Skyline Luge

Tuesday was originally going to be a write off. The weather in Calgary was so unpredictable- first was rain, then sun, then rain, then sun. All within a few hours. I wasn’t going to let Mother Nature beat me! So at 3pm we headed out in hopes that the rumor of “Don’t like the weather- just wait 15 minutes.”

It worked. The sun began to come out. So we were on our way to a fun filled destination.

Skyline Luge!

Much like the Mountain Pipeline Coaster that we experienced last week in Revelstoke, this was a downhill experience that we had to try.

Like the Skyline Luge slogan says- “Once is never enough.” We had to go down a second time. I will also say, this was a better value and more fun than the Mountain Pipeline Coaster. Though not as fast.

Afterwards, we checked out some of the sights from the Calgary Olympics back in 1988. Calgary has kept the venues as being very useful decades later. Besides the Kart Luge, they’ve made Mountain bike paths and a zip line for use in the summer. As well as keeping the outdoor winter sports active. It’s the sort of thing that many other countries should look at and benefit from. I was thoroughly impressed.

Calgary keeps on beating my expectations of what I think a city should be.

17 Years Old

Our oldest daughter turned 17 yesterday. With it came another turning point into adulthood and a fantastic dinner with some friends of ours.

Starting off the day, she wanted a piercing through the cartilage on the upper part of both ears. So we stopped at a place in Calgary called Tribal Expression. The store was clean; the staff were professional and courteous. They also offered a reference to a piercing location near our home- one province over- which eased my mind a bit more.

During the process I still got to be “Daddy” as she wanted to hold my hand while getting the piercings done. That made me feel good inside. Plus, our daughter is happy with her new hoops she got installed for her birthday. Oh, and I was $148 lighter in my bank account.

Afterwards, we stopped at the nearby Starbucks in order to get the very “Instagram Worthy” Tie Dyed Frappuccino. This gave my girls a chance to share pics online and have a good bonding moment while I recovered from the cost and noticeable perforations that are now in my daughter’s ear lobes.

Later in the evening we meet up with some old friends in Calgary at a restaurant called Gorilla Whale. There were hugs and stories to be shared as we all tried our best to contain our excitement of meeting up again. We love these two and they have been long standing friends of ours since we first started going to conventions.

Not only was the company great, but the food at the restaurant was a fantastic mix of Japanese and Western creativity. I opted for the Godzilla burger- which contained wagyu beef, foie gras and unagi. (Cow, duck liver, and eel). The food was awesome and reasonably priced-ish. (I think I’ve spent more money on a regular excursion for sushi at our regular joint.)

All-in-all it was a good day of our daughter experiencing the joys of adulthood. Treating yo’self, sending time with old friends, and enjoying a night out at a fancier restaurant than usual. I hope she continues to enjoy and experience life to its fullest.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Random!

Calgary Zoo

Just like Drumheller, it’s been close to ten years since we’ve been to the Calgary Zoo. It’s my favorite Zoo in Canada. (But my favorite that I’ve been to in the world is Ueno Zoo in Tokyo). The Calgary Zoo is up there as an amazing place to visit animals from around the world. The Zoo employees also mention after every sale or interaction- “Thank you for supporting wildlife preservation” which made me happy.

As you walk into the Calgary Zoo, the Penguin Exhibit is immediately to your left. When we first came here ten years ago- it was under construction and I vowed to return in order to see it. I’m glad I did. The Zoo has made an incredible interior enclosure that is temperature controlled where you have to walk into an Air Lock to keep it cool. (Also, I think I have an affection towards birds that I never knew about. I get giddy and excited when, in the past, I have met penguins, owls and rescued birds from inside our home.)

After the penguins, we wandered the first half of the Zoo, where we saw tons of animals native to western Canada. Then we were off to “Africa” for more exotic experiences. We had fun along the way making silly poses and making bad puns about the animals.

Since we started our Calgary Zoo experience at opening, we were able to pause for a moment to feed our own beasts. My wife and I sprung for a brunch in the Zoo for the five of us- and we stuffed ourselves silly. The food and service was well worth the extra splurge.

After brunch, we entered into the Zoo’s Butterfly pavilion. We were lucky enough to have a couple moths and butterflies hang out on our hands long enough for some photos. There was one that didn’t mind traveling between each of us, and our son passed it gently on to another visitor. It was serene inside the exhibit and well worth the wait to have a unique butterfly experience.

After the butterflies, it was off to the “Panda Passage” for more cuteness overload. We love these bears. so much so that we had to but some cute panda stuff from the gift shops.

Our day was super successful with a ton of great memories made. We took far too many pictures for me to share here as well. We saw so many animals in fantastic environments. Not cages- but enclosures replicated after their “homes”. All of the staff were knowledgeable about the animals they were near and the zoo was well kept. From what I could see, I think these animals are treated like royalty.

Make sure if you make it to Calgary- you visit the Calgary Zoo. You won’t be disappointed. Especially if you love the animals!

Queen + Adam Lambert

Yesterday for our 18th Anniversary, my wife and I took the kids to see the Queen + Adam Lambert Rhapsody Tour. Since I’ve always been a huge Queen fan, and the show was on our Anniversary, we had to check it out.

I haven’t been to a concert since my wife and I married. So spending $1000 on tickets was a shock to the bank account when we bought the tickets back in December. But as a coworker said to me, it’s the experience that the kids will remember for a lifetime. And she was right.

The show was amazing. Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen still rock after all these decades. Adam Lambert was an excellent addition to the group. While he is still no Freddy Mercury- Adam Lambert is a showman all unto his own and respected the group’s iconic style.

Here’s a clip of how the show began:

Because this was Queen- the crowd singing along with almost every song was astounding. Myself and family included. From Radio Gaga to the encore of We Will Rock You– the venue was energized. My favorite part was singing Bohemian Rhapsody with the crowd.

We left the show with ears ringing and hearts pounding. I loved the experience and would easily wait another 18 years if I could see a concert like that again.

18 Years

Today I celebrate 18 years of marriage to my wife. It has been an amazing journey. With far more ups than downs.

I have loved every moment. Even that time when she stabbed me in the face with her finger nails and tried to apologize acting all sweet and cute.

Or the time she thought I was taking a selfie and wanted to show that she brushes her teeth- so I took a selfie with her.

I love that ten years ago, we went on our first family trip to Disneyland. I never knew that an inner child was a real thing until I saw my wife gushing with pleasure and excitement as we wandered the parks. This also started a continuous desire to return as often as possible to Disneyland. Whenever we are having rough emotional patches- we talk about previous trips and future plans of traveling to those Magical Lands.

Through 18 years of marriage, we have created and cultivated a beautiful family. Our three kids have been a source of pride for us both. We love to joke and laugh with them. Our kids have become extensions of our personalities- sharing love into this world the same way my wife and I do.

Our love for one another has grown tremendously strong over the years. I’m lucky to have such a great partner. She is as crazy as I am. She even lets the crazy loose more when I’m around.

May our journey together not be restricted to just these first 18 years of marriage. We have a bond that I feel will last a lifetime.

Happy 18th Anniversary Lee-Anne! I love you with all my heart.

Sincerely,

Josef

Shoes Make The Man

I bought some shoes the other day. Seeing them made me happy- so I needed to own a pair. I haven’t been excited about shoes in ages. Once I started living on my own, all I did was buy whatever was cheapest, but those hardly ever lasted- meaning I had to buy shoes more frequently.

Back in 1987- I loved my L.A. Gears. With fish gill sides, colorful laces and license plate tags. I was ending elementary school in style! Word.

Then came my Reebok pumps in the early days of high school. Gimmicky and expensive. But I was trying to fit in with people I hardly knew.

The balance of my high school days and into my early 20’s I was a Converse and Airwalk fan. Flat shoes were perfect to slip on and great for all those hackysack sessions.

I’ve always loved shoes that make a statement. From ugly patchwork to vibrant neon- they say shoes make the man, so I guess I’m just a zany doofus.

Over the past few years, I have been enjoying comfort again. Walking around Tokyo or Disneyland meant my feet needed better support. Sketchers have become my shoe of choice for a couple of years now. The other day I discovered a shoe that shares my love of anime as well. I picked up some “One Piece” inspired Sketchers.

I think that my style and choice in shoes is being passed on to my son because he got a pair of “One Piece” shoes as well.

If the shoe fits… wear it.

Breaking a Tradition or Breaking a Promise?

Today is July 4th and with it is the American Celebration of Independence Day! Up here in Canada, my family and I celebrate by watching ID 4 every year since I can remember. It has been a favorite Tradition of ours.

I love it because the film is so cheesy and fun and I’ve watched it every year since it came out back in 1996 when I was 20. That’s 22 years so far of watching this film for me. We even made a trip on the Extraterrestrial Highway a few years ago so I could see a time capsule for the film.

But today we may not get to enjoy it as a family- thus possibly breaking a tradition and that makes me kinda sad. It seems like plans and schedules could be interrupting our family movie watching.

My wife and our oldest daughter are working during the day and won’t be done until 6pm. I made a commitment to an old friend and a coworker to go and see their first live musical performance gig this evening. I even bought a couple of tickets in advance. I’d really like to see how good they’ve gotten.

So do I cancel on the family? With our teenage kids growing up and having their own lives- these moments we share are rather important and starting to dwindle. Can I just stop a tradition that is decades old and one that I enjoy?

Or do I cancel my plans to support my friends and their first ever show? I’ve seen my old friend perform over twenty years ago on many occasions, it’s just that this is his new band. But it’s also in Vancouver which is a 45 minute drive there and 45 minute drive home late tonight. I bought tickets for my wife and I, but I hadn’t confirmed if she wanted to go when I did.

So what do I do? Cancel on family or cancel on friends? Who is more understanding? I think I know the answer now that I’ve written out my dilemma. It seems kind of obvious now.

Farewell Grade Seven

Last night was a celebration of the end of our son’s Grade Seven year. There was a couple slideshows. The first slideshow was a “Before and Now” where there was a picture of the kids from being babies/toddlers to present day. The kids had good laughs as they called out the names of the baby pictures.

Following the slideshow was an introduction of each child and a small blurb about favorite memories and future plans. The kids walked across the stage to shake hands with their teachers and vice principal, pausing for a photo op before returning to the audience. The only picture I was able to get of our son- he had his eyes closed. Of course.

After all the kids were introduced, the parents who chaperoned the camp where brought on stage. We were each given a handmade thank you card from the cabin group we were in charge of. This was followed up with a slideshow of the adventures from camp was shared. Pictures and videos were set to music expressing the adventures with a bit of sorrow as the realization that these kids aren’t going to be kids much longer.

After the “ceremony” we mingled amongst the parents enjoying snacks and sharing memories. There was some tears and laughs as the kids and parents hung out. It was a great evening that I was glad to attend and be a part of.

Little People

Having an older home with minimal closet and storage space can make it challenging to save stuff. We do have some buildings on our property that have been used for storage. But two of the three are old and dilapidated. One is an old garden shed where a tree fell on it a few years back. So we moved everything from there to an old playhouse. The other is a woodshed/small barn/workshop. Unfortunately that has a rotten roof and back wall.

This past weekend I went into the barn and began to take some of our belongings out. It was obvious from the moment I got in there that rodents have made homes in the upper part. Not too surprising considering we live in the country with squirrels, raccoons, and all sorts of small furry creatures. Most of our stuff was left untouched- which was good. It also didn’t look like we had to much left to move out.

It wasn’t until I got everything into our home that I realized how wrong I was.

My wife and I saved our children’s collection of “Little People”. Three kids and about ten years of buying these toys accumulated to a huge collection. Everything from a castle to a circus, an airplane to a zoo- our kids received almost everything imaginable. I remember the kids spending hours playing with them when they were younger.

On Saturday, our fifteen year old daughter decided she wanted to open up every box and play again. This had all three of our kids sharing memories and stories of playing with the toys and watching videos of “Little People” at the same time.

I’m glad my wife and I saved these toys. We will pass them on to our children or (even grandchildren?) one day. From my youth I saved all my LEGO. My sister saved her Barbies and My Little Pony toys. Both my sister and I passed these toys on to our children. It’s a great way to keep memories alive while creating new ones.

What does do you keep from your youth? Or what toys have you kept of your children’s that you can’t wait to pass on? Let me know!

Nazdar Klamo

My father had a tendency to speak Czech with his buddies when his family was around. My father did this because we, his immediate family, couldn’t speak Czech. He never wanted us to know it. My father kept secrets. Read about my unknown half sister Here.

My father taught us only one Czech phrase. A phrase to say at the start of a meal. Dobra Chut’ meaning Good Appetite. I have never taught my children this phrase. Maybe I’m bitter towards my father. Perhaps I can share this phrase and create good memories of their grandfather whom they’ve never met. My children want to see the good in the world, and I want that as well.

img_6499

But I did pick up on some Czech. As a child you get curious as to what is going on in your world. I discovered a few things from my father’s friends older kids. They were surprised that I didn’t know Czech. But I knew some. Mainly because I stole my father’s old English to Czech dictionary.

He used a few phrases quite often which made it easy to find words. I began to become quite proficient in trying new phonic spellings to decipher what he was saying. Most was gibberish. But on occasion I heard about his feelings for his family. His disgust. His disdain. His regret. Being a child and receiving pity from people you barely knew was difficult. A part of me wanted to return to being naive. I wasn’t exactly the son he wanted. But I overcame his words, overcame his feelings of contempt- I survived and thrived.

img_7530

My father used a phrase often when greeting his friend. At one point my father told me it meant “Hello Smiley.” But the literal phrase would have defined my father more than his friend.

Nazdar Klamo.

Simply meaning,

“Hello Deceit.”

To the feelings my father left me with when he died in 2000, I say “Na shledanou.

Bye-bye. Cheerio. So long.