Year in Review or How I Conquered 2016

So much has happened this year that today was the perfect day to reflect on the changes.  For obvious reasons, I’m only going to write about my life, not the world in general.  There will be hundreds of other articles if you need to read about celebrities or world events.  I am but one man on a journey.  My wife used the term “retrospective” earlier when I told her about today’s topic.  I kind of like that term- because I’m always looking back on my life throughout my blog posts.  Here is my life over the past year:

Still Making It Up As I Go.


January 27th I wrote and shared my first ever blog post.  It was titled: Come Here To See All My Mistakes.  Honestly, since posting that title, I rarely made any mistakes in my writing.  My wonderful wife proofreads nearly every post prior to sharing it with the world.  She even proofread today’s post.  Writing daily proved to be a great challenge.  But I have made sure to post every day, no matter how early or late in the day.

My personal blog has 340 posts so far with 4500 different visitors and nearly 7000 views.  Not bad considering I’m not an “internet celebrity”, I don’t advertise my blog, nor am I selling anything.  Just word of mouth and some enjoyable moments that I have shared.  I have also been greeted by other bloggers in this world and welcomed with open arms.  No trolls for nearly a year.  Cool.

I love writing my blog posts.  I have shared numerous stories of my children, my work, and my life growing up.  It’s been a lot of fun to re-count my life and take stock of all of the wonderful (and sometimes sad) experiences that have defined who I am.

In March, I turned the big 4-0.  This brought on a bunch of emotions and feelings that I never knew a grown up could have.  I felt like I was ready to renew my life and start a new stage.  I jumped out of my comfort zone many times since then.

I fired my first gun and found a new respect for those who serve our country.  It also happened to be my most read blog post of the year.  Read about it here: Westie For A Day

I played with VR numerous times and was amazed at how hyper-real it was.  Here were some of my previous posts: Button MashingBohemian RhapsodyI’m Batman.  I even wrote a short story along the way: DOS Grampa.

My wife and I celebrated 15 years of marriage back in July.  She has been and will remain my best friend.  I’m still not sure how this came to be, but dang I’m a lucky guy.

I lost a friend due to depression which led to his suicide.  Even though all I could do was write a memory post about his life through my eyes (Jeremy) I wish that there was more that I could have done for him. Now I feel that I see the signs of depression and can do more for other friends in the future.  I’m still saddened by his passing, but I did reconnect with some old friends because of this.  Perhaps there is some good that came out of this.

I love where I work (Proud of Where I Work).  So I decided to change my career path at the end of the year and took on a new role at work.  Even at age 40, I still like being challenged at work.

I attended not one, but two NHL games in under a week.  What?  (Hockey and Game 2)  Not bad for a guy who isn’t very sports oriented.

My year has been pretty amazing to say the least.  Even with some ups and downs, I’m happy with how it turned out. I’m also really happy that my family and my friends have supported me throughout all of my endeavors.  I’ve said it before, and once again, I want to say Thank you for everything. (Thank you Jan.31)

Today, my social media is filled with some great inspirational images relating to the new year.  

I wish nothing but the best to everyone out there in the coming year.  Take the time to reflect on your life and your foreseeable future.  Who knows what a year can do.  Look at how much has changed in my life in 2016.

I Walk The Thinnest Line

I walk the line between adulthood and immaturity on a regular basis.  I’m currently in our theater room, sitting in a beanbag chair writing.  Today I washed our new dishes and put up new curtains.  Later I’ll be playing videogames and joking with our kids.

Until recently at work, I was often a goofball.  I’m not saying that’s going to change, but certain aspects will.  No more crazy colors for my hair.  No more graphic t-shirts.  Time for dress pants and golf shirts.  I’m sure I’ll be able to sneak a bit of my nerdiness in.  My job title has changed, but who I am has not.  There are certain expectations at work that I need to meet.  I’m ok with that.

Parenting is another aspect of my life that I sway between being a kid at heart and acting all growed up.  I’d like to think that I’m a good parent to our children by encouraging them at school and in their interests as well as setting rules and regulations in our home that they need to follow.  On the other hand,  I enjoy playing and goofing off with them.  We joke and have a great time together as friends.  That’s a bond I don’t feel I had with my parents as much growing up.

Of course I have bills that I need to pay.  But there’s also a little bit of money set aside for fun.  Disneyland trips, Star Wars toys, videogames, movies, etc…  

I’m savoring life by keeping a healthy balance between responsibilities and being carefree.  I think everyone else should as well.

Is The Magic Over?

Post Christmas time.  We are putting away the gifts and eating the last of the rich food.  Soon the trees, lights and decorations will come down.  But that’s not what I mean by “Is The Magic Over?”

My three children are well past the age of believing in Santa.  But something else has occurred that I suspected was happening.  I found out while we were having dinner the other day.  Our middle daughter let it slip out…

She mentioned that she “accidentally” saw some Christmas gifts before Christmas.  After some discussion with the other two, my wife and I discovered that all three had “accidentally on purpose” found our hidden Christmas gifts.

When I was a child/teen I avidly looked for my Christmas gifts prior to the big day.  My parents weren’t very good at hiding places.  Pretty sure my mother figured out that I was searching for the gifts.  Sometimes she resorted to locking the gifts in the trunk of the car in hopes that I wouldn’t find them.  It was never spoken about, so I never had to deny it.  Now my kids are doing it.

But is the magic gone?  Or is it a rite of passage into adulthood?  Does the joy you feel from a surprise gift occur while you’re alone.  The happiness that we as parents once saw on their faces is now going away.  Perhaps the magic is gone for me as a father.  I loved seeing their eyes light up as they unwrapped their favorite gifts.  I worry that next year it won’t happen.  I worry that perhaps this is the beginning of the end of that magic. 

I guess I’ll find out next year.  Or I just need to hide the gifts better!

Game 2: A Different View

Would you believe it if I told you that I’ve only ever seen two NHL games live?  Both within a week.  Both were free of charge from a couple of friends.  Five days ago I had a great experience where I was able to enjoy some one-on-one time with an old buddy.  (Read about it here: HockeyTonight’s game was with a larger group from my work, so the experience was very different.

I spoke previously about altering my career path at work (Read about it here: Changing It Up)  So naturally, I have entered into a different group of work friends.  I’ve always been friendly with my supervisors and I like to think of myself as a relatively nice guy who is easy to get along with.  I found it really welcoming to be invited to a hockey game less than two weeks after accepting my new position and join my fellow supervisors for a relaxing night out.  It was a blast.  

We started the night by talking about work for about five minutes, then went straight into just hanging out and having fun.  The fellow who got us the tickets had box seats in the 200 Club section.  All the pizza and drinks we could want was included.  

There was a large couch and a big screen tv showing the feed from the game as well.  So we could watch the game live or watch the game sort of live.  We wandered around and socialized, never really having an assigned seat.  The game was action packed.  (Our home team won this time).

A big thank you to my coworkers for being so gracious and fantastic.  It’s amazing how people have very different personalities outside of work.  It’s great that something such as work can bring a ragtag group of individuals together over a common bond and share some great laughs.

Suddenly Silenced

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

Like many fans of Star Wars, I was sad to hear of Carrie Fisher’s passing today.  Carrie Fisher’s role as Princess Leia struck a chord with me at a young age. Seeing that a woman can be tough and beautiful at the same time changed my perception of women early on.  She was also an icon in the Star Wars universe for many strong girls to look up to.  She was a space princess who could kick ass in a gold bikini.  

My daughter four years ago.

Both of our daughters have dressed up in their own version of Princess Leia at conventions in the past.  

Back in September at Edmonton Expo, my wife was selling her dragon hats when Carrie Fisher stopped by.  My wife had the pleasure of having a conversation with her.  She said that she was one of the nicest celebrities she had met as of late.  

The gift I gave my wife for her birthday this year.

Many great scenes came from Carrie Fisher’s role as Princess Leia.  My wife and I still quote “I love you.  I know.” almost daily.   In fact, for Christmas my wife got us matching shirts that say exactly that.  So today we wore them out in public and received many great compliments on them.  We are turning into a cute old couple…

I’m saddened to hear of Carrie Fisher’s passing.  I wasn’t planning on writing about it today, but it is in the forefront of my mind.  There are plenty of great news articles describing her career that have been written today.  Many of her other roles in film have been over shadowed by the role of Leia.  But whenever she could, she spoke her mind on many talk shows and was razor sharp with her wit.  

RIP Carrie Fisher.  

May the force be with you.

Season of the Force

Boxing Day

As you may have guessed- Christmas showed up yesterday.  Our day was a long one starting at 8am and ending at around 2am.  My social media (probably much like your social media feed) was all abuzz with multiple photos and videos of trees, gifts, food and family.  I was delighted seeing all of the happiness and joy my friends were sharing.  I had phone calls and texts from numerous friends all wishing me a Merry Christmas.  Many of whom I feel bad that I haven’t taken the time to spend with lately.  After all of the gift unwrapping was done on Christmas Day, there is often that one gift that you just didn’t receive which you had hoped Santa was going to bring.  

Enter Boxing Day.  December 26th is the day that stores in Canada offer up sales to entice people.  Much like Black Friday, only after Christmas, allowing people to buy for themselves the gift they really wanted.

When I was a teen/young adult I used to go Boxing Day shopping.  I would line up at 5am in order to get the best deals on electronics.  I bought tvs, vcrs, DVD players, stereos and the like for super cheap.  It was always expected so this became the norm in my household.  Even after my sister flew the coop, she still enjoyed a good Boxing Day Sale.  I have since stopped with bothering to brave the stores on Boxing Day.

Today we just lounged around and played with the gifts we got yesterday.  My oldest has already finished one of her books.  My middle has since learned a couple of magic tricks.  And my youngest has been in heaven building Lego.  I am nearly done my Lego set as well- I’m never going to grow up.

If you did hit the stores today with your gift cards and money, I hope you treated the store clerks nicely.  Not everyone had a chance to be home today.  Just because Christmas has come and gone, it doesn’t mean we should stop being kind to one another.

Christmas Morning


Well, maybe not as much as it once was.  Our children have grown up to an age that they allowed us to sleep in until 8am.  Unwrapping gifts was a pleasure.  Everyone remained calm and there was lots of smiles and joy.  This year all the lovely women in my life received the gift of music.  

Our youngest daughter was super excited about her vintage turntable.  Now she can pull out our old vinyls from the 80’s.  We also gave her a Nightmare Before Christmas Album with images printed directly on the records.  

Our oldest received her first acoustic guitar.  She had been sneaking some practice time on her younger sister’s electric one earlier in the year-which caused a few good fights.  So I took her out to the music store and asked her to find one she liked.  She surprised me by finding an acoustic one.  This morning, after almost all of the gifts were opened, she had a bit of disappointment on her face until I moved a blanket that had covered her new instrument.  I’m not saying she wasn’t happy with what she had already unwrapped- but she knew she was going to get this.  I think she was just waiting for it.

For my wife I bought her a bass guitar and amp.  She wasn’t expecting it.  But the joy on her face when she opened it was awesome.

She has since been Instagraming photos of her new instrument.  I hope she learns to play!

We also received a bunch of Lego as a family (somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 pieces when added up!)  There were lots of books and I received a bounty of craft beers.

Our children made some lovely paintings as gifts to my wife and I.  Encouraging their artistic side is something we love to do.  I have kept a bunch of their art as well as hung it up to display.

It was a funtastic morning.  In all my hurriedness last night to put out gifts, I forgot an entire bag full of gifts for my wife.  Oops.  So we opened them with her just before breakfast (which was at 1pm).

We are off for a walk now to talk about Christmas and spend some more time together for Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas from us goofballs!

My Christmas Traditions

Everyone who celebrates this season has a set of traditions.  We have many that evolved over the years.  I’m going to quickly share them.  (Most involve food and drinks).

Boozy Christmas Tree

On mornings that I don’t work throughout December- my coffee enjoys a touch of Bailey’s or Kahluha.  Then I enjoy the coffee.

A couple weeks into December, we decorate our kids’ trees as we play “Yule Be Wiggling” by The Wiggles.  It’s something that the kids love dancing to and decorating at the same time.  It’s been a lot of fun- so we keep it up.  We have three trees that get decorated.  Each year, our children take turns putting the Star on the special Christmas tree.  This is the central tree in our living room that the precious ornaments adorn and gifts go under.  

Throughout the month, I play Christmas music through the house and we take time to watch Christmas movies. We always save our favorite for the last. “A Christmas Story”.  

There are a few other kid’s movies that we still watch like “The Powerpuff Girls: ‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas.”  No matter how much the kids grow up, these movies are still fun to watch.

We bake cookies for about a week before the big day.  If we make them too soon- they get eaten before we make it to Christmas.

Christmas Eve is also filled with cleaning.  It’s the last chance to have a perfect home.  Then comes the cooking.

My father’s Fancy Sandwiches

Every Christmas Eve morning, I awake early to bake a couple of loaves of fresh bread.  Then in the afternoon I make what my father called “Fancy Sandwiches”.  We enjoy a couple of them in the late afternoon in order to suppress our hunger until later in the evening.  Saving a dozen or so for lunch the next day.

Our Christmas Eve Dinner is pretty basic. My wife prepares potato salad and I make the schnitzel.  The biggest difference for our Christmas Eve dinner is that we make Liver Ball Soup as an opener.  Not everyone likes liver, but this is really quite tasty.  Once a year tasty…

The night ends with the kids happily going to bed with excited anticipation for the following morning.  

Those are our traditions leading up to the Big Day.  They don’t seem like much, but my family loves every bit of it.  

So from my family to yours- have a safe a wonderful holiday.

Merry Christmas.


I’ve never attended an NHL game before.  I’ve watched an occasional game on tv from time to time.  I’m partial to the Olympic Games and love how Canada kicks butt.  Last night an old friend took me to my first NHL game.  Canucks vs. Jets.

I had to say “yes” because it has been months since I’ve hung out with my old buddy.  He’s been my friend since we were 13.  I met him in grade 8 band class.  We’ve both been kind of dorky- he’s good at solving Rubik’s cube in a few seconds, I am a Sci-Fi nerd.  Our common ground was that we both owned a Sega Genesis and we played NHL ’91.  That’s my connection with my friend and hockey.  I also had to say “yes” because it was Penthouse seats.

The seats were amazing.  We sat above everyone else.  There was free food offered up throughout the game.  Food that was trendy and tasty: lamb, quinoa, kale salad, lobster, sushi and desserts galore.  It was full VIP treatment.  And everyone was super friendly.

The game itself was fairly uneventful.  Canucks up by the end of the first period 1-0.  But at the end of the second period a 1-1 tie with The Jets.  The energy in the building dropped as the period ended.  This caused The Jets taking control in the third period.  Hometown team- Canucks lost.

But it was fun.  Win or lose, I had a good time with an old friend.  Maybe I will see more games in the future.  Maybe next time our team will win.

Crazy Rush

I always try and have everything set for the holidays a couple of days in advance.  Today is my own personal cut off day for shopping until after December 27th.  If I can avoid malls and shops for the next five days (or longer) I’ll be a happy man.  It’s totally doable.  

Gift purchases are long since done.  95% of them are even wrapped and ready for under the tree.  This was mostly done by my wife this year since I took on my new role at work.  A huge sigh of relief has come over me- knowing that I won’t need to hit a Walmart for that last minute gift.  Today was just loading up on groceries from Costco for the next few days.  Meat and cheeses were the main deals.  Now it’s time to focus on baking a few batches of cookies over the next couple days.

Only once did I ever brave the mall on a Christmas Eve to do some shopping.  I was 17 at the time and had just gotten paid.  I called a female friend come with me as I searched for a gift for my parents.  It was sort of date and magical in a sense.  We shared stories of our Christmas traditions and childhood Christmases.  We walked arm in arm through the stores as she helped me find something of value to gift my parents.  I found a set of glassware that was in my budget and seemed like a responsible gift.  I drove my friend home, gave her a hug and wished her a Merry Christmas.  

At the time, I was too shy to make a romantic move on her.  It just wasn’t meant to be.  We are still online friends to this day and she has a wonderful family.  I saw her last year in person at a Christmas craft fair and she still seems happy as ever.  She has a spot in my heart with a special memory of Christmas Eve.

Happy Winter Solstice 

‘Tis the season!

Today is the first day of winter!  The one day of the year that has the least amount of daylight and the most amount of darkness in the northern hemisphere.  The Winter Solstice was originally celebrated by many religions and pagans prior to Christmas taking over.  In fact many Christmas traditions derived from the Winter Solstice.

Today I shall be driving through the Mountains of British Columbia.  I will be enjoying the daylight- as short as it may be.  Tomorrow, the days will slowly start to feel longer as we begin our journey towards the Summer Solstice.

Even though I may be an atheist, I still enjoy celebrating the Winter Solstice on Christmas Day.  Many of the traditions are a wonderful way of keeping history alive.  It makes sense to me to celebrate around the same time as the majority of those around us.  Have yourselves a great first day of winter.

Happy Winter Solstice to you!

Hot Toys

Being a child throughout the 80’s I saw many fads and toys become popular.  I was too young to appreciate the Star Wars toy debacle of 1977.  My first brush with this phenomenon wasn’t a toy for me, but rather my younger sister.  

In 1982, my little sister wanted a rub-a-dub doggie for Christmas.  It was a plastic dog with fabric ears that came with a bone shaped sponge.  The gimmick?  On his collar was a lever that you moved back and forth making the dog shake his head causing the wet ears to swing.  Water flew everywhere.  Great bathtub toy to give a toddler.  

My father did his best to get this toy for my sister.  In a time of no cellular phones or internet, my father used the resources he had readily available.  He had an associate from Chicago bring one out during a business meeting in Edmonton.  And the toy dog was there, under the tree for her on Christmas morning.

The following year, Cabbage Patch Kids hit the stores causing mass riots.  A few years later, Teddy Ruxpin caused an uproar as the talking teddy bear that would move his mouth and blink while telling you a story.

Tickle This

1996 had the Christmas of Tickle Me Elmo.  Or as was commonly dubbed- “Tackle Me Elmo” as Store had them flying off shelves and people trying to sell them for $1500 each.  Two years later- Furby hit the stores.

This year sees Hatchimals as the toy to have (and the Nintendo NES Mini as a close second).  But reading online how a child’s Christmas “will be ruined” if they don’t get one is absolutely bonkers in my mind.

There’s many more toys that have been huge hits over the years that have been highly sought after- Super Soakers, Ataris, Tamagotchi, the list goes on.  One of my favorite toys from my childhood was a tiny plastic race track and a tiny car that I played with all of the Christmas break. It was probably bought at a dollar store, but I loved it.

Everyone has heard this before.

But not getting a toy won’t “ruin” Christmas.  Unfortunately, not everyone thinks like I do.  Toys and Christmas go hand in hand.  But it shouldn’t be the only thing.  Sometimes just having an extra day with the kids can be gift enough.  Kids will get over not getting the hottest toy.  I look back at Christmas with fondness.  It was the one time a year that my father was around.  He made delicious meals and we all watched tv together.  

Those memories have lasted longer than any toy has.  I hope my children also feel the same towards me.  



You can hear this word in TV shows, movies, even children speaking to adults. The overuse of the word is becoming an epidemic and everyone should become aware of this problem.

“Actually” is now becoming the most annoying word in the English language. It has taken over for the previous annoyance from the word “like”. People are often using this word in an attempt to sound more impressive and intelligent- usually during a discussion or argument.

Don’t get me wrong, this adverb should still be used in moderation. Actually, I use it quite often in my speech as well. It just tends to sound better than “like” or “uh” and “um”. But the overuse has got to stop. I urge everyone out there to help put an end to this problem.

Perhaps we can use another language to express the word:

Arabic: فِي الوَاقِع، فِي الحَقِيقَة، فِعْلاً
Chinese (Simplified): 实际上
Chinese (Traditional): 實際上
Czech: skutečně, opravdu
Danish: faktisk; faktiskt; virkelig; virkeligt
Dutch: echt
Estonian: tõepoolest
Finnish: todella
French: réellement
German: wirklich
Greek: πραγματικά, όντως
Hungarian: valóban
Icelandic: raunverulega
Indonesian: benar-benar, sebenarnya
Italian: in realtà; veramente, realmente
Japanese: 実際に
Korean: 정말로
Latvian: īstenībā; patiesībā
Lithuanian: iš tikrųjų
Norwegian: egentlig, faktisk
Polish: rzeczywiście, faktycznie
Portuguese (Brazil): realmente
Portuguese (Portugal): na realidade
Romanian: într-adevăr
Russian: действительно
Slovak: skutočne, naozaj
Slovenian: v resnici
Spanish: en realidad, realmente
Swedish: verkligen, faktiskt
Turkish: gerçekten, hakikaten

Because together, we can benar-benar make a difference.

I’m Going to Share My Ingeniusness

I have an early Christmas Gift that I wish to share with all of my friends who have more than one child.  Please share this wisdom with your friends as well.

Having one child at Christmas is a blessing.  Pretty much everything is for that child.  The same was for our first daughter.  All of the gifts were hers!

When our second daughter was born, we ran into a dilemma.  We now have two girls in the house who are only about two years apart in age.  Sharing toys was about to get hectic.  And unwrapping Christmas gifts was going to be a challenge.  Putting their names on the gifts wasn’t going to help, since reading wasn’t really an option.

So, I came up with the most ingenious of ideas- I colour coded the gifts.


Yes.  Our oldest- Random- her gifts were wrapped in red paper.  Our other daughter- Darwin- her gifts were wrapped in green paper.  

Pure genius.

Then the inevitable happened two years later.  We had a third child.  Luckily for us, there is an entire rainbow of colours to choose from.  So our son- Theory- would get all of his gifts wrapped in blue paper.  Santa gave them a letter explaining this on Theory’s first Christmas.  

Years later, we still follow this rule.  Our children have gotten accustomed to not seeing nametags on gifts.  They just go for the colour that is for them.

For family gifts- we use silver or gold paper.  

Some days I just have to pat myself on the back for this idea.  

Merry Christmas!

If You Could See Yourself Through My Eyes

Earlier this week our oldest daughter had an opportunity to get her hair dyed professionally at no charge.  She agreed to it, so we went and got it done for her.  It turned out far better than I could have imagined.  I may be a biased father, but she looks really pretty.  But it’s hard to get her to understand that.  She just feels that it’s dad being nice.  See for yourself- this is our fourteen year old:

Rainbow hair dye.

As young teenagers- those of us who remember it- finding your identity was difficult.  Trying to figure out where you fit in, what clothes to wear, what music to enjoy, and so on.  I don’t think it has changed much, as I am now bearing witness to my children enter into young adulthood.  It’s fascinating to watch.  But not always enjoyable to be nearby.

I love my kids.  Sometimes, on those rare occasions, a magical thing happens.  Those moments disappear.  Suddenly my babies aren’t babies anymore.  Suddenly they have aged- right before my eyes.  It catches me off guard.  I don’t want them to grow up.  I don’t want them to lose sight of laughter and compassion.  They don’t always have to be serious.  Life is a game.  A game that can be a lot of fun.
Our oldest took a chance on getting a new hairstyle.  I think it paid off.  Even two days later, the magical unicorn named “Happy the Teenager” is still around. I hope this version remains until New Years.

One can only wish.

Christmas Cards?

Today we received 3 Christmas cards.  One from my mother, one from my aunt and uncle in Glasgow, and one from a customer that my work deals with.  

I’m still expecting a card from our financial advisor and our mortgage broker.  Earlier this month I received a card from my boss.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiments.  But it’s odd that every year, our Christmas Card collection gets smaller.  The only other card we received is from some friends who have a great sense of humor.  I am beginning to think that the art of giving cards is dead.  A big part I have found is the cost of cards being sold by the big companies.  Another part is because we are busier as technology and life moves past us.  I would make my own if I had time.  I like to buy from craft fairs and support small biz.

We used to send out cards every year along with a letter about our family.  I don’t know when it stopped.  But it did.  In this day and age, there’s no need to wait a few days for a letter to arrive.

In the end, this year we sent zero cards.  Please enjoy my generic text I will copy and send sometime between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

For now, enjoy Jon Lajoie as he sings.

New Car Smell

I was so happy to get my new car. It was bought and paid for on Monday.  I drove it to pick up my kids on Tuesday afternoon. That evening we drove as a family to their Christmas Concert.  The leather interior promoted a very strong new car smell.  Our one daughter described it as “smelling like Gramma’s car”.  Note 1: My mother takes very good care of her vehicles- that they smell like they are brand new years later.  Or she buys a new car constantly and I just never caught on…  But the new car smell doesn’t last forever.  In fact, I think my kids are pretty determined to change it in my car.

After the Orchestra Concert that our daughters performed at on Tuesday night, I decided to drive the family around and look at Christmas lights.  Of course I wanted to- I had just bought a new car!  We all sat down in the car and the heat warmed us quickly as we headed away from the auditorium in search of some lights.  Within moments, a peculiar odor emerged.  Turns out that my wife’s daughter farted as soon as she sat down.  Note 2:  As with most couples- our kids are often referred to as the other one’s kid when something goes wrong.  Or in this case, sullied the air that we breathe!

After opening our windows and letting the stink cloud out- as well as all of the heat in the car- the New Car smell began to break through again.  Hooray for leather seats!  We continued on our journey finding Christmas lights on our way home so we decided to take a detour and check out our local park.  

“Christmas in Williams Park” is celebrating 26 years of the event.  Lights, time, and effort are all donated to the event.  To view it is by donation.  Not $20/person like some of the bigger events around Vancouver.  So don’t expect much.  But it’s good for the kids, plus you drive through it.  Yay!  Keeping warm and enjoying my new ride.

We left the park and we were about five minutes from home when my son, who was sitting in the back middle seat of the car, announced that he was feeling sick.  I assumed he just didn’t want to go to school the next day so I told him we’d be home soon and he could go to bed. 

A few seconds later he warned me again.  Then came the sound.  The sound of vomit being stopped by his hands.  The sound of puke spraying out of his mouth and trying to squeeze past his fingers.  The screams of fear from our daughters on either side of him.  Oh the noises in my new car.

I remained calm and pulled over.  Put on the hazard lights and fumbled to unlock the doors.  Our oldest quickly jumped from her seat, pointed out that the car smells like barf and announced that she was going to be sick now.  My wife’s son (see Note 2), who still had his hand over his mouth, struggled to undo his seatbelt. So our other daughter -the one now called farty pants- who was still in the car tried to help him.  He got out of the car finally and moved his hand to release the vomit he was holding from his mouth onto the side of the road.

My wife was on the side of the road with him, helping to clean him up.  As much as I could have lost my cool, yelled, and thrown a fit, I felt bad for my son.  So, I calmly wiped up the couple of spots from the car- again Yay for leather!  And we got back into the car and made our way home.  My poor new car.  Not even in my possession for a day and two of the three kids attempted to “mark their territory”.

The next morning, I went to my car to warm it up- I was sure it would smell like an after party.  I opened the door, and it hit me like a wave.  New car smell was back!

Miracles really do happen.

Snowmageddon 2016

A friend of mine, from two lifetimes ago, shared a news article mentioning the great snowstorm of Vancouver back in 1996.  I remember that one.  Sort of.  Here’s what I do remember:

  • There was a lot of snow.
  • There was a lot of drinking.
  • There was a lot of stupidity.

Man were we stupid.  My sister’s boyfriend at the time had a 4×4 truck.  I had a sled, a rope and some beers in me.  Out on the snow covered main roads we went.  I was dragged behind the truck riding a plastic sled drinking a beer in nothing but jeans and a t-shirt.  Straight through a red light at full speed, followed by a sudden turn and brakes being slammed.  Before skidding under his truck, I leaned to the side and flipped over.  Thank goodness for the fresh foot of snow on the roads.

A few days later was New Year’s Eve.  I was sick with the flu- maybe something to do with the sled and not being dressed for the weather.  But, we still had a party at our home because my parents were snowed in elsewhere at the time.  Even though I was sick, I still drank in excess.  It was the best/worst New Year’s ever.  Hot NeoCitran and sparkling wine make for a unique cocktail.  One that I have never gone for again.

The snow this year isn’t nearly as bad as we’ve had it in the past.  Sure, it sucks to get around in.  But my kids love it.  Most kids love it.  I love it.  It reminds me of my childhood in Edmonton.  I’m ok that we only get these snowfalls every few years.  Usually we suffer through rain.  The man-child inside of me is hoping that we have a true white Christmas this year.  That always adds beauty to the moments.

Being young and dumb in the snow is great fun.

Artificially Yours

Alive vs Artificial.  Trees.  I’m not going to use the terms “real” or “fake” because both are physically there, not imaginary.

Yes, this debate still goes on.  There are many facets that are involved in the debate.  Personally, we have artificial trees-yes plural.  (My wife loves decorated trees.)  Our reason is the simple fact that our allergies and asthma don’t flare up.  The smell of a living tree would ruin my Christmas because I’d need a Kleenex box strapped to my face the entire season.  Where as I’m only bothered by the dust for about a day when we first unbox our trees.  

The most common question asked: Is owning a plastic tree better for the environment than cutting down a living tree?  

We live nearby to about a dozen “Christmas Tree” farms.  All of them are hopping this time of year.  To me, I’m surprised that so many trees are sold without the root ball.  I know that some people attempt to re-plant their tree.  But most just turf them out with the recycling and yard waste.  I’m not an environmentalist, but that’s a lot of perfectly healthy trees getting cut down for a couple weeks enjoyment.

Artificial trees aren’t exactly eco-friendly either.  They are made from all sorts of plastics, metals and chemicals.  They are pretty much “perfect” when you first get one.  But over the years, they start to look ragged and decrepit.  Only to be tossed out with the garbage one Christmas and get replaced with another one.  

Pretty sure the landfill isn’t the best place for your memorable Christmas tree.  But what choice do you have if you want to keep tradition alive in your home?  Having no tree isn’t really an option.  As we finish decorating our third tree, I don’t have an answer for this.

Instead, I’ll just play ignorant and continue to do what I always do.  Set up the tree, throw on some lights and baubles, and enjoy the Christmas Spirit.

Here are the local places near me if you are still needing a live tree:

Giesbrechts Tree Farm
Churchland Tree Farm
Frosty’s (sold out for the year)
Even Krause Berry Farms has a full on Christmas section now.

Changing It Up

Today I start a new journey.  One that I feel better suits me and my skill sets.  My current employer offered me an opportunity to change my work path into more of a career path.  After much deliberation and discussion with family and friends, I have taken a leap of faith into a more challenging role.

I’m not getting any younger.  I have children growing up and I want to deliver the best that life has to offer to them.  Be it a good education, travel, or just the necessities of life.  For the first time in what feels like years, we decided to celebrate my new journey.

My wife took me (and the family) out for dinner at Milestones.  Very fitting considering I’m reaching a new milestone in my life.  I haven’t been to this restaurant for a meal since we moved from our last home over a decade ago.  The food was tasty and the service was fantastic.  It was a nice treat for the family.  

Since I went rogue from my previous position and joined management, my expenses have changed and some money opened up.  Time for me to finally get a new vehicle.

I bought a new 2016 Nissan Rogue SL…  It looks like an angry Storm Trooper.  Tomorrow afternoon, it will be gracing our driveway.  Finally, a little bit of luxury for my drive to and from work.

As I further my journey over the next year from the title of Yardmaster to Trainmaster, I hope to still remain friends with those who matter most.  I understand that it’s not easy being friends with the boss or management.  But I know that in my journey through life, many people will grace me with their presence.  Many will stay connected with me.  Many more will just be passing through.  

With those thoughts in my mind, I have chosen to do what’s best for me and my family.  No one else could make the decision for me.  I believe it is the right pathway towards the betterment of my family.

Die Hard IS A Christmas Movie

Over the past few years, I’ve been enjoying the memes on the interwebs that tell me Die Hard is a Christmas movie.  Originally as a joke- I’m now beginning to agree that it is going to be a Christmas Classic.

This is only the second (maybe third) Christmas that I have watched Die Hard at Christmas.  The film holds up, despite its age.  It is a lot of fun.  Maybe not the best film for my ten year old to watch- even though he has watched a few other questionable shows/films growing up already.  (He wanted a Walking Dead birthday cake a few years ago of zombies eating a horse like in season one…)

The first time I watched Die Hard was in Grade 8.  It was at a friend’s house for his birthday party.  We watched Die Hard, then went to do paintball.  That was also the one and only time I did paint balling in my life.  I sucked at it.  Not that it really mattered much since I went through most of my ammo in practice…  I didn’t realize that it wasn’t like playing NES and you didn’t have unlimited shots to fire.  Thirteen year old boy logic at its finest.

Now that I have watched Die Hard a few times since then, I really do feel it is a Christmas movie.  But for me it is because of the memories I have of the times I spent with my old friends growing up.  I am still friends with my buddy on Facebook and we share stories and comments on there.  We drifted apart as high school progressed because I changed schools.  It’s strange though that his humor and my humor are very similar, and that we have both done many great things in our lives.  Still, my strongest memory of being his friend is watching Die Hard.

Now to watch my other favorite Christmas Classic (that probably shouldn’t be considered a Christmas movie)- Gremlins.

Nerves of Steel

The Lower Mainland’s first big snowfall of the season and we had to head out to a Choir night.  We left our home early and it seems everyone else did as well.  We arrived early at the Theater and made our way past the entry.  We may have budged in line a bit, but standing by the doors that remained open wasn’t my idea of fun.  The children went up to the balcony entrance as the parents waited for the orchestra doors to open.

Thirty minutes before the performance, the crowd murmurs into the auditorium.  My wife and I sat about ten rows back in hopes to view the entire stage.  Backstage the children do a last minute rehearse and practice to get the jitters out.  Last chance to keep it together before the performance.  Back to the audience- the remnants of the stragglers are taking their seats while voices and laughter echo throughout.  A mic gives feedback and the crowd goes silent for a moment.  The lights dim.  The show was about to begin.

Introductions of the choirs is over and the singing commences.  The Fine Arts school that my children attend goes from Grade One all the way through to Grade Twelve.  And there is talent.  Amazing talent by both the children and the teachers.

I’m proud of the accomplishments my children have made over the years.  They have pushed themselves beyond their comfort zones and have begun to shine.

I also enjoyed the diversity of the Choir Night.  From Traditional Spirtual songs to Appalachian Folk Songs.  A Zulu Struggle song and an Orchestra accompaniment with the choir.

It was a lovely night.  I am looking forward to it every year now.


Sleeping is my favorite pastime.  Having a comfortable bed is awesome.  My wife knows that if I climb into bed for a “nap” it will last minimum four hours.  We also own a couch long enough for me to lay across and still have room for the kids to sit and watch tv.  I even wrote a blog post about taking naps. It’s titled Naps.  <–Check it out.  Falling asleep for me doesn’t take much.  Maybe I’ll share my secrets one day.

Onto today’s topic: Pajamas.

Sears bringing wishes to life for years.

Yesterday I was looking for pictures of our backyard ice rink when I stumbled across some photos of Christmas from long ago. Thirty years ago I had a set of red Winnie The Pooh pjs direct from Sears. Anyone else remember the Sears Wish Book? That was our way of searching for toys and goodies pre-internet.  We must have gotten that book for two decades, my wife and I even picked them up on occasion once having kids.  I remember my mother would be on the phone calling in codes and confirming shipping back in September in hopes that us children would still like those gifts when they arrived under the Christmas tree.  One year I got pjs that I loved.

Winnie the Pooh PJs and Hockey totally make me look cool.

They were red, even though I wanted blue, but I loved the crap out of them.  They zipped all the way up from the inside of my heel to my neck.  They had feet!  Footed pjs with little grips on the bottom.  I could run around the kitchen linoleum and not slip.  As I grew (like most children) I was wearing these pjs for months until my mother had to cut off the feet and add an elastic because I didn’t want to give them up.  Even the Winnie the Pooh emblem had begun peeling off before this happened.  But once the footies were gone, so was my love for them.

Years passed.  As I grew up- I went through pajama suits, to just wearing boxers, pajama pants, even sleeping naked.  Long before having children mind you- those rascals always know when you are indecent and they want to talk.  But I never again owned a onesie with feet until a couple of years ago.

A couple of years ago, I was walking through the local mall and saw that they made adult pj onesies with feet!  I bugged my wife to stop, tried some on, and was so excited about them.  But Christmas was coming up and I didn’t want to buy them- just in case Santa was going to bring them for me.

He didn’t.

I was a bit upset.  But that’s ok.  My wife explained that she hated the pjs.  However, three months later on my birthday- my middle daughter gave me my first pair of adult onesie pjs!  I put them on with excitement.  I even showed off the bum flap!


I love these pjs.  My wife hates them.  So I am only wearing them as I sleep during the days as I rest for my night shift.  I had to forgo “Sexy” for “Comfort” in this time off chilly winter weather.  Plus, I really like how soft they are.  Fleece is so warm.  Now every December I bring them out only for a couple of months.  I want them to last for years.  

But not just to spite my wife- these pjs are like a warm hug that brings back memories of a simpler time.  A time when videogames had one button and four colours.  A time when telephones had cords.  A time when Santa was a creepy smelly man in the mall who really did smoke a pipe.

Ice Ice Baby

Skating is pretty much second nature to most of us Canadians.  That and snowshoeing to the grocery store to buy ice for our igloos.  Ok, I jest.  Our fridges make ice, we don’t need to buy it.

I’ve mentioned in the past about my son being in speed skating.  Feel free to read about it: My Son- The Future Olympian.  But I never talked about my personal skating experience.  When I was a boy- younger than what my son is now- I learned how to skate in my backyard.

Yes, some parts of Canada allow for an ice rink to be made in literally our own backyards.  My father would packdown the snow on our lawn with a board and build up an edge of snow all around.  He would stand outside with the hose for about a week straight every evening creating ice.  Each night, he would come inside for a coffee and a quick warm up, then back out.  This often lasted for a few hours.  I would watch him from the upstairs kitchen window until the darkness overcame the outdoors.  After the first year, my father invested in flood lights so we could skate well into the night.  Or until we froze our toes and fingertips.  Frostbite among Edmontonians was a right of passage.  My ears have felt the burn in the past.

My father, proud of his accomplishment, would invite the neighborhood kids (and the parents) for a skating party.  There was hot apple cider and hot chocolate served in styrofoam cups.  Laughs and fun would be had for a few hours.  Hockey sticks and pucks a plenty remained in our yard every winter.

Father/son time. Photographic proof that my dad hung out with me.

My father taught me how to skate.  I remember how tight he would pull the laces on my skates, even with his frozen hands.  After learning the basics of hockey he would play pass with me.  We had a few late nights with the white, red and green flood lights shining down on us as we skated around.

Memories of my father aren’t always good.  But the winter season and Christmas meant a lot to him.  This year, as I have written my blog, I have shown who I pictured my father to be.  Good and bad- I do miss him.  Sometimes I wonder what kind of grandfather he would have made.  He would probably still be out there with his thumb over the end of the hose, creating a shimmering glass sheet of ice waiting for the children to mark it up with their blades.

Lights!  Lights!  And More Lights!

I love the night time.  I always have.  It’s part of the reason I am ok working the nighshift.  There’s something beautiful about the artificial lighting that we put on to see.  When we do road trips, I’m the one who does the late night driving as well.  Something soothing and calming about city lights on the horizon as they close in.

Neon lights are also some of my favorite things.  I used to want my name written in a neon light- Joe that’d be cool.  Or maybe some old arcade neon like Atari.  But I do own a couple neon lamps that were once in my man cave, but are now stored away.  I should bring them out again sometime.  But now there are Christmas lights out.  Everywhere.

Remember glass bulbs?

When I was a child, I used to lay in my bed and stare at the Christmas lights outside my window.  Sometimes I’d leave my NHL hockey team curtains open to watch as I fell asleep.  I have no idea why I had NHL curtains and matching bedding.  I was never into sports.

In the time of glass bulbs and frigid days, sometimes there’d be a light or two that twinkled at random from the eaves.  Out on the streets, at every home you looked upon, there’d also be a bulb burnt out at some point.  In the frigid temperatures of Edmonton, Alberta- people would be in too much of a hurry after work to get into the warmth of their home than bother changing a bulb.  It was also neat to see the paint peel off of a bulb as the season went on.

Over the past decade or so, LED lights are everywhere.  Brighter colours, longer lasting, and no need to change a single bulb anymore.  And cheaper to run!  One of our first electrical bills after putting up old bulbs was nearly four times higher than our regular bill.

I put our outside lights up a month ago in order to avoid the rain and cold that Vancouver has to offer before winter arrives.  

Decorations set up.

This week, I have put up the garland and lights inside our home.  Everything is getting festive.  Our four trees (yes four full sized artificial trees) are set up with lights and ready to be adorned with ornaments this weekend.  Decorating in stages.  By next Wednesday, everything should be ready to rock until mid January.

The first few years of being with my wife, she would send me out on Christmas Eve with her brothers to drive around and look at the Christmas displays.  Mind you, these were full grown adults who just wanted to get out of the house for a cigarette and make fun of my driving.  A couple threats of “You better treat our sister really good- or else”.  I think this was in jest at the time, but I’m a tad afraid to leave my wife- even sixteen years after meeting her.  My wife and I kept the tradition up of taking our kids out to see people’s displays.

This season, we are planning on heading out again to see the lights.  Every year, people are getting more and more creative.  I love it.  It’s always fun.  Here’s a classic video of one of the first homes to set music to their lights- thus dawning the next generation of Griswolds.

Trans Siberian Orchestra 2009