Loving My Kids

These are my three kids. Even though they are teenagers growing into adults, they will always be my kids. This picture was from last Monday- the first day of “full time” school.

My family puts up with me during my tough emotional time from September to November. Yesterday they joined me as I went to the graveyard to visit my father’s resting place. We didn’t really talk about him while we were there. Which was okay. They were with me showing some emotional support. I just needed them to be there.

Afterwards we went out for donuts. We sat at a table in a small coffee shop and enjoyed ourselves. No talk about anything pressing. Just idle chitchat. It was a pleasant Saturday afternoon followed by a home cooked meal.

It brings me joy that my kids can be so loving. I need it from time to time.

Playing 78’s

Today marks what would’ve been my father’s 78th birthday. Over the years I have not been too kind in sharing memories of him. This year I am going to do my best to share a couple of bittersweet experiences instead.

In the past I have gone to visit his grave and enjoyed a Molson Canadian beer in his honor. That was the beer of choice by my father. I remember the stale scent of Rothman’s cigarettes and beer emanating from his beard as I grew up. It was a very distinct odor on evenings and weekends that only my father possessed.

During the day, he would have the aroma of Halls Lozenges mixed in with the scent of Cigarettes. He always had a package in his car and would pop one in his mouth from time to time. They sat in the change holder near the car stereo. After unwrapping one of the square candies, he would bunch up the waxed paper into tight little balls while a song played on the radio. At the end of the song, he would place the tiny paper balls into the car’s ashtray. It was an odd habit, but one that was distinctly his.

I never knew my father to enjoy music the way I do. In September of 1981 he did buy a brand new stereo from Sears. Perhaps as a birthday gift to himself since he rarely wished to celebrate birthdays in group settings. The JVC LXI came in numerous large metallic framed pieces. A set of oversized 12” subwoofers, an amplifier, tape deck, radio and record player. I was with him when he purchased it from the local Sears in Edmonton. We brought it home and he set it up in the dining room on the china cabinet. Where it would remain until we moved.

I remember that once it was set up, he put on a record and I sat directly in front of one of the speakers to listen to the music. I was five at the time and just amazed at the magic behind how it worked. After a few hours, my father made me wear some headphones instead and turned off the speakers.

For the remaining few years in Edmonton, my mother would put on her “Highland records” and sing her Scottish songs. Occasionally ABBA would be put on the turntable (I think that’s where my love of disco originated). I was never allowed to touch the records in fear that I would scratch them. As well, my records were only permitted on my children’s plastic record player- not the high end one that my dad purchased.

Looking back on that purchase, I realized my father didn’t do it for himself. He did it for my mother… and in a way for me. I became entranced by music that wasn’t just learning my ABC’s. I fell in love with all genres and memorized numerous song lyrics as I grew up. The only music my father would listen to was the radio on his commute. No cassettes or records were ever played by him in our home.

Nowadays, in my home, music is always being played throughout the house. I set up speakers in every room, and we play music that keeps us all entertained. The family sometimes argues over what to listen to, because they don’t always want to listen to disco… but that’s okay. We all enjoy the fact that music brings us together.

Perhaps now my father listens to his collection of 78’s in the afterlife. Keeping his emotions to himself like he always did. His bits of sharing while he was alive was minimal, but effectual. I always thought he liked Elvis because of the records he owned, but I could be wrong.

That’s my story about my father and how he inadvertently created my love of music. Happy Birthday Dad.

Friday’s Sideline

I can’t believe there is only 14 Fridays left in the year. There’s even a Friday the 13th coming up in November. But during all of what has gone on thus far in 2020- Friday happens to be just another day. No big plans ever get made anymore.

My Friday began earlier than normal. The smoke and hazy has been doing a number on my breathing. I feel like I did when I was a smoker- having to wake up with a “Smoker’s Cough” in order to start my day. Once I was awake, I just decided to get on with my day. Mostly obsessing over the 3D printer. (I did make chili at one point for dinner, but that was the extent of my other activities)

I like my new hobby. In a few days I’ll share with everyone the finished projects that I have been working on. I can also understand now why people own more than one printer- I have a slew of files saved and ready to be created. However, my big project- I plan on starting that in the new year.

Until then, I will be creating a few gifts for the family. Some will be sanded and painted, others shall remain unfinished and rough. Having a day to myself has been rather pleasant.

Writer’s Block?

I’ve been very late in posting my daily musings. It seems that I have a bit of “Writer’s Block”. I still manage to produce something, but it’s not of a quality that I am necessarily proud of.

I want to blame the September weather. But it could also be the hazy smoke from the wildfires that is causing grey feelings. It’s not just the look of the outside that is affecting me. But also the air quality. The smoke is making my asthma act up causing me to be tired from a lack of oxygen.

I don’t know if anyone else locally is feeling the same. I’m not usually this “Blah” in September, but there it is. Making me less than motivated to accomplish anything. This too shall pass.

Public Speaking

I can talk to people one on one or in a small group. But when it comes to public speaking or conference calls- I have a tough time. I spend ages writing notes and rehearsing what to say. I still end up with loads of “uh” and “ums” being spoken.

Today I had to host a call. Something I haven’t really enjoyed in the past and do my best to avoid it. Normally I’ll interject in the conference calls just to remind people that I’m there. I don’t like having the spotlight shone on me.

But I hosted the call without argument or trying to pawn it off on someone else. I have learned a few tricks over the years in order to keep the flow going. One of my favorite things to do is open the call up to questions or comments and wait just long enough that the silence becomes uncomfortable that someone will eventually speak up. I try not to call out people directly, but I will do it if I know they have the answer.

At the end of the call, I was told I did an impressive job keeping on task and keeping it just the right length of time. The flow was steady and I felt good to have it behind me, even though I was nervous. I just hope they don’t ask me to run it again for a few months…

I Know Nothing

It’s hard to admit when you don’t know something. Especially when you really should know something about something. Instead of nothing about something. Which is worse than knowing something about nothing.

I know a lot of nothing. But nothing has stuff to explore which in sense makes it something.

I know nothing. But I try and help. So that’s something.

Mothra!

Over the past few days at my work in North Vancouver, we have seen an influx in moths. And they are everywhere.

At night, they take over the lamps and lights. During the day, the moths just hang out on everything white. My car often has a dozen of the little critters on it.

The smoke and the moths makes it feel like an invasion taking over Vancouver. It’ll be nice once the moths begin to disappear. This year has been the worst so far for the moths.

Even Arthur, our moth mascot, found love after an entire year hanging out and ran off.

A Day Devoted To My Teens

I spent the morning going for a drive with my oldest to her new school. It was a chance for her to practice driving on the freeway without much traffic. It also gave her an opportunity to figure out a course/the time and the distance for her commute. We had some good bonding time together.

Then we hit up IKEA to pick up a new desk for my son. He built his IKEA desk with my help. We laid out his room in a more functional manner. He wanted to change up his room to be more “teenage boy” instead of Star Wars themed. I told home we can paint the furniture black, but I had worked hard on the walls and refuse to paint over them. So he is stuck with just removing a few decals and living in a grey bedroom.

That meant giving the bunk beds to his 16 year old sister so she could put her stuffies on display. My wife discovered some bins in our son’s closet that had old costumes and toys from the much younger years. Our middle decided to wear one of them. She is becoming one with the toys…

It was a long day of growing up and pursuing the inevitable changes. But also a good chance to reflect and have some fun.

I Don’t Want To Miss It

The world for our children has been on pause for half a year. Any other year, they would’ve returned to school by today. They may only be sort of starting by the end of the week, but it clearly won’t be the same as it has in the past.

1st Day of School 2017

Today our oldest attended a virtual orientation. Tomorrow our middle goes to school for an information session about the new protocols and on Friday our youngest does the same. Every year, my wife likes to take a photo of the kids in our front yard getting psyched about the first day back.

Today, we didn’t do that for our oldest. She is in post-secondary school and is more adult than child. But I still want my wife to take photos of the other two. It’s a tradition I want to keep alive even in these uncertain times.

2011 Walking to school.

Did you still take first day of school pictures this year?

Working Stress-Free

Sometimes a night at work can be relaxing. Having a purpose and doing a job can help alleviate the stresses of the world.

All those crazy emotions of home life are put on pause during the hours at my job. I’d like to think that life away from work is calm and peaceful, but it isn’t always. The worries of returning to school during a pandemic are highest in my home. Like many other parents, we are just waiting to see how life plays out.

So I take solace at my job. Where precautions have been taken since the beginning. A job I have done for almost 13 years. A place I know all too well keeps me calm.

3D Printer Part 3: Wanting More

My list of possible 3D builds keeps growing. My family and a few friends have some requests that I plan on making. I also plan to do some 3D prints for donating to people’s betterment.

For me- I mostly want to do movie prop replicas. There’s something profound about building and owning a piece from a film. To me it feels as if I am a part of something bigger.

It also hits the nostalgia feels. I mean, honestly- who wouldn’t want a Proton Pack to fight ghosts back in the 80’s? Or open a can of shaving cream to find dinosaur embryos? Or find out who really shot first when you hold a Han Solo blaster?

I worry that it’ll be a rabbit hole of unfinished projects and a desire to own bigger and better printers. From the forums I am on, it seems that is the way of the 3D modeler. I have already been obsessing about getting another print going. I just need to wait for my spools of plastic to arrive.

I always love creating and making things to display and show off for fun. I shall accept my fate for my new found hobby. I only hope my wife and family also accept this burden I have bestowed upon myself.

You have been warned! When I obsess about something, I beat it into the ground. Just like a new song that I like. It falls into repeat for weeks on end. Or perhaps this will be similar to my love of disco. A variety of fun dance moves and love songs.

It Wouldn’t Keep Still

Today was one of those really busy days off. To quote Mrs. Premise: “Busy? I just spent four hours burying the cat.” It feels like all I’ve been doing is hardly making a dent on my projects. Just making more of a mess. Like trying to bury a cat that won’t keep still.

But I’m done for the day. Time to finish up making dinner and vegetate in front of the big screen and watch some shows. It’ll be some relaxing family time tonight in the theater room. Although I’m sure our oldest will be preoccupied with her new iPhone 11.

But some days I’ll take what I can get. Especially as the kids get older.

Most Liked

Facebook loves to share “Memories” when I log in. I’m sure many of you see yours as well (if you still use Facebook). Sometimes I love seeing the old photos or bizarre status updates I once did. I can’t even remember the last status update I did… I also removed all friends a year and a half ago, so no point to update into thin air…

Today Facebook shared with me- my most “Liked” photo of the year 2009. It’s a cute picture of the time my children made a train out of cardboard boxes for me. Having deleted 400+ friends, how many “LIKES” would you say this picture received? 200? 100? 50?

FIVE.

My most “LIKED” photo of 2009 had FIVE likes. For the entire year of 2009. One of which was my wife. I’m not saying this is the greatest photo ever of 2009. But for a person who had a few hundred “Facebook Friends” you’d think that I could get a higher number on any of my photos.

In the end though, looking for satisfaction through other people’s opinions doesn’t equate for the sheer happiness that this photo brought to me personally. My joy isn’t measured in numbers from other people clicking a thumbs up for me.

Its part of the reason I don’t try and sell myself or this blog. Sharing personal stories is for my mental well being. And in the end- that matters most.

Feel free to like and share today’s blog.

3D Printer Part 2: Building On The Obsession

Back in May 2018, I wrote about wanting a 3D Printer. 3D Printer Part 1: The Obsession It really did become an obsession. Where I joined numerous Facebook groups, watched tons of videos reviewing 3D printers, even got so far as putting one in my Amazon Cart. But I could never get myself to own one.

Until Now.

A few weeks back I was talking with my friend, Matt Harding about how I still want a 3D printer. Turned out he has a coworker that was also enjoying 3D printing. So much so that he owns numerous printers. His coworker also had one that he was kind enough to donate to me in order to fulfill my obsession.

I cannot thank my friend enough for his help in getting me a 3D Printer. I look forward to getting it running and attempting my first 3D Printing of… pretty much anything. Which will probably be a test print to level the bed.

But who cares? I now possess a 3D printer! Let’s get this thing making stuff!

Sober September Number 3

This is my third year going for “Sober September”. In fact I am already starting it early because last year I slipped and had a beer part way through the month. I won’t let that happen again this year.

If all goes well, I’m going to push for an Alcohol-Free Autumn. I’m not sure if my wife will try and join me this year. She doesn’t possess the same internal struggle as I when it comes to having a vice. In general I have more of those evil addiction traits than her.

Most of my year has had me in pictures with various beers at a variety of places. I appear to be touting the joy of drinking like an old magazine advertisement. As if drinking and fun go hand-in-hand. But seeing the last image of myself in front of my favorite watering hole, I realized I don’t look as healthy as once was. I have put on some unhealthy weight and a fake smile that I really do not like.

So wish me luck in my journey of Sober September 3. Each year gets harder than the last to let the drinking go. That is a sobering statement in and of itself.

Fire And Bubbles At Sunset

Our last evening at the campground was relaxing and filled with silliness. We watched the sunset over the mountains and the sky turning pink. I started a fire in the fire pit with the help of my son and we sat at the beach listening to some Queen.

My wife and daughter began playing with bubbles between our fire and the water. The sheer amount of joy they were having astounded me. They kept it up until it got dark and had run out of bubbles. We all enjoyed our final evening together.

Of course we also had our last bite of campfire S’mores for the summer. Another nice way to end the trip.

Sky Sights

The skies were amazing this week. From rain clouds to completely cloudless. I enjoyed the pink clouds and the sunsets from our beach.

The stars at night were vibrant and awe inspiring. My iPhone could not capture the beauty at night. But the daytime skies have been equally as tremendous.

Here is a collection of the views we have enjoyed. Hope you like them as well.

Two Bar Island

About three years ago my daughter and I used the rubber dinghies and paddled to the island that we could see from the campgrounds. It took us an exorbitant amount of time to get there… and back. The next day, my son and I went. Still just as tough. More so because I was sore from the day before.

Last year we got our kayaks. It cut the trip down to about twenty five minutes. So we came every day to the island. This year is no different. Except that last year I discovered a sweet spot that I can get two bars of service on my cellphone.

I don’t think the island has a name. So my wife and I were trying to come up with one.

Cell Island

20 Mile Island

Two Bar Island

Signal Island

Any suggestions?

Playing Around

Camping is filled with loads of keeping ourselves active. We have been spending most of our time at the beach and in the water. Flying a drone, tubing, kayaking, fishing, playing cards, and cooking over a campfire. These are what makes the experiences more and more enjoyable.

Plus we have limited cellular service. So we are using our phones to take pictures and listen to music. I sneak off to a little island by kayak in order to get 2 bars of service in order to blog each day.

Priorities, am I right?

Half A Day of Rain?

We arrived at our campsite mid afternoon and set up our home away from home. Then we enjoyed the evening by the water and fire.

The next morning at 4:30 it decided to rain. That lasted until about 10am. The weatherman was wrong about a week of sunshine. But the day became comfortable and we hit the water for some kayaking to the nearby island.

Good first day considering the unexpected rain.

Twenty Mile Bay 2020

This is our fifth year of going to Twenty Mile Bay to enjoy some camping at the end of August.

First off, the weather looks like it will be in our favor. Should be a comfortable week ahead with loads of sunshine. Honestly, we have been lucky every year we go. Not once has it rained. We did have one year of gusty winds- where our tent was trying to eat us. But it made for good kite flying.

The part I do not like is driving the logging road to the site. We drive about 45 minutes on nicely paved roads doing the speed limit. Then we have to drive about another 45 minutes navigating a rough path going up and down the mountain. With many parts only able to get one vehicle by at a time.

At least the check out time for the campsite is a few hours before the check in time. This means you rarely have oncoming traffic to negotiate around. Plus I like getting there at check in time to set up and start enjoying the trip.

Stay posted for lots of pictures coming soon!

Dinner Bundt Bread

Last night I decided to experiment with incorporating fresh baked bread with dinner. I came up with a dish worthy of being repeated, with a few tweaks.

I made a French bread dough recipe from scratch. After letting the dough rise, I took 2/3 of it and rolled it out as flat as I could so that it would fit nicely in a greased bundt pan.

I then put a thin layer of homemade pesto, sprinkling of feta cheese, added some cooked and seasoned ground beef, poured on some tomato sauce, finished with a layer of grated marble cheese. Then I folded over the balance of the dough and sealed the edges.

I baked it in the oven at 375° for 25 minutes. It came out golden and crisp. The flavors melted together beautifully. My only complaint was that the beef was crumbly. When I make it next time, I may need to add some bonding agent such as eggs or more cheese. It will change the taste once a bit, but not enough to make it drastic.

I chose to make this because I want to get into baking breads. Plus we rarely use our bundt pan. It seemed like a good combination for a dinner plan.

What do you make in your bundt pan?

Do you make fresh bread from scratch?

Farm Fresh Country Living

Our one acre of privacy is surrounded by larger acreages. Some have horses, many are hobby farms. Personally I don’t want any other animals to take care of as our dog is the hardest one to look after lately. He’s getting old and it makes me sad. But I want to talk about our neighborhood instead of our puppers.

Wandering around our neighborhood there are a few little stands set up. One is from a couple little kids. They are selling a variety of zucchini and squash. It’s really cute that they are trying to be entrepreneurs. Pretty sure they got “backing” from mom and dad. As in harvesting their vegetables.

The other type of stands that are around are for “Free Range Eggs”. We have a couple of these in our neighborhood. I have not purchased from them. My wife has in the past and was not thrilled with the color of the yolks. I won’t go into detail, but store bought eggs are more reliable in her opinion.

There is also an herb stand around the corner as well as a few small businesses. Such as a Christmas tree farm, a turkey farm, and a few vegetable greenhouses. Having these nearby is unique and pleasing. I do enjoy the freshness of the vegetables as well as the luxury of having these places nearby.

Are you more city or country? Perhaps you love the suburbs.

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.

Shopify Summit

My wife has been with Shopify going on 3 years now. Every summer they have a “Support Summit” for their region. Last year was held in Whistler. The year prior was in Vancouver. This was supposed to be in Victoria, but COVID had other plans.

Since my wife works for an online e-commerce platform, most of her job is done remotely. Meaning she has already been working from home for ages. And because of restrictions, numerous businesses are setting up shop with Shopify. Work for her has been busy.

This year, their Summit was done remotely. Lots of video conferences and online tutorials to help improve their customer service. Instead of going out and getting a Swag Bag, it was shipped to our home instead. Where she was told to open it on day one of the Summit.

My wife and her coworkers take great pride in their job and the company. So any time my wife gets swag with a Shopify logo on it- she displays it proudly. From hats to shirts to mugs. My wife loves the company she works for and her “Shopifam” as well.

I’m really happy for her that she fell into this job as well. It has been a great opportunity for her to connect with people and assist them in creating a better business for themselves. My wife always has a “feel good” story to share with me after each shift. Sometimes the stories are humorous in nature as well. Even with some negativity that happens on occasion- my wife goes back each shift and is laughing with her coworkers online as they start their day video chatting.

From an outsider looking in- it appears that Shopify has a great business culture in how it is run. So for any small businesses out there looking for an online platform with good customer services- try Shopify. You may even speak with my wife. You can tell it’s her because you can hear her infectious smile through the phone.

And no, Shopify is not paying me to write this. Although it is paying for a bit of our livelihood, but not without some hard work on my wife’s part.