2020 44

March 15,1976: A self proclaimed hero was born in Halifax Nova Scotia. He came screaming into the world not knowing what was in store for him. Except naps. Lots of naps. Little did he know that his adventures would continue to the other coast of the country.

Here he is, 44 years later. A hero to his family, friends and coworkers. His superpowers include hyper kindness, magnified positivity, ultra attentive listening, and height. All of which he tries to showcase regularly. All of which makes him more than just a man.

He has a loving wife and kids. A good job with good pay. Friends who reach out and show that they care as well. Looking at his life- he should be happy. And he is. Today is his birthday and it marks one more revolution around the sun. One more notch on his superhero belt.

I couldn’t feel super if it wasn’t for everybody in my life. Thank you everyone for always being gracious and fun. that’s the best gift I can get on a daily basis.

Women’s Day 2020

Previously I’ve mentioned how amazing some of the women in my life are. Including last year’s International Women’s Day. Every year, I become more and more proud of my wife and daughters.

My wife is a shining example of a great woman. She is loving and caring towards all of us. Many times she is sacrificing her time in order to benefit the family. Without her, I could not imagine a life as wonderful as I have now.

Our oldest daughter is working hard towards finishing high school. Twice a week she is a junior coach for our speed skating club. She also works for 1 Fish 2 Fish– a fish market in Langley. She works with a bunch of other women, all of whom are fantastic customer service representatives and extremely knowledgeable about seafood. They are led by another great lady who has run the business for two decades now.

Our middle child also does junior coaching at Langley Blades Speed Skating. Last month she went to Fort St. John BC Winter Games as a Young Official. She was an amazing asset to the team and loved volunteering her time there. She also pushes her abilities at school with great success.

These are the three women who matter most to me. I’m proud of their individual success stories. It’s also good to see that they are strong, assertive leaders. Our daughters will continue to grow and prosper over the years.

What women are you proud of in your life?

Parent Volunteering

This afternoon I was with some of the Grade 12 parents as we prepared for tomorrow night’s festivities. There is a Speakeasy going on in Fort Langley as a fund raiser for the Dry Grad.

There were tons of props made already. Parents of Fine Arts students are equally as artistic as the children who attend the school. I’m glad to be a part of it all.

I was assisting with some painting and cooking. There is tons of finger foods and hors d’oeuvres for tomorrow’s dance. I enjoyed cooking on a gas stove once more. As we made food and props, we also enjoyed some music and some beverages.

Laughing and talking with other parents about our kids was great. We all have the same goal and want the best for our kids. Doing a Fund Raiser that also allows parents to have fun is a good way to break the ice and make memories for the parents (and later in the year- the teens).

Being a volunteer parent should be a mandatory job. I had nothing but fun with the mothers over the past few months and leading up to this afternoon. I’m looking forward to tomorrow night.

Family Day

Today is BC Family Day. A day designed to celebrate the family environment. That’s something I can always get behind.

I’m a huge proponent of positive family interactions. Many of my blogs are focused on our children and the activities they do and what we do together. I’m always trying to share the highlights and joy that comes from what we do together.

Today, I hope that many of you in British Columbia with kids and loved ones, take the time to relish what you have. Family isn’t always easy. Neither is being a Mother or a Father. With everything that goes on in the world- it’s nice to just have a day to relax and reflect on family values.

Happy BC Family Day everyone!

Estranged Stranger

I am an adult. I do adult things. I work hard to be the best husband and father that I can be. I also have friends and coworkers who rely on me and whom I rely on equally. I think I’m doing a pretty good job out there.

Over the years, I have chosen to lose contact with certain friends. Sometimes we just drift apart. Other times it was a misunderstanding or disagreement. That’s totally fine. Recently I was contacted by an old friend out of the blue. We shared stories and thoughts as if we hadn’t skipped a beat in our friendship. When I’m usually the one reaching out, it was heartwarming to know that he reached out to me instead.

As an adult with a life I in which I am trying to have filled with joy and happiness, I’ve chosen to lose contact with my mother and sister. My mother and sister have their own lives. I was often putting forth the effort to stay in contact and don’t have the energy to do it any further. It’s been a few months now, and I’m okay with that. After a few decades, it’s time to move on. I have other people who mean more to me in my life.

On the other hand, it’s also hard to want to miss somebody who could’ve been a bigger part of my life. How do I miss someone I’ve never met, like my Unknown Half Sister? It’s weird to think that there could’ve been someone I could look up to and ask advice. But that never came to fruition. That was more my parents’ choice to hide her existence for most of my childhood. As an adult, I just don’t care to discover an estranged stranger on the other side of the planet.

I sometimes dwell on the past. But I also move forward from these thoughts rather quickly. As I write this I know that it is helping me move forward with my life. I’m excited about the possibilities that my future has in store with friends and immediate family. Perhaps one day I’ll miss someone I haven’t met yet.

Mio Amico

On Monday I excitedly made a purchase online for something that I won’t be receiving until 10/10/2020. I’m one of the lucky 2600 “Founders” of the future gaming system- The Intellivision Amico.

Back in 1981 my father received an Intellivision for his birthday. That Christmas the family received a bunch of games. It was my first introduction into video games at the age of 5. I played the shit out of that system. Then my parents sent it out to goodwill along with our Colecovision when I was 13. I was okay with that, because it was Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo that entered my life.

At age 19, I picked up a used Intellivision with a bunch of games for $60 from a newspaper ad. My friends and I played for hours on end. I played the shit out of the system. We had so much fun hanging out playing games like SNAFU and Triple Action. I still have this system and play on it from time to time.

Anyway, this past Monday I laid down my $100 to secure my ability to be one of the lucky owners of the retro inspired system. This gaming system boasts the idea of playing games as a group again. Couch cooperative! Showing my teenagers about this system has them excited as well. Yes, girls and boy aged 13, 15, & 17 are excited to play games with dad!

That’s the sort of fun I love about video games. The Amico has potential to be a great system with many original and revamped classic titles that Intellivision fans will love and remember. I’m hoping for a good version of Astrosmash to be available.

So check out the video in which Tommy Tallarico shares his new vision of the Intellivision brand: Amico Trailer.

Never Too Serious

I’m a fan of living life for the sheer enjoyment of it. I have never taken myself that seriously. I don’t think anyone else takes me too seriously either. How could you?

Some days I dress based on how I feel. Be it a superhero or a goofball. I don’t think I have one set look. Jeans and a t-shirt is my comfort zone I guess. But I can still dress elegantly when I want.

When I take selfies with friends and family- I bring out some fun in their hearts as well. I love seeing people smile and express a bit more of their crazy side.

Even the few celebrities that I’ve taken pictures with have enjoyed that I don’t need to be uncomfortable or serious. The biggest constant in who I am is that I’m ever changing. Monty Python sang it best:

Life’s a laugh and death’s a joke, it’s true
You’ll see it’s all a show
Keep ’em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you

Old Dog Lex

Our puppy is growing old. I love him tremendously since we first met. We adopted him back in January 2013 to be a friend to our old dog- Chuppy. Little did I know that he would also be such an integral part of our lives.

He was such a goofball back then even at age four. This picture is from the day we drove him home with us. He has always been a perfect match for our family from the first day we met him.

As all dogs go- he is quite content to be lazy. But he also tries to stay energized when he knows that there is a potential walk about to happen.

He’s still a lovable goofball. Even as he gets slower and has difficulty keeping up. He wants to be a young pup- but his age is catching up. So Happy Belated Adoption Day Lex!

Brain Power

Yesterday was rather windy. Living in a neighborhood filled with trees and power lines- it was only a matter of time until our power went out. I’m glad it happened after dinner at least.

Our fireplace kept us warm during the outage.

I had started a fire shortly before dinner to begin warming the house. As soon as the power went out, the kids sprang into action and gathered up candles and flashlights. I headed outside and turned on our portable generator. We connected a small space heater and a couple of table lamps.

The kids have decided that during power outages we need to play a board game to pass the time. Last night’s game was Trivial Pursuit: Family Edition. To my surprise our oldest daughter ended up winning the game and my wife came in last. Going through the questions I realized that I don’t know much about sports or recent historical events.

It was a fairly good evening as we hung out as a family without a screen being on. But almost immediately after our game ended- the power returned. Then we went to the living room and streamed some Disney+ before retreating off to bed.

How do you handle power failures? When was the last time you played Trivial Pursuit? Let me know in the comments.

The 2010’s

Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. ~ Mark Twain

Here’s some highlights of my life, with photos from those crazy 2010’s. Lots of family, travel and experiences. Mind you, I’m only sharing all the greatest hits. We’ve had plenty of mundane days and a few bad ones along the way. But I’d much rather look back on our fun!

2019

Axe throwing, weekend away, Calgary, kayaks, Queen


2018

Tokyo, Tubing, a new driver, Disneyland Again!


2017

Road trips, camping, Becoming a Jedi


2016

Silicon Valley and our first taste of VR, Disneyland again for the 60th anniversary, 15 years of marriage, Career change, Rainbow hair


2015

Ningen Headwear studio, More Cosplay and hanging artwork from conventions, New roof, Our oldest entered high school, Driving in the desert


2014

Hawaii, Jem cosplay, Disneyland again


2013

Felicia Day Emerald City, Lex joining our family, Voodoo donuts


2012

Disneyland Halloween


2011

Center of the Universe with my son, Tenth anniversary


2010

Conductor on a Steam Train, Disneyland Halloween, an interest in Speedskating began.


I’m happy that I’ve had such wonderful experiences with my family. Seeing the kids grow up over the years is heartwarming. I hope you had a great run during the 2010’s. And here’s to the Roaring 20’s starting once more!

That’s Mine!

Seeing my name on the gifts that my family gave me this Christmas made me feel very loved. Knowing that they took the time to purchase or make the gifts they felt were in my best interest was very kind of them.

As much as I think that Christmas is for our children, I still enjoy opening gifts. The anticipation and surprise that is associated with gift giving appeals to me. Giving and receiving has its emotional benefits.

We may not have gotten spoiled this year with an abundance of presents, but we did have a great time sharing with one another. Seeing the joy in my children as I unwrapped their gifts to me was almost better than the joy I saw when they unwrapped their gifts from my wife and I.

Maybe this is the dawning of a new way of gifting to one another. More joy being shared instead of just stuff. My hope is that our children feel it is better to give than receive. I think my wife and I have done a good job raising kind and caring young adults. That’s the gift that keeps on giving.

2019 Good Gift of Christmas

Yesterday morning was our calmest Christmas ever. The kids were still just as excited as ever and emotions stayed on the happy side of the spectrum.

Unwrapping of the gifts went smoothly and we shared with one another what Santa brought. Some clothes, a few toys, and gadgets that the kids (and me) wanted. It was a successful Christmas.

Not every Christmas can be knocked out of the park like we have in the past. Like last year’s Video Games , Tokyo Trip 2017, or 2016’s Musical Instruments. This year and going into next year has us on a tighter budget as our kids have many activities and travel expenses coming.

Because our kids are teenagers now, they have a better understanding of reality than they did as kids. We still celebrated and hung out playing video games and watching some Disney Classics like “Flight of the Navigator” and “The Computer Who Wore Tennis Shoes.” Spending time together was my favorite gift.

It was a good day

Christmas Vacation 2019

Today the kids start their winter break away from school. And as we do every year- we start it with a viewing of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation“. A classic film filled with perfect comedic timing. Also some wicked quotes that you can say and everyone knows where it’s from.

At least our Christmas Vacation is different than what the film portrays.

Today we announced to the kids that they are only going to be allowed thirty minutes each day on their phones. As well, if they want to play video games or watch tv it has be to with at least one other person. They are going to spend quality time together!

If you have kids- I hope that you have a great Christmas Vacation with them. It’s all about those family memories and creating traditions that will last a lifetime.

Sisters Forever

A couple of years ago we discovered the joy of Andrews Sisters Jing-a-Ling on a drive home from the school. Our daughters enjoy the song and love to sing with it. It has become a staple in our Christmas music playing.

Our two girls seem to always get along this time of year. Last week when we were decorating, the two of them were loving and caring. Hugs and silliness abound. Seeing them get along like this warms my heart.

I know that over the next few years life will change. Our teenagers will become adults. They will grow up and move on in their own ways. I don’t want to look towards the future with a heavy heart. Instead I am trying to enjoy the moments we have now because these will soon become a distant memory.

And just like when we discovered the Andrews Sisters, I will become pleasantly surprised when my memories resurface once more through music and photos of yesteryear.

Enjoy the now- it’s a gift of joy. I guess that’s why it’s called The Present.

The Family Saturday

Today was a long day filled with some quality family time. Quality time is something that I treasure whenever we can get it.

It started with early morning speed skating training, followed by a free movie at the theater. It was Community Day so we took in a classic film- “A Christmas Story” to start our season right. By far one of my most favorite films. Seeing it in the theater added a new ambiance to the film and legitimate out loud laughs by the audience.

The film was over around lunch. We came straight home, did a quick tidy/clean before settling in to a favorite family activity. It’s the first Saturday after my wife’s birthday, so that meant decorations for our trees were to go up!

Loads of fun, dancing, singing and smiles were had. It helped that my wife and I had cookies and Firenog as well. Today is a day that our oldest loves to be a part of and willingly gets her picture taken with a smile!

We have three trees, so the kids rotate which topper they put up. It’s the first year I haven’t lifted anyone up to do it. It’s also the first year that my wife did this:

She broke an ornament! It’s not Christmas until at least one ornament explodes.

Cybertruck

Since it’s “Cyber Monday” I’ve decided to weigh in on Tesla’s newest vehicle reveal: Cybertruck. It seemed like a logical thing to write about today.

Even though there are numerous memes and pissy articles written complaining about the design and concept- over 250,000 pre-orders have been made since the unveil ten days ago. That number alone is astounding.

I have been wanting to own a Tesla for some time now. I also would love to own a DeLorean- because nostalgia baby. This futuristic truck hits both of those marks for me. Do I like the Cybertruck? You bet I do.

My wife and I bought the Honda Element when it first came out in 2003. Back then people called it ugly and boxy. But we love the car. It’s still on the road and we have no plans to ever get rid of it. It’s also a vehicle we knew that would be unique with few of them on the roads. We also owned a 2008 Nissan Pathfinder that was also like a large box on wheels. Time to go from square to polygon, right?

My 2016 Nissan Rogue however looks like every other mid sized SUV. Nothing about it stands out. But it’s reliable, safe and came fully loaded. Luxury style features at an affordable price. But gas is still expensive. It’s time to really look at the savings an electric vehicle would have on my life.

Will I put down $150 to get my name on the preorder list for the Cybertruck? If I can convince my wife to let me.

Ghost of Christmas Present

Waking up mid afternoon after working a night shift can be bad enough. Having the house empty when you sleep usually means there’s no one to wake you- so you constantly wake and check the time to make sure you didn’t oversleep. So sleep gets broken up.

I woke up to hear noises downstairs. My brain knew that no one was supposed to be here. Maybe it was the dog? Perhaps someone stayed home?

Nope.

Turns out my family left the Christmas Music radio station on. What I heard was Christmas classics faintly echoing through the house. Those joyous hits were scaring the poop out of me.

I think my family left the station on in hopes that I would lose Whamageddon 2019 on day one!

Wish List Time

Christmas is on the horizon- so that means gift giving and holiday cheer. The holiday cheer part is getting into full swing at our home. Minus the music… that starts at the beginning of December. Oh and Christmas Trees- we have numerous trees that go up starting December 7th. I’m getting off topic… let’s talk “Wish Lists”.

As a child, I remember filling a page of dreams, or rather filling it with stuff that my young mind thought I needed. Video games, Transformers, remote control cars, or whatever toy was popular. Up until we had three kids, I still made a list. It turned into an adult list involving housewares, tools, and small appliances. Now I make those purchases myself and get exactly what I need or want.

Wish lists always have been filled with hopes. An idealistic vision of what would make your life complete. But if you don’t get everything on the list, there can be a sense of disappointment. As parents, the lists can be beneficial. You want to give your kids so much in life, but you also have to make sure they get what they need. Going into debt over material stuff isn’t a good idea though.

Our kids have lists. It’s smattered with things they think would make their lives fulfilled. Things like books, pens, art supplies and music are topping the list. Knowing that they want to create more than consume makes me happy. I’m not quite sure where or when it changed, but I’ll gladly support their artistic side.

I’m sure Santa will support it as well- if you know what I mean.

What’s on your wish list? Do you set limits on what your kids ask for? How much stuff is too much stuff?

Let me know in the comments.

Disney Plus Equals Life

Yesterday Disney+ was released. And if you watch any form of entertainment on a screen of some sort, you must’ve heard about it. So I’m not going to go into great detail about what it all includes, because that information is everywhere on the interwebs! Instead I’m just going to share what my family and I watched as our first few shows.

I paid for a full year up front for $89.99. It was an obvious choice because there is so much content that The Mouse owns that we won’t be able to watch it all in 365 days. After installing the app on our PS4, the first thing we did was set up individual profiles. Then we went searching.

We settled on a couple of Pixar Shorts called “Bao” followed by “La Luna” -which we hadn’t all seen before. So far so good, but we didn’t want to begin marathoning through any new series of shows. We did stop next on “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” and were pleasantly surprised and dumbfounded by it. Consider it a sort of documentary on stuff. In this case- sneakers.

Naturally we watched the cartoon that started the journey of the Disney Franchise back in 1928- “Steamboat Willie“. It’s a neat reminder to see how far that little black and white mouse has come. Not only that, but it also shows how far animation has come and how it was pioneered almost a century ago.

We have our sets of future shows already searched out. The Sneaker Who Wore Tennis Shoes from 1969 is top on my wife’s list. While High School Musical is our daughter’s choice. My son and I are stoked to begin The Mandalorian in a few days. But there is so much content, we don’t really know where to start.

What are you planning on watching on Disney+?

Utilizing The Weather

It’s another beautiful day on the West Coast. I decided to make the most of it and get some “winterizing” done. I headed to the gas station and filled a large jerrycan for future use in our backup Generator in case of a power failure. Our one daughter filled six yard waste cans with leaves and our other daughter cleared off the roof and driveway.

Then I did the unthinkable.

I put up our Christmas Lights.

I figured I might as well do this chore while the weather is warm instead of waiting until December. The lights won’t be going on until then. But why not put them up ahead of time? I’m also not the type of person who leaves the lights up year round.

Either myself or my daughter are up on our roof every couple of weeks blowing leaves and pine needles off as it is. So taking a few moments today made sense to check the downspouts and put up those lights. I was able to enjoy a bit of quiet contemplation time on the roof. There’s something calming about autumn when you get to enjoy a few hours of beautiful sun and crisp air.

Now to head back inside and pour a nice cup of tea while we listen to music.

Should I Set Travel Goals?

It’s nearing the end of 2019. A little over two months remain. For me it feels like I’m floating on my back just letting the days pass by. It feels this way because I haven’t set any lofty travel goals for 2020.

I’m not longing for some crazy pursuits to find meaning in my life. It’s just that by now I usually have plans set for vacation and travels into the following year. But not this time. Not yet. I’m still waiting for some information about what will be going on with our children Be it school or speed skating. It’s hard to book travel if things are in limbo.

So do I just sit around and grow mushrooms on my life? Should I set other goals? Should these goals be for me or should I try and include my family? I never do anything if it doesn’t help out or somehow involve my family. Is it okay to be selfish?

But it would be nice if the next goal was for me. Maybe I could do some travel on my own. But the guilt of “Wish you were here” would get me down.

I don’t know. Maybe I should just wait a bit longer before getting to ahead of myself.

All The Leaves Are Brown

There was a burst of a wind storm the other day. Which caused a lot of debris to fall in our yard. On Friday I spent two hours clearing our roof and driveway of pine needles. I do not like that aspect of having old growth trees in our yard.

Leaves make the yard look messy, but are generally easier to clean up than pine needles. The sunshine and gentle breeze made for a perfect autumn day.

On Saturday, I had two of my children help with cleaning up the fallen leaves on the rest of our acre. We had a ton of fun making a huge pile. And we all know what kids want to do with a pile of leaves…

The First Set of Races

So it begins. The first inter-club race of the Speed Skating season. Our club in Langley is hosting today- which means a lot of the parents from the club are volunteering in some aspect. Our two daughters are also helping for the entire day as “Place Judges”.

This is the look of a tired parent who was here a couple of hours before races start to set up mats along the boards. Those mats help protect the skaters should they fall.

We also have paramedics on stand-by should anything happen. This year I asked my buddy Greg if he would be available to help us out. He eagerly responded and was able to bring another 1st Aid Attendant with him.

Only a few races in, and they’ve had to come and check on a couple of the kids who fell. No serious injuries, more just precautions. And of course my wife needed a bandaid. Sharpening the skates can be dangerous when you’re not careful!

In the end, it’s amazing how a small community comes together in order to support these kids and teenagers in a sport that they love. I am proud that our son wants to achieve his goal of making it further in the sport.

There are numerous kids and parents from the variety of clubs who also want the best for all of the children. Even though these are competitions, there is a comradery between us all. Positive encouragement is given to every skater. That brings me joy.

Mug Shots

Like most folks, we have an assortment of coffee mugs in our cupboard. They often appear as gifts based on whatever the recipients fancy. From Owls to Lego, to mugs that come free with a bottle of booze- these become personalized favorites of us all. But my wife and I are cheesy. We have a collection of matching mugs.

It started years ago with a couple of horoscope ones from the dollar store. But it soon branched off into ones that defined who we really were.

My wife dominated over me by absconding the “Player 1” mug leaving me to be the Luigi to her Mario. Always second to none, but she’s my number one.

I am particularly fond of our first set of Disneyland mugs. Simple art of the classic characters that defined cartoons My wife is the Minnie to my Mickey.

Soon after we picked up another set of mugs. She is the elegant Eve to my clunky love struck Wall-E. But wait, there’s more…

A couple of years later she became my Belle. That’s right, we really are that cheesy. Even our kids began to get in on the fun.

Of course Disneyland plays on the memories and heartstrings of everyone who enters their gates. The store shelves are lined with trinkets and mugs that need to be brought home. Every one of our morning coffees is in matching mugs. And no one else is permitted to use them.

Do you have a favorite coffee cup?

Are you as cheesy as we are?

Let me know in the comments.

My Turkey Helper

On Saturday I had two of our children help with baking: Saturday Baking with My Kids. Yesterday I had our middle child help with our turkey dinner.

We had a lot of fun preparing the bird. I love teaching my children the art of cooking. Giving explanations to the “hows” and “whys” when cooking is always important. From temperatures to spices- it’s all important.

Once the bird had been cooking for a few hours, it was back to making the side dishes. Vegetables and mashed potatoes were about to be prepared. Our daughter thought her helping out was over after the bird so she had gotten changed into some nicer clothes. Little did she know that making a feast takes a lot of effort! But she willingly assisted.

Our dinner turned out delicious. We now have plenty of leftovers to last the week. From soup to sandwiches- we will be eating turkey leftovers until we are sick of them. Much like everyone else who is celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend.

So enjoy your meals with family and friends. Don’t let the Tryptophan knock you down. I’m ready for a nap just writing about it.