19 Years Later…

Today is my 19th Wedding Anniversary! That’s a long ass time to be married in this day and age. Especially since I married her when I was only 25 years old. And had no idea what my life would have in store for me.

What’s crazy is I still feel young and alive when hanging out with my wife. She has been the greatest person to participate in life’s experiences with. From raising children, traveling the world, buying a home, or changing numerous careers… this has been a delightful challenge of life that I have enjoyed sharing with her.

I cannot wait until we get to celebrate 20 years, 24 years, 31 years, 42 years, possibly 65 years together. I love my wife tremendously and have been lucky to create milestones with her. I hope for her to feel the same and for us to have a Happy Anniversary! To quote the movie that inspired our wedding, and our life together:

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn- is just to love and be loved in return.

Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love

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.

Time For A Tech Break

Getting the family ready for a camping trip is challenging. Even if you’re only gone for a couple of days, it takes hours to get packed up. No matter how much you tell everybody when you want to leave, you always fall behind.

It may seem odd to pack up the necessities of life in order to live outside temporarily. But I like camping. Most of my technology stays behind. Obviously I keep my phone for pictures and music. But the connection to the outside world via the interwebs is severed.

I like taking mental breaks always from the world. It keeps me sane. Plus I love the outdoors. I almost don’t need to leave our home as we have a lush and beautiful yard that seems to go on forever. We own an acre of solitude, just far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the cities and suburbs.

Taking a break from technology is important. I appreciate the world a little more when we do go away. A chance to see the natural wonders out there.

July 4th 2020

This year, we were planning on changing up our July 4th festivities. Back in February (before the pandemic took over) we bought tickets to Disneyland and booked our favorite hotel. Up until about a month ago, we were having a tough emotional time canceling the hotel. We really wanted to experience Disneyland in the summer since we’ve had the chance to enjoy springtime and numerous times at Halloween.

We really wanted to see the Disneyland 4th of July Fireworks. I assume that Americans can put on quite the show. Tonight, we shall watch those fireworks from the comfort of our home.

As well, instead of a road trip along the West Coast of the USA, I plan on taking some of the family camping during my vacation. As our kids get older, it seems there’s a bit of freedom expected. So our oldest is choosing to stay home. As uneventful as camping is, we are still happy and healthy and ready to enjoy the world.

But tonight, we shall resort to our July 4th Tradition. A viewing of ID4: Independence Day. I love this film. I also love the fact that our kids believed me (when they were much, much younger) that this film is historically accurate. Thank you Hollywood!

Happy July 4th to our American Neighbours!

One More To Go

I have one more shift to go at work before a week of vacation kicks in. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. The crazy part is that I don’t have much planned for my time off. Our Disneyland trip is on hold due to COVID-19. We were looking forward to spending The Fourth of July in the USA for the first time ever. I assume it’d be a big deal. Especially in Disneyland!

I still plan on being not-so-sober during my time off. I do have a few days of camping planned with most of my family and a friend with his kids. Last summer he joined us and, well, drinking was pretty much non-stop. But the weather was great and so were the kids. So why not go for round two?

It’ll be hard to make it through that last day of work without a big smile on my face. Somehow, I’m sure I’ll survive until that first beer hits my lips. Then it’ll be a blur.

Mario Kart 8

On the weekend I bet my three children that I would beat them at MarioKart on the Nintendo Switch. I said that for every point they could beat me by- they would earn a dollar. I also said that to make it fair, we would play three cups of four races each. However, my stipulation was that we had to play 150cc Mirror races.

I had no idea my kids would be so good, or clever! I thought I could let them win a bit, then school them.

Turns out my kids ganged up on me. The oldest did her best to keep the lead with one of the other two staying close behind in second or third place. The third child did their best to take me out and keep me in the last possible place. They chose to pool their winnings and split it evenly three ways.

I lost $195.

Obviously I learned that my kids think I’m not very good at MarioKart even though I’ve been playing the different variations since 1992. I also learned that when given the chance, they can actually work together for a common goal.

My wife was none too happy. Until I told her that I’m okay with losing some money to the kids. This is the week we were supposed to be in Disneyland. So their “winnings” would have been spending money for the trip.

Look at those smiles. It was totally worth forking over $65 to each of them. Plus I got to “spend” quality time with them.

Father’s Day Night

With yesterday being Father’s Day, my children gave me gifts that reminded me that I’m a father. However, it was a very bipolar type of evening.

I arrived home to see my teenage daughters making homemade pasta for dinner. The kitchen was a mess and flour was everywhere. They were stumbling over each other trying to make dinner. During this, my son had retreated to his bedroom to hide.

For the rest of the evening, there was snarky attitudes going back and forth between all three kids and my wife. As they spoke to me, their tunes would change. They were each doing their best to show me kindness, but at a cost of being somewhat negative towards one another.

After dinner, the kids brought out the gifts that they had made for me. None of the gifts surprised me, as they were exactly what I was expecting. A Lego creation from my son (of my Nissan Rogue), some painted wood carvings from my middle and a painting from my oldest. I appreciate each gift as the kids showed off how proud they are of what they made.

We ended the night watching Robocop from 1987 just because I hadn’t seen the film in ages and wanted something to watch that the kids had never seen before. After the film, it was off to bed and sleep took over.

All in all a typical night, I even got a few gifts from it. It didn’t upset me that there was a bit of animosity between my family members. In actuality it reminded me of how normal we all are; and not everything is perfect no matter how much we try and showcase our lives on social media.

Father’s Day 2020

I’ve been a father for nearly 18 years now. In the grand scheme of things, I think I’ve done an okay job of raising three kids. Obviously I could not, and did not, do it on my own.

Without my wife; aka mother to our children; there really wouldn’t be a Father’s Day for me. She and I have worked together over the years to create a loving environment for our three beasts kids.

To be completely honest, I don’t know if I was ever going to be ready to be a dad without her pushing me. I’m glad to have taken on the challenge and the role. Our children are my pride and joy. I will always be there for them in whatever form they need me.

I was never close with my father. I’d like to think I have become the father I always wanted. The kind of father who goes on vacations, jokes with their kids, has family movie nights, even loses at video games to them. I have shown love and support through all of their endeavors, be it Cheerleading, Speed Skating, and the arts- no matter what they wanted to do, I was there.

Certainly there were times when they wanted to give up. But my wife and I pushed them and guided them through those hurdles. It’s not always fun and laughs when you have to be the bad guy either. In time, I’m sure they will understand why and when we needed to be strict with them.

For now, I’m just glad to be celebrated as their Father. I have a drawer full of handmade cards and gifts from over the years. I cherish those moments and memories.

I’ll always remember them as my kids, even as they enter adulthood.

Squeak Squeaken

The other day I was curious if I could befriend some of the wildlife that lurks in our neighborhood. Particularly the squirrels. They looked like they were having such fun running and chasing one another all the time. Plus they bounce up and down all cute like. What’s not to love?

I noticed the little rascals were getting into our bird feeder and had successfully knocked it onto the ground one night. So I used some birdseed to entice them to get closer to me. It started with a small pile by a tree that they like to climb. Then after a bit I began to put some seed in a leather glove and laid it down on our deck.

Three of the squirrels began to show up closer to our home. They ran past me a few times and we’re becoming more courageous about approaching me. It’s been a couple of years since the cute furry Wildlife has come up to our house.

I even named the squirrels. Jimmy James, El Gato, and Samson. JJ is the lazy one on the fence. El Gato is the female who acts like a cat about to pounce. And Samson is the crazy one who jumps branches.

As much as my experiment is starting to work, my wife is none too impressed. It seems these little fellas are pooping on our deck and making a bigger mess of the bird feeder. I have been asked to adjust my plan to get them to wander elsewhere.

Time to get them to the other side of the backyard and maybe we can bond over some berries.

Pool of Thought

At the start of my preteen years, we moved from the arctic tundra of Edmonton to the rain forest neighborhoods of Vancouver. We gave up ice and snow for an older home with a swimming pool. This was the greatest single thing that I appreciate my father ever doing for the family. Of course I was angry to leave my three closest friends behind, but I eventually made new friends. I did manage to keep in touch with my best friend since kindergarten 1981.

Back to talking about my first Langley house. I loved that home. I had plenty of privacy upstairs. My little sister didn’t like having the bedroom across the hall from me, so she moved downstairs and the upstairs became mine. We also had a large unfinished basement with plenty of space to become a second home. But the house had the greatest thing ever- a swimming pool.

Not one of those circular above ground pools that are only good for playing “Marco Polo”. This was a pool with a ten foot deep end, a slide and diving board. The prefect size for swimming laps and filling with 20 friends. Our backyard at the time was basically a large deck and the pool. Perfect for lounging on a hot summer day. I remember swimming in rainstorms and at night. My family sold that home due to many factors. One of them being the cost associated with upkeep and heating of the pool was far more than was worth the headache. My parents figured we weren’t getting much use out of the pool anymore, so it was time to move.

Since my memories of that home, whenever our family travels, we always have to book a hotel with a pool. I love swimming, my kids don’t overly care one way or the other. That being said, we’ve never bothered to pursue the idea of a pool in our current home. I do love the trees we have and don’t want to get rid of them to add a pool at this time.

Assuming our kids move out or we get grandkids, or my wife and I ever do sell this house- I’d like to find a home with a pool. It would be a treat for me to have a little oasis to enjoy. Or maybe one day we will redo the landscaping in our current yard and add a pool. I’m sure that a windstorm or two will knock down a few more trees over the years.

Perhaps that will be my midlife crisis. Who needs a luxury car? Give me a pool any day.

Transcendental Music

I worked for twelve hours. I drove for forty five minutes to get to work and forty five minutes to get home. I got home, I put on some music, and made dinner for everyone. We ate our burgers on the back patio, shared some stories of the day, and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.

Slowly, everyone left the table. No words were said. Just one by one they left. Until I remained. Hoping one or more would return. But they did not. They left their dirty plates. They left me behind.

After about ten minutes, I changed the music. I put on some trance music by The Orb and stared off into the yard, listening to the music and the wildlife, eventually closing my eyes. I let the music take me away. Several moments passed. I had been zoned out. It was relaxing.

I miss listening to music for the sake of music. No lyrics. The occasional word is spoken. But the rhythmic nothingness of trance music with the sounds of birds chirping is zen like. I do not care that the dishes were left behind. Or that no thank you’s were offered up to me for working all day and making dinner. My wife also worked, so did our eldest. The other two had online school. We all had busy mental days. Busy happens.

Life is busy. We all experience it. Take a breather and don’t get angry. The dishes will get washed. The table will get cleared. The smiles will remain. The music will play. The time is now.

Bucket List Places?

Once the restrictions on travel get lifted, will you be planning a vacation?

Personally, I think I’ll wait a bit. But I also realized that there is a great big world out there that I’ve missed out on already. I now want to see more of this planet than ever before. Mostly because I’m being told to stay home!

Of the vacations and travel I have done, the best times was spent with my family. We’ve taken our kids from California to Tokyo, Hawaii to Calgary. These are top of my lists- especially to travel to with kids/teens. I have now created a small list of places I still want to go to as a family. Now to figure out when to get there and how to afford it!

  • Peru
  • Brazil
  • Hong Kong
  • Shanghai
  • Czech Republic
  • Russia
  • Ireland
  • Road trip across Canada

The last one is what I’d love to do with my wife. Do a fun road trip in a camper van or small RV once we retire. Spend a few months just picking up and going everywhere we can. Plus if we’re on the move, it’ll feel like a grand adventure!

This summer we would like to be camping more than before. Not glamping. We’ve never done that, yet. Or we may just stay in our yard and live the best quarantine life we can! But I want to travel!!!

Rain Filled Movie Night

Last night we hit the Twilight Drive In for a retro double feature. The family piled into the car and we were off… two and a half hours before showtime. Even though we bought tickets in advance, it was sold out and we have a few spots that are a “Must Have” when watching from the car.

We’ve done the local Drive-In numerous times in the past. Many times for our son’s birthday (same with last night). Even though last night was quite the rainy evening, we stayed for both films. It made for added effects to our viewing of Back to the Future / Back to the Future II.

Of course, our car battery died halfway through the second film. I ran the car during the intermission in order to try and keep the battery alive. The seven speaker stereo, defogger and wipers did the battery in. But since we’ve done this before, I knew to bring a backup radio. Because, you know… the movie watching is important! By the end of the second film, the car started up again with no issues.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot- our son lost one of his final baby teeth from a hard candy in between the films. I told him the tooth fairy does not visit teenagers. He was not at all phased. That’s because the tooth fairy still made an appearance.

Go figure.

Our Boy is Fourteen

Where does the time go? Our son is 14 today. Every year I write about him on his birthday, as I do with each of our children. Okay, I write about our children more than just on their birthdays. But on their Birthday, it’s always about them. Here’s a quick snippet about him and his day.

He’s quite the charmer. He knows how to make people happy through his kind acts. Theory also has impeccable manners and is respectful of everyone. It makes me happy to see that our parenting has paid off. Plus he has two wonderful big sisters who have steered him towards being the great kid that he is.

Today was a fairly subdued celebration. We had a big breakfast, followed by opening of gifts. My wife and I finally purchased the trick scooter he wanted. Later this evening, we will be attending Back To The Future at The Twilight Drive In. It’s a sold out show and they predict rain. That will be fun seeing how to cram three teenagers and two adults into a small suv!

But as far as Birthdays go, this one is pretty good for him. And he seemed very happy with what he got. Especially the handmade gifts from his sisters. (A painting and a Star Wars pillow).

Happy 14th Birthday Theory! May the Force Be With You!

Modeled After Memories

Recently I was cleaning out our storage, sort of… I got sidetracked pretty quick and the cleaning ended in about five minutes. I discovered some old models that I somehow acquired.

When I was about 9 or 10, my father decided that he and I would make model airplanes together. That lasted about ten minutes. My attention span was dedicated to video games or cartoons. (GI Joe and Transformers: FTW!) Hanging with my father was never on my list. Mostly I was afraid of his temper. In the end, he half built the model on his own and gave up.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, he needed a hobby to take his mind off the inevitable. So he bought these two models. They were never opened. I don’t know why. But they ended up in my possession at the end of 2000. Twenty years later, I’m ready to give these away.

Only I can’t.

My son wants us to build them together. We have a father/son connection that I never had growing up. Let me hold back the tears a moment. Perhaps these models can be created with love. We can create a memorable moment. One that I can add to the thoughts of my father. Create a model relationship and add some positivity to my childhood.

My Wife- A Fantastic Mother

Today is Mother’s Day. My wife loves being a mother. I can’t imagine a world where we didn’t meet and have children. Since 2002, my wife has been a mom.

Now the kids are getting older. The teenage years are aplenty. And they are of the capacity to decide what to do for Mother’s Day. So far our two youngest have made her breakfast in bed. Now my wife is playing video games with our middle child. Our oldest will return from work shortly, at which point they are going to head out to visit their Oma. Physically distancing of course. But to see the smiles on her grandchildren’s faces is something that hasn’t happened since Christmas.

Besides breakfast in bed, the only gift my wife has received is a Lego Minifig that our son made. It really looks like my wife! I can share any other images at this time, as the other two kids haven’t given their gifts yet. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing those pictures and stories.

Until then, Happy Mother’s Day Lee-Anne! May it be relaxing and peaceful.

Quiet Yard

Today is peaceful in my backyard. There’s no sounds of cars racing down the road. Nor is there lawnmowers or pressure washers. All I can hear is the faint sound of crows off in the distance as the wind gently whistles through the trees.

So I invited some friends and coworkers over. It was surprisingly fun as we spaced ourselves away from one another. It was a Social Distancing Socializing at our place.

No wives. No kids. Just lawn chairs and axe throwing. Of which my guests brought everything. It was a ton of fun. And it ended early. Hence why I’m posting about it.

I hope y’all are having a great time together these days!

In The Trees

The weather has become ab-fab. That means more time outside again. Having a yard and the space like we do makes for a relaxing time.

This afternoon I put up some lights in our tree deck with the help of my son.

For dinner, I stopped at a fish n’ chips place called C-Lovers and grabbed some cod. We had a picnic on the deck.

I played some music on a Bluetooth speaker called “Songs to Sing the Shower”. My wife danced on the deck. I took some pictures as I watched from above as the kids played frisbee and they sang.

Life is really good if you let it.

Houston Trail

On Friday, the family and I went off to hike another local trail. This one was much busier than Aldergrove Regional Park. But everyone on the trails were respecting the idea of Physical Distancing. Way to go people! The 3.3 km hike around Houston Trail took us around 45 minutes.

We stopped a few time to really admire nature and it’s wonders. The natural way the cohesive balance of life intertwines still amazes me. My family and I somehow got on the topic of “The Matrix” and how the corona virus is almost like a reset of humanity . Giving us pause to reflect on the simple things in life that we take for granted. Such as these walks that we can saunter through without feeling rushed to get to the next big event.

I’m glad the BC has kept the parks open for people to wander. The fresh air and natural beauty helps to clear the mind. Even if we were plugged into the Matrix, the computers are doing a decent job at randomizing life.

Clam Chowder!

After work, I came home to the smell of a delicious dinner. a dinner I haven’t had in ages. Not one that we make very often, even though it’s not very difficult to make.

My wife made clam chowder for dinner tonight. It was amazing. Bacon, onions, garlic, potatoes, clam, cream sauce, all put together in one amazing soup. But my wife did something extra for our dinner.

My wife made fresh bread bowls for our chowders. The buns were so hearty that we each filled our bread bowls a second time. And scarfed those down as well.

The dinner was so good, we ate the bowl. And my daughter let me take pictures of her. It was a Chowder Miracle! One that doesn’t come around very often. So I took full advantage of it.

I always enjoy our family meals. We have a great time talking and joking. We also like to repeat dinners that are easy and tasty at the same time. Hopefully Clam Chowder makes a reappearance in the future.

Can’t Stop Cooking and Baking

Our children are adamantly wanting to be doing more cooking and baking these days. Over the past few weeks we’ve made Pasta, Churros, and Donuts. Today, we made all of them!

We are getting better at the recipes as well. There’s still the occasional blunder- adding the butter a bit late in the churros or the donuts not rising because of old yeast. But we are still enjoying all of the splendors. My wife also made her first ever cheesecake the other day. It was delicious!

I want to start working towards some more recipes that are savory instead of sweet. Maybe learn to make my own potato chips or something. Who knows, but my deep fryer has been turning out some fantastic desserts.

Have you been baking more these days? Or trying to expand your horizons a bit? Let me know in the comments.

1.5 Lungs

It’s been a little over 40 years now. I was about two and a half when the doctors performed an upper lobectomy on my left lung. I can remember bits and pieces of the post surgery recovery. I remember waking up in the post op recovery area and staring at the ceiling at five different televisions. All of which were showing different cartoons with no sound on. This was the first time I saw Mighty Mouse, Popeye, Tom and Jerry, and Hanna Barbera. All in glorious colour and all at once.

Over the past four decades I haven’t always taken care of my health. I struggled to breathe as a child in a home where my father smoked regularly. I just kind of adapted to shallow breathing. In my early teens I had my lung capacity tested numerous times to see how I was doing and why I always felt tired. (I’m still always tired). No definitive results ever came my way.

Then there was a time, post high school, where I smoked for a few years. That I regret. It forced me to become reliant on an inhaler more frequently now.

I may seem normal on the outside, but inside I am missing a portion of my left lung. As I watch the world, I am conscious of the fact that I am more susceptible to a lung virus and would truly struggle with recovery. Although I continue to go to work, I wash my hands frequently, sanitize door handles and my work station numerous times, as well as avoid close contact with my coworkers.

But they don’t know that I am extra paranoid and selfish about my own health. I’ve worked there for nearly 13 years and many of my coworkers have no idea about the fact that I’m missing part of a lung. They don’t know that I stress about the possibility of getting sick.

On my days off, I just stay home. I spend time with my family and we have a great time. Trying out new cooking and baking recipes and lots of video games! It helps to take my mind off the fears I have inside.

Sweet Sixteen in Social Isolation

Today is our daughter’s sixteenth birthday. Unfortunately with the world being the way it is, we are unable to make this birthday an extravagant one. The plan was to take her out to get her “L” so that she could begin to learn driving. We would also have gone for dinner at our favorite sushi restaurant- Nikko Sushi- but it’s just not in the cards for today.

And that’s totally fine. Because we have our health. And we have our memories of her previous birthdays. Each of them unique in their own way.

One year we took her to Build-A-Bear. Another time she was on an airplane flying back from Hawaii. We’ve been in the car on a road trip to another province. We’ve been at a few different conventions. A couple of times we went out bowling. One time she was competing at a Cheer competition.

But my favorite memories were spent at home. Where we made her a cake, gave her gifts that were created with love, and did the things she wanted to do. Like watch a movie or play a game. This year is no different. There is a great joy that we share in being home as a family.

So today, as our daughter celebrates her 16th Birthday, the sun will be shining down on her as she fills our lives with happiness.

Happy 16th Birthday Darwin!

More At Home Time

Today was another day spent at home. I will say though, I’m really enjoying the fact that our house is feeling like a home once more. The family has pulled together and been a great help over the past few weeks.

We’ve done tons of cleaning inside already. The weather was beautiful today, so it was spent gardening. The kids helped tremendously today. I’m really satisfied with the results.

As we were working, my favorite brewery delivered some beers to our home. Within an hour of my order, they were at my door with a much desired beer for the weekend. Big thanks to Trading Post for the backyard beers!

For a break afterwards, the kids had some free time to do what they wanted. What they wanted to do was surprising to me. Our son played trumpet outside on the tree deck. Our oldest daughter did some painting on her canvases and our youngest read a book. Afterwards the four of us worked together and baked an apple pie. So amazing!

What a great life to live. Even in solitude.

Disneyland Churros

Disney released the greatest thing ever this week. They released their churro recipe for those of us at home who miss attending the parks. The recipe is extremely easy. Find it at Disney Parks Blog Churros.

Of course, we HAD TO MAKE THEM!

My kids had a great time helping make the churros, deep fry the churros, sugar the churros and of course- eat the churros!

It was a fun bonding time with the kids and surprisingly easy to make. (Especially with a deep fryer). I highly suggest those who love churros and miss the most magical place on earth- try this recipe. It’s a great way to bring the magic home.

And don’t forget to listen to your favorite Disney music while making them!