Castle Havelka

It has officially happened folks. After a couple of years of hemming and hawing we put our house on the market to sell. This has been an emotional and tough decision that didn’t happen easily.

First, some history on the house:

It was built by my wife’s father in the early 70’s. He was a bricklayer by trade and enjoyed woodworking as a hobby- and it shows throughout the home. We took possession of the house in May of 2007 when our son was only one year old. It has been a great home to grow in with our kids, with innumerable memories made and loads of personal touches added over the years. Putting the house on the market has a greater emotional connection with more members of this family than just my wife and I.

Here is a collection of pictures from the house after staging. It sure feels like a little oasis away from the hustle and bustle of life.

If you wish to check the listing while it is still active, head over to REW. This house has never been on the market, so the value we put on it is worth more in memories than it is in dollars.

We are excited to pass it on as we say goodbye to the beautiful nature that surrounded us. This is a truly unique home that we hope will be enjoyed by future families.

Deathstar 1138

As many folks who know me may have guessed- I enjoy Star Wars. I have shared numerous memories here in my blog. But one of the things I am happiest about is that my love of Star Wars has been passed on to my children.

The one thing that got passed on rather surprised me. I had created a username on the PlayStation 3 when my son was about two or three years of age. It was a name that I continued using when we purchased the PlayStation 4. The user name is DEATHSTAR1138. A nod to George Lucas. Both with Star Wars and another of his films: THX 1138.

Over the past few years, my son has been playing video games under my user name. But what is even better, is that he continued with that user name into his Instagram account. It appears that this username is now being passed down from one generation to another. Long live Deathstar1138.

I’m not a big video gamer, so my son is more than welcome to keep using the name. I always thought the name to be quite clever. But I’m a nerd like that.

Have you given up your username to your kids? Do you think you might at some point?

Tastes Trapped In Time

Fresgo. Forever trapped in Surrey.

Yesterday I took my daughter out for a late lunch date. We went to a place that I haven’t been to in twenty years. Fresgo Inn (Don’t bother with the website as it feels as if someone in the late 90’s attempted html). It has not changed in all the time I can remember. Nor was it very updated two decades ago either. This restaurant is trapped in some weird time vortex. Plus it was really difficult to locate. As if the Matrix had moved it two inches to the left.

My daughter and I walked into the cafeteria style restaurant and the first thing we noticed was the way the tile floor was grooved out by all the decades of foot traffic. Behind the plexiglass cabinets were styrofoam plates (styrofoam? Who uses that?) with oversized dessert portions. The same style of desserts that have been sold for ages.

The meals we chose were simple. Montreal style poutine and a cheeseburger. Massive portions, for the price we paid, created by a chef in one of those tall cylindrical paper hats. We ate our lunch at a table with mismatched chairs from the 70’s.

We ended up bringing plates of desserts home. The chocolate pie was rich and artificial tasting. The cheesecake tasted as if the chef had been smoking prior to starting his shift. Stale smoke filled every bite. It was like stepping into a time machine and taking a bite out of the 1980’s.

Besides the awkward feeling the restaurant has, it’s not my regular fanfare of foods. But it was worth a trip down memory lane. If I avoid it for another couple of decades- it may turn into The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe. Which it was already on the way to become.

Give It Away Now

It’s January! Just like everyone else- the start of the new year means time to get organized. Buying new totes for storage, drawer organizers, and packing up the stuff we hardly use. It also means donating and give aways.

Over the past two decades, my wife and I have collected items that we once thought we would use. Some we have even refinished and brought a new lease on life to. Other items fell by the wayside only to be a project that never happened. It’s those big items that we are about to list for someone else to give love towards.

None of these items belong in the trash. They’re just not suitable for our lives at this time. Hopefully this clears up some space in our house and make it feel more spacious.

Hours of house cleaning is behind us and hours more to come. Pretty sure our teenagers are getting frustrated, but they have stuff they’ve collected over the years that need to go as well.

Do you purge your home every January as well?

Stealing Lunch Treats

Being a father is great! You get to never grow up. Kids want you to play with toys, watch cartoons, dress up, all that fun stuff.

I love the fact that I get to steal my kids’ lunch snacks and pack them into my lunch. My son has accepted this and even packs treats for me to enjoy. This time was a couple pieces of strawberry Nibs candy. It was a pleasant surprise.

Back in high school I used to buy big boxes of Super Nibs every week. I’d keep them in my locker. As people wandered the halls, they knew to stop by for a treat if they saw me at my locker. I’ve always been the sort of person to share if it brings people joy.

Inadvertently I have bestowed that quality in my son. It brings me joy that he wants to make others happy with simple gestures as I do.

I’m still going to steal granola bars and cheese and crackers for my lunch. But a Nib or two is always welcome.

Calendar

We all live our lives based around calendars and clocks. For years I have recited the days of the week starting on SUNDAY. Even my regular work schedule is Sunday to Wednesday. Plus the family calendar we use started that day as well.

This year my wife bought a Disney themed calendar. (Mostly because we have all been dreaming about a future vacation to Disneyland.) Each week starts on a Monday. This is not normal for me! But it works really well for the rest of the family. Since school and work goes from Monday to Friday. Saturday and Sunday are days off for everyone else.

February also lines up as a perfect month this year when you go Monday to Sunday. Little joys like that make me smile. I can forgive the calendar we use this year for that reason alone. The only thing is we have to start filling in the days with our busy and hectic lives.

How do you recite the days of the week? Are you a Sunday starter or a Monday person?

Count Down to 2021

Every year our kids do a movie marathon to finish off the year and ring in the new year. Previously has been Harry Potter and even Star Wars (even though we usually do Star Wars on May 4th). This year was a choice between The Matrix trilogy and Indiana Jones.

Indiana Jones won out in the family vote. I’m looking forward to watching them as it has been years since I last viewed all of them. It was also 21 years ago that I rented a movie theater for me and 449 of my closest friends and watched “The Last Crusade” for my Birthday. Okay, it was more like 30 people, but the auditorium could hold 450. The rental was a double feature with “Ghostbusters” as well. It was also one of the last films that my father watched with me. The very last film we watched together was “Gladiator” later that summer.

Ringing in the New Year has never been a big deal for me. Watching movies as a family brings me joy. So as 2020 draws to an end, what are your plans?

Christmas Day 2020

Our kids are much older now. In fact, we have late stage Teeanageritis. With a two year gap between all of them- 14,16,18. Someday soon they shall be adults. Spending Christmas with them is still important to my wife and I.

As with some traditions we have- first is always a picture in front of the living room door prior to entering and seeing what Santa left behind.

The first thing they get to open is their stockings. The stockings are mostly filled with toiletries and chocolates. A few little gifts hang out inside them next to a piece or two of fruit.

Second picture is in front of the tree. The anticipation of what comes next brings a certain childlike joy.

After a flurry of gift unwrapping and blurry photos, we are left with a large pile of paper trash.

For me, exhaustion kicks in by the end of the day. And a nap by the tree brings me joy. Even with a picture taken by my daughter with a staged toy on me.

All is well and done for the year.

Quiet Country Christmas Eve

After everything that happens at the start of the week, yesterday and today is relaxing.

We had a full afternoon yesterday of preparation of upcoming meals. This was followed by our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. The meal was had by candlelight and consisted of liver ball soup (yes, it is actually very tasty!) followed by schnitzel and potato salad.

After dinner was my yearly viewing of “A Christmas Story”. This has been my Christmas Eve movie of choice for decades now. Probably my favorite way to end Christmas Eve with the family before laying out the gifts for Christmas Morning.

Once the kids were off to bed, it was time to spread out the Christmas loot. After weeks (more like months) of Amazon orders, supporting small businesses, and creating handmade gifts- under our tree looked full once more. My wife and I worked hard at wrapping for weeks leading up to tonight. It was more challenging than usual because of the days of “off-site learning” the kids had.

But after all that has happened, here we are, about to begin Christmas Day. Merry Christmas one and all. May you celebrate quietly and happily as we do.

Christmas Eve 2020

Everyone I know has some sort of tradition they do around the holidays. This year, being what it is, may have adjusted or outright changed those traditions. We have a few that begin this afternoon. But first things first- we had a couple of other events that aren’t as exciting.

A big house cleaning is one of them. Dusting, floors, windows, even the skylight needs to get a good ol’ sparkle before we do anything else. The family loves to do that. *eyeroll*

Next is the sad realization that I need to do a quick shopping run for last minute items. A Baguette is on my list because the loaf I tried to bake this morning was a pretty good failure. I guess we have some bread lightsabers to swing around…

As well, because of the snowstorm on Monday our daughter’s driving lesson got moved to midday today. Which was totally fine since I was able to make my errands completed during her lesson.

So even though we have traditions that we will adhere to this afternoon/evening, our day was kind of like any other day. My wish is for all of you readers out there who do celebrate, to enjoy your Christmas Eve! No matter what it may bring.

Solstice Chaos

Yesterday was a heavy dumping of snow that came out of nowhere. As beautiful as it is, it caused havoc and carnage at our home.

The power line is hanging off the roof onto our driveway.

As our kids were out front playing (and sort of shoveling the driveway) a large branch fell from one of our trees. It came down and took out the power line to our house from the street. At this point, my wife told our teenagers to come inside. Which was a good idea as more large branches throughout our yard, and neighbourhood, continued to snap off and fall.

Not covering much anymore.

The carnage in my yard is pretty extensive. Besides the thuds onto the roof (which I will need to inspect for damage just in case) a massive branch went through our storage shelter. Now there is a large hole which I will need to repair, or at least cover, once I remove the branches. It also looks like we may lose our rhododendron bush and some boxwoods in our front yard. I haven’t even ventured out to the backyard yet.

As beautiful as our home and property is, moments like this making it frustrating to live where we do. And with Hydro telling us we may not get power until Christmas Eve- going days without power is difficult to say the least. It means we have no way to cook or use water (our well has an electric pump). The generator we own will give us enough power to light some lamps and a couple of space heaters. So at least our dining room and family room will be cozy.

With Covid precautions in place, we also don’t feel comfortable going to visit friends or family. I guess that means that we are “off grid” for the time being in hopes to become civilized once more for Christmas.

R2-Tree2

As I mentioned previously in Shattered Memories, we have numerous trees. One of which has the ornaments the kids have made over the years. We never really had a topper for it. Putting a Santa hat or a top hat on it to try and finish it.

This year, I 3D printed a new topper. It was a fun one based on my favorite fandom- Star Wars. I decided to paint it in traditional Christmas colours- red and green with a hint of dark gold.

Our middle daughter had been waiting for over a week to put the tree topper up. Each one of our kids gets to put the topper on a tree. We rotate which tree every year. The kids’ tree was hers this year.

Now it is completed. And looking good thanks to the 3D files from Mr Baddeley’s Printed Droid.

Happy Life Day everyone!

Christmas at Williams Park

Every year, Williams Park in Langley puts on a Christmas light display. This is the 30th year. Driving through the park is our yearly tradition. We try and view it the weekend before Christmas.

For an event that is done by volunteers, it is laid out almost the same every year. Which is great because I like that I can count on it being the same. It brings a familiarity to the holidays.

Because Covid restrictions have cancelled large gatherings- the park had more vehicles arrive last week than it could handle. So for us to see it this week, we signed up online for a time slot. I’m glad we did because the spaces are all taken for this final weekend of lights.

This isn’t one of those shows where you pay an exorbitant amount of money for an Instagramable experience; this is all done by volunteers and donated lights. At the end of the drive through the park, we donated some money- as we do every year.

Afterwards, we drive around the town and look for beautiful displays that people put up. It’s always a great family bonding time as we listen to Christmas songs and share stories of the past.

Bye Boba

Yet another original Star Wars actor has passed away. Today was Jeremy Bulloch- the original actor who played Boba Fett.

Back in 2012 I had the honor of meeting him at the Fan Expo in Vancouver. It was one of the local convention shows that my wife had a booth at selling her handmade hats. (Need a winter hat? Check out Ningen Headwear) I also remember it clearly because it was on a Sunday and the celebrities were literally across from our table looking bored.

So I took my six year old son over to meet a few celebrities. First we met the original Batman and Robin- Adam West and Burt Ward. Those two were sitting together and had a riot talking to my son about being superheroes. After about ten minutes of talking to Batman, we side stepped to talk with Mr. Bulloch.

My son’s reaction was to tell him how we had just met Batman and Robin. Jeremy’s reaction was perfect. The two of them talked about the old Batman show and how bad guys never win. My son knew who Boba Fett was, it’s not like I hadn’t instilled the love of Star Wars at a young age. But it really is different when you never see his face (compared to West or Ward).

Like I said, all three of these gentlemen interacted with nothing but kindness to my young boy. That truly made them heroes in my eyes that day. No fan theories or questions about getting into a costume or what it was like to work with other actors. Just a couple old guys playing along with a kid that they didn’t even know.

But those few minutes with Jeremy Bulloch were as impactful in our lives as Boba Fett’s original five minutes on screen. For that, I wish to say thank you sir.

Go Eat Worms

Today I was driving with my daughter and began to sing a song from my childhood. I’m not talking about a song from the 70’s or 80’s- I’m talking about a song I learned in my very early years of elementary school.

“Nobody likes me. Everybody hates me…”

Seriously. This song was taught to me as a child in grade one at a Catholic school. But that’s not what astonished me. What surprised me was that None of my kids or my wife had ever even heard this song.

Why was I taught such a depressing song about oneself? “Everybody hates me.” Honestly, reading the song lyrics make me think of how a person is so hated that they want to be dead and eat worms. Crazy.

But there it is. In the deep recesses of my memory. It blurted its way out nearly forty years later. My teens think I’m weird for learning the song and for even singing it randomly.

Did anyone else out there learn this song? Or any other strange songs that really may not be good for molding young minds that haunt you from time to time? I’m not talking Baby Shark or Barney the Dinosaur style.

Let me know in the comments.

Family Decorating the Tree Time

Today was a late afternoon of decorating our third tree as a family. We had Rudolph playing in the background as we do every year. My wife has been doing a fantastic job over the years of keeping each of their ornaments separated. This made the decorating so much easier. Especially since this tree hosts our keepsake ornaments.

Trying to get a good picture during the decorating is always difficult. Someone is always on the move or deciding they don’t want their picture taken. Or the obvious- back is turned because they are putting an ornament on the tree. But I was able to snag a few candid shots before our obligatory “Family Photo” in front of the tree.

As our children continue to grow, even now as our eldest is an adult, I wonder how many more days I have like today with them. I also know that our family dog, Lex, is getting up there in dog years. Capturing these moments is heartwarming. Sharing them with the world is a necessary evil. I love seeing other people showing their family time, and I hope that my friends also enjoy seeing our smiles.

So take care this December. And take lots of photos of your loved ones- including pets- to remind yourself that 2020 isn’t all bad. At least that’s the advice I’m giving myself this year.

Shattered Memories

We decorate three Christmas trees in our home every year. We always start with a “Children’s Tree” and a “Traditional Tree” in our main living space. Usually one on either side of our dining room. Every year we enjoy dancing around to Yule Be Wiggling while we decorate. This is the first year that I played just the music instead of the movie.

Besides the ornaments that our children have made over the years, there are a couple of ones that I have kept from my youth. There are a couple of pictures from 1979/1980 in a paper craft style ornament I made back in preschool/kindergarten.

We always do these trees before we decorate our “Special Tree”. That’s because we are bound to break at least one ornament in the process. Every year it seems that someone new breaks one. This year was our son who knocked an ornament off.

Breaking an ornament is an unfortunate tradition we have in our home. But it’s still a tradition- just like decorating the trees. No one gets hurt or angry, we just accept that a shattered bauble is bound to happen.

Giving The Gifts of Memories

Yesterday was filled with laughter, tears, and everything in between. My wife celebrated her 50th Birthday at home with her family. And it was the only way she knew she wanted to spend it.

Leading up to her milestone birthday wasn’t easy. Hitting fifty is a tough one. In fact, almost every decade milestone birthday is tough after age twenty. You get moments of regrets- like you haven’t accomplished everything you had hoped. But you also get moments of appreciation for what you have achieved in your life. The most uplifting is when you get moments of clarity when you realize this is exactly where you need and want to be.

My wife’s birthday started with breakfast in bed. The kids greeted her warmly and were excited for the next part.

Followed by a Fifty Clue scavenger hunt. This lead her all around the house. The last clue brought her to tears. It was hidden hidden behind a picture of her puppy- Chuppy. This was her best friend prior to me entering her life and creating a family.

Her final clue lead her to our theater room. Where we set up a pretend car- as a reminder to her fortieth birthday when we bought a Pathfinder. Hidden inside were “Brown Paper Packages tied up with string” as a clue to her forty fifth birthday when I made her a 45 record spacer from a “Sound of Music” LP (her favorite movie). Inside the unsuspecting boxes was an Oculus Quest 2 VR. This was my chance to bring the world to her since we are unable to travel and we really wanted to get away.

Finally we celebrated with a lunch that was filled with coffee and coffee cake (made by our oldest). For dinner we did go out for sushi at our favorite restaurant. That was short and sweet because we all wanted to watch one another play some VR.

All-in-all I’d say she had a birthday that was memorable.

Half A Century

Today marks 50 years. A celebration of my wife’s journey on this planet around the sun.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing this amazing woman for a little over twenty years. I could regale my readers with all of the accomplishments she has achieved. Or the wondrous adventures she has been on. Instead, I am going to keep the fanfare to a minimum as she is not one who likes putting herself before others. Which has made her an astounding mother and wife.

Her happiness is my happiness. So today will be about her. From enjoying her favorite meals to listening to the music of her youth- today is Lee-Anne’s day.

Happy 50th Birthday Lee-Anne!

I’m A Loser!

I may not have been the first to lose this year. In fact, I was forth to lose in my household. But amongst friends- I need to let you know that I have lost already in 2020.

Last year I made it to December 10th. This year I lost five days earlier. Losing at Whamagedon sucks. But it means that for the rest of the month I don’t have to avoid it any longer.

I put on Christmas music throughout the house for breakfast. I stepped outside to move the cars in the driveway and then returned. My daughters and wife were all in the kitchen- staring at me. That’s when I heard it. A groan came over me. That was when the three of them accused me of setting it up to get them out. I showed my wife that I had blocked numerous versions of the song on Spotify. Looks like I missed one of them

Had I taken another two minutes outside, I’d have survived. But likely the three of them would think I had gotten them out on purpose. So it was probably better that I were to lose as well. In our family- my son is the soul victor (so far).

Are any of you still in? Or has Wham! hit you with their rendition of “Last Christmas”?

Let me know in the comments if and when you get knocked out.

The Death of Darth Vader

In honor of the passing of Dave Prowse- the actor who wore the Darth Vader costume in the original trilogy of Star Wars films- I wanted to re-share some lighthearted images. Originally I had shared these over the years on my social media. They are of Darth Vader being not so Darth.

As a Star Wars fan I always wanted to dress up as Darth Vader. I figured I would be a perfect fit since I have the height. Previously I was Obi-Wan Kenobi, maybe it’s time to join the Dark Side.

I’ve also had my kids grow up on Star Wars. On our trips to Disneyland- they each got to enjoy a lightsaber battle against a evil foe- Darth Vader included. Here’s a video from 11 years ago: Darwin vs Darth Vader.

Reflecting on the impact that a character has had on my life is important to me. The actor behind the mask (both literal and figurative in this case) is also part of the remembrance.

Thank you Dave Prowse for your actions as an iconic sci-fi character. You will be missed.

Generational Music

Mama said don’t give up, it’s a little complicated.

I like the song “High Hopes” it has a good beat and I love the lyrics. Our oldest daughter doesn’t always like the fact that I enjoy the music she listens to. But then again, she has been known to enjoy the music I once liked. At one point, my wife had a good bond with our daughters over Katy Perry.

Our son had become obsessed with Green Day: Dookie a couple of years ago when he discovered it on an old iPod of mine. He also has a penchant for comedic songs like I do. So we bond over it.

However, it’s our middle daughter who loves every style of music the same way I do. She also listens to it like I do- in a very eclectic manner. Moving from classical to pop, etc. Her taste in music is similar to mine so we often sing along together. The only exception is she has a closer connection with my wife’s taste in music than I do. Our daughter has snagged the old records and cassettes of my wife’s and plays them regularly.

Music is meant to be shared. I wish sometimes that I was talented enough to write music. Maybe one day I’ll monkey around with it- I always had high, high hopes…

November 25th, 2020

Normally on November 25th I go out and see my father’s final resting place, followed by a beer or two. Not today. Today I will not be drinking a beer for my father. Nor will I share any stories about him. Instead, I’d like to tell you that I hit a personal milestone that I’m genuinely proud of.

I’ve been sober for three months today. I may not have seemed like an alcoholic to most people. Looking at my posts on Instagram and the fact that I have a category called “Alcohol” in my blog- I thought I was just having normal fun- with booze.

I was a social drinker. Hanging out until last call, stopping for “a beer” with friends. Joking that “It only takes me one beer to get me drunk, I’m just not sure if it’s the fifth one or the sixth one.” It’s also one thing to have my friends looking to me as the person who is always ready for a drink.

I would often come home from work and drink a few beers. On my days off I’d drink at least twice as much each day and then finishing whatever alcohol I could find once the beers ran out. Its in my genetics to go way overboard when I do drink. However when my heart is racing after a few beers and my kids are calling me out and telling me I drink too much- I needed to reassess my life.

What started as Sober September this year has escalated into a three month win. A huge victory that I am proud of. The pilgrimage I set upon was only spoken of with those who were close to me. Talking about the burden of alcoholism isn’t easy.

If I could pat myself on the back, I am going to do it here publicly. The next month will probably be the most difficult for me to get through. I always took pride in setting up my “First Christmas Tree” of the season- the booze dispenser. My coffee would be spiked, and the eggnog as well. Not this year. This year is the new me attempting to emerge and conquer the world.

I needed to share this three month milestone. As embarrassing as it seems to be at times. Alcoholism is something I’ve lived with all my life. I have been drinking pretty regularly since I was 17. Making a fool of myself on many occasions and not knowing when or where the limit was. Alcoholism was destroying my health and my bank account. I also had a few negative memories that I left for my children. From stupidity to anger to embarrassment- I was easily losing “Father of the Year” chances more and more frequently.

Thank you for reading. I am trying to live the rest of my life the best way I can. If I falter, I hope to get back up and work towards being a better me.

Life Day

If there’s something that you need to know about me, it’s that I enjoy Star Wars tremendously. Let’s be realistic here, you all know I love STAR WARS. I mean honestly, I have numerous blog posts that are related to Star Wars in some way. Today is no different.

A few years ago I showed my children the classic in bad Crossover ideas ever. The Star Wars Holiday Special. The show is severely cringeworthy attempting to watch it. It’s so bad that my kids literally don’t remember watching it with me. But as a fan, I had to view it. I even grew up on those Star Wars made-for-tv-movies: Ewok Caravan of Courage and Ewok Battle for Endor.

Tonight, Disney+ and LEGO have released a Lego Version of the Holiday Special. I am overcome with joy and cannot wait to view it numerous times! I have been excited for months about this show.

Why?

Because LEGO somehow manages to make their stories based on movies or characters campy and fun while still holding true to the original content. So if you have kids- watch some of those LEGO shows with them. They are a ton of fun.

Tonight I shall wish you all an early “Happy Life Day”.

Crisco

Two weeks ago I mentioned how it was getting close to choosing Music for November. Specifically Christmas music. I’m not going to lie, I’ve snuck in a couple playlists since then. Especially on Saturday when we pulled out the decorations.

I love playing music. Over the past few months I have enjoyed Spotify as it plays on all of my devices.

Last night as I was driving home, I wanted my iPhone to play some Christmas music. Only this time it wasn’t in my car or on my phone. My Spotify account was still connected to our home. So my music was being played for my family and not me.

They got to enjoy some Christmas Disco. Or as my daughter has decided to dub it, CRISCO. Probably my most favorite term this year now. And very fitting considering how much baking we do during the holidays as well.

From here on out, when I’m baking and listening to Christmas music- it’s only Crisco for the whole household!