19 Years Later…

Today is my 19th Wedding Anniversary! That’s a long ass time to be married in this day and age. Especially since I married her when I was only 25 years old. And had no idea what my life would have in store for me.

What’s crazy is I still feel young and alive when hanging out with my wife. She has been the greatest person to participate in life’s experiences with. From raising children, traveling the world, buying a home, or changing numerous careers… this has been a delightful challenge of life that I have enjoyed sharing with her.

I cannot wait until we get to celebrate 20 years, 24 years, 31 years, 42 years, possibly 65 years together. I love my wife tremendously and have been lucky to create milestones with her. I hope for her to feel the same and for us to have a Happy Anniversary! To quote the movie that inspired our wedding, and our life together:

The greatest thing you’ll ever learn- is just to love and be loved in return.

Truth, Beauty, Freedom, Love

Grad Dinner..?

Our oldest Graduated three weeks ago from Grade 12. Besides the ceremonies being cancelled, so was the Grad Dinner. My wife and I have been trying to get our daughter out for a special dinner since then, with no luck. Our oldest originally wanted a special meal like the one my wife and I did Last Year at the Bacchus French Restaurant. But it hasn’t opened yet because of restrictions.

Today, we finally went out for a meal. Our oldest also wanted her siblings along, so we ended up at Ramen Bella in Langley. Where we each got a large bowl of ramen, and our daughter got herself a Poké Bowl.

It was a good treat for everyone and also very filling. I’m glad our oldest picked a place that the family could enjoy, even though my wife and I were trying to offer her something special just for her. It seems as though our daughter is still very family oriented and loves sharing experiences with her brother and sister.

To me, that shows she is growing up into a wonderful young lady. Each day I am becoming more and more proud of her.

My Mythosaur

I really enjoyed Disney’s Mandalorian and felt that it had some fantastic story telling. So I made my own Mythosaur prop.

I’m not the most talented in the world when it comes to art. But I do enjoy making things. Last halloween, I made my Skesis costume and had some left over pink foam and clay that I decided to use for my Mythosaur.

I cut it out a few months ago, and then set it aside. Now that I’m on vacation, I figured I would finish putting the clay on and paint it.

It turned out not bad. All that’s left is finding a place to mount it. However, I can see all the flaws and know what to do better on my next project.

July 4th 2020

This year, we were planning on changing up our July 4th festivities. Back in February (before the pandemic took over) we bought tickets to Disneyland and booked our favorite hotel. Up until about a month ago, we were having a tough emotional time canceling the hotel. We really wanted to experience Disneyland in the summer since we’ve had the chance to enjoy springtime and numerous times at Halloween.

We really wanted to see the Disneyland 4th of July Fireworks. I assume that Americans can put on quite the show. Tonight, we shall watch those fireworks from the comfort of our home.

As well, instead of a road trip along the West Coast of the USA, I plan on taking some of the family camping during my vacation. As our kids get older, it seems there’s a bit of freedom expected. So our oldest is choosing to stay home. As uneventful as camping is, we are still happy and healthy and ready to enjoy the world.

But tonight, we shall resort to our July 4th Tradition. A viewing of ID4: Independence Day. I love this film. I also love the fact that our kids believed me (when they were much, much younger) that this film is historically accurate. Thank you Hollywood!

Happy July 4th to our American Neighbours!

Newbie

So, I’m a relative NEWB when it comes to being outdoorsy. I have done some hiking and lately have been kayaking. I tend to get some beginner stuff in order to try out activities before getting carried away. Our kayaks are beginner style, and I have enjoyed them tremendously. My wife and I will probably upgrade them one day once we get better at paddling and such.

Today I went out and bought some fishing stuff. I’ve gone fishing with coworkers and friends in the past. I have just never owned my own equipment. I appreciate the basic knowledge they have given me over the years and am looking forward to having some fun this summer. Not the “Billy Bass” singing “Don’t Worry Be Happy” kind of fun. But actually trying to fish.

Before I bought stuff, I asked around for some advice on what a NEWB like me should buy. There is an art to what gear to buy depending on what you want to fish. Since I am doing fresh water fishing, I bought the gear that will be needed. I also paid for a fishing license for the year.

So any of my friends who want to hit the water with me and show me the ropes- I’ll be a bit more prepared than before. Now to watch some YouTube videos to get some skills before I make a fool of myself in front of my son.

Loving Canada

Today is Canada Day! I am proud to be Canadian. So much so that I work for Canadian National Railway. Just kidding, I work for the railroad because I love trains. Man, I cannot say that with a straight face. I work for CN because I enjoy making money to live.

Moving on…

Growing up, I remember my father always drinking Molson Canadian Beer. When I turned legal drinking age, Molson was my go-to beer for many years. Mostly because I’d buy a $20 t-shirt and get a free case of beer. (At least that’s what I told myself, but clearly it was the opposite).

There was a commercial years ago put out by Molson that I enjoyed. I Am Canadian aka Joe Rant. It felt like the commercial was made for me specifically. I rewatch it every year. I also share it every year. I am a proud Canadian and love this country with all of its amazing landscapes and diverse culture.

My name is Joe.

AND I AM CANADIAN.

Happy Canada Day!

One More To Go

I have one more shift to go at work before a week of vacation kicks in. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. The crazy part is that I don’t have much planned for my time off. Our Disneyland trip is on hold due to COVID-19. We were looking forward to spending The Fourth of July in the USA for the first time ever. I assume it’d be a big deal. Especially in Disneyland!

I still plan on being not-so-sober during my time off. I do have a few days of camping planned with most of my family and a friend with his kids. Last summer he joined us and, well, drinking was pretty much non-stop. But the weather was great and so were the kids. So why not go for round two?

It’ll be hard to make it through that last day of work without a big smile on my face. Somehow, I’m sure I’ll survive until that first beer hits my lips. Then it’ll be a blur.

Father’s Day Night

With yesterday being Father’s Day, my children gave me gifts that reminded me that I’m a father. However, it was a very bipolar type of evening.

I arrived home to see my teenage daughters making homemade pasta for dinner. The kitchen was a mess and flour was everywhere. They were stumbling over each other trying to make dinner. During this, my son had retreated to his bedroom to hide.

For the rest of the evening, there was snarky attitudes going back and forth between all three kids and my wife. As they spoke to me, their tunes would change. They were each doing their best to show me kindness, but at a cost of being somewhat negative towards one another.

After dinner, the kids brought out the gifts that they had made for me. None of the gifts surprised me, as they were exactly what I was expecting. A Lego creation from my son (of my Nissan Rogue), some painted wood carvings from my middle and a painting from my oldest. I appreciate each gift as the kids showed off how proud they are of what they made.

We ended the night watching Robocop from 1987 just because I hadn’t seen the film in ages and wanted something to watch that the kids had never seen before. After the film, it was off to bed and sleep took over.

All in all a typical night, I even got a few gifts from it. It didn’t upset me that there was a bit of animosity between my family members. In actuality it reminded me of how normal we all are; and not everything is perfect no matter how much we try and showcase our lives on social media.

Father’s Day 2020

I’ve been a father for nearly 18 years now. In the grand scheme of things, I think I’ve done an okay job of raising three kids. Obviously I could not, and did not, do it on my own.

Without my wife; aka mother to our children; there really wouldn’t be a Father’s Day for me. She and I have worked together over the years to create a loving environment for our three beasts kids.

To be completely honest, I don’t know if I was ever going to be ready to be a dad without her pushing me. I’m glad to have taken on the challenge and the role. Our children are my pride and joy. I will always be there for them in whatever form they need me.

I was never close with my father. I’d like to think I have become the father I always wanted. The kind of father who goes on vacations, jokes with their kids, has family movie nights, even loses at video games to them. I have shown love and support through all of their endeavors, be it Cheerleading, Speed Skating, and the arts- no matter what they wanted to do, I was there.

Certainly there were times when they wanted to give up. But my wife and I pushed them and guided them through those hurdles. It’s not always fun and laughs when you have to be the bad guy either. In time, I’m sure they will understand why and when we needed to be strict with them.

For now, I’m just glad to be celebrated as their Father. I have a drawer full of handmade cards and gifts from over the years. I cherish those moments and memories.

I’ll always remember them as my kids, even as they enter adulthood.

Road Worthy

Our middle child turned sixteen on April 15th. Right in the middle of quarantine/ social distancing life. (Note: I’m not saying the world has overcome the pandemic, just that the peak of solitude seems to be behind us.) We were hoping that on her birthday she would have been able to go and do her knowledge test to begin driving. But it seemed that life was on pause until the start of June when ICBC began allowing people to book these tests.

Our daughter booked her test immediately- but there was a two week queue already. This gave her more time to study and finally had a deadline. I went with her yesterday morning because I had to sign off on her getting her license as she is still a minor. Once I signed off, I was asked to wait outside. I watched from the parking lot as our daughter took her exam. She had forty five minutes to complete it.

She was done in eleven.

She successfully aced the test with only one wrong answer out of fifty questions! 98% is dang impressive, clearly she gets her intelligence from her father. A very proud teenager showed off her “L” to her friends on Instagram and through texting. We stopped about a block away from our home, and I let her get a taste of driving.

All I can say is that this one will need lessons from someone who is not mom or dad. She may be book smart, but she needs to become road smart because those are two very different skill sets. I’m really happy for her and think that driving is a great skill to possess.

Smile Time!

It’s been a few years of orthodontics, but yesterday our middle child had her braces removed. Her older sister had hers removed back in December of 2018, read about it here: Brace Yourself, and she has been smiling more ever since. I’m hoping that this too will happen for our middle.

Naturally, I had to take a “Before” picture. Darwin was doing her best to hide the braces behind her smile. But you could sense the joy that was about to unfold as she walked into her final orthodontist appointment.

This is the obligatory “After” picture. Notice how she is showing more teeth! Finally, after a few years of braces, tightening, and suffering, she has a reason to smile.

The braces are off! Now, and for years to come, she will have a beautiful smile. And our pocket book will be full once more… until our youngest goes in.

Grad 2020

Our oldest graduates from high school this year. Last week was supposed to be her graduation ceremony and tonight was meant to be her Grad Dinner and Dance. But alas, 2020 had other plans.

So tonight, we tried to make her Graduation something special. Everyone got dressed up and we headed out.

A short drive away, the outdoor mall had set up a backdrop that we took full advantage of. Our daughter willingly got up on the stage and had some photos taken with each of the members of the family in front of a Grad 2020 sign.

Afterwards we picked up some sushi from our favorite restaurant and brought it home. Our daughter ate a Sushi Boat to herself- A goal she tried to do a few years ago on her birthday. She succeed tonight! After dinner, she received some gifts from us and ice cream cake.

Then we streamed her graduation ceremony that was filmed a month ago. It was filmed with social distancing in place and edited together. Before we watched it on our big screen, we talked about all the years of school she has been through.

She made some memories over the years, as well as some great friends. I’m sad she didn’t have the same graduation ceremonies as those who came before her. As unfortunate as that may be, Grad 2020 will still be memorable in its own unique way.

This may have been said numerous times by numerous people, but it bears repeating:

To all those high schoolers who have had to endure similar nights like ours- you successes over the years should not be diminished by the fact that the world is struggling through a pandemic. Your resilience to overcome diversity, pandemics, or any number of worldwide challenges is proof that you are the future. A future that will bring us all closer together.

Congratulations Class of 2020!

More Than A Feeling

I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song
I closed my eyes and I slipped away.

Something about music can bring forth memories or feelings. Hearing songs from years ago can truly raise your spirits. I have become fascinated over the years at the variety of genres that I enjoy. Each time I put on something new, I find I over indulge in the music.

Unless it’s country. No time for that genre to pollute my ear holes.

I have written about music numerous times now. It’s nothing new to my readers. I would like to write my own music eventually. Just don’t get me to sing- I am self conscious about that. Especially if it were to hit the interwebs.

Hopefully one day I can piece together a song and say, “Here’s a little number I tossed off recently in the Caribbean.”

Because reasons…

Tongue Tied

When I was 19 I pierced my tongue. It didn’t overly hurt, it just swelled up for a week or so. I made it about three days before my father noticed. I have had the piercing in for about three years before I removed it. Within a year, I decided I missed the piercing and had it re-pierced because it had grown over. That hurt because they went through the scar tissue and I had a mouthful of blood. But the swelling only lasted a couple days.

I have now had my tongue pierced for 20 years since that second time. Many people don’t notice because I don’t lisp or show it off. I also haven’t chipped any teeth from accidentally biting it. But last night, somehow, my tongue got swollen. So I took out my tongue piercing.

I’m not sure if I had an allergic reaction to some food or if it is something else entirely. But eight hours later- my tongue is still swollen. I’m going to keep the piercing out for a bit longer, but I would like to get it back in before the hole closes up. I should have a few days… but if my tongue remains puffy I may have to accept the fact that a part of my persona has changed once more.

A quarter century and no issues. I hope to be able to put it back. A tongue piercings is such a late nineties trend that I wonder how many people I know still have their piercing in.

Did you ever get your tongue pierced? Did it affect your speech pattern? Or have complications? Let me know in the comments.

Classic 90’s Humor

Last night I watched a couple of movies with my 16 year old daughter. The first one was a Coen Brothers masterpiece- “The Big Lebowski”

Something about this film makes it one of my favorites. It still has watchability all these years later. It also has some great quotes that can be used in every day life. I often find myself quoting it at work, man.

Wishing it was still the 90’s.

The next film was “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” This one was a personal favorite of mine back in the early/mid nineties. To my surprise, this movie also holds up today. Not the same style of humor as Lebowski, but fun nonetheless.

My favorite Cosplay.

Today I asked my daughter which one she preferred. I’m happy to report that she enjoyed the Coen Brothers film much more. She was also able to see the styling they used from other films such as Raising Arizona or The Hudsucker Proxy.

Comedy films often don’t hold up in future viewings. I was glad to have enjoyed these two films once more and able to share them with my child.

Upcycle To A Greenhouse

Last year when I Built a set of doors, I had removed the old sliding glass door and set it aside. It was pretty massive, with each panel being four feet wide. Today I finally began to do something about them. I made a mini greenhouse.

I had my son as a helper once more as we measured out some boards for the frame. I figured we could make a TARDIS shaped greenhouse. Just the right size to get some of the plants started.

These boards came from our old deck that was in front of the old sliding glass door. We ripped that deck out in 2014. Many of these board have been used for projects such as an Axe Throwing Target. I kept the long ones just in case. Today they became the frame of the mini greenhouse. I also added an old busted sliding window for the roof. That way it can be opened to allow airflow.

All that’s left is adding a door and maybe some painting of the boards. If I can find a small can of blue paint- you know I’ll be making a TARDIS door! It’s fun being a Whovian. Pretty sure my wife will be okay with that idea.

I think she will also appreciate this Great Glass Elevator in our garden.

Birdie

Yesterday morning I wrote Night Shift Is For The Birds. Not fifteen minutes after post a bird crashed into our sliding glass door. It got up and flew away. Moments later, another crash. Same bird?

I went outside to pick up the little creature. It seemed stunned and was having difficulty breathing. I held it gently in my hands. It gasped repeatedly, and finally twitched.

Welp, it passed away. Nothing I could do. With so many birds in our yard, I hope it didn’t have little ones to look after. But it was gone. Not sure if this was the same bird that hit the glass the first time or not. I’m thinking it was. It’s not the first bird to crash into our home over the years.

Unceremoniously, I tossed it into a plastic bag and dropped it in our outside waste bin. Really? Yes. I would’ve done the same if I had found it later in the day. As much as I hoped for it to be okay, like when the Hummingbird entered our home last month, this was not the case.

The only other time I held an animal as it died was our first guinea pig. That was different though. The kids gathered round as he took his last breath. He got a proper burial in a shoebox, as all small pets do. I guess animal death doesn’t affect me the same as it once did.

Night Shift is For The Birds

Oh man. Finished the night shift yet again. I enjoy working at night for the simple fact that the world is calmer and not so busy. I’m so lucky to be home to hear the birds chirping and singing before the world gets busy.

Sure, it’s nice and tranquil most of the time. I used to pull all nighters as a teenager/twenty something. I would be out wandering parks or fields and listen as the birds slowly woke up. It was like a concert firing up. An overture played from eons of nature growing and practicing together.

Falling asleep to the sound of birds is very different than waking up to hear their lovely tune. I want to say I enjoy it, but it’s keeping me awake longer as I wait for the sounds of cars and human noise to lull me to sleep.

Pool of Thought

At the start of my preteen years, we moved from the arctic tundra of Edmonton to the rain forest neighborhoods of Vancouver. We gave up ice and snow for an older home with a swimming pool. This was the greatest single thing that I appreciate my father ever doing for the family. Of course I was angry to leave my three closest friends behind, but I eventually made new friends. I did manage to keep in touch with my best friend since kindergarten 1981.

Back to talking about my first Langley house. I loved that home. I had plenty of privacy upstairs. My little sister didn’t like having the bedroom across the hall from me, so she moved downstairs and the upstairs became mine. We also had a large unfinished basement with plenty of space to become a second home. But the house had the greatest thing ever- a swimming pool.

Not one of those circular above ground pools that are only good for playing “Marco Polo”. This was a pool with a ten foot deep end, a slide and diving board. The prefect size for swimming laps and filling with 20 friends. Our backyard at the time was basically a large deck and the pool. Perfect for lounging on a hot summer day. I remember swimming in rainstorms and at night. My family sold that home due to many factors. One of them being the cost associated with upkeep and heating of the pool was far more than was worth the headache. My parents figured we weren’t getting much use out of the pool anymore, so it was time to move.

Since my memories of that home, whenever our family travels, we always have to book a hotel with a pool. I love swimming, my kids don’t overly care one way or the other. That being said, we’ve never bothered to pursue the idea of a pool in our current home. I do love the trees we have and don’t want to get rid of them to add a pool at this time.

Assuming our kids move out or we get grandkids, or my wife and I ever do sell this house- I’d like to find a home with a pool. It would be a treat for me to have a little oasis to enjoy. Or maybe one day we will redo the landscaping in our current yard and add a pool. I’m sure that a windstorm or two will knock down a few more trees over the years.

Perhaps that will be my midlife crisis. Who needs a luxury car? Give me a pool any day.

What Were The Skies Like When You Were Young?

The skies always had little fluffy clouds in them.

I love staring into the skies and seeing the clouds floating there. I’ve done it since I was a child. Sometimes I just get lost in thought as I daydream. I sometimes think back to my late teens and listening to “The Orb”.

Stereophonic and psychedelic- a peaceful easy feeling. Listening to music while staring off was a great way to pass the day. A simplistic time in my youth where nothing mattered.

Clouds continue to take me away to my happy place. A spot in my mind that no one can control-the depths of my id. The inner me of me.

The skies continue to bring tranquility to me. I love taking photos of the clouds. I try and take pictures with clouds in the background as well when doing pictures of the outdoors.

Do you like clouds?

Asking An Adult

“Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.”

Okay… So it’s Thursday today. Many people do a Throwback Thursday post on various social media platforms. I think it’s time to go waaaaaayyy back. It’s time to do a mental reset for everyone. Especially adults who’ve forgotten the simpler things in life. Where this was the hardest question to answer as a child:

What is your favorite dinosaur?

I began asking everyone this question yesterday, continuing into today. And I mean everyone. To my surprise there are two types of people who answer. Those who answer quickly, and those who get confused by the question.

The ones who answer quickly are usually the ones who have small children in their lives. Either their own kids or grandkids. The other ones who have to think about it- do not have kids. The second group is also weirded out that I ask. And many do not remember anything about dinosaurs.

Just for fun, here’s the top five answers adults give me:

  • Triceratops
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex
  • Velociraptor
  • Ankylosaurus
  • Brachiosaurus/Brontosaurus

That is also pretty much the order of most popular to least. I had some people answer by describing the dinosaurs to me. Reaching way down into their memory banks of what these creatures once looked like. (That one with horns like a rhino… The one with a club tail… the dinosaur with a long neck). I also got into deep conversations with some about dinosaurs, museums, children, etc. This simple question opened up conversations.

My request for all of you out there- start conversations today with, “Mind if I ask you a question? What’s your favorite dinosaur?” You will be glad you did.

What Do You Say?

My daughter asked me a unique question the other day that I was unable to answer her immediately. She asked, “If you could give a motivational speech, what would you say?” This question was heavier than I expected. I had to think this one over.

Naturally I told her that I’d let her know. But she had me thinking about it all night. At least my daughter told me that I was inspiring with the majority of my blog posts. Hopefully she’s been reading my blogs! She’s also extremely intelligent and has a knack of reading people… just like her father.

Yes, she played me.

My daughter knew that in order to win me over she needed to “show” that she reads my blogs. Of course I do my best to be inspirational with what I write. Sometimes I write about my children and their achievements. Because their success is my success. I also love to write about the beauty in the world, even when it’s really tough to see it.

Even in my positivity, I have a dark side to my humor. I love to let it out and surprise people with my crudeness. Last night was no exception.

Our family sat around and played Cards Against Humanity. One of my favorite games for all the right reasons. It’s rude, vulgar, and downright funny to see our teenagers try and out do each other in the punchlines. Or try and play disturbing cards to gross each other out.

Like I mentioned though, I am good at playing people. I play the cards that I know will win based on each of their sense of humor. The first round was an easy win for me. The second round, the family started to use my technique against me. But it was more fun to see them strategize on who played what cards.

Cards Against Humanity has been humoring me for years now. We’ve seen it at conventions and I’ve bought into special edition cards that support a sort of anarchy. I’ve even shared the game with others and gotten them hooked on it. Evil, pure evil.

My motivational speech? It would have to be titled, “Play to the gallery.” Where every time I had to give a speech, I’d tell people what they want to hear.

Darts

I came home this evening and went into our storage barn looking for some wood. I think I found what I wanted. But in my search I found some coconut shells and my old dart board.

I took the coconut shells to my daughter’s room and told her that a horse had entered our barn. She was like “What?” I was like, “Ya!” Then pulled out the coconuts and clapped them together. The coconut shells made my daughter happy because it reminded us both of Monty Python And The Holy Grail.

The dart board brought more joy to everyone though. My son and I set it up to regulation height and marked the distance on the deck with a chalk line. We began to toss a few shots. We had a couple competitions, first counting up to 300, then down from 200. I won one game, he won the other. My son is loving the math aspect.

I’m happy that the dart board and case are still in great condition. I’ve owned it for nearly twenty years and it’s been in storage for about five years now. We will probably get many more years out of it. I’m also impressed that our kids are wanting to play and have the skill sets to do math quickly in their heads. Far quicker than I can it seems.

Maybe I should just go back to clapping the coconut shells together.

Transcendental Music

I worked for twelve hours. I drove for forty five minutes to get to work and forty five minutes to get home. I got home, I put on some music, and made dinner for everyone. We ate our burgers on the back patio, shared some stories of the day, and genuinely enjoyed each other’s company.

Slowly, everyone left the table. No words were said. Just one by one they left. Until I remained. Hoping one or more would return. But they did not. They left their dirty plates. They left me behind.

After about ten minutes, I changed the music. I put on some trance music by The Orb and stared off into the yard, listening to the music and the wildlife, eventually closing my eyes. I let the music take me away. Several moments passed. I had been zoned out. It was relaxing.

I miss listening to music for the sake of music. No lyrics. The occasional word is spoken. But the rhythmic nothingness of trance music with the sounds of birds chirping is zen like. I do not care that the dishes were left behind. Or that no thank you’s were offered up to me for working all day and making dinner. My wife also worked, so did our eldest. The other two had online school. We all had busy mental days. Busy happens.

Life is busy. We all experience it. Take a breather and don’t get angry. The dishes will get washed. The table will get cleared. The smiles will remain. The music will play. The time is now.

Just Ducking Wonderful

Living in the country on the outskirts of the suburbs is tranquil in many ways. I like the sounds of the birds and animals as they wander the neighborhood. Sometimes they get into our home, like the occasional hummingbird. But usually they just hang out in the trees and along the grass.

Today our fourteen year old son spotted a family of ducks nearby. He had to pull out his phone to snap a photo. He has a soft spot for cuteness. And judging by how many photos he takes of small critters, he’s probably going to own a dog or cat one day. Or maybe a reptile…

He did capture a tree frog the other day and made a home of leaves inside a large clear tub for the little guy. However… it escaped. We found el froggo on the dining room table this evening. I learned that the frog’s name is Gary Barry because of this.

Rhyming is fun! Losing a wild creature in the home is not. At least it’s back in a sort of captivity. We will probably set it free pretty soon. I don’t want to have it show up under our dishwasher like the last one in our home did. That would be ducking wonderful.