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?

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.

Getting Baked!

It’s December- that means baking season is upon us!

Yesterday we had breakfast for dinner. My wife whipped together cinnamon roll pancake batter and a cream cheese icing. I cooked them up in our snowflake shaped frying pan. A perfect look and taste to get us sweetened for our next few rounds of baking.

This morning, my wife and I just finished our Costco run. That means we have five dozen eggs, an abundance of sugar, flour, chocolate chips, cocoa powder, and everything else we could possibly need to get started. Now to look at our list, check it twice and find out which cookies are tasty and nice! I cannot wait to fill our Christmas cookie jars and tins.

Are you baking for this holiday season? Any favorite recipes you am have? Please share them with me. I love to bake!

2020 Wrapped

Spotify released their regular update of what you have been listening to for the year. Since this was my first year of using Spotify- it was interesting to see what my style was.

Even though I knew my choice in music is eclectic- having it backed up with evidence proves my musical taste is odd.

I knew before this Spotify list came out what my number one song was. “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” is a great dance/disco/pop style of song. It ended up being one of my top five songs of the summer.

Even though that song was my number one song, I ended up having Gorillaz as my number one artist. I was also the top 1% of their listeners this year. One of my favorite songs was inductive of the feelings of coping through 2020:

Humility

“Calling the world from isolation
‘Cause right now, that’s the ball where we be chained
And if you’re coming back to find me
You’d better have good aim
Shoot it true
I need you in the picture
That’s why I’m calling you (calling you)”

Watch the video here: Humility on YouTube. It’s a great song with vibrancy throughout. It also made me miss our yearly trip to California. Soon this Covid life will be in the past. But in the meantime, I’m going to see if I can keep enjoying 500 or more genres well into the next year.

What was your 2020 Wrapped? Share your playlist in the comments- I’d love to hear what you hear.

Hudsucker Proxy

Sometimes in my blog I like to share films that I enjoy. I don’t do any write ups or dissection of the films. Just that I enjoy them and why. Today I am writing about a favorite of mine that I really enjoy watching in the winter. That’s because most of the film is set around New Year’s and the idea of new beginnings.

The Hudsucker Proxy is set in the early 20th century. It has some of the best cinematography I’ve ever enjoyed. The sets are Art Deco, the timeline is flawless, the jokes are quick and perfectly timed. What’s not to love about the film?

The simplicity of the underlying story and the characters that drive the film make it relatable and a joy to be a part of. I enjoyed the film so much, I made a Cosplay of the lead character a few years back. It was such an obscure costume, that when I wore it to three different comic conventions- maybe ten people understood it.

If you haven’t seen the film, please check it out this season. It is a great movie by the Coen Brothers. Check out one of my favorite scenes on YouTube: Hula Hoop.

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?

Music For November

Halloween is over, so no more spooky music playing in my home. A few years ago I began playing Christmas Music at the start of November. This year my wife has asked me not to.

So what do I play in the mean time? Should I put on Guns N’ Roses “November Rain” on repeat? I have no problem playing that song for hours on end. Pretty sure my family would think it is some sort of torture by the fourth or fifth time it starts. I could always play Disco.

I’m not sure why, but my family despises my disco music. I’m always up for a bit of dancing around the house to some classic 70’s beats. “Disco is not dead! Disco is life!

Or I can just put on some calming Chamber music. I love classical music as an ambience for our home. Considering we do call it Castle Havelka.

I’ll still be sneaking some Christmas music in soon in hopes that the family doesn’t notice. Maybe Christmas Disco or Christmas Chamber Music…

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.

Forgotten Songs of My Teenage Years

This morning I spent a considerable amount of time putting together an eclectic playlist on Spotify. Find it Here. Creating this playlist sent me down a rabbit hole of nostalgia.

Many of the songs remind me of old friendships and fun times. Driving around town, sitting in my bedroom, even hanging out in class, buying albums through Columbia House, and overplayed songs on repeat. Using one headphone as you shared with a friend of the opposite sex and not hearing the stereo sound. But willing to sacrifice that for a chance to sit closer.

I still have many of my cds. But they are stored away in a steamer trunk as I don’t have a way to play them except in my car. And even then- using Bluetooth to play different playlists is the new normal. So much more convenient than the large booklets of cds we once carried around.

Enjoy the musical trip down my memory lane. A couple songs are NSFW but fun nonetheless.

Edit: An old friend asked to make this “Collaborative”. Anyone who knew me from my teenage years and can think of a song that reminds them of me- add away!

Victoria: Day 3- Walking

We started our final day in Victoria by walking around Canada’s oldest Chinatown. There were the typical shops filled with cheap knickknacks. It was most fun to just squeeze down the narrow alleyways and admire the brickwork of the buildings.

We tooled around the tourist part of downtown Victoria and stopped in at a bookstore followed by a macaron shoppe. Both places were greeted by our kids with enthusiasm.

On our drive back to the ferry terminal- we stopped at The Butchart Gardens. I always wanted to visit this place, but never made the time to do so. Unfortunately, because it is autumn- the garden was rather lackluster. I’m sure it is far more vibrant and lovely in the spring and summer when the rose garden is in full bloom.

I did enjoy walking through the Japanese Garden and the Italian Garden. The time of year was good for the fact that it wasn’t crowded. Perhaps one day I shall see it in the spring time. But it has taken me until ages 44 to go my first time, so there may not be a second time. Especially since there is so much more of the world to explore.

At the end of the day we got lucky and made it on a ferry an hour earlier than planned. All of our walking had made us very tired, so that hour made all the difference in our trip. I do look forward to visiting Victoria once again some day. I have always enjoyed traveling there.

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.

Toy Action

My son decided that today he would take some action shots of his Star Wars toys and Lego Star Wars toys.

He set up numerous shots. He also worked in a bunch of techniques that made the toys look like they were truly telling a story. Here is a collection of a few of his favorite pictures:

He was having a great time while doing this. These images he took are fun. He plans on editing these, plus some of the others with a variety of filters. I can’t wait to see what else he comes up with.

Spooky Season

Every year I get excited for Halloween. We’ve already begun decorating the front of our home. We have a few more items to set up inside our home at the start of October- in order to really get into the festive mood.

Last year’s Skesis costume is this year’s decoration.

However, this year I don’t have a costume idea. It’ll probably be some last minute idea or I’ll just wear a previous year’s outfit. Even though I now have a 3D printer and can step up my Cosplay game- I don’t feel like I have the time to get something built. Last year took me a couple of months to make. Besides, my printer is working non-stop lately and I’m already beginning to run out of filament!

Pumpkin from 2018. Took three hours to complete.

While I wait for more plastic to arrive, I will be trying to find a pumpkin carving idea. The kids are excited about carving pumpkins again this year. That’ll be another arduous task for me. I have a passion when it comes to carving pumpkins. Having spent up to 8 hours to get one done only to have it rot a few weeks later- it sees crazy to do them. But I’m getting faster, so I can also help out my teens with their carvings. I’m passing the crazy on to them.

When do you start getting ready for Halloween? What is your costume this year?

Let me know in the comments.

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.

More Trains?

It was only a couple of days ago that I wrote about being a Foamer. It just so happens that we ended up having another unique Diesel engine arrive in our yard.

The paint scheme may not have been as exciting as the one from Central Maine & Quebec. But just for fun, I had one of our crews add the two of them together. Within a couple of days we will be sending the engines on their way. We would interchange them off to CP Rail for their crews to use.

When I first started at CN Rail, I had no idea how often the railroads interchanged engines with one another. Besides the two I most recently wrote about, I’ve been on engines from CN, CP, BNSF and SRY.. as well as a few others that only railroaders would be able to identify as from a foreign railroad.

It’s kind of fun to play with trains. Like being a kid again and just toying around on a much grander scale.

A Day Devoted To My Teens

I spent the morning going for a drive with my oldest to her new school. It was a chance for her to practice driving on the freeway without much traffic. It also gave her an opportunity to figure out a course/the time and the distance for her commute. We had some good bonding time together.

Then we hit up IKEA to pick up a new desk for my son. He built his IKEA desk with my help. We laid out his room in a more functional manner. He wanted to change up his room to be more “teenage boy” instead of Star Wars themed. I told home we can paint the furniture black, but I had worked hard on the walls and refuse to paint over them. So he is stuck with just removing a few decals and living in a grey bedroom.

That meant giving the bunk beds to his 16 year old sister so she could put her stuffies on display. My wife discovered some bins in our son’s closet that had old costumes and toys from the much younger years. Our middle decided to wear one of them. She is becoming one with the toys…

It was a long day of growing up and pursuing the inevitable changes. But also a good chance to reflect and have some fun.

3D Printer Part 3: Wanting More

My list of possible 3D builds keeps growing. My family and a few friends have some requests that I plan on making. I also plan to do some 3D prints for donating to people’s betterment.

For me- I mostly want to do movie prop replicas. There’s something profound about building and owning a piece from a film. To me it feels as if I am a part of something bigger.

It also hits the nostalgia feels. I mean, honestly- who wouldn’t want a Proton Pack to fight ghosts back in the 80’s? Or open a can of shaving cream to find dinosaur embryos? Or find out who really shot first when you hold a Han Solo blaster?

I worry that it’ll be a rabbit hole of unfinished projects and a desire to own bigger and better printers. From the forums I am on, it seems that is the way of the 3D modeler. I have already been obsessing about getting another print going. I just need to wait for my spools of plastic to arrive.

I always love creating and making things to display and show off for fun. I shall accept my fate for my new found hobby. I only hope my wife and family also accept this burden I have bestowed upon myself.

You have been warned! When I obsess about something, I beat it into the ground. Just like a new song that I like. It falls into repeat for weeks on end. Or perhaps this will be similar to my love of disco. A variety of fun dance moves and love songs.

Most Liked

Facebook loves to share “Memories” when I log in. I’m sure many of you see yours as well (if you still use Facebook). Sometimes I love seeing the old photos or bizarre status updates I once did. I can’t even remember the last status update I did… I also removed all friends a year and a half ago, so no point to update into thin air…

Today Facebook shared with me- my most “Liked” photo of the year 2009. It’s a cute picture of the time my children made a train out of cardboard boxes for me. Having deleted 400+ friends, how many “LIKES” would you say this picture received? 200? 100? 50?

FIVE.

My most “LIKED” photo of 2009 had FIVE likes. For the entire year of 2009. One of which was my wife. I’m not saying this is the greatest photo ever of 2009. But for a person who had a few hundred “Facebook Friends” you’d think that I could get a higher number on any of my photos.

In the end though, looking for satisfaction through other people’s opinions doesn’t equate for the sheer happiness that this photo brought to me personally. My joy isn’t measured in numbers from other people clicking a thumbs up for me.

Its part of the reason I don’t try and sell myself or this blog. Sharing personal stories is for my mental well being. And in the end- that matters most.

Feel free to like and share today’s blog.

Fire And Bubbles At Sunset

Our last evening at the campground was relaxing and filled with silliness. We watched the sunset over the mountains and the sky turning pink. I started a fire in the fire pit with the help of my son and we sat at the beach listening to some Queen.

My wife and daughter began playing with bubbles between our fire and the water. The sheer amount of joy they were having astounded me. They kept it up until it got dark and had run out of bubbles. We all enjoyed our final evening together.

Of course we also had our last bite of campfire S’mores for the summer. Another nice way to end the trip.

Playing Around

Camping is filled with loads of keeping ourselves active. We have been spending most of our time at the beach and in the water. Flying a drone, tubing, kayaking, fishing, playing cards, and cooking over a campfire. These are what makes the experiences more and more enjoyable.

Plus we have limited cellular service. So we are using our phones to take pictures and listen to music. I sneak off to a little island by kayak in order to get 2 bars of service in order to blog each day.

Priorities, am I right?

Half A Day of Rain?

We arrived at our campsite mid afternoon and set up our home away from home. Then we enjoyed the evening by the water and fire.

The next morning at 4:30 it decided to rain. That lasted until about 10am. The weatherman was wrong about a week of sunshine. But the day became comfortable and we hit the water for some kayaking to the nearby island.

Good first day considering the unexpected rain.

Twenty Mile Bay 2020

This is our fifth year of going to Twenty Mile Bay to enjoy some camping at the end of August.

First off, the weather looks like it will be in our favor. Should be a comfortable week ahead with loads of sunshine. Honestly, we have been lucky every year we go. Not once has it rained. We did have one year of gusty winds- where our tent was trying to eat us. But it made for good kite flying.

The part I do not like is driving the logging road to the site. We drive about 45 minutes on nicely paved roads doing the speed limit. Then we have to drive about another 45 minutes navigating a rough path going up and down the mountain. With many parts only able to get one vehicle by at a time.

At least the check out time for the campsite is a few hours before the check in time. This means you rarely have oncoming traffic to negotiate around. Plus I like getting there at check in time to set up and start enjoying the trip.

Stay posted for lots of pictures coming soon!

Temporary…?

Yesterday I posted on Instagram about a sleeve tattoo. It got many responses and I received a few text messages from friends about it.

Many did not read my tags underneath about the tattoo being fake. Not my intent, but humorous nonetheless.

I was given the temporary tattoo by a coworker a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was a neat opportunity to see if I like the idea of a sleeve tattoo. For the next few days I’ll see what I think, and see what my family thinks as well.

The only tattoo I do have is from 2008 for my 32 birthday. A double helix with a dragon head and my children’s names in the ribbon. It’s a perfect mix of my atheist beliefs and fantasy. I always loved dragons. And with children named Random, Darwin and Theory- the DNA strand was a perfect tattoo choice for me.

Twelve years later, and I’ve been thinking about getting more art on my body. Even though the sleeve tattoo looks authentic, it is sadly temporary. It’s hard to justify spending that kind of money for art though. Especially if it’s just for me.

But the temporary tattoo is growing on me. I like the idea of putting more artwork on my body. It’s a good expression of oneself, and I love seeing talented tattoo artists spreading the joy. Maybe on my 50th birthday I will have another tattoo planned out.

Vacation Feels

It’s nearing the end of summer. It’s the final push to enjoy ourselves. I am also starting eleven days of vacation. That means time away from work, which is great to recharge the mental batteries. Even though we may not be traveling to a favorite destination.

We are still planning on having a good time as a family. Tonight we made smoked turkey legs and watched some “Disney Park Blogs” YouTube videos during dinner.

Of course we all wore our Mouse Ears! Because who knows when the next time we will be attending a Disney Park again… But the feels needed to come out. The ears brought forth joy, laughter and memories.

I’m ready to have a great time with my family during staycation. British Columbia is the next best place to be next to Disneyland! Especially if you get to share moments with loved ones.