March On

I cannot believe that we are in March of 2021 already. It feels like only yesterday that lockdowns began. But it’s been over a year. Here we are heading towards spring the following year… when is this pandemic going to end?

The “New Normal” is now the normal. Wear a mask, wash your hands ♾ times a day, keep your distance, no large crowds… For the most part, we are all accepting of these new rituals. I have become more accustomed to hand sanitizing than I ever thought I’d be.

Of course this has also made us buggy and stir crazy. (Since when did Sea Shanties become popular?) In the end we have discovered what is important to us. Walks in nature, making video calls to family and friends, learning new skills like baking or painting- all part of the “New Normal”.

As a society, we have been able to March On. That makes us resilient. Let’s keep up the positivity as we head towards a healthy tomorrow.

Three Day Work Week Stress

Hooray for the upcoming four day weekend!

With everything that is going on this month- it is nice to realize that I only have a three day work week. Even better is the fact that I have only one more shift to go. What’s been really good is that work has been comforting in the fact that the stresses there are manageable.

I’m not liking the house selling/buying stresses. About twenty years ago when my wife and I did a “Pre-Marriage Course”. It was part of the agreement we made with the pastor in order for her to marry us. The course was over a weekend and delved into a lot of subjects related to marriage. The one I recall the most was how to Tri-fold a towel. The other was about the different stresses in our lives. (Folding towels isn’t one of them… unless you make it one).

The top stressors after death and marriage was having children and moving. I’m happy to report that divorce hasn’t happened and death in the family has been at the wayside since just before we married. Children are an ongoing stress. But moving has happened only twice since my wife and I met 21 years ago. I guess it was about time to add that stress in our lives.

So as nice as it is that I have a three day work week, it just means that I will be able to focus my free time at home stressed out. No real avenue to relieve that stress either. I’ll probably just end up gathering more junk together and get it ready for pick up. I’m also going to try going for a walk each day to clear my head. I just need to stay active and not dive too far into my own thoughts.

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.

Weather or Not

The past week’s weather has been bonkers here in the Lower Mainland. We experienced a Polar Vortex just days ago. We even had to dig out the winter parkas just to get from the front door to the car.

This afternoon I was out in my yard with a hoodie and jeans playing with the dog.

The sun and mild weather is a welcomed change. The sunshine brought my spirits up. Even our yard was looking a bit more vibrant than usual. I watched the neighbors wandering around the streets- all of whom seemed to have a pep in their step.

I like that we received a brief taste of spring already. Some of our plants are starting to bud. Now if only the little bits of snow would vanish, I’d be really happy.

I Forgot To Take Pictures- But It Happened

Today my wife and I had a lunch date at The Trading Post in Fort Langley. It was a double date with some coworkers of mine. We went to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the brewery. There was live music and good food. Pics or it didn’t happen.

I took one photo. It was as I waited outside the eatery before anyone met up with me. My wife was waiting in the car to keep warm prior to the opening. Our friends were only a couple minutes behind us. I was first in line. Just like my other years of attending their anniversaries.

We had a great time talking and eating. So much so that I didn’t take any photos. We just all lived in the moment. No sharing of life on social media. Lots of good laughs and intimate personal conversations. It was good to share in person.

So no photos. But it did happen. I’m glad it did- my wife and I needed a break from this week. A mental health break of sorts. It felt good.

Weight Loss?

I’ve never been one to push weight loss on anyone. The human race comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I myself am a tall, lanky fella. up until almost six months ago I also drank heavily. Deep fried foods are still a favorite of mine, but I’m also trying to eat somewhat better.

For years I enjoyed taking in a craft beer or six on my days off. I wasn’t exercising or eating very healthy either. My body was not very happy with me. It started to give up and went with it. This tall skinny guy had begun to create himself quite the Beer Gut. I would shrug it off and just say, “It’s my Dad Bod.” But I also began having some heart palpitations more regularly and that finally scared me.

So I took on Sober September 3. Only instead of giving into drinking on October 1st, I stayed sober and have been since then. I didn’t lose the “Dad Bod” right away. In fact, over the Christmas period I was eating loads of rich foods and my gut was just hanging out, wondering where the beer was. Somehow in 2021, my body decided to adapt to this new predicament.

My wife got me back into using a Fitbit just after Christmas. So I began tracking my steps and watching my sleeping. She also picked up a Fitbit scale and every so often I stepped on it. Yes folks, I have lost weight. And it’s the good kind of loss. My gut has diminished finally.

There were no extreme diets. No crazy exercise regime. Just walking and being alcohol free. It has taken me almost six months to look and feel better. Both physically and mentally.

Tomorrow I am going for a lunch date to the Trading Post. What was once my favorite beer place is still my favorite restaurant. I can enjoy the atmosphere without the drinking. Besides, I am finally starting to look and feel healthy. I’m not about to shake that up.

Carpet and Pets

Our home has very little in the way of carpets. Which is both good and bad.

It’s good because the wood floor is easy to keep clean especially with dog hair running rampant. We just need to sweep or vacuum regularly to remove the hairs and dirt. A light wash every so often and the floors look amazing. This type of flooring is so much better for my allergies.

For carpet- we have our media room and the main hallway upstairs. Over the weekend we finally bought a carpet cleaner… after living here for almost 14 years… I’ve borrowed carpet cleaners from friends and rented a Rug Doctor a few times in the past. But with Covid still around- it was time to just buy one for ourselves. Thank you Amazon and next day delivery!

Our hallway looks so much better and smells a ton better as well. The carpet cleaner really pulled out the pet smell from the floors. I don’t like carpet for the fact that it collects dust and allergens. But I like the softness under my feet. Maybe I can fall in love with carpet once more.

Which do you prefer hardwood, tile or carpet?

Superb Sunday?

Today marks the 55th Superbowl Sunday. But it won’t look like any other. With Covid-19’s hold on the world, expect to see numerous cutouts in the stands.

But that’s not all. Bars and restaurants around North America are going to get hit hard financially. In the past, this is one of their biggest draws. I’m only hoping that society takes heed and errs on the side of precaution today.

I’m not a big sports guy. So today is little more than a quick talking point and conversation starter. I’m sure a team will win and some fun commercials will be on YouTube soon enough. If you are watching the game today- please don’t gather in large groups. That’s all I ask of the world.

Go Sports Team!

Tastes Trapped In Time

Fresgo. Forever trapped in Surrey.

Yesterday I took my daughter out for a late lunch date. We went to a place that I haven’t been to in twenty years. Fresgo Inn (Don’t bother with the website as it feels as if someone in the late 90’s attempted html). It has not changed in all the time I can remember. Nor was it very updated two decades ago either. This restaurant is trapped in some weird time vortex. Plus it was really difficult to locate. As if the Matrix had moved it two inches to the left.

My daughter and I walked into the cafeteria style restaurant and the first thing we noticed was the way the tile floor was grooved out by all the decades of foot traffic. Behind the plexiglass cabinets were styrofoam plates (styrofoam? Who uses that?) with oversized dessert portions. The same style of desserts that have been sold for ages.

The meals we chose were simple. Montreal style poutine and a cheeseburger. Massive portions, for the price we paid, created by a chef in one of those tall cylindrical paper hats. We ate our lunch at a table with mismatched chairs from the 70’s.

We ended up bringing plates of desserts home. The chocolate pie was rich and artificial tasting. The cheesecake tasted as if the chef had been smoking prior to starting his shift. Stale smoke filled every bite. It was like stepping into a time machine and taking a bite out of the 1980’s.

Besides the awkward feeling the restaurant has, it’s not my regular fanfare of foods. But it was worth a trip down memory lane. If I avoid it for another couple of decades- it may turn into The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe. Which it was already on the way to become.

Lava

The word “LAVA” is so much fun. When you say it, your brain naturally goes to the idea of Volcanoes and oozing hot magma. Even the word “magma” is fun to say. I’m also enjoying “Lavazza” coffee these days. How fun is that? It’s like I’m pretending to have lava coffee!

When I was in grade 1 (…damn this story is starting waaaaaaayy back when…) I would take out a book about volcanoes from the library every week. Most kids were obsessed with dinosaurs or the Old Testament, that whole Catholic school thing; but I liked volcanoes. Plus every tv trope involving kids and science fairs naturally had a model volcano that made a mess. I remember trying to paper mache my own volcano and made a mess in the basement before completing it.

As well, when I was growing up, I also always wanted a Lava Lamp. In the late 80’s it wasn’t an easy item to find for a decent price. Many lamps cost around 100 bucks in 1987 dollars- so around $230 in today’s money. Not something reasonable for an 11 year old to afford back then.

Fast forward to around 2004… I was in the middle of my five year career at Chuck E. Cheese’s. Where I was in charge of the prize wall- and was permitted to take a prize or twenty home for myself. I took full advantage of this for my kids. They got a lot of toys. But the one that I loved most for me was a Lava Lamp telephone.

We have not had a “landline” in years in this house. In fact, my lava lamp phone was put in storage and forgotten about long before we removed our home phone. This “editing/ purging” kick meant my kids discovered the phone once more. Our son had never seen it, or at least doesn’t remember it. I don’t think I’m quite ready to part with it. So it gets another shot at being plugged in for fun.

Do you like lava lamps? Or do you have memories about volcanoes you wish to share?

Let me know in the comments so I can share them from my secret volcanic lair!

It Does Not Make Sense

I have no idea why today was so difficult. Work was challenging, but nothing crazy. Driving home had a bad pocket of volume, but no reason behind it once we passed the area. And then at home, everyone was on edge and short with each other.

Why?

No idea. Just a bad day of feeling poopy.

Now I’m laying in bed getting ready to go to sleep, when something completely obscure occurred to me…

You poo poo.

As in “poo” the action.

And “poo” the product.

Or am I calling you a name?

“Poo poo.” It doesn’t make any sense. Kind of like today’s blog. But it brought me a giggle to irritate my wife by annunciating the word “poo” with different inflections.

Finally, she said “You poo poo” to me. Pretty sure it was meant an insult. However she did giggle after.

I can now go to sleep happy after a conversation with my oldest where she asked, “Does Pooh poo poo-poo?” That sentence alone makes sense. Because you can also ask, “ Does poo-poo poo Pooh?”

Aw man am I tired. Sorry about the poo.

Resolution Schmezolution

Ten days into the new year and I haven’t made any resolutions. So I didn’t feel guilty eating fast food at my desk for lunch.

I went all out and enjoyed bacon as my lunch. Baconator burger with bacon poutine fries. Truly unhealthy, but so tasty.

And then it sat in my gut for the rest of the afternoon making me feel like crud. Not the best feeling let me tell you. Before heading home I ate my orange and apple in hopes that some minuscule amount of healthy would balance this meal out.

Who was I kidding? My heart-attack burger with extra mayonnaise and gravy fries meal probably put me one step closer to death. No amount of fruits or vegetables were going to turn back time and prevent my decision. In fact, given the chance- I’d probably make the same mistake again.

It was messy, repulsive looking, and oh-so delicious.

Stealing Lunch Treats

Being a father is great! You get to never grow up. Kids want you to play with toys, watch cartoons, dress up, all that fun stuff.

I love the fact that I get to steal my kids’ lunch snacks and pack them into my lunch. My son has accepted this and even packs treats for me to enjoy. This time was a couple pieces of strawberry Nibs candy. It was a pleasant surprise.

Back in high school I used to buy big boxes of Super Nibs every week. I’d keep them in my locker. As people wandered the halls, they knew to stop by for a treat if they saw me at my locker. I’ve always been the sort of person to share if it brings people joy.

Inadvertently I have bestowed that quality in my son. It brings me joy that he wants to make others happy with simple gestures as I do.

I’m still going to steal granola bars and cheese and crackers for my lunch. But a Nib or two is always welcome.

Sleep Tracking

Alrighty then. Since starting the other day with a Fitbit once more- (check out Avoiding 2021) I have been watching how active I am. My daily steps are still a couple thousand shy of the 10,000 that the app recommends. I even get a buzz on my wrist every hour telling me to walk.

That makes me feel a tad bit guilty.

Is that what Fitbit is meant to do? Bring out guilty feelings?

But the app also shows my sleeping habits. Which is Totally Something I Can Get Behind! Honestly- just search up the keywords “Sleep” or “Nap” in my blog and you will find tons of musings about the subject. Now that I have a reason to look at the app, it makes me happy.

I don’t like have a piece of tech telling me I’m not doing something. It pushes my emotions into a downward trend, which I don’t appreciate. It doesn’t motivate me to do more. Quite the opposite. It reminds me why I stopped wearing a Fitbit the first time around.

How do you feel wearing a Fitbit or smart watch that tracks your movement? Perhaps your experience is a positive one. Please share how that works for you.

Let me know in the comments.

Avoiding 2021…

My year is starting off great. I have been avoiding the first day of the year and almost completely missed it.

A late night of watching movies meant that I was going to sleep in. And did we ever. We were out of bed at 1:30pm. And had no ideas for what to do on our first day of the New Year. But losing half of it to sleeping was a great way to avoid it.

I figure if I sleep more, less bad stuff could possibly happen. That’s sound logic right? Perhaps tomorrow I can really get motivated. My wife has given me her old FitBit (again). She tried this almost five years ago and I shared in How exercise is going to kill me. But five years later, I’m really feeling old.

In all honesty I am proud of my hardest accomplishment- no drinking. I made it through one of the toughest seasons by remaining sober. That is not like the old me- previously I would’ve shared a bazillion photos of booze and fake smiles. Maybe this new me will get better use from his FitBit. Considering I put it on at 3pm, I did get 6665 steps in. A bit shy of the daily 10k but it’s a start.

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.

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!

Maki

We adopted our newest member of the family back in October: Foster the Feelings. We gave her a name change that suited our family and would give her a new beginning. She adapted to it really quickly.

Yesterday we finally got her a tag with her new name– Maki. When my son and I were choosing the font, he pointed out one style that reminded him of our favorite sushi restaurant. And since we often call her “Maki Roll” it fit quite nicely. Now when she escapes our yard (she’s done this at least three times already) people can call us and complain return her.

While we were at the pet store getting the name tag- we also picked up an ugly Christmas sweater for her. This is the first dog I have ever had in my life that we have bought clothes for. I hate to say it, but she looks super cute. Time to get some other outfits for her- like a rain jacket.

She has become a significant part of all our lives. I enjoy the fact that her entire rump shakes with excitement when you come home. Or that she knows when to cuddle up to a person who is having a bad day. Maki is practically a support dog for us. She is a great dog and we are lucky to have her join our family.

Stretch

Over the past week or so I have been in a lot of pain. I think stress has caused my joints and muscles to hurt more than usual. My hips hurt right at the socket where my legs meet. I am also experiencing lower back pain that is causing me to be virtually immobile. Plus my neck and shoulders are stiff as well. Ugh.

What I should do is try yoga or stretching exercises. Instead I just pop a couple of Advil every few hours in hopes that the pain subsides. I’m not a very active person these days, so I really should get on that. But it’s so much work… Going to bed and complaining is easier though, am I right?

Because of my height, I have always had back pain. I’ve also been nicknamed “Stretch” by those who are much shorter than me. (Some people called me “Tall Guy” as well.) I never found it offensive or irritating to get a name like that. But looking back, maybe I should’ve taken the advice and done more stretching.

Anyways, enough griping. Time for a cup of tea and a couple Advil. I’ll do stretching tomorrow. Or maybe the next day…

Trading Post Temption

Yesterday my wife and I went on a quick date. We went to one of my favorite eateries in Langley- Trading Post. We always do our best to support the small businesses in our community. The only problem was I enjoyed drinking their beers- a lot.

My wife enjoyed a small glass of their cranberry sour, while I enjoyed a bottle of non-alcoholic craft root beer. I had been avoiding this location while I pushed myself into sobriety. I was worried that I would be unable to resist the urge for “just one beer.”

But I did. I’d like to say it was easy. It was in the fact that I was with my wife. Had I been with other friends or coworkers, I may not have had the strength to resist a beer. For the foreseeable future I think I’ll just keep myself out of temptation when out with friends.

Okay, maintaining our core bubble during Covid is helping. So there’s something good coming out of this.

November 25th, 2020

Normally on November 25th I go out and see my father’s final resting place, followed by a beer or two. Not today. Today I will not be drinking a beer for my father. Nor will I share any stories about him. Instead, I’d like to tell you that I hit a personal milestone that I’m genuinely proud of.

I’ve been sober for three months today. I may not have seemed like an alcoholic to most people. Looking at my posts on Instagram and the fact that I have a category called “Alcohol” in my blog- I thought I was just having normal fun- with booze.

I was a social drinker. Hanging out until last call, stopping for “a beer” with friends. Joking that “It only takes me one beer to get me drunk, I’m just not sure if it’s the fifth one or the sixth one.” It’s also one thing to have my friends looking to me as the person who is always ready for a drink.

I would often come home from work and drink a few beers. On my days off I’d drink at least twice as much each day and then finishing whatever alcohol I could find once the beers ran out. Its in my genetics to go way overboard when I do drink. However when my heart is racing after a few beers and my kids are calling me out and telling me I drink too much- I needed to reassess my life.

What started as Sober September this year has escalated into a three month win. A huge victory that I am proud of. The pilgrimage I set upon was only spoken of with those who were close to me. Talking about the burden of alcoholism isn’t easy.

If I could pat myself on the back, I am going to do it here publicly. The next month will probably be the most difficult for me to get through. I always took pride in setting up my “First Christmas Tree” of the season- the booze dispenser. My coffee would be spiked, and the eggnog as well. Not this year. This year is the new me attempting to emerge and conquer the world.

I needed to share this three month milestone. As embarrassing as it seems to be at times. Alcoholism is something I’ve lived with all my life. I have been drinking pretty regularly since I was 17. Making a fool of myself on many occasions and not knowing when or where the limit was. Alcoholism was destroying my health and my bank account. I also had a few negative memories that I left for my children. From stupidity to anger to embarrassment- I was easily losing “Father of the Year” chances more and more frequently.

Thank you for reading. I am trying to live the rest of my life the best way I can. If I falter, I hope to get back up and work towards being a better me.

A Cry Can Feel Good

Sometimes you just need to let out a cry. One of those deep, sobbing, flush your heart of pain kind of cries. During the cry- it sucks. Emotions are suddenly overwhelming every sense in your body.

Afterwards, you feel good- almost empty. And no one hates you for doing it. No one judges you for letting the pain get expelled. We all go through it. Sometimes there is no clear reason as to why the tears kick in. But it happens.

Fighting back the tears doesn’t help. Doing that can make the feelings worse. And sharing why you hurt isn’t always easy. But take solace in knowing you are not alone, even if it feels like it.

Whether you know me personally or through this crazy cyberspace world. I have bad days and need to share sometimes. I also have good days that I keep to myself.

We’re in this together.

What Day Is Quarantine Day?

I know that it’s Thursday. I just don’t know what the date is anymore. The world is so confusing right now. It’s probably going to get even worse soon.

We are about to embark on another round of quarantine. This is no time to get lax and visit with people outside of your bubble. My family has been lucky and we have remained healthy. All of us do our part- wearing masks, limiting contact with others, washing hands, sanitizing- all of it. So far it’s been good.

The world is getting worse. So take care people. Keep your bubbles small. And if your sick- stay in solitude. It will help.

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?