Towel Day and 45 Years of Star Wars

What a day to be a sci-fi nerd. I was so excited about this day I began writing this blog a year prior. But then I hit a writer’s block and that was the only sentence I wrote all year. Or I just procrastinated. Either way, I fished writing it today.

As many folks know by now, I love Star Wars. It has been around for 45 years as of today. I could go on and on about this science fiction fantasy universe, but I won’t do that today. I already celebrated May 4th.

More importantly- Today is Towel Day! This one is really significant to me. Our oldest received their name from book five of the trilogy. In my opinion- Random is one of the greatest names in this day and age. Random can choose a new name at random and no one would question it. Random can do random things and again, kind of difficult to question. But most of all, Random has suited their name since my wife first agreed to the name a little over 20 years ago.

21 years ago, Douglas Adams passed away at age 49. He was the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Or H2G2. A comedic series of books about the absurdity of the universe. I had recently re-read the novels when he passed. A short time later, the universe clobbered me with a 2×4 and was about to make me a father for the first time. Naturally, I wanted the universe to know that I was game and ready to play along. Random would become the greatest gift and biggest hurdle for my life. Which has brought me to this bit of wisdom:

As significant as today is, and how nerdy it is, one must always be prepared for adventure- so remember to bring a towel. It may just save your life!

Or perhaps just use a clean towel to dry off. That’s important too.

Waking Up To Woofs

Sleeping during the day because I work night shifts is already difficult. I’m not sure why, but today our dog went nutso a few times. She barked and whimpered loudly both inside and then later outside.

My wife works from home, so naturally this type of behavior also affects her ability to work as well. My wife did her best to calm Maki and get her to stop barking.

As much as I love our dog, it’s behavior like this that makes me frustrated. Maki generally goes ballistic when she sees other dogs. If we are out for a walk, she tugs at her leash to try and get at the dogs. She also barks so loudly that she almost sounds hoarse when she does.

I have been wanting to do something about it, but I am unsure of where to go to correct this behavior. Naturally I turn to the internet of things to find solutions. Probably our biggest hurdle in correcting the behavior is that the entire family needs to be on the same page when training. This will help with consistency.

Alas, I am almost certain that we will not do anything to curb the woofer and her barks. We all have busy lives and adding yet another chore isn’t going to be easy. So chances are this will be the last time I complain about the behavior. I will either accept that what I can’t control, I cannot change. Or that things have gotten better and what we do works.

Only time will tell. Until then-

woof.

Excited For Disneyland

Even though we don’t head to Disneyland for a few more months, I’m getting very excited for it. It seems as though everything is pointing to a wonderful vacation.

Yesterday I was driving home from dropping the kids off at school- the sun was starting to come out. As it did, my watch reflected onto my visor; creating an all too familiar image. The iconic Mickey Mouse ears.

Naturally it made me feel jovial and happy. The previous trips were a blast. Each one was slightly different- creating new memories and unique experiences for all of us. Our future trip is looking almost like a whole new experience as well.

We will get to travel to the Star Wars inspired portion of the park: Galaxy’s Edge– finally after three years of anticipation and excitement. Plus there’s a whole new Marvel inspired land that will be a fun experience for all of us.

But there’s also the normal fun we love to have every trip. Turkey legs, Dole Whip, parades,shopping, rides, meeting characters… the list goes on and on. It’s just such a magical experience each and every time. This next time around, we are bringing a person who has never been to Disneyland. So we will get to see the joy and wonderment through their eyes as we hit up all the fun spots and secrets we have learned over the years.

Do you ever get signs of things to come? Does it make you excited? Let me know in the comments.

Writing Show

Our middle child is graduating this year- which is already a big deal. Tonight, Darwin is preforming at the Photo and Writing Show at the Langley Fine Arts School. Darwin switched majors from music to writing last year. This was the first chance I have gotten to hear the musings out loud.

Darwin has a passion for the arts and is very methodical when it comes to creativity. Much like myself, Darwin loves to share stories and is pretty good at it. I am looking forward to seeing and hearing the two pieces which will be read aloud tonight.

As an art school- they often showcase very skilled work. From fantastic musical performances to stage shows, visual art and everything else that comes with the arts. All of these students have a great potential that has been unleashed over the years. I am glad that our kids have had the opportunity to join in and explore their creative sides.

Theory aka The Roy Turned 16

Today is our youngest’s birthday. He turned 16. It’s a big deal because now he can go and start to learn how to drive. That’s truly exciting!

He also wanted to do something else more grown up- he wanted to make dinner. He asked if I could help him make schnitzel the way I make it. Which is a variation on the recipe my father used to do. Theory’s comfort level with cooking is getting better. Dinner was delicious!

In true teenage fashion, getting a nice photo of him wasn’t happening. So I ended up with a bunch of blurry, hands in the face, head turning photos tonight. But in the end, he wanted to spend time with me. Both watching tv and making dinner. That was more a gift for me I think.

The one gift I’m really happy about that we gave him was a license plate. It was hand painted by a street artist who tags rail cars. His name is also Theory. I reached out to him a while back and paid for a piece in order to gift it to our son. I’m really happy with how perfect the gift was for Theory since he will soon be driving.

So a big shout out to our son on his birthday!

Happy birthday Theory! Who also goes by these names:

  • The Roy
  • Theor Bear
  • T Bear
  • Bearbee
  • B Bear
  • Bear
  • Scrufty
  • Boy Darwin
  • Boy Random
  • The Boy

We love you buddy. We are so proud of who you are becoming.

First Dip In The Pool

The sun peaked out this afternoon long enough for us to enjoy it. It was sent hot, but in the sun it was warm! A couple of weeks ago we had taken the cover Off OurPool in hopes to jumpstart the summer. No such luck.

Yesterday, the weather report was not looking promising for the near future. But I was hopeful. So today, when my wife finished work, we jumped into the pool. We both agreed that we were going in- rain or shine.

Lee-Anne went in first. The sun was out and the atmosphere was pleasantly warm. I had turned on the heater for the pool yesterday- and it was a comfortable 24°C already.

We had kind of forgotten to let the kids know that we were going into the pool. So when our middle came home from school- they ended up hanging out in the yard while my wife and I swam. I felt like Darwin was the adult in the situation- making sure that two doofuses didn’t drink too much and get hurt.

I’m definitely looking forward to enjoyment of the pool throughout the summer. I’m already feeling the energy burn from splashing around. Swimming has always been a good workout that leads to a great sleep. Hopefully we can have friends over soon to enjoy the fun and relaxation poolside. It would be nice if the entire weather forecast could change for the better!

My First iPod

Since hearing about Apple retiring the iPod, I thought I could share about my first one. I first got an iPod in 2006. I bought it for myself on my 30th birthday. It was the latest version (5th Generation) and the first video model as well. 30GB in black.

I still have the iPod. I also still have the original box. On the day I got it, I uploaded every song in my library onto it. A far cry from 7500 songs that I could’ve put on it. But I also added a ton of digital photos onto it as well. Condensed video was not as easy back then to create. So my videos were minimal. Streaming was not an option either as you still had to connect to a computer where all your music and photos were saved.

That day, my wife gave me the gift of taking our kids away for the night so I could just enjoy my new toy. The kids were 2 and almost 4. Our son was to be born a couple months later. So I was left at home alone. So I did what any 30 year old man with 24 hours of freedom and a new piece of technology would do.

Mushrooms.

I will say, my first experience with the iPod was memorable. I listened to tons of different music, played with the settings, scrolled quickly with the click wheel and just enjoyed laying in bed listening to anything I wanted. However, by the time I was ready to sleep, I was lonely.

The photos I had put on my iPod were of my wife and kids from the previous couple of years. I missed them tremendously even though it was just one night. Our daughters were so loving and happy to always be around me. To this day, I still miss those moments of kindness and innocence they would showcase towards me with their personalities.

My heart was filled with joy the next day when they returned home. The love from the girls was the best gift that birthday. The iPod was a close second. Sixteen years later and I still get choked up thinking about my thoughts of missing them. Psychedelics are interesting to say the least.

Did you have a memory from your first iPod?

May 4th- This Is My Favorite Day

It’s here! The bestestest day of the year! May the Fourth- aka STAR WARS DAY!

As you might be able to tell, I am a bit of a fan of Star Wars. It all started in the early 80’s thanks to my father. It was Christmas of 1981. We got a VHS VCR for Christmas. With it, my father had somehow rented 3 videos over the holidays. One of which was Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Five and a half year old me was blown away by it. This was- and still is- my favorite film of the series over the past forty years. I watched the movie at least a half dozen times over Christmas. A couple of years later, my mother took me to see Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in the theater. Shortly after that were a couple of TV movies made of The Ewoks. I remember recording them on videotape and watching repeatedly with my younger sister.

Over the years I have picked up artwork, mugs, movies, and toys that celebrate Star Wars. I never got into the action figures, even though I had bought a bunch in the mid-90’s from that run. I had them still in packages for years and ended up donating them one Christmas to a toy drive. I did keep a couple for my kids to play with. No need to keep things in a box when it’s meant to be enjoyed!

Nearly twenty years ago, I picked up my first replica lightsaber. The joy it has brought me is immeasurable. So I got more and started a collection- just like General Grievous. They are now on display in my son’s room. Passing on a love of Star Wars to my kids has also brought me joy.

My son has taken over my moniker for video games as well. Deathstar1138 was my PlayStation 3 name. He has since used it for his Instagram and other accounts. Our oldest has also grown very fond of Star Wars (and movies in general) because of my passion for it.

At one point in my life I was working at a multiplex cinema which opened the day Episode One came out in 1999. Admittedly, that isn’t one of the best movies in the universe of Star Wars, but it does have a place in my heart. Just like those Ewok films…

Over the next couple of days, I will rewatch many of the films. By the end of the weekend I will have my fill of everything Star Wars for a few months. Then it will be the excitement of visiting Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland that will start it all over again.

Until then, Happy Star Wars Day! And May The Fourth Be With You!

Hyped For Disneyland

Yesterday I booked the dates for using our Disneyland tickets that were purchased back in February 2020. I was only able to book them 120 days in advance. So when the dates opened, I jumped on them.

At this point the availability was good, but I didn’t want to chance it since we are doing a whirlwind trip. We are driving down, splitting it into a two day drive. Followed by four days in the park and a two day drive home. No resting or relaxation day in there.

From our first trip to Disneyland

Once I booked the tickets, our son began to really get invested in the trip. Discussing favorite lands/rides/food from previous trips. He also began to get new plans made for a possible itinerary for us. Plus he was sharing so trivia facts about the parks.

His excitement is contagious. It’s getting us all into the spirit of the road trip. I’m glad that our previous trips there were so joyous and memorable. I have a feeling this will be another memorable experience. Plenty of new things to see and do since our last visit in 2018.

Are you planning any vacations once more? Isn’t it nice to have a sense of freedom returning?

Alien Day

Come on in.

Today is April 26th. Otherwise known as ALIEN DAY.

LV-426 is the name of the moon where the aliens were discovered. You know, the Xenomorph aliens from Ridley Scott’s movie franchise. One of the best sci-fi/horror crossovers ever created.

I saw the movie Alien as a small child. Like 6 years old small. We had Superchannel back in 1982 and it was one of the movies of the month. Somehow I managed to sneak a viewing of it without my parent’s knowledge. You think that’s young? We took our daughter to see it when the film was re-released in the theaters in 2003; she was 15 months old. The aliens didn’t scare her. The android getting ripped apart did.

I was thinking about watching the first film tonight once more. It is a favorite of mine, even though it is terrifying. Except for the second film, I have seen every other film in the franchise in the theater. I am probably one of the few that liked the third one.

A few years back, we watched all the films in one marathon as a family. A midweek marathon isn’t going to happen. But I do love me some science fiction. The next month is exciting for me!

Next week- Star Wars Day! And May 25th- Towel Day!

Leaving Langley Blades

Our family has been a big part of Langley Blades Speed Skating since 2010. My wife has done a lot of volunteering, I have done my part whenever possible. Our two oldest became assistant coaches over the last few years as well.

However, as the next season in September approaches, many changes are coming. Our two oldest won’t be coaching since post secondary has taken priority in their lives. As well, our son will be leaving to go to another club. At the next club- he will have an opportunity to expand his abilities. He has already begun Spring Training and is enjoying the challenge.

As a thank you to my family, the Langley Blades presented us with a plaque and an award for our dedication to Speed Skating. My wife received it on Friday night at the AGM. Lee-Anne described the evening meeting as a bittersweet event. It was kind of the club to recognize the hard work and volunteering our family did over the last 12 years.

We will continue to see the skaters and parents at various meets and competitions. Perhaps we will be called upon to assist with their meets. Who knows, our two oldest may be able to find the time to coach as required. It’s tough to move on from a sports club sometimes. The growth for our son will only come if he learns from other coaches. And the growth of our previous club will come as they bring on new skaters.

Thank you Langley Blades for the years of training and fun. And a big thank you for the acknowledgment of our dedication to the club.

If you are local and want to keep your children active – try Speed Skating at Langley Blades.

Our Little “Therapy” Dog

Having a pet is genuinely nice. In the past we have had fish and Guinea pigs as well as dogs. To be perfectly honest, we have always had a dog in our lives.

Our latest dog we have had as a family member for about a year and a half. We named her Maki once we adopted her. As goofy as she is, and as crazy as she gets around other dogs, we love her immensely.

She is our little “Therapy” dog. She makes each of us feel happy when we need it most. If you are upset, she knows instinctively and comes to you for rubs and kisses. Maki has been specifically good for our middle teenager’s mental health. That’s the room she sleeps in six nights a week. The other night is with our youngest.

As much as I push Maki away sometimes (dog breath galore!) I do enjoy having her nearby. She comes to snuggle me when I want to nap and really invades my space when she wants to. Maki is a happy dog and she makes us happy as well.

Hidden Wonders

For Darwin’s Birthday, I took her to a magic show in New Westminster. I learned about it from a coworker who heard it from someone else. Which is kind of neat, because it’s a Magic Speakeasy called Hidden Wonders.

First off, entering the building was a unique “Curios” style store. We walked around and looked at some of the items on display. Later, during the show, we found out all of the items were personal belongings saved/hoarded, by the magician.

We were the second group to enter the store. When it was our turn to go to the back, they gave us a key and told us to open the door to get into the show. Only we weren’t told which lock would open the door. This was a bit frustrating, but entertaining afterwards. That’s because once seated in the small auditorium, you got to watch from a hidden camera, the difficulty everyone was having.

Once past the door, there was a display of magic items, trophies, pictures, etc related to the magician we were about to see. Once past that section, we were seated in an intimate auditorium of about 30 seats. I picked up VIP tickets, so we were at the front. Great seats with the opportunity to view the slight of hand up close.

An hour and a half went by with the magician, Shawn Farquhar, telling us stories of his past and sharing tricks. Darwin was asked to choose a trick and ended up choosing to play “A game that you couldn’t win.” That was entertaining as Darwin knew that there was no chance to win, yet Shawn would give the illusion of choice- numerous times. Darwin did end up winning a hug from one of Shawn’s assistants- that was a nice touch that Darwin needed.

At the end of the show, Shawn had a set list of what went on throughout the evening. “Darwin loses the game” was written on the paper. Now Darwin has it in writing that “They lost the game.” If you know, you know.

Once the show was over, we ended up looking around a bit more at the Curios portion of the theatre. We also spent some time talking with Shawn Farquhar a bit and he did a few more slight of hand tricks as we shared tales of Disneyland vacations. I will say, he is a great showman and keeps his stories relatable and connects with the audience on a personable level.

If you want an intimate venue with some humor and magic- I fully recommend the show. If you really want to be involved a bit more- spend a couple extra dollars and get VIP seating. This was a great experience and it is the perfect way to get out of the past couple of years of enduring a lack of human interactions.

A big thank you to Shawn Farquhar and his staff. As awkward as Darwin was at one point, Shawn was a professional and has dealt with crowds and people over the years. He was a gracious host and I highly recommend the show. Check it out at Hidden Wonders and be sure to use the promo code HW15 for a discount.

Darwin Is 18

Celebrating birthdays is something that the majority of us enjoy doing. Whether it’s our own or someone else’s- it’s nice to acknowledge a full rotation of the earth once more.

Darwin has quite the sense of humor. No “Happy Birthday” message again this year.

Today was our middle child’s 18th Birthday. Since it was just the two of us at home and it was a holiday, I allowed for some school friends to stop by. Our downstairs was loud with laughter and fun. I only showed up to do some dishes, bring in the pizza and cut the ice cream cake. A good way to stay out of sight, yet make them aware that there was a parent nearby.

Not that our children have had troublesome friends. For the most part, all of their friends have been really nice. Today, I did my best to hide away for the five or six hours of them laughing and playing games. It was the kind of birthday that Darwin wanted. Tomorrow, my wife and youngest return home from Quebec and we will have some family time to celebrate.

I still have a fun night planned for Darwin’s birthday. I’ll likely share the story tomorrow morning. But for now, it’ll be a Darwin/Daddy evening. I’m glad that I have the opportunity to still have some one on one time with Darwin. It’ll be tough as they enter adulthood and want to spend more time with friends.

Happy 18th Darwin!

2022 Canadian Youth Long Track Championships: Live Feed

Today I was able to watch my son in Quebec at the 2022 Canadian Youth Long Track Championships. My wife sent me the link this morning. She also gave me a few minutes warning right before he hit the ice.

Viewing the races on YouTube in real time made me happy. I felt like I was supportive even though I wasn’t physically there. I also watched his final two races of the day on our big screen tv. That was cool!

Watching on my phone, I also did a “Screen Grab” recording. Once the races were done, I cropped the length of them to be just of his race. This way I can send it off to him to review. He will probably show his new coach as well in order to get some feedback to get better.

Tomorrow is another day of racing for him. I suspect that he is tired after todays events. Long track speed skating is not his strongest yet, but he really enjoys it. Now to get him some training in places like Calgary and Fort St. John.

For my family and friends who wish to watch the feed tomorrow, here is the link: YouTube Live Feed

Real Quebec Photos From My Wife And Son

Yesterday I mentioned how my wife was sending ridiculous pictures to me while on her trip. Shortly after writing that blog, she sent me some much nicer and more touristy style of pictures. Here is a quick collection of images from my wife and son:

Architecturally, Quebec is Eastern European influenced. The entire place reminds me of a real life fantasy world smack dab in the middle of Canada. And people just going about their business, because living like this is totally normal.

I do wish I was there with them. Maybe one day I will go on a trip and see what Quebec has to offer. For now, I just get to enjoy a few photo dumps from their trip!

Daddy/Darwin Time: Day 1

My wife and son have taken off to Quebec for a few days. Our son is competing in a speed skating event this Thursday and Friday. So as they are off jet setting to the icy tundra of central Canada- I am at home with our middle child.

It started off not so great. I was at work, and She went off to school. But right at the start of her day- she texted me that she had lost her Compass Card (that’s the bus pass for the Vancouver and Fraser Valley). I had just put $30 on it the other day to make sure she had a way to get to and from school. Needless to say, I had to cancel that card and move the amount to another card. She had to borrow $2 from a friend to get home.

I was certain that this event would make for a crummy start to our week at home together. Luckily, I was wrong.

I came home to a messy kitchen. Darwin decided to make fresh pasta for dinner! She was hoping to be done and cleaned up before I got home. I am so happy that she didn’t let the little set back affect her attitude today. Now I’m cleaning the kitchen and we are getting ready to have a nice dinner together.

I’m going to cut my blog short so we can hang out. I do hope we have more ups than downs this week!

Major Change In Arts

Our children have all been attending, or have attended, the Langley Fine Arts School. Each of them began in the music program. The choices at the younger ages (until grade ten) for picking an “art major” was limited to four choices. Drama, music, dance, visual art.

Over the years, the children were able to expand their horizons and interests. Our oldest went on into film. Our middle moved to writing after a stint at stop motion. And our youngest is wanting to change from music to photography. My wife and I have fully supported each child as they progressed into the newer fields. The best part is that the school also encourages the talented students to join the various after school music groups even if not in the major.

Our son has been working on photo manipulation and was really proud to share with me the following project.

The class was instructed to take an image and “paint” over it. They used computers to edit the image. Our son really enjoyed this assignment and as I said, was really proud of his results. And so are we.

I think it’s absolutely fantastic that he can explore various creative options; and that he likes to do it. Any time we can encourage our children to explore their passions, we will. So far, our kids have proven to us that changing their art majors has been beneficial to their growth. I hope for them to keep up with their hard work.

Disneyland 2020? Finally Going 2022.

We booked Disneyland tickets in February 2020 about a week before the world shut down. We had been planning to go for July 4th in order to see the military fly over and fireworks for that day. However, our trip has been in a state of hiatus ever since.

Memories of our 1st Disneyland trip

We are now on the verge of finalizing a trip to the most magical place on earth! The tickets we had bought were extended, but only until December 15th of this year. My original plan was to go at Christmas this year. Sadly that is unable to be accomplished. The other unfortunate part is our oldest will most likely not be joining us. This will be our the first Disneyland trip without them.

Of course I am discouraged by all of this. However, I know that the remaining four of us can still have a good time together no matter when we book our trip. As travel to other countries has been returning, I find it encouraging for our future vacation plans. I know that Disneyland won’t be the same as it was in years prior. But the familiarity is something we can look forward to.

Have you begun traveling again? Has it felt different or just another step to be taken in order to experience the world? let me know your thoughts on travel in the comments.

Super Clean

Creating pride in our home takes work. I have pressure washed and scrubbed the outside over the past few weeks. We have also worked on the front yard to create curb appeal. Plus there is the amazing gazebo we built for the backyard. But there is still more to do.

Today was all about the upper back decks and the windows facing the backyard. Our middle child scrubbed the deck that leads out from the kitchen. It turned out fantastic. I worked on spraying the windows on the house.

I cleaned the algae off the awning above the deck prior to the scrubbing of the deck. Afterwards I cleaned the glass railing. Once the green algae was washed off, I gave it a quick clean with Windex and let it dry. The trick afterwards that made them crystal clear- I used spray car wax.

I misted it on, used a microfiber cloth and wiped it all around. Followed by a dry cloth to polish it up. It almost looks as if the glass is t even there. I’m really impressed by the finished look. Next nice day I will do the lower patio deck glass railing. The yard is almost ready for basic upkeep and lounging.

I really cannot wait until summer hits in order to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

Training Ground

Our son is still actively training even though the regular speed skating practice season is over. Now he is onto Spring Session with his future club. And they push hard.

He is enjoying it. He’s looking fit. He’s strengthening his muscles, and getting a chance to meet other athletes with similar goals. Our last club was great and the family was there since 2010. But because our son wanted to continue with competitions- he needed to move to a club that really pushes the skaters.

Last weekend our son also went to participate in a special training at a University campus. This was put on by RBC to allow up and coming athletes from various sports to showcase their skills. It was mainly for sports that aren’t as mainstream as some. So no hockey or baseball were being represented. Once the evaluations are completed from the one day event, those kids selected will be given a grant to help pay for their dreams to compete.

I do hope the best outcome for him with that brief moment to showcase his strengths. But since it is Canada wide, he knows that he can’t be disappointed if it just doesn’t happen for him. However, we are still making sure that he practices and trains as much as possible in order to keep his muscles strong. There are a few summer programs and still a couple competitions that he will attend prior to autumn.

Training and a regimented schedule will help to keep him focused. I know he wants it bad enough, so my wife and I will help him on his journey as best we can. Mostly my wife mind you. She is really devoted in seeing what competitions are coming up and his times at each event. Being a supportive parent is the best thing we can do for him.

Do you train for something you enjoy? Let me know!

Seeing Yourself Through Someone Else’s Eyes

I always try and be a positive thinker. I do my best to be supportive of family and friends. It appears that is not always the case. As great a job as I think I am doing, in someone else’s eyes, I failed them.

Our oldest recently moved out a few months ago. I received an email from them yesterday outlining and unloading a lot of thoughts. Turns out they felt I was not a supportive parent. They told me they were afraid to talk to me about pretty much anything. They also said I destroyed their childhood because in their eyes I did the bare minimum of parenting. The hardest part about hearing this is the fact that they have run off to live with the one person who I felt was ruining their life back in high school. I was vocal then about him, and I’m still of the same opinion.

I always had a tough time communicating with our oldest as they hit the teenage years. My expectations of who I thought they could be were always high. Probably unrealistically so, hence why I may have appeared to be a terrible father in their eyes when I became angry with their shortcomings and inactions. Specifically in school when they willingly chose to fail classes and lie to my wife and I about it. Again, the friend they are currently living with is the one who constantly brought down their grades.

October 2017- Silent Treatment

As an individual, my kid is entitled to have these feelings towards me. A part of me is not surprised by how they feel- as I could sense that there was a division happening in our relationship over the years. I even took counseling on how to improve communication with your kids. That worked periodically, but our oldest always had a way of derailing conversations and becoming silent.

Needless to say, the relationship with my oldest is at an impasse. I will leave the ball in their court and hope that one day they can see more of the positive aspects of our relationship. I also hope the secrecy and destructiveness their friend is creating in their life will end. Looking back at my youth, I know I made some poor friend choices and ignored my parent’s well wishes.

Parenting is tough and it hurts to be viewed as a villain. Unloading this today in my blog is not my normal and joyous thoughts. It’s the gritty hard truths that build up into something to overcome and create a positive action from.

Smokey

Today I hung out with an older coworker of mine. He is an experienced railroader who has been with the company as long as I have been alive- almost five decades. So I respect how he runs things and listen to his stories. Not many of his tales are of work. Most are of his family and experiences outside of there. I appreciate his tales and respect how he tells them.

I spent hours with him today. In doing so, I came home smelling like an ashtray. He smokes. A lot. I haven’t smelled like cigarettes in years. My father smoked regularly. And in the 70’s/80’s it wasn’t uncommon to be indoors or in a car with a child while you smoked. As a result, I took up smoking at around age 17.

I smoked for about 10 years off and on. There is hardly any pictures of me smoking. In fact, when my wife and I married, she requested that we do not have pictures of us smoking in case our children were to see them. The last time I smoked a cigarette was before my son was born. Over 16 years ago.

I have celebrated with a cigar on occasion since then. Not my favorite thing to do, so it’s only been about three times. I do not smoke any other things, as my world is already a trip as it is. Finding a picture of my indiscretions of the past is rare and I would be surprised if there are more than the two I have shared today.

But the smell of stale cigarettes on my clothes today brought back memories of long ago. I was unsure of what tale I wanted to share, if any, of smoking. So here’s a small tidbit.

When I was under the age of ten, my father would send me to the corner store to buy cigarettes. There was an age restriction of being sixteen in 1986, so I would be given note with a phone number to contact my dad, and I could buy a pack and bring it home. After a few times, the corner store owner began to know me and my father’s brand, so the note was unnecessary for a couple of years. That was when the age limit changed to 18 and the government cracked down on selling to minors.

Cigarettes and smoking have a different stigma than they once had. My coworker still smokes as of the 80’s and 90’s were relevant. A part of me looks to him as an uncle, and honestly he probably could’ve been a close family friend. He reminds me of the good aspects of my father. Plus my coworker has been known to dye his hair and mustache to look younger. He has a look of Burt Reynolds when he does this.

Hence the title of today’s blog- Smokey. Honestly, I think of how my father looked in the 80’s and believe this was also his attempt and being cool. Facial hair, a cigarette and a beer- that was the 80’s “Dad Look” and smell. No cologne needed as a haze of smoke would be around.

Pure Imagination

The other day I mentioned that my son and I worked on the Lego Sakura Bonsai tree together. We keep it in a square display case in order to keep it dust free. Our son decided that it looked kind of bland and wanted to update it a bit more.

He used his imagination and memories of when we went to Tokyo. In doing so, he added a rock garden, a waterway, and some greenery. I’m impressed by how he designed it- using a multitude of different pieces to create a cutaway scene.

Our son wants to add more detail to the last corner. I have a feeling it will flow into what he has created thus far. I love that he is so creative and takes the styles he has learned from years of conventions and Lego displays in order to utilize the pieces so uniquely.

Do you love building with Lego? Are your kids still playing with it as they grow older? Let me know in the comments.

Spring Break Staycation

As my last day comes to an end, I think I had a relatively great staycation. A quick look back at the last ten days showed how busy it was. As well as how productive it ended up being.

We did a bunch of gardening, went to a speed skating meet last weekend, had a night on the town for my birthday, and built a gazebo as a family. We built some Lego, and our oldest came to visit and we all had a delightful time. There really isn’t much more I could ask for.

All in all it was a great birthday week. I’m glad I spent it with my family.