Last week I mentioned how we bought a couple of kayaks. (Read about it here: Ack Ack Kayak.) On Saturday this week, my wife and I finally took them out for the inaugural testing.
After a bunch of online searching to find a good first spot to kayak, we ended up at Blackie Spit down at Crescent Beach in White Rock. I woke up early and secured the kayaks to the roof of my Rogue. But it wouldn’t be for another couple of hours before we would depart. We made it to White Rock by 12:15pm and hit the water pretty soon after. I was shocked at how few people were at the beach today.
My wife and I paddled around the harbor and pier. Our two youngest came to the beach with us and found themselves a spot to hang out. After an hour or so on the water, my wife and I met up with our kids and they took a turn on the water. Once they were done, my wife and I paddled back to a spot closer to my car and the kids walked over.
Once at the car, everyone pitched in to get the kayaks on the roof and secured up. The parking lot was getting busy and people were filling up every available spot. I figured we should get going home so that someone else could take my spot.
All-in-all it was a fantastic day. I hope to explore more places while out on the kayaks. For now though, I’m kinda stiff and sore using muscles I had no idea I had.
I took my daughter to the local craft store yesterday and I ended up buying some black canvases for the both of us. In exchange for me giving her a couple of canvases- she lets me use her acrylic paints and borrow her brushes. I’m not an amazing artist, but I enjoy experimenting a bit.
As I blended colours and tried to make my own version of the aurora borealis- I enjoyed the mix of whites and greens on the black background. Blending blues and purples to create the night sky added to my joy. When painting- I always see where I could improve. But I also have to know when to stop. Sometimes less is more, right?
I have some plans for the other canvases I bought and I hope they turn out. My daughter has chosen to make an outer space image which she is really proud of so far. Using a black canvas is different than a typical white. It really makes lighter colours pop.
Do you enjoy painting? Ever use black canvases? Or do you have any tips for using acrylic paints? Let me know in the comments section!
The majority of my blogs are of my children and my current family life. That’s because I work hard at being the father I always wanted growing up. That being said, I don’t always write flattering pieces about my father. How I saw him is exactly that- how I saw him. Which brings me to the other person who raised me- My Mother.
My mother is a very private person and doesn’t like having her life shared online. So it is rare that I mention her (or my sister for that matter) in my blogs. I respect that she doesn’t want the world hearing about her. I’m sneaking today’s blog in about her because she is here visiting us for a couple of days.
“Gramma” as my kids call her- lives alone on Vancouver Island. Gramma is retired and has a small dog named Jodie living with her. We see my mother about twice a year for a short burst of about two or three days. My kids make an effort to hang out with her because of the brevity of these visits. I encourage it as well. Sometimes my kids will try and get Gramma to tell them stories of my youth and whether I was a troublemaker or not. Sometimes the kids fight over playing with Jodie.
In the end the visits are the perfect length of time. They are just long enough that my mother and I don’t get on each other’s nerves. Plus my family goes at a much faster pace than she does. What with all the activities my children do- we are almost always on the go. My mother has a tough time trying to keep up. She needs to return home to rest after a whirlwind visit at our place.
A while back I mentioned how I think that Graffiti is Art. I still believe this. But over the past few years, I haven’t seen much in the way of new art. Until this week at work. Some of the new grain hoppers my work has brought in have been tagged out in the Prairies. Naturally I took some photos.
Obviously there is some raw talent out there. I noticed many of these artists tend to write their “Alias Name” on the cars. I love the shading and use of colours to make the image POP off the cars.
Sometimes the cars are humorous in what is written as well. Or a bit offensive. But it’s an expression of the artist at the time. I understand that what these people are doing is illegal. On a moving canvas that garners more views as they travel back and forth across the country- I’d rather see that instead of tags on someone’s backyard fence or on the wall of a small business.
I encourage the expression of art in many forms. In fact, our daughter is attempting some graffiti as well, but on a canvas with acrylics. She has a ways to go, and she may not continue with this style. And that’s totally fine. At least she’s expressing herself artistically.
Last night was a celebration of the end of our son’s Grade Seven year. There was a couple slideshows. The first slideshow was a “Before and Now” where there was a picture of the kids from being babies/toddlers to present day. The kids had good laughs as they called out the names of the baby pictures.
Following the slideshow was an introduction of each child and a small blurb about favorite memories and future plans. The kids walked across the stage to shake hands with their teachers and vice principal, pausing for a photo op before returning to the audience. The only picture I was able to get of our son- he had his eyes closed. Of course.
After all the kids were introduced, the parents who chaperoned the camp where brought on stage. We were each given a handmade thank you card from the cabin group we were in charge of. This was followed up with a slideshow of the adventures from camp was shared. Pictures and videos were set to music expressing the adventures with a bit of sorrow as the realization that these kids aren’t going to be kids much longer.
After the “ceremony” we mingled amongst the parents enjoying snacks and sharing memories. There was some tears and laughs as the kids and parents hung out. It was a great evening that I was glad to attend and be a part of.
My job usually has me sitting in front of a computer for 80% of the day. Meaning I get short bursts during my regular 12 hour shifts to get away for a moment or two. During these breaks from the office I go out into the yard and talk to the on duty crews.
Over the past few weeks while at work (minus my vacation in there) I have been training a new supervisor. This week I have been letting him do the office work while I go out into the yard. I have enjoyed this tremendously. I have spent far longer with the crews than I usually do. Many of the crews have known me for years, so they seem to appreciate when I make a valiant effort to see how things are going. This has created a better morale instead of me being a dictator of sorts.
I take great pleasure and pride in my work. I think it also shows in my work ethic as well. Getting my hands dirty like the crews do helps demonstrate that I know how the jobs should be accomplished. Sometimes I even learn new ways of doing things. It keeps me on my toes.
Having an older home with minimal closet and storage space can make it challenging to save stuff. We do have some buildings on our property that have been used for storage. But two of the three are old and dilapidated. One is an old garden shed where a tree fell on it a few years back. So we moved everything from there to an old playhouse. The other is a woodshed/small barn/workshop. Unfortunately that has a rotten roof and back wall.
This past weekend I went into the barn and began to take some of our belongings out. It was obvious from the moment I got in there that rodents have made homes in the upper part. Not too surprising considering we live in the country with squirrels, raccoons, and all sorts of small furry creatures. Most of our stuff was left untouched- which was good. It also didn’t look like we had to much left to move out.
It wasn’t until I got everything into our home that I realized how wrong I was.
My wife and I saved our children’s collection of “Little People”. Three kids and about ten years of buying these toys accumulated to a huge collection. Everything from a castle to a circus, an airplane to a zoo- our kids received almost everything imaginable. I remember the kids spending hours playing with them when they were younger.
On Saturday, our fifteen year old daughter decided she wanted to open up every box and play again. This had all three of our kids sharing memories and stories of playing with the toys and watching videos of “Little People” at the same time.
I’m glad my wife and I saved these toys. We will pass them on to our children or (even grandchildren?) one day. From my youth I saved all my LEGO. My sister saved her Barbies and My Little Pony toys. Both my sister and I passed these toys on to our children. It’s a great way to keep memories alive while creating new ones.
What does do you keep from your youth? Or what toys have you kept of your children’s that you can’t wait to pass on? Let me know!
So… I was at the Grade Seven camp a little over a week ago when I tried Kayaking for the first time. I enjoyed it tremendously. My wife hates me because of this.
She hates me because for years now she’s been trying to get me to go kayaking with her. When I finally did go on a whim without her, I wanted to go again. I really should listen to her the first time around…
As I mentioned yesterday- I put on a new Roof Rack on my Nissan Rogue. It was to prepare for the possibility of getting a kayak. My wife finished work at six last night and wanted to go price some kayaks out. I’d been looking online at places and prices earlier in the week, but it was my wife who wanted to go and search for herself. Unfortunately we only went to one place- Canadian Tire. Not my usual place to go shopping- however we do find some great deals on occasion- like our bbq grill about four years ago.
Anyways, window shopping for a kayak turned into buying a kayak. Make that buying two kayaks at a wickedly good price (they had them marked incorrectly but honored the price). These kayaks also came with oars and straps to take them away on the roof of my car. (As reference I found similar ones at Costco by the same manufacturer for $160 more each.)
I’m happy with the purchase to make our lives healthier. We just need to find the time to hit the water together.
And maybe my wife will forgive my ignorance all these years. Or she’ll drown me. Either way- we own a couple of kayaks now!
Today was a day of roof racks. How exciting! One was for my Nissan Rogue. The other was for our Honda Element.
The Rogue was super easy, but super expensive. I shopped around to find crossbars, however it seems that Nissan Dealers all charge the same. $350 after taxes and five minutes of my labor and the Rogue is ready to start transporting stuff. It does look pretty slick mind you.
The Element was more challenging. Since the vehicle was discontinued a few years ago, accessories aren’t readily available from dealerships or online. So it was time to improvise and see what other people have done. After a couple of YouTube videos and a sense of, “That looks easy.” I took on the challenge.
We had an old display shelf that was the perfect length and the bars are durable. The Element is already boxy, so the square metal tube from the shelf fits in nicely. I hit the hardware section of a few stores to find a metal corner edge, bolts and some pins. I measured out the bracket sizes and cut four pieces with my hacksaw. After filing the edges, I bolted them into the roof. (The Element had bolt holes hidden in the top side panels making it easy to attach these brackets.) I used an angle grinder to slice out the perfect slit in the rails. Then I drilled holes that lined up with the brackets and tested my pins. Everything fit perfectly. Lastly was to remove everything once more and give it the first coat of black paint.
All that’s left is to figure out how to add crossbars in order to retain the durability. So far the roof rack for our Element has cost about $20, some recycled materials, a few fantastic YouTube lessons and a couple of hours of labor. Not too shabby I guess. Plus I really enjoyed working with my hands creating something useful for our car. I can’t wait to see the finished product and go camping!
Living in the countryside means fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available. There’s a place I stop at throughout the summer that has cheap hothouse peppers in red, orange and yellow that are extremely tasty. I love to sauté them on the bbq with a bit of garlic or red onions.
We are also close by to not just one, but two berry farms. I love eating Fresh Berries in the summer. It means that I’ll be making more waffles, smoothies, putting berries in my sparkling wine, toppings for yogurt and ice cream or just eating them straight out of the bowl. Juicy, healthy treats.
Today I stopped by both berry farms. Mainly I wanted to see the difference in quality and price. Krause is all flash with a winery and food available. While Driediger is mainly just berries. Both have U-Pick available which is nice for a morning out with the family. Honestly, even though most people love Krause for its high end look, Driediger has better quality berries that are sweeter and lower in price as well. I do enjoy Krause for a bike ride to sample wine with fruit.
Whichever you choose to hit up, just remember that you’re supporting a local business. Which always adds sweet karma to your meals.
Last year I made a quick bed and storage space for our Honda Element. Read about it here: Camperizing Our Honda Element. I did this design to maximize our storage inside the Element for our camping trips.
Last month I installed a Keyless entry: Keyless Entry Install. At that time I also replaced the tail light super quick since it was cracked.
I want to do more to the car now. I was hoping to add a roof rack. But our local Honda Parts dealer doesn’t carry the crossbars since the vehicle has been discontinued. My next step was to watch videos of people who made their own roof racks and bars. It doesn’t look too difficult, just time consuming to find the parts and put it together. Once done- I’ll be able to put a carrier basket on top or use our car topper again.
To get to the top of the car, I am wanting to add a ladder from Gobi Racks. It is a bit pricey, but fits perfectly on the back of the Element. It will add to the ruggedness look of the car. And add ease to climb up.
Our oldest daughter who will be driving the vehicle the most doesn’t seem impressed with my plans. She thinks it’ll turn into a “Hippy Van”. I’m wanting to keep the car for many years after she is done driving it. Plus, technically it is my wife and I who own it- we will modify it to our choosing. Perhaps some daisy decals and peace signs stickers?
I’m looking forward to camping this summer. I am picking up crossbars for my Nissan Rogue with a hope to purchase a kayak or two in the future. There’s something about living in BC that makes me want to be more outdoorsy. Having roof racks on vehicles makes it easier to transport stuff as well.
I didn’t mention much about my Father’s Day this year. Mostly I was feeling kinda down. I also had to work the night shift that day, so my family left me alone to sleep. However, they didn’t forget about me.
Our two youngest (ages 13 & 15) each made a card for me. They wrote what they felt and it made me happy. My son gave me a gift card and my daughter made a painting for me.
My oldest daughter didn’t do anything like that for me. She brought me a cup of coffee in bed and briskly wished me a “Happy Father’s Day” before rushing off to her job. I still appreciated the sentiment because I am doing my best to treat her as an adult. So her and I talk respectfully to one another.
I know my kids love me. They know I love them as well. I put them before anyone or anything else.
Lately I’ve been enjoying walking. Years ago, I used to walk everywhere. Most of my jobs in the past had me on my feet where I walked a lot.
When I was a projectionist looking after 19 auditoriums- I was spending eight hours a day going back and forth between them.
Working at Home Depot was a bit rougher on my feet since it was a concrete floor. But when it was slow, I wandered around to learn as much DIY as I could.
Chuck E Cheese also had me on my feet keeping track of customers and running food. Plus the occasional dance routine…
Then came CN. Where I would walk miles and miles outdoors every shift. This was by far the best exercise I ever received. Until I started working in the office. Then I became stagnant. That has been the past few years now.
I’ve been missing walking. So my wife is encouraging me daily to get back at it. It has started with walks around the block or parking at the far end of a mall parking lot. Now we are trying to wander through trails and enjoy nature instead of asphalt. I’m starting to enjoy meeting birds on my walks as well.
I make the most of my vacations. My days off are full of fun times and experiences. I came back to work after ten days off this past vacation to find an abundance of emails.
That was probably the hardest part of coming back to work. I enjoy the job itself, but there is often excessive emails that I need to sift through to find what I need to do my job.
Coming back to work and I’m already thinking towards my next vacation. Planning ahead is tough when you’re not sure how much you could spend.
I’d like to try and not go into debt to enjoy some time away from home. Pinching pennies and returning empty bottles for refunds may be how I pay for our next bit of fun. Back to working in order to afford my vacations I guess. Like a vicious circle.
My father had a tendency to speak Czech with his buddies when his family was around. My father did this because we, his immediate family, couldn’t speak Czech. He never wanted us to know it. My father kept secrets. Read about my unknown half sister Here.
My father taught us only one Czech phrase. A phrase to say at the start of a meal. Dobra Chut’ meaning Good Appetite. I have never taught my children this phrase. Maybe I’m bitter towards my father. Perhaps I can share this phrase and create good memories of their grandfather whom they’ve never met. My children want to see the good in the world, and I want that as well.
But I did pick up on some Czech. As a child you get curious as to what is going on in your world. I discovered a few things from my father’s friends older kids. They were surprised that I didn’t know Czech. But I knew some. Mainly because I stole my father’s old English to Czech dictionary.
He used a few phrases quite often which made it easy to find words. I began to become quite proficient in trying new phonic spellings to decipher what he was saying. Most was gibberish. But on occasion I heard about his feelings for his family. His disgust. His disdain. His regret. Being a child and receiving pity from people you barely knew was difficult. A part of me wanted to return to being naive. I wasn’t exactly the son he wanted. But I overcame his words, overcame his feelings of contempt- I survived and thrived.
My father used a phrase often when greeting his friend. At one point my father told me it meant “Hello Smiley.” But the literal phrase would have defined my father more than his friend.
To the feelings my father left me with when he died in 2000, I say “Na shledanou.”
It feels like this year is heavily devoted to our son Theory. We have already done two trips for speed skating competitions and have two more weeks out of town planned this summer for him to get some more practice.
He stole my tutu.
If you’ve been following along this week, you’ll also notice I was a parent chaperone at his Grade Seven camp. I was really happy that he wanted me to do this. It also made me feel good to find out his friends were excited that I was going as well. In fact, one kid asked that his father not volunteer to come because the boy wanted to be in our cabin.
My father never would’ve considered doing that. Let alone take time to ensure his kids experienced successes. My wife and I put a lot of effort into making sure our kids get the best education and experiences.
I have a fantastic relationship with my son. I can be both his parent and his friend. The fact that he happily hangs out with me while out in public is great. I hope to keep this up through his teenage years.
It’s the kind of relationship I wish I had with my father.
This place never stops. So much so, that I don’t have any pictures today. I ended up making videos of the kids’ activities instead.
On Thursday we started our day with three hours of “High Ropes”. The kids tested their fears of heights through a series of obstacle courses set up in the trees. After the first try, many of the kids become confident and began to speed up. It also turned into a bit of a competition to see who could complete it fastest.
After lunch we were kayaking for about an hour. It ended up being cut short due to the conditions of the water, so our camp leader opted for an hour and a half hike. This was a good endurance challenge since it was a tough climb to get to the summit.
After dinner was Skit Night where each of the cabin groups had to perform. The parents and teachers also did one where we made fun of the behaviors of the kids. The boys in my cabin volunteered to go first. In the end, they also won the competition! Which they were surprised by but took the win nonetheless.
It was a great way to end our week at Camp Jubilee.
Day 3 of Camp Jubilee was our cabin’s turn to set the table for breakfast. All the kids in my cabin didn’t want to be late so they were up 45 minutes early just to make sure.
They set up quickly and enjoyed being first to get breakfast. I was lucky enough to be in their group, so I received first breakfast as well. Not much time after our meal to get ready because we were off to do our first activity of the day.
We went canoeing for about thirty minutes to get to a place called “Twin Islands”. The ride there had us singing songs and racing the other group. Once we got to our destination we had an opportunity to swim in a small lagoon and hike around the hills. Our ride back was just as energetic. We were racing for lunch!
After lunch was “Orienteering” and “Team Building”. Because of our extraneous exercising at the first half of the day and the heat- the kids were too exhausted to put any effort in. That was okay. They tried- halfheartedly at least. Our next and final day will be a busy and active day as well.
All I can say is that theses kids sleep well every night.
We finished our Monday night with some board games in our Yurt. It was a great way to calm everyone down after our first day. Tuesday had us up early at 8:30am getting breakfast. The parents had a few moments to enjoy the morning before the kids activated.
After we had breakfast, we were off immediately to do some Beach Exploration. The kids looked for marine life on the shore- discovering a multitude of tiny crabs. They worked together to gather them up and then release them. Jellyfish and sea stars were spotted in the water near our dock as well.
After that, we were off to rock climbing. Where each of the kids took an opportunity to scale a slope. Many of these kids overcame their fears. It was fantastic. I was encouraged to try it as well. It was tremendously fun as the kids encouraged one another to go up and back down. We did both these activities in the three hours before lunch.
After lunch, we were off again to do slingshots followed by shelter building. Luckily enough, everything was in the shade. It was hot! We are expecting an increase in temperature today.
The trip up to camp was calm and uneventful. We took a 35 minute bus ride to the dock where we were greeted by the captain of our vessel. A short 45 minute ride took us up to Camp Jubilee.
Once we got to camp, we unloaded our stuff to go in a heat room. Later, we set up in our Yurt. The boys I’m with are stoked about having the Yurt.
Our first day at camp was great. We did archery and low ropes. As well as some great free time to explore the beach and play around. So far the kids have been having a ton of fun just laughing and running around. I’m even joining in with the activities.
Back to the fun, I’m only taking a few minutes each day to explore my technology.
Today we are departing for Camp Jubilee with my son, Theory, and his class. I’m lucky to have been chosen as one of the parent chaperones. My son and six of his friends are all in a cabin with me. They got to choose a cabin name and design a t-shirt. The fact that these kids go to a Fine Arts school shows in the logo they designed.
Our cabin is called “The Infinity Stones“. I even get a T-shirt! As the cabin leader, my wife suggested we get the kids some items that promotes their design. Each of the boys is a different “stone” so my son and I picked up some precious rocks to give each kid. I also got them some slap bands in their respective colours that light up. Along with a notebook and gel pen- I think these kids are going to enjoy their gifts.
I’m looking forward to hanging out doing the activities with the kids. Every afternoon we have some down time, which means I’ll quickly write a blog post and share our adventures. I forgot to mention- the kids aren’t allowed technology, so I’ll have to sneak away and use my phone. Parents are allowed phones- mostly for picture taking though. I plan on keeping mine in Airplane Mode most of the time.
Wish me luck! Hopefully I come home in one piece with my sanity still in tact. I hope you enjoy the adventures I’ll be sharing.
For the second time in two days, old friends have popped out of the woodwork and sent me texts. It’s pretty cool to know that you are randomly thought of. Anyhow, on with today’s blog.
Back in September of 2015, our son took part in a short video about a local toy store. It was made by a former coworker friend of mine from back in my Movie Theater days. Late Friday night my friend shot me a text linking to the YouTube video. I had completely forgotten that they made this.
2015 at age nine
It was a great experience for my son. He was literally a kid in a toy store. All he did was talk about the toys while a camera followed him around. They did this for hours and my son enjoyed every minute of it. My friend had a ton of footage to go through.
My friend Dan loves films. He was a collector of many movies and watches almost everything. This was his foray into making his own. I like the premise of what he made. It was in a style similar to Comic Book Men. Which by the way is made by Kevin Smith who also loves visiting Toy Traders as seen here: Kevin Smith Live at Toy Traders.
I hope Dan keeps creating films and shows. He is extremely passionate about the medium.
On Friday night my wife and I often take our children to a thing called “Dry Land Training” at our speed skating coach’s home. This involves a 30 minute drive followed by a two hour training session. Sometimes my wife and I stay to chat with other parents. Other times we go grocery shopping up the road. Last night we went for a walk at one of the local parks.
This is a typical park setting. With signage and info about the land. It was a beautiful stroll through extremely well kept trails. But there was one thing that made this park stand out amongst other trails in BC.
Birds. Lots of birds. And birdhouses!
On top of several pillars in the marsh were numerous birdhouses. Every single one of them occupied with a feathered friend. The houses that were close to the pathways had birds that weren’t scared of people wandering by. This made me happy. They watched and sang as my wife and I meandered along the pathways.
We chatted and strolled holding hands and just enjoying nature. We greeted only a couple of other folks along the way. It was like we had our own little private forest filled with song. It was a nice way to relax on a Friday evening with my wife.
I have a feeling we will visit the Silverdale Creek Wetlands again in the future. I hope that this will get others to visit there as well.
I finally bought us some classic style wooden chairs for our yard. The kind that suits our country living lifestyle. My wife always Adirondack chairs. However, I convinced her that we should by Muskoka chairs instead.
What’s the difference between the two styles you may ask. (If you didn’t ask, I’m going to tell you anyway.) Adirondack chairs are both 2 inches higher from the ground and 2 inches wider between the arm rests. Also, the Adirondack chair is built with a flat back for the seat. The Muskoka chair is built with curved back.
That’s it. The two styles are very similar in every other aspect. When we were purchasing the chairs we wanted natural wood, not plastic. Oh, and the Muskoka chair was cheaper by $20 And came with a foot rest.
I took the chairs home and needed to assemble them. Before I did that, I lay out every piece and gave a light cherry stain to seal the wood. I figure if they’re going to weather outside in our rain forest of a yard, it’d be best to try and get a few years out of them. After a couple of hours of preparing the wood and staining it, I had to leave the first chair over night to dry before assembling it.
This morning I woke up and put the first Muskoka chair and ottoman together. I’m really happy with how it looks. Just a hint of red on the wood from the stain. I’m also happy with the comfort level of the chair. The curve of the yoke feels more inviting than the flat back of an Adirondack chair. Chances are we’ll be spending hours relaxing in our yard on these chairs.
It’s been quite some time since I changed my hair colour. Two and a half years in fact. My coworkers have been asking recently when I was going to do it. I guess changing hair colours is something besides my height that I’m known for.
Yesterday my oldest daughter dyed my hair for me. She’s never done something like this before. So I gave her some direction and she took on the job. The final results were fantastic. She also enjoyed doing it.
This time I went purple for my son. He asked me to. Starting on Monday- I will be one of the parent chaperones for his school camp trip. The theme for our cabin is “Infinity Stones” where each of his bunk mates are a different colored stone. He wanted me to be Thanos-esque, hence the hair colour.
Purple hair has always been my favorite of the colours I’ve done in the past. Maybe I’ll redo it once it fades away.