The Parents Who Volunteer

Fort St. John is a small community with a large Speed Skating Oval. While here, our kids got to experience a true sense of a tight knit community supporting their dreams.

The parents of almost every skater has volunteered their time in many aspects. From photography to lap counting to place judging and every background position possible. Setting up these meets and camps just to promote the kids and their goals.

The statue out front of the Pomeroy Sports Centre shows a father tying up his kid’s skates. This is the perfect representation of how sports bring forth a sense of family and camaraderie. I’ve tied my fair share of ice skates for many kids already. It’s a sense of encouragement that can mean so much out there.

I also love to hear the cheering going on for every child out there on the ice. The parents, coaches and other skaters cheer one another on. I’ve mentioned this before, but I still delight from the enthusiastic energy produced.

It makes all the difference in the world to many of these kids.

Olympic Dreams

We spent thIs past week in Fort St. John in order for our kids to get some Long Track Speed Skating training. It wasn’t until Thursday that I realized this is an Olympic Goal for many. Even those not just in British Columbia, or let alone Canada, but around the world.

When we were in Calgary we saw the Chinese Olympic Speed Skating Team doing their training. Now they are training in Fort St. John alongside my kids. This seems crazy to me because of course I want our son to succeed in his goal. I thought our 12 and 14 hour road trips were extreme. But flying in from China- that’s dedication.

This week our kids had an opportunity to learn and skate with Denny Morrison. A Long Track Olympic Speed Skater for Canada who got his start here in Fort St. John. Our daughter was even excited to have her Speed Skating helmet signed by Denny Morrison. I think our kids forget that they get coached by Eden Donatelli and her husband Julian Green. Both of these coaches have competed in the Olympics (having met at the 1988 Olympics).

After asking our son if he remembers a time before Julian, and he does not. The drive and ambition to achieve an Olympic Dream is strong in our son. He’s been coached for many years and has a strong backing supporting him. If he wants to get to the world stage, then we shall help him any way we can. Including these trips to Fort St. John or Calgary and any other provinces or counties this may take us to.

Why We’re In Fort St. John

I guess I should write about why we’re up in Fort St. John for the week. This is another week of Speed Skating training camp at a Long Track ice rink. Our son is getting more and more competitive at Short Track Speed Skating and wants to set his sights higher. So last month while we were in Calgary: The Fastest Ice we picked up some Long Track boots and blades for him. This week he is doing more training and he’s learning lots. Our daughter also wanted to come to the camp. We rented her some Long Track skates for the week and she is wanting to learn the officiating aspect as well.

We’ve spent the last few days at the Pomeroy Sports Centre… okay I’m a liar- we drop the kids off and they spend the day training. The building boasts two hockey rinks on the main level, a large oval on the second level and a walking track on the third level. Every day my wife and I show up early for pick up and walk the track for a few laps.

Both of our kids have made a ton of friends this trip. Wednesday night was a BBQ hosted by the local Speed Skating Club. Our kids abandoned us so they could hang with these friends. One day they will also be the competition, but they are all getting along famously right now.

I like the Speed Skating culture. Everyone is encouraging and wanting the each other to be successful.

Safe Travel Day

As I mentioned yesterday in my blog- Off To Fort St. John– we had a road trip taking us fairly far North in British Columbia. We left our home at 6am and made it into Fort St. John by 8pm. we made it in one word:

Safely.

That’s the key that I want to mention about this road trip that I always overlook when talking about driving. I love taking the roads through the mountains, deserts, countrysides and cities. Road trips are a good way to bond with my family on these vacations. But the journey needs to always be taken safely.

We left before the sun came out. But we stopped twice before even hitting the freeway. That’s because I was uncertain about one of the front straps on the kayaks I had mounted to the roof. Because of my anal retentiveness- this prevented any possible issues during our drive. Every time we stopped for gas- I rechecked the tie downs. All was good.

After about eight hours of my hand at driving, I realized I was becoming extremely tired and had my wife take over. I hopped into the back seat with our son, while our daughter sat up front and played “DJ”.

After a couple of hours driving on the single lane roadways- my wife was behind a slow moving vehicle. When an opportunity arose for her to pass the RV, she signaled and began to pull around. At which point the truck behind her also decided he wanted to pass both our car and the RV. He had no signal and a lead foot. My wife had to jerk back into our lane narrowly avoiding hitting the front side of the truck and the rear bumper of the car in front. There was no reason for the guy behind us to try and run us off the road. But he felt he was more important.

My wife remained calm and then passed the RV. The other truck was now barreling down the road ahead of us at close to twice the posted speed limit. Oh well.

About an hour before we were to get to our destination- there was the remnants of a bad accident. It looked as though a train had collided with a semi trailer at the only train crossing around. The flag people were in position alternating the flow of traffic. We weren’t held up for very long.

Needless to say, we encountered a few indiscretions during our fourteen hour drive. Road trips are long and can be tedious. But keeping your occupants and fellow drivers around you safe should always be number one. We preach safety at my work, and I take that home every day as well. I’d much rather get to our destination safely than in a hurry.

So we made it to Fort St. John safely.

Off To Fort St. John

Today we are driving North. This will be the furthest North I have ever driven. Prior to this was back in Grade Eight in 1988 when I went on a band trip to Prince George. That was memorable because we stayed at the host homes of one of the schools up there.

But today we are driving for about another four hours past Prince George. Driving North. I can’t get over how far this is from our home.

But it’s not the furthest we’ve driven from our home. We drove South one time almost all the way to the Mexican border. Driving South usually means warmer weather and a more fun destination.

Earlier this year we headed East. Not quite out of Alberta. But getting pretty close. The distance is almost as far as our travels today. But the time to get there is quicker. Most likely due to the route and my tendency to get a speeding ticket in Alberta…

As for driving West- Gold River On Vancouver Island was the furthest so far. Can’t overly drive through the Pacific Ocean. The ferry only gets to the islands nearby.

Do you enjoy roadtrips as much as we do?

What’s the furthest you’ve driven?

Any sights you’d recommend on the drive North through British Columbia?

Let me know in the comments!

What Does $1000 Look Like?

Recently I finished a set off doors for our home. I’m really happy with the results. But it got me thinking about how $1000 can look differently every time. With each and every purchase or experience being worthwhile.

I treated my wife to a night out on the town at a spa and hotel. We needed that time off. Wedgewood Hotel and Spa

We bought tickets to Queen for the five of us. Such an amazing show. Queen

We now have a back up generator for when the power goes out. Like it does every year… sometimes for days on end.

My son got a pair of Long Track Speed Skates. Chasing that Olympic Dream! Fastest Ice

We bought a couple of kayaks and accessories. Gotta stay in shape as we grow older. Kayak Adventure

That’s all from this year. In the past- a thousand dollars bought three iPad Minis, or a video game system and accessories, or tickets to Disneyland, even a new mattress…

Like they say, a thousand here and thousand there- pretty soon it adds up to real money.

I’m starting to feel broke. Maybe it’s time to slow down on the spending. The kids need a post secondary education. A thousand bucks might buy a couple of textbooks.

Time Off

I’m about to enjoy 17 days off. It seems like I always have vacation time off from work. I kind of do I guess. Five weeks of regular vacation every year. I try and set aside a week every couple of months. This year was a bit different. I have been enjoying summer a lot and still have more to come!

As I’ve mentioned, most of my time off this year is to support our son. First was a week in March for a Speed Skating competition. Then was June so that I could chaperone with Grade 7 Camp. A week in July in order for him to skate on the Olympic Oval. And next week is another Speed Skating camp in Northern BC.

The last week of August will be a summer wind down. With some camping and R+R to slow down our busy lives before returning to a September schedule. Taking a week in June, a week in July, and two weeks in August is a great way to keep the summer vacation going. Even if we aren’t traveling to exotic locations- the time spent with family and friends is extraordinarily worthwhile.

How are you planning on ending August? Let me know in the comments.

Summer Chills

Looks like our road trip next week will be a chilly one.

Leaving our home behind us also means leaving the warmer weather.

That’s kind of disappointing. But I guess the chill up North is great for our kid’s speed skating. Right?

Right…

Waifu Pillow Talk

Last night I was talking to my family about sleep. The conversation turned to pillows, obviously… I use three pillows. One to rest the side of my head on. One to add weight on top of the blanket. And finally, one that I “cuddle”.

“Cuddle” is the best way to describe it I guess. I either place the pillow between my knees to space out my legs, or I’ll put it half under my chest and place my arm around it. I used to sleep in the fetal position and still do if I’m sick. But the pillow thing is just a comfort feeling.

In the past I have used a body pillow as my “cuddle” pillow. Last night our daughter was asking if I needed a “Waifu Pillow“. Naturally I said sure. Our kids have seen these pillows at Comicons all their lives, so it was no surprise that they know what they are.

The conversation then turned to which “Waifu” I’d want. I think my kids were trying to decipher how pervy their father is when it comes to Anime. So I fed into it. I told them it had to be an anime girl with the biggest breasts and the least amount of clothes.

After quite the lengthy conversation of my kids naming off numerous female anime characters- I have a feeling that this father will be getting a new pillow as a gift one day. Hopefully my wife winger jealous of my future “Waifu.”

Parenting Nightmares

Over the past few nights I’ve had a tough time falling asleep. It’s rare for my mind to keep racing as I lay in bed. But the last few nights are different. I’ve been trying to come to terms with how to work in some preventative parenting towards our teenagers. It all stems from situations that have happened to other parents in my community.

I don’t usually share an opinion on emotional topics, nor do I usually discuss similar situations in my blog. Today is different. In Langley there were two recent loses of teenager life in two different ways. The kids were 14 and 15.

The first loss was a teen girl who took her own life. As many know, depression can hit hard to a great many people. It’s how we help others, or seek out help ourselves, that can be a changing point in this. I don’t have a magic fix to offer here. I have had friends battle depression. Some have lost that battle (such as my friend Jeremy) but many have tackled it successfully in a variety of ways. Suicide is a tragic answer and I always feel terrible hearing about it. Both for the loss of the life and for the friends and family that have to come to term with it and questioning whether they should’ve done more. Those questions are the hardest to find an answer to.

The other lose of life was a young boy at a skate park. I don’t know much about his life, but it sounded like he was a well loved kid and whose father treated him like a best friend. All the boy wanted to do was fit in, like many teenagers. Sadly he overdosed on narcotics. But what makes this story that much more saddening is that his “friends” were Snap Chatting his finally moments laughing about how he was tripping out. From what I understand, of those who saw the videos- no one did anything to help.

What I take away from this last situation is two things:

First- Drugs really are bad. I grew up as a kid hearing to “Say NO to drugs.” As a teenager, I lived right next door to where this teen lost his life. I’m not saying I was a smart teen/young adult living in that neighborhood. I think I felt pretty untouchable and indestructible like many teens. But I knew that it wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted and eventually left those “friends” behind. I was lucky, or smart, or unsure, but somehow I have gotten to this point in my life. I have seen and heard too many stories of drug use and overdoses and how it rips a family apart.

Second- Social media can be destructive. People hiding behind a cellphone sharing videos thinking it’s amusing. How are these teens going to deal with the loss of someone so young? A vigil was a great place to start for the grieving process. But again those questions come up, “why didn’t someone help sooner?” In today’s society we hear of far too many people thinking someone else will do something.

So as a parent, I talk to my kids on a regular basis. But when their eyes glaze over and they just nod and say, “yes dad” I just hope that my message is getting through to them. My wife and I can monitor every move they make. But we hope that they are willing to talk to us or help someone in need. Not to be the coward who thinks someone else will do something. Or fear of reprisals from their peers. The loss of a child’s life is the most tragic to bestow upon a family and community.

So stay vigilant out there. Try and help those who need it. Please share with me how you talk to your teenagers about suicide, drugs and social media. I’m sure I’m not the only parent trying to get through those hard talks. We could all use a little help.