Sober St. Patrick’s Day

I’m celebrating another St. Patrick’s Day by being sober. I have been dry since the end of August which is a huge deal for me and my health. At almost seven month without alcohol, I have had a few weak moments that came close to knocking me backwards into my old routines.

Besides mentioning my sobriety in today’s post, St. Patrick’s Day is just another day. Only I’m going to wear green and have Green Tea or perhaps matcha. That’s the extent of my St. Patrick’s Day celebrating.

When I was a child, I remember green being my favorite colour. I also remember the word GREEN was one of the first words my kids ever spelled. That was because of a preschool song from when they were 3/4 years old. It was very cute. Anyone who had kids at Wind and Tide would remember the same thing.

What are you doing today? Did you remember to wear green?

Supporting Local as My Birthday Gift

For my birthday yesterday, my wife took me out to support a trio of small business restaurants in Langley. I’m a big proponent of helping out and buying from local businesses as often as I can afford it. To enjoy my birthday, I asked to support locally.

We started off with a late brunch at a place called Egg Bomb. This was the first time my wife and I had eaten there. It was funny because while we were inside, we talked about how the two of us used to attend the original coffee house that was first built in that location. Neither of us had met one another back in the 90’s at Castle Bay Coffee.

Egg Bomb was exactly that. Eggs! And amazing coffee. I had a teriyaki sandwich and my wife had prawn with hollandaise sauce. It was awesome. I would highly recommend them.

For dinner, the entire family went to a favorite restaurant of ours in Fort Langley- The Little Donkey. Burritos that were jam packed with delicious quality ingredients that filled our bellies.

And for dessert, my wife picked up a dozen Boston Cream donuts from Gourmet Donuts and Coffee in Walnut Grove. My wife remembered a story I had shared about my father from my childhood. Whenever he would attempt to quit smoking (this happened about five or six times) he would come home with a dozen Boston Creams for the family.

I enjoyed my birthday yesterday and all the food that my wife took me out for. Spending time with her and enjoying her company in the different atmospheres was wonderful. I really appreciate what she did for me and I’m glad we went out and helped other businesses by enjoying their wares.

He’s Hip. He’s Cool. He’s 45.

March 15th. 03/15. Multiply the numbers together and you get 45. That’s right folks. It’s my birthday today. I’m turning 45.

Back when I was 16/17 the tv show “Kids in The Hall” did a skit. Check it out here:He’s Hip. He’s Cool. He’s 45. I remember it being goofy and ridiculous. Because people who were 45 weren’t cool.

And yet, here I am. 45. I don’t see myself as hip or cool. I am however, a father, a husband, a railroader, a geek, and an all around nice guy.

I have no plans for my Birthday today either. I’m not wishing or hoping for an extraordinary gift from anyone. I’ll probably get a few texts and phone calls from friends and family. That’s all I really need.

And maybe a nap. Naps are cool.

Want My Wood?

My father-in-law enjoyed woodworking for many years. Once they moved out of this house, we had a lot of the pieces remaining for future use. But as most hobbies go, you end up with more than you require. And the hobbies take a spot on the back burner.

Since we are coming up on the last few months before we move, it was time to tackle the wood collection. There was large and small “cookies” cut from trees all stored in the upper part of the woodshed. I didn’t want it to get thrown in the fire, so it was time to start giving it away.

About one tenth of what we have.

My wife’s brothers came by over the last couple of days to collect a few pieces that they wanted. One of their friends also came by and he took a few big pieces. (We are getting a fresh Turkey for Easter out of the deal!) Later this afternoon, a few people locally are coming by to collect some pieces. Next week, I will be contacting a few other local craft/woodworkers and see if they could use some pieces.

Considering the wood has been here for decades, it’s all dry and in great shape. I used a few pieces a couple years ago and Painted them for decoration in our home. I’m not a wood worker, so the rest isn’t for me. I want it to all go to good use, and I’m sure my father-in-law will be happy to know it’s getting used the way it was intended.

If you are local and want to grab my wood, give me a shout.

Maskne

It’s been a year of following guidelines and wearing masks. I never had issues from breathing through a mask. But I have on occasion developed some acne from mask wearing.

The term that I’m sure you’ve heard is Maskne. A combo of mask and acne. I have only gotten a couple of pimples on my chin since the pandemic began, so I’m happy about that. I generally have clear skin.

I did however discover a zit inside my nose yesterday. A ZIT INSIDE MY NOSE. What the heck? Why? And why does it hurt so much?

I had to stick my finger into my nostril and press my nail against it to pop it. I popped the zit by picking my nose. It hurt so badly I was crying. Yup, I am a sexy man. Sorry folks, I am spoken for. My wife is extremely lucky.

How is your acne behind the mask going? Any fun stories like mine?

Bose Forest Park

Yesterday my wife and I took our teenagers to go and see the neighborhood we will be moving to. We parked up the street from our future home and explored the pathways. The area is called Bose Forest Park. It’s a well maintained set of trails in the suburbs. One of the paths lead past our new home, so we walked the neighborhood a bit as well.

Upon returning to the car, our teenagers excitedly went to the playground and goofed off. It brought me great pleasure to see the joy in their hearts as they played. They got along wonderfully and it made me realize that we did the right thing in choosing to move to that neighborhood.

My wife is happy that there are numerous pathways around with plenty of routes to choose from. After living in our neighborhood for so long, there is only so much you can see when you walk in a rectangle around the block.

I’m looking forward to the change and joining the suburban life. Don’t get me wrong- Country Living has been great and the neighbors have known each other for decades! But it will be neat to be a part of an ever changing community once more.

This time- we are going to be the newbies.

100 Days (And Counting)

We are officially one hundred days from moving. I feel as if we are finally getting some relief for all that we have been through. I don’t mean just selling and buying a home. I’m talking about the past twenty years of stress and hard work- not just the struggle of surviving 2020.

This may sound odd, but our Future Home is actually our “First Home”. Let me explain that statement.

A little over twenty years ago, my father passed away. About nineteen years ago, my mother decided to uproot herself and move to literally the middle of nowhere on Vancouver Island. She moved to Gold River and asked my wife and I if we would want to buy the house she owned in Langley.

So I pushed hard and worked three jobs to afford a down payment and the first bit of paying for the house. We bought it at market value for $210,000. After four years, the market boomed and we had a third child. It was time to sell and move. We sold that house for $410,000.

At that point, my wife’s parents were wanting to downsize. After a lot of discussion and stretching ourselves thin once more, we used all of our equity from the first home and bought my wife’s parents’ place for $570,000. We also needed an extra $60,000 borrowed from them in order to get qualified.

All of the help from both my mother and my wife’s parents have put us in a very comfortable position to buy our “First Home”. In doing so, my wife and I will be able to assist our children if/when the time comes for them. This is our way to Pay it Forward.

My success is your success.

Nineteen years of paying down mortgages and struggling from time to time with finances has afforded us the luxury to be successful. All of our friends have watched us as we have hit hardships and windfalls. I appreciate their cheers from the sidelines and the hugs when we needed them. We continue to cheer them on through their endeavors and wins as well.

As we count down to our new home, many of our friends have volunteered to help us in a number of ways, I will be calling in these favors in exchange for pizza and beer!

Our Future Home

In just over two and a half weeks we had listed our home, sold our home and bought a new home. It was fast, stressful, and filled with joy! We were able to get the price we wanted for our current place (and more). We are soon moving into what feels like our dream home.

There are so many things about this new house that appeal to us. First and foremost is the address. Yup. I’m a numbers guy. I like patterns. We had to get married on 10/07/2001 because I liked how the members were. The address for this place is 16261 61A Ave. In Chinese lucky numbers, the meanings are as follows:

ONE: UNITY

SIX: SMOOTH

TWO: HARMONY

I think this house will have that all for us: UNITY/SMOOTH/HARMONY.

This new home is nearly 5000 square feet over three levels. The listing was described like this: “Welcome to the POOL PARTY in this GORGEOUS FOXRIDGE home located in prestigious WEST CLOVERDALE! This extraordinary home has it all,quality construction,breathtaking views, 4982sqft w/ 5 bds,6 bths & daylight WALKOUT BASEMENT for INLAWS w/ finishings that mirror the main!Luxury living awaits,w/ immaculate master w/ fireplace,extravagant ensuite & 2 closets.Your open concept main floor overlooks your PRIVATE RESORT like pool & deck to enjoy coffee,cocktails,family & friends all while looking at your mountain & valley views(w/ Jimmy Buffet playing in the background). The list doesn’t end,S/S appliances,quartz counters,hardwood flooring, custom window coverings,coffered & vaulted ceilings & OVERSIZED driveway. All this in a family-friendly cul-de-sac close to schools, parks & walking trails!”

Yup, there is a built in pool in the backyard. This was the only thing that was giving us second thoughts about buying the place. It’s an extra expense that we never had on our “wish list” for a house. But the views, the space and the massive basement suite (that can generate a good income) more than makes up for it.

The interior of the house is exemplary in its style. The owners were meticulous with the upkeep and for a ten year old house- it shows as if it was brand new. The yard space and the views are what really drew our attention to this house. Even though we are moving from a treed backyard on almost an acre, the green belt and farmland behind this new property makes it feel spacious.

By summer our family will be in our new home. This will be a big change for us all- but a very welcomed one. I’m really happy and proud of how hard we worked at being homeowners for twenty years to get to this point. The long game has paid off, so they say.

Spring Break Vacation 2021

It’s that time again. My first vacation of the year is starting. It feels great to know I don’t have to go into work for 11 days.

It was definitely a stressful day at work as I tried to keep focused. My mind was clearly elsewhere as buying and selling of our future homes is forefront in my life.

The next few days will be some decompressing time. I’ll get some time to myself and then next week my wife and the kids will be on vacation as well. That’s when we will be busy packing more stuff for the move.

So “Spring Break” won’t be much of a break. Just time away from work in order to do more work.

Le sigh

Covid Vaccine

Starting next Monday, the general population of BC will be able to book their vaccinations for Covid-19. They are starting with people over age 90 the first week. Then every week after will go down by five year increments.

I hope to have my sleeve rolled up as soon as I am able to. That is because I am missing a portion of my left lung and have had respiratory issues my entire life. Covid has been stressful for me this past year. However, if I have to wait until July or later, I will patiently do that.

If all goes well, I really hope the restrictions will be lifted this summer. It would be nice to have a larger gathering once more with some dear friends. Where we can talk about all the frustration the pandemic has caused!

Here is the BC Roll Out: Covid Vaccine

Do you plan on taking a needle for your health? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments.

Funyuns

Today’s blog is about nothing. Flavored, crunchy air rings of nothingness. A strange chemical concoction that I decided to ingest as a late night snack yesterday.

This snack was salty and filled with all the fakeness you could imagine. A two dollar bag of flavored air rings. A glorious attempt at making them look and taste like onion rings, without actually containing onions.

And I ate the entire bag in one sitting. In my bed. Watching tv. Hating myself with every bite. Disgusted by the fact that I licked my fingers clean afterwards. Worst of all? I didn’t want to share them!

Funyuns. Damn you!

Watching Winter Fade Away

As the sun makes a more regular appearance these days, it feels as if winter is long since behind us. But Spring is still two weeks away.

My wife and I went out for a walk in Fort Langley today in order to take advantage of the weather. The coffee shops and restaurants had people lined up- social distancing of course. It wasn’t as busy as we expected on the trails, which was nice. We walked for about 5km just talking and enjoying a day off from house hunting. However, a couple of trains went by, reminding me of work.

At home, the vegetation is starting to become green and budding. We will get to enjoy one last Spring Bloom in this house, which is what we wanted. We talked about the plants that we will take to our next home instead of talking about what we will miss about this one.

In a sense, we are already moved out as we separate our feelings from this home. Sure, there’s still yard work and cleaning to do over the next couple of months. We don’t want to leave the place in shambles for the new owners. Plus we get the joy of spring and the feeling of starting anew.

Attic Storage

Since we are moving, I need to get into the attic and start pulling stuff out. I sort of know what’s up there. But I still wanted to check it out.

Disney Recess Movie. I forgot I had this banner!

We actually have three attics for storage in this house. I have emptied two of them so far. One had a box of wires. The other had old movie banners and fans for the summer. The third- which is above our linen closet- should contain a few Rubbermaid containers of baby/toddler clothes. Not a ton of stuff, but stuff nonetheless.

We have been paring down on stuff for a few months now. We started by trying to get the kids on board in decluttering their rooms. It wasn’t until we staged the house that this was finally accomplished. We have a little over three months to go through our stuff and decide what to keep and what to donate/sell. The final process will happen once we know where we are moving to and what stuff will make our trek to the new place.

Of course, we will probably still bring junk in boxes that shall stay packed up for many more years. Just because we cannot part with it. Relocating boxes from home to home without ever throwing it away? Seems like it would be commonplace in everyone’s house- just like a junk drawer. That’s normal, right?

I think moving is a good opportunity to evaluate what we have.

And what we have is a ton of junk!

Magic Kingdom For Sale- SOLD!

We have officially sold Castle Havelka. The subjects were removed last night and the final contract was signed. Perhaps it was this write up about our house from our agent that helped us get an offer within a week and a sold sign in twelve days:

“Quiet, Peaceful and Park Like! 38,000 sq ft southern exposed lot situated on a small cul-de-sac street in one of the best locations in desirable Salmon River. In an area of brand new luxury small acreage homes. This sprawling 3,134 sq ft two storey home has a terrific layout, exquisite detail and tons of character throughout. Beautiful large rooms including inviting kitchen/eating area plus large media and dining room on main floor. Upstairs has 5 large bedrooms. Fall in love with your backyard including large deck space with “Nano Style” doors opening up to your manicured grounds . Walking distance to North Otter Elementary. Wrap around driveway with tons of parking. Room for Shop! RV Parking. First time on market! This one is a must see!”

Now it’s time to hunker down on the house search. We’ve only scratched the surface and barely dipped our toes into the pool of what homes are out there. It’s time to really push our imaginations and find the right place for us. Essentially we are planning to buy a home that our teens can become adults in if they so choose to still live with us. We are looking for more space inside of the house and closer to big city amenities.

We are giving up the “Country Living” hashtag and going for more “Suburban Living”. It also means that CASTLE HAVELKA will need a new moniker for our next place. I want to use Kingdom, Empire or Realm to describe our next place. Perhaps Chalet or Shanty will be the term. Only time will tell with how it turns out.

I’m glad that this step is behind us. One sigh of relief has occurred, now to take a deep breath and dive into our house hunting!

Hump Day Happiness

It’s always a good feeling when the weather is nice. The world just seems more alive and vibrant.

Sometimes a midweek break of poor weather has you looking forward to the weekend. A day at work or school just seems to be a bit more pleasant as you look out the windows. It lifts your spirits with the knowledge that the weekend is fast approaching.

Cresting Hump Day means the week is almost over. A sense of relief, a warm fuzzy, a breath of fresh air.

I like sunny hump days.

What Day Is It?

Working night shifts is pretty rough these days. My sleep pattern is so broken because of all the extra stuff going on with selling and buying a house. I get phone calls, emails and texts from our realtor during “normal” business hours while I’m trying to sleep. I was glad last week when I only had to work Three Shifts.

I can’t get angry at those who contact me. But I do wish that I could pass them off to my wife. Problem is she is working normal hours. Usually she is good at leaving me alone. My kids however… they tend to be louder and noisier when they know I need sleep.

I’m about to go in for my third 12 hour shift in a row tonight. I feel like a zombie- getting just barely enough sleep in order to function. I have one more to go after this as well.

Hopefully I can catch up on some sleep on my days off. Then I can become normal once more.

March On

I cannot believe that we are in March of 2021 already. It feels like only yesterday that lockdowns began. But it’s been over a year. Here we are heading towards spring the following year… when is this pandemic going to end?

The “New Normal” is now the normal. Wear a mask, wash your hands ♾ times a day, keep your distance, no large crowds… For the most part, we are all accepting of these new rituals. I have become more accustomed to hand sanitizing than I ever thought I’d be.

Of course this has also made us buggy and stir crazy. (Since when did Sea Shanties become popular?) In the end we have discovered what is important to us. Walks in nature, making video calls to family and friends, learning new skills like baking or painting- all part of the “New Normal”.

As a society, we have been able to March On. That makes us resilient. Let’s keep up the positivity as we head towards a healthy tomorrow.

Living Like The Jetsons

Looking for a new house has me realizing that technology has come a long way. Especially when walking through brand new builds.

Many of us just accept the fact that TV’s have moved from a large cabinet piece on the floor to a picture frame on the wall. And that the image has grown exponentially in size and the sound is immersive. This is in every house.

But now we can buy a fridge with a touchscreen and camera built in. That way one can connect to see what groceries they may need while out shopping. Or there’s a stove you can turn on remotely as well. Plus a number of other small appliances with similar features.

We are one step closer to living like The Jetson’s. Essentially we are on the cusp- minus the flying cars and buildings in the sky. Everything else is becoming commonplace in a similar fashion.

Is it making life easier or making us lazier? I think it’s a bit of both. But it allows for us to find the free time to explore more about the world. We can enjoy the arts more, create more, and just live in the moment more often.

Technology has come a long way for how we live. At least we aren’t on the Oregon Trail dying from dysentery.

Shellfish Medley

I really do miss traveling these days. Besides hitting exciting destinations and seeing the sites, there’s a big thing that happens while traveling. It’s also the most costly part of vacations. That’s eating at restaurants- for five of us.

When we travelled as a family, we would make sure to go to one or two special restaurants. Some of my favorite places were sushi, ramen and seafood. We also made sure to dress up for a dinner as well (depending on the trip). Making meals an experience is just as important as the meals themselves.

Recently I was really missing the places like Joe’s Crab Shack, Bubba Gump’s, & The Crab Pot. From Anaheim to Seattle, even though they are relatively close- we aren’t leaving Canada any time soon. So why not bring the meals to us?

I went to the store and loaded up on shellfish for tonight’s dinner at home. Clams, mussels, snow crab, tiger prawns, Thai prawns, potatoes, fried farmer sausage and corn. It took me about thirty minutes of preparation and cooking. I sautéed some onion in garlic butter. Then I added a bottle of beer, two cups of water and lemon juice bringing it to a bowl. I spiced it up a bit with chili flakes, sriracha sauce and paprika before steaming the shellfish for a few minutes. Once everything was done, I tossed it all in a large canning pot with some taco seasoning.

Dinner was a success! Even though we had a large pot of food on the table, it was almost all gone. Everyone went for seconds and thirds. While we ate we talked about our previous vacations. It was a great feeling to reminisce. I enjoy how food can take us back to places we once visited.

Inspection Preparation

On Monday, our prospective buyers are paying for a bunch of inspections on the property. This is completely normal and will lend to a peace of mind for what they can expect once they take possession of the house.

In doing so, we needed to help make everything more accessible. We don’t exactly have a “regular” house for sale. We are in a neighborhood of acreages and farm land. First thing we did was dig out the septic tank access points. It was a ton of fun getting my two youngest to dig. Hashtag sarcasm.

I then headed into the attic to take a quick gander. The roof and insulation look great- nothing out of the ordinary there. I did enjoy the escape from any other burdens while I was up there. If it wasn’t for the dust and insulation, I would have contemplated taking a nap.

Lastly, I went under the house and into the crawl space with the help of my son. I wanted to do a quick survey of the foundation and if there were any possible leaks or damage. Nope. It all looks well aged and sturdy.

The bones of this home are strong. Which makes it really hard to say farewell to it. However, it also means that the future owners (maybe this couple, if not perhaps someone else) will have some great building blocks to work with should they do choose to change things up.

Since they are putting up so much money for these inspections, I would hope that the seriousness of the purchase remains in tact for when the subjects get removed. Now to let the stress build up for a few more days and eat away at me from the inside out. But hey, at least our attic is full of cotton candy!

Offer Accepted

After only one week on the market, we accepted an offer on our house. There’s subjects to be removed within the next week, but if all goes well- that’s one hurdle down, about 1.9 million more to go.

This is a big step for us all. And now that the reality of moving and leaving this house has really stepped up its game- we need to find us a place to live. Lucky for us we put in a date of mid-June in order to allow the two youngest to finish school without much in the way of interruptions.

That’s almost four months of trying to find the perfect home to relocate to. I think it’s doable. What I’m really liking is that friends and coworkers from all over the area are trying to convince us to move to their neighborhoods. Everyone is proud of where they live, and it shows.

So if you know of a great location in the Lower Mainland of BC with five bedrooms and a suite to rent- let me know! We could be neighbors!

Stress Crying

It’s been a very long time since stress has hit me. But yesterday it hit me so hard that I broke down crying. And it happened in front of my family. The group of people that I do my best to remain calm and emotionally strong in front of.

I’m not going into details, because airing my personal business isn’t something I think is appropriate all the time. But needless to say I hit a breaking point where I needed to take a shower to wash away the tears. That helped a lot.

I like to use my blog as a place of positivity. Rarely, if ever, do I share the bad on here. So I’d like to take the fact that I hit a low point and turn it around. There’s only one way to go and that is up. Things and situations are just going to get better. They just have to, right?

Right. Things are going to get better! Positive Mental Attitude.

Three Day Work Week Stress

Hooray for the upcoming four day weekend!

With everything that is going on this month- it is nice to realize that I only have a three day work week. Even better is the fact that I have only one more shift to go. What’s been really good is that work has been comforting in the fact that the stresses there are manageable.

I’m not liking the house selling/buying stresses. About twenty years ago when my wife and I did a “Pre-Marriage Course”. It was part of the agreement we made with the pastor in order for her to marry us. The course was over a weekend and delved into a lot of subjects related to marriage. The one I recall the most was how to Tri-fold a towel. The other was about the different stresses in our lives. (Folding towels isn’t one of them… unless you make it one).

The top stressors after death and marriage was having children and moving. I’m happy to report that divorce hasn’t happened and death in the family has been at the wayside since just before we married. Children are an ongoing stress. But moving has happened only twice since my wife and I met 21 years ago. I guess it was about time to add that stress in our lives.

So as nice as it is that I have a three day work week, it just means that I will be able to focus my free time at home stressed out. No real avenue to relieve that stress either. I’ll probably just end up gathering more junk together and get it ready for pick up. I’m also going to try going for a walk each day to clear my head. I just need to stay active and not dive too far into my own thoughts.

Now We Wait

Over the weekend we had nine viewings of our home. I have no idea if that is high or low or about average. But it does mean that people wanted to see our house. So that’s a good sign.

Now it’s a waiting game. We wait and see if there is a purchaser for this house. I’m positive that there is someone out there that would take great care of this home the same way we have over the years. Hopefully a family with little kids to enjoy the yard.

But waiting to hear anything sucks. A bazillion thoughts go through your mind. The kind of thoughts that keep you up at night causing you to feel unrested and agitated the next day.

Soon it will all be over. The waiting will end and the stress will dissolve. I just wish for that day to come quickly.

Showing The House

I completely forgot about the details involved in showing a house. Especially when you need to continue living in it. There’s the last minute cleaning, making sure the place is staged to show nothing of your personal life, plus we have dogs that need to be taken away.

The real estate agents make it sound so easy. Which in the long run, I suppose it is. The minor inconveniences we face this weekend could mean the difference between selling the house in a timely manner or waiting far longer for an offer. The thought of doing showings for months on end is not one I want to face.

Since we stayed away from our home for almost seven hours yesterday, the staging today went really easy. Yesterday we went for a walk through a park to kill some time followed by a picnic. Today will be more of the same. The doggos seemed to like it. However there is a sprinkling of rain that may occur. I’m not thrilled at the thought of the smell of wet dog in my car.

But wanting top dollar for our home means a few hours of doing our part. Fingers crossed that the showings go well. I just want to put a sign on the front door: “Buy this house!