May The Fourth Be With You

Today is Star Wars Day. One of my favorite non-holiday dates. I generally like to celebrate with a viewing of a few of the Star Wars Universe films. Plus Star Wars related food stuff.

Later today I will be watching the first episode of the animated series, “The Bad Batch” that is released on Disney+. My son is excited about the show, so I want to share in his enthusiasm. I have not watched much in the way of any Star Wars animated shows, so this will be a good father/son bonding moment.

Like Darth and Luke joining forces to rule the universe as Father and Son…

What are your plans for Star Wars Day? What is your favorite Star Wars film/show? Let me know in the comments.

Disneyland Is Back- And We Can’t Wait To Visit

Back in 2009, we went on our first trip to Disneyland. We have retuned to the The Happiest Place on Earth numerous times. That first trip was by far the most memorable. And probably our most joyous.

The photos from our first trip are filled with fun. Those smiles from our children are still contagious. Each trip since has been equally as magical in different ways. We have loved every visit.

Last February we bought tickets for Disneyland. Our plan was to visit in the July of 2020. Alas, the world shutdown. Now there is a glimmer of hope as the Disneyland park opens once more. Only to California residents and in a limited capacity- but from what I’ve seen today, my heart yearns for a trip back there.

The tickets we bought will be honored at a later date. So we will hold onto the thought of traveling once more. Only the next time, there will be at least four adult Havelkas entering the park. They may not be children, but we will be young at heart once more.

Is a visit to Disneyland on your wish list once travel restrictions are lifted?

Too Much Yard

People have asked my why we sold our property. The main reason is we have too much yard.

I’m getting older and want simplicity. A small lawn to mow, perhaps a few plants and bushes. Taking care of the old growth trees is too much these days.

Even though we move out in 50 days, I have pride for our home. We are still looking after it, but the yardwork is intense. This weekend will be busy trying to clear out dead branches and utilize a burning permit.

Today was a write off for me as well. I’m still feeling the after effects of getting my vaccine the other day. My energy levels are extremely low. Likely, my wife and I will do the majority of the work and our teens will run and hide every chance they get.

That’s the other hard part. Getting assistance. I was a teenager once. I know what it’s like to want to have a life not devoted to chores. I remember my father tricking me into allowing a friend stay over for a couple of nights one summer- in order for us to lay down sod.

I’m getting older. I can’t push as hard as I once did. It’s almost time for my midlife crisis. Maybe that’s why we bought a new house with a pool…

Finding Fanny Pack Money

Discovering forgotten money is a great feeling. Any denomination over a dollar feels like you won just the lottery. You can often find money in an old jacket, purse or a pair of pants. Once I found a twenty dollar bill in a jacket after buying it from a thrift store. That was a good sensation- essentially the jacket was free.

Last night I discovered three $5 bills and some loose change in an old fanny pack… A late 1980’s Fanny pack, with 1980’s money inside. A crazy blast from the past moment for me. I was excited like a kid again- reliving moments of when I sported a fanny pack. Hanging with friends, going to the corner store, wandering around Playland, carrying cassettes for my Walkman- all those memories hit me at once when I saw the contents of this satchel.

After this brief moment down memory lane, I put the money back into the bag and showed it to my family. I asked my three kids if any of them wanted the fanny pack- for some reason they each said no. I zipped it open and showed them the money.

They still didn’t want the bag. But the money on the other hand…

My son asked if it was fake money since he had never seen this version of a Canadian five dollar bill before. I told them they could each take one of the bills. I also said that if one of them had taken the bag, all of the money would have been theirs as well.

They didn’t seem to care- each of them was still getting some money for nothing and didn’t have to take a fanny pack. I thought for sure that one of them would have wanted it. But I guess The Rock can’t impress my kids enough to become fashion icons.

Telestrations

This afternoon my wife and I picked up our two youngest kids from school and headed out for an early dinner. As I have mentioned previously, I like to support local and small businesses. Tonight we took the kids to The Raving Gamer.

My wife and I have been to The Raving Gamer a few times ourselves. We enjoy the atmosphere of eating and playing board games. It always gave us a chance to try some games before purchasing them.

Tonight, we were the only people at the Raving Gamer. That is mostly because of the COVID restrictions in British Columbia. No indoor dining permitted. Outside in the parking lot of The Raving Gamer is only one table for four and a few tables for two. Not exactly a “Patio” compared to mainstream restaurants. But it serves its purpose allowing patrons to still enjoy a meal. As you can see, the food was appetizing and tasty.

Just before our early dinner, we played a game called Telestrations. Where you get given a word and have a minute to draw it out, then the next person guess the word, the next person draws the word and the person afterwards has to write what they think the word is and so on until it gets back to the original player. Like a game hybrid of telephone and Pictionary.

The game was fun for the four of us. I would like to see how much more creative it would turn out to be for up to twelve people playing. During the few rounds we did play, we laughed pretty hard. We all wanted to play more of the game, but know that it would be a fun party game with more players.

It was definitely a game we would recommend for larger groups. Obviously once Covid restrictions are lifted.

Are you supporting small businesses these days? Or perhaps playing games during the pandemic? Send me some recommendations for either of those. I want to still enjoy life and share experiences with others.

Take Out Day

Since it was my daughter’s birthday yesterday, we wanted to do a nice dinner for her. Usually we get Nikko Sushi for any celebratory meals. But our daughter wanted to try something different. Due to current health restrictions in British Columbia, we had to order take out.

It also happened to be “National Take Out Day” as well! We picked up some slushies from a corner store, some Indian Food from Taj, and an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen.

Besides samosas, my family doesn’t eat a lot of Indian food. We did buy samosas, but we also had coconut chicken curry, butter naan bread, and paneer. It was delicious. I am impressed that our kids are always willing to explore tastes from other cultures.

17? Ugh. As if

The ice cream cake was a delicious end to the meal. Our daughter has been enjoying 80’s/90’s movies all her life and went with a “Clueless” inspired cake. We watched the film afterwards for a good laugh. (Wow, there are a lot of stars that were up and comers from back then! Thanks IMDB for helping me to recognize them.)

Did you enjoy some take out yesterday? What did you have?

Do you like Indian cuisine? What would you recommend we try next time from a restaurant?

Let me know in the comments.

Darwin is Seventeen

Happy Birthday Darwin!

I can’t believe that it’s been seventeen years since our second child was born. I feel as though she will always be our little girl even as she enters adulthood. Much in the same way I see our other two children. Sometimes when you look them in the eyes, you can still see the child they once were. It must be a parent thing, because I hear the same thing about other people’s kids!

My favorite thing about Darwin is how she loves to be a goofball. I think she gets it from me… oops. I do appreciate that she looks up to me as a role model. And as much as she is very similar in personality to me, she is also has her own individuality. It’s as though she is taking my qualities and improving on them.

As the years go on, and she grows into a young lady, I wish her nothing but success and happiness through all of her accomplishments. Darwin leads the charge when it comes to hard work and commitment. I am inspired by her on an almost daily basis.

I love you lots Darwin. Have yourself a great Birthday!

Summer Graffiti

As the sun continues to shine, my work days have gotten a bit brighter. Even the rail cars are getting into the spirit.

I spotted a “Lilo and Stitch” graffiti painted car outside the window today. It made me smile at the abilities of some vandals. The recognition of a cartoon character on either side of a tag is becoming commonplace.

Seeing “Lilo and Stitch” reminded me of our trip to Hawaii seven years ago. As well as our trip to Tokyo three years ago. Which got me thinking about all of our vacations to Disneyland. I really do enjoy my time with my family as we make memories.

So if a graffiti vandal can make me happy, then I really don’t mind seeing their crimes. Especially on rolling art canvases that travel the continent.

Swimming

I love to swim. Almost every time we would travel, we tried to stay in a hotel (or motel) with a pool. After a long day of conventions/skating/Disneyland- it was a good way to relax before bed.

Oftentimes we would be the only people in the pool. It was as if no one else enjoys swimming. Or perhaps they just don’t like us. We are a bit of a strange family- pretending to be dolphins or zombies. That may have had something to do with having the hotel pool to ourselves.

We also enjoy swimming in the ocean, lakes and other natural spots. My wife used to call our kids “Water Babies”. We would hunt down places to swim whenever possible. Hawaii and California have beautiful beaches, and British Columbia has some fantastic lakes. What’s not to enjoy?

I always enjoyed swimming. For about half a decade during my preteen years- my family had a house with a pool. I swam regularly in it, even though I think my parents felt otherwise. I mean I also played a lot of video games and locked myself in my room watching television… But my exercise was to go swim. And I was good at it. I hope to be swimming regularly once more in our new home.

I do find it odd that last June I mentioned about buying a home with a pool: Pool of Thought even before we listed our house for sale. One year later we will be living out this desire. Our own private oasis in this world. Inadvertently I guess I had created a Vision Board and achieved the goal. Imagine what I could do if I set my mind to a goal?

Do you enjoy swimming? Do you hunt out hotels with pools when you travel? Let me know in the comments.

The Final Easter In Our Castle

This morning my wife surprised our teens by having an Easter Egg Hunt in our living room. We have done the hunt every year since we moved into our house.

Always in the living room. That’s because we can hide the eggs the night before and close off the room until we are ready. This is the same room we would celebrate Christmas Day in.

Today was the last time that our kids would hunt for candy in the living room. None of them wanted a picture taken, but I took a stealth one anyways. An Easter Egg Hunt was always something my wife enjoyed doing for our kids. As they became teenagers, I was thinking that it’s becoming a bit much.

But after today’s hunt I could see why my wife enjoyed doing this for our kids every year.

They all sat around the dining room table, dumped out their haul and divided it equally. It’s something they’ve always done (same with Halloween). Seeing them do this once more made me smile.

Our teenagers are getting along! These days it’s hit and miss with how nice they are to each other. Or even towards my wife and I. Days like today are a reminder as to why we love our family. Moments like this will be missed when we move away.

But the memories will be cherished forever.

What Is Love?

When I was a teenager, getting my driver’s license was easy. At age 17, I was able to borrow my mother’s car periodically. One summer day my friend and I took our girlfriends at the time to the PNE in Vancouver.

It was a lot of fun going on rides, eating food and playing carnival games. The girls we were with went to the local radio station booth and sang a Brian Adam’s song and received a cassette tape of their rendition. Loads of laughs and handholding as we journeyed around the fair.

Anyhow, her and I eventually ended our relationship as the summer also ended. It was totally civil. We kept in contact over the years and went out on the occasional date every so often as we entered into adulthood.

I mention this specific date because my former girlfriend had removed her earrings. They were heavy and hurting her ears. She lost/forgot them in my mother’s car (which eventually became my car). I discovered them a few years later along the side of the seat and kept them with some other mementos from my youth- such as letters, artwork, and trinkets. I’m a bit of a hoarder…

Yesterday, I noticed my 16 year old daughter wearing the earrings. I had no idea that she had taken possession of them. But I find it really cute to see that teenage girls over the decades still have the same sense of style.

Puppy love is great. Perhaps my daughter will have a fun date this summer whilst wearing these earrings. Who knows.

Toddler Fashion Flashback

As we get ready to move, we are going through our items that were in storage. Yesterday I pulled some totes out of the attic storage that were filled with clothing from when our children were tiny.

My wife started the process by herself, whittling six bins down to four. Most of the baby and toddler clothes were sentimental in some way or another. As my wife processed the outfits- we all began to talk about the clothes and the memories behind them.

At one point our oldest would run off to find a photo of herself in an outfit that was pulled out. The excitement of the memories brought joy to my heart. Not only did my wife and I remember dressing up our kids- they remembered favorite outfits as well.

Seeing how tiny they once were makes me hope that one day we get grandkids. One day. Not any time soon please- our kids are still teenagers! My wife and I will keep these bins in storage for that time. Perhaps in a few years we shall pull the bins out once more and downsize again.

I loved seeing those itty bitty outfits. It filled my soul with fond memories.

Bose Forest Park

Yesterday my wife and I took our teenagers to go and see the neighborhood we will be moving to. We parked up the street from our future home and explored the pathways. The area is called Bose Forest Park. It’s a well maintained set of trails in the suburbs. One of the paths lead past our new home, so we walked the neighborhood a bit as well.

Upon returning to the car, our teenagers excitedly went to the playground and goofed off. It brought me great pleasure to see the joy in their hearts as they played. They got along wonderfully and it made me realize that we did the right thing in choosing to move to that neighborhood.

My wife is happy that there are numerous pathways around with plenty of routes to choose from. After living in our neighborhood for so long, there is only so much you can see when you walk in a rectangle around the block.

I’m looking forward to the change and joining the suburban life. Don’t get me wrong- Country Living has been great and the neighbors have known each other for decades! But it will be neat to be a part of an ever changing community once more.

This time- we are going to be the newbies.

100 Days (And Counting)

We are officially one hundred days from moving. I feel as if we are finally getting some relief for all that we have been through. I don’t mean just selling and buying a home. I’m talking about the past twenty years of stress and hard work- not just the struggle of surviving 2020.

This may sound odd, but our Future Home is actually our “First Home”. Let me explain that statement.

A little over twenty years ago, my father passed away. About nineteen years ago, my mother decided to uproot herself and move to literally the middle of nowhere on Vancouver Island. She moved to Gold River and asked my wife and I if we would want to buy the house she owned in Langley.

So I pushed hard and worked three jobs to afford a down payment and the first bit of paying for the house. We bought it at market value for $210,000. After four years, the market boomed and we had a third child. It was time to sell and move. We sold that house for $410,000.

At that point, my wife’s parents were wanting to downsize. After a lot of discussion and stretching ourselves thin once more, we used all of our equity from the first home and bought my wife’s parents’ place for $570,000. We also needed an extra $60,000 borrowed from them in order to get qualified.

All of the help from both my mother and my wife’s parents have put us in a very comfortable position to buy our “First Home”. In doing so, my wife and I will be able to assist our children if/when the time comes for them. This is our way to Pay it Forward.

My success is your success.

Nineteen years of paying down mortgages and struggling from time to time with finances has afforded us the luxury to be successful. All of our friends have watched us as we have hit hardships and windfalls. I appreciate their cheers from the sidelines and the hugs when we needed them. We continue to cheer them on through their endeavors and wins as well.

As we count down to our new home, many of our friends have volunteered to help us in a number of ways, I will be calling in these favors in exchange for pizza and beer!

Our Future Home

In just over two and a half weeks we had listed our home, sold our home and bought a new home. It was fast, stressful, and filled with joy! We were able to get the price we wanted for our current place (and more). We are soon moving into what feels like our dream home.

There are so many things about this new house that appeal to us. First and foremost is the address. Yup. I’m a numbers guy. I like patterns. We had to get married on 10/07/2001 because I liked how the members were. The address for this place is 16261 61A Ave. In Chinese lucky numbers, the meanings are as follows:

ONE: UNITY

SIX: SMOOTH

TWO: HARMONY

I think this house will have that all for us: UNITY/SMOOTH/HARMONY.

This new home is nearly 5000 square feet over three levels. The listing was described like this: “Welcome to the POOL PARTY in this GORGEOUS FOXRIDGE home located in prestigious WEST CLOVERDALE! This extraordinary home has it all,quality construction,breathtaking views, 4982sqft w/ 5 bds,6 bths & daylight WALKOUT BASEMENT for INLAWS w/ finishings that mirror the main!Luxury living awaits,w/ immaculate master w/ fireplace,extravagant ensuite & 2 closets.Your open concept main floor overlooks your PRIVATE RESORT like pool & deck to enjoy coffee,cocktails,family & friends all while looking at your mountain & valley views(w/ Jimmy Buffet playing in the background). The list doesn’t end,S/S appliances,quartz counters,hardwood flooring, custom window coverings,coffered & vaulted ceilings & OVERSIZED driveway. All this in a family-friendly cul-de-sac close to schools, parks & walking trails!”

Yup, there is a built in pool in the backyard. This was the only thing that was giving us second thoughts about buying the place. It’s an extra expense that we never had on our “wish list” for a house. But the views, the space and the massive basement suite (that can generate a good income) more than makes up for it.

The interior of the house is exemplary in its style. The owners were meticulous with the upkeep and for a ten year old house- it shows as if it was brand new. The yard space and the views are what really drew our attention to this house. Even though we are moving from a treed backyard on almost an acre, the green belt and farmland behind this new property makes it feel spacious.

By summer our family will be in our new home. This will be a big change for us all- but a very welcomed one. I’m really happy and proud of how hard we worked at being homeowners for twenty years to get to this point. The long game has paid off, so they say.

Shellfish Medley

I really do miss traveling these days. Besides hitting exciting destinations and seeing the sites, there’s a big thing that happens while traveling. It’s also the most costly part of vacations. That’s eating at restaurants- for five of us.

When we travelled as a family, we would make sure to go to one or two special restaurants. Some of my favorite places were sushi, ramen and seafood. We also made sure to dress up for a dinner as well (depending on the trip). Making meals an experience is just as important as the meals themselves.

Recently I was really missing the places like Joe’s Crab Shack, Bubba Gump’s, & The Crab Pot. From Anaheim to Seattle, even though they are relatively close- we aren’t leaving Canada any time soon. So why not bring the meals to us?

I went to the store and loaded up on shellfish for tonight’s dinner at home. Clams, mussels, snow crab, tiger prawns, Thai prawns, potatoes, fried farmer sausage and corn. It took me about thirty minutes of preparation and cooking. I sautéed some onion in garlic butter. Then I added a bottle of beer, two cups of water and lemon juice bringing it to a bowl. I spiced it up a bit with chili flakes, sriracha sauce and paprika before steaming the shellfish for a few minutes. Once everything was done, I tossed it all in a large canning pot with some taco seasoning.

Dinner was a success! Even though we had a large pot of food on the table, it was almost all gone. Everyone went for seconds and thirds. While we ate we talked about our previous vacations. It was a great feeling to reminisce. I enjoy how food can take us back to places we once visited.

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.