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.

Road to Repair

I woke up early today to the sound of construction just outside our home. At first I thought it was the garbage collection, only it kept going.

I took to our front deck to watch the action for a bit. I was impressed at how quickly the City of Surrey took action in repairing the road. It was about a week ago that it was reported and inspected. Unlike our last neighborhood where portions of the road are collapsing for years now and no plan for repairs. Just some orange spray paint was added.

The work being done in our current neighborhood is clean and quick. I am thoroughly impressed with the road work by Surrey. I really do feel like we have a good suburb that we moved in to.

Even if my day of sleeping in was disturbed.

Juliette Deck

After a quick dip in the pool, I went upstairs to get changed. From our bedroom on the third floor we have a small balcony. Some call it a “Juliette Deck” in reference from Romeo and Juliette. Of all of our decks (four of them in total) I spend the second least amount of time on it. The one above our front door I actually spend less time on.

But tonight I decided to sit in the sun on the Juliette Deck. As I sat there, numerous hummingbirds came to visit. I even caught the shadow of one as I took a selfie.

The visiting hummingbirds arrived because off to the side of the deck, we hung up a hummingbird feeder. At first it wasn’t getting much attention. But tonight was a flurry of activity. The warm weather is causing these birds to seek refreshments. I’m glad we have a spot so close by to enjoy their buzzing little wings.

It was a peaceful way to end a long day of errands. I think I shall call the bird that kept coming back… Romeo.

Patience Young Grasshopper

For the first time in over three decades, I caught a grasshopper. Super exciting, I know. But this summer is also the first time in about thirty years since I’ve even seen a grasshopper. I hadn’t realized that fact until I saw one.

It’s just an insect. No big deal to most folks. I found it fascinating as a flood of memories came swarming into my head. My wife and I were walking along a berm that ran behind our home the other day when my first encounter occurred. A similar type of place from my youth where we would hunt grasshoppers and frogs.

I remember spending hours in the fields and mud trying to capture these hopping critters. Taking your time to sneak up on one only to miss nine times out of ten. But that final catch always made you proud. My friends and I would take the grasshoppers or frogs home in an ice cream bucket with holes punched in- just to show the other kids in the neighborhood. This made you the highlight of a hot summer day.

So here is my ice cream bucket. A quick photo of the grasshopper I caught. I hope that for a brief moment it brings you joy like it did me.

I Need Some Of That

Earlier this year Weezer released a new song, I Need Some Of That. I immediately connected with the lyrics. The same way I can associate life with the Barenaked Ladies song, Pinch Me. Both songs are well written songs about youth and living in the suburbs.

Only recently have we re-entered the suburban lifestyle. I hadn’t realized how much I needed it. Seeing children playing, folks washing cars, dog walkers, joggers, sprinklers on the lawn; all of it is a sense of serenity and life. A life I had as a child and teenager that somehow I forgot about or didn’t acknowledge at the time.

I now enjoy being around neighbors who stop and say “Hello”. Not that our old neighborhood wasn’t like that. It just took walking for a couple of acres to possibly see someone. In our old neighborhood- everyone knew everyone for decades. This neighborhood? Perfect strangers greet each other with a smile and a kind word.

It’s just what I needed. A lifestyle consisting of strangers just being nice. A wave or a nod sharing a moment. Living in the suburbs has a zen like feeling you cannot find anywhere else. A sense of security and safety. I’m totally drinking the cherry koolaid on this one folks.

Littles

Today was a good day. I had the opportunity to have a few coworkers over with their families. Each of them have young children to take care of.

It’s been a long while since my wife and I have had to deal with small kids. It was nice change to hang out with everyone. And see how they handle their kids.

I’ve always been good with children. They seem to gravitate towards me. Today made for another one of those moments. My favorite part was being able to hand back the kids at the end of the days. The kids were well behaved. I’m most impressed with my friends’ parenting skills.

Garage Success

About a month ago I mentioned about Making Space In The Garage. We have been able to park my wife’s car on her side since then. We also rearranged some of the storage last week to make it more accessible and easier to manage. This afternoon- we tackled my side. And won!

With a few things still needing better placement, I’m happy with the progress. We have some donations to send out and some recycling to toss that will help with the space. But all in all, I now have a spot to park my car.

We now have two cars parked in a two car garage! This makes me tremendously happy. Much to their chagrin- I had to have to kids out there to enjoy my moment of triumph! This was a total “Dad Flex” to unbury the garage and park our cars.

Go Joe! Next is to organize the shed…

Fog and Sun

I still can’t get over the fact that we have a view to enjoy from our new home. Usually I’m sharing photos of the backyard and stories of sunshine. Yesterday was the last day of my staycation. This morning I had to head into work in order to pay for this lifestyle.

Before leaving my oasis, I enjoyed a cup of coffee as I looked at the fog leading off into the horizon. The sun wasn’t out yet, so the colours of the world were subdued and cool. If there wasn’t the occasional tree and a hill in the far distance, I would’ve thought we were in the clouds.

Everyday I become more appreciative of what we have. It has been a long road leading to this. This home is now my sanctuary. Or if you wish- My Happy Place.

Lights, Now Cameras!

Since we moved in, we have been slowing making this house our home. I threw in a couple of ceiling fans for the kids. We added lights to the outdoors- along the railing and what we call our “Tokyo DisneySea Light” as well as a few others. Plus a tv and some outdoor furnishings.

It’s time to make us feel secure in all of those purchases. The weather cooled off enough today for my son and I to hit the attic and run some wires. It was CCTV camera install day. There are plenty of YouTube videos and how-to sites that I’m not going into those details.

My wife and I had bought six Lorex cameras and a hard drive a few months ago from Costco. I always wanted to have security cameras in our last house, but the undertaking would have been tremendous with all the brick work. So my wife indulged me and I got a set for this house.

First off, the install started off long and arduous. Having to find the best spots and figure out how to run the cables. After that- it was a bit of tinkering and we now have four of the six cameras up and recording. My wife was having fun with me while I set them up.

We opted to put the monitor in our laundry room. My wife didn’t want the screen to be front and center in our lives. I agree with her on that. The neat part is the hard drive connects to our internet and we can access the cameras remotely from our phones.

The hard drive allows us to have up to 8 cameras and we can also get the kind that you can move, zoom, pan and tilt with. That might happen in the future. Anyways, before next summer, I will finish adding the last two cameras to completely view our property.

I know the cameras may only be a bit of a deterrent for crime. Most criminals don’t care about cameras or security systems. If they want in your home, they will get in. I just like the sense of security the camera system offers my family.

Plus now I can decide if I want to open the front door or ignore people.

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!

Shelved

Our kitchen is larger than our last one. There is great use of space in most of it, and a beautiful flow making it easy to navigate. There are a couple of down sides however.

The first one is that the pantry is far smaller than we are used to. It’s basically a broom closet with shelves. This will take us some getting used to, but is completely manageable. The second was an empty space with just a countertop. It looks like the space was originally created a decade ago for a phone or computer. So it was time to do something with the empty space and make it functional.

My wife and I were trying to find cabinets that we would like. But with the world being what it is, most products were on back order or not what we wanted to match our home. Since we have a certain style, it was time to get creative. I love a good diy.

Since we love dark woods and the industrial look, we came up with a plan over brunch while out in Fort Langley. Why not reclaim some wood we have and build our own shelves? I made a farm table once before. This should be easier.

A quick stop at Home Depot for some iron pipes and connectors- and voilá- shelf brackets. I went with ten inch wide pipe and twelve inch for height, with a small bar at the top to finish it off.

I needed some help to measure the anchor holes prior to hanging it up. My wife also suggested that we measure from where the coffee maker opens to so we don’t have issues trying to make our favorite beverage. What a smart lady. It’s always good to have a second set of eyes on a project.

Oh and those wood slats? They came from an old IKEA bed frame. Soon I will stain the pine wood a darker colour to match the other stuff we have. With the cost of lumber these days, I’m glad we didn’t throw them away.

So that was my quick project for our coffee bar and cookbook shelves. I like the openness of the shelves and the industrial look that matches our tastes. Let me know what you think in the comments.

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.

Life’s Good

We moved into our new place three weeks ago. For the last four months, I’ve been trying to figure out how to install our projector and motorized screen into our living room. But unless I want to dig into the ceiling and walls, I had to go with the alternative- a large TV.

The chaos of when we first moved in.

As you can see, our 55” tv looked sad in its new home. With a large frame around where the tv would be mounted, we had no choice but to go bigger. At least that was the argument I had with my wife. So for the past few weeks, I’ve been searching for a new tv.

Today I removed our old tv and measured to see what we could fit. Then it was off to Costco to see what they had in store. Today happened to be a good day for tv buying it seemed.

We bought an 75” LG tv. It dropped by $900 today. I joked with the cashier that we had only come in to buy paper plates and we were walking out with a new tv. But we used the money our real estate agent had given us back as a gift for “incidentals”. Incidentally, our tv was too small.

It’s a much better fit than the last one. I’m looking forward to enjoying some family movie nights on this big screen. We shall see how well an LG product is. I’m usually a Samsung guy since they’ve never caused me grief. Brand loyalty is something I’m proud of. But it’s worth a shot to try something new.

Especially for a wicked deal mid-summer!

Need To Get A First Nap.

I still haven’t had my first official nap in our new home. I’ve tried to relax, really I have. But there is still so much to do! Don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying all my little projects on the go. It’s far better than having projects that are a necessity.

But I could still do with a nap one day. Our bed is very inviting- except the views keep me alert and daydreaming.

I’ve tried relaxing in our hammock poolside, but that has been cut short due to the heat. I end up back in the pool or finding air conditioning in the house.

Going back into the house also means more projects. It’s a vicious cycle. I think I’m going to have to schedule a nap in order to get one!

Hanging Out With A View

After almost three weeks in our new house, we have been extremely active in setting it up. Unpacking, organizing, getting a cleaning routine going, that sort of thing. On an almost daily basis we have also been hanging out in the pool. All of it is great and keeping us busy.

This evening I took a page from my wife’s book. We stopped to enjoy the view from our living room. Sure, there’s more work to do and a dinner to make. But taking a breather to remember why we bought this house is important.

The skyline. Something we gave up in our last home. But the exchange in our last place was the beauty of living in a park like setting. Old growth trees offering natural shade and cooling of the home. To me, this exchange is equivalent, even though different in many ways.

Appreciating what we got and what we work towards is necessary. We love our new home and are working hard to create Kingdom Havelka as a magical place to live.

Organized Chaos

Even though we “Purged” before we moved, we still have a bunch of stuff that needed to find a place in and around our home. As fun as it is to fill the ,Garage, I like being able to park at least one of our cars inside. The other side will have to wait until the summer is ending in order for me to want to hit the attics again.

I took advantage of the nice weather today to hang up our kayaks and ladder on our back fence. At least it keeps them off the ground and away from moisture and dirt.

Last week I worked diligently on organizing the garage and utilizing all the available space. I went old school with a pegboard for my tools- which my son organized and put up. I also built a makeshift 4×8 suspended shelf for my wife’s fabric. I throw a couple hooks up for bikes and the car topper. It made for a ton of more floor space and easier to navigate around the garage.

While we still have a few boxes in our home to unpack, this is a great start to our new life. Unfortunately with things the way they are, we are waiting for bookcases and a hutch to become available in order for us to complete the house. For the time being, those items are off to the side and out of our main living area.

How organized is your home? Do you feel like you have too much stuff like we do?

Let me know in the comments.

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.

Back To Work Blues

Vacation doesn’t last forever. It was time to return to work last night. After getting through a couple thousand emails, I was up to date with the operation. But in the back of my mind all night was thoughts of our new home.

When I finished my night shift, I headed home and got into some swim trunks. I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed down to the pool. As exhausted as I was from doing my first night shift in ages, I still enjoyed the refreshing water. I’m even contemplating doing yoga this summer.

Standing on my deck I realized- this is my lifestyle now. You know what else? In two weeks I have some more vacation time to chill out in our yard. I plan on owning the summer and making the most of what we have.

Morning Home Paradise

I woke up early this morning to enjoy my regular cup of coffee. The AC was on and the house was comfortable. But outside, that’s where the beauty was waiting.

With our backyard having a western exposure, the shade from our house cast over the pool. With protected green-space and farm land behind us, the views go on for ages.

When we moved I thought we would lose the sounds of the birds. Instead, there is two to three more times the amount out. This morning is like a symphony being conducted by an owl. Peaceful and serene.

We have found a slice of paradise in our own backyard. With this heatwave, it’s a welcome bit of joy.

Night Sky Happy Feelings

After a hot day poolside, it was just as nice to just hang out as dusk fell.

We could see the skyline off in the distance. As the horizon faded from the orange to darkness above, I relish in the pleasure of knowing we will have this view for years to come.

My wife and I took a brief stroll around our cul-de-sac and discussed some future plans for our front yard. Having continuous dreams keeps us going. And in the end, it makes us happy.

That’s the goal life- happiness. And I do my best to achieve it everyday.

Raised Spirits

After a week in our new home, it was time to enjoy quality time together. Boy was it fun!

This evening before dinner, we all hung out at the pool. Loads of laughter and splashing. It was an excellent way to cool off after a smoldering hot day.

To finalize our family time together we did something we always do. We watched a movie as a family. The movie of choice? Spirited Away. A favorite amongst us all. We love Studio Ghibli movies and enjoyed visiting Studio Ghibli when we travelled to Tokyo a few years back.

We also chose this film because it starts with a family on their way to their new home, yet adventure takes hold. It’s the perfect film to boost our spirits amongst the chaos of unpacking. I’m so happy to feel like a family once more. Stress is behind us.

Time to live our best lives.

Longer Sunshine

With these summer days upon us, the sun is staying out longer and hotter. It’s a blessing and a curse as they say. I’m getting up early and starting my day of a billion chores. Only to end the day with a late dinner watching the sunset.

I’m still trying to get some relaxation in each day. That’s tough. But today I made it into the pool twice! I was also able to sit and talk with my wife as she finally hit our soaker tub.

Our son had a couple friends over to hang out in celebration of the last day of school. They hopped out of the pool for dinner and we’re back in it until 11pm. After the got out, I managed to stand on our top floor balcony and see something I never saw in our last home.

The Big Dipper.

Not a big deal to most, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen the sky from my balcony. I’ve really enjoyed the sunsets. I can’t believe this is our home now.

Morning Break

Moving into a new home is tough. I’m still tackling the organization of whatever storage we have available. I’m also planning more ideas in order to help with future storage.

But this morning I had to take a break in our pool. Taking a breather in order to relish in what we bought was needed. Chances are I’ll do the same tomorrow morning and the next. I need to remember that all this hard work needs to be appreciated.

Making Space In The Garage

It’s been over 14 years since we had a garage. And the last time we did, only one car could fit. Prior to our move on Saturday- we labeled a bunch of boxes as “Garage” thinking we’d have loads of space. Boy were we wrong.

Today, we dug out about half of the garage. Christmas boxes went in the attic, boxes of tools were moved to the proper location, other boxes were emptied and put away. I was also able to set up a shelving unit to store our Rubbermaid bins.

After a full morning of rearranging and storing, we successfully were able to park my wife’s car in half of the garage! That’s quite the accomplishment if I do say so myself.

Too bad we still have to unbury the rest of the garage. And kitchen. And dining room. And living room. And bedrooms. And… you get the idea. But one goal at a time.