Should We Stay or Should We Go?

It was always inevitable. One day we will move from our current home. But the question that is looming over us- when should we move?

Originally we were going to wait until all three kids graduated high school. Which is June 2024- about five and a half years away. But at the time that happens, two of our three kids *should* be in post secondary. And likely need some help paying for it. Of course there will be scholarships and RESPs contributions, but there is so many more expenses that will come up.

Selling our home may happen sooner than 2024. Not because of financial reasons (although being close to mortgage free or even the possibility of being mortgage free is likely when we sell) but we may sell because of time. A lack of time to do yard work or maintain the house. A smaller yard and a newer home would help us all as our lives get busier and adulthood kicks in for our kids.

Giving up an acre of trees and peacefulness is tough. The home is full of character as well. Not very cookie-cutter in any way. It was built over 45 years ago by my wife’s father. The home has been great for our kids when they were younger. They were out in the yard and took full advantage of the space. Our dogs were the same. Last summer, no one helped or was around to help with the yard work. Personally, I began to feel overwhelmed by it all. So has my wife.

But giving up our present location has advantages. We are currently just far enough away from the suburbs that it feels close by. If driving. We currently have no access to local transit- meaning we are chauffeurs to our children to get places. We are heavily car dependent. As well there isn’t stores within walking distance. Running out to grab an item takes longer, so we try and maximize our ventures for shopping.

It comes down to what we need moving forward. What’s best for our kids? What’s best for my wife and I as we move closer to retirement? What comes next after we move? Will we move again?

Help. Please. This is a stressful decision to make.

Halloween Decorations

Now that we are back home from our latest vacation, it is time to decorate for Halloween. The kids seem to enjoy this. Our son gets right into it and wants to put out everything we have. He even tries to add things that aren’t quite Halloween, but that he thinks would look good.

We have a bunch of things from when the kids were younger. So lots of plastic decor and more not-so-scary items. We don’t put those out as much. We also have a lot of Nightmare Before Christmas knickknacks that stay out all year. For me, decorating each year is about making it different from the last. I try not to have too much store bought items, but rather use what we have around that is old and battered.

Our garden piano for example has begun to crumble and really take the shape of what I wanted. Place a pink rope light behind the keys, a couple fake skulls, and a blue flood light and it creates a near perfect scene.

A few more finishing touches and our home will be perfectly spooky. Today I am putting up our large banners that cover our windows and create quite the visual outside. In a week or two, we will carve the pumpkins!

What are some of your favorite decorations to put up? When do you start?

Lex Stays at Home

When we used to go to conventions or go on vacation out of the country, we can’t take our beloved dog with us. In the past we’ve had friends and family look after him. But we’ve also come to rely on a local kennel.

Birch Bark Kennels is the place we have been taking Lex (and our previous dog, Chuppy) for many years. The price is great, and our dog runs in excitedly. The staff are pretty darned good at their jobs as well. We get him back healthy and clean every time.

The kennel has been recognized in our community as well over the years. That makes me really happy to know that they care for animals in such a great manner. I’m always happy to leave our furry family member in their hands.

That being said, he is also really happy to see us again after our vacations. He could barely keep still in the car ride home and wanted to lick me constantly. The first thing he did when he entered our home was run to his bed. He landed in it so fast that it slid further under our piano.

I wish we could take him on some of these trips, but it would also take away from our travels. Spending sixteen hours in Disneyland each day was already tough on us. I couldn’t imagine how it would be for him in an unfamiliar room for that length of time.

I’m really happy to see him again that’s for sure. Absence does make the heart grow stronger.

Start of An Autumn Home

Usually I only decorate for Halloween and Christmas. This year I decided to add some warmth to our home and bring in more of an Autumn feel.

Our house is starting to become a country home. Pine cones, candles, a fire in the background- it makes for a cozy feel. With the interior decorations well under way, it was time to make a country dinner.

Skillet with sautéed beef and egg noodles made our home aromatic. Time to sit down and enjoy the comforts of our home as a family.

Painting Number 2

I had never taken an interest in painting growing up. I did the occasional project in school- but I never bought any art supplies for myself. I tinkered a bit with pencil crayons and sketching, but never really with painting.

I enjoyed decorating my children’s rooms over the years, so I at least made some attempts at art on the walls.

On canvases however, I’ve only ever done two pieces- one was a pencil sketch I made for my wife years ago for her 40th Birthday. The other was my first real attempt at acrylics A month ago– A painting of some planets and a sun. I also used some spray paint on it to liven it up. I was rather pleased with the final results. So I decided to buy another canvas and steal my daughters’ paints and brushes today.

I’m rather pleased with myself this time around and remembered to take a few photos along the way.

I started with a quick background coat of primer gray spray paint. Then I pencilled in my idea.

Then I got started on my trees and bushes. I enjoy blending colors to give it a more natural feel.

For about an hour or so I added in my flowers and lanterns. I was starting to really enjoy the piece but knew it wasn’t quite finished.

With the final details added, the painting was ready to be hung up. I put it above my wife’s computer, maybe she will notice it later on.

I based the painting on a few photos from our trip to Tokyo. This one was my biggest inspiration:

I don’t think I did too shabby considering it’s my second piece. Of course I see many flaws and realize what I could’ve done differently. In the end, I think I may have a new hobby blossoming.

Wildlife House

I love animals. Always have. I think I could’ve been a veterinarian if it wasn’t for my allergies. Living in the countryside means more woodland creatures all around.

Yesterday when we returned from camping, there was a squirrel hanging out on our back deck. The fact that we were able to walk outside and it didn’t move, meant something was wrong.

After about thirty minutes of us eating lunch outside next to the little dude, we decided to catch it and take it into a place called Critter Care Wildlife. A local organization that specializes in mammal rehabilitation.

We put a box over the little critter and put a towel on top. We dropped it off and the staff was really happy to take it in. They gave us a case number so I followed up today to see how Mr. Squirrel is doing. He’s been integrated into a new group of squirrels and is bouncing back. The organization is unsure as to what was the original issue, but they will be keeping an eye on the little guy.

This afternoon another woodland creature entered our home. We had left the sliding glass door open and the bird flew right in. It bumped the window and perched itself on our cds. My oldest and I grabbed a towel and tossed it over top and I gently carried the bird outside to set it free.

Mr. Birdie took a moment after I uncovered its head before taking off. (Our son names every animal and stuffed animal MR.) We have had numerous animals visit us for brief moments. My favorite moment was when we rescued a hummingbird.

I think that when I retire, I might get into bird watching.

You know, like old people do- ’cause I’ll be old. And I’ll need a reason to look up from my smartphone once in a while.

Pondering

After getting our septic tank pumped yesterday, I decided not to fill in the rock garden again. I figured that we may need to pump it out one day sometime in the nearer future… not twenty years later like this time. So we came up with a new plan.

Let’s build a pond.

Now, when we first moved in there was a pond in this location. But since our youngest was a year old at the time, we decided to fill it in to be safe. We just never bothered to dig it out until this summer.

Today my oldest helped me design the pond. She drove us to Home Depot and we picked up a pond liner, a fountain and some accent lights. We laid out the liner and began to fill the pond with water. As it filled up, we straightened out the liner and turned on the fountain. She’s really happy about the fountain feature- it looks neat.

As the afternoon went on, my two other kids decided they wanted to help out. We washed the rocks off from the previous rock garden that was here. My daughters set them up around the outskirts of the pond. Throughout the process, we all enjoyed wading around in the cool water. We set up a spitting fish fountain (that was from the original pond) and put our old gargoyle bird bath on the corner.

I did pick up a new piece that reminded me of our trip to Tokyo last Spring Break. As the evening settled in, we played with the lighting. We each have a favorite color, but it seems the pink is winning out at the moment.

Now to enjoy the zen like moments of the pond as we tinker and play with it over the next few years. Next spring we will put some plants out along the edges.

Maybe I could expand the pond to become a moat, after all we do live in Castle Havelka.

Shitty Day

Today is the shittiest day of my vacation.

Literal shit.

After having the kids dig in our garden for the past few weeks in search of buried treasure, they found it. We just needed an extrusion afterwards to get it out.

This was not like the adventures that The Goonies had. My kids were digging to find our septic tank opening.

They did. In fact they found both lids. What to do next…

Today was the day to pump it out. This is the first time in 11 years since we moved in. And at nearly 20 years since it was last done. The tank is apparently twice to three times the size needed for our home.

That’s a lot of poop.

We needed a big truck.

Bright and early this morning it arrived. The fellow vacuuming out the waste was super awesome and we talked about shit. Apparently we should be pumping out every couple of years.

Oops.

The smell was bad. Butt not as bad as I thought it would be. A bit less than steaming manure on a hot day. Not quite campsite outhouse.

Now that it’s empty, I’m happy that this is done. Onto the rest of my day.

It really can’t be as shitty as the start.

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.

Blame It On The Bossa Nova

Today has been a lazy Sunday. I rolled out of bed at noon to eat some pancakes. Afterwards, I put up a hammock in my backyard and proceeded to relax some more.

As I lay there enjoying the breeze and the sound of the birds chirping, I decided that I needed some background music. So I hit up the CBC Music App on my iPhone. I found that instead of my usual classical music, I chose to listen to Bossa Brazil. What a freaking awesome choice.

I closed my eyes and just drifted away for about 45 minutes. My yard had turned into a peaceful getaway where all my worries melted away. The day had gone full tilt lazy.

As I swayed back and forth with my eyes closed- I was reminded of the song, “Blame It On The Bossa Nova“. Except the version from the film “Amazon Women On The Moon” sung by Don No Soul Simmons. I’ve never listened to Brazilian music before, but today made me realize there’s an entire other relaxing world out there that I need to explore. Maybe one day my wife and I can travel further south to enjoy the culture in person.

Today is just peace. My own personal paradise. Absolute perfection. I’m blaming the Bossa Nova for life being grand.