Safety And Security

Back in July, I installed four security Cameras around the front of our home. Our system allows for up to eight cameras. Today I installed two more. This time to watch over the backyard and rear entrances.

My son reluctantly helped me with adjusting the viewing area of the new cameras. But with his help, I was able to get a large section of our yard under surveillance.

I also took some time to play around with the system and create a constant changing sequence on our monitor. Every few seconds it changes the views, this will help prevent “burn-in” on the screen. (Although honestly I don’t think it’s as obvious or quick as it once was with crt monitors).

If I choose to, I have spots for two more cameras to get connected. I may need to do that in the future, but at this time- having six cameras is more than plenty. Although I did like the ease of installation that the Lorex system has.

Is It Pool Time Yet?

The sun has been teasing us lately. But when you go outside, under the shade is frigid. The wind is still whistling past the clouds and pushing them onward. Looking towards the next few days and it seems like rain is in the forecast.

Today I took advantage of the nice weather. Our winter pool cover came off. I vacuumed up the debris and added a bunch of chemicals to the pool to balance it out. The pool is sitting at 15°C (59°F). Still far too cold to attempt to swim. I’m also waiting a couple of more weeks before heating it to ensure the chemicals create a safe swimming environment. Getting the pool ready is important to me.

But since it’s going to rain for the next ten days, there was no point in setting up the patio and deck furniture just to take it and store away again. I did sit outside first thing in the morning to eat breakfast. I can’t wait to be eating more meals outdoors. That has always been a favorite of mine.

Some day soon and life will be blissful. I will be able to swim and float around in the sun. For now, I get to enjoy the sunsets and views.

Pretzels!

Yesterday was National Pretzel day (as well as Alien Day). So naturally pretzels needed to be eaten. Something wonderful about eating fresh made, salty, doughy treats! I do enjoy store bought crunchy pretzels as well. Those go great at parties.

Homemade pretzels and pretzel bites are something else. Check out Terri’s amazing Pretzel Bites Recipe here. Super easy recipes that kids can make. Of course these soft pretzels needed mustard as a side.

Delicious soft pretzels… especially if served hot and fresh… can make you feel so good. I’ll even order some at a pub or Oktoberfest because what besides mustard, what else goes good with a warm pretzel? Beer! I just wish I had one of those last night, but alas no beer was available for me.

Did you enjoy some pretzels yesterday? Or did you watch Alien? Perhaps both like I did?

Alien Day

Come on in.

Today is April 26th. Otherwise known as ALIEN DAY.

LV-426 is the name of the moon where the aliens were discovered. You know, the Xenomorph aliens from Ridley Scott’s movie franchise. One of the best sci-fi/horror crossovers ever created.

I saw the movie Alien as a small child. Like 6 years old small. We had Superchannel back in 1982 and it was one of the movies of the month. Somehow I managed to sneak a viewing of it without my parent’s knowledge. You think that’s young? We took our daughter to see it when the film was re-released in the theaters in 2003; she was 15 months old. The aliens didn’t scare her. The android getting ripped apart did.

I was thinking about watching the first film tonight once more. It is a favorite of mine, even though it is terrifying. Except for the second film, I have seen every other film in the franchise in the theater. I am probably one of the few that liked the third one.

A few years back, we watched all the films in one marathon as a family. A midweek marathon isn’t going to happen. But I do love me some science fiction. The next month is exciting for me!

Next week- Star Wars Day! And May 25th- Towel Day!

Leaving Langley Blades

Our family has been a big part of Langley Blades Speed Skating since 2010. My wife has done a lot of volunteering, I have done my part whenever possible. Our two oldest became assistant coaches over the last few years as well.

However, as the next season in September approaches, many changes are coming. Our two oldest won’t be coaching since post secondary has taken priority in their lives. As well, our son will be leaving to go to another club. At the next club- he will have an opportunity to expand his abilities. He has already begun Spring Training and is enjoying the challenge.

As a thank you to my family, the Langley Blades presented us with a plaque and an award for our dedication to Speed Skating. My wife received it on Friday night at the AGM. Lee-Anne described the evening meeting as a bittersweet event. It was kind of the club to recognize the hard work and volunteering our family did over the last 12 years.

We will continue to see the skaters and parents at various meets and competitions. Perhaps we will be called upon to assist with their meets. Who knows, our two oldest may be able to find the time to coach as required. It’s tough to move on from a sports club sometimes. The growth for our son will only come if he learns from other coaches. And the growth of our previous club will come as they bring on new skaters.

Thank you Langley Blades for the years of training and fun. And a big thank you for the acknowledgment of our dedication to the club.

If you are local and want to keep your children active – try Speed Skating at Langley Blades.

Best Burgers Ever

Las Vegas definitely has a lot to offer. But the one thing that was outstanding was the burgers we ate.

Two days in a row I hit up In-N-Out Burger. I’m not going to lie, they serve up the best fast food burgers in the Western United States. I have never had a bad experience at any of the restaurants. I have blogged numerous times in the past about In-N-Out Burger and how much we love it. (My wife is upset that I went twice on my trip!)

But the best burger I have ever eaten in my life was at Gordon Ramsay Burger. I can’t even… seriously… absolutely delicious! The quality of beef, the spices, the cheeses, the bun- all of it was cooked to perfection. I also had it medium done, which was something I have never had in a burger.

If I didn’t spend $60 USD on a burger and beer, I’d consider going there again. But I do worry that in doing so, I may not love the food as much in the future. It’s the sensation that the memories and the first time experience are most vivid and exciting.

At the end of the day, I’ll always have In-N-Out Burger. They have not disappointed.

More Vegas Lights

No one told me I’d be walking as much as I have this trip. But with so much to see you forget about the walking.

Besides walking around outside, we end up walking through numerous casinos as well. Tons of sounds and lights inside. The only part about walking inside is the smell of smoke is strong. Not my favorite aspect.

Today will be a day of gift store shopping. There are neat stores everywhere. Coca-Cola, Hershey, M&M, Pepsi, so many kitschy places to check out. I’m sure I will find some great and unique gifts to bring home.

This Is Vegas

We have had a ton of fun so far over the last 24 hours. Lots of walking and drinking as we do it. I’ve enjoyed the strip and viewing every thing it has to offer.

I’m excited to see more of the strip tonight. We have had a good time of silliness and drunken stupors as we wander the city. My calf muscles are sore since I am not used to the walking.

I’m hoping to do some shopping tomorrow before heading home. There are plenty of kitschy places around. All of which I plan on hitting up for some souvenirs.

Have you been to Las Vegas? Any places I should try and hit up before leaving here?

Vegas Weekend

For the first time in a couple of decades, I am heading out for a “Boys Weekend” today. A coworker asked me about a month ago if I wanted to go to Vegas for his bachelor party. Initially I was leery because of a few reasons.

First, I don’t gamble. I have been to the casino twice in my life. Once was $20 and I lost it in the first five minutes. The second time was $5 and I won $50 in the first five minutes. I am also really bad at card games. I have gone to friends places for poker and always leave empty handed.

Secondly, I thought that I wouldn’t know anyone else. Turns out there will be a couple of other coworkers going. So at least I’ll have some people to hang out with.

Thirdly, I’m the oldest of the group. The next oldest is 11 years younger than me and the youngest is 20 years difference.

But I’m excited to have some time to just enjoy myself with a bunch of guys. There will be a lot of drinking. And insults galore. It’ll be a ton of immaturity and silliness. I have been asked to not take pics of our stupidity and not to share on my blog. So I will be respectful of my friend’s wishes.

Time to enjoy some Viva Las Vegas before we head out.

Another Beautiful Night

I cannot express enough how much beauty there is to view in this world. I look out off my back porch, and it feels like we are living in a land of fantasy.

Watching the sunset off in the distance has become a favorite pastime of mine. I stand up on our deck and just absorb its light. Our lower patio deck has stairs that look as though they are about to show you the way to an adventure. A journey that could take you off into the lush green fields and out into the horizon.

I am extremely appreciative of what we have. I know we won’t have it forever, but that we have it now is great. It’s important to reflect on what one has and appreciate the work and time it has take to get to this place. Especially when it feels as though live is trying to throw curveballs in your direction. Staying positive is the best way to battle those hardships and challenges.

Enjoy the what the world has to offer and don’t dwell on the negative.

Our Little “Therapy” Dog

Having a pet is genuinely nice. In the past we have had fish and Guinea pigs as well as dogs. To be perfectly honest, we have always had a dog in our lives.

Our latest dog we have had as a family member for about a year and a half. We named her Maki once we adopted her. As goofy as she is, and as crazy as she gets around other dogs, we love her immensely.

She is our little “Therapy” dog. She makes each of us feel happy when we need it most. If you are upset, she knows instinctively and comes to you for rubs and kisses. Maki has been specifically good for our middle teenager’s mental health. That’s the room she sleeps in six nights a week. The other night is with our youngest.

As much as I push Maki away sometimes (dog breath galore!) I do enjoy having her nearby. She comes to snuggle me when I want to nap and really invades my space when she wants to. Maki is a happy dog and she makes us happy as well.

Outdoor Night Lights

As the summer approaches, the sun is tentatively out for longer. So what we have done in our yard is added some solar lights for a night ambiance.

On the sides of the stairs leading down from our deck add a nice touch to the path. I like the brightness of these lights. At the very top I put one more bright light on the fence post next to the gate. That way our guests will see where they are going should they leave later in the evening.

Along our fence is some string lights that add a lot of light to that part of the yard. In the gazebo is two sets of solar string lights. They brighten up the patio set for some great evening conversations.

To the left of our home, there are a few lights that lead up to the pool shed. For when you have to put away items at the end of a good time. And finally is some more string lights on our upper deck. Should we choose to sit there and hang out, there is also a heater and bbq for making meals.

Some of our lights are remotely controlled. I’m working on adding them to my Google Home app. Automation of our home is some of the most fun I am having living here. Adding lighting and ambiance is also high up.

Do you like having lights as a side feature besides just functionality? Are you getting as impatient as I am for warm summer nights?

Let me know in the comments.

Sunsets In Bed

Life is what you make of it. You can dwell on the negativity and it can bring you down. Or you can learn and grow and change those aspects of your life.

I’ve had my share of downs. I’ve tackled challenges. I’ve endured difficult times. After it all, I am able to see the beauty that the world still has in store. I appreciate that I can feel the sun on my face and watch the clouds roll off as I lay in bed.

I appreciate these moments. This world has so much more to offer. Getting past those negative emotions and thoughts; the light shines through. Another day to love and live.

Happy Easter Friends.

Hidden Wonders

For Darwin’s Birthday, I took her to a magic show in New Westminster. I learned about it from a coworker who heard it from someone else. Which is kind of neat, because it’s a Magic Speakeasy called Hidden Wonders.

First off, entering the building was a unique “Curios” style store. We walked around and looked at some of the items on display. Later, during the show, we found out all of the items were personal belongings saved/hoarded, by the magician.

We were the second group to enter the store. When it was our turn to go to the back, they gave us a key and told us to open the door to get into the show. Only we weren’t told which lock would open the door. This was a bit frustrating, but entertaining afterwards. That’s because once seated in the small auditorium, you got to watch from a hidden camera, the difficulty everyone was having.

Once past the door, there was a display of magic items, trophies, pictures, etc related to the magician we were about to see. Once past that section, we were seated in an intimate auditorium of about 30 seats. I picked up VIP tickets, so we were at the front. Great seats with the opportunity to view the slight of hand up close.

An hour and a half went by with the magician, Shawn Farquhar, telling us stories of his past and sharing tricks. Darwin was asked to choose a trick and ended up choosing to play “A game that you couldn’t win.” That was entertaining as Darwin knew that there was no chance to win, yet Shawn would give the illusion of choice- numerous times. Darwin did end up winning a hug from one of Shawn’s assistants- that was a nice touch that Darwin needed.

At the end of the show, Shawn had a set list of what went on throughout the evening. “Darwin loses the game” was written on the paper. Now Darwin has it in writing that “They lost the game.” If you know, you know.

Once the show was over, we ended up looking around a bit more at the Curios portion of the theatre. We also spent some time talking with Shawn Farquhar a bit and he did a few more slight of hand tricks as we shared tales of Disneyland vacations. I will say, he is a great showman and keeps his stories relatable and connects with the audience on a personable level.

If you want an intimate venue with some humor and magic- I fully recommend the show. If you really want to be involved a bit more- spend a couple extra dollars and get VIP seating. This was a great experience and it is the perfect way to get out of the past couple of years of enduring a lack of human interactions.

A big thank you to Shawn Farquhar and his staff. As awkward as Darwin was at one point, Shawn was a professional and has dealt with crowds and people over the years. He was a gracious host and I highly recommend the show. Check it out at Hidden Wonders and be sure to use the promo code HW15 for a discount.

Darwin Is 18

Celebrating birthdays is something that the majority of us enjoy doing. Whether it’s our own or someone else’s- it’s nice to acknowledge a full rotation of the earth once more.

Darwin has quite the sense of humor. No “Happy Birthday” message again this year.

Today was our middle child’s 18th Birthday. Since it was just the two of us at home and it was a holiday, I allowed for some school friends to stop by. Our downstairs was loud with laughter and fun. I only showed up to do some dishes, bring in the pizza and cut the ice cream cake. A good way to stay out of sight, yet make them aware that there was a parent nearby.

Not that our children have had troublesome friends. For the most part, all of their friends have been really nice. Today, I did my best to hide away for the five or six hours of them laughing and playing games. It was the kind of birthday that Darwin wanted. Tomorrow, my wife and youngest return home from Quebec and we will have some family time to celebrate.

I still have a fun night planned for Darwin’s birthday. I’ll likely share the story tomorrow morning. But for now, it’ll be a Darwin/Daddy evening. I’m glad that I have the opportunity to still have some one on one time with Darwin. It’ll be tough as they enter adulthood and want to spend more time with friends.

Happy 18th Darwin!

2022 Canadian Youth Long Track Championships: Live Feed

Today I was able to watch my son in Quebec at the 2022 Canadian Youth Long Track Championships. My wife sent me the link this morning. She also gave me a few minutes warning right before he hit the ice.

Viewing the races on YouTube in real time made me happy. I felt like I was supportive even though I wasn’t physically there. I also watched his final two races of the day on our big screen tv. That was cool!

Watching on my phone, I also did a “Screen Grab” recording. Once the races were done, I cropped the length of them to be just of his race. This way I can send it off to him to review. He will probably show his new coach as well in order to get some feedback to get better.

Tomorrow is another day of racing for him. I suspect that he is tired after todays events. Long track speed skating is not his strongest yet, but he really enjoys it. Now to get him some training in places like Calgary and Fort St. John.

For my family and friends who wish to watch the feed tomorrow, here is the link: YouTube Live Feed

Real Quebec Photos From My Wife And Son

Yesterday I mentioned how my wife was sending ridiculous pictures to me while on her trip. Shortly after writing that blog, she sent me some much nicer and more touristy style of pictures. Here is a quick collection of images from my wife and son:

Architecturally, Quebec is Eastern European influenced. The entire place reminds me of a real life fantasy world smack dab in the middle of Canada. And people just going about their business, because living like this is totally normal.

I do wish I was there with them. Maybe one day I will go on a trip and see what Quebec has to offer. For now, I just get to enjoy a few photo dumps from their trip!

Quebec Has My Wife And Son

My wife and son have arrived safely in Quebec. They have a couple of days to explore before the speed skating competition. So that’s what they did.

Throughout the day my wife sent me random photos. None were really the type that people share while on a vacation or trip. More just things that she found interesting or humorous- and sent them to send me.

I am a little unsure as to why she shared a picture of kale dumped on the side of the road. Or why she felt it necessary to send a picture of snow the height of a car. In fact, when she sent that to me, as I am here in Vancouver, it began to snow shortly after I received the text. We can all blame her for the snow arriving here! Sorry friends on behalf of my wife.

However, amongst the random pictures of things, she did send me a smiling selfie of the two of them. There was also the obligatory poutine meal picture. So I know they are happy and well fed on this trip. Hopefully she will share some other pictures of more interesting adventures and I can pass them on to everyone else.

Daddy/Darwin Time: Day 1

My wife and son have taken off to Quebec for a few days. Our son is competing in a speed skating event this Thursday and Friday. So as they are off jet setting to the icy tundra of central Canada- I am at home with our middle child.

It started off not so great. I was at work, and She went off to school. But right at the start of her day- she texted me that she had lost her Compass Card (that’s the bus pass for the Vancouver and Fraser Valley). I had just put $30 on it the other day to make sure she had a way to get to and from school. Needless to say, I had to cancel that card and move the amount to another card. She had to borrow $2 from a friend to get home.

I was certain that this event would make for a crummy start to our week at home together. Luckily, I was wrong.

I came home to a messy kitchen. Darwin decided to make fresh pasta for dinner! She was hoping to be done and cleaned up before I got home. I am so happy that she didn’t let the little set back affect her attitude today. Now I’m cleaning the kitchen and we are getting ready to have a nice dinner together.

I’m going to cut my blog short so we can hang out. I do hope we have more ups than downs this week!

Window Seat

In our home we have large windows that overlook the backyard and the fields beyond. Usually I’m standing up and staring off. Recently we added a cushion to the window seat in our master bedroom. Yesterday afternoon I took advantage of it and lay down, watching the clouds roll by.

This evening is an entirely different view. Storm clouds are rolling in. The thunder has tumbled a couple of times. What I thought was rain, turned out to be a mix of snow and hail falling down. A harsh change in weather is coming in quickly. I get to enjoy it from the comfort of my window seat.

Being able to watch the outside world and see the sky has been absolutely entrancing to me over the last few months of living here. I never realized how much of the world we were missing being surrounded by trees in our last home. Mind you, that was wonderful for different reasons. Specifically the privacy and shade we were offered.

But this window seat brings me joy. I can stretch out on it and fully embrace the view. Do you stare out the window during storms or watch the sunset and clouds? Or am I alone at embracing the beauty of the world that we normally take for granted…

Food Trucks!

This weekend there is a Food Truck Wars going on just up the road from our home. My wife and I took our middle child and wandered around. There was so much food! Plus it was busy. Feels as though we are getting back to a sense of normalcy in the world.

We hit up four of the trucks in order to sample some of the goodies. By far the Greek Honey Balls were the favorite of ours. But all of it was delicious. We spent a little over an hour there wandering around trying to figure out what to eat. The lineups were huge, but well worth the time spent!

I haven’t had much in the way of food truck foods. In fact I can count it on one hand how many times I’ve eaten street food prior to today. All of these vendors are good at what they make. I do enjoy supporting small businesses as well.

If you’re looking for a chance to get out and enjoy the sun- hit up a food truck or two!

Friday Fun

Today was a day of shopping and just having fun. My fun consisted of the following:

Finished shopping at Costco, so I sat in a prime spot and ate my hotdog. Numerous people wanted my spot, but I just sat there eating. Now don’t go thinking I’m a jerk. First of all- there is no seating at Costco, and who wants to drive home and eat a cold hotdog? Secondly, I built some karma points to offset this by helping and older lady lift some heavy items into her trunk. I was also being kind to drivers on the road and allowing merging from store driveways. So there’s that.

For the afternoon, it’s time for some European treats. My favorite drink combo: IRN-BRU and vodka will bring forth some memories and fun. The chocolate Flake bars will also necessitate a sugar high.

Time to enjoy the afternoon!

Major Change In Arts

Our children have all been attending, or have attended, the Langley Fine Arts School. Each of them began in the music program. The choices at the younger ages (until grade ten) for picking an “art major” was limited to four choices. Drama, music, dance, visual art.

Over the years, the children were able to expand their horizons and interests. Our oldest went on into film. Our middle moved to writing after a stint at stop motion. And our youngest is wanting to change from music to photography. My wife and I have fully supported each child as they progressed into the newer fields. The best part is that the school also encourages the talented students to join the various after school music groups even if not in the major.

Our son has been working on photo manipulation and was really proud to share with me the following project.

The class was instructed to take an image and “paint” over it. They used computers to edit the image. Our son really enjoyed this assignment and as I said, was really proud of his results. And so are we.

I think it’s absolutely fantastic that he can explore various creative options; and that he likes to do it. Any time we can encourage our children to explore their passions, we will. So far, our kids have proven to us that changing their art majors has been beneficial to their growth. I hope for them to keep up with their hard work.

When Is Summer Arriving?

The sun appears briefly and I want the warm weather to be here. Sure, there was a Wind Storm the other day, but come on- spring is here… yet I want summer weather!

Our patio is slowly getting set up for visitors and entertaining. We removed the dining sets and loungers from winter storage. Now we are in the process of deciding the best layout, while keeping it looking spacious.

The Gazebo went up three weeks ago and has proven to be sturdy as well as keeping the furniture dry. That is a great feeling. I have been out on the patio set now at least two to three times a week. Even on an overcast day like today. I am imagining what it will be like in a month once we open the pool!

Gardening has also commenced. The front is looking spectacular (patting myself on the back). That curb appeal is really something now. Periodic mowing, watering and weeding is all that’s needed now.

Soon I’ll share about the vegetable and herb gardening. That’s more my wife’s project. But I am totally going to benefit from the fruits of her labor!

Are you as impatient about summer arriving as I am?

No More Wind Fears

Today has been blustery. The wind is blowing fiercely across the Lower Mainland. But today, I am at ease.

In our previous home, we experienced wind storms so bad, our home and yard was damaged and we could be without power for days. Here is one example from 2018: Windy. After a few years of these storms, we were often on edge when it was like this. The clean up afterwards would take days if not weeks.

With the openness of our backyard, the wind comes across at full force. I can hear it whistle past the windows and see as our palm trees wave. But I’m okay with this. No crazy damage is occurring. No trees are falling on our roof or taking out our power. And even as the hummingbird feeders sway- the birds come to take a snack without hesitation.

No more wind fears. It’s a good feeling.