Buying A New Home

Our house was put on the market late this week. Within the first 24 hours we booked half a dozen showings for today. We also noticed a lot of cars not from our neighborhood doing a slow drive-by of the home. Hopefully this is all a good sign and we will sell our home.

The thing is, my wife and I have not found a house to buy yet. We ourselves have been looking for the past two months and have gone to several viewings of potential places. Many of which are perfect- for someone else. Or we would need to change our lifestyle drastically to enjoy the home.

At some point our criteria for the perfect home will need to be trimmed. Especially since the market is so hot right now and places are generally selling within a week of listing. Good and bad for us. So we will need to act quickly on a place it seems.

Our biggest wish is for a place with a rental suite. This will allow us to help our adult children to live near Vancouver and save money towards their own place one day. The other “must have” is the the house should be fairly new, or at least be upgraded. A big kitchen is desired and a garage. Beyond that, most everything else is superficial extras.

We know that we are giving up yard space. But that also means that maintaining a smaller yard should be easier. We also know that we will finally have neighbors that we will see more often. And that’s cool,

I kind of miss the suburban lifestyle. Let’s see how long that lasts when we join it once more.

Castle Havelka

It has officially happened folks. After a couple of years of hemming and hawing we put our house on the market to sell. This has been an emotional and tough decision that didn’t happen easily.

First, some history on the house:

It was built by my wife’s father in the early 70’s. He was a bricklayer by trade and enjoyed woodworking as a hobby- and it shows throughout the home. We took possession of the house in May of 2007 when our son was only one year old. It has been a great home to grow in with our kids, with innumerable memories made and loads of personal touches added over the years. Putting the house on the market has a greater emotional connection with more members of this family than just my wife and I.

Here is a collection of pictures from the house after staging. It sure feels like a little oasis away from the hustle and bustle of life.

If you wish to check the listing while it is still active, head over to REW. This house has never been on the market, so the value we put on it is worth more in memories than it is in dollars.

We are excited to pass it on as we say goodbye to the beautiful nature that surrounded us. This is a truly unique home that we hope will be enjoyed by future families.

Deathstar 1138

As many folks who know me may have guessed- I enjoy Star Wars. I have shared numerous memories here in my blog. But one of the things I am happiest about is that my love of Star Wars has been passed on to my children.

The one thing that got passed on rather surprised me. I had created a username on the PlayStation 3 when my son was about two or three years of age. It was a name that I continued using when we purchased the PlayStation 4. The user name is DEATHSTAR1138. A nod to George Lucas. Both with Star Wars and another of his films: THX 1138.

Over the past few years, my son has been playing video games under my user name. But what is even better, is that he continued with that user name into his Instagram account. It appears that this username is now being passed down from one generation to another. Long live Deathstar1138.

I’m not a big video gamer, so my son is more than welcome to keep using the name. I always thought the name to be quite clever. But I’m a nerd like that.

Have you given up your username to your kids? Do you think you might at some point?

Lava

The word “LAVA” is so much fun. When you say it, your brain naturally goes to the idea of Volcanoes and oozing hot magma. Even the word “magma” is fun to say. I’m also enjoying “Lavazza” coffee these days. How fun is that? It’s like I’m pretending to have lava coffee!

When I was in grade 1 (…damn this story is starting waaaaaaayy back when…) I would take out a book about volcanoes from the library every week. Most kids were obsessed with dinosaurs or the Old Testament, that whole Catholic school thing; but I liked volcanoes. Plus every tv trope involving kids and science fairs naturally had a model volcano that made a mess. I remember trying to paper mache my own volcano and made a mess in the basement before completing it.

As well, when I was growing up, I also always wanted a Lava Lamp. In the late 80’s it wasn’t an easy item to find for a decent price. Many lamps cost around 100 bucks in 1987 dollars- so around $230 in today’s money. Not something reasonable for an 11 year old to afford back then.

Fast forward to around 2004… I was in the middle of my five year career at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Where I was in charge of the prize wall- and was permitted to take a prize or twenty home for myself. I took full advantage of this for my kids. They got a lot of toys. But the one that I loved most for me was a Lava Lamp telephone.

We have not had a “landline” in years in this house. In fact, my lava lamp phone was put in storage and forgotten about long before we removed our home phone. This “editing/ purging” kick meant my kids discovered the phone once more. Our son had never seen it, or at least doesn’t remember it. I don’t think I’m quite ready to part with it. So it gets another shot at being plugged in for fun.

Do you like lava lamps? Or do you have memories about volcanoes you wish to share?

Let me know in the comments so I can share them from my secret volcanic lair!

Da Ba Dee

Last year I wrote about Blue Monday. Well, here we are again- it’s that time of year once more. Blue Monday.

This year I don’t feel so negatively as I have in the past. So I figured why not be a bit more upbeat? Eiffel 65 was the artist behind the video I’m Blue from the 90’s. Most everyone I know will hate me for getting that song stuck in their head.

Besides getting my family and friends to hate me for that song, there’s going to be a tasty treat for later. My family picked up a can of soda from an Asian market today. It’s in a blue can and it’s called “Candy Flavor”. How fun! And I’m guessing sugar coma inducing.

What better way to beat the blues than with music and sugar! Like a party created for six year olds! Let’s beat those blues away.

Blanket Coverage

Ever since moving into this house, we have always had blankets in our living room. We find it makes life a little bit more cozy while enjoying movies. Having a blanket brings forth a sense of comfort.

A few years ago, my wife made some “Theater Blankets” for each of our kids. The material is made of a fun fleece print with images of popcorn and such. She gave each blanket a separate trim colour so the kids could tell them apart.

The blanket I use, and often fight with my family because they want it as well, is my ALF blanket. I was given this blanket about 20 years ago at a company baseball game. A coworker had brought it to lay in the field with and I asked if I could have it at the end of the day. He didn’t mind, so now I have a comforter that I wrap myself into to stay snug.

We have a box that we are now keeping these blankets in when not in use. Even though we use these blankets almost daily! But it will help to keep the room clean and tidy. For now at least…

Or do you sit on your couch in a blanket while watching movies or tv?Do you have a favorite blanket? Let me know in the comments.

Nikko Sushi

My wife and I were welcomed to our favorite sushi restaurant for lunch today. It was quiet in the restaurant, but we were still seated in one of the closed off booths for added privacy. We have been coming here since they opened their doors- 20 Years Ago. Our Loyalty for great sushi is with them.

Every time we arrive, the staff (its a family run business) talk to us as if we were part of their family. At first we only went for birthdays and special occasions. Now we end up going there once a month it seems. The quality and value is unsurpassed.

When Nikko first opened, and for a couple of years following, they would take our picture. If you look closely in a few of the booths you will find our family up on the wall. For twenty years, the staff at Nikko Sushi has watched out family grow. Even today, when it was just my wife and I, they asked about our kids.

Because of our commitment to them, we are treated like royalty when we walk in those doors. Almost every meal we end up getting a sample of some sort of treat they have. And every year for their anniversary, we have been given a gift. Previously we have received bottles of wine, this year was a lovely hand towel (that our oldest daughter has claimed.) We also leave a generous tip as I have always proudly supported small business.

If you haven’t eaten at Nikko Sushi, you absolutely have to try it. Trust me, it is quality food. I plan on still going there over the next twenty years!

Stealing Lunch Treats

Being a father is great! You get to never grow up. Kids want you to play with toys, watch cartoons, dress up, all that fun stuff.

I love the fact that I get to steal my kids’ lunch snacks and pack them into my lunch. My son has accepted this and even packs treats for me to enjoy. This time was a couple pieces of strawberry Nibs candy. It was a pleasant surprise.

Back in high school I used to buy big boxes of Super Nibs every week. I’d keep them in my locker. As people wandered the halls, they knew to stop by for a treat if they saw me at my locker. I’ve always been the sort of person to share if it brings people joy.

Inadvertently I have bestowed that quality in my son. It brings me joy that he wants to make others happy with simple gestures as I do.

I’m still going to steal granola bars and cheese and crackers for my lunch. But a Nib or two is always welcome.

Calendar

We all live our lives based around calendars and clocks. For years I have recited the days of the week starting on SUNDAY. Even my regular work schedule is Sunday to Wednesday. Plus the family calendar we use started that day as well.

This year my wife bought a Disney themed calendar. (Mostly because we have all been dreaming about a future vacation to Disneyland.) Each week starts on a Monday. This is not normal for me! But it works really well for the rest of the family. Since school and work goes from Monday to Friday. Saturday and Sunday are days off for everyone else.

February also lines up as a perfect month this year when you go Monday to Sunday. Little joys like that make me smile. I can forgive the calendar we use this year for that reason alone. The only thing is we have to start filling in the days with our busy and hectic lives.

How do you recite the days of the week? Are you a Sunday starter or a Monday person?

Cheesecake

Our recent obsession is watching “The Golden Girls” on Amazon Prime. I had no idea how often these ladies just pulled a cheesecake out of the freezer and sat around cracking jokes. I have been throughly amused by this show and remember bits and pieces from when it ran the first time around.

I have always loved cheesecake. I was eating cheesecake when I saw my first crush as a teenager. Later in life, my wife and I had cheesecake at our wedding instead of wedding cake. Whenever my wife and I are on a date and cheesecake is on the menu- I like to enjoy a slice to end the evening. To me cheesecake is kind of romantic.

My wife and daughter scratch made a delicious lemon cheesecake the other day. It was fantastic. It made me realize that we could have cheesecake more often. I think it shall be a possibility going forward- especially if someone else is making it for me…

My love of cheesecake will always be around. When I get older, I’ll probably eat just as much as Dorothy, Rose, Blanche and Sophia do. Nothing wrong with solving your problems over a cheesecake.

Count Down to 2021

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?

Ferrero Rocher

I’m not a huge chocolate eater. However, I have a guilty pleasure that only gets satisfied at Christmas.

Ferrero Rocher

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?

Christmas Day 2020

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.

All is well and done for the year.

Quiet Country Christmas Eve

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.

Christmas Eve 2020

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.

2020 Solstice Snow Chaos

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.

R2-Tree2

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.

Now it is completed. And looking good thanks to the 3D files from Mr Baddeley’s Printed Droid.

Happy Life Day everyone!

Christmas at Williams Park

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.

Bye Boba

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.

Go Eat Worms

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.

Let me know in the comments.

Twelve Days Until Christmas

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.

Family Decorating the Tree Time

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.

More Star Wars/Marvel News

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?

Shattered Memories

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.

Staycation Woes

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.