Buying A New Home

Our house was put on the market late this week. Within the first 24 hours we booked half a dozen showings for today. We also noticed a lot of cars not from our neighborhood doing a slow drive-by of the home. Hopefully this is all a good sign and we will sell our home.

The thing is, my wife and I have not found a house to buy yet. We ourselves have been looking for the past two months and have gone to several viewings of potential places. Many of which are perfect- for someone else. Or we would need to change our lifestyle drastically to enjoy the home.

At some point our criteria for the perfect home will need to be trimmed. Especially since the market is so hot right now and places are generally selling within a week of listing. Good and bad for us. So we will need to act quickly on a place it seems.

Our biggest wish is for a place with a rental suite. This will allow us to help our adult children to live near Vancouver and save money towards their own place one day. The other “must have” is the the house should be fairly new, or at least be upgraded. A big kitchen is desired and a garage. Beyond that, most everything else is superficial extras.

We know that we are giving up yard space. But that also means that maintaining a smaller yard should be easier. We also know that we will finally have neighbors that we will see more often. And that’s cool,

I kind of miss the suburban lifestyle. Let’s see how long that lasts when we join it once more.

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.

Feeling Stipud

The past few days I have been feeling rather dumb. I know my wife and I have made plans and discussed errands and what else needs to get done. But I swear I have to ask her again every morning. I’ll probably do it again tomorrow.

I know that after 20 years together it’s not always easy to pay attention. We both have agendas planned for our time off from work. Sometimes we don’t always inform the other of what we really want to do. Perhaps it’s forgetfulness.

As I get older I need more reminders. From filling out Calendars to setting alarms on my phone- I’m always trying to keep myself informed about what I need to do.

But I still forget and need to check with my wife.

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?

Quiet Country Christmas Eve

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Eve 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Bye Boba

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family Decorating the Tree Time

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

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

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

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

Staycation Woes

Not so positive feeling today. So don’t bother to read this if you expect some fun filled uplifting story from Castle Havelka. I’m feeling overwhelmed and under appreciated.

I’m over halfway through my current Staycation and I haven’t felt like I’ve done anything worthwhile for myself. It makes me frustrated and I want to just lash out at everyone. I feel like going out a grabbing some beer to wash away this frustration… And that sucks.

The start of my time off was emotionally rough. I sob cried during a hug from my oldest daughter, which felt uncomfortable enough. Showing that kind of vulnerability to my 18 year old made me feel like I broke a sacred pact. The kind of unwritten promise that says “Dad is the strong one, here to protect you.” Only not this time. This time I broke down.

Then came my wife’s birthday. Uneventful- the way she likes things. But her feelings of aging are the same fears that we all have. Getting old shouldn’t feel like losing our youth. it should feel as though we have gained wisdom and experiences. During these Covid times- I have become her sounding board. Allowing a lot of venting and emotions to come forth towards me.

Then there’s this Christmas thing. We have three trees set up- undecorated still. No Christmas movies have been watched yet. And the family hates that I want to listen to Christmas music in the home. I get a lot of groans and Bah Humbug feels when I try.

Undoubtedly it feels like I have wasted my time off by not doing anything for myself. My 3D printer needs a part and it won’t arrive until the end of the year, so my new hobby is on hiatus. I also don’t have my own space for this new hobby. Our spare room is the office where my wife works and oldest does her online classes. The studio is where my wife does her side business- Ningen Headwear– which is far busier in fall/winter because she sells fleece hats. So I get a two foot square space to set up my printer in our 4000 square foot home.

Escaping to my bed is all I have left. Sleeping in has only happened once and that was this morning. Until my wife woke me and had me get up to make her and my daughter ham and cheese omelettes. I even cleaned the kitchen afterwards since the two of them disappeared to do their own thing after brunch was over. Now I’m crawling back into bed feeling like crud for having these thoughts of resentment and being trapped.

I know I’m not alone these days. Covid restrictions have made everyone feel constricted and trapped. There’s good intentions to be had, but sometimes feeling like crap is okay as well. Right? Just let me sleep away the rest of my time off so that I can just float through until my vacation is over. Or at least let me vent this one time without judgement.

Giving The Gifts of Memories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Generational Music

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

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

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

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

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

Mushrooming

My wife mentioned how some of her coworkers go out and collect wild mushrooms in autumn. Today was a perfect day for me to explore our yard for such fungi.

I downloaded an app that allows me to take a photo and it would tell me if it was toxic or safe to eat. I downloaded “Picture Mushroom” and it has a free trial for the week, but costs $29 for the year. So why not try it out since this was my first foray into mushrooming. And I don’t think I will be out in much more of the world to search for ‘shrooms, so after this week, I’ll likely delete the app. (If anyone has an app they enjoy using- please let me know).

The afternoon turned into a fun hunt for my wife and I. We gently collected a variety of mushrooms, keeping them separated so that we could cross-check afterwards just in case. We don’t want a sick family because of a lack of knowledge.

Turns out that we had quite the collection of various mushrooms growing on our property that were good for consumption! My wife and our oldest daughter went to work cleaning the funguses and we stored them away in paper bags until tomorrow night’s dinner.

In our front yard, we also happened to find a smattering of toxic mushrooms. The kind that cause hallucinations. We collected them up and told our teens about them and the effects. Ingesting these types of mushrooms is not on our radar at this time. But we removed them from the yard anyways.

Do you go mushroom hunting? Any good recipes to share? Or perhaps any ill effects happened?

Let me know in the comments. (And no, we are not selling the psychedelic ones!)

Bruno Fenger

Today I was going through old papers- such as bills, taxes, etc… and disposing of the unnecessary ones. I found old paystubs from Chuck E. Cheese, a copy my father’s probate (with an address for My Unknown Half Sister) and information about our current home. The last one is what today’s blog is about.

You see, my father-in-law designed and built this house back in the 1970’s. Bruno Fenger was a brick layer by trade and the workmanship in this house is amazing. He also enjoyed woodworking as a hobby, often selling at various craft shows back in the 80’s/90’s. He is a very talented man who immigrated from Germany many, many decades ago. He decided to build a house and stay in British Columbia to raise his family.

I found rolls of papers from when he designed this house and had purchased the property. The blueprints were all hand drawn. To me these pages showed a commitment to excellence that you probably won’t find in today’s market. It was also great to see how his designs translated into a finished product (such as the fireplace) and some of the changes which occurred during the building process.

As a tribute to his work, I framed the blueprint for the upstairs and hung it on the wall. Bruno’s work lives on in this home through more than just ideas on paper. With his 88th birthday coming up at the end of November, I thought it to be fitting that I show some gratitude to the man who made a home for my family.

Thank you Bruno for creating such an amazing house for your grandchildren to grow up in. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Life Day

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

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

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

Why?

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

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

Cleaning for Christmas Season

This past weekend we did a pretty good cleaning up of the downstairs of our home. My wife has been adamant over the years that we are not permitted to put out Winter Decorations until the house is cleaned up. I push every year to start the process in early November.

That’s because I love decorating our home for winter!

This year, my wife was a big part of the decorating process. In fact, the entire family was a huge help and we had fun doing it. Well, maybe not the cleaning aspect… but the decorating for sure! All that’s left is the trees to come out after my wife’s birthday… on December 6th.

Have you already started decorating for the winter solstice or other such celebrations?

Let Them Grow Up

I have a tough time letting my kids grow up. But it’s a natural occurrence in humanity. Parents being parents trying to raise kids to be adults. And then not wanting the kids to become adults.

Today, our oldest aced her practical exam with the top mark in her class. She was beaming with pride. She texted my wife numerous times throughout the morning in regards to her success.

Watching my kids grow up, it makes me sad that I won’t have moments with them anymore. It’s hard to ask them to spend time with me without it seeming forced sometimes.

Letting the kids become their own person with a bit of guidance is all I can do. I have to let them grow up.

Halloween 2020

For obvious reasons- this year was a very subdued Halloween. We gave out candy to three groups of children for a grand total of eight kids. Our teenagers went up and down our cul-de-sac to hunt out some candy. Even though we had no real plans- my family still dressed up.

Considering how few homes they stopped at- they end up with a good haul and shared the candy amongst one another. Hooray for sugar!

For the notable costumes- Random did a mash up of Jack Skellington and Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker. Pretty good make up considering how she did it within a half an hour. Toying around with make up is one of her favorite things to do. Especially if it makes her look spooky.

For my costume- I did a fun take on Vincent Price from back when he showed up on The Muppet Show in the 70’s. Price is such an icon when it comes to classic horror. But I wasn’t sure how to portray him. I think it turned out doggone amazing.

I enjoyed my evening of viewing people’s costumes on Instagram all night. Some were very creative. As well, many people had small children who looked really cute.

How was your Halloween? Were you dressed up? Or did you just pig out on candy?

A Decade of Disneyland at Halloween

Looking back at my memories, I saw that we spent a majority of our kids’ Halloweens in Disneyland. Since 2010 we have been enjoying haunting up the theme park.

To say I miss visiting Disneyland is an understatement. Once this pandemic clears up and travel opens again- I’d love to hit up Disneyland. No matter what time of year it is. The family and I always had a good time goofing around as we immersed ourselves in the joy of the parks.

Disneyland California Adventure 2010

We would push for full days at the parks. Lining up before the gates opened and being some of the last guests to leave at night. We made every minute count.

Honestly, some of the best parts of the trips was also the drive. We would be hyped going down the coast, then excitedly talk the drive back about all the fun we had. As cheesy as all this sounds, I am sad that we didn’t get to do it this year. Some of the biggest connections I created with my children was on these vacations. Those memories however will last me a lifetime. As is obvious by today’s blog.

In order to bring forth those good feels, I decided that tonight we are watching Disney’s Hocus Pocus as a family. I haven’t seen this film since the mid-90’s. I also have no idea of my family has seen it. I hope it holds up.

Even if traditions change and we need to adapt. We shall continue to make scary memories together as a family in a variety of ways.

Beetlejuice Time

Halloween family film tonight is the 1988 classic- Beetlejuice.

This is easily one of our favorite films to traditionally watch each year. Kind of like when we watch Independence Day on July 4th. Or our regular viewing of Christmas Story every year.

I loving having traditions like this. Where we as a family just hang out on a Friday night and enjoy a film we’ve seen numerous times.

We also enjoy “The Nightmare Before Christmas” and have that movie memorized. Along with each and every song. Which reminds me- Beetlejuice is a Broadway musical now! I need to see it one day.

Do you have any family movies you watch regularly with your kids?

Foster The Feelings

My coworker and his girlfriend foster dogs from time to time. I told him if they ever got a Corgi to let me know. Turns out that a dog arrived in their care within a few days of my request. So yesterday they brought over this dog for us to meet.

Her name is Scarlet. as you can see- Not a pure bred Corgi. Nor is she a puppy. She is half Corgi/half Husky and about six years old. Immediately my kids were drawn to her. So we opted to have Scarlet stay with us for a week and see how things progress.

Well it seems that day one she has no qualms with Lex- our other dog. She is also finding it rather easy to just relax in our home. Her manners are impeccable and she has enjoyed hanging out with the family.

Scarlet has even chosen the bed she wants to sleep in. Turns out that Darwin and her have made a bond already. Having a dog on the furniture has always been a big no-no for me. But Scarlet has been really cute and it’s hard to say no.

After this week ends, we shall see what happens. But judging from the first day, we may just have a new member of the family joining us. I’m not quite sold on one thing about her though. Her name. She doesn’t seem like a Scarlet to me.

But if that’s the worst thing I can truly find about her, then that’s on me.

Victoria: Day One

We arrived in Victoria, BC at 9:55 Saturday morning. We were all extremely hungry, so we lined up at Jam Cafe and waited an hour to get in for some of the most amazing brunch meals ever. Seriously, I had an eggs Benedict on top of deep fried chicken- my belly was in love. My espresso was perfect and well needed to get me through the day.

Afterwards we headed for a walk towards the Royal BC Museum. We took a couple of tourist photos along the way including in front of the parliament building and The Empress hotel. We also had some fun with our photos.

After a three hour wander through the museum, we headed to our hotel- Victoria Regent Hotel, turns out we got upgraded to a penthouse suite on the top floor! The kids love it. We watched the sun set over the harbour and caught a sea plane landing from overhead.

As night fell, we enjoyed the views of the lights and my daughter and I decided to head out for an evening on the town and took some more tourist pictures. Lots of walking had us passing out early and ready for another day of adventure.

Early Morning Travel to Victoria

The family was woken up by 4:30am and we were on the road 45 minutes later. We had packed up the night before in order to get those few minutes more of sleep. It was an early morning in order to maximize our weekend away.

It was a rainy drive to the ferry terminal. Knowing it was a going to be a busy weekend, we decided to book a reservation on the ferry so as not to wait. We had about 30 minutes to sit and wait prior to boarding. The rain eased off as we departed for the waters.

My wife and youngest children brought the Nintendo Switch to keep themselves occupied during our hour and a half sailing. I chose to take a nap and our oldest read a book.

As you can see from the picture of the family- the ferry was fairly empty. Departing at 45% capacity due to COVID precautions. It’s one of the only times I’ve enjoyed the ferry ride. I’m not a big fan of crowds or people being near me. I was far more comfortable taking my brief nap.

The sun attempted to break through the clouds on our journey across the water. We passed a few other ferries along the way with a few toots from the horn of the vessels.

Our day was truly about to begin once we docked. A list of activities were planned for our brief time away this weekend. I’m looking to the time spent with the family.

Home Made KFC

I love my deep fryer. My wife is trying to convince me to get an air fryer in order to eat healthier. But I am proving to her that I am a deep fry king! In fact, as lunch was cooking she mentioned how wonderful it smelled in the kitchen.

Today is deep fried drumsticks for a late afternoon lunch. I modified a KFC recipe I found online and added some herbs from our garden into the flour mix. I’m also going to get some French fries down for more salty goodness!

My favorite part about deep frying is the old oil adds flavors to the foods that come afterwards. That is why when I change the oil- I start with donuts and churros. No one wants onion ring flavored desserts. But onion ring flavor mixing with popcorn shrimp is completely acceptable.

I’m about three more meals like this away from clogging my arteries. But life is for living- so I shall enjoy these moments of unhealthy choices until I decide that I need to be better with my heart.

And get an air fryer.

Audrey 3

I love musicals. I have shared my love of them with my family. In turn, they have grown to love them as well.

One of my favorite musical films is “Little Shop Of Horrors”. A great comedic cast that pulls it together in such a way that I couldn’t imagine anyone else performing the songs.

Over the summer, our middle child and I would play the soundtrack on Spotify repeatedly. I think we have memorized each and every song. Much to the chagrin of my wife… but it’s still fun.

Back in the spring, I planted a red cabbage in our back garden. Our oldest named it “Audrey 3”. It thrived nicely with the other vegetables. I harvested it this afternoon for dinner. I was pleasantly surprised by how big it had actually grown.

About half of Audrey 3 will be enjoyed tonight with our apple and Brie pork loin. Otherwise, that’d be too much cabbage! And the results would be far scarier than a lean green mother from outta space.

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.