Puzzle Time

I wrote about Jigsaw Puzzles back in April of 2018. It only seems fitting that I’d mention them again. It seems that our son has decided to dust off some of the boxes of puzzles to keep himself occupied during isolation.

He seemed to be pretty excited about the idea of doing a jigsaw puzzle and posted on his Instagram yesterday about it. He doesn’t post as much on there like his older sisters, so it surprised me to see the post. Usually he posts about speed skating, but I guess since that done for the foreseeable future, it makes sense that he wants to share something.

He hasn’t done nearly as much as I expected, considering I’d probably be close to finished in one sitting. It drives me bonkers to leave a puzzle unfinished. Seeing this laid out on our table made me want to partake in assembling it. But I held back on the urge. It is his puzzle to work on. At least until he asks for help. Then, I may lose sleep trying to get it completed.

Because of the self isolation and being forced to stay home (or nearby) without contact with pretty much everyone, I can see why puzzles have become popular in my Social Media feeds. I find it astonishing that our son also took to jigsaw puzzles as a way to cope and keep occupied. It’s almost like being a part of a “hive collective” ideal. Most of us all fall into the same line of thinking at similar times, even when nothing seems to provoke or promote those thoughts.

But I digress. Puzzles are a great way to keep your mind active. Our son also pulled out an old “word search” book that we had in a cupboard for ages. Pretty sure these are easy puzzles. But they are keeping him away from video games at the moment, which is a nice change of pace.

How are you doing in isolation? Did you begin doing puzzles? If so, what type? Let me know in the comments.

And stay healthy and safe during these crazy times.

Super Cleaning!

We’ve been busy today with more cleaning. So much so that I don’t have much time to write today’s blog.

Our middle child took on the task of cleaning out all the cupboards in all the bathrooms. Pretty sure this is the look of regret by starting on it. She has found plenty of “product” that we never use. Time to turf it!

My son and I were cleaning the windows in the sun room. Bleach around the edges to get rid of the black and grime forming. Then washing the windows twice in order to get rid of the streaks.

Being cooped up in the house has it’s benefits. The cleaning was taken in stride and the kids were very willing to do the chores. Plus we aren’t out spending money- that’s always good for the bank account.

How clean is your house these days? Doesn’t it feel good?

Donuts or Doughnuts?

Mmmm dessert cake things. However you want to spell them (I’ll use both spellings in this blog)- they are sweet treats of yum that make you go nuts!

Okay, sugar high aside… we made donuts from scratch today. they turned out pretty darned good. I decided to make the doughnuts because I put fresh oil in the deep fryer. No one wants French fry or chicken strip flavored desserts.

The recipe was one I’ve been wanting to try for ages since I first ate one of these doughnuts. I didn’t make the cotton candy icing this time around. Forget it! I’m going to start a second batch right now and do that for this next batch. For the first donuts, our daughter made a lemon icing that she loves, and is equally as delicious.

I know a few things I could do differently… mostly patience with the yeast and the rising of the dough. But not bad for my first ever attempt. Definitely going to repeat it… Right now!

Here is the link to the original recipe. Go and try it for yourself!!! Terri’s Donuts

My April Fools Joke

With everything going on in the world, it’s good to have some humor once in a while. And with today being April Fool’s Day, what better day to have some laughs? Since the kids are staying home due to the Covid19 epidemic, they have been enjoying not going to school. Time to change that.

I came home after my night shift at about 7am. I promptly went upstairs and woke up our two youngest teens. I told them they were late for school and it was time to get up. Naturally, they weren’t quite believing me as I rushed back down the stairs. A few seconds later, I hurriedly went back to their rooms and told them they had to get going.

My son rolled over in bed and flat out said, “There’s no school dad. Nice try.” My response was, “The school sent an email that it was back on.” And with that statement- it got him out of bed.

I kept them rushing around as I asked what they wanted for breakfast and in their lunches. Then I told them to pack their bags and instruments, because we were late for music class. That got my daughter confused and she rushed back upstairs. She passed my son as he was hurdling back down fully dressed. This must’ve lit a fire in her, because she was dressed and downstairs again within five minutes.

I had their breakfast at the table with a cup of coffee for each of them. I sat down across from them and joined them. That’s when my son asked about his other older sister and I lied saying she had to work and because of that commitment she would miss the first day back to school. My daughter then asked what’s going on. And I said, “It’s April First. You know what that means.”

You could see it click inside. “April Fools. Nice one dad.” And she laughed. My son complained that he should still be in bed for three more hours. At least I know now that the kids can hustle and be ready to leave in ten minutes.

This was a great “Dad Joke” April Fools Day prank.

Home. Home Again.

I like to be here when I can.

As much as I enjoy sharing about the adventures we take or have taken, I still enjoy having a home to rest my soul at. Being here a bit more frequently lately has made me appreciate what I do have.

Besides four walls and a roof to hold my stuff, I have a loving family. A family that remembers my birthday and Father’s Day. A family that will go out of their way to like the things I like in order to share moments with me.

In this home there are vestiges of each and every one of them. From pictures to artwork to trinkets- our collections share a story or a fond memory. I’m lucky that these reminders are around. They bring me joy.

That’s all I wanted to share with you. But I also used today’s blog as a friendly reminder to myself that I have an entire universe of love and kindness here in my home, even if I feel trapped.

Up Schitt’s Creek

All this time at home meant binge watching tv shows. I’m sure that it’s what everyone else is doing. Being told to not go out and socialize is a great excuse to stay in and watch Netflix! So here’s a couple that my family has enjoyed.

My kids have been watching Schitt’s Creek and have grown to love it. My wife and I have already seen the show and have deemed it appropriate enough for our teens to enjoy. It’s some good old fashioned Canadiana humor.

My wife and I have now watched the train wreck which is “Tiger King”. Holy smokes is this show bonkers. Just when you think it’s over, something new emerges. All of these people are levels of crazy that I did not think was possible. And it’s a DOCUMENTARY! Not like a “Flat Earthers” type of crazy or “Jackass” type of buffoonery. This is batshit insane what you see happening over the course of five years between these people.

Both shows contain mature content and languages. So not for the prudish or young. But both are entertaining in their own ways.

Have you seen either of these shows? What shows are you enjoying during isolation?

Spring Break Staycationing

The past few days I’ve been staying at home. Wednesday was the last time I ventured out. I had booked vacation time for this week because I knew the kids would be home for Spring Break. I did not know COVID-19 was going to be so widespread, thus requiring people to stay home.

It’s tough to feel cooped up that’s for sure. I’ve seen a lot on Instagram of people making the most of the situation. Many others are doing the same thing I’ve been doing for “Spring Break.”

Originally we were going to do some day trips around the Lower Mainland, and I was planning an overnight excursion to Victoria. Instead, I have taken the time to do touch ups to our home that are long overdue. Loads of yardwork, painting and decluttering. But visible progress has been made.

I’ve also enjoyed the extra time we are having together as a family. Making meals and having fun. I’ve been actively spending extra time with each member of the household. And not just making the kids do work, but actually having quality parenting time. I think a break amongst the hard work is necessary.

How are you coping with seclusion and physical distancing?

Sushi At Home

I’m enjoying this at home meal making. Tonight I made homemade sushi. I’ve made sushi at home previously, so I wasn’t afraid to have another go at it. I’m also getting better at making sushi.

I also cheated a bit this time around. I used a Sushezi. It’s essentially a “Sushi Bazooka” that pushes out the rice/fish mixture. It makes the sushi rolls so much faster than when I roll my own. Unfortunately they are much larger than regular sushi rolls.

The family enjoyed the dinner and scarfed it down in record time. Much faster than when I was making it.

How are your cooking skills these days?

I Made Pasta!!! Eat It.

I’ve always wanted to make my own pasta. So I decided that while I’m at home avoiding the world- this is the best time to try it. I even had a helper who enjoyed the rolling out of the pasta.

A couple of years ago I wrote about my discovery of my father’s old pasta maker: My Place Is In The Kitchen. It promptly was put in the back of a cupboard to be forgotten about, until today. I think it was because of playing the video game “Overcooked 2” recently that inspired me.

I decided to try my hand at making spinach pasta as my first ever attempt. Mainly because my wife bought a metric shit-ton of spinach, and no one was eating it. Why not make a green pasta with a white sauce?

Our middle daughter was a fantastic helper as we rolled out long strands of pasta. She also brought her Pop Vinyl from the film Ratatouille so that he could watch over us.

Who knew making pasta was so easy? And delicious. A glass of wine and a side casear salad made for a great family dinner. Making the pasta took the better part of an hour. But it was some good quality time spent with my daughter, and I’d do that any day.

Temporary/Permanent Garage Shelter

Back in 2016 we bought a temporary shelter for our Honda Element. I put it up along the side of our home near the carport. And there it stood… until today.

We’ve been using it as extra storage for things like camping gear and outdoor Christmas decorations. I’ve also used it as a workspace for when I needed to set up some sawhorses and do some painting or building. It’s been extremely versatile. So we didn’t really want to get rid of it.

Instead, two of our children lay out the cover on the lawn and scrubbed the green film off the outside of it. I disassembled and reassembled the frame in its new location. The other side of the house. Which is a great location for this shelter.

We have a “dead space” on the side of our home that we have tried to utilize. We’ve set up a fire pit, a sitting area, even an herb garden- but it never lasted. Mostly because it is out of sight. So it’s a great spot for the temporary shelter. We moved the camping stuff, Christmas stuff and some other stuff that we don’t need out in the open. It’s a perfect storage spot.

It also made the front of our home have nicer curb appeal. Our daughter can park off to the side if she wishes. We can also access the backyard much easier once more.

All That Hard Work Will Make Our Home

Today the sun was shining and the weather was warm. It was the perfect day to clean the yard and the outside of our home.

Our son took on the task of adding some paint to their old playhouse. We use it as a garden shed now, but it can easily be converted back for play should young kids ever live here again.

Our middle child pulled out the lawnmower and gave the first mow of the season to the backyard. We have about half of our acre that needed a mow. The rest is mostly trees and bushes.

Our oldest enjoys pressure washing. With all the trees and dampness in our area- a lot of green shows up on cement and such. A deep cleaning at the start of the season will make for a good spring and summer.

At the end of the day, it feels like we’re only part way through. We’ll get there soon enough. And then we can relax enjoying nature and our home.

Inspired Art

Yesterday was my birthday. And while it wasn’t what you’d call a “Milestone Birthday” it was still memorable and caring.

Going to work wasn’t special that’s for certain. A couple coworkers wished me a happy birthday, which was nice. There are was no “Office Cake” which I am glad about. I’m not much of a sweets fan. At home, I did receive a cake. Sort of. It was an oversized cream puff that reminded my family of our trip to Tokyo a couple of years ago. But the cake wasn’t the gift. The gifts was my daughters handmade artwork they felt symbolizes who I am.

My youngest daughter painted 28:06:42:12 on a canvas for me. (On the back is a lovely paragraph written with uplifting comments by my daughter. That brought a tear to my eye.) For the past decade I have posted that image on Instagram or Facebook as a countdown to The Ides of March- March 15- my birthday. Many of my connections and friends see it as a “Donnie Darko” reference. Which it is. But I’m also a bit self centered and love to make people think about what the countdown is for.

My older daughter chose to go simplistic with an iconic “Running Man” image from Intellivision. The kids know I’m excited about the Amico system coming out this fall. Naturally this image means more to me than most folks. It is a great piece of imagery in my opinion. A change of colour and size symbolizing growth over the years.

I love that my children feel that my passions and joys can bring inspiration to their art. And that they want to relive those passions in art they give me. That is the greatest gift- knowing I’m a muse to my children.

2020 44

March 15,1976: A self proclaimed hero was born in Halifax Nova Scotia. He came screaming into the world not knowing what was in store for him. Except naps. Lots of naps. Little did he know that his adventures would continue to the other coast of the country.

Here he is, 44 years later. A hero to his family, friends and coworkers. His superpowers include hyper kindness, magnified positivity, ultra attentive listening, and height. All of which he tries to showcase regularly. All of which makes him more than just a man.

He has a loving wife and kids. A good job with good pay. Friends who reach out and show that they care as well. Looking at his life- he should be happy. And he is. Today is his birthday and it marks one more revolution around the sun. One more notch on his superhero belt.

I couldn’t feel super if it wasn’t for everybody in my life. Thank you everyone for always being gracious and fun. that’s the best gift I can get on a daily basis.

Bloody Weather Doesn’t Feel Like Spring Break

The weather today was frustrating. It was sunny but windy. I thought it would be an alright kind of day, but it was really cold. A funky kind of cold that chills you to your core. I’m at home now after wandering around with my wife and still shivering. What in the world?!

The day ended with the sun setting over our backyard- gleaming with beauty. As it grew darker, I also became tired. I’ll be retiring to my bedroom early tonight. No family movie night for me.

Our kids have two weeks off from school to enjoy spring break. And with my vacation starting on Wednesday, I’ll spend more quality time with them at that point. Considering the fear of the COVID-19, we’ll probably get “cabin fever” by the end of their break. And if the weather doesn’t get warmer, pretty sure we’re going to be vegging in front of the tv a whole lot.

Stay Home- Early Start To Spring Cleaning

Next week, I have a week of vacation. We won’t be going anywhere due to the things going on in the world. So I’m going to get a jump start on Spring Cleaning! Or rather- I’ll make lists and get the kids to do most of it!

Except for today. Today I took advantage of a couple of hours of decent weather and filled six yard waste cans. No kids, no hassles, just me and the front yard. The wintertime always make the yard look bleak.

But when spring hits- Hoo boy. Our yard gets green and full of life. Which is good because the growth helps to hide the weeds and fallen branches that we neglect to pick up. Rarely do we need to buy any plants as it all comes back each year. Super awesome!

The fresh air and a bit of solitude will do the family some good. We’ve been busy with speed skating and graduation planning that this Spring Break is needed. No big plans, but some quality time outside (weather permitting of course) or we dust and wash the windows and floors inside.

Something to pass the time instead of just saying that we are avoiding the world.

Meh or Blah?

So… places of large gatherings are shutting down. Perhaps it’s over precautionary, but that’s probably for the best. I’ve seen and experienced firsthand how gross things can be. Spending a decade or so at various comic and fan conventions- you realize how valuable hand sanitizers and Lysol are. Crowds of people sharing germs, constantly touching things. Rather disgusting.

Prior to those conventions, I spent five years working at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Colds and flus were rampant among guests and staff members. Honestly, I think it boosted my immune system working there. Still, the place was wiped down and disinfected constantly.

Soul Eater

Sporting events, conventions, and Disneyland are being closed to the public. None of those places want people to fall ill or even worse. Completely understandable. You wouldn’t want your business to be the epicenter of an outbreak… I wonder how it’ll affect our vacation plans this summer when we wanted to hit up that magical place once again.

Maybe we won’t go… Only time will tell. If our trip gets postponed it may mean more time hanging out locally in smaller settings. Or just staying home.

Has the COVID-19 hampered your travels?

Is the world freaking out for no good reason?

Women’s Day 2020

Previously I’ve mentioned how amazing some of the women in my life are. Including last year’s International Women’s Day. Every year, I become more and more proud of my wife and daughters.

My wife is a shining example of a great woman. She is loving and caring towards all of us. Many times she is sacrificing her time in order to benefit the family. Without her, I could not imagine a life as wonderful as I have now.

Our oldest daughter is working hard towards finishing high school. Twice a week she is a junior coach for our speed skating club. She also works for 1 Fish 2 Fish– a fish market in Langley. She works with a bunch of other women, all of whom are fantastic customer service representatives and extremely knowledgeable about seafood. They are led by another great lady who has run the business for two decades now.

Our middle child also does junior coaching at Langley Blades Speed Skating. Last month she went to Fort St. John BC Winter Games as a Young Official. She was an amazing asset to the team and loved volunteering her time there. She also pushes her abilities at school with great success.

These are the three women who matter most to me. I’m proud of their individual success stories. It’s also good to see that they are strong, assertive leaders. Our daughters will continue to grow and prosper over the years.

What women are you proud of in your life?

Roaring Good Time

Last night was a Fundraiser for our oldest’s Dry Grad coming up in June. It was a dance with a 1920’s Prohibition Theme. The parents who attended went all out making the dance a memorable and fun event.

The ladies dressed in 1920’s era outfits. The men wore suits with suspenders and bow ties. My wife and I included.

My wife and I enjoyed the night out. We had a ton of fun taking pictures and being ridiculously 1920’s. It looked like the school was going to earn quite a bit of money for the the Grade 12 Dry Grad.

It’s great to have fun and let loose. Themed costume parties are also amazing when everyone participates. Last night was no exception.

Parent Volunteering

This afternoon I was with some of the Grade 12 parents as we prepared for tomorrow night’s festivities. There is a Speakeasy going on in Fort Langley as a fund raiser for the Dry Grad.

There were tons of props made already. Parents of Fine Arts students are equally as artistic as the children who attend the school. I’m glad to be a part of it all.

I was assisting with some painting and cooking. There is tons of finger foods and hors d’oeuvres for tomorrow’s dance. I enjoyed cooking on a gas stove once more. As we made food and props, we also enjoyed some music and some beverages.

Laughing and talking with other parents about our kids was great. We all have the same goal and want the best for our kids. Doing a Fund Raiser that also allows parents to have fun is a good way to break the ice and make memories for the parents (and later in the year- the teens).

Being a volunteer parent should be a mandatory job. I had nothing but fun with the mothers over the past few months and leading up to this afternoon. I’m looking forward to tomorrow night.

BCIT

Yesterday our oldest daughter received the news that she made it into BCIT School of Business for Television and Video Production . She has been striving to get into this course for ages. Last month she also worked on hitting the prerequisite ahead of time by taking an online course offered at BCIT. This was her first Post Secondary course (she’s still in Grade 12) and her first opportunity to learn how the workload would be. Our daughter was bouncing with joy when she learned that she’d be one of the limited students for September’s intake.

Needless to say, we are really happy for her. Over the past couple of years she has been focusing a lot of her attention to working behind the camera. My wife and I are really happy that she attends the Fine Arts School where she gets an opportunity to use high end video equipment and software. Mind you, our daughter hasn’t strayed from her original major- music, so it’s nice to see her artistic abilities come alive.

Our daughter is a lot like me and can dissect a show or movie to its bare bones. We often share thoughts and dialogue about cinematography and filming in general. This is my connection with her, and I love it. I wish nothing but continued success in her endeavors as she grows into a young adult.

The course at BCIT is a full time two year program with a diploma. Once she completes the course, she will be able to work throughout “Hollywood North” as Vancouver is always a booming industry. If she wants to continue or expand her studies, she has talked about going to Capilano University for relevant courses. My hope is that she gets work doing what she loves and continues to love the work she does.

Fort St. John Hospitality

We spent the weekend in Fort St. John at the BC Winter Games. We are really proud of our kids for reaching some Person Bests this weekend! As well, our son with his friends are bringing home a bronze medal: BC Winter Games Success. But the hospitality Fort St. John offered was amazing.

We stayed at the Pomeroy Inn & Suites. The hotel chain had their first location in Fort St. John back in 1941. There is now 8 locations in BC and Alberta. Their accommodations were clean and the breakfast was filling. It’s no wonder that the Pomeroy also supported the building of the Long Track Speed Skating arena. It helps boost tourism into the city.

For lunches, my wife discovered the most amazing donair place. A little hole in the wall with delicious food. Fort St. John has been hiding this secret place from the rest of us. We ate there three days in a row. FST Donair- remember that name if you ever find yourself in Fort St. John!

After the Saturday events, we went to a Social put on by the Northern Lights College. We enjoyed some beers, snacks and a hot chocolate bar. It was a nice way to mingle with some locals and other parents who came to watch their kids perform in the games.

Closing Ceremonies
(The Big Screen showing off our son to the crowd. Another proud moment.)

Finally, I want to acknowledge the city and people of Fort St. John. They were kind, friendly and very helpful all weekend long. Visiting Northern BC was never really on my must-travel-to locations in the past. But as we’ve been to Fort St. John a couple of times now within the year, I can see why people would live here or visit more often.

I expect to visit a few more times over the years as our son progresses with his Speed Skating goals. Perhaps we will discover some more hidden gems in their city that I can share.

BC Winter Games Success

Podium Goals

The second day of BC Winter Games ended yesterday. It was also the second day of skating for the kids. And you could see how tired they’ve been getting. The day before, our boys successfully made it into the relay finals. Yesterday, their last Short Track race of the day was to compete in these finals. The three boys from our zone were against two teams of four skaters and one other team of three. Four teams on the ice competing for medals.

Our boys were a cohesive team. They came up with a plan for doing the laps for the 3000m relay. The coaches agreed with the plan and they executed it flawlessly. A few times we could see the boys reaching their limits as exhaustion was kicking in. But they held their own keeping on the heels of the teams in the lead.

They successfully placed third! After a clean race, the joy they shared together became evident for all of us who cheered them on. After receiving their medals, they wanted to show off their wrists. It was where they wrote their plan for how to run the race.

Seeing the kids earn a medal for their hard work is awesome. As I’ve mentioned before, they skate with one another on a regular basis. Sometimes even competing against each other. But to reach a goal and successfully push each other to the end result showcases the camaraderie they share.

Long Track at BC Winter Games 2020

Fort St. John hasn’t hosted the BC Winter Games in 36 years. The town has been excited to share with the province its amazing hospitality. We are pleased to be a part of it.

For the first time ever, the BC Winter Games will have Long Track Speed Skating. This is exciting for our kids as they get to compete in both Short Track and Long Track this weekend. Fort St. John built the long track ice rink in 2010.

Friday was filled with Short Track racing. Zone 3 (the zone our kids are representing) have been holding their own. Our son had two personal best times already. Thus showing that sometimes these bigger competitions can push the limits of their skillsets.

We are here for two more days of events. And of course, we’d love our son to bring home some hardware (read as medals!) If you wish to watch the games on YouTube, Subscribe to the FSJ Speed Skating YouTube channel (and click the bell) in order to be notified when we start the live video just before skating starts. The channel can be found at: YouTube Our son is the one wearing the number 53 on a light blue helmet.

So scream at your screen to cheer him on for us! I’m already going hoarse from all of my cheers.

2020 BC Winter Games Opening Cermonies

Last night was the Opening Ceremonies to the BC Winter Games 2020. It has been a long time coming. The last couple days have been the longest ever.

The night before, our Zone flew in on a chartered flight Off On Their Own. Earlier today, my wife and I flew in to Fort St. John with a few other parents. When we arrived, we had a chance to watch the kids from our zone as they warmed up on the ice.

In the early evening, my wife and I wandered nearby where the Opening Ceremonies were being held. We saw some amazing ice sculptures. With the chill in the air, it is no wonder that the sculptures looked fantastic.

The ceremonies were filled with pomp and circumstance. Starting with some of the local cheer and dance groups performing. Then the organizers of the games were introduced, followed by the entrance of the athletes. 1500 athletes that arrived on 12 charter planes and 5 buses.

Denny Morrison

Before the ceremonies ended the key speaker- Denny Morrison- took the stage and delivered a fantastic speech. He is the Fort St. John local hero who has won Medals for Canada at the Olympics for Speed Skating (Our son was also coached by him last summer). The flame was brought into the arena and passed to Denny. He lit the cauldron and the games had officially begun!

Now it’s on to cheering for the kids as they compete in their respective sports. Best of luck to all the athletes this weekend. We are rooting for you!

Feel free to watch live streams “Subscribe to the FSJ Speed Skating YouTube channel (and click the bell) in order to be notified when we start the live video just before skating starts tomorrow.” The channel can be found at: YouTube

Off On Their Own

Last night we sent our children off on a chartered flight to the BC Games. This is exciting for many reasons. First, it’s the Ten Year Anniversary since the 2010 Winter Olympics in BC. Secondly, many of us sent our kids off on their own for the first time ever. A great chance for these young athletes to to aspire to bigger and greater opportunities.

These young adults were excited and eager to show off their skills on a provincial level. Going to the BC Winter Games is more than a road trip with mom and dad to a small event. This is big in their young lives. A chance to show off their skills to the rest of the province.

I’m proud of the Speed Skating team that our Zone has. These boys and girls are talented and becoming masterful at skating. They have a couple of great coaches, three young officials, and our adult chaperone all going to support them. This weekend, they will have a chance to prove their skills.

I’m proud of our son for getting this far. He will be skating his heart out. I hope the he understands that he is skating for more than just himself. He is skating for his family, his club and his zone. There are many people cheering him on that he doesn’t even know about. But he is the one out there showcasing his skill set.

If you wish to follow along this weekend for any of the BC Winter Games- there will be streaming of the games here: FSJ YouTube And of course, I will be writing about our son (and daughter) all weekend long.