Every year our kids do a movie marathon to finish off the year and ring in the new year. Previously has been Harry Potter and even Star Wars (even though we usually do Star Wars on May 4th). This year was a choice between The Matrix trilogy and Indiana Jones.
Indiana Jones won out in the family vote. I’m looking forward to watching them as it has been years since I last viewed all of them. It was also 21 years ago that I rented a movie theater for me and 449 of my closest friends and watched “The Last Crusade” for my Birthday. Okay, it was more like 30 people, but the auditorium could hold 450. The rental was a double feature with “Ghostbusters” as well. It was also one of the last films that my father watched with me. The very last film we watched together was “Gladiator” later that summer.
Ringing in the New Year has never been a big deal for me. Watching movies as a family brings me joy. So as 2020 draws to an end, what are your plans?
Okay folks, we are on the verge of 2020 coming to an end. You got this! You’ve been holding on tight for this whirlwind of a ride and it’s almost over.
Even through all the insanity that this past year has brought, it doesn’t mean that it will sudden change on January 1st. But we can change. We can all become the good natured, warm hearted people that we should be.
Be nice to everyone.
That is sage advice. Why is it so difficult to achieve? I’m by no means perfect. But in the new year I am going to actively push myself to think more positively and compassionately about others and their situations. I’m going to be nicer to everyone.
Instead of a turkey this year, we made a brisket on our new BBQ. Usually I cut the meat into two or three smaller meals, but this time I decided to make the whole thing. That meant there was a lot of leftovers for us.
The brisket was larger than a turkey and a much more solid piece of meat. After our initial dinner, we still had more than 3/4 of the meat remaining. Since then I have had a few slices on sandwiches as well as frying a couple of pieces to go with eggs and toast.
But my favorite leftover has to be the brisket soup my wife made in our slow cooker. It was a tasty beef and barley soup that infused the Smokey flavor of the meat into each spoonful.
Tomorrow night’s dinner will be beef dip and fries. Perhaps we will be closer to finishing the meat at that point. With so much beef in our diets in such a short time- that means we will likely move away from red meat for a few weeks. I also can’t wait until spring and summer to start enjoying fresh vegetables once more.
I’m not a huge chocolate eater. However, I have a guilty pleasure that only gets satisfied at Christmas.
And my wife spoils me with them each and every year. My stocking gets a few individual ones tossed in and I get a case of 48 all to myself as well.
I enjoy them so much that I made little wings for the ones to give our kids. It makes them look like “The Golden Snitch” from Harry Potter. I also received a Squishmallow toy last year and named it Ferrero.
There’s something delicious about those little Golden experiences that I just love. Do you enjoy Ferrero Rocher? Or do you have a different favorite chocolate that you indulge in at Christmas?
I’m always trying to live a good life. With lots of positivity- even when life doesn’t go according to plan. As much as it’s a mental state that I need to create- my physical well being is a part of it.
I’ll be the first to admit that I do not exercise. I do some kayaking in the summer which I enjoy. Any physical labor I do around the house is also the extent of my active lifestyle. I will be changing that soon. Maybe a New Year’s resolution?
But in the meantime, my wife has gotten a few other items to make our life better. One of which is a Himalayan Pink Salt lamp. I put it on my nightstand a couple days ago and have left it on since then. The orange/pink hue is very soothing, even though we usually have a dark room. I’m sure we will get used to it.
The other item that my wife wanted was a Luna Weighted Blanket. Besides requiring two of us to lift it onto the bed- yes it is heavy- this thing is great. After using it for only a couple of nights, our sleeps have been so restful and fulfilling. It’s like our bed is giving us a hug to fall asleep in.
I’ll be the first to say that I’m not always on board with alternative ideas for health. But once in a while, even the placebo effect can change one’s mood. In the end I enjoy the warm glow of the salt lamp and the weight of the blanket. Combined together make for a comfortable rest period.
Have you used either item? How do you like it? Let me know in the comments.
Our kids are much older now. In fact, we have late stage Teeanageritis. With a two year gap between all of them- 14,16,18. Someday soon they shall be adults. Spending Christmas with them is still important to my wife and I.
As with some traditions we have- first is always a picture in front of the living room door prior to entering and seeing what Santa left behind.
The first thing they get to open is their stockings. The stockings are mostly filled with toiletries and chocolates. A few little gifts hang out inside them next to a piece or two of fruit.
Second picture is in front of the tree. The anticipation of what comes next brings a certain childlike joy.
After a flurry of gift unwrapping and blurry photos, we are left with a large pile of paper trash.
For me, exhaustion kicks in by the end of the day. And a nap by the tree brings me joy. Even with a picture taken by my daughter with a staged toy on me.
After everything that happens at the start of the week, yesterday and today is relaxing.
We had a full afternoon yesterday of preparation of upcoming meals. This was followed by our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. The meal was had by candlelight and consisted of liver ball soup (yes, it is actually very tasty!) followed by schnitzel and potato salad.
After dinner was my yearly viewing of “A Christmas Story”. This has been my Christmas Eve movie of choice for decades now. Probably my favorite way to end Christmas Eve with the family before laying out the gifts for Christmas Morning.
Once the kids were off to bed, it was time to spread out the Christmas loot. After weeks (more like months) of Amazon orders, supporting small businesses, and creating handmade gifts- under our tree looked full once more. My wife and I worked hard at wrapping for weeks leading up to tonight. It was more challenging than usual because of the days of “off-site learning” the kids had.
But after all that has happened, here we are, about to begin Christmas Day. Merry Christmas one and all. May you celebrate quietly and happily as we do.
Everyone I know has some sort of tradition they do around the holidays. This year, being what it is, may have adjusted or outright changed those traditions. We have a few that begin this afternoon. But first things first- we had a couple of other events that aren’t as exciting.
A big house cleaning is one of them. Dusting, floors, windows, even the skylight needs to get a good ol’ sparkle before we do anything else. The family loves to do that. *eyeroll*
Next is the sad realization that I need to do a quick shopping run for last minute items. A Baguette is on my list because the loaf I tried to bake this morning was a pretty good failure. I guess we have some bread lightsabers to swing around…
As well, because of the snowstorm on Monday our daughter’s driving lesson got moved to midday today. Which was totally fine since I was able to make my errands completed during her lesson.
So even though we have traditions that we will adhere to this afternoon/evening, our day was kind of like any other day. My wish is for all of you readers out there who do celebrate, to enjoy your Christmas Eve! No matter what it may bring.
After the chaotic snow storm on Monday, we did get power back on early than anticipated. That was a good sign. Until we began checking the yard for branches.
The snow and ice decimated our yard. After almost four hours of cleaning up the carnage, I’m out property was beginning to look better. It was a group effort, and I really thank the kids for all they did over the past few days.
I climbed up on the roof after to assess what the trees had done. There were two large branches above our living room, but luckily no damage to the roof. On the other side, above my wife’s studio was a different story. A three foot branch speared into the roof.
Quite the sizable hole remained. It seemed much larger than the one from a couple years ago- check out Roof repair if you want to see that damage. My son offered to help with this repair, so I took the opportunity to show him what to do and explained why it needed to be done that way.
Now we wait and see how the repair holds up. The last time was great- no leaks. We also need to wait for some of this snow and ice to melt so we can really clean up the yard. But we are all cold and tired. Time to relax and get ready for Christmas Eve Eve. Or Festivus if you wish.
Yesterday was a heavy dumping of snow that came out of nowhere. As beautiful as it is, it caused havoc and carnage at our home.
As our kids were out front playing (and sort of shoveling the driveway) a large branch fell from one of our trees. It came down and took out the power line to our house from the street. At this point, my wife told our teenagers to come inside. Which was a good idea as more large branches throughout our yard, and neighbourhood, continued to snap off and fall.
The carnage in my yard is pretty extensive. Besides the thuds onto the roof (which I will need to inspect for damage just in case) a massive branch went through our storage shelter. Now there is a large hole which I will need to repair, or at least cover, once I remove the branches. It also looks like we may lose our rhododendron bush and some boxwoods in our front yard. I haven’t even ventured out to the backyard yet.
As beautiful as our home and property is, moments like this making it frustrating to live where we do. And with Hydro telling us we may not get power until Christmas Eve- going days without power is difficult to say the least. It means we have no way to cook or use water (our well has an electric pump). The generator we own will give us enough power to light some lamps and a couple of space heaters. So at least our dining room and family room will be cozy.
With Covid precautions in place, we also don’t feel comfortable going to visit friends or family. I guess that means that we are “off grid” for the time being in hopes to become civilized once more for Christmas.
Today, my family celebrates the Winter Solstice. In the past we have had a gathering of friends, food and fun. This year is a more relaxed vibe of just the family and food. But there is a special event happening in our sky today.
To quite my Google Doodle search: “December 21 marks the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, but in 2020 the longest night of the year is also going to be a witness to an incredible astronomic event known as the “great conjunction”. … This rare double planet sighting–or “Great Conjunction”–can be viewed from anywhere around the globe.”
That’s pretty cool- seeing Jupiter and Saturn line up. This is type of moment that I hope to witness since it only occurs about every 400 years. Those with a clear sky should be able to witness this with a pair of binoculars or telescope. I look forward to seeing the photos online in the next day or two.
Let me know in the comments if you see the event or have plans to bear witness to this rare occasion.
We have a large home and three vehicles. But we are without a garage to park our vehicles. We have a good sized U shaped driveway. I will often park right in front of our home at the apex of the driveway.
Our daughter generally parks on the side of our home. Sometimes she will park in the driveway behind my car. But it’s my wife who gets the carport. Yet the back end of her car is always hanging out. Our carport isn’t the right size for a vehicle.
Since my wife doesn’t drive as much as myself or even our daughter, she tends to keep her car parked. In fact, she drove only about 4000km last year. This is good for keeping the mileage down. And since she loves her car and wants to keep it for many more years, I decided to get her a car cover and really protect it.
In my next home, I want a two car garage. I love my car, but I also use it as a daily commuter. No point in throwing a cover on it. It would be nice to store it away every night just to have it clean and warm to start my day.
As I mentioned previously in Shattered Memories, we have numerous trees. One of which has the ornaments the kids have made over the years. We never really had a topper for it. Putting a Santa hat or a top hat on it to try and finish it.
This year, I 3D printed a new topper. It was a fun one based on my favorite fandom- Star Wars. I decided to paint it in traditional Christmas colours- red and green with a hint of dark gold.
Our middle daughter had been waiting for over a week to put the tree topper up. Each one of our kids gets to put the topper on a tree. We rotate which tree every year. The kids’ tree was hers this year.
Every year, Williams Park in Langley puts on a Christmas light display. This is the 30th year. Driving through the park is our yearly tradition. We try and view it the weekend before Christmas.
For an event that is done by volunteers, it is laid out almost the same every year. Which is great because I like that I can count on it being the same. It brings a familiarity to the holidays.
Because Covid restrictions have cancelled large gatherings- the park had more vehicles arrive last week than it could handle. So for us to see it this week, we signed up online for a time slot. I’m glad we did because the spaces are all taken for this final weekend of lights.
This isn’t one of those shows where you pay an exorbitant amount of money for an Instagramable experience; this is all done by volunteers and donated lights. At the end of the drive through the park, we donated some money- as we do every year.
Afterwards, we drive around the town and look for beautiful displays that people put up. It’s always a great family bonding time as we listen to Christmas songs and share stories of the past.
Yet another original Star Wars actor has passed away. Today was Jeremy Bulloch- the original actor who played Boba Fett.
Back in 2012 I had the honor of meeting him at the Fan Expo in Vancouver. It was one of the local convention shows that my wife had a booth at selling her handmade hats. (Need a winter hat? Check out Ningen Headwear) I also remember it clearly because it was on a Sunday and the celebrities were literally across from our table looking bored.
So I took my six year old son over to meet a few celebrities. First we met the original Batman and Robin- Adam West and Burt Ward. Those two were sitting together and had a riot talking to my son about being superheroes. After about ten minutes of talking to Batman, we side stepped to talk with Mr. Bulloch.
My son’s reaction was to tell him how we had just met Batman and Robin. Jeremy’s reaction was perfect. The two of them talked about the old Batman show and how bad guys never win. My son knew who Boba Fett was, it’s not like I hadn’t instilled the love of Star Wars at a young age. But it really is different when you never see his face (compared to West or Ward).
Like I said, all three of these gentlemen interacted with nothing but kindness to my young boy. That truly made them heroes in my eyes that day. No fan theories or questions about getting into a costume or what it was like to work with other actors. Just a couple old guys playing along with a kid that they didn’t even know.
But those few minutes with Jeremy Bulloch were as impactful in our lives as Boba Fett’s original five minutes on screen. For that, I wish to say thank you sir.
Today I was driving with my daughter and began to sing a song from my childhood. I’m not talking about a song from the 70’s or 80’s- I’m talking about a song I learned in my very early years of elementary school.
“Nobody likes me. Everybody hates me…”
Seriously. This song was taught to me as a child in grade one at a Catholic school. But that’s not what astonished me. What surprised me was that None of my kids or my wife had ever even heard this song.
Why was I taught such a depressing song about oneself? “Everybody hates me.” Honestly, reading the song lyrics make me think of how a person is so hated that they want to be dead and eat worms. Crazy.
But there it is. In the deep recesses of my memory. It blurted its way out nearly forty years later. My teens think I’m weird for learning the song and for even singing it randomly.
Did anyone else out there learn this song? Or any other strange songs that really may not be good for molding young minds that haunt you from time to time? I’m not talking Baby Shark or Barney the Dinosaur style.
Our home has been feeling colder than usual this year. No matter what I do to warm up, it never seems to be enough. I’m not alone either. I know my wife is cold at times as well. That’s because she shares her frigidness with me.
I swear that when I go to bed at the same time as her, she decides that her cold extremities need to touch the warm parts of my body. Her feet find my lower back or rub my calves the wrong way.
And then there are what I have dubbed over these past few years- her “Ice mittens”. Those hands of verglas that caress me into convulsions of terror. My squirms and shrieks only cause her to enjoy the torture she inflicts upon me. To say she is “cold hearted” is a lie. She is cold bodied.
It’s been going on for years. Somehow I manage to warm her up. It must be from the vibration of my shivering that causes friction to bring warmth to our bed.
I follow some very talented artists on Instagram. I am thoroughly impressed by how creative people can be. I also love to share these artists with others.
Sharing a link is one way to show love. But stealing a “Screenshot” of the images- that makes me feel guilty. It’s one thing to copy and paste a meme, but hours of hard work by an artist- that doesn’t seem right to share without permissions.
So in this day and age- how can you “own” digital art? One of the artists I follow- Beeple – sold some amazing pieces of digital art this weekend. And made hundreds of thousands of dollars doing it. Crazy to think that selling the digital signature of the original piece is a way to celebrate visual art. But here we are- the digital age.
This is the note that was shared on Instagram- a reminder that people can still be humbled by the outpouring of love for their art. I also appreciate his devotion to creating art every day. New art daily for 13 years. To me, that is impressive. Perhaps one day I can afford to purchase one of his images and own the digital signature of it. But until I can afford to drop six figures on something that isn’t tactical and tangible- I shall just enjoy his works of crazy ass art.
The home stretch is within sight everyone! Only a dozen days remaining until Christmas. Normally I’m out spending money frivolously about this time. Snatching up items that I think would help to fill out the gift piles of my wife and family. Most of those gifts just end up tossed in a drawer or the back of a closet before becoming landfill waste. Not this year however.
This year I am doing my part and staying home as much as possible. I feel as though I’ve already done my part in supporting local businesses and picked up some items a few weeks back. So staying home (when not at work) is also doing my part to keep myself and others healthy. No need to aimlessly wander the mall or stores trying to spend money that I don’t overly have to spend.
I don’t mind being at home during these final days of the year either. I get to enjoy some quality time with the family playing games and watching movies. Or just contemplating life as I stare at the decorations on our trees: Remembering when or where we picked up an ornament or two. And sometimes letting the lights catch my gaze until my vision becomes fuzzy and I feel warm inside.
It’s nice to just calm down and chill out. I forgot how wonderful it can be.
Today was a late afternoon of decorating our third tree as a family. We had Rudolph playing in the background as we do every year. My wife has been doing a fantastic job over the years of keeping each of their ornaments separated. This made the decorating so much easier. Especially since this tree hosts our keepsake ornaments.
Trying to get a good picture during the decorating is always difficult. Someone is always on the move or deciding they don’t want their picture taken. Or the obvious- back is turned because they are putting an ornament on the tree. But I was able to snag a few candid shots before our obligatory “Family Photo” in front of the tree.
As our children continue to grow, even now as our eldest is an adult, I wonder how many more days I have like today with them. I also know that our family dog, Lex, is getting up there in dog years. Capturing these moments is heartwarming. Sharing them with the world is a necessary evil. I love seeing other people showing their family time, and I hope that my friends also enjoy seeing our smiles.
So take care this December. And take lots of photos of your loved ones- including pets- to remind yourself that 2020 isn’t all bad. At least that’s the advice I’m giving myself this year.
Just the other day I was thinking how I miss going to the cinema for the blockbuster films. Marvel and Star Wars dominated my viewing experience in the years past. With Covid precautions in place- most mainstream releases were put on hiatus or simply went straight to a digital release. But not many came from the House of Mouse.
Yesterday came some big announcements. Read about Star Wars Here in case you missed it. The Star Wars universe is huge with endless possibilities to branch out in many directions. I for one enjoy the live action shows; my kids also enjoy the animated shows.
And then there is the next Phase in Marvel you can read about Here. I know of many of the comic book ideas and characters, but I never really read any of the stories.
My excitement level is increasing and there are plenty of shows to look forward to. All of these shows/movies shall be arriving over the next couple of years. It looks like it will be at a pace to keep most consumers wanting more.
What are your thoughts on Disney’s announcement yesterday?
We decorate three Christmas trees in our home every year. We always start with a “Children’s Tree” and a “Traditional Tree” in our main living space. Usually one on either side of our dining room. Every year we enjoy dancing around to Yule Be Wiggling while we decorate. This is the first year that I played just the music instead of the movie.
Besides the ornaments that our children have made over the years, there are a couple of ones that I have kept from my youth. There are a couple of pictures from 1979/1980 in a paper craft style ornament I made back in preschool/kindergarten.
We always do these trees before we decorate our “Special Tree”. That’s because we are bound to break at least one ornament in the process. Every year it seems that someone new breaks one. This year was our son who knocked an ornament off.
Breaking an ornament is an unfortunate tradition we have in our home. But it’s still a tradition- just like decorating the trees. No one gets hurt or angry, we just accept that a shattered bauble is bound to happen.
Not so positive feeling today. So don’t bother to read this if you expect some fun filled uplifting story from Castle Havelka. I’m feeling overwhelmed and under appreciated.
I’m over halfway through my current Staycation and I haven’t felt like I’ve done anything worthwhile for myself. It makes me frustrated and I want to just lash out at everyone. I feel like going out a grabbing some beer to wash away this frustration… And that sucks.
The start of my time off was emotionally rough. I sob cried during a hug from my oldest daughter, which felt uncomfortable enough. Showing that kind of vulnerability to my 18 year old made me feel like I broke a sacred pact. The kind of unwritten promise that says “Dad is the strong one, here to protect you.” Only not this time. This time I broke down.
Then came my wife’s birthday. Uneventful- the way she likes things. But her feelings of aging are the same fears that we all have. Getting old shouldn’t feel like losing our youth. it should feel as though we have gained wisdom and experiences. During these Covid times- I have become her sounding board. Allowing a lot of venting and emotions to come forth towards me.
Then there’s this Christmas thing. We have three trees set up- undecorated still. No Christmas movies have been watched yet. And the family hates that I want to listen to Christmas music in the home. I get a lot of groans and Bah Humbug feels when I try.
Undoubtedly it feels like I have wasted my time off by not doing anything for myself. My 3D printer needs a part and it won’t arrive until the end of the year, so my new hobby is on hiatus. I also don’t have my own space for this new hobby. Our spare room is the office where my wife works and oldest does her online classes. The studio is where my wife does her side business- Ningen Headwear– which is far busier in fall/winter because she sells fleece hats. So I get a two foot square space to set up my printer in our 4000 square foot home.
Escaping to my bed is all I have left. Sleeping in has only happened once and that was this morning. Until my wife woke me and had me get up to make her and my daughter ham and cheese omelettes. I even cleaned the kitchen afterwards since the two of them disappeared to do their own thing after brunch was over. Now I’m crawling back into bed feeling like crud for having these thoughts of resentment and being trapped.
I know I’m not alone these days. Covid restrictions have made everyone feel constricted and trapped. There’s good intentions to be had, but sometimes feeling like crap is okay as well. Right? Just let me sleep away the rest of my time off so that I can just float through until my vacation is over. Or at least let me vent this one time without judgement.
2020 may be a lot of things to a lot of people. It has certainly been a unique journey. For my family and I- it has meant skyrocketing into the future.
My wife was already working for Shopify for a while before Covid restrictions came into play. She was working remotely and had a good handle on things like Zoom meetings and Google Docs. She was able to help out teenagers get used to the “new normal.”
This summer I got my first 3D printer. I have enjoyed printing a bunch of plastic stuff. All it takes is a file and a spool of filament to create something from almost nothing. It’s not just doing the printing, I’ve also enjoyed painting the items and adding mechanisms to create movement. Robotics and electronics have been brought back into my world after a near three decade hiatus.
This past weekend we entered a new level of futuristic lifestyles. For my wife’s birthday, I picked up an Oculus Quest 2 VR headset for her. Immersing oneself into the virtual worlds is mind boggling to say the least. From active games like Beat Saber to simply painting in a 3D world- this is possibly one of the greatest escapisms I have ever seen.
As the winter arrives and 2020 draws nearer to the end, I for one have enjoyed more of this year in captivity than I expected. We even adopted another dog- Maki who entered our lives right when we needed her to.
How do you feel about technology these days? Are we moving too fast, or too slow? Let me know in the comments.
Yesterday was filled with laughter, tears, and everything in between. My wife celebrated her 50th Birthday at home with her family. And it was the only way she knew she wanted to spend it.
Leading up to her milestone birthday wasn’t easy. Hitting fifty is a tough one. In fact, almost every decade milestone birthday is tough after age twenty. You get moments of regrets- like you haven’t accomplished everything you had hoped. But you also get moments of appreciation for what you have achieved in your life. The most uplifting is when you get moments of clarity when you realize this is exactly where you need and want to be.
My wife’s birthday started with breakfast in bed. The kids greeted her warmly and were excited for the next part.
Followed by a Fifty Clue scavenger hunt. This lead her all around the house. The last clue brought her to tears. It was hidden hidden behind a picture of her puppy- Chuppy. This was her best friend prior to me entering her life and creating a family.
Her final clue lead her to our theater room. Where we set up a pretend car- as a reminder to her fortieth birthday when we bought a Pathfinder. Hidden inside were “Brown Paper Packages tied up with string” as a clue to her forty fifth birthday when I made her a 45 record spacer from a “Sound of Music” LP (her favorite movie). Inside the unsuspecting boxes was an Oculus Quest 2 VR. This was my chance to bring the world to her since we are unable to travel and we really wanted to get away.
Finally we celebrated with a lunch that was filled with coffee and coffee cake (made by our oldest). For dinner we did go out for sushi at our favorite restaurant. That was short and sweet because we all wanted to watch one another play some VR.
All-in-all I’d say she had a birthday that was memorable.