Good. Friday.

Today is Good Friday. The kids were home from school and my wife and I had the day off. Our two youngest did one of the nicest things for their mother today.

They set up an Easter Egg Hunt in our living room- just for my wife. With only a little bit of help from me. (I bought the chocolates and made sure to get their mom out of the house this morning so they could set up.)

Over the past few days, the kids have been making little notes to go inside the plastic eggs. As well as a card from “The Easter Bunny”. The kids were really excited to surprise their mother today. I’m impressed that they kept it a secret.

Needless to say, my wife got very emotional. Easter and the Easter Egg Hunt has always been her favorite thing to do for the kids. This year was a nice way for the kids to treat their mother. I think my wife is a bit upset at me because for the past few days I kept telling her that the kids are getting too old for the Easter Bunny. That was a tough sell that didn’t go over well.

I don’t really think anyone is too old to enjoy a surprise scavenger hunt. If our kids still enjoy searching for chocolates as teenagers- so be it. Having them grow up is tough as it is.

Potato Chips

I am a sucker for salty foods. I especially love potato chips.

My favorite is plain, unexceptional, salted ripple chips. My family each had a favorite as well- all trying to be differentiated from one another.

My son likes ketchup.

My youngest daughter prefers salt and vinegar or lightly salted.

My oldest daughter enjoys sour cream and onion.

My wife enjoys dill pickle.

Sometimes I pick up a large bag for each member of the family. Usually I just get a jumbo bag of salted chips and force my family to eat those. Okay, force isn’t the right word- they each the chips willingly.

For most of winter, we were eating a bowl of chips every night. Which was a bit much, so we went a few weeks without eating any. My wife wanted to only eat them on a Friday or Saturday from now on. But last night, I busted out favorite flavors for everyone. Not gonna lie, after eating a few chips, I felt unsatisfied. The fresh grapes we’ve been having lately seemed better.

Maybe it’s me getting older and my body telling me to eat better. But I think I won’t be buying chips as much anymore.

Breaking the Fast

I live very separate lives when it comes to eating breakfast. Part of me wants to eat a huge greasy meal that is sure to clog my arteries. Then there’s a part that wants me to eat healthily. Another part of me skips breakfast all together. I have no idea which is which until my day begins.

I love to cook.

Period.

And when I make breakfast- my family loves it. Especially on weekends. That’s when we are all at home together. Oftentimes my family is asking me if I can make them something to eat. From scratch-made waffles to vegetarian omelettes- I make it all delectable.

And my family devours it.

But those days that I have to be at work at 06:00am- I won’t eat anything until closer to 10:00am. By then my stomach is pretty empty and ready to enjoy food. Usually it’s a PB+J sandwich or some granola and yogurt. It also helps with the entire day. It keeps me from wanting to eat too much junk. If I eat too early, I usually want to forage and snack the rest of the day.

Birthday Weekend Flashbacks

Usually for my birthday I just celebrate on the day of my birthday. But since I went out to Throw Axes on Friday, my kids wanted to spend time with me on Saturday. So I did- it was fun and also bizarro with lots of familiarity surrounding it.

First thing in the morning- I shared a box of specialty KitKats that I had saved from last year’s trip to Tokyo. Keeping it hidden from the family for almost a year was challenging. I also ate the special March birthstone one I kept. Needless to say- these were just as unique as any other KitKats we sampled in Tokyo. The Butter flavor was amazing!

Later, we went out for Poké Bowls at a place in Langley called Dal’s Poké. This is probably one of the freshest meals I have ever eaten in a restaurant! If you’ve never tried a Poké Bowl, do it. It’s sort of like deconstructed sushi. Lunch inspired us to go pick up some Asian foods at the H Mart Korean grocery store.

Immediately after lunch we wandered a bit around Downtown Langley. As we hit some thrift shops, it was suggested that when we go to H Mart that we stop at an old video store called Willow Video. Walking into that place was like walking into the past. The store hasn’t changed in almost 30 years. I swear that the used games in the cabinets were the same ones that were there when I was a kid. Used Sega Master Systems, old Game Boys, and assorted Games with price tags from thirty years ago. The place still offers Video rentals and sales. Not to mention that the store was busy as well! Good for them.

After our shopping at the Korean store, and the kick in the nostalgia memory banks of Willow Video, we went to see if an old Billiard hall was open. Three weeks ago I had mentioned wanting to play Billiards again. But since so many of the places from my youth were gone, I could only find one of them- The Ballroom.

Walking upstairs into the hall hit me again in the memory banks of years gone by. Much like Willow Video- this place had also remained unchanged. It had been almost twenty years since I had been there and it looked like I could have been there just yesterday. The hall of a dozen or so tables was empty except for the cashier.

With an uncanny familiarity, I took the family to a corner table that I remember always favoring. My wife and I taught the basics of pool to the kids. They started to pick it up and enjoyed themselves. After an hour or so, we decided it was time to go. By this time a few more people entered the hall. A couple on a date and two older gentlemen with their personal cues.

March 16th, 2019 was like traveling back in time. Starting with some chocolates and ending at a pool hall that my wife and I last went to when dating twenty years ago. It was a great way to celebrate my birthday weekend with my family.

Hanging out with My Daughters

Last night and today I’ve been hanging out with our daughters. It’s been a great time. I offered up a ton of suggestions for things to do: video games, go karts, mini golf, and billiards. None of which they wanted to do with dad. So I let them offer up suggestions.

Here’s what we’ve been doing:

First we had an early dinner of sushi at our favorite restaurant- Nikko Sushi. My oldest daughter was in great spirits and allowed for some selfies to be taken. So I took full advantage of it yesterday and today.

After dinner we hit up an escape room. We did pretty well as a team, but was unsuccessful in the end. So close. I enjoyed working together with them on the puzzles. Seems my daughters are rather smart. They must get that from their mother.

Afterwards, we hit the shopping mall for the last hour before it closed. My oldest daughter bought her first pair of Doc Martens. She was super excited. There is also a record store that opened up back in October. We bought a couple of used albums for fun since my other daughter has a record player and we have a healthy collection of Vinyls. Before we left the mall, we hit up Starbucks for a couple of Frappuccinos. We ended last night watching a movie- “The Hangover” Which was their choice.

This afternoon I took them to the local high school to watch a musical performance of “Heathers” based on the 1988 film. It’s neat to see the teens in the show that my daughters previously went to elementary with. The role of JD is the son of a friend of ours. He did a bang up job. As I’ve said before, I enjoy supporting the arts in all varieties. Especially when it’s kids showcasing their talents.

All-in-all I’ve had a great time with my girls. Tonight will be a quiet night at home marathon watching Season 3 of “A Series Of Unfortunate Events”. These past couple days are things I rarely did growing up with my father. I’m glad my girls enjoy my company. I enjoy theirs.

Expanding My Tastes

I do enjoy going for beers at almost any Craft Brewery. I have written about these adventures on numerous occasions. But at home I rarely buy good beer. I go for the cheapest cans and don’t care about the quality.

I also enjoy having a drink or two of some flavored liquors. At Christmas, I love having my Booze Tree up. It warms my insides.

Last weekend I discovered my favorite booze at the local liquor store that just opened. I had first found this during our visit to Shelter Point Distillery back in August 2017. I loved “Barrel of Sunshine” so much, I bought home three bottles of it. Boy does it go down smooth, let me tell you. In fact, I actually get myself stumbling off of it. Anyone who has had some with me knows of this fact. I’m holding off on cracking this bottle until my birthday in a few weeks.

In the mean time, I have found a tasty way to make a White Russian. I got inspired while watching “Russian Doll” on Netflix. I figured it’d be a good drink to have while binging tv. We have had a bottle of Van Gogh Espresso Vodka in our freezer for a few years and rarely sipped on it. It was a lovely little kick added to the coffee flavor from the Kahlúa. Plus it meant I didn’t need ice because it was already chilled.

I’m on the lookout now for a drink called “After Shock”. It’s a cinnamon Liqueur, but at the bottom of the bottle is sugar crystals that absorb the alcohol and make for a sweet, boozy snack once the bottle is done. Mmmmm boozy sugar…

Any special drinks you enjoy? Or can you find After Shock for me?

Fun Romancing

Yesterday was Valentines Day. Some people expressed their love for one another on social media. Others shared bitterness and sarcasm. Many people shared pictures of lovely dinners and flowers. Whatever your day was like, I hope it was great. Mine was super romantic.

First my wife and I dropped the kids off at school. Then we went for breakfast at a random bistro that we had never been to before. One of the best breakfasts I have ever had. Also the most expensive breakfast I have ever had. This was our romantic meal of the day.

Then my wife and I went home to play some video games in bed. Followed by a mid morning nap. Which led to me sleeping until 4pm because I worked the night shift the day prior. I woke up because I had missed four phone calls from my wife. She left the same message each time in her silliest voice possible. “Call me. Call me. Why won’t you call me? Caaaaaaaaallllllll me.”

When she came home, we played some Smash Bros and Mario Kart on the Nintendo Switch. My wife is really good at gaming and beat me repeatedly at these games. After a couple of hours of video games, I made dinner for the family.

After dinner we watched one of my wife’s favorite films- “Stardust“. It’s also one of my favorites. A fairytale involving love. Something about Neil Gaiman’s works translate from novel to film beautifully.

Yesterday was a day pretty much designed to make my wife happy. From a lovely breakfast date to lots of video games to enjoying a romantic film. I think we should do more days like this.

Mr. Noodles

Having three teenagers requiring food kind of hits the pocketbook hard. Buying in bulk at Costco or during a Case Lot Sale at the grocery store seems like a good way to save money. But in reality, my kids see it as “more food to be eaten” before the next shopping trip.

Any parent of a teenager or college kid knows that Mr. Noodles is an inexpensive way to eat. I’ve lived off them for a daily meal filler when I lived on my own in my younger days. Over the past couple years, they have been making their way into my home again. And my kids are devouring them almost as quickly as I buy them.

When I do get to eat some, I like to drain out the water, then add the contents of the flavor packet to the noodles only. This is how I’ve always had them. My wife on the other hand prefers to eat them as an actual soup. Recently I’ve decided to change it up a bit.

Since Mr. Noodles is technically Ramen, that’s what I’ve been trying to make. Albeit on a budget, but a bowl of Ramen nonetheless. My first attempt I felt pretty good about and it tasted not too shabby. I fried a bit of pork, soft boiled and egg which was then soaked in soy sauce. We buy packets of seaweed for snacks, so it was a great garnish on the side with some green onion chopped on top. It looked like I could’ve passed it off as the real deal.

The other day, we had some leftover Chinese takeout. I was hoping to enjoy some fried rice and sweet and sour pork, but as I mentioned- I have three teens in our home that are eating everything in sight. Except the vegetables. So I mixed those leftovers with some Mr. Noodles. Again, my wife enjoyed it as a soup, and I ate them as beef noodles. Super tasty.

Stretching a meal budget can be tough. Making cheap foods taste better is a talent I have. Now to figure out how to make Pizza Pops better.

Three Years of Beers

As much as I thought I was going to do a whole lot of nothing yesterday, I was wrong. I ended up going out to my favorite watering hole to celebrate their third anniversary.

They were offering up a limited edition etched glass to the first 100 customers. Much like last year, I scored two glasses. Because it was so cold outside, they opened up early to let everyone in. I was the fifth person in line of about 40 people. I was only inside for about forty five minutes before having to leave for another appointment.

I also ended up seeing some people I had met over the years. So my interaction level had to go up. Good thing the beer was 8.7% and tasty. Seriously though, I had such a great time at the opening that I returned a few hours later to get a couple of growlers filled.

Something about the Trading Post Brewing that makes it feel warm and welcoming. No matter which location I attend. I love supporting local businesses as well. Thanks again to the brewmaster and servers for a great beer and celebration.

Cheers.

Joey At Play

This evening I’m going out with a couple of friends. No kids or wives will be joining us. I rarely have a Saturday night like this. I have to plan these “play dates” well in advance. Mostly to prepare my family for the fact that I won’t be home.

I’m looking forward to tonight. But it won’t be like the days of yore. I won’t be getting crazy drunk or having a late night. Just a couple of hours spent in North Vancouver. Some tacos and a couple of beers are the extravagant plans. It’s the company that I will be with that shall make the evening enjoyable and memorable.

I may share a photo or two on social media, but I am hoping to not to pull out my phone at all. That is until I leave to come home. At which point, I’ll call my wife to let her know I’m on my way. Which is a courtesy that my wife and I have for one another when not together.

A call to say, “Hey! I’m on my way. Love ya.” Even a few hours away from her means I’ll still miss her company. She has become an extension of my personality. So have my kids. And as I make memories and experiences, I love them to be with me as often as possible.

But tonight is a “Guy’s Night” where we will talk about our families and work. This gents are similar to me in many ways- where they put their family’s needs first. These are the kind of guys I prefer to associate with.