Kayak Adventure

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.

Black Canvas

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!

My Mother

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.

Grain Car Graffiti

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.

Farewell Grade Seven

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.

Being A Presence At Work

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.

Little People

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!

Ack Ack Kayak!

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!

Roof Racks

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!

Berry Good

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.