VR Sharing

Sunday Morning, our son decided that he was going to enjoy some VR gaming. For whatever reason, he also decided that he needed to cast it to our television.

It was odd that he did this, since no one else was around at the time. I walked downstairs and he was just talking away to thin air. When I asked who he was talking to, he said “the people in the game.” It turns out that when casting, he decided to turn the volume off because there was a bit of a lag/ delay and it was throwing him off.

I also asked why he was casting, and he said “So that we could watch him play.” I don’t think he realizes that we don’t all enjoy watching him play video games. especially on a Sunday morning when most of us wish to sleep in or have a quiet start to the day. At least he kept the sound muted, so I was entertained by his wild movements as he played a game called Gorilla Tag.

If we were taking turns playing a game, cool let’s cast. But he had already taken over the living room space, I guess he hoped we would enjoy watching his game that makes no sense? Wanna play tag? Go outside with friends and play tag. Why are you doing it in VR???

Monster Express

After my daughter and I had an Early Morning at the Pumpkin Patch, we rushed home for a costume change. Our next adventure was about to happen. A ride aboard the Monster Express put on by the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail.

My wife and I first noticed the trolley heading off in the distance behind our home at the end of summer. We also wandered down to a corn stand and the trolley came right passed it. So we took an interest in seeing this thing in person. A Halloween theme seemed like a fun activity to go on with our two youngest teenagers.

We made the most of the one hour trip. My 17 year old daughter and I dressed up as characters from the anime Soul Eater. Most of the attendees were small children and their parents. We were by far the oldest group there. But we weren’t about to let that spoil our fun!

The museum and trolley are run by volunteers. Many of them retired bus drivers and railroaders. For this adventure, they dressed in costumes and had a great time wandering the car and dancing at the stations. By the end of the ride, they were trying to recruit me to join. Perhaps one day since it is so close to our new home.

In the spring, my wife would like to check out the rest of the museum and take a ride on the trolley when it’s not festively decorated. This is definitely one of those moments where it brings all ages together for a fun and silly outing. Thank you to the volunteers who were having a blast for the guests!

Early Morning At The Pumpkin Patch

This morning my daughter and I headed out early to visit Eagle Acres dairy farm and pumpkin patch. We were invited for an event put on by Thrive Mortgage, similar to the Little Touches they did for us a few months ago.

We had a great time petting and feeding the farm animals to start. We wandered around as my daughter made a few videos for herself. We also took a bunch of pictures for fun.

Before we left, my daughter and I went on a hay ride on the back of a trailer pulled by a large tractor. They took us out to the pumpkin patch where we chose a couple pumpkins to take home.

I’d never been to a pumpkin patch before. I enjoyed having a chance to pick out my own pumpkin from a field. I can’t wait to carve them up for Halloween.

I enjoyed the early morning with my daughter. She chose to dress like Coraline which was perfect for the rainy weather. A raincoat and boots to tromp through the fields. Dressing up is always fun.

This Isn’t Going To End Well

Today I was at home starting my vacation. This morning I was on a Zoom meeting while sitting on our front porch. As I was there, a lady with about four preschool aged children walked by. They noticed the banners I put out for Halloween. And one of the boys yelled up to me, “Is that Freddy VS Jason?” I was rather surprised that a kid under age five would know that.

Later on a couple of ladies walked by and stopped in front of our home. They were trying to figure out who the characters were from. Clearly our home is drawing attention.

Afterwards, I was in the garage making some Halloween decorations. A father and his young song passed by. They too saw the banners out front. I heard the father say to his son, “we will definitely come back to this house on Halloween.”

I’m sure that we will get more kids this year in this part of the neighborhood than they have in the past. Our last neighborhood we only gave out about a dozen treats. Three to each kid… It’ll be neat being in a suburb again, but it’s not going to end well. We better get a bunch of candy and be ready to hand it out.

Teenage Job Hunting

Our teenagers are pretty good at saving whatever money they get in order to buy the stuff they want. However, birthday and Christmas cash is only going to help a bit. Time to step it up a notch.

Our two youngest have been out looking for part time employment. At the start of summer, they were doing online applications. Now they are out hitting the streets with paper resumes and filling out application forms.

The hardest part I have found is explaining to them how to describe any past experience and relate it to the job they want. They may not have exact experience in retail. But they have worked Comicons in the artist alley and have been assistant coaches for some time now.

I’m sure they will become productive members of society soon enough. All the best of luck to their endeavors, because I’m not paying for the fun stuff any more.

The Pathway To Curb Appeal

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been working hard at creating “curb appeal” for our home. Most of the summer was too hot to do manual labor in the front yard. During that time, we enjoyed our backyard immensely, and who wouldn’t?

But it finally came time to start with landscaping the front. I would be lying if I didn’t say I had “Yard Envy” of our neighbors. They all had a decade to creat beautiful landscapes. The home we bought- the previous owners put the time and money into the backyard. The gave my wife and I pretty much a blank canvas to do what we want in the front.

All summer we talked and planned. We drew ideas, hit some nurseries, and finally started in the purchasing of plants and such. A few bushes, trees, dirt, cement slabs, and stones have arrived. It has been back breaking work, quite literally. I pushed myself too hard last week and felt it.

After that, my wife put our two youngest to work helping out. I utilized our middle for quite a bit of the work. So naturally I paid her afterwards- much to her surprise. Today, my wife also took a few minutes to assist me. (Do I need to pay her also?)

Here are some of the before pictures of what we have done thus far. We decided to add a stone path along the driveway that leads past the front garden and towards our back gate. I did this all the right way, so I won’t have to try and fix it later on. We dug up the grass, leveled it off, lay down landscape fabric, put in a border, spread some sand, put down the slabs and shoveled the tiny stones all around.

Last week we planted a few of the bushes where we want them to be the centerpieces once we finish pulling up the lawn and adding some garden islands. In fact, we are hoping to remove the entire lawn to create a beautiful, low maintenance garden. That will likely happen next spring.

Today was a delivery of the stones and it only took about two hours to spread it out. The final look of the pathway is amazing. I’m really satisfied with how it turned out. I always love a sense of accomplishment when finishing a project. Now on to the next one!

New Movie Theater Experience

Last night, I went to the movies for the first time since the pandemic started. We have been to the drive-in, but that was a different experience since we socially distanced in our vehicles. Attending a movie in the theater was a the experience I had been missing.

What was really awesome was my son. Instead of just asking to be dropped off at the theater to watch a film with his friend, he invited me along. As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Saying I Love You… he made me feel wonderful inside.

We watched Marvel’s Shang-Chi. The movie itself was a fantastic martial arts movie. Loads of action, humor and along with some fantasy elements. I would wholeheartedly recommend the film. Seeing it with my son and his buddy (avid Marvel fans) made for some great discussions afterwards.

Getting back to sitting in an auditorium was a great sensation. It was enjoyable to see a film on the big screen.

Saying “I Love You” In Different Ways

Yesterday evening my 15 year old son sent me a text. It was the nicest and most surprising text I have had in quite some time. I was genuinely taken aback by the text.

My son and I talk a lot about Marvel and Star Wars. We try and watch the movies and shows together. It has turned into a great father/son bonding time. But to have him start by asking if I wanted to attend a movie with him and his friend was by far the most loving moment he has shared with me- without knowing it.

I am now seeing a movie on Friday night with a couple of teenage boys. They could’ve easily asked to be dropped off, but I’m glad he chose to ask me along. Things may change over the years, but this Friday I will feel like a superstar. And all it took was my son asking a simple question. My heart swelled up last night when I read the text.

I’m not crying. You’re crying.

Phone Upgrade Day

Every two to four years we upgrade our cellphones and plans. Today was that day. My wife and I and our two youngest kids each got our own iPhone 12.

My old phone taking a picture of it’s replacement.

We upgraded from the iPhone 8 so it’s kind of a big deal for us. Yes we are a family of iPhone users and have been since the iPhone 4. I like the simplicity and user friendliness of Apple products. The transfer of data is easy as well. Even with new features on the phone, I like that it has all my old apps laid out exactly where they were from my previous phone.

Of course we did our upgrade at Costco. Which was a fantastic deal. We got the phones for $0 down, free car chargers and ear buds for each of us. And $250 in Costco gift cards for each phone. Basically handing us $1000 which we promptly spent 3/4 of it.

Back to school sale and Costco is a great deal. Being at Costco for two hours to set up the phones is the only caveat. But new phone!

Central City Fun Park

My daughter and I had another “Daddy/Darwin Day” today. It started with her getting some driving practice in. We headed to our old neighborhood to drop my son off at a friend’s house. After that she drove to do some grocery shopping with me. We did a pit stop at home and then went out for some more quality time.

We went to a place called her in Surrey that hasn’t been open for very long- Central City Fun Park. Essentially it is a superior Chuck E. Cheese’s. There was pizza, video games, skill games, and prizes. But what made it better than CEC was the mini golf, bowling, vr, and the roller rink. We went there to see if there was DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) and roller skating.

We found a similar game to DDR and did our best to play. Let me tell you- my foot/eye coordination is abysmal. Unfortunately there was an injury in the roller rink, so skating was unavailable. We decided to try the 9 hole mini golf, which was okay, but we really wanted to skate.

After playing the arcade games (Star Wars was fun!) we had a battle of air hockey (tie game) and some other skill games to earn tickets. My daughter decided to keep the tickets and hopefully earn more in the future for a better prize. 287 tickets doesn’t get you much.

It was a good day followed by a fun afternoon of quality time. Next time we better get some roller skating in!

Success In Music

I have always been a huge supporter of the arts. My personal favorites are visual arts, performing arts and music. Over the years I have watched and supported numerous friends as they venture forth exploring their talents.

Years ago, I supported a few friends from high school on their endeavors into music. Garage bands were popular and the talent was endless. Many a nightclub and studio jam session was had. I was a roadie to many bands.

A couple of my friends are still actively making music. They performed together under numerous names. Seal Bomber, Porn on Beta, Identity Crisis, and now as Nakatomi Freefall. Even as they encroach on their late 40’s- I’m glad they are still being creative.

The biggest success was a fellow named Dallas Smith. He turned towards country music and has garnered a larger following than he had when he and friends were in the band Default. I do recall enjoying their performances at the local nightclubs and was happy to hear that they got signed.

As I speak about former friends and pop culture success, it is exciting for me to have my children now support their friends as high school draws to an end.

Most recently a success story is Brooklyn Wood. She is one of my daughter’s closest friends. A recent article talks about Brooklyn: 2021 Music. This Saturday her piece will be performed at the Vancouver Playhouse. Brooklyn is extremely devoted to violin and practices religiously. Her talents aren’t just natural, but awe inspiring when you see her play. As a fan of classical and composition styles, I’m excited to watch this young lady as her career will take off.

I will always support the arts. Talent and hard work can pay off for those who seek success. Get out there and make good art! I’ll be cheering you on!

Biking With My Son

This morning I took advantage of the fact that our teenage son wanted me to go with him to the Cloverdale Athletic Park. He has been there a few times himself with friends and his sister. At the park is a bike park section that he wanted to show me.

My son picked up a free trail bike back in February. He has been using it diligently since then. He likes the suspension on it to go over the jumps and hills. I have a “cruising” style bike, so I am more casual in my riding.

Unfortunately on the way back home, my son ran into an issue. The brakes seized up. This was likely due to the rear tire being warped. That also caused the gears to constantly skip and the chain would always fall off. Today the bike ended its cycle. Wahahahhaha

Now my son wants to buy a better bike. This is something I told him he needs to save up for. Perhaps it will motivate him to get a job.

Anyways. It was a good father/son time and I’m glad we had it together. He really loves hanging out with me. I’ll take it any day!

Simple Breakfasts

In this day and age people love to share photos of their meals. I am not ashamed to say, but I have also done this (and still do on occasion). Even though restaurants or homemade meals can look and taste amazing, sometimes it’s the simple foods that can also spark joy.

Today I was looking forward to having a bowl of yogurt with granola and fresh blueberries. This meal brings back a various flood of memories for me. The first time I had granola for breakfast I was about fifteen. I had gone with a friend and his family up to the Okanagan to pick apples for a week. I fell in love with this sweet, yet healthy snack. Later in life- my wife and I spent our two day honeymoon at a bed and breakfast in Harrison Hot Springs. That was where I had yogurt, granola and fresh fruit served to me. It seemed elegant and heartwarming at the same time. A true B+B experience.

Yesterday I had buttered toast with marmalade. Again, simple and tasty. This is a meal I have maybe once every couple of years. That’s because I don’t find it overly filling. So if I want a light breakfast- toast is it. To me, orange marmalade is a special treat for on top. I first had marmalade when I was four years old. It was on my first trip to Scotland. I thought it was a big deal to eat this in a foreign country.

At my grandparents house in Scotland, they had 3 channels on the television back in 1980. Paddington Bear (the 1976 BBC series) was on every morning. He ate marmalade. My mother made it a big deal that she could get me some marmalade if I wanted too. To be four years old and eating the food that a funny little bear was eating during his daily adventures- was like a dream come true. I’ll always associate marmalade with that bear and those memories of my youth.

Simple foods can bring forth a flurry of beautiful memories. Do you associate breakfast food with a fond memory?

Dino Mountain

There are plenty of paths in our neighborhood. Some lead around the houses, other paths lead through trees and parks. One of the paths has been filled with toys and art. It is titled “Dino Mountain” and was created in 2017.

There are little plastic dinosaurs near a large rock. My daughter will often straighten the ones that have toppled over and sometimes set up little scenes. I think it’s a fantastic way to encourage children to go on walks. It’s neat that the City of Surrey has also left it for the neighborhood to enjoy.

Today, we added our own touch to the Mountain.

Back in 1994 I was given some promotional material from a video store for the release of Jurassic Park. I have put them on display in all of our houses. Because I love the film so much, it was time to give back to the world and share some fun. I took the cardboard signage and taped it up in hopes that it survives the elements. Off to the trail we went and put them up for others to enjoy.

So if you’re in my neighborhood and go for a walk passing Dino Mountain- make sure you keep an eye out for Dinosaurs Crossings the path.

Ha! 19 Now…

Our oldest child turned 19 today. That means she is legal drinking age and can have alcohol without trying to sneak it. On my 19th birthday I went to the club and got completely loaded with a coworker who was five years older than me. I was a disaster. Our daughter on the other hand? Well she chose something different.

She doesn’t want alcohol. It’s never interested her. Instead she wanted to have a day at work followed by an at home family dinner and some ice cream cake. Totally doable and within our means!

I’m really impressed by how much more mature she is than I ever was when it comes to partying. But we still had a lot of fun at dinner. We were listening to a playlist that her sister cream Spotify, took some silly photos and cut the ice cream cake in the worst possible ways. Laughter filled the atmosphere.

It was exactly what she wanted. Why not give a person what they ask for on their birthday? No unwanted surprises. Just a casual night at home with family. In the end it was more a gift for the rest of us than for her. She even arrived home in great spirits!

Happy 19th Birthday Random! May you always be the responsible adult you have proven to be on your first day of adulthood!

Summer Tradition- Fish and Chips in White Rock

Tonight was the perfect night to go out for dinner with the family. It was also the perfect evening to eat outside and stare at the water.

Every summer we go to Crescent Beach and get ourselves deep fried cod and chips. Then off to find a log or some rocks to sit at to enjoy our dinner. This year we tried a new fish and chips location. We were not disappointed!

While we waited for the fish to cool down a bit, the family posed for a picture at the beach. After several retakes and arguing, I got a sort of okay photo of us. You’d think that after all of these years my kids would just cooperate willingly. I mean, honestly- how hard is it to give a smile to your poor old dad?

After dinner, we strolled along the beach looking at houses and the fun seaside artwork that the town has. I’m happy that we are only about a twenty minute drive to Crescent Beach. I’m hoping to go kayaking some more like we did last year- read about it White Rock Kayaking.

This summer could go on forever. I’m enjoying every minute of it. Even the arguing about posing for a picture. That’s quality family time!

25 Years of ID4

Every year on the Fourth of July we watch the movie “Independence Day”. It’s a tradition that I have kept up since I can remember. I first shared our story five years ago: ID4. My wife and kids all look forward to it each year. I can’t believe the film is a quarter century old now.

This is a great sci-fi film which borders on impossible at times. The characters and interactions more than make up for the fluff that this movie has to offer. Heck, after 25 years a lot has changed. Even the US Military has sort of, partially, kind of told the world that there is such things as ufos.

As American as A.L.F.

I have always wanted to believe that there is life out there. Hopefully it isn’t as mean as the aliens are in this film. Perhaps as a race we can come together and accept diversity as a way of life. Only then do I think we will meet alien life forms. Hopefully they are also not like A.L.F.

Happy July 4th to our American Cousins!

Lego Bonsai

Today we went shopping for some summer clothes. We also went to a couple of stores just because we were at the mall. One of those stores happened to be The Lego Store. I totally did a spontaneous purchase of a Lego set.

The Lego Bonsai Tree.

We got it home and decided to put it together as a family. This is the first set we have built in the new house. It’s also been years since we last tried to build a set together. The Lego Spaceship from The Lego Movie was an ordeal and a half one Christmas! We were lucky to not repeat that fiasco.

But we were able to work together and got it completed rather quickly. We even had a spot all picked out at the bottom of our stairs for it to hang out. I think it looks really neat.

As well, when spring comes around, we can change the bonsai tree into a Sakura tree.

Raised Spirits

After a week in our new home, it was time to enjoy quality time together. Boy was it fun!

This evening before dinner, we all hung out at the pool. Loads of laughter and splashing. It was an excellent way to cool off after a smoldering hot day.

To finalize our family time together we did something we always do. We watched a movie as a family. The movie of choice? Spirited Away. A favorite amongst us all. We love Studio Ghibli movies and enjoyed visiting Studio Ghibli when we travelled to Tokyo a few years back.

We also chose this film because it starts with a family on their way to their new home, yet adventure takes hold. It’s the perfect film to boost our spirits amongst the chaos of unpacking. I’m so happy to feel like a family once more. Stress is behind us.

Time to live our best lives.

Longer Sunshine

With these summer days upon us, the sun is staying out longer and hotter. It’s a blessing and a curse as they say. I’m getting up early and starting my day of a billion chores. Only to end the day with a late dinner watching the sunset.

I’m still trying to get some relaxation in each day. That’s tough. But today I made it into the pool twice! I was also able to sit and talk with my wife as she finally hit our soaker tub.

Our son had a couple friends over to hang out in celebration of the last day of school. They hopped out of the pool for dinner and we’re back in it until 11pm. After the got out, I managed to stand on our top floor balcony and see something I never saw in our last home.

The Big Dipper.

Not a big deal to most, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen the sky from my balcony. I’ve really enjoyed the sunsets. I can’t believe this is our home now.

Loss Of Our Family Dog

Today we had to say goodbye to our family dog, Lex. We adopted him January 2013 and he has been a great family member ever since we met him.

Lex was a great dog. He always stayed nearby us whenever we hung out as a family. He would join us in our media room to watch family movies. He would go on walks and camping with us- never required a leash.

The first day we met him, he never left our side. He chose us to be his family- we didn’t choose him. We brought him home that same day between snowstorms.

We did our best to make his final year comfortable as we could see his health deteriorating. I’d like to think we helped for the last few months, and I know the kids are glad that he got to see our new home. My wife and I knew something was up when Lex decided to go for one last walk in the old met last week. He pushed himself harder than he had in recent times. He hardly moved after that.

Lex was a good boy and made our lives fulfilled. We will miss you buddy. May you Rest In Peace.

Goodbye

So long, goodbye
I'll see you when I see you
You can pick the street
I'll meet you on the other side
So long, goodbye
Do I really have to finish?
Do returns always diminish?
Did I say that right?

Time to bid farewell to a home that my wife’s father built 49 years ago. It’s been our family home for the last 14 years. During which time I renovated, repaired, revived, and even at times resented. These past four months have been a difficult time as we prepared ourselves to leave. There was no chance that we were going to leave on a negative note, so we continued to enjoy the house and yard right to the last possible moment.

2008.

But today is the last day. A chaotic good change is occurring. Our home is filled with boxes and people moving those boxes for us. I really don’t have much more to say on the subject that I haven’t previously. So I’ll keep it short and sweet.

So long brick house. Goodbye parenting memories. Farewell country living. Our castle gave us a roof over head and natural beauty on the doorstep. Everything this home could offer us, it successfully accomplished.

Thank you Castle Havelka.

We love you.

Hello

Our first full day in the new house has begun. The foray of chaos yesterday ended, yet the unpacking will remain for days, nay– weeks on end.

It was a bittersweet move. Emotions ran high yesterday. Everyone was happy to experience our new home and we took our first family photo in the backyard. I even broke my dry spell of almost 300 days and sipped on sparkling wine and then had a beer poolside.

Before that- I started the evening off for everyone by taking the first jump into our pool. The weather was perfect and the water was fine.

Once everyone was gone, we enjoyed seeing a sunset for the first time in years from our backyard. As much as I loved the tress in our last place, I have really been enjoying the million dollar view we have now.

As we greet our new neighbors we are also looking for some names for our home. The last place we titled, “Castle Havelka”. Our Internet still says Castle, but I’m thinking since we moved up we should call it “Kingdom Havelka”.

Let me know in the comments some suggestions for a new name should be. For now, it’s time to tackle more boxes.

3

Triple trouble- time to talk about number 3.

Rule of thirds. When I’m feeling especially artsy, I’ll take photos and do my best to follow the rule of thirds. If I’m being sassy or humorous- I also follow the comedic troupe of doing a joke three times. Surprisingly, it works well.

As you may be aware, we have 3 kids. They are teenagers now- almost into adulthood. Each has grown into their individual personalities. My wife and I love them to pieces and have become so proud of them. If you have been following my blog, you will notice that I tout their accomplishments on a regular basis.

Finally, this move will be the third house my wife and I will be purchasing together. Eighteen years ago we bought our first place for $210,000. That was one of the most difficult expenses we ever faced. I worked three jobs at almost 80 hours per week to make ends meet. Within two weeks of buying that house we found out we were expecting our second child.

We sold that home in just under four years of owning it at $410,000. Our mortgage that remained was $167,000. That was when we bought the house we are in now for $570,000 in the year 2007. After fourteen years, we were able to get $1,900,000 for the home. Earning us $95k a year.

We are now moving into another beautiful house that meets our changing needs. As excited as I am about the change, it is difficult to fathom that we have come this far in under two decades. Even though this is the third house for us to buy, it kind of feels like this is our first house. It was the one that we absolutely fell in love with and it won’t need any upgrades for a long time.

4

Passing the number 5 on a countdown is like hitting the home stretch on a marathon. With four days remaining, today I shall hit on the number 4 and some of its significance in my life.

Here’s a tidbit of information that some people may not know about me. Not that it’s a big deal, but I am the Fourth Josef Havelka in a row. My mother named me at the last minute in the hospital. Originally I was going to be named Michael, but I’m glad I wasn’t. I’m a Joe. Or Josef, Joey, Joe-Joe; you get the picture. As well, we continued the tradition and our son has Josef Havelka V on his birth certificate. Some places look at the “V” as his last name which I find humorous.

Since my name starts with a “J” and when I write it out, it looks like a sideways number “4”. That’s because I have a tendency to print in capital letters. It’s a habit I developed at a young age and it has continued into adulthood. Printing in all caps has become useful at work, since a clear understanding of the work to be accomplished is required. Typing out information isn’t always feasible.

FORE!

I know, it’s not really the number four, but it sure sounds like it. As a homophone, it’s close enough to hit on my memories to be shared today. Golfing is not really my thing. However, I’m not bad at hitting golf balls. My father was an avid golfer and pushed me to take my swing seriously. At work, if I’m giving out car counts and the number 4 is needed- I call it out as if I was golfing. Sometimes you need a bit of lightheartedness to get through a work day.

With only four days left to go, I have given plenty of forethought as to how to enjoy our new house. We will have a formidable foreseeable fortunateness forging forward forever foreboding unforgettable efforts.