Froggy Frog

My son caught a frog the other day. We named it Froggy Frog. It’s not the first time we’ve caught a frog in our yard. We’ve even caught a salamander and a couple of garter snakes (or garden snake if you prefer).

We tend to just look at them for a day or so, then set them free again. There’s no reason to keep them in captivity or kill them. The little ecosystem in our backyard is as if living in a Disney movie. I even described the sounds we hear daily in The Early Bird as well as the time I had to set a hummingbird free. I’ve even discussed my dislike of Rats a few times. But country living is accepting that all of these critters live here as well.

Mr. Froggy Frog has been set free already. Maybe his journey will be an incredible challenge with a set of crazy memories of us. Or maybe he’ll just go about his business eating bugs and staying cool.

That’s about it for my frog blog post. Time to hop along.

Game On!

Monday was a stat holiday which also meant “Game Day” at our home. Ok, not because it was a holiday- our kids are off for summer as it is, but we had a “Game Day” just because.

My wife and I often start our day by playing an old N64 game- Pokémon Puzzle League on the Wii in our bedroom. She loses pretty regularly at it. I’m not sure why she keeps wanting to play, but it’s kind of our thing. So I keep playing.

Since the weather is nice, I’m trying to get the kids not to play so many video games or be on their iPhones and iPads. A difficult task when they see mom and dad lazing in bed playing video games…

So I offered to hang with the kids throughout the day. We have a large collection of board games and tabletop games hidden away in an ottoman. Yesterday we decided to play a couple of these games outside.

First choice was Monopoly. Our oldest prides herself in kicking butt every time. This was no exception. I think she only won because we use the center of the board for the taxes incurred throughout the game and “Free Parking” as the winning spot to get those dolla bills- yo! (As the hip kids say…)

Just before dinner we played Settlers of Catan. I am viciously good at this game. I have an almost Rain Man ability to watch the cards being issued and played by each opponent. I’m also good at figuring out people’s strategies on the board. Needless to say- I killed it last night!

We ended our evening by watching “Ready Player One” as a family. Recently, a few people I know online have been mentioning the novel, so it was fresh in my mind. (Check out Cole Campfire Blog sometime for some outdoor inspiration.) Since four of the five of us in the family had read the novel, and my two youngest had already seen the film- it was an easy choice for family movie night. Clearly, the movie is not like the novel- a bit disappointing- but fun to watch nonetheless.

Our impromptu game day was a ton of fun and a good way to connect as a family.

Slacker Sunday

My Sunday was a bit hazy for me. So I’m glad I took some photos. I don’t usually have days like that. I had finished a set of four night shifts with a few rough days of sleep in between because of the warm weather. On Sunday morning, I came home and grabbed a quick four hours of sleep before hanging with the family.

We headed out for a late lunch in Fort Langley at “The Trading Post“. I grabbed a flight of four beers and sampled a raspberry, blueberry, citrus, and an ipa. My wife enjoyed a glass of raspberry beer. Lunch consisted of sharing some yam fries, farmer’s poutine and falafel bites. Very tasty tidbits that’s for sure.

Afterwards we walked around Fort Langley and did a part of the “Fort to Fort Trail“. We watched a couple of trains go by and I waved to my coworkers. On our way back to the car, we walked up a pedestrian overpass as another train went by underneath. Ya, I know what you’re thinking- Joe’s a foamer- but the railroad runs right along Fort Langley. I think those that live there must like trains as well since they live alongside the tracks.

When we got home, each of us took a siesta. I hit the hammock outside and woke up with the worst attack of allergies I’ve had all season. At least we were all sufficiently rested for dinner. Our daughter had brought home from her work some salmon filets. This is pronounced Fill Lit, not Fill Lay according to our fish monger daughter (I learned something new). It was deliciously cooked over the bbq by her as well. She is becoming quite the chef as she grows up.

By the time dinner was done, I was still in a haze and was barely functioning. Even my couple of naps throughout the day weren’t helping. I just needed to catch up on real sleep and hope for my allergies to scram. Being exhausted isn’t fun.

I’m glad we got some photos throughout the day to help me remember it.

The Cookie Conspiracy

I bought a bag of chocolate chip cookies last week. It’s not something that I normally do. In fact, it’s usually a once a year occurrence. We tend to bake cookies instead- mostly in the winter. So this bag of cookies was a spontaneous purchase.

I don’t even like store bought cookies that much. They taste fake. These ones especially since they are not a “brand name” cookie. All I really wanted was one cookie. Which brings me to our story.

My wife wasn’t happy that I bought the bag. So she told everyone that we were saving it for our camping trip later this month. I didn’t really mind, so I put the unopened bag of cookies in the cupboard. Out of sight- out of mind. No big deal.

So a week passes. My younger daughter calls my wife to ask if she can have a cookie. My wife says, if the bag is open- you can have one. Knowing that the bag hasn’t been opened. My wife comes home after to discover a row of cookies GONE!

When asked of our children, “Who opened the cookies?” None of them admitted to it. So my wife and I did some investigating. We asked numerous questions to try and discover the culprit. We had some suspicions. But we ended up being wrong.

Turns out all three were guilty of taking cookies. They formed a criminal alliance of siblings!

Dad’s Drawer

In the bottom drawer of my bureau there lies a couple of sweaters.

Underneath those sweaters- the drawer is filled with an abundance of hand made gifts given to me from my children over the years. I finally decided to show my treasures to them the other day. My kids had no idea I kept it all.

A few of these items had no names or dates on them. My kids ended up arguing over who gave me what. But even some of the ones that had their names on- they didn’t always remember making for me. The biggest surprise for me after showing them my collection, was the joy it brought to their faces. They lit up as if they were in preschool again, excited to be handing me a gift made with love by their tiny hands.

To me, these gifts are mementos of love. They are a story of how my children look up to me. Years later, saving these odds and ends shows my children that I cherish the time and effort they put into creating pieces of art. Every Father’s Day, every birthday, every life changing event- these small tokens given to me mean so much.

I don’t think my children know how much my heart cries as I watch them grow. They aren’t always going to remain innocent kids. They are growing up. Being able to look back and reminisce with a duct tape wallet or handmade pottery is invaluable to me.

Maybe in another ten to fifteen years, I shall open the drawer again and share my keepsakes with them once more. And as I do- I’ll see in their faces the youngsters they once were; looking back up at me as the father I once was.

Crescent Beach Sunset

On Tuesday, we went for a dinner at Crescent Beach as a family. We go at least once a year to eat fish and chips along the water’s edge and watch the sunset.

Each of us grabbed a meal from the Red Baron to go. It’s an older place run by an elderly Asian couple. Their deep fried cod is amazing and their fries are nice and crisp. The restaurant doesn’t look like much, but it sure is satisfying. It’s also a couple bucks cheaper than anywhere else nearby- and it’s in a great location at the end of Beecher Street.

The orange glow brought out our smiles and cheekiness as we finished our meal. We then walked up and down the coastline waiting for the sun to set. We laughed and talked as we strolled along. Minutes before the sun went down, we found a nice log to sit on and watch the day end.

Living in the West Coast is absolutely breathtaking. Taking the time to enjoy the beauty that the world offers is important.

Sharing these moments with loved ones is equally as important.

Data Hogs

A few days ago, my cellular provider informed me that we were about to reach our data limit. Actually, I was notified on July 20th and our data cycle resets August 3rd… I could not figure out how this was possible, since for months we barely hit our allotment. Between four iPhones, we share 12GB.

I checked our usage and found the culprits. Our youngest daughter had gone through over 5GB on her own in under three weeks. While our oldest had only used about 800MB. My wife had used 1GB. I had used over 4.5GB.

A story of two sisters who are very different data users:

Our oldest keeps her phone on airplane mode most of the time. She also has it set up to connect to WiFi all the time. She has conditioned herself to only go on social media when on WiFi as well which keeps her data usage low. She’s been doing this for a few years now- since her first phone.

Our youngest daughter has no concept of how much she uses her phone. She also doesn’t pay attention to whether she is on WiFi or not. This summer, she hasn’t been anywhere that requires her to be online. Turns out, while she was in our backyard sharing Instagram pictures and watching YouTube, she was never connected to our WiFi. She had been using data the entire time. And watching videos in full HD. I had to have a little talk with her about this and hopefully she will correct her behavior.

My wife works from home and hardly uses data. She likes to do comparison shopping in real-time when we are out. She does still play Pokémon Go and only checks social media when bored. I tend to use data far more frequently. I’ve always hovered around the 4GB range. But I use my phone for work quite often. Checking email, looking at maps, connecting with coworkers, that sort of thing. I also use social media a lot. That’s my crutch.

So for the past few days, I have shut off all data access to everyone. The biggest results I have found is that iMessage only works on WiFi now and Siri can’t figure out how to make a handsfree call when I drive. These are things I can live without for a couple more days. As we discuss as a family how to move forward with our shared data plan.

This could be interesting…

Please feel free to share any tips or advice on limiting our data consumption. I’m sure there are ways to still enjoy the cyber world…

Dad Days Of Summer

It was another warm one today. So I took the kids out to our yearly adventure at a watering hole up the road. Check out last year’s post: Life Is On Repeat or the year before: Cooling Off. Without knowing it, every year- almost to the day– I take the kids to Williams Park.

The water was a bit more murky this year than before. It’s because of the clay deposits nearby and underneath. You can see where other kids have played in the clay and made it messier. Not a big deal, as we are planning on washing off after anyways. I think it adds to keeping us cooled off.

This year, my son braved the rope swing and had a blast. We also brought my daughter’s friend and my other daughter made some videos of them jumping in. It was a ton of fun to be had. I also pointed out to the kids that next season of Riverdale was filmed here as well.

We spent about an hour at this side of the park. The water was cool and the area was shaded by the trees. We had the place to ourselves during this time until more people began to show up. Then not as much time on the rope swing was being had, so we dried off and headed for a short hike before returning to the car.

I love this side of the park. It’s usually not busy and each year, the graffiti changes. This year the art made me think of today’s title: “The Dad Days Of Summer“. I have been actively participating with my children this summer a bit more than usual. Mostly because I have a ton of time off in between when I work. If I can make the most of the precious few years I have with them before they grow up that’s my goal.

We leave every activity or location with a smile and a story. I want my children to remember the “Dad Days” and to be able to share these activities with their friends. I had very few growing up with my father, so making memories that last a lifetime mean the world to me (and my children).

My goal this summer is to stay cool and be cool. Joe Cool

Stick Village Maker

Our daughter has been spending time in our backyard being creative. She reads, writes, and draws while enjoying the fresh air. I’m proud of her for keeping her creative juices flowing. I also think she is quite talented. She loves to share her stories and art with everyone.

Sometimes when she is sitting on the lawn and at a loss for inspiration- she builds what she calls “Stick Villages.”

At least four of these “villages” have cropped up in our yard in the past week. She finds small branches and stabs them into the lawn. It’s cute and fun. I don’t mind if more of these show up in the yard.

The best part of all of these “Stick Villages” is she has to clean them up because she is the one who mows the lawn. So in the end, she gets to destroy them like a giant.

Dad and Darwin Bike Barntson

My wife and I got our Honda Element serviced and back on the road today. Since it was my day off, I decided that I was going to take the car for a bit of a longer drive to work the engine back in. I asked our middle child if she wanted to come with me. So we packed our bikes into the Element and headed to Barnston Island.

We parked by the “ferry” and unloaded our bikes. We packed a couple of water bottles, donned the sunscreen and made our way to the 9.8km bike ride. (Took us 1hr and 4min to complete btw.)

The ferry ride is essentially a tugboat and barge that brought about 5 or 6 cars across with us. Once we got across the water, we took a right and planned our trip. This little island has one road that loops around. Okay- the plan was easy. So we waited for the four cars to go past us and we began our ride.

We went about a quarter of the way before our first pause. We stopped in some shade on the side of the road. We dismounted and chugged back some water. While we were there, the first car in about twenty minutes was driving up to us and slowed down. A kind elderly man rolled down his window and asked how we were doing. I told him we were just stopping for some water. He smiled and drove off. Our only interaction with the residents was very kind and super friendly.

At around the halfway point, we were in direct sun with hardly any shade available. We stopped to get the obligatory photo of the Golden Ears Bridge. The same bridge we went over yesterday on our way to Golden Ears Park for our hike.

Once we returned to the end of the route, we were out of drinking water and feeling the heat. On the ferry, it was just us and another family of cyclists. Back on the mainland- we packed up our bikes into the Honda Element and cranked the AC to cool off.

We had a great ride and I would recommend this bike loop- it’s easy to get around.

If you know of any other family friendly rides, let me know! We are always on the look out for adventures.