Off On Their Own

Last night we sent our children off on a chartered flight to the BC Games. This is exciting for many reasons. First, it’s the Ten Year Anniversary since the 2010 Winter Olympics in BC. Secondly, many of us sent our kids off on their own for the first time ever. A great chance for these young athletes to to aspire to bigger and greater opportunities.

These young adults were excited and eager to show off their skills on a provincial level. Going to the BC Winter Games is more than a road trip with mom and dad to a small event. This is big in their young lives. A chance to show off their skills to the rest of the province.

I’m proud of the Speed Skating team that our Zone has. These boys and girls are talented and becoming masterful at skating. They have a couple of great coaches, three young officials, and our adult chaperone all going to support them. This weekend, they will have a chance to prove their skills.

I’m proud of our son for getting this far. He will be skating his heart out. I hope the he understands that he is skating for more than just himself. He is skating for his family, his club and his zone. There are many people cheering him on that he doesn’t even know about. But he is the one out there showcasing his skill set.

If you wish to follow along this weekend for any of the BC Winter Games- there will be streaming of the games here: FSJ YouTube And of course, I will be writing about our son (and daughter) all weekend long.

The Last Of It…

We have three teenagers in our home. They are witty, intelligent and caring of others. They are also moody, self absorbed and lazy. Not knowing which attribute we will see around the house is a fun game. A game I am not always prepared to play.

The worst part of this game is as a parent, I’ll ask a question of them. A question that I’m not expecting an answer to. More a rhetorical question that I want them to think about. As I grow older I realize that this is a typical “Dad Thing” to do. And my kids do the typical “Teenage Thing” as a response.

Here we see an example of what our kids love to do. They don’t quite use up everything. Just enough that they leave it for someone else to find/replace/change/throw out… a roll of toilet paper with one square… A carton of juice with five drops left… Sour cream with half a spoonful remaining… When I ask, “Who finished…?” I get the usual, “Not Me.” And sometimes, “It’s not empty…”

If I didn’t have to supply nourishment to them, there are some days I’d leave the fridge barren to prove a point. which I am tempted to do this weekend. Leave some lemon juice, a yogurt, pickled pepperoncinis, salad dressings and condiments- see how well they’d survive before asking for real food.

The joys of being a parent to three teenagers brings out my immaturity.

You’re The Cream In My Coffee

I heard a song today and it made me smile.

I’m not a poet,
How well I know it,
I’ve never been a raver,
But when I speak of you,
I rave a bit, its true.
I’m wild about you,
I’m lost without you,

You give my life its flavor,
What sugar does for tea,
That’s what you do for me.
You’re the cream in my coffee,
You’re the salt in my stew
You will always be my necessity,
I’d be lost without you
.

I listened to this song a couple more times as I drove home from work. There was something about the crack and hiss of the old recording that made it magical. It was as if the old song was speaking directly to me. Like the voice inside my head was reminding me of how much I love my wife.

Sure, it sounds cheesy. And it is. But it’s also true. I came home and at the dinner table I said the line to my wife, “You’re the cream in my coffee.” I thought I was being sweet.

My wife promptly reminded me that I don’t take cream in my coffee.

Family Day

Today is BC Family Day. A day designed to celebrate the family environment. That’s something I can always get behind.

I’m a huge proponent of positive family interactions. Many of my blogs are focused on our children and the activities they do and what we do together. I’m always trying to share the highlights and joy that comes from what we do together.

Today, I hope that many of you in British Columbia with kids and loved ones, take the time to relish what you have. Family isn’t always easy. Neither is being a Mother or a Father. With everything that goes on in the world- it’s nice to just have a day to relax and reflect on family values.

Happy BC Family Day everyone!

Come On Out to a Speakeasy!

At the end of the month, there is a dance in Fort Langley Community Hall that I am excited to attend. It is an opportunity for the community to support the Langley Fine Arts Dry Grad event happening later this year. There will be drinks available for purchase as well as a couple of Blackjack Tables and auction items up for grabs.

There will be plenty of “Old Timey” themes and music throughout the night. Personally, I love music from a century ago and feel inspired to be attending a Roaring 20’s dance. Because these are parents of Fine Arts students planning it-you know it’ll be well thought out and executed. Dressing the part from 100 years ago isn’t necessary, but it is encouraged!

For all my local friends who want to enjoy an evening out helping to support the Dry Grad- you can buy tickets here: Eventbrite. So get on your dancing shoes and flapper dresses! I’d love to see people attend and have a good time on February 29th!

Please share this throughout Langley and let’s make it a monumental event!

Four Years of Beers

Last year I went to Trading Post in Langley to celebrate Three Years of Beers. The year before I enjoyed Two Years of Beers. I was also there for the Grand Opening when they first started up. I have been a loyal customer and beer connoisseur of what the Trading Post has to offer. I have visited their three locations and will continue to do so.

The other day I received a message from a person whom I met up with last year at the anniversary. He was hoping to meet up again this year. Our friendship was formed over a mutual friend… and beers. I also met with a couple former coworkers from various past employments of mine.

As the afternoon went on, we had some good talks and loads of laughs. It was great to meet with everyone who makes life a bit more enjoyable. It’s all about networking, right? Or just enjoying life.

Now, I have a nice collection of specialty glasses each celebrating the various anniversaries from Trading Post. I also have a great collection of friendships that I have accumulated over the years. Taking the time to enjoy people’s company over a beer or two makes me happy.

Anniversaries are a great way to keep in contact with others. An anniversary of a brewery is even better.

Wisdom… Teeth

Our oldest daughter gets to enjoy her Valentine’s Day by getting her wisdom teeth removed.

Not the best date for Valentines, but it will help her mouth in the long run. Those teeth can have a detrimental effect to all those years of braces. Best to get them pulled now.

As I sit in the waiting room for her to be done, I searched out what I once wrote about My experience with having my wisdom teeth on a site called übersite. This is the excerpt from September 2005:

I have an impacted wisdom tooth. Not only is it impacted, but it has a cavity that is nearly half the tooth. I hope that I can bring you some pleasure from the pain it has caused me. It wasn’t that this suddenly occurred. The pain has been on and off for a couple years now. But, it has never been this unbearable. It almost feels like I chewed on some glass shards and they are imbedded in my gums.

This tooth is keeping me up at night. A small little whitish tooth is keeping a grown man awake at night thinking of ways to perform oral surgery on himself with needle nose pliers and 99 proof alcohol. (That was all I could find in my work shop at 2:40am that may not wake up the family.) I then thought of my shrieks of pain and the knowledge that my wife would find me unconscious on the floor of the garage. I’d probably be laying in the fetal position with a puddle of urine around me, a pair of pliers and a bottle of alcohol that I shouldn’t drink. Not to mention, that I’d be in my good pajamas; so I proceeded to not go through with it.

Instead, I came here to my computer to Google “wisdom tooth pain.” I didn’t have to go too far as the first site that came up was the one with the most info on pain and wisdom teeth. As I read on, my Tylenol began to work, and the pain and numbness began to subside. Until I realized that perhaps I should have had this tiny little irritation removed before the age of twenty. Now, at twenty-eight, I will have a much longer time to heal and a greater chance of infection. Good news for me! More pain and suffering than I should have gone through, if only my dentist didn’t tell me at age eight-teen that my jaw would be able to support the tooth. I still recall making fun of friends who had theirs removed. Now the tables have turned. Ok, I lie…

I’m not friends with any of those people anymore. Instead I have new friends. You know what I mean, the people who you just met over the past year or so. Perhaps you work with them or they’re from some group or club you belong to. These are the type of friends I have now. Many of my older friends are gone and grown up, doing good things with their lives. I generally hear about it through some sort of weird run in with a “mutual friend” at a mall or store.

Here’s a little known fact: I’m terrible with names. My wisdom tooth doesn’t make me any smarter in these situations. If I run into a familiar face, I usually end up saying, “Hey, what’s up?” Which is my own downfall, as it opens up an entire greeting, to which most people feel the need to stand there and talk for a good ten to fifteen minutes. I don’t care what they say generally. “In one ear out the other,” as the old phrase suggests. (My wife accuses me of this behavior on a regular basis. But she’s wrong. I do listen, but I don’t generally like to respond, because she doesn’t like my replies anyway.)

So there we are, standing like fools in a crowded mall on a Saturday, being “mall blockers” (you know, oblivious to people around and taking up more room than necessary because of that weird three foot apart rule that people follow) just to have a conversation about people we used to know, but neither of us see anyway. Then comes the point where I usually look at my wrist watch and say, “Well I got to get going. Good to see you again.” Both sentences are complete lies. I’m usually in no hurry; I just don’t have anything to talk to that person about. And quite frankly, the reason is that they weren’t directly my friend because they bored and/or irritated me. You all feel the same way about these awkward situations, until that one person throws in that odd request: “We should get together for a drink sometime.” Screw that! You already took ten minutes out of my day talking about people that I don’t see anymore, why should I waste an entire hour or two doing that?

But then as always, I say sure. Maybe it’s just a gut reaction. I exchange numbers with the person. I don’t have a cellular phone, so I usually dig up some old receipt from my wallet and they write on the back. I couldn’t bother to waste a business card on these people. Here’s the brilliant part, they put their name on this piece of paper. Now I know who it is I was just ignoring. I am so smart sometimes, that it astonishes even me. A few moments later, when they are out of sight, I find the nearest trash can and throw out that paper. At least this encounter gives me a chance to empty my wallet. If I don’t, I end up with all this crap in my pockets. The only bad part is that sometimes they call…

Now out come the excuses. It’s hard to lie on the phone, especially if you are caught off guard. Here’s where children should come in handy. I don’t know why, but if I have an important call to make, like to the dentist, they’re usually very loud, and distracting. But when that one person calls that you don’t want to talk to, both are as quiet as can be. Lucky for me, I have a cordless phone, so I sometimes go searching for one of my daughters to give them a pinch or wake them up just so they start crying.

Kids are a life saver. I should take them out shopping more often, so that when I do run into people, I can pretend like my kid just crapped herself, and that I’m in a hurry to find a restroom. No one wants a whiney, shit-smelling kid wafted under their nose. Not even me.

Well, that’s about it for my rant, a sore tooth and a quick gripe about irritating moments with people that you don’t want to talk to. Remember, if you see me in the mall, just ignore me, I’m probably trying to do the same to you.


TL;DR

Wow did I sound grumpy. Pretty sure it was the impacted Wisdom Teeth causing my jerky attitude. But it also made me realize that I’m glad we are taking our children to have their extra teeth pulled at a much younger age.

I also completely forgot about Übersite. Time to dig thru and find some of my old musings. If you read this far, I hope you enjoyed my extended blurb. If not, I’m sorry that I didn’t share a love story today. Here’s a music video by the Petshop Boys: Always On My Mind.

Estranged Stranger

I am an adult. I do adult things. I work hard to be the best husband and father that I can be. I also have friends and coworkers who rely on me and whom I rely on equally. I think I’m doing a pretty good job out there.

Over the years, I have chosen to lose contact with certain friends. Sometimes we just drift apart. Other times it was a misunderstanding or disagreement. That’s totally fine. Recently I was contacted by an old friend out of the blue. We shared stories and thoughts as if we hadn’t skipped a beat in our friendship. When I’m usually the one reaching out, it was heartwarming to know that he reached out to me instead.

As an adult with a life I in which I am trying to have filled with joy and happiness, I’ve chosen to lose contact with my mother and sister. My mother and sister have their own lives. I was often putting forth the effort to stay in contact and don’t have the energy to do it any further. It’s been a few months now, and I’m okay with that. After a few decades, it’s time to move on. I have other people who mean more to me in my life.

On the other hand, it’s also hard to want to miss somebody who could’ve been a bigger part of my life. How do I miss someone I’ve never met, like my Unknown Half Sister? It’s weird to think that there could’ve been someone I could look up to and ask advice. But that never came to fruition. That was more my parents’ choice to hide her existence for most of my childhood. As an adult, I just don’t care to discover an estranged stranger on the other side of the planet.

I sometimes dwell on the past. But I also move forward from these thoughts rather quickly. As I write this I know that it is helping me move forward with my life. I’m excited about the possibilities that my future has in store with friends and immediate family. Perhaps one day I’ll miss someone I haven’t met yet.

Linked

The other day it was suggested to me to join LinkedIn. I have been aware of the site and what it offers, but never saw the need for joining it. I’m not actively looking for new work, but it’s neat to see so many current and previous coworkers and their profiles stating skill sets and abilities. I had no idea that many of them are supremely talented and successful in many aspects. Go team!

The platform is similar to Facebook (obviously). As much as I was wanting to limit my Social Media usage, I’ve been enjoying setting up my new LinkedIn profile. I guess you can find me here: Josef Havelka LinkedIn. I’ve currently being adding my careers and jobs, and searching similar jobs and even dream jobs. But I have been hemming and hawing about mentioning my blog in my profile.

This blog is a great place for me to share, even though it’s not devoted to one topic. Besides being about ME. So do I add my blog or not? It’s kind of like a diary of being a father, husband, and geek who enjoys food and travel as well as nostalgia.

Help me interweb friends! What do I do?

The Good Drugs

In Canada we have universal health care. Which is fantastic. I see the doctor for any ailment or see a specialist and it doesn’t come out of my pocket. Sure, the wait times are long and can be frustrating. But hey, I like free. It’s the drugs that cost us a small fortune.

I’m lucky that my wife and I both have jobs with a decent benefits plan. Most of the medications we require are covered- many at 100% of the cost. Everything from inhalers to the occasional pharmaceutical for illnesses. I like feeling normal, so Yay Drugs!

Getting drugs to assist our health is fairly normal I guess. There’s also alternative medicines available. Some work, some do not. Those aren’t generally covered by our benefits. Perhaps one day my doctor will prescribe “Medical Marijuana” and I’ll just have to take it, right?

Right.

Oh Dear, Red Deer

Over the weekend, my wife took our son to Red Deer, Alberta for a Long Track Speed Skating meet. This was significant for our son in many ways.

  1. He was in the top four of his age range of the skaters for British Columbia.
  2. This was his first National competition in Long Track Skating and he skated for Team BC.
  3. This was his first ever outdoor competition.
  4. This is only his second long track competition ever. His first was just a couple weeks ago.

Because of all of those factors, our son placed 17th out of 17 kids in his age range. As a parent wanting to encourage him further- what do you say?

First you tell him that you’re proud of how much effort he’s put in. And you remind him that he is still top 17 Nationally in his age range for Canada. You also point out that he has no where to go but up. Having only competed twice at long track, I know it feels discouraging to him to place last. One day he can make it to the podium.

I’m looking forward to seeing him in action at BC Winter Games next week. He will be doing his third ever set of Long Track races as well as Short Track. Hopefully he isn’t dissuaded from doing his best. I’m just as proud to see him out there putting in effort as I am seeing him win.

I don’t know if I’ll ever see him skate in Red Deer in the future. But I hope he took away from the competition some learning points. Like dress warmly!

Day By Day

The fact that I’ve been writing daily for Four Years means one of two things- I’m devoted to it or I’m addicted to it. I’d like to think it’s the former. I enjoy blogging. My blog isn’t designed to sell anything in particular nor is it much of an opinion piece. A lot of what I write is from the heart. Stories of my life and family. Sometimes I’ll promote small businesses or share my travel experiences.

Wanting to write while sick is difficult. There’s no ambition left inside me. It’s like my body and mind are under attack and weak. But I push through and share stories. Even though when I look back on the stories- they feel halfhearted and forced. I’m sorry about that.

Usually I try and have my blogs written and shared by early morning Pacific Time. Some days though, I have a tough time coming up with a good idea. Especially if I’m not having to go to work or have plans for the day. Driving is when I do my most thinking and thought processing. I also love sharing pictures on my blog that I feel relate to what I’m writing.

Thanks again for putting up with me through thick and thin. Sickness and in health. You are some of the best readers around.

You Give Me Fever

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of losing control of your senses. The strangest sensations are those when you wake up in a daze. I almost enjoy having a fever and taking cold medicine just to experience it.

When I was younger, I was often sick. Mostly ear infections. A lot of ear infections. I wrote about them back in 2016. Read about me tripping out as a child: Noises In My Head. As an adult, at least I can differentiate between reality and those hallucinations.

Or can I? Man. WTF. Back to reality. I think.

Bad Bacteria

Being sick is not fun. I’m starting to think it’s because of my coworkers. In more ways than one. First- people are always coming in to work sick or with flu-like symptoms. That’s a great way to make everyone sick. Besides the airborne coughing and sneezing- people touch everything!

Sharing a workspace means I touch a lot of the same spots. Keyboard, mouse, phone, desk, chair, doorknobs etc… bacteria and sickness gets spread quickly.

Most of my coworkers come into work and use Clorox Wipes and attempt to disinfect everything around. Normally I just do a quick wipe or wet cloth if I see dirt. Those invisible bacteria seems like it’s more harmful to remove 99.9% of them.

There’s no exact way to prevent becoming sick. Except telling people to stay home when they’re sick. I think it’s a courtesy to your coworkers.

Sharing donuts- Good.

Sharing the flu- Bad.

Cold Comfort

As I mentioned the other day, I felt I was getting sick. And so the sick bequeathed unto me. (Did I use that right?) I am now resorting to my comfort needs and everything possible to feel better.

Chicken noodle soup. A must have when feeling sick. In our home it has been dubbed “Sicky-Soup” for good reason. Keeping those fluids up is essential for getting better. I also drink a lot more tea and ginger ale during this time. Good to keep the stomach calm.

Of course rest is good. I find that I move from bed to couch and back again throughout the day. With the occasional stop in the washroom because of all those fluids entering my body. When laying on a couch I always grab an old comforter, this time it’s ALF keeping me cozy.

Of course the last thing is medicine and vitamins. I try and start with Vitamin C and see if it helps. But then it’s onto Tylenol Cold and Flu. If that fails to rid my body of ailments, hot Neo-Citron knocks me down so I can get back up… eventually.

What are your go-to remedies?

Speed Skating Swag

Part of being a proud parent of your children’s lives is supporting them. Taking them to competitions, cheering them on, coaching them, etc… But another way is to wear swag.

For Speed Skating, we usually wear Langley Blades hoodies. I have two different ones that I like to wear. My wife and kids each have 3. We wear these hoodies regularly in support of our kids’ activity and our local club.

Our son and daughter have also picked up numerous t-shirts and other hoodies supporting the Speed Skating sport in general. They are proud of the sport they chose to get into and love to show it off.

But my favorite piece so far is the BC Winter Games jacket. I’m overjoyed that both our son, who will be competing, and our daughter, who will be a young official, are attending the BC Winter Games. I’ll be wearing my jacket as much as possible over the next few weeks leading up to the games.

How do you show support to your children’s activities?

Sleep Deprived

Usually I’m pretty good at getting the sleep I need- even when working night shifts. But the last couple of days have been troublesome. It seems that my brain keeps on doing that thinking thing and keeping me awake or waking me after only a couple of hours.

I toss and turn for ages, then look at my phone. My eyes get tired, so I put down my phone only to have my mind racing again. So I pick up my phone. It’s a viscous cycle.

What’s worse is that I can feel myself getting sick. Could be a mix of my mental health affecting my physical health. Plus those at my work who come in sick and share with others.

Perhaps if I keep telling myself I’m doing alright- I start to feel better and get some sleep.

Invisible Man

Lately I’ve felt as if my existence is inconsequential. I’m floating through life day to day without making a mark. Work treats me like another number that can easily be replaced or removed. I feel as if the company doesn’t value what I bring to the table after a dozen years of service. I keep going because I like getting a paycheck. That’s sort of important I guess.

At home, our kids are busy being teenagers wrapped up in their own lives. With our oldest graduating this year from high school, our youngest working towards his speed skating goals, and our middle trying to figure out where she fits in in this world- daddio here takes the back burner. I’m easily ignored and forgotten about.

I also haven’t interacted with my friends in ages either. Everyone is busy being adults nowadays that it gets tough to get together. I’m not even sure what’s going on in their lives anymore since I don’t follow anyone on Facebook. Almost a year ago I thought the right thing to do for my Mental health was remove everyone. Now it feels lonely and a dreaded feeling of FOMO has crept in.

Perhaps today I just needed to vent and air out what I’m thinking. Feeling small and insignificant is a sensation I know many of you have felt as well. Usually I’m pretty positive and upbeat. Sometimes happy just doesn’t happen. This too shall pass, right?

But, uh, everything’s perfectly all right now. We’ re fine. We’re all fine here, now, thank you. How are you?

Groundhog Day 2020

After seeing “Groundhog Day” in the theaters when it first came out in 1993- I always wondered what it would be like to relive one day over and over. I saw that movie in the theater??? Ya, I was 16 at the time.

Since the debut of that film, many shows and movies have taken similar spins on the premise. Two of my favorites are:

Run Lola Run (1998)

Every second of every day you’re faced with a decision that can change your life.

Lola is a young lady whose boyfriend is caught up in crime and she needs to save him. It showcases the choices and adverse effects little moments can have. This is a beautiful 120 minute film with three possible outcomes. The soundtrack is also phenomenal with a mix of German and English throughout.

This is a film that my wife exposed me to at the start of our dating life. As I fell in love with my wife, I also fell for this movie. She bought it for me on DVD and I bought her the soundtrack on CD. About a year later, I bought her an original German movie poster of it and had it framed for her. A few years later we bought a new car. The first song we played in our brand new 2003 Honda Element was “Wish” from the soundtrack sung by the lead actress, Franka Potente.

This is my other favorite “Groundhog Day” inspired show:

Supernatural: Season 3 Episode 11. “Mystery Spot”

Sam relives the same day over and over again having to deal with his brother Dean’s death repeatedly.

“Supernatural” tv series has been around forever it seems. This particular episode came out in 2008. It stars one of my favorite characters in the series: The Trickster.

Much like the film “Groundhog Day” that it copies, the day starts off with the radio playing the same song over and over again. This time using Asia’s “Heat of the Moment”. My daughter marathoned through the “Supernatural” series last summer and loved this episode so much, she downloaded the song. She chose it as her alarm for the first day of school (which was on a Tuesday, just like in this episode).

Unfortunately this show has its ups and downs and not every episode is as entertaining as this one was. But The Trickster makes a few appearances in later episodes. Such as the episode titled “Changing Channels” which was clearly a rip off of the film “Stay Tuned” from 1992 starring John Ritter. I saw that in the theaters as well. Gawd I’m old…

Maybe I really don’t want to relive one day over and over. It’s better to reminisce and move on. All of life’s choices can make big impacts even if the decision is relatively small.

Backyard Flooding

For the first time since we bought our home almost 13 years ago, our backyard flooded. There’s a lot of water in the far back of our acre, so at least it’s not near our house.

In and around our neighborhood I noticed the ditches were overflowing from the last couple of rainfalls. It’s rare for the ditches to get like that, but the heavy rain will help replenish the aquifer that we use for our well.

Living in the outskirts of Vancouver- I am fully aware that we technically live in a rain forest. It’s still unsettling though when there is such a large accumulation of pooling water. Hopefully the rain eases up for a few days and balance will come to our natural surroundings once more.