Working Summer Nights

The first heatwave has passed us by. As much as I enjoyed lounging by the pool (bit did I ever enjoy that!) I was able to combat the heat in other ways. We had our heat pump serviced last week and the technician gave us some advice on running the AC in order to keep the unit lasting longer.

We also keep the blinds down when the sun is hitting the windows. As well, we keep doors cans windows closed. The ceiling fans are on low in order to circulate the cool air. The comfort level in our home is perfect. So comfortable in fact that it makes it easy for me to sleep during the day.

That’s because my favorite way to battle the summer heat is to work at night. Yeah, night shifts aren’t fun, but the cool evening air and light breeze makes work so much better. When I was a switchman, I worked nights quite regularly in the summer in order to avoid bugs and the heat. I know not everyone has that option in working and outside job- but if you can- I recommend summer nights for working.

Since most folks work normal hours, remember to stay cool and hydrated! Even stuffy offices should be a comfortable place to work at.

Keeping Positive Vibes

I hear the phrase, “It is what it is.” Whenever there is something bad happening in life that you can’t control. It’s not a favorite phrase of mine, so I try not to use it- but I know I have from time to time. The other phrase that gets me is “At the end of the day…” The end of the day comes, well, daily. But I want to counter it with a new one.

“Oh well. Whatever happens, happens.” No matter what each day brings us, we are just should just chill out and breathe deep. Let the world continue on its merry way, and not get bothered by it. Here’s how I let that happen: I know what I’m working towards and enjoy why I do what I do.

Last night I was at work and my wife sent me a beautiful view of the sky from our home. The thought that our home is a mere thirty five minutes away from work keeps me going. Having views like this are some of the reasons why I go to work. Not bringing the stress home is also important. “Let it be.” As the Beatles sang.

What do you work towards? Do you try your best to let “whatever happens, happen?” Or do you try and gain control over things that are out of your control? Lastly, what are you working towards? Does it make you happy?

Summer Nights By The Pool

The last couple of days have been scorchers. The heat hitting 30°C yesterday and later today. All afternoon on Saturday, we took advantage of the pool and shade from the gazebo. A few friends stopped by to join us- which is always nice.

By 10:30pm it was just the family remaining. As the night started to settle on us, we stayed warm with the fire pit and a couple of blankets. By midnight, my wife put out the fire and I had fallen asleep. I woke up around 3am and headed inside. It was so comfortable outside that if it wasn’t for my allergies, I’d have slept through the night out there.

I’m looking forward to more days and nights like that one. Where friends and family can come by and relax with us. Hooray for summer making its appearance!

Our Son Is Getting Grounded

It isn’t as bad as it sounds. Our 16 year old son just got his first summer job. Our tenants introduced us to a fellow who lives up the road. That person told our son to go and apply for a job at the Surrey Golf Course.

Yesterday morning I dropped our son off to apply for groundskeeper/ landscaper. Forty five minutes later and he was smiling from ear to ear. He starts the job next week working full time Monday to Friday. The job starts early- 5am. But he will be done to enjoy his afternoons and evenings every day.

In getting his first job, he needed to get a few things. Most importantly was his first pair of work boots. I offered to buy his first pair of steel toe boots. But told him he will need to take care of them and after this, he will be on his own to buy his own work gear. We also went out to pick up a couple of polo shirts and some work pants.

He is excited for his new independence and cash freedom. We also went and opened his first bank account. I reminded him to set aside a minimum of 10% of his income. He is unsure what he will be saving towards., so I suggested he put the majority of his money into his savings account as the interest rate is better. I hope he understands why I suggest this.

I’m happy for him and look forward to seeing how he fares (get it? Like fairway on a golf course?) One of the perks of his job is getting free golf and discounts at the country club. I have a feeling he will be following in my father’s footsteps and grow into a love of golf.

Furry Critters

Leaving our acre last year, I thought we would be seeing less wildlife as we hit the Suburbs. I was wrong. But at least we haven’t encountered any rats or raccoons.

The furry creatures are really tiny and almost seem lost. We had a baby hare hanging out under our deck. It wasn’t scared of me at all as I approached it to get a picture. In fact, it seemed as intrigued by me as I was of it.

The other little fellow that appeared the next day was a field mouse. It decided to cool off in our pool. I caught it swimming and then jumping onto our solar pool rings. Getting him out of the pool wasn’t too tough. I used our net and then released it back into the field behind our property. Maybe in the heatwave, it will return for a quick dip.

Of course our dog is often watching for wildlife as well. Generally she keeps the little creatures away, including cats. If she sees a coyote in the back field, she lets them know to stay away with incessant barking. Sometimes she does it from inside our home; other times she is in the backyard doing a proud stance on one of our rocks as she howls.

The wildlife is different in the ‘Burbs. Aside from the couple cute furry critters, it’s usually birds out and about. Most of the time I see hawks, owls, hummingbirds and a large assortment of other birds.

I have a feeling I will become a bird watcher pretty quick and start to get books and binoculars to view them.

Red Carpet Grad 2022

Tonight we are at the Grad Dinner and Dance for Darwin. Prior to the meal was a “Red Carpet” event. The graduates went to the school, and walked out the front doors for the last time.

The teens had a beautiful day for some outdoor photos. A friend of ours took some fantastic shots with a professional camera which will be sent to us later. I grabbed as many as I could with my cellphone.

Most of the pictures I will be sending to Darwin so they can share with their friends. I did get a few that were fun for us to enjoy. The afternoon was filled with smiles and laughter. Keeping with the high energy, we headed out to the Grad Dinner and Dance.

I took a few minutes to write my blog while the kids shared some more photos and had more laughs before the elegant evening began. It was great to see them mingle and you could sense the relief from a long hard road they went on to get here.

Now we feast!

Milestones Memories

Over the years, I have been there for all of my kids and the milestones they are meant to hit. There are so many important landmarks in life that it just feels right to be a part of each one.

As June quickly reaches an end, so does the school year. All three of our teenagers have hit important landmark events that I have been proud of. And as a parent, it’s always a good feeling to see how proud your kids are of each goal they have achieved.

Watching my memories on Facebook return each June with highlights of these moments hits the heartstrings a bit more than usual for me each day this week it seems. Especially for our oldest.

Reminiscing about each achievement our oldest hit over the years really stings me in my emotions. From a Preschool Graduation to a Grade 7 farewell Graduation to finishing Grade 12 during Covid lockdown… on each of these moments I was there for them and cheered with pride.

Until Tuesday this week. Our oldest had a convocation to receive a diploma for two years of post secondary at BCIT. I’m really proud of them, but for reasons- I did not attend this ceremony. It’s the first big moment I was not allowed to be at. Respectfully it was out of love that I did not attend. They requested that I would not be present at it. As an adult, I must respect their wishes- but it stings and they knew it would.

I will still continue to share my love for each of my children and their achievements. Even when I cannot be there in person. As a piece of my heart longs for the simplicity of a preschool graduation once more, I know that life gets complicated and can be messy.

Yet those milestone memories bring me joy, even if it hurts.

First Day Of Summer

It sure hasn’t been feeling like summer has wanted to start this year. All the rain and grey skies have made it feel as though we were in a second January. A “June-uary” as I have heard it called.

But today is the first day of summer! The Summer solstice is upon us. The longest amount of daylight to be had for the year. With it brings the hopeful warm weather.

The second half of this week it will finally feel as though we are hitting the temperatures we are meant to enjoy. I look forward to hanging out with friends in the backyard and cooling off in the pool with an ice cold beverage. Afternoon siestas are also a favorite of mine. Especially done outdoors with the warmth of the day blowing in as I fall asleep in the shade.

Are you looking forward to summer finally arriving? Remember to Wear Sunscreen.

One Year…

What a difference a year can make. For us, we have lived in our current home for one year now.

Castle Havelka

It was difficult to leave our other home. We had created some many memories while living there. We also did numerous changes on a regular basis to the house and yard. Yet somehow, it never felt as if it would end. Moving was the only way we could start with a clean slate and figure out what we really want in a home.

Kingdom Havelka

I never thought owning a pool would be high up on the list of what we wanted in a home. Yet now I can’t think to live somewhere without a pool. Trading the trees for open views has greatly helped with feeling better and happy thoughts. We are taking in more sunshine than ever before. My wife even commented on my glow the other day. I feel rejuvenated on a regular basis.

As summer approaches tomorrow, I continue to look forward to spending time outside. Relaxing by the pool. Watching sunsets. Sharing quality time with friends. Food and drink beside the pool…

I loved our previous home for the memories we created, but I love the one we are in because of the memories to come. In one year a lot has happened already. If we do another 15-20 years here, who knows what else this home will have in store.

Reflecting On Being A Father

Today is Father’s Day- a time to celebrate dad. My kids are in their late teens, so it feels different these days than in the past. The two youngest wished me a Happy Father’s Day and my son made me a grilled cheese sandwich for breakfast. I am aware that as they grow older, gift giving is not the same as it once was. Just being acknowledged these days is the best feeling. I still do my best to help guide them through life, even when it becomes difficult to handle their strong opinions and personalities.

Some previous gifts from my kids.

I have saved every hand made and store bought gifts that my kids have given me over the years. From cards to ceramics; paintings to pens- they had put forth effort in thinking about me as a father and shared them with me. Chances are my kids won’t read my blog, but if they do- they’ll know how important those trinkets and words still mean to me.

Facebook also shares memories with me on a regular basis. We had many good times as a family doing everything from the mundane to traveling to other countries. I love looking back on our time together and seeing how much they have all changed over the years. I’m always proud of what they have done and who they are becoming as adults.

My Father and I.

Sometimes I wish my father were around to see how amazing these kids are. I often wonder if he was proud of me before he passed away. I’ll never know. What I do know is that we had a tough time sharing feelings and I didn’t always have fond memories of him. Towards the end of his life, he and I were civil to one another. But I was already past trying to make amends. Maybe it could have happened over these last 20 years since he died, but all I can do is try and remember the good times.

As my kids grow older and move on with their lives, I hope to be able to have a healthy adult relationship with each of them. I really enjoyed their company as babies, toddlers, kids, and yes- even as teens. Being a father isn’t always easy. Sometimes you have to be the bad guy. But I hope that all of good memories will stay front and center as my kids continue to grow up.

I love them all immensely. I couldn’t be happier for the way they love me back- each in their own way. Even if we don’t always see eye to eye or have a perfect relationship- I’ll always be here for them. That’s what a Father does.

The Queens

Today was a day of moving beds around. Two were dismantled and another was built. Not too shabby of a day. I even had some help without much prodding.

First I took apart the queen sized bed that our oldest was using. It had been all but forgotten about in my wife’s front office. We are going to put the bed and frame into storage until our oldest needs it. All the pieces from the frame are together and I labeled each part just in case they need to reassemble it on their own.

After I dismantled that bed, I moved onto our middle child’s bed. They had been using a twin frame that was originally from a bunk bed. It was a solid pine wood bed and will last forever. So that bed is going into storage as well for the time being. Basically until one of our kids has kids…

Once that bed was out of the bedroom, it was time to build a new bed frame. We had bought a queen sized frame, mattress and blanket set as a graduation gift for our middle. At first they were worried that the bed would take up too much space. But in the end, it was a perfect balance of space needed so they could still have all of their friends (aka stuffed toys) sleeping over. Especially the Hello Kitty stuffies and accessories.

I’m glad that our kids are growing up, yet staying youthful at heart. A new bed and frame will push them into adulthood, but with a good nights sleep to get them there.

Finding Shade

Since we bought a home that has limited trees compared to our last home, I have been enjoying the sunshine. I have taken a few hundred photos of the landscape, sky and the sun. I have enjoyed it immensely.

But we have little to no shade in the yard. So we bought a patio umbrella last summer. We also assembled a Gazebo back in March and placed a patio set underneath for socializing.

But our dog has found solace under a bush we have near the pool. It’s funny because I trimmed it just yesterday. She loves the shade and spent hours laying there this afternoon. Even with my music playing next to her- she hardly stirred.

Sure, I write about finding shade, yet local weather has been far from normal these days. But as summer slowly approaches- I know that the family (pets included) will need these spaces to cool off from the summer sun.

Do your pets try and find shade in unique places, perhaps your kids do. Let me know in the comments how you keep cool in the summer. (When it arrives…)

Darwin Did It!

Last night’s Graduation Ceremony was five hours long. Because it was a Fine Arts Graduation- it was run a bit differently than most. First the students were broken up by majors and called alphabetically by these. Dance, Drama, Music, Photography, Visual Arts, and finally- Writing (Darwin’s major). Between each category, the Grade 11’s for each of the majors put on a short performance as a thank you.

Darwin was one of the last to be called up to receive their diploma. Once all the pomp and circumstance was over- the kids got to mingle with friends, family and teachers in the lobby. I was taken aback by the amount of congratulations that were offered up to the parents as well. But looking back over the years- it’s kind of understandable. Like many parents- we’ve been through a lot as well!

Even though the ceremony is behind us, there is still more to come over the next week. A Grad Dinner and Dance, an After-Grad party and the final day of school. Then a summer of freedom (sort of…) to enjoy the last bit of youthful follies.

Again, my wife and I are extremely proud of our Straight A student. As a middle child, we know that they put more pressure on themselves even when we told them to take it easy. But the results are something that Darwin is proud of! And we couldn’t be happier.

Grad 2022

This evening we will be attending our middle teenager’s graduation ceremony. We are excited for this moment as it’s a major milestone. Years of schooling is behind Darwin and an entire life of adulthood lies ahead.

Of course we took some pre-graduation photos! The clouds were out, but no rain so we took the opportunity to take some pictures in our backyard.

Darwin wanted to wear something cute and meaningful to them under the gown. A Sanrio skirt and cute shoes were a perfect choice.

My wife and I each got a photo with the star of the day. We will be taking many more pictures throughout the evening. Be assured that as a proud parent- I will be sharing them today and tomorrow!

Seeing the tassel with the year on it makes this moment that much more real. All of the memories of Darwin’s successes and accomplishments have come flooding in to my mind. My heart has been welling up and I’m going to blame tonight’s tears on allergies.

Way to go Darwin! We are so proud of everything you have done and who you have become. Today is your day- cherish this moment and all of your memories of the road that brought you here.

Love always, mom and dad.

4-7-8

People often wonder how I can fall asleep so quickly. Especially being able to do it any time of day. It has come in handy working shift work. I must have learned this technique decades ago. I have become a master of it.

It’s the 4-7-8 breathing technique, or also known as relaxing breath. It’s extremely easy.

Breathing in for 4 seconds.

Holding your breath for 7 seconds.

Exhaling for 8 seconds.

I do this a few times and focus on the counting and breaths- letting all other distractions fall by the wayside. I can be out cold in under a minute. I have done it on airplanes, trains, and road trips without fail. I use this technique every time I go to bed.

The ability to quickly fall asleep has benefited me numerous times. I can dart away for a quick nap and be awake again before anyone notices I’m gone. This has helped me at social events after a night shift on more than one occasion.

Try the technique for yourself a few times. It’s also really good for when anxiety tries to strike while your laying in bed at night.

Have a good sleep.

Finding Beauty At Work

Sometimes work is not the place a person wants to be at. Especially on a sunny day or worse- when things don’t go right. It’s hard to find a slice of joy at work during the ups and downs.

I do my best to try and find the beauty all around me. Oftentimes my work just has it rolling right by me. Today I saw some artwork that caught my eye. Where the car sat- the backdrop was perfect. Naturally I had to get a picture.

I love the image someone vandalized on this grain hopper. It’s ironically of a grain silo on the side of a grain car. But it is so well done and detailed that you almost forget that it was created with spray paint and done illegally. Clearly the image of a silo in the prairies with northern lights emanating from the background is something of significance to the artist. I love how they were also able to make the lights look like they are actually glowing.

I am fully appreciative of the skills it takes to make art of this scale. The amount of time and effort to hone in on their talents astounds me. Over the years I have been able to track more of the art down on Instagram and I have even been in contact with some of the artists. My appreciation has been expressed to them for creating beautiful pieces in an otherwise monotonous and grey environment. Keep up the creativity and I’ll continue to share the art as it rolls from town to town.

Rare Rant- Cyclists

I don’t tend to use my blog to vent or rant. I do my best to share stories of positivity and happiness. But today…. Today I am frustrated.

Working in North Vancouver, there is a lot of cyclists to tend with. This city has even removed aspect of the road and created “Bike Lanes.” Which is great- in theory. But that doesn’t seem good enough for people on bicycles.

I was stuck driving behind a group of them that decided the bike lane wasn’t worthy of their usage. It wasn’t like there was a Tour De France going on. Just a group of five individuals out on a Sunday ride taking up the driving lane in an obnoxious manner.

A short time later I was going through a green light to turn left. A lone cyclist decided that stopping for a red light was not important. I jammed on my brakes and found the horn rather quickly. Since I was in a work vehicle, my middle finger was non functional, as was my colourful vocabulary.

Lastly, driving down a hill there was a couple of teenagers deciding that doing tricks as they run down the hill is acceptable- especially going into the oncoming lane forcing drivers to be extra vigilant about their actions.

I wish that rules were enforced to cyclists they way the road rules are enforced on drivers. But alas, instead we just have to deal with their entitlement and hope to not kill one of them with our cars.

End of rant. Tomorrow I will be more pleasant.

Sunshine And Lifestyle

I’m not sure I can trust the weather app or the meteorologists anymore. This weekend was supposed to rain everyday with almost 50-90% each hour. I was ready to get upset. But they were wrong.

The last two days I have absolutely taken advantage of the sunshine. The pool is sparkling clean and the fields are lush behind us. I have floated around for hours on end listening to music and just appreciating the world. As they say- Living my best life.

But because of the uncertainty of the weather, we haven’t invited anyone over to share our slice of paradise with. I really want my friends to come and hang out. Having the space and wanting to share our happiness is one of the best things we could do. When you have more than you need- build a longer table, not a higher fence.

Luck And Hard Work

Last night I was shredding old documents from the years 2000-2010. I saw my old paystubs, taxes, and mortgages. Looking back, a part of me wishes we had paid off our first mortgage- or at least gotten close by now. Since we have been homeowners for nearly twenty years- it could have been accomplished.

Our current mortgage is six times higher than our first one was. When we needed that first mortgage- we struggled to qualify. We jumped through so many hoops and spent a small fortune to get approved through a house evaluation. My mother was also the guarantor for us. I worked nearly 80 hours every week to keep on top of the finances. All of those things helped tremendously.

The horseshoe we have brought with us.

Once we had that first home secured, we knew life was going to get better. Even with all of our hard work, I was a bit superstitious. A fear that it could all come crashing down was in the back of my mind. So I put up a horseshoe in the basement of our first home for good luck. When we moved to our next house, I brought it with us and had it in our carport. Now it hangs in the garage of our current home, bringing us more good luck.

Luck and hard work have gotten us to where we are today. In a few years, my wife and I may decide to go mortgage free and sell this home to downsize. For now, it is our dream home and we are happy to be where we are.

Peony

I’ve always been appreciative of flowers. I have favorites- like roses and birds if paradise. Some other ones we have owned and planted that are among my favorites are lilies, daffodils and rhododendrons. Whenever they bloom, I know the spring and summer seasons are at hand.

Our new home has a couple of peony plants that were already in the garden. I had never heard of them. Seeing them grow was interesting. Little balls on the end of stalks. Tons of ants crawling around on them. And suddenly- BLOOM!

These things just POP. I am absolutely enthralled with the colour and the size of the blooms. My wife trimmed a couple of them and brought those inside for a vase to set on our countertop.

They look beautiful. I never knew that I’d like these. But then again, I never knew about them before this house.

Blue Once More

After a week and a half of frustration- our pool is back to normal. Loads of chemicals, scrubbing and vacuuming made our pool usable once more.

The algae is finally gone! At one point our pool was vibrantly green and it felt as though it would never change. Today I did a quick scrub and a vacuum to get the remaining algae off the sides and corners. A little bit of careful elbow grease and patience went a long way. I really don’t want to deal with algae again.

With the weather showing us some sun this evening- it was a great opportunity to jump in the pool and relax. I could do that aspect anytime!

Now I’m ready for summer to commence!

Not Mine

Today a found a jewelry ring and some random piece of plastic in my car. Rather unusual considering I did a deep clean vacuum about two weeks ago. Naturally I had to find out where this stuff came from. Time for family group text.

You’d think that eventually kids would stop saying “not mine” when asked about something. Nope. Even at aged 16 and 18 they say it. I’d like to pretend like I didn’t know where that response came from. But alas- my wife also said it.

Now I don’t really care about the ring. Someone lost it in my car. Oh well. I just find the observation of the reactions to be interesting. Perhaps I missed it when I cleaned out my car. But realistically it was one of the kids at some point. Whether it’s their’s or not- could have been a friends ring- I tend to keep a very tidy car and have since given it to our 18 year old. They can have it now and try to find the rightful owner. Or keep it for themselves.

That’s because this ring is NOT MINE.

Feeling Gassed

Just like nearly everyone else, I’m astonished that the gas prices continue to rise. Living in the Vancouver area, we are experiencing the highest in the country.

I thought this was funny years ago. Now I cry.

With rising gas costs, that means rising food costs. As well as travel expenditures. For whatever reason, the governments around the world aren’t doing anything to combat these rising costs. All the news from them is, “we acknowledge that gas prices are high.” No resolutions. This cannot be sustainable for the future of the world.

With electric vehicle makers not being able to keep up with the demand, many of us are stuck paying these prices at the pump. All I can do is vent that this situation sucks. I’d love to buy an electric car. Maybe in a few years. But for now I just have to minimize how much driving I do and plan out my shopping trips to hit stores in the same vicinity at around the same time.

I also drive the speed limit more often than I once did. My car also has an ECO Mode which I have turned on. I haven’t seen much in the way of savings or good fuel economy with this option engaged. Only time will tell.

Continuing Cosplay

Years ago we introduced our children to the world of cosplay. They loved the idea of being able to be a character from a show or video game. My wife enjoyed making their costumes. I enjoyed acting out the characters with the family. We all really enjoyed showing off at Comic Cons.

Pokémon Trainers and a wild Pikachu!

For me, that felt like a lifetime ago. We haven’t dressed up for conventions in years. Halloween was a wash for me last year, as I didn’t dress up. I did my Obi-Wan for May 4th, so I was happy there. The love of dressing up in cosplay is still rampant with our 18 year old. That also makes me happy- even if I don’t know the characters they are doing.

Out of the blue, our middle went to our next door neighbor yesterday and asked if they would come over to help with some cosplay photos. After living in our home for almost one year, this was the first interaction the two of them had. It was a positive one. Our neighbor, who is 16, has been interested in doing cosplay but was unsure where to start.

Good thing we moved in next door! Now our middle will have someone to teach the joy of cosplay to. I am really happy that my wife and I encouraged this activity years prior. It has helped with our kids expressing themselves through fandoms. Now that expression is being shared from our teens to others.

That’s pretty cool.

Week End to the Weekend

I’m not sure where my days off disappeared to. But they are gone. Now it’s Saturday night and I’m ready for bed. The work week begins early the next day.

I honestly didn’t do much with my time off. And as much as I wanted to do even less- I had a few chores that needed attention: Cleaning the pool, making meals, dying my kid’s hair, fixing a leaky roof… all I wanted was a day in my pajamas to do nothing.

Sometimes when I’m having desires of nothing- I’ll take a bath and read a book. Alas, I did not do that either. Yet somehow, my weekend is over. I did nothing. Just not the nothing I wanted to do.

On the bright side- there’s always next weekend. More time to do nothing. Let’s see if I can accomplish that.