21st Night of September

Today is one of my favorite days. It’s all because of the song “September” by Earth, Wind and Fire. This song is one of those songs that you just know. It is catchy and fun to sing. Do you remember?

It all started back in my days as a manager at Chuck E Cheese’s. The video screen would play Chuck E and his cohorts singing the song. All the while the animatronic Chuck E would sing alongside them. These videos were on loop for a month at a time playing again every few hours. The songs would get droned into your head and the staff would sing along unknowingly. Here’s a link to the C.E.C. Video: CEC September

The other reason I love this song is that my wife’s current coworkers love to “Rickroll” her with it. Every so often they will play the song for her. My wife lights up with joy when she hears it. (Hashtag sarcasm) For her, it is one of those ear worms that she cannot get rid of for ages.

Here is a link to the original video just in case you haven’t seen it before: September. Enjoy your 21st night of September! Ah ee ah!

When To Decorate For Halloween?

It’s September now, and I know summer isn’t officially over until nightfall on September 21. The next day is the first day of Autumn. So my question is, when is it okay to decorate for Halloween?

I enjoy decorating for Autumn and Winter. I also love Halloween and Christmas. To me, each of them is a separate entity. So a few changes occur as we transition from one to the next. I’m pretty sure that next weekend I will be jumping the gun and start putting out our Fall decorations.

I’m not quite ready to tackle Halloween yet. I was at Home Depot the other day and saw these 12 foot skeletons that light up. Spending 400-500 dollars on one seems very extravagant. Even though these are cool and make for a wow factor in a home- whatever happened to some styrofoam tombstones and cobwebs?

Don’t get me wrong, I love Halloween. I just prefer to make my own costumes and props. I have been known to put in a bit more effort some years. I especially love pumpkin carving. But I do feel that I should wait until October 1st before really hitting the haunted factor.

A few fake pumpkins, and some brown and red leaves will be the extent of my decorations for now. Perhaps I shall wait and see what our new neighborhood does for the season. Nah. I’ll still do what I want. Perhaps we will go big this year!

Lack of Kayak

This summer we have been having a great experience in the water. In fact, I’d say 90% of our summer days were spent in the water. However, that water has been just our swimming pool.

I’m not complaining. I love our backyard. All the relaxation, the floating, the serenity- it’s exactly what I needed in my life. However, my wife wished we hit the water elsewhere at least once this summer. Our kayaks have been neglected since moving into our new home.

I have three weeks left of summer to try and get out with our little boats just to say we did kayak this summer. My hope is that the weather holds up for the days off that my wife and I have together. Or perhaps a later afternoon/ early evening paddle will occur after work.

If all else fails, I’ll toss the kayak in the pool and make the best of both worlds and just go back and forth. That’s the same, right?

2021 Camping Trip Canceled

Last Summer’s “Feet in the Lake” picture.

For the past five years we have made it to 20 Mile Bay to end our summer vacation. This year we did not. There were three main factors in why we didn’t go camping this summer.

First, Theory was supposed to attend a Long Track Speed Skating Camp in Fort St. John. However it got canceled at the last minute due to an issue with their ice. As disappointing as that was, it was kind of a blessing because of the difficulty my wife would’ve had driving there. Which brings me to the number two reason for not camping.

Too many forest fires. The campsite we attend has not been closed down, but many routes and other locations have been. Which means it would be busier than we normally like. There is also a full campfire ban in effect. Which makes camping feel different. The air is still very smokey in many parts of our province, having a compromised respiratory system makes for difficult breathing as it is.

Finally, the main reason we aren’t going camping is our new house. I had to change a week of vacation in order to move. We had talked about taking a shorter three day camping trip; but decided that our home is new and exciting to us that it was time better spent enjoying this newness. I still get to put my feet in the water, almost daily this summer. That’s been a lot of fun, so I really cannot complain. Like living in an Airbnb every day.

Perhaps next summer we can get out to camping once more. Or perhaps it is behind us now. Only time will tell.

Super Soft Stag

Last night I attended a stag party for a friend of mine named Jay. It was pretty tame but a whole lot of fun.

We started off at a place called The Barley Merchant. Here we were able to sample a variety of beers since there were fifty different ones on tap. Many from local breweries. We also had some appetizers and joked around quite a bit.

After a couple of hours tasting beers, we headed out for one of Jay’s favorite pastimes- karaoke. I will admit, this group of friends love singing and are quite talented. I enjoy cheering them on, since I don’t tend to get behind the microphone myself.

In a couple of weeks time Jay and Leona will be getting married. I’m really happy for them and look forward to seeing them tie the knot. They are a good match for each other.

The Vault

Yesterday we spent the afternoon and evening with a couple of friends. All of our kids were off doing their own thing, so my wife and I had a night to ourselves. First was hanging out at our place for a drink and appetizers.

Costco is great for finding quick and easy foods to share. I made some mini wontons and potato skins for us to share. Hanging out in the kitchen is always a great way to converse. Having a large kitchen island made it even better.

Afterwards we headed to a local establishment called “The Vault Restaurant”. It’s been around for ages and was built in an old bank. Kind of a steampunk/industrial feel inside. The food was great and the company was entertaining. It was ridiculously fun.

It’s been a while since my wife and I headed out for a night with friends. I’m glad we did as it turned into a fantastic evening. Date nights are becoming somewhat more frequent now that our kids are teenagers. It means my wife and I can get to know one another again. For that, I am grateful.

Clam Chowder In A Bread Bowl

My wife thinks that she must be missing Disneyland. Mostly the memories that the food brings back. She made churro cookies the other day- which are delicious! Last night for dinner we had clam chowder in bread bowls. Just like the ones we ate from Harbour Galley at New Orleans Square in Disneyland.

My wife has been playing with bread recipes for a few weeks now. These bread bowls were perfect. We have a “Proofing” option in our new oven, so the bread is rising nicely each and every time. The clam chowder was also made from scratch. My wife is superb when it comes to chowders and goulashes.

I just wonder what our next Disneyland themed treat will be. Perhaps beignets like the ones we at in Downtown Disneyland from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen. She could find us some smoked Turkey legs. Or maybe a Dole Whip or even a Margarita like we had at Rita’s Baja Blenders. Who knows what my wife’s tastes will bring for for the rest of us.

But my tastebuds have been pleasantly surprised thus far.

Mighty Neighborly

We had a great evening hanging out with our tenants. It was the first time we really got to know them. Considering we bought the house from them, it was about time to hang out.

They told us plenty about the neighborhood and the house. We learned a lot. It was good to get an insight from them considering that they were here since the place was built.

We had a good time relaxing in the backyard. I look forward to more time with them.

Central City Fun Park

My daughter and I had another “Daddy/Darwin Day” today. It started with her getting some driving practice in. We headed to our old neighborhood to drop my son off at a friend’s house. After that she drove to do some grocery shopping with me. We did a pit stop at home and then went out for some more quality time.

We went to a place called her in Surrey that hasn’t been open for very long- Central City Fun Park. Essentially it is a superior Chuck E. Cheese’s. There was pizza, video games, skill games, and prizes. But what made it better than CEC was the mini golf, bowling, vr, and the roller rink. We went there to see if there was DDR (Dance Dance Revolution) and roller skating.

We found a similar game to DDR and did our best to play. Let me tell you- my foot/eye coordination is abysmal. Unfortunately there was an injury in the roller rink, so skating was unavailable. We decided to try the 9 hole mini golf, which was okay, but we really wanted to skate.

After playing the arcade games (Star Wars was fun!) we had a battle of air hockey (tie game) and some other skill games to earn tickets. My daughter decided to keep the tickets and hopefully earn more in the future for a better prize. 287 tickets doesn’t get you much.

It was a good day followed by a fun afternoon of quality time. Next time we better get some roller skating in!

Simple Breakfasts

In this day and age people love to share photos of their meals. I am not ashamed to say, but I have also done this (and still do on occasion). Even though restaurants or homemade meals can look and taste amazing, sometimes it’s the simple foods that can also spark joy.

Today I was looking forward to having a bowl of yogurt with granola and fresh blueberries. This meal brings back a various flood of memories for me. The first time I had granola for breakfast I was about fifteen. I had gone with a friend and his family up to the Okanagan to pick apples for a week. I fell in love with this sweet, yet healthy snack. Later in life- my wife and I spent our two day honeymoon at a bed and breakfast in Harrison Hot Springs. That was where I had yogurt, granola and fresh fruit served to me. It seemed elegant and heartwarming at the same time. A true B+B experience.

Yesterday I had buttered toast with marmalade. Again, simple and tasty. This is a meal I have maybe once every couple of years. That’s because I don’t find it overly filling. So if I want a light breakfast- toast is it. To me, orange marmalade is a special treat for on top. I first had marmalade when I was four years old. It was on my first trip to Scotland. I thought it was a big deal to eat this in a foreign country.

At my grandparents house in Scotland, they had 3 channels on the television back in 1980. Paddington Bear (the 1976 BBC series) was on every morning. He ate marmalade. My mother made it a big deal that she could get me some marmalade if I wanted too. To be four years old and eating the food that a funny little bear was eating during his daily adventures- was like a dream come true. I’ll always associate marmalade with that bear and those memories of my youth.

Simple foods can bring forth a flurry of beautiful memories. Do you associate breakfast food with a fond memory?

Dino Mountain

There are plenty of paths in our neighborhood. Some lead around the houses, other paths lead through trees and parks. One of the paths has been filled with toys and art. It is titled “Dino Mountain” and was created in 2017.

There are little plastic dinosaurs near a large rock. My daughter will often straighten the ones that have toppled over and sometimes set up little scenes. I think it’s a fantastic way to encourage children to go on walks. It’s neat that the City of Surrey has also left it for the neighborhood to enjoy.

Today, we added our own touch to the Mountain.

Back in 1994 I was given some promotional material from a video store for the release of Jurassic Park. I have put them on display in all of our houses. Because I love the film so much, it was time to give back to the world and share some fun. I took the cardboard signage and taped it up in hopes that it survives the elements. Off to the trail we went and put them up for others to enjoy.

So if you’re in my neighborhood and go for a walk passing Dino Mountain- make sure you keep an eye out for Dinosaurs Crossings the path.

Celebrity Fun

Over the years I have met numerous celebrities. That is mainly due to me being a Convention Carny. I’ve even had quite a few interactions with celebrities online as well. Most recently was my all time favorite- Elvira.

I had the luxury of meeting Cassandra Peterson in person in Vancouver followed by a few weeks later in Los Angeles. She was so nice to my daughter and I. I learned that her sense of humor is raunchy and fun, so a random comment on Instagram made me happy that she responded. Oh yeah, 13 year old me still has the hots for her.

The fact that Pee-Wee Herman and Elvira are close friends makes me happy as well. A few years ago, Mr. Herman liked a comment of mine on Facebook. I’ve dressed as PW for Halloween and acted the part as well.

But my favorite set of celebrity friends is Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton. I’ve had the opportunity to met them both a couple times at various conventions and even played a board game with Felicia Day.

Celebrities are like regular people running a business. The interactions they have with the public is akin to promoting a product. That product being their status in the media world. It’s fun and neat when they communicate indirectly with you. A moment of connection occurs.

Have you had any good interactions with celebrities? Or even any bad ones? Let me know in the comments. I’m off to continue being an influencer now… to my family.

Ha! 19 Now…

Our oldest child turned 19 today. That means she is legal drinking age and can have alcohol without trying to sneak it. On my 19th birthday I went to the club and got completely loaded with a coworker who was five years older than me. I was a disaster. Our daughter on the other hand? Well she chose something different.

She doesn’t want alcohol. It’s never interested her. Instead she wanted to have a day at work followed by an at home family dinner and some ice cream cake. Totally doable and within our means!

I’m really impressed by how much more mature she is than I ever was when it comes to partying. But we still had a lot of fun at dinner. We were listening to a playlist that her sister cream Spotify, took some silly photos and cut the ice cream cake in the worst possible ways. Laughter filled the atmosphere.

It was exactly what she wanted. Why not give a person what they ask for on their birthday? No unwanted surprises. Just a casual night at home with family. In the end it was more a gift for the rest of us than for her. She even arrived home in great spirits!

Happy 19th Birthday Random! May you always be the responsible adult you have proven to be on your first day of adulthood!

Summer Tradition- Fish and Chips in White Rock

Tonight was the perfect night to go out for dinner with the family. It was also the perfect evening to eat outside and stare at the water.

Every summer we go to Crescent Beach and get ourselves deep fried cod and chips. Then off to find a log or some rocks to sit at to enjoy our dinner. This year we tried a new fish and chips location. We were not disappointed!

While we waited for the fish to cool down a bit, the family posed for a picture at the beach. After several retakes and arguing, I got a sort of okay photo of us. You’d think that after all of these years my kids would just cooperate willingly. I mean, honestly- how hard is it to give a smile to your poor old dad?

After dinner, we strolled along the beach looking at houses and the fun seaside artwork that the town has. I’m happy that we are only about a twenty minute drive to Crescent Beach. I’m hoping to go kayaking some more like we did last year- read about it White Rock Kayaking.

This summer could go on forever. I’m enjoying every minute of it. Even the arguing about posing for a picture. That’s quality family time!

Vintage Love

I am a huge fan of all things retro and vintage. Sure, I still like my modern amenities and won’t give those up any time soon. But there are some things that just bring me joy and are unique in many aspects.

I do like when old mixes with new. I picked up a couple of Panasonic noise canceling headphones with Bluetooth capabilities. I love the look of these headphones and how they remind me of elementary school libraries. That “station” where you could listen to an audio book or watch those short little filmstrip projectors. Those headphones were indestructible. I’m hoping these new ones are equally as awesome.

But the greatest thing we got as a housewarming gift came from my in-laws. They gave us six new towels for our use in our pool. The towels are fluffy and the color scheme screams 1970’s. What’s even better? The towels are from SEARS. So either my in-laws had these in storage, or somewhere out there is a Sears that is still in business. No matter what the case, I love these towels.

Do you like vintage and retro style? What makes you think it is vintage? Let me know in the comments.

Twenty Year Celebration

Yesterday we had some close friends over for an evening of hanging poolside. I love to entertain, and our anniversary was a great reason to have friends over.

We supplied our guests with food and drinks. There were bottles of wine chilling on ice for everyone’s pleasure. I had also printed off some custom labels for the water bottles. I made sure to keep everyone hydrated as we hung out in the sunshine.

Most of the evening I spent wandering around and socializing with everyone. At one point in the evening my buddies and I took a “Bro Pic”. We had done the same thing years ago at a brewery. It was the only picture i know of that was taken all day.

That’s a good thing. It means everyone was having fun and distracted from their phones. My wife and I are lucky to have such great friends that we have known for years. Even better is the fact that they mesh well with one another.

A hearty thank you to everyone for coming over and having fun yesterday. We look forward to having our friends over more often now that we are settled into our new home.

25 Years of ID4

Every year on the Fourth of July we watch the movie “Independence Day”. It’s a tradition that I have kept up since I can remember. I first shared our story five years ago: ID4. My wife and kids all look forward to it each year. I can’t believe the film is a quarter century old now.

This is a great sci-fi film which borders on impossible at times. The characters and interactions more than make up for the fluff that this movie has to offer. Heck, after 25 years a lot has changed. Even the US Military has sort of, partially, kind of told the world that there is such things as ufos.

As American as A.L.F.

I have always wanted to believe that there is life out there. Hopefully it isn’t as mean as the aliens are in this film. Perhaps as a race we can come together and accept diversity as a way of life. Only then do I think we will meet alien life forms. Hopefully they are also not like A.L.F.

Happy July 4th to our American Cousins!

Floaties

Having a pool means having friends over. It also means having FLOATIES to enjoy.

We bought some lounging inflatables before we moved in. You know, just because… I love the fact that everyone enjoys them all. Some are tubes with an animal head attached (the duck and flamingo). Others are just silly fun, like the llama and narwhal. I love the crazy fun we have with each one.

The narwhal is ridiculously difficult to ride. So it has become a game amongst everyone to see how long they last. Kind of like a mechanical bull. I’m the winner so far, but I’ve also had a lot of practice.

I think next summer we will try and get a bunch more floaties in order to fill the pool. It’s been so much fun this year, why not double it next year?

Lego Bonsai

Today we went shopping for some summer clothes. We also went to a couple of stores just because we were at the mall. One of those stores happened to be The Lego Store. I totally did a spontaneous purchase of a Lego set.

The Lego Bonsai Tree.

We got it home and decided to put it together as a family. This is the first set we have built in the new house. It’s also been years since we last tried to build a set together. The Lego Spaceship from The Lego Movie was an ordeal and a half one Christmas! We were lucky to not repeat that fiasco.

But we were able to work together and got it completed rather quickly. We even had a spot all picked out at the bottom of our stairs for it to hang out. I think it looks really neat.

As well, when spring comes around, we can change the bonsai tree into a Sakura tree.

Theory Is Fifteen

Our son is turning fifteen today. I can’t believe how the time is flying by over these past years. He is the youngest of our children, so these birthdays hit a bit differently. Each one of his birthdays and achievements is a reminder that there won’t be any more to come.

Alright, I’m not going to get all teary eyed. Instead I want to say that Theory is a great kid. He has always been a fantastic son who loves to share his passions with me. We talk a lot about every subject imaginable. I have a relationship with him that is far superior than the one I had with my father. It shows in the fact that our son wants me to be a part of his world all the time. Two years ago was completely Devoted to him.

Usually he is a mama’s boy. My wife still thinks of him as the baby of the family. He definitely gets the majority of hugs from mom compared to the rest of us.

He also has a great relationship with his sisters. Yesterday he hung out with his eldest sister as she iced his birthday cake. They laughed and goofed off for about four hours in the kitchen. He also has a ton of fun with his other sister as they hang out and share jokes.

Today we had a sugar induced brunch as requested by Theory. Waffles, hashbrowns, maple bacon, whipped cream, syrup, and a three layer cake. Part way through the meal our kids decided to play frisbee in the backyard to burn off some of the sugar rush. I just sat there vibrating from the sugar.

As much as I want to write so much more about him, I have already shared stories of Theory in the past. I’d like to summarize by saying that Theory is always the type of kid who puts everyone else first. His kindness is the greatest gift ever. I wish for him to continue on that pathway throughout his life.

Happy Birthday once more Theory! You are the best son a dad could hope for.

I Married A Great Mother

I have been lucky enough to have married my best friend. She has been nothing short of supportive and loving. Our kids have been even more lucky with having such a great mom to look after them all these years.

Mother’s Day 2012

In the past our kids have brought their mom breakfast in bed, made special artwork, and generally given as much love as possible for little kids to muster up. Now as they are all teenagers, I have tried to allow them to make their own decisions on what to do for their mother. Obviously a few reminders over the past couple weeks of today’s special person were dropped. Since I’ll be at work all day, I’ll have to wait and see how they did when I get home.

I’m hoping that they give her the love and attention she deserves today. I’m pretty sure the kids won’t muck this up, they love their mom a lot. I know that there are moments that my wife would like some time to herself. She will get some of that alone time starting next month when she can enjoy a quiet bath or a book by the fire. After almost nineteen years of being an on-the-go parent, she will deserve the relaxation.

Happy Mother’s Day Lee-Anne!

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.

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.

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.