Bruno Fenger

Today I was going through old papers- such as bills, taxes, etc… and disposing of the unnecessary ones. I found old paystubs from Chuck E. Cheese, a copy my father’s probate (with an address for My Unknown Half Sister) and information about our current home. The last one is what today’s blog is about.

You see, my father-in-law designed and built this house back in the 1970’s. Bruno Fenger was a brick layer by trade and the workmanship in this house is amazing. He also enjoyed woodworking as a hobby, often selling at various craft shows back in the 80’s/90’s. He is a very talented man who immigrated from Germany many, many decades ago. He decided to build a house and stay in British Columbia to raise his family.

I found rolls of papers from when he designed this house and had purchased the property. The blueprints were all hand drawn. To me these pages showed a commitment to excellence that you probably won’t find in today’s market. It was also great to see how his designs translated into a finished product (such as the fireplace) and some of the changes which occurred during the building process.

As a tribute to his work, I framed the blueprint for the upstairs and hung it on the wall. Bruno’s work lives on in this home through more than just ideas on paper. With his 88th birthday coming up at the end of November, I thought it to be fitting that I show some gratitude to the man who made a home for my family.

Thank you Bruno for creating such an amazing house for your grandchildren to grow up in. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Elementary Alternative

Our daughter has been driving our 2003 Honda Element on her own since August 2019 when she got her N. She may not have always sounded happy that she got to drive the car because it wasn’t newer like mine or her mother’s. But she still calls it “her car”.

Recently she mentioned that the Check Engine Light came on. Naturally we asked when she needed her next oil change. She was unsure because she didn’t ever watch her mileage. Turns out she was within a few hundred kilometers of needing it done. So she planned on going in sometime soon. No big deal.

The other day however, her Battery Light came on. That was interesting since we had bought a brand new battery days before she got her N. Turns out that today the car just would not start. My wife drive out to where she was and gave her a “jump”. As our daughter arrived at home, the car died and she coasted into the driveway. Seems like the alternator is shot.

After looking online, it appears to be a nuisance to get this replaced, although rather simple. So now I have to decide if I want to attempt it on my own, or pay someone else to do it for me. I’m leaning towards getting somebody else to do it. Mostly because it’s cold and wet outside and we do not have a heated garage. If it was summer- I’d sure give it the ol’ college try.

So all things considered, it’s only may that this added expense would happen right before Christmas, and right after we have spent a butt-ton of money on gifts. Le Sigh. It needs to get done. Oh well. Time to call a mechanic.

Life Day

If there’s something that you need to know about me, it’s that I enjoy Star Wars tremendously. Let’s be realistic here, you all know I love STAR WARS. I mean honestly, I have numerous blog posts that are related to Star Wars in some way. Today is no different.

A few years ago I showed my children the classic in bad Crossover ideas ever. The Star Wars Holiday Special. The show is severely cringeworthy attempting to watch it. It’s so bad that my kids literally don’t remember watching it with me. But as a fan, I had to view it. I even grew up on those Star Wars made-for-tv-movies: Ewok Caravan of Courage and Ewok Battle for Endor.

Tonight, Disney+ and LEGO have released a Lego Version of the Holiday Special. I am overcome with joy and cannot wait to view it numerous times! I have been excited for months about this show.

Why?

Because LEGO somehow manages to make their stories based on movies or characters campy and fun while still holding true to the original content. So if you have kids- watch some of those LEGO shows with them. They are a ton of fun.

Tonight I shall wish you all an early “Happy Life Day”.

Crisco

Two weeks ago I mentioned how it was getting close to choosing Music for November. Specifically Christmas music. I’m not going to lie, I’ve snuck in a couple playlists since then. Especially on Saturday when we pulled out the decorations.

I love playing music. Over the past few months I have enjoyed Spotify as it plays on all of my devices.

Last night as I was driving home, I wanted my iPhone to play some Christmas music. Only this time it wasn’t in my car or on my phone. My Spotify account was still connected to our home. So my music was being played for my family and not me.

They got to enjoy some Christmas Disco. Or as my daughter has decided to dub it, CRISCO. Probably my most favorite term this year now. And very fitting considering how much baking we do during the holidays as well.

From here on out, when I’m baking and listening to Christmas music- it’s only Crisco for the whole household!

Cleaning for Christmas Season

This past weekend we did a pretty good cleaning up of the downstairs of our home. My wife has been adamant over the years that we are not permitted to put out Winter Decorations until the house is cleaned up. I push every year to start the process in early November.

That’s because I love decorating our home for winter!

This year, my wife was a big part of the decorating process. In fact, the entire family was a huge help and we had fun doing it. Well, maybe not the cleaning aspect… but the decorating for sure! All that’s left is the trees to come out after my wife’s birthday… on December 6th.

Have you already started decorating for the winter solstice or other such celebrations?

Pre-Christmas Online Fulfillments

Holy smokes have we been hitting the online purchases a bit heavy this year. My wife and I were a bit skeptical about the gifts arriving on time for Christmas. So we ordered in advance with plenty of time to spare.

This is the “condensed” version of what we have received so far. Amazon ships far too many packages with one or two items inside. It’s good in a way because we know that we are getting 90% of our stuff in time for the holidays. There’s a couple items set to arrive by December 22nd still. Which feels crazy in a world where we came accustomed to instant gratification.

I can’t really complain because we always choose the “Free Shipping” option. Sometimes it’s the next day, other times it could take a couple of weeks. Plus Amazon is great when you need to return an item or the item does a “no-show”.

All I need to do now is keep the kids out of the boxes and “Archive” the purchases so they don’t “accidentally” see an item that has been ordered. We all know how sneaky kids can be when it comes to finding out their Christmas gifts. I know I was pretty bad at spoiling the surprises for myself when I was younger.

Are you done shopping? Have you even started? Any horror stories of online shopping? Still looking for that perfect gift for your family members? Let me know in the comments.

Creatively Growing Up

Last night my daughter Interviewed me for a school project. She took painstaking measures to create the perfect lighting and backdrop. I took her direction as best I could without asking too many questions. I also did not offer any advice or “butt in” in any way.

It was tough to be a parent and just let her do it on her own. Like the first time your child walks to school alone or rides a two wheel bike without you holding the seat. You want to hold their hand, but the pride you feel when they have accomplished something on their own is far more gratifying.

I’m not going to lie, it was challenging for me to let her be creative and run the show. It was her project and her vision. In the end, she got the footage she desired and is off to the editing portion within the next week or so. Maybe she will let me see the final product. I promised her I wouldn’t critic it. No idea if she believes me. But I believe in her.

Prepping For An Interview

Our oldest is currently in post secondary school studying media broadcasting and film making. One of her projects is an interview where the interviewee essentially monologues about something. Then she will show what they are talking about with some voice over work.

So she brought home her equipment as has decided to interview me. I get to talk about 3D Printing and how I got into it. As well she wants me to show how the machine works. Of course I jumped at the chance to help her out. And I get to talk about 3D printing- my latest hobby/obsession.

It’s not very often that my daughter wants me around. Naturally I am going to be there for her. Tomorrow I’ll continue to share about the experience. As it seems that for 3 minutes of footage it may take us all night to film. Right now she is setting up the lighting and camera. I expect to be sitting on the stool for an extended period.

Wish us luck for getting through this. I have to remember to step back and let her have full control. It is her project and her career path.

Let Them Grow Up

I have a tough time letting my kids grow up. But it’s a natural occurrence in humanity. Parents being parents trying to raise kids to be adults. And then not wanting the kids to become adults.

Today, our oldest aced her practical exam with the top mark in her class. She was beaming with pride. She texted my wife numerous times throughout the morning in regards to her success.

Watching my kids grow up, it makes me sad that I won’t have moments with them anymore. It’s hard to ask them to spend time with me without it seeming forced sometimes.

Letting the kids become their own person with a bit of guidance is all I can do. I have to let them grow up.

Halloween 2020

For obvious reasons- this year was a very subdued Halloween. We gave out candy to three groups of children for a grand total of eight kids. Our teenagers went up and down our cul-de-sac to hunt out some candy. Even though we had no real plans- my family still dressed up.

Considering how few homes they stopped at- they end up with a good haul and shared the candy amongst one another. Hooray for sugar!

For the notable costumes- Random did a mash up of Jack Skellington and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. Pretty good make up considering how she did it within a half an hour. Toying around with make up is one of her favorite things to do. Especially if it makes her look spooky.

For my costume- I did a fun take on Vincent Price from back when he showed up on The Muppet Show in the 70’s. Price is such an icon when it comes to classic horror. But I wasn’t sure how to portray him. I think it turned out doggone amazing.

I enjoyed my evening of viewing people’s costumes on Instagram all night. Some were very creative. As well, many people had small children who looked really cute.

How was your Halloween? Were you dressed up? Or did you just pig out on candy?

Festive Food for All Hallow’s Eve

Everyone thinks of pumpkins and candy when it comes to Halloween. And while I enjoy both, it’s also fun to make regular meals with a spooky twist.

Last night I made meatloaf and potatoes. But with a twist.

The meatloaf was a couple of severed hands. I used onions as the finger nails. It didn’t take much longer to make than it would regular meatloaf. I only wish I had sliced mozzarella to put on top as a “skin”.

As a side dish I made “shrunk head” baked potatoes. Again, really easy and didn’t take too much longer to create. But the final result was a fun dinner that was outstandingly flavorful.

Do you have any Halloween dinners? Perhaps cute mummy hot dogs? or ghostly concoctions.

Let me know in the comments.

Spooky Music 2020

Recently, I have been playing spooky music in our home. It all started with Creepy Carnival Music that I discovered on Spotify. I was enjoying it last weekend, but my family was not a fan. So I played some more “fun” music.

My daughters and I have been singing along to “Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “Little Shop Of Horrors” and “Wicked”. All very lively and kooky musicals. It’s great that I know the words to two of the musicals. Unfortunately I have yet to see “Wicked” but it is on my list.

While the family was out this evening, I had to make dinner. So I decided that o wanted to listen to Nine Inch Nails. It has been years, so I chose to play “Pretty Hate Machine” on of my all time favorite albums. I discovered a version done by Vitamin String Quartet that was beautifully crafted. Somehow I missed this album when it was released- 2002! Probably because I was busy becoming a father for the first time.

What do you listen to at Halloween?

Let me know in the comments.

A Decade of Disneyland at Halloween

Looking back at my memories, I saw that we spent a majority of our kids’ Halloweens in Disneyland. Since 2010 we have been enjoying haunting up the theme park.

To say I miss visiting Disneyland is an understatement. Once this pandemic clears up and travel opens again- I’d love to hit up Disneyland. No matter what time of year it is. The family and I always had a good time goofing around as we immersed ourselves in the joy of the parks.

Disneyland California Adventure 2010

We would push for full days at the parks. Lining up before the gates opened and being some of the last guests to leave at night. We made every minute count.

Honestly, some of the best parts of the trips was also the drive. We would be hyped going down the coast, then excitedly talk the drive back about all the fun we had. As cheesy as all this sounds, I am sad that we didn’t get to do it this year. Some of the biggest connections I created with my children was on these vacations. Those memories however will last me a lifetime. As is obvious by today’s blog.

In order to bring forth those good feels, I decided that tonight we are watching Disney’s Hocus Pocus as a family. I haven’t seen this film since the mid-90’s. I also have no idea of my family has seen it. I hope it holds up.

Even if traditions change and we need to adapt. We shall continue to make scary memories together as a family in a variety of ways.

Beetlejuice Time

Halloween family film tonight is the 1988 classic- Beetlejuice.

This is easily one of our favorite films to traditionally watch each year. Kind of like when we watch Independence Day on July 4th. Or our regular viewing of Christmas Story every year.

I loving having traditions like this. Where we as a family just hang out on a Friday night and enjoy a film we’ve seen numerous times.

We also enjoy “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and have that movie memorized. Along with each and every song. Which reminds me- Beetlejuice is a Broadway musical now! I need to see it one day.

Do you have any family movies you watch regularly with your kids?

Foster The Feelings

My coworker and his girlfriend foster dogs from time to time. I told him if they ever got a Corgi to let me know. Turns out that a dog arrived in their care within a few days of my request. So yesterday they brought over this dog for us to meet.

Her name is Scarlet. as you can see- Not a pure bred Corgi. Nor is she a puppy. She is half Corgi/half Husky and about six years old. Immediately my kids were drawn to her. So we opted to have Scarlet stay with us for a week and see how things progress.

Well it seems that day one she has no qualms with Lex- our other dog. She is also finding it rather easy to just relax in our home. Her manners are impeccable and she has enjoyed hanging out with the family.

Scarlet has even chosen the bed she wants to sleep in. Turns out that Darwin and her have made a bond already. Having a dog on the furniture has always been a big no-no for me. But Scarlet has been really cute and it’s hard to say no.

After this week ends, we shall see what happens. But judging from the first day, we may just have a new member of the family joining us. I’m not quite sold on one thing about her though. Her name. She doesn’t seem like a Scarlet to me.

But if that’s the worst thing I can truly find about her, then that’s on me.

Organized Mess

It’s the last day of my vacation. The family is home as well with me. So we are going to do some quality family time activities- cleaning the house.

It’s amazing how quickly a home can feel like a disaster. Odds and ends being left around instead of put away immediately. Items just dumped willy-nilly in hopes that someone else will pick it up. Not today. Today we are all going to tidy this place. Time to even close the cupboards and drawers that get left partially open as well. Let’s get things put away completely please.

We are even going to dust and remove the cobwebs. I know- counterproductive with Halloween just around the corner. But it needs to be done. My allergies are taking a hit these days and it’s almost time to turn on the heat. Nothing worse than the smell of burning dust as you try and warm the homestead.

If you need me- I’ll be the one barking orders and checking the work being done by our teenagers. They love it when I make them do a task more than once in order to get it right. Ah, quality learning moments.

Victoria: Day 3- Walking

We started our final day in Victoria by walking around Canada’s oldest Chinatown. There were the typical shops filled with cheap knickknacks. It was most fun to just squeeze down the narrow alleyways and admire the brickwork of the buildings.

We tooled around the tourist part of downtown Victoria and stopped in at a bookstore followed by a macaron shoppe. Both places were greeted by our kids with enthusiasm.

On our drive back to the ferry terminal- we stopped at The Butchart Gardens. I always wanted to visit this place, but never made the time to do so. Unfortunately, because it is autumn- the garden was rather lackluster. I’m sure it is far more vibrant and lovely in the spring and summer when the rose garden is in full bloom.

I did enjoy walking through the Japanese Garden and the Italian Garden. The time of year was good for the fact that it wasn’t crowded. Perhaps one day I shall see it in the spring time. But it has taken me until ages 44 to go my first time, so there may not be a second time. Especially since there is so much more of the world to explore.

At the end of the day we got lucky and made it on a ferry an hour earlier than planned. All of our walking had made us very tired, so that hour made all the difference in our trip. I do look forward to visiting Victoria once again some day. I have always enjoyed traveling there.

Victoria: Day 2- Impressed by the Empress

On Sunday we booked High Tea at The Empress in Victoria for the family. Over the decades of traveling to Victoria- I’ve always wanted to see the inside of The Empress. My wife and I wanted to make this trip to Victoria special for our daughters. Our sixteen year old had never been here, and our eighteen year old needed a way to celebrate her high school graduation.

Walking into The Empress is overwhelming and intimidating. Every bit about it was elegant. From the piano player to the china with which our tea was served- posh is the word that comes to mind.

We did our part by dressing in our Sunday Best. The kids behaved in their best possible manners as well. We got some great photos with beautiful smiles.

My wife and I chose a Rose tea that was a favorite of Princess Diana. Our children each chose a flavour that matched their palette. The food which was served was decadent and delectable. We were presented with fabulous tea sandwiches and desserts.

This trip was probably the most extravagant experience we have ever shared as a family. From staying in the penthouse suite to experiencing a high tea- this weekend getaway was a one of a kind local journey.

Moments like these matter most to us. My wife and I hope that our children will talk about this in years to come.

Victoria: Day One

We arrived in Victoria, BC at 9:55 Saturday morning. We were all extremely hungry, so we lined up at Jam Cafe and waited an hour to get in for some of the most amazing brunch meals ever. Seriously, I had an eggs Benedict on top of deep fried chicken- my belly was in love. My espresso was perfect and well needed to get me through the day.

Afterwards we headed for a walk towards the Royal BC Museum. We took a couple of tourist photos along the way including in front of the parliament building and The Empress hotel. We also had some fun with our photos.

After a three hour wander through the museum, we headed to our hotel- Victoria Regent Hotel, turns out we got upgraded to a penthouse suite on the top floor! The kids love it. We watched the sun set over the harbour and caught a sea plane landing from overhead.

As night fell, we enjoyed the views of the lights and my daughter and I decided to head out for an evening on the town and took some more tourist pictures. Lots of walking had us passing out early and ready for another day of adventure.

Early Morning Travel to Victoria

The family was woken up by 4:30am and we were on the road 45 minutes later. We had packed up the night before in order to get those few minutes more of sleep. It was an early morning in order to maximize our weekend away.

It was a rainy drive to the ferry terminal. Knowing it was a going to be a busy weekend, we decided to book a reservation on the ferry so as not to wait. We had about 30 minutes to sit and wait prior to boarding. The rain eased off as we departed for the waters.

My wife and youngest children brought the Nintendo Switch to keep themselves occupied during our hour and a half sailing. I chose to take a nap and our oldest read a book.

As you can see from the picture of the family- the ferry was fairly empty. Departing at 45% capacity due to COVID precautions. It’s one of the only times I’ve enjoyed the ferry ride. I’m not a big fan of crowds or people being near me. I was far more comfortable taking my brief nap.

The sun attempted to break through the clouds on our journey across the water. We passed a few other ferries along the way with a few toots from the horn of the vessels.

Our day was truly about to begin once we docked. A list of activities were planned for our brief time away this weekend. I’m looking to the time spent with the family.

Toy Action

My son decided that today he would take some action shots of his Star Wars toys and Lego Star Wars toys.

He set up numerous shots. He also worked in a bunch of techniques that made the toys look like they were truly telling a story. Here is a collection of a few of his favorite pictures:

He was having a great time while doing this. These images he took are fun. He plans on editing these, plus some of the others with a variety of filters. I can’t wait to see what else he comes up with.

Have You Begun Holiday Shopping?

The year is in the final quarter. That means gift giving season is approaching quickly. Whether you celebrate Winter Solstice or any number of religious based holiday- giving gifts is a big part of it.

Ordering online is a gamble these days. Sometimes packages are shipped overnight while other times it could be a few weeks. Ordering from Amazon is interesting, I swear that a new package arrives every other day. So I am trying to get the goods before the crazy rush that will approach makes it difficult.

I worry that I will resort to last minute shopping in a Walmart mid-December. When all the good stuff is gone. I’m already getting panicky that our gifts will feel meager when under the tree. Who knows. I have a few tricks up my sleeves still in order to make Christmas special.

Are you ready for the holidays? How much shopping do you have left? Does shopping in Walmart scare you? Let me know in the comments.

Re-Learning How To Use An Apple Computer

Back in elementary school during the early 80’s I learned how to use an Apple IIe. A large floppy disk drive with a single button mouse and a black and green monitor. At home I was learning DOS on an Adam computer with magnetic tape drives.

In high school during the early 90’s I used a Macintosh. There was a computer lab- called the Mac Lab. My school also had two IBM labs. I enjoyed the shareware from the IBMs and programming, but my passion to create pixel art- was done on a Mac.

At home I’ve never owned an Apple computer. I always ran Windows based computers. But I still enjoyed using an iPod followed by an iPhone. A few years ago I picked up some iPad minis for the kids. Three years ago my wife got a MacBook for her work. Recently they updated her to a Google Pixelbook. So she had the opportunity to buy her MacBook Air, and she did.

So now I’m re-learning how to use an Apple computer. So far, a few hours have been spent. A few headaches, but I’m getting back into understanding once more how Apple operating systems work. It will be a family laptop for school mostly. But I look forward to being creative with Apple once more.

All The Leaves Are Brown… Again

It’s October 1st my spookies! The world around here is changing from green and blue to orange and black. I love this gothic feeling that arrives before Halloween. I almost wrote the same title as i did last year for a similar story today- All The Leaves Are Brown.

With the change is seasons, comes the wonder of nature. The way the leaves begin to fade out from green. As if magically overnight- the air gets crisp and the ground below crutches underfoot. I remember meeting a couple of older ladies collecting leaves a few years ago- Leafers

In our yard, we have mostly pine needles falling. There are a few maple trees and what we like to call an “elephant ear tree” that shed leaves. Over the next week or so I suspect that we will be taking the dead leaves up into large piles to jump into. We should be lucky this year and not find any dog turds lurking underneath. (Our puppy is getting much older and tends to do his business just outside the door in an easy to find location.)

So be on the lookout as you enjoy your autumn walks. Especially if you have kids who love to kick up the fallen leaves. Nothing worse than stepping in a poop landmine and carrying that smell around.

And if you have a dog- please pick up after them. Unless you find it funny to surprise unwitting strangers, then be all means- be a jerk. The ghosts of Halloween will curse you and karma shall return with a vengeance.

Artsy and Creative

Last night I was called “Artsy” by a person who I’ve only known for a short while. I guess I kind of am. But I prefer to be considered more of a “Creator”.

My 14 year old son took this picture yesterday.

I love building stuff, creating paintings, writing stories, taking perfect photographs- that sort of thing. I find it pleasurable to make something from nothing. (It’s probably why I’m obsessing over my 3D printer lately.) Looking at my life, I’ve always been that way.

Disney inspired paintings by my 18 year old.

But my joy of being “Artsy” has rubbed off on our children. Everything from painting to making music videos to photography- our kids create as much, if not more, pieces than I do. Sending them to a Fine Arts School has helped in bringing out their inner creative spirit.

Art is a great way to express oneself. I encourage it for everyone to do. It’s good for the mind and soul.