”The Green Knight” which was a film that my friend enjoyed this year and really wished to share with us. I’m glad I saw it, as it was more artsy than the films I have been known to watch. The last time he rented out a theater was probably 20 years ago when we both worked at Colossus and he showed the 1990 classic “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

It got me thinking about how we celebrate birthdays in general. First birthday is mostly gifts for baby and parents. As children, your parents throw parties for you with the expectation that gifts will be given to the birthday child, they give some cheap goody bags as a thank you.

Then you are a teenager, and you’re “Too Cool” for a Chuck E Cheese party, so you go and hang out. Everyone is broke, so you just do what you did on a regular Friday Night. Once you hit “legal drinking age” that’s when friends buy you drinks and everyone will pitch in for the dinner. After a couple years of this, everyone is broke again. So your birthday is just another reason for others to get drunk- byob style or everyone pays their own way.

As you get older, it seems the milestone birthdays are all that matter. And if you want friends to celebrate with you, you end up throwing your own party. Supplying the food and beverages. Some friends will bring something to share or a bottle for you to enjoy. Eventually as we get even older, birthdays are all but forgotten. You made it around the sun once more, and the few who care will still send you love. And that’s what really matters.

Feeling loved. Not showered with gifts. Legitimate love and caring from people who at one point made an impact on your life, and you made one on theirs. My friend today was an integral part of my life at one point. I’m so happy to have seen his successes and been able to share with him a brief moment today once more. Birthdays should always be important to your friends and family.

My Time Is Valuable

I’m on a week of vacation at the moment. I am not going away on a trip. Instead I have planned to fill each and every day with experiences and time to myself. A mental break from work and stresses.

My time away from work is precious to me. Everything from the hours in between shifts to days off, and especially vacation. Work is the furthest thing from my mind. It’ll still be there when I return.

I do have plans to see some coworkers over the weekend. I’m sure some gossip and work talk will come up. But it’s a bit different than having to answer emails and help out. Plus we can discuss life outside of work, which is nice.

My time is valuable to me. I’m not willing to give it up as it’s one of the most important things to have. People everywhere want some of it. Be wise when giving it out.

This Isn’t Going To End Well

Today I was at home starting my vacation. This morning I was on a Zoom meeting while sitting on our front porch. As I was there, a lady with about four preschool aged children walked by. They noticed the banners I put out for Halloween. And one of the boys yelled up to me, “Is that Freddy VS Jason?” I was rather surprised that a kid under age five would know that.

Later on a couple of ladies walked by and stopped in front of our home. They were trying to figure out who the characters were from. Clearly our home is drawing attention.

Afterwards, I was in the garage making some Halloween decorations. A father and his young song passed by. They too saw the banners out front. I heard the father say to his son, “we will definitely come back to this house on Halloween.”

I’m sure that we will get more kids this year in this part of the neighborhood than they have in the past. Our last neighborhood we only gave out about a dozen treats. Three to each kid… It’ll be neat being in a suburb again, but it’s not going to end well. We better get a bunch of candy and be ready to hand it out.

Oktoberfest In Small Doses

When I was a kid, National Lampoon’s European Vacation came out on video. I found the film to be absolutely hilarious. It also made me put Germany and other parts of Europe on my bucket list of places to visit. Specifically during Oktoberfest. (Much like our visit to Tokyo during the Cherry Blossoms). Since I have a wife with German roots, this idea excites me more.

Experiencing the world and other cultures like that is high on my list of why life is awesome. So as my wife and I plan our next big trip (which is on pause because of Covid), she is wanting to introduce me to some things that I never tried. The other day was sauerkraut on a bratwurst. All I can say is that it was surprisingly delicious. I’m not a fan of anything pickled, but as an addition to the food, it worked perfectly.

Of course you can’t have Oktoberfest without beer. A couple of years back, my wife and I attended Oktoberfest in September at The Trading Post. This was during one of my “Sober Septembers” so I was the designated driver. I still had a great time watching people cheer and sing while they drank and ate.

Lately, I’ve been enjoying some OOMPA Music played through the Spotify account. There’s something about German Polka that is kind of fun. My family is not as keen as I am it seems. But that’s okay.

Do you enjoy Oktoberfest? Besides German beers of course!

Gloomy Nap

I tried to take a nap this evening after work. It was the perfect evening to do so when I lay down. The sky was dark and the rain was falling heavily.

Moments later, the sun decided it was having none of that. My once dark and gloomy bedroom was being filled with light. Aimed directly at my face. My bed was even with the sun as it set, so I was once again awake.

As a gift for waking me shortly after putting my head to rest, the universe granted me a rainbow. Actually it granted me a faint double rainbow out the front of the house. The rain continued as the sun did it’s best to show itself for a brief moment before hiding for the day.

I will forgive the universe this time for stopping my gloomy nap. Maybe next time I should close the blinds.

Halloween Is On The Way

I love October. It means Halloween is on the way!

I can start to wear more black clothes than I already did. I also have the next couple of months to wear some of my “Nightmare Before Christmas” t-shirts. I remember seeing that film in the theater as a teenager when it first came out. I took my girlfriend at the time on a date to our local six plex. Since then, so many women I know have loved the movie. Perhaps they have a thing for tall skinny dudes?

Getting closer to Halloween also means things are more spooky! Over the weekend, I pulled out some of our decorations and set them up in the yard. The two banners I picked up from the movie theater in 2003 still make up for the largest part of my decorations. Each banner is approximately 4’ x 8’ so they look spectacular (or is that spooktacular) hanging on our front windows. I have had numerous friends wanting to buy these banners from me. They keep asking when I will part with them. Probably never. They are an integral part of our Halloween decor.

Are you starting to decorate for Halloween? Or do you wait until a few days before? Let me know in the comments.

Existential Doggo

Another great evening to be had on the back deck as the sun begins to set. I keep on sharing pictures of the view, and it is well worth it. It seems I’m not the only one who enjoys the deck and the sky.

Our dog, Maki, has decided that she is just as good as her human family. She has discovered the joy of sitting on our back patio set and staring off into the horizon. I watched her for a while while she just zoned out.

When I finally got her attention, she just looked so happy. She also didn’t want to leave her seat. So I sat beside her and we gazed out on the horizon. She’s a great companion who can sit silently and just enjoy the moment.

Dogs are the best. I wonder what she was thinking?

Google Home

A little over a year ago we got ourselves set up on Google Nest Wifi. Since then, I have been really happy with using it as a Wi-Fi and as the occasional speaker. We then picked up a Google Chromecast to enjoy watching videos and VR. But today, I stepped up my Google Game and incorporated a bunch of smart devices.

Costco has dimmer switches available in a pack of 3 and plugs in a pack of four. The plugs are great since you can just plug them into the wall and then add your device. The switches take a bit more work. I’m glad that our home had a neutral wire available at every switch. Thank goodness for new home builds.

After getting the switches and plugs all set up, it was time to create some routines. One of the routines is to turn the lights outside on and the off at scheduled times of the night and morning. Saying “Ok Google…” and a catchphrase will set the mood for a pool party, or even meditation lounging in the bedroom. I also set up a bedtime routine which will turn on a light and added some nature sounds to calm down before sleep.

I’m sure there is plenty more to do with Google Home. For now, it’s time to teach my wife how to use it also. She may not like my Enya playlist and salt lamp going on, so she can create her own routines.

Nerdy tech stuff like this is fun. It takes a while to set up, and then I swear it’s forgotten about for ages. I need to get myself in the habit of taking to Google and not just turning on the lights. Maybe it’s movie time and the lights need to dim. Better use my phone since it’s already in my hand.

Do you have any tips or tricks when using Google Home? Any favorite devices or products you would recommend? Let me know in the comments.

Sober September Savings

As my Sober September ends, I realize that it’s the money saved that really makes me not want to drink. Not the overindulgence that I tended to do. When last year I went 300 days sober, it wasn’t that I missed drinking. But there was a few times that a glass of wine or a beer would have been nice.

Tonight I am planning on having a beer with dinner. I needed to buy cheap-ish beer for the egg wash for the schnitzel dinner. Since it was a recipe I perfected from my father, I also picked up a few Czech Pilsners.

Last year’s savings helped with buying a house and all the amenities we wanted. Over the past month, not drinking also stopped us from going out for meals. It’s crazy how drinking and dinner goes well together. So an entire month was filled with savings.

My wife brought up a good point. If I am able to enjoy A Beer periodically, then go ahead. But she has agreed that if I start to go down a negative road and overdo it, then I need to stop drinking and reassess my health. So, it’s time to be smart once more and only drink periodically.

Teenage Job Hunting

Our teenagers are pretty good at saving whatever money they get in order to buy the stuff they want. However, birthday and Christmas cash is only going to help a bit. Time to step it up a notch.

Our two youngest have been out looking for part time employment. At the start of summer, they were doing online applications. Now they are out hitting the streets with paper resumes and filling out application forms.

The hardest part I have found is explaining to them how to describe any past experience and relate it to the job they want. They may not have exact experience in retail. But they have worked Comicons in the artist alley and have been assistant coaches for some time now.

I’m sure they will become productive members of society soon enough. All the best of luck to their endeavors, because I’m not paying for the fun stuff any more.

Good Spooky Music

My daughter and I were having a conversation about what makes good spooky Halloween inspired music. I enjoy the spirit and ambiance that music like that can bring. Halloween Music definitely fills my next month’s playlists.

First you need a drum beat or a bass beat. However, it needs to resemble a heart beat and have a rhythmic timing. Music like this is also good for workouts.

Secondly, there needs to be a unique sound added. Such as the harpsichord or synthesizer. Once that instrument is involved, next is to add a trill or repetitive partial scale.

Lastly, you need one higher pitched sound to be made by a piano or piccolo periodically.

Put those three things together and you can get the perfect spooky soundtrack going. Everyone would get the feels that you are attempting to create.

I’m going back to listening to my Creepy Carnival playlist on Spotify and see what else makes a good spooky song.