Loving My Kids

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

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

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

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

A Day Devoted To My Teens

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

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

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

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

I Don’t Want To Miss It

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

1st Day of School 2017

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

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

2011 Walking to school.

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

Working Stress-Free

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

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

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

It Wouldn’t Keep Still

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

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

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

Most Liked

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

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

FIVE.

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

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

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

Feel free to like and share today’s blog.

Fire And Bubbles At Sunset

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

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

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

Playing Around

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

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

Priorities, am I right?

Twenty Mile Bay 2020

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

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

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

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

Stay posted for lots of pictures coming soon!

Vacation Feels

It’s nearing the end of summer. It’s the final push to enjoy ourselves. I am also starting eleven days of vacation. That means time away from work, which is great to recharge the mental batteries. Even though we may not be traveling to a favorite destination.

We are still planning on having a good time as a family. Tonight we made smoked turkey legs and watched some “Disney Park Blogs” YouTube videos during dinner.

Of course we all wore our Mouse Ears! Because who knows when the next time we will be attending a Disney Park again… But the feels needed to come out. The ears brought forth joy, laughter and memories.

I’m ready to have a great time with my family during staycation. British Columbia is the next best place to be next to Disneyland! Especially if you get to share moments with loved ones.

Saturday Games

This morning our laundry line snapped after a dozen years of use. So I went to Home Depot and grabbed a new line and put it up. I also picked up a few 2×4 boards and some odds and ends for some other projects. Until shortly after lunch, we were all busy.

This afternoon was a warm one with lots of sunshine. We chose to hang out in the backyard on our tree deck. We needed a break after a full morning of working around the house. Did I say it was warm? I lied. It was hot.

We played a couple of different versions of the card game Timeline. A great trivia style game that involves figuring out when events took place. I recommend this game to everyone. We always have fun playing it. Bonus- it’s educational!

We followed it with a few aggressive games of Uno. That is sure to tear families apart the way Monopoly does. Lots of yelling and accusations of cheating.

All in all a great afternoon with the family.

S N O H

S N O H. Say those letters quickly a few times.

A SANDWICH

I love making sandwiches. I mentioned how much we love Bread yesterday. Making sandwiches is the best part of eating bread. Like most people, I also do the following when making sandwiches:

I leave my knife on the edge of the sink while I go and eat my meal. You know, just in case I want to make another sandwich. Because clearly, I know that my sandwich is a work of art that I may want to duplicate and enjoy a second time. Although, it is rare for me to make a second sandwich for myself.

My children also do this. But they leave the knife there until someone else puts it in the dishwasher. That’s a tad bit frustrating.

Are you guilty of leaving a knife on the edge of the sink? Don’t lie. I know most of you are.

Bread

Bread is a big part of my daily diet. Toast, burgers or sandwiches- it’s a regular occurrence in my life. We go through bread products so much in our home that we rarely bother to make it fresh. It’s so much easier to just buy a few loaves each week and leave them in the cupboard.

Or on the counter apparently.

But the biggest issue I have is how to wrap or seal the bread bag once it’s opened. Our family has not come up with one style. Nor have I been able to find the culprit behind leaving the bag OPEN!

Unfortunately I taught my children how to flick snapped bread tags. So usually the tags are removed and found on the floor throughout the kitchen. Bad parenting decision from years ago. Do not teach your children this trick. Trust me. Your bread will stay fresher longer if those tags go back on.

How do you close your bread? Have you ever flicked bread tags? Let me know in the comment section.

4,3,2,1 Amico!

A few months ago I mentioned how I put a deposit down on a “Founder’s Edition” of the upcoming Intellivision Amico: Mio Amico. I was excited for the chance to play some original“Couch Co-Op” games once more with my family. The system had a launch date of 10/10/2020…

Right in the middle of a console war between XBox and PlayStation for their newest systems. Probably not the best plan for a relatively unknown competitor in the video game market. The Intellivision Amico is not designed to be their competition though.

“At Intellivision, our mission is to use technology to bring family and friends back together by delivering simple, affordable, family-focused entertainment to everyone.”

Tommy Tallarico, CEO

The Amico is designed for simplicity. I like the idea of the system and the affordability of the games. To me this is like buying a cellphone and some apps that can be shared amongst family and friends on the tv. The graphics and gameplay demos for the games look great. Playing games in a group was always a favorite of mine.

As of late, with the pandemic and lock downs, we have been playing more games of this style on the Nintendo Switch. If you have kids or like the idea of games you can play and stop at your leisure- I do recommend the Switch.

Ice Cream Man

Yesterday as I was leaving for work, the familiar childhood tune of “Turkey In The Straw” was echoing through our neighborhood. Living in a very spread out neighborhood filled with acreage- it can be heard for blocks. It is also rare for the ice cream truck to come by. This happens maybe two or three times in the summer.

A few minutes later I was in my car driving. At the stop sign, I saw the ice cream truck stopped in front of my neighbors. A mother and her kid were walking away, and then a boy was walking up with another boy beside him. This other boy was my son.

So I pulled over and walked up to them. My son looked guilty as if I had just caught him doing something he shouldn’t. As I walked up, the other boy’s father also walked up. He told me that Theory is a really great kid and that the ice cream was their treat. Which was mighty neighbourly of them.


Besides going to see what my son was up to, I knew who the ice cream man was. No, it wasn’t Freddy Krueger…

Back when I finished high school, I would work four afternoons a week as a gas station cashier. An older fella worked the graveyard shift. This was Nelson. I would see him at turnover and we didn’t have much in common since he was twice my age at the time. We were both let go when the gas station changed ownership. I went off to eventually work at a variety of jobs. Where as Nelson went to be an ice cream truck driver. The year was 1996.

We spoke briefly, mostly exchanging pleasantries and a bit of idle chitchat. I felt bad for this 61 year old guy driving a truck with faded paint and signage. So I ended up buying some overpriced frozen treats for the rest of my family in order to support this former coworker. Sure, he looks kinda creepy with his coke bottle glasses and missing teeth. He’s also been delivering ice cream for ages, listening to the same tinkling of bells, and dealing with children; he must have lost some marbles along the way. I swear it’s the same truck I saw him driving when he first started the gig.

If you stop at an ice cream truck in Langley and see the old guy with greasy black hair and 1980’s glasses, rummaging through his old Viking freezer for the $4.00 bar your kid so desperately wants- make sure you say “Thank you Nelson”.

His smile will be genuine because he really does love his job.

Saturday Morning Cartoons

Back in the 80’s, Saturday morning cartoons were the best part of childhood. I’d read thru our TV guide and set my morning ritual watching about 2-3 hours of shows. Once 10 am arrived, it was time to get outside and play. Until then, rotting my brain in front of a tv was the thing to do.

This morning, I went on YouTube and found some episodes of “Kidd Video” to watch. I watched the first episode while eating my grilled cheese sandwich. For the second episode, I curled up on a beanbag chair with my ALF blanket.

There was some great commercials as well that someone uploaded with the first episode. Targeting kids with a variety of toys and Spaghetti-o’s. The show made no sense, and the ads made little sense as well. All the while trying humor to fill the gap of confusion.

Some things need to be left behind in the memory banks. Shows like this do not hold up. Even though it was more entertaining to make fun of the show with my son.

What did you do on a Saturday morning during your childhood? What do your kids do on a Saturday morning?

Let me know in the comments.

Time For A Break

My son went out skim boarding with the neighbors for the first time. He was enjoying himself immensely. Until he had a bad fall. My wife called me to tell me that he had broken his arm.

It seems like a right of passage for young people to break an appendage or require stitches. I had stitches three separate times and dislocated my elbow as a teenager.

The first thing my wife said was, “Thank goodness he didn’t break his leg.” Which is true. It would affect his speed skating skills. A broken arm is not going to impede him much.

The break wasn’t terrible and is known as a “buckle fracture of the left distal radius” but I know it hurt him. He was doing his best to hold back the tears and wasn’t wanting anyone to touch his arm.

He is proud of the fact he has a cast. Although he instantly complained that he couldn’t play video games. My response was- “Read a Book.” Much to his dismay. In a few weeks he should have it off. In the mean time- I have a bunch of books for him to read.

Summer Cooking

It’s so hot these days that it is difficult to want to cook dinner. Making the kitchen extra hot using the stove or oven is unbearable. Even getting out at the grill is tough. The heat and humidity makes for a challenging cookout.

The other day, my son was grilling over the open flames. Even I didn’t want to hang out by the fire as it was a sweaty evening already. But he did pretty well at his first attempt at open flame cooking. I stayed in the kitchen to make some guacamole stuffed potato skins as a side dish. Those were equally as tasty!

But we needed to eat quickly while it was still hot out. It has become apparent that once it begins to cool off outside- the ‘Skeeters come out. Nothing like getting eaten alive while eating.

Sitting outside is generally pretty nice. We eat on the back deck at least 9 months out of the year. Getting through these excessive hot spells and mosquitoes is the only complaint I have about summer. That, and I hate Sweating.

Blueberry Flan

My father used to make a flan once, maybe twice a year. Either filled with canned peaches or fresh blueberries. Today I made his recipe with 3 cups of fresh washed blueberries. I think it turned out quite well. Here’s how I made it:

Recipe from my father.

1 pkg yeast (I used 17.5grams of fresh yeast today) mixed with 1tbsp sugar

2/3 cup milk 1/3 cup warm water

Mix together to activate yeast


3 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

Mix everything together and set aside to rise. Do not be surprised- this is a sticky dough. Approx 30 minutes to have it double in size. (Make sure it is covered with a slightly damp tea towel.)


Preheat oven to 350°. Once dough is risen, roll it out on a floured surface and place in a greased cookie sheet. Push into the edges and leave 1/2 inch or less of space.

Spread 3-4 cups of fresh blueberries, peaches, or what ever fruit you want. A thin layer is all you need since the juices from the fruit will spread out as it bakes.

Make the crumble topping with 2 tbsp butter, 4 tbsp sugar and 4 tbsp flour. I enjoyed using our pastry blender for this. After the topping was spread out, I sprinkled extra sugar because I like it sweet.

Bake for 30 minutes.

Boom- Flan!!!

Oh look, a blog post with a story followed by a recipe. Not my usual style, but I enjoyed making it. I’m hoping the family enjoys eating it as I haven’t made this in ages. So long ago that my kids don’t remember ever having it.

Maxim-um Effort

Today I was going to do some organizing near our shower area. Boxes of stuff had toppled over and junk was just getting thrown in the vicinity. After taking a few things out and getting my son to store them in the barn, I decided to re-box some magazines.

I have seven years of Maxim Magazines dating back to issue number 1 in 1997. When I worked at the movie theater from 1999-2004 I regularly read the magazine. I would also leave my copy in the booth for the projectionist to peruse while waiting for films to end.

I’m passing on the magazines to my son now. I told him to read at least one article from each magazine. Some of the info is very dated (like buying the perfect big screen tv!). As well, all of the women featured are almost 20 years older now.

The first issue, he flipped back and forth stopping on stories about cars, movies from 1997, and how to cook a steak. He read out the steak one and we discussed “Grilling the Perfect Steak”. Sounded like he wants to learn to BBQ after that story. He continued on reading about the perfect toolbox starter as well.

Maxim Magazine will offer up some tips to manhood that my son may not want to ask me. I think it’s a good chance for him to see what life was like 20 years ago. Where ads for alcohol and cigarettes made people look like life is full of parties if you get drunk and smoke. He already knows that life isn’t really like that.

Did you grow up reading magazines before the Internet came around?

Camping at Home

Our middle child has the right idea. Since we came home from camping last week she decided to set up the tent in our backyard.

Having a yard with a park like setting is my favorite part about not living in the suburbs or city. I sit out on one of our four decks on a regular basis to just enjoy the country life. Almost every one of our meals is had on our covered deck. Since installing the Porch Swing in our front yard, I have spent more time out there after a day at work.

Our tree deck is still my favorite of all the decks we have. The family is utilizing it more frequently as well since I added the deck chairs and lights. It also happens to be where the tent got set up for the past week. Our daughter has been the only one sleeping out there. Except yesterday when I disappeared into the tent for a nap.

The peace and quiet was thoroughly enjoyable. As it always is in our park like setting.

Eighteen? How is This Possible?

I am beside myself. Our oldest daughter turned 18 today.

My goodness. I don’t even know what to feel. A part of me is so happy to have had all of these years growing up with her. Another part wants to go back and do it all again, only this time take it slower.

Throughout the years, we had our ups and downs. She often played up the fact that she was embarrassed by me and how I act. Especially when I was really proud of her accomplishments. I would cheer the loudest and even made signs to show my support to her. I always wanted to be around, even when she tried to shoo me away.

Perhaps that’s where my relationship with her is. Random, who like to be called Dom now, is a strong willed teenager. She is an adult now. It’s time to let her truly make her own mark in the world. Time for her to rise and fall as she navigates the next stages of her life.

And I will still be there for her. Shouting encouragement from the sidelines. This is my little girl. The one I swaddled and held close when she was born. Knowing that I had to do my best to protect her over the years.

I think it’s time to go get some tissues because this man’s eyes are full of tears.

Grad Dinner..?

Our oldest Graduated three weeks ago from Grade 12. Besides the ceremonies being cancelled, so was the Grad Dinner. My wife and I have been trying to get our daughter out for a special dinner since then, with no luck. Our oldest originally wanted a special meal like the one my wife and I did Last Year at the Bacchus French Restaurant. But it hasn’t opened yet because of restrictions.

Today, we finally went out for a meal. Our oldest also wanted her siblings along, so we ended up at Ramen Bella in Langley. Where we each got a large bowl of ramen, and our daughter got herself a Poké Bowl.

It was a good treat for everyone and also very filling. I’m glad our oldest picked a place that the family could enjoy, even though my wife and I were trying to offer her something special just for her. It seems as though our daughter is still very family oriented and loves sharing experiences with her brother and sister.

To me, that shows she is growing up into a wonderful young lady. Each day I am becoming more and more proud of her.

Weaver Lake Hike

Yesterday we took advantage of the overcast weather and headed on a hike around Weaver Lake. It was a good thing that it wasn’t sunny.

My friend was adamant that it was a 12km hike. My wife was saying that people do the hike in three hours. Neither sounded appealing to me. Especially since each of us were breaking a sweat within the first kilometer.

The trail was overgrown in some parts, and difficult to maneuver in other parts. I was glad that there were orange markers set up in trees along the path. There was also milepost markers every 500 meters telling us the distance traveled.

As we hit the 6 km marker we were at 2 hours and 45 minutes. We rounded the corner and we were at the base of the campgrounds. Turns out the trail was roughly 6 kilometers. I was overjoyed the it was over.

Honestly, it was a more challenging hike than I expected. Lots of rough terrain and constantly up and down the hillsides. Well worth it for the views. I’m glad it was shorter (distance wise) than we expected. The kids were happy as well.

Camping Is For The Birds

Our first night at Weaver Lake involved some visitors to our campsite. We had some Canada Geese show up near our fire pit. They were very domineering and strolled in like they owned the place.

A short time after, a couple of owls perched overhead preparing for their night hunt. They gave a couple squawks to one another as they landed. When they flew, it was silent. Most impressive.

We got ourselves a great spot by the water and enjoyed the frogs croaking as night fell. Being in the thick of nature is relaxing. And calming. Something magical about British Columbia that makes it worthwhile living here.