Natural Born Killers

We love having family movie night in our home. Usually it’s a choice we all can agree on. But sometimes I show films to my teenagers that are uncomfortable to watch as a family. I want them to see moving picture shows for what they can be. Not just special effects or cartoons. But artsy.

Last night I put on “Natural Born Killers”. Besides the excessive violence, my teenagers didn’t quite understand Oliver Stone’s vision. I had to explain about the absurdity of the 90’s and the fascination with court cases and police brutality that went on. The worst part is that after 26 years since the film came out- it seems society is still obsessed with crime. And there are more cameras sharing today than there was when this film was made.

I know what you may be thinking. Why would you show your teenagers that film? Because it is an amazing film. It showcases a variety of music, film angles, and styles that look haphazardly thrown together, but in reality weave the tale. A perfect love story filled with society’s imperfections and obsessions.

Watching “Natural Born Killers” is like trying to understand what makes an abstract painting good. After a quarter century, the film still holds up. And is probably more relevant now by shoving the glamour of the lowest parts of humanity into your face.

It also gave my kids a chance to see many actors in a role that isn’t what they see normally. Juliette Lewis (Christmas Vacation), Woody Harrelson (Solo), Robert Downey Jr (Avengers), and Tommy Lee Jones (Men in Black). All of which were the films that my kids recognized them from.

Of course right after the film, we watched “The Muppets”. I think the kids wanted to remember what life was like in a more simpler time. Nothing wrong with that. I love reminiscing and watching movies from my childhood.

Vacation Feels

It’s nearing the end of summer. It’s the final push to enjoy ourselves. I am also starting eleven days of vacation. That means time away from work, which is great to recharge the mental batteries. Even though we may not be traveling to a favorite destination.

We are still planning on having a good time as a family. Tonight we made smoked turkey legs and watched some “Disney Park Blogs” YouTube videos during dinner.

Of course we all wore our Mouse Ears! Because who knows when the next time we will be attending a Disney Park again… But the feels needed to come out. The ears brought forth joy, laughter and memories.

I’m ready to have a great time with my family during staycation. British Columbia is the next best place to be next to Disneyland! Especially if you get to share moments with loved ones.

Saturday Games

This morning our laundry line snapped after a dozen years of use. So I went to Home Depot and grabbed a new line and put it up. I also picked up a few 2×4 boards and some odds and ends for some other projects. Until shortly after lunch, we were all busy.

This afternoon was a warm one with lots of sunshine. We chose to hang out in the backyard on our tree deck. We needed a break after a full morning of working around the house. Did I say it was warm? I lied. It was hot.

We played a couple of different versions of the card game Timeline. A great trivia style game that involves figuring out when events took place. I recommend this game to everyone. We always have fun playing it. Bonus- it’s educational!

We followed it with a few aggressive games of Uno. That is sure to tear families apart the way Monopoly does. Lots of yelling and accusations of cheating.

All in all a great afternoon with the family.

S N O H

S N O H. Say those letters quickly a few times.

A SANDWICH

I love making sandwiches. I mentioned how much we love Bread yesterday. Making sandwiches is the best part of eating bread. Like most people, I also do the following when making sandwiches:

I leave my knife on the edge of the sink while I go and eat my meal. You know, just in case I want to make another sandwich. Because clearly, I know that my sandwich is a work of art that I may want to duplicate and enjoy a second time. Although, it is rare for me to make a second sandwich for myself.

My children also do this. But they leave the knife there until someone else puts it in the dishwasher. That’s a tad bit frustrating.

Are you guilty of leaving a knife on the edge of the sink? Don’t lie. I know most of you are.

Bread

Bread is a big part of my daily diet. Toast, burgers or sandwiches- it’s a regular occurrence in my life. We go through bread products so much in our home that we rarely bother to make it fresh. It’s so much easier to just buy a few loaves each week and leave them in the cupboard.

Or on the counter apparently.

But the biggest issue I have is how to wrap or seal the bread bag once it’s opened. Our family has not come up with one style. Nor have I been able to find the culprit behind leaving the bag OPEN!

Unfortunately I taught my children how to flick snapped bread tags. So usually the tags are removed and found on the floor throughout the kitchen. Bad parenting decision from years ago. Do not teach your children this trick. Trust me. Your bread will stay fresher longer if those tags go back on.

How do you close your bread? Have you ever flicked bread tags? Let me know in the comment section.

Ice Cream Man

Yesterday as I was leaving for work, the familiar childhood tune of “Turkey In The Straw” was echoing through our neighborhood. Living in a very spread out neighborhood filled with acreage- it can be heard for blocks. It is also rare for the ice cream truck to come by. This happens maybe two or three times in the summer.

A few minutes later I was in my car driving. At the stop sign, I saw the ice cream truck stopped in front of my neighbors. A mother and her kid were walking away, and then a boy was walking up with another boy beside him. This other boy was my son.

So I pulled over and walked up to them. My son looked guilty as if I had just caught him doing something he shouldn’t. As I walked up, the other boy’s father also walked up. He told me that Theory is a really great kid and that the ice cream was their treat. Which was mighty neighbourly of them.


Besides going to see what my son was up to, I knew who the ice cream man was. No, it wasn’t Freddy Krueger…

Back when I finished high school, I would work four afternoons a week as a gas station cashier. An older fella worked the graveyard shift. This was Nelson. I would see him at turnover and we didn’t have much in common since he was twice my age at the time. We were both let go when the gas station changed ownership. I went off to eventually work at a variety of jobs. Where as Nelson went to be an ice cream truck driver. The year was 1996.

We spoke briefly, mostly exchanging pleasantries and a bit of idle chitchat. I felt bad for this 61 year old guy driving a truck with faded paint and signage. So I ended up buying some overpriced frozen treats for the rest of my family in order to support this former coworker. Sure, he looks kinda creepy with his coke bottle glasses and missing teeth. He’s also been delivering ice cream for ages, listening to the same tinkling of bells, and dealing with children; he must have lost some marbles along the way. I swear it’s the same truck I saw him driving when he first started the gig.

If you stop at an ice cream truck in Langley and see the old guy with greasy black hair and 1980’s glasses, rummaging through his old Viking freezer for the $4.00 bar your kid so desperately wants- make sure you say “Thank you Nelson”.

His smile will be genuine because he really does love his job.

Sunday Morning Cartoons

Yesterday I briefly mentioned Saturday Morning Cartoons. There were always a new series of cartoons being added into the roster on tv. From Muppet Babies to Gummy Bears- the shows we’re constantly changing. The next day of the weekend never changed.

I disliked Sundays very much because of tv. When I was little I attended a catholic school. But we rarely went to church. It just wasn’t something that my parents enforced. And as a kid, I never really asked to go. So I was at home trying to find something to watch on tv.

There wasn’t much selection on a Sunday as most early morning programs were religious based. But I managed to find “The Mighty Hercules” followed by “The Smurfs”. When you only have a handful of tv channels to pick from, the selection was pretty sparse.

These two shows were my go-to on a Sunday until my father took over the tv for golf, cooking, and “This Old House”. During that time I would retreat to play Lego or use our tiny tv to play Colecovision and Intellivision. Playing video games that just never ended. A looping of memorizing the pitfalls and perils in order to see how many hours you could spend playing these games. The games became very easy.

Easy like Sunday Morning. No selection available- you just watched what was on.

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Back in the 80’s, Saturday morning cartoons were the best part of childhood. I’d read thru our TV guide and set my morning ritual watching about 2-3 hours of shows. Once 10 am arrived, it was time to get outside and play. Until then, rotting my brain in front of a tv was the thing to do.

This morning, I went on YouTube and found some episodes of “Kidd Video” to watch. I watched the first episode while eating my grilled cheese sandwich. For the second episode, I curled up on a beanbag chair with my ALF blanket.

There was some great commercials as well that someone uploaded with the first episode. Targeting kids with a variety of toys and Spaghetti-o’s. The show made no sense, and the ads made little sense as well. All the while trying humor to fill the gap of confusion.

Some things need to be left behind in the memory banks. Shows like this do not hold up. Even though it was more entertaining to make fun of the show with my son.

What did you do on a Saturday morning during your childhood? What do your kids do on a Saturday morning?

Let me know in the comments.

Time For A Break

My son went out skim boarding with the neighbors for the first time. He was enjoying himself immensely. Until he had a bad fall. My wife called me to tell me that he had broken his arm.

It seems like a right of passage for young people to break an appendage or require stitches. I had stitches three separate times and dislocated my elbow as a teenager.

The first thing my wife said was, “Thank goodness he didn’t break his leg.” Which is true. It would affect his speed skating skills. A broken arm is not going to impede him much.

The break wasn’t terrible and is known as a “buckle fracture of the left distal radius” but I know it hurt him. He was doing his best to hold back the tears and wasn’t wanting anyone to touch his arm.

He is proud of the fact he has a cast. Although he instantly complained that he couldn’t play video games. My response was- “Read a Book.” Much to his dismay. In a few weeks he should have it off. In the mean time- I have a bunch of books for him to read.

Summer Cooking

It’s so hot these days that it is difficult to want to cook dinner. Making the kitchen extra hot using the stove or oven is unbearable. Even getting out at the grill is tough. The heat and humidity makes for a challenging cookout.

The other day, my son was grilling over the open flames. Even I didn’t want to hang out by the fire as it was a sweaty evening already. But he did pretty well at his first attempt at open flame cooking. I stayed in the kitchen to make some guacamole stuffed potato skins as a side dish. Those were equally as tasty!

But we needed to eat quickly while it was still hot out. It has become apparent that once it begins to cool off outside- the ‘Skeeters come out. Nothing like getting eaten alive while eating.

Sitting outside is generally pretty nice. We eat on the back deck at least 9 months out of the year. Getting through these excessive hot spells and mosquitoes is the only complaint I have about summer. That, and I hate Sweating.

Blueberry Flan

My father used to make a flan once, maybe twice a year. Either filled with canned peaches or fresh blueberries. Today I made his recipe with 3 cups of fresh washed blueberries. I think it turned out quite well. Here’s how I made it:

Recipe from my father.

1 pkg yeast (I used 17.5grams of fresh yeast today) mixed with 1tbsp sugar

2/3 cup milk 1/3 cup warm water

Mix together to activate yeast


3 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

Mix everything together and set aside to rise. Do not be surprised- this is a sticky dough. Approx 30 minutes to have it double in size. (Make sure it is covered with a slightly damp tea towel.)


Preheat oven to 350°. Once dough is risen, roll it out on a floured surface and place in a greased cookie sheet. Push into the edges and leave 1/2 inch or less of space.

Spread 3-4 cups of fresh blueberries, peaches, or what ever fruit you want. A thin layer is all you need since the juices from the fruit will spread out as it bakes.

Make the crumble topping with 2 tbsp butter, 4 tbsp sugar and 4 tbsp flour. I enjoyed using our pastry blender for this. After the topping was spread out, I sprinkled extra sugar because I like it sweet.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Boom- Flan!!!

Oh look, a blog post with a story followed by a recipe. Not my usual style, but I enjoyed making it. I’m hoping the family enjoys eating it as I haven’t made this in ages. So long ago that my kids don’t remember ever having it.

Maxim-um Effort

Today I was going to do some organizing near our shower area. Boxes of stuff had toppled over and junk was just getting thrown in the vicinity. After taking a few things out and getting my son to store them in the barn, I decided to re-box some magazines.

I have seven years of Maxim Magazines dating back to issue number 1 in 1997. When I worked at the movie theater from 1999-2004 I regularly read the magazine. I would also leave my copy in the booth for the projectionist to peruse while waiting for films to end.

I’m passing on the magazines to my son now. I told him to read at least one article from each magazine. Some of the info is very dated (like buying the perfect big screen tv!). As well, all of the women featured are almost 20 years older now.

The first issue, he flipped back and forth stopping on stories about cars, movies from 1997, and how to cook a steak. He read out the steak one and we discussed “Grilling the Perfect Steak”. Sounded like he wants to learn to BBQ after that story. He continued on reading about the perfect toolbox starter as well.

Maxim Magazine will offer up some tips to manhood that my son may not want to ask me. I think it’s a good chance for him to see what life was like 20 years ago. Where ads for alcohol and cigarettes made people look like life is full of parties if you get drunk and smoke. He already knows that life isn’t really like that.

Did you grow up reading magazines before the Internet came around?

Bad Movies

This afternoon, I decided to watch a cheesy horror movie in the comfort of our home. My kids watched with me, but our oldest was not paying much attention as she enjoyed playing in the Nintendo Switch.

I’ve always had a soft spot for cheesy horror films. In fact, I love films in general. Back in the 80’s and 90’s when video stores had a rent one get one free- I would choose the most ridiculous sounding movies as the free one. Now with Amazon Prime and Netflix sharing some of these “Classics” I get to relive the craptastic films that made me laugh.

Cheesy horror and slapstick comedy does not, I repeat- DOES NOT always hold up in rewatchability. “Killer Klowns” is no exception. The movie is bad. And bad in a bad way. Not bad in a fun way. Really bad. A few weeks ago we watched “House” and that was also bad. We enjoy making fun of these movies while we watch them. Screaming at the characters on screen or predicting the next zany kill.

Next film on my list of torture viewing is from 1987- “The Masters Of The Universe”. The He-Man live action that ruins the plot idea as bad as the live action “Super Mario Bros”. Dang, I should add that to my list of films as well! Probably right after we view some TROMA classics. Or “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes”.

Do you enjoy schlock horror? Tell me about your favorite.

Camping at Home

Our middle child has the right idea. Since we came home from camping last week she decided to set up the tent in our backyard.

Having a yard with a park like setting is my favorite part about not living in the suburbs or city. I sit out on one of our four decks on a regular basis to just enjoy the country life. Almost every one of our meals is had on our covered deck. Since installing the Porch Swing in our front yard, I have spent more time out there after a day at work.

Our tree deck is still my favorite of all the decks we have. The family is utilizing it more frequently as well since I added the deck chairs and lights. It also happens to be where the tent got set up for the past week. Our daughter has been the only one sleeping out there. Except yesterday when I disappeared into the tent for a nap.

The peace and quiet was thoroughly enjoyable. As it always is in our park like setting.

Eighteen? How is This Possible?

I am beside myself. Our oldest daughter turned 18 today.

My goodness. I don’t even know what to feel. A part of me is so happy to have had all of these years growing up with her. Another part wants to go back and do it all again, only this time take it slower.

Throughout the years, we had our ups and downs. She often played up the fact that she was embarrassed by me and how I act. Especially when I was really proud of her accomplishments. I would cheer the loudest and even made signs to show my support to her. I always wanted to be around, even when she tried to shoo me away.

Perhaps that’s where my relationship with her is. Random, who like to be called Dom now, is a strong willed teenager. She is an adult now. It’s time to let her truly make her own mark in the world. Time for her to rise and fall as she navigates the next stages of her life.

And I will still be there for her. Shouting encouragement from the sidelines. This is my little girl. The one I swaddled and held close when she was born. Knowing that I had to do my best to protect her over the years.

I think it’s time to go get some tissues because this man’s eyes are full of tears.

Grad Dinner..?

Our oldest Graduated three weeks ago from Grade 12. Besides the ceremonies being cancelled, so was the Grad Dinner. My wife and I have been trying to get our daughter out for a special dinner since then, with no luck. Our oldest originally wanted a special meal like the one my wife and I did Last Year at the Bacchus French Restaurant. But it hasn’t opened yet because of restrictions.

Today, we finally went out for a meal. Our oldest also wanted her siblings along, so we ended up at Ramen Bella in Langley. Where we each got a large bowl of ramen, and our daughter got herself a Poké Bowl.

It was a good treat for everyone and also very filling. I’m glad our oldest picked a place that the family could enjoy, even though my wife and I were trying to offer her something special just for her. It seems as though our daughter is still very family oriented and loves sharing experiences with her brother and sister.

To me, that shows she is growing up into a wonderful young lady. Each day I am becoming more and more proud of her.

Time For A Tech Break

Getting the family ready for a camping trip is challenging. Even if you’re only gone for a couple of days, it takes hours to get packed up. No matter how much you tell everybody when you want to leave, you always fall behind.

It may seem odd to pack up the necessities of life in order to live outside temporarily. But I like camping. Most of my technology stays behind. Obviously I keep my phone for pictures and music. But the connection to the outside world via the interwebs is severed.

I like taking mental breaks always from the world. It keeps me sane. Plus I love the outdoors. I almost don’t need to leave our home as we have a lush and beautiful yard that seems to go on forever. We own an acre of solitude, just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and suburbs.

Taking a break from technology is important. I appreciate the world a little more when we do go away. A chance to see the natural wonders out there.

July 4th 2020

This year, we were planning on changing up our July 4th festivities. Back in February (before the pandemic took over) we bought tickets to Disneyland and booked our favorite hotel. Up until about a month ago, we were having a tough emotional time canceling the hotel. We really wanted to experience Disneyland in the summer since we’ve had the chance to enjoy springtime and numerous times at Halloween.

We really wanted to see the Disneyland 4th of July Fireworks. I assume that Americans can put on quite the show. Tonight, we shall watch those fireworks from the comfort of our home.

As well, instead of a road trip along the West Coast of the USA, I plan on taking some of the family camping during my vacation. As our kids get older, it seems there’s a bit of freedom expected. So our oldest is choosing to stay home. As uneventful as camping is, we are still happy and healthy and ready to enjoy the world.

But tonight, we shall resort to our July 4th Tradition. A viewing of ID4: Independence Day. I love this film. I also love the fact that our kids believed me (when they were much, much younger) that this film is historically accurate. Thank you Hollywood!

Happy July 4th to our American Neighbours!

Newbie

So, I’m a relative NEWB when it comes to being outdoorsy. I have done some hiking and lately have been kayaking. I tend to get some beginner stuff in order to try out activities before getting carried away. Our kayaks are beginner style, and I have enjoyed them tremendously. My wife and I will probably upgrade them one day once we get better at paddling and such.

Today I went out and bought some fishing stuff. I’ve gone fishing with coworkers and friends in the past. I have just never owned my own equipment. I appreciate the basic knowledge they have given me over the years and am looking forward to having some fun this summer. Not the “Billy Bass” singing “Don’t Worry Be Happy” kind of fun. But actually trying to fish.

Before I bought stuff, I asked around for some advice on what a NEWB like me should buy. There is an art to what gear to buy depending on what you want to fish. Since I am doing fresh water fishing, I bought the gear that will be needed. I also paid for a fishing license for the year.

So any of my friends who want to hit the water with me and show me the ropes- I’ll be a bit more prepared than before. Now to watch some YouTube videos to get some skills before I make a fool of myself in front of my son.

One More To Go

I have one more shift to go at work before a week of vacation kicks in. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. The crazy part is that I don’t have much planned for my time off. Our Disneyland trip is on hold due to COVID-19. We were looking forward to spending The Fourth of July in the USA for the first time ever. I assume it’d be a big deal. Especially in Disneyland!

I still plan on being not-so-sober during my time off. I do have a few days of camping planned with most of my family and a friend with his kids. Last summer he joined us and, well, drinking was pretty much non-stop. But the weather was great and so were the kids. So why not go for round two?

It’ll be hard to make it through that last day of work without a big smile on my face. Somehow, I’m sure I’ll survive until that first beer hits my lips. Then it’ll be a blur.

Mario Kart 8

On the weekend I bet my three children that I would beat them at MarioKart on the Nintendo Switch. I said that for every point they could beat me by- they would earn a dollar. I also said that to make it fair, we would play three cups of four races each. However, my stipulation was that we had to play 150cc Mirror races.

I had no idea my kids would be so good, or clever! I thought I could let them win a bit, then school them.

Turns out my kids ganged up on me. The oldest did her best to keep the lead with one of the other two staying close behind in second or third place. The third child did their best to take me out and keep me in the last possible place. They chose to pool their winnings and split it evenly three ways.

I lost $195.

Obviously I learned that my kids think I’m not very good at MarioKart even though I’ve been playing the different variations since 1992. I also learned that when given the chance, they can actually work together for a common goal.

My wife was none too happy. Until I told her that I’m okay with losing some money to the kids. This is the week we were supposed to be in Disneyland. So their “winnings” would have been spending money for the trip.

Look at those smiles. It was totally worth forking over $65 to each of them. Plus I got to “spend” quality time with them.

Father’s Day Night

With yesterday being Father’s Day, my children gave me gifts that reminded me that I’m a father. However, it was a very bipolar type of evening.

I arrived home to see my teenage daughters making homemade pasta for dinner. The kitchen was a mess and flour was everywhere. They were stumbling over each other trying to make dinner. During this, my son had retreated to his bedroom to hide.

For the rest of the evening, there was snarky attitudes going back and forth between all three kids and my wife. As they spoke to me, their tunes would change. They were each doing their best to show me kindness, but at a cost of being somewhat negative towards one another.

After dinner, the kids brought out the gifts that they had made for me. None of the gifts surprised me, as they were exactly what I was expecting. A Lego creation from my son (of my Nissan Rogue), some painted wood carvings from my middle and a painting from my oldest. I appreciate each gift as the kids showed off how proud they are of what they made.

We ended the night watching Robocop from 1987 just because I hadn’t seen the film in ages and wanted something to watch that the kids had never seen before. After the film, it was off to bed and sleep took over.

All in all a typical night, I even got a few gifts from it. It didn’t upset me that there was a bit of animosity between my family members. In actuality it reminded me of how normal we all are; and not everything is perfect no matter how much we try and showcase our lives on social media.

Father’s Day 2020

I’ve been a father for nearly 18 years now. In the grand scheme of things, I think I’ve done an okay job of raising three kids. Obviously I could not, and did not, do it on my own.

Without my wife; aka mother to our children; there really wouldn’t be a Father’s Day for me. She and I have worked together over the years to create a loving environment for our three beasts kids.

To be completely honest, I don’t know if I was ever going to be ready to be a dad without her pushing me. I’m glad to have taken on the challenge and the role. Our children are my pride and joy. I will always be there for them in whatever form they need me.

I was never close with my father. I’d like to think I have become the father I always wanted. The kind of father who goes on vacations, jokes with their kids, has family movie nights, even loses at video games to them. I have shown love and support through all of their endeavors, be it Cheerleading, Speed Skating, and the arts- no matter what they wanted to do, I was there.

Certainly there were times when they wanted to give up. But my wife and I pushed them and guided them through those hurdles. It’s not always fun and laughs when you have to be the bad guy either. In time, I’m sure they will understand why and when we needed to be strict with them.

For now, I’m just glad to be celebrated as their Father. I have a drawer full of handmade cards and gifts from over the years. I cherish those moments and memories.

I’ll always remember them as my kids, even as they enter adulthood.

Road Worthy

Our middle child turned sixteen on April 15th. Right in the middle of quarantine/ social distancing life. (Note: I’m not saying the world has overcome the pandemic, just that the peak of solitude seems to be behind us.) We were hoping that on her birthday she would have been able to go and do her knowledge test to begin driving. But it seemed that life was on pause until the start of June when ICBC began allowing people to book these tests.

Our daughter booked her test immediately- but there was a two week queue already. This gave her more time to study and finally had a deadline. I went with her yesterday morning because I had to sign off on her getting her license as she is still a minor. Once I signed off, I was asked to wait outside. I watched from the parking lot as our daughter took her exam. She had forty five minutes to complete it.

She was done in eleven.

She successfully aced the test with only one wrong answer out of fifty questions! 98% is dang impressive, clearly she gets her intelligence from her father. A very proud teenager showed off her “L” to her friends on Instagram and through texting. We stopped about a block away from our home, and I let her get a taste of driving.

All I can say is that this one will need lessons from someone who is not mom or dad. She may be book smart, but she needs to become road smart because those are two very different skill sets. I’m really happy for her and think that driving is a great skill to possess.

Smile Time!

It’s been a few years of orthodontics, but yesterday our middle child had her braces removed. Her older sister had hers removed back in December of 2018, read about it here: Brace Yourself, and she has been smiling more ever since. I’m hoping that this too will happen for our middle.

Naturally, I had to take a “Before” picture. Darwin was doing her best to hide the braces behind her smile. But you could sense the joy that was about to unfold as she walked into her final orthodontist appointment.

This is the obligatory “After” picture. Notice how she is showing more teeth! Finally, after a few years of braces, tightening, and suffering, she has a reason to smile.

The braces are off! Now, and for years to come, she will have a beautiful smile. And our pocket book will be full once more… until our youngest goes in.