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.

August Break

A couple of years ago, I took the month of August off from social media. I did it last March as well. I just randomly choose a month and avoid Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

I usually end up “going dark” when I realize that I’m checking my iPhone far too frequently. Or if I notice my family and friends are obsessing over their phones as well. Sure, we all take a moment when on the toilet to watch a video… but in a social setting- it should be time to interact with those around you. (Using a public washroom doesn’t count as a social setting- just saying.)

I’m also choosing August as a time for a break from social media because for the second half of the month I will be enjoying the great outdoors. I’m taking a couple of my kids to a cabin with a friend of mine for a week, followed by a week of camping in one of my favorite spots in BC- Twenty Mile Bay.

You can’t tell me that relaxing with your feet up on an inflatable raft in the middle of a peaceful lake staring off into the mountains isn’t good for the soul.

The same way our electronics need a recharge- so do our minds. A chance to unplug is good for everyone.

Le Sigh

I know most of my friends won’t care that I am not on social media for the month. In fact they may be relieved because I tend to share, like, and comment quite frequently. Of course, during the month of August I still have to do work, pay bills, etc… I’m not disappearing from the Internet all together- I am still going to be writing everyday.

My blog automatically shares on social media. But while I’m out doing things with the family- I may not have internet access. Which is totally fine with me. It just means when my blogs do get posted, they may be a few days later.

So if you follow along, please bear with my posts as they may not come everyday. But you may get bombarded with a couple each day when I return to the technological era.

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

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.

Get Out of Town!

I finished work today in North Vancouver. Being that it was a Saturday, my drive home was pretty good. (Better than it was earlier in the week during Rush Hour.) Seems like my desire to get out of the Vancouver area was different than most other people. Tons of people were heading into Vancouver at 6pm.

The Honda Celebration of Light is happening at 10pm tonight. It’s the 28th year of the fireworks display. In my life I have been 5 times. None of which have been in the past 17 years. Meaning I haven’t taken my kids…

From 1990-2000 it was called the “Benson and Hedges: Symphony Of Fire”. I liked it back then. You could smoke in the bay and wait for the show. A tobacco company sponsoring a fireworks show makes sense to me. In 2000 the Canadian government passed a law forbidding tobacco and liquor companies from sponsoring events. (Vancouver lost the Molson Indy shortly after as well because they couldn’t find sponsorship.)

But these fireworks survived. They were sponsored by a bank for a brief period, now by Honda. With an expected crowd of over 400,000 on a hot summer night, you bet your ass I won’t be there. Crowds and heat don’t make me happy. Driving or skytrain with stinky crowds make me more angry. Especially with the fact that so many ruin it by getting belligerently drunk.

But if it’s your thing- enjoy! I’m going to hang out close to home and cool off with a cold beverage and be belligerent online like a good samaritan.

Buy It, Use It…

All our lives we spend seeing commercials. In magazines, on tv, on the Internet, in movies, on billboards, just about everywhere. Sometimes advertising is subtle like a small logo on a short sleeve shirt. But it’s there. We’ve all seen it, even if we don’t acknowledge it.

I love it. I love the way advertising gets into your everyday life. Something about how it manipulates your choices through simple imagery. Old logos are some of my favorite things to search up online. I love seeing how they change and develop over the years. Or even vanish.

Sometimes companies like going back to a former look to grab the nostalgia feelings inside of us. Not gonna lie- it works. If only for a brief moment. A couple months ago I had to buy Clearly Canadian because of the retro feels.Sometimes I come across a logo and I have a tough time pinpointing the company. A logo I may have seen numerous times or one that is in the depths of my memory. Then it can be a bit more difficult to find online when using words to describe the logo. Take this for example:

Running man logo—- stick figure logo— upside down speared poop emoji with arms and a leg logo…

Turns out I remembered it being “Ocean Pacific”.

In the end, all that happens is we find “favorite” products. Coke vs Pepsi. McDonald’s vs Burger King. Honda vs Ford. iPhone vs Samsung. Whatever your “tastes” they’ve all been manipulated one way or another. I think it’s brilliant.

And even though I know I’m being targeted- I’ll still buy stuff. I am a consumer whore. And how!

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.