Salty Joe

I love eating salty foods. Chips, fries, popcorn, pretzels… that sort of thing. Foods like that goes well with beer or sodas. We all know I like my beers… my belly shows it all too often.

Tonight I made Pretzel Bites with the help of our son. It was from a recipe by Terri. She introduced me to donuts! Here is her Pretzel recipe: Perfect Pretzel Bites with Honey Mustard Dip. By the way, the dip is great as well!

The family gathered in the kitchen to make dinner and do dishes. So we snacked on the pretzel bites while dinner was made. Lots of smiles and pigging out on this little appetizer before dinner. Like a regular Kitchen Party!

You have to make the pretzel bites. So amazing. My wife said I need to make them weekly now.

Pre-Grad Photos

Today our oldest daughter sort of did her graduation ceremony. I say sort of because it happened without fanfare, just some video cameras and a few classmates.

The school had the art majors come in to be filmed as they crossed the stage. The larger groups of students were lined down the halls standing at markers. From there, only four went into the auditorium at a time. Then one would walk across the stage and pause in various spots as they were filmed and such. No audience. And only a handful of teachers. The rest of the world (family and friends) will see an edited version of the ceremonies June 17th- the original date of the Grad.

For the rest of the week, our daughter gets to hold onto her grad gown. My wife and I are planning on making the most of it and take a metric ton of photos. We already began tonight. We got lucky that our daughter has had the biggest smile all evening. Many of the photos were far more fun than I expected.

Today was a bittersweet day that’s for sure. It was already going to be bittersweet knowing that she has put in a lifetime of schooling that culminated to this final moment. We also drove up to her elementary school where she first entered the school system, just to get that photo.

Her smile was obviously genuine. And I did capture numerous other candid photos. But I cannot share them, she would be more embarrassed than she will be seeing this post. Even though I am totally a proud parent!

Wanna see pictures of my kid??

Bucket List Places?

Once the restrictions on travel get lifted, will you be planning a vacation?

Personally, I think I’ll wait a bit. But I also realized that there is a great big world out there that I’ve missed out on already. I now want to see more of this planet than ever before. Mostly because I’m being told to stay home!

Of the vacations and travel I have done, the best times was spent with my family. We’ve taken our kids from California to Tokyo, Hawaii to Calgary. These are top of my lists- especially to travel to with kids/teens. I have now created a small list of places I still want to go to as a family. Now to figure out when to get there and how to afford it!

  • Peru
  • Brazil
  • Hong Kong
  • Shanghai
  • Czech Republic
  • Russia
  • Ireland
  • Road trip across Canada

The last one is what I’d love to do with my wife. Do a fun road trip in a camper van or small RV once we retire. Spend a few months just picking up and going everywhere we can. Plus if we’re on the move, it’ll feel like a grand adventure!

This summer we would like to be camping more than before. Not glamping. We’ve never done that, yet. Or we may just stay in our yard and live the best quarantine life we can! But I want to travel!!!

Rain Filled Movie Night

Last night we hit the Twilight Drive In for a retro double feature. The family piled into the car and we were off… two and a half hours before showtime. Even though we bought tickets in advance, it was sold out and we have a few spots that are a “Must Have” when watching from the car.

We’ve done the local Drive-In numerous times in the past. Many times for our son’s birthday (same with last night). Even though last night was quite the rainy evening, we stayed for both films. It made for added effects to our viewing of Back to the Future / Back to the Future II.

Of course, our car battery died halfway through the second film. I ran the car during the intermission in order to try and keep the battery alive. The seven speaker stereo, defogger and wipers did the battery in. But since we’ve done this before, I knew to bring a backup radio. Because, you know… the movie watching is important! By the end of the second film, the car started up again with no issues.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot- our son lost one of his final baby teeth from a hard candy in between the films. I told him the tooth fairy does not visit teenagers. He was not at all phased. That’s because the tooth fairy still made an appearance.

Go figure.

Our Boy is Fourteen

Where does the time go? Our son is 14 today. Every year I write about him on his birthday, as I do with each of our children. Okay, I write about our children more than just on their birthdays. But on their Birthday, it’s always about them. Here’s a quick snippet about him and his day.

He’s quite the charmer. He knows how to make people happy through his kind acts. Theory also has impeccable manners and is respectful of everyone. It makes me happy to see that our parenting has paid off. Plus he has two wonderful big sisters who have steered him towards being the great kid that he is.

Today was a fairly subdued celebration. We had a big breakfast, followed by opening of gifts. My wife and I finally purchased the trick scooter he wanted. Later this evening, we will be attending Back To The Future at The Twilight Drive In. It’s a sold out show and they predict rain. That will be fun seeing how to cram three teenagers and two adults into a small suv!

But as far as Birthdays go, this one is pretty good for him. And he seemed very happy with what he got. Especially the handmade gifts from his sisters. (A painting and a Star Wars pillow).

Happy 14th Birthday Theory! May the Force Be With You!

The Darkest Timeline

Since mid-March I have grown to accept that the world will not be returning to its former self any time soon. My birthday falls on The Ides of March, and since then, I have been growing, what I call, a COVID Beard.

I’ve grown facial hair in the past. Back in the mid-1990’s- I had the goatee. Soul patch in 2008. Mustache for Movember in 2011. I’ve donned a beard on occasion for Halloween so that I can look like Obi-Wan.

Not going to lie, but I do look more youthful when clean shaven. I always have. My wife thinks I look far sexier without the facial hair. I had more options for cosplay and costumes, that’s for sure.

This COVID Beard of mine has surprised many of my coworkers and friends. Probably because they haven’t seen me with facial hair very often. Many say I look more intimidating and menacing. Today I trimmed and created “The Darkest Timeline” inspired beard. Very fitting with the world’s state. And the opinions of those around me.

Maybe once this is over, I’ll go back to how I once looked.

#sixseasonsandamovie

Modeled After Memories

Recently I was cleaning out our storage, sort of… I got sidetracked pretty quick and the cleaning ended in about five minutes. I discovered some old models that I somehow acquired.

When I was about 9 or 10, my father decided that he and I would make model airplanes together. That lasted about ten minutes. My attention span was dedicated to video games or cartoons. (GI Joe and Transformers: FTW!) Hanging with my father was never on my list. Mostly I was afraid of his temper. In the end, he half built the model on his own and gave up.

When my father was diagnosed with cancer, he needed a hobby to take his mind off the inevitable. So he bought these two models. They were never opened. I don’t know why. But they ended up in my possession at the end of 2000. Twenty years later, I’m ready to give these away.

Only I can’t.

My son wants us to build them together. We have a father/son connection that I never had growing up. Let me hold back the tears a moment. Perhaps these models can be created with love. We can create a memorable moment. One that I can add to the thoughts of my father. Create a model relationship and add some positivity to my childhood.

Back To The Drive-In

This Saturday is our son’s 14th birthday. With the world being what it is, no party will be happening. But we still want to make it special for him.

It just so happens that our local Drive-In Theater The Twilight Drive-In is playing retro movies. This is due to the fact that the movie studios are not releasing anything new. The Drive-In allows for social distancing in our cars as a family. Which is perfect. The film series this week? Back to the Future.

Our family has always loved the Back to the Future series. Back in 2010 at The Calgary Expo, we met a couple who built replica DeLorean and was taking donations for Parkinson’s Research. We took some photos that created the start of some fantastic memories.

Fast forward to October 2015. We are now in California at another convention… our son decided to cosplay as Marty McFly. He had a great time taking photos and pretending to be Marty.

This Saturday will be a fun night of watching a double feature. BTTF and BTTF 2. When I was younger, I rented Back to the Future 2 on VHS when it first came out. I watched it 9 times in a row during the one day rental we had. Needless to say, I enjoyed the film.

So come on out to the Drive In the Saturday and walk past to say Happy Birthday to our son!

Things My Kids Made For My Wife

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and our three kids made gifts for their mom. Each was a bit of them being gifted in a way that my wife can relate to.

First was the Lego Minifig our son pieced together. He felt it was a pretty close replica of my wife. With the hoodie and long reddish hair.

Our middle did a My Little Pony Mod. She put new hair in the pony, created a new cutie mark and added a Ningen Headwear Fox Hat. That’s my wife’s go-to hat during colder weather.

Our oldest did what she does best- she painted. She chose to make a Powerpuff Girls painting. Watching PPG was the connection my wife and I shared during our first year of dating.

The creativity and thought put into each gift makes me happy. It’s good to see the kids showcase their fun side while still sharing what they feel represented their mother.

My Wife- A Fantastic Mother

Today is Mother’s Day. My wife loves being a mother. I can’t imagine a world where we didn’t meet and have children. Since 2002, my wife has been a mom.

Now the kids are getting older. The teenage years are aplenty. And they are of the capacity to decide what to do for Mother’s Day. So far our two youngest have made her breakfast in bed. Now my wife is playing video games with our middle child. Our oldest will return from work shortly, at which point they are going to head out to visit their Oma. Physically distancing of course. But to see the smiles on her grandchildren’s faces is something that hasn’t happened since Christmas.

Besides breakfast in bed, the only gift my wife has received is a Lego Minifig that our son made. It really looks like my wife! I can share any other images at this time, as the other two kids haven’t given their gifts yet. Tomorrow I’ll be sharing those pictures and stories.

Until then, Happy Mother’s Day Lee-Anne! May it be relaxing and peaceful.

Quiet Yard

Today is peaceful in my backyard. There’s no sounds of cars racing down the road. Nor is there lawnmowers or pressure washers. All I can hear is the faint sound of crows off in the distance as the wind gently whistles through the trees.

So I invited some friends and coworkers over. It was surprisingly fun as we spaced ourselves away from one another. It was a Social Distancing Socializing at our place.

No wives. No kids. Just lawn chairs and axe throwing. Of which my guests brought everything. It was a ton of fun. And it ended early. Hence why I’m posting about it.

I hope y’all are having a great time together these days!

Another Hummingbird In Our Home

Today a hummingbird flew up to the skylight in our sunroom. My wife went on the roof and covered it with a blanket and I stood on the dining table to catch the little rascal.

This is the second time we’ve had a hummingbird in our home. The last time was a couple years ago- Wildlife House.

Here’s a quick video of me setting this little fella free that I shared on My Instagram. Enjoy.

After The Rain

I love the skies after the rain. The way the clouds disperse or rainbows appear- make for a beautiful show. Especially in the spring time.

Over the next few days, the sun should start to make an appearance a bit more frequently. This rain has been beneficial to our gardening that’s for sure. But those plants also need some sunshine.

The transition in the center of the seasons is probably my favorite part. Not the start of spring or summer, or fall or winter. But the middle bit. The part that we live out between the start and end of the seasons. The Uncelebrated parts.

Star Wars Day: Revenge of the Fifth

Yesterday evening while I was at work, my family watched another Star Wars film: “Rogue One”. After that, our two youngest watched the “The Phantom Menace”. That is probably my least favorite film but my kids find something in the film amusing. Probably because it is so despised by many in the Star Wars saga that it is reaching a bizarre Cult status. There are a few scenes that I enjoy, but not many.

Move along…

Since today is the day after Star Wars Day. I still enjoy celebrating the film franchise for a day or two after. (Let’s be serious for a bit, I celebrate Star Wars almost daily). This morning, my daughter and I were enjoying my favorite film in the franchise- “Empire Strikes Back”.

We watched Episode V on May Fifth. (I love numbers and making connections like that.) SW:ESB is in my top five films of all time. I can recite it almost word for word. I love that it was more humorous than the original, yet there was ongoing character development.

Discussing Star Wars and the story telling techniques with my children is pretty cool. Our oldest daughter wants to make her own films and our other daughter wants to write stories. Creativity flows within our family. The kids have a keen sense of how music and lighting also play key parts in movies as well.

What’s your favorite Star Wars film? Let me know in the comments.

Star Wars Day(s)- 2020

It’s May 4th. That means Star Wars Day! (You know, “May the Fourth be with you.”). Since many of you are in isolation, the next few days would be a perfect time to marathon all of the Star Wars movies.

Since I was working the night shift, my son wanted me to wake him up when I got home so we can watch “Rise of Skywalker” before I go to bed. I think I’ll make it through this film, but no others today.

Personally, my favorite is “Empire Strikes Back”. Previously I’ve marathoned the first six films in one sitting. I’m going to do all nine one day. Maybe one of my friends or readers are going to try and stay awake watching the Skywalker Saga films consecutively.

Until tomorrow- (Revenge of the Fifth) May The Fourth Be With You.

Homemade Pizza

We have been enjoying baking and dough making over the past few weeks. Last night I made pizza dough and we put on our own toppings for individual pizzas.

It was like returning to my time at Chuck E Cheese’s. I made the dough, weighed it out into 200g balls, put oil on them, covered them in plastic wrap and let them rise before rolling them out.

While the dough was proofing, I prepared all the toppings. Slicing peppers, onions, tomatoes, then grating cheese and frying sausage. once the pizzas were made, into the oven for 15 minutes at 475°. The final trick to making the pizzas taste delicious once out of the oven was 100% from the Chuck… A brushing of melted garlic butter on the crust.

The family loved dinner. We will probably do it again in the future. And for dessert- my wife made fresh cinnamon rolls. Baking is awesome.

Blanket Fort Bedroom

Our kids decided to make another blanket fort in our living room.

It’s not as intricate as the one our daughter made last year. But it’s still unique and fun.

I decided to check it out from inside. It seems my kids didn’t want me to in fears that I could possibly destroy it. I am getting a bit too old to slither around on the ground. But I did my best to take a tour of the inside of their temporary shelter. It was laid out quite nicely. They even had some artwork set up inside it.

Two of the teens plan on sleeping in the blanket fort. We’ll see how they do. Pretty sure they won’t get a good sleep and be grumpy in the morning. But hey, you have to sleep poorly sometimes to appreciate your bed once more.

Calendar of Events

Our kids are doing the “at home school” stuff these days. These days they’re doing well keeping up with the assignments as well as joining their online classes.

Our kids are great at putting up their unique school schedule up on our calendar. The planning started off slow as the teachers and students tried to navigate this new world they are learning in. But now there is plenty of action going on. As well as emails and online learning at their own leisure.

This new process is working for our kids. Mostly. There’s a few snags, like making sure they are putting in 100% effort in the homework. Or lack of socializing with peers to discuss ideas. But this is uncharted territory for learning. It could become the new normal. And as a human race, we adapt and overcome.

Even though the days are passing by, and the kids have been stuck inside, our calendar is getting filled.

Clam Chowder!

After work, I came home to the smell of a delicious dinner. a dinner I haven’t had in ages. Not one that we make very often, even though it’s not very difficult to make.

My wife made clam chowder for dinner tonight. It was amazing. Bacon, onions, garlic, potatoes, clam, cream sauce, all put together in one amazing soup. But my wife did something extra for our dinner.

My wife made fresh bread bowls for our chowders. The buns were so hearty that we each filled our bread bowls a second time. And scarfed those down as well.

The dinner was so good, we ate the bowl. And my daughter let me take pictures of her. It was a Chowder Miracle! One that doesn’t come around very often. So I took full advantage of it.

I always enjoy our family meals. We have a great time talking and joking. We also like to repeat dinners that are easy and tasty at the same time. Hopefully Clam Chowder makes a reappearance in the future.

Can’t Stop Cooking and Baking

Our children are adamantly wanting to be doing more cooking and baking these days. Over the past few weeks we’ve made Pasta, Churros, and Donuts. Today, we made all of them!

We are getting better at the recipes as well. There’s still the occasional blunder- adding the butter a bit late in the churros or the donuts not rising because of old yeast. But we are still enjoying all of the splendors. My wife also made her first ever cheesecake the other day. It was delicious!

I want to start working towards some more recipes that are savory instead of sweet. Maybe learn to make my own potato chips or something. Who knows, but my deep fryer has been turning out some fantastic desserts.

Have you been baking more these days? Or trying to expand your horizons a bit? Let me know in the comments.

1.5 Lungs

It’s been a little over 40 years now. I was about two and a half when the doctors performed an upper lobectomy on my left lung. I can remember bits and pieces of the post surgery recovery. I remember waking up in the post op recovery area and staring at the ceiling at five different televisions. All of which were showing different cartoons with no sound on. This was the first time I saw Mighty Mouse, Popeye, Tom and Jerry, and Hanna Barbera. All in glorious colour and all at once.

Over the past four decades I haven’t always taken care of my health. I struggled to breathe as a child in a home where my father smoked regularly. I just kind of adapted to shallow breathing. In my early teens I had my lung capacity tested numerous times to see how I was doing and why I always felt tired. (I’m still always tired). No definitive results ever came my way.

Then there was a time, post high school, where I smoked for a few years. That I regret. It forced me to become reliant on an inhaler more frequently now.

I may seem normal on the outside, but inside I am missing a portion of my left lung. As I watch the world, I am conscious of the fact that I am more susceptible to a lung virus and would truly struggle with recovery. Although I continue to go to work, I wash my hands frequently, sanitize door handles and my work station numerous times, as well as avoid close contact with my coworkers.

But they don’t know that I am extra paranoid and selfish about my own health. I’ve worked there for nearly 13 years and many of my coworkers have no idea about the fact that I’m missing part of a lung. They don’t know that I stress about the possibility of getting sick.

On my days off, I just stay home. I spend time with my family and we have a great time. Trying out new cooking and baking recipes and lots of video games! It helps to take my mind off the fears I have inside.

Sweet Sixteen in Social Isolation

Today is our daughter’s sixteenth birthday. Unfortunately with the world being the way it is, we are unable to make this birthday an extravagant one. The plan was to take her out to get her “L” so that she could begin to learn driving. We would also have gone for dinner at our favorite sushi restaurant- Nikko Sushi- but it’s just not in the cards for today.

And that’s totally fine. Because we have our health. And we have our memories of her previous birthdays. Each of them unique in their own way.

One year we took her to Build-A-Bear. Another time she was on an airplane flying back from Hawaii. We’ve been in the car on a road trip to another province. We’ve been at a few different conventions. A couple of times we went out bowling. One time she was competing at a Cheer competition.

But my favorite memories were spent at home. Where we made her a cake, gave her gifts that were created with love, and did the things she wanted to do. Like watch a movie or play a game. This year is no different. There is a great joy that we share in being home as a family.

So today, as our daughter celebrates her 16th Birthday, the sun will be shining down on her as she fills our lives with happiness.

Happy 16th Birthday Darwin!

Easter Hunt 2020

Our kids aren’t kids anymore. They have become teenagers. Two of which are cresting the second half of their teen years as well. Driving, jobs, and teen angst a plenty… Oh my.

However, my wife loves to treat them like children on occasion. Especially when it comes to those childhood memory maker dates. Be it at Christmas, Halloween or Easter. Today was no different.

Last night the “Easter Bunny” hid some eggs, chocolates and candies throughout our living room. The same room the “Santa” visits. Our kids all know this. I guess what I’m saying is that our teenagers still hunt for Easter eggs.

There is the joy of the hunt. Discovering more challenging spots where the Easter Bunny can get to. They also appreciate the junk food that’s for sure.

And as they have done every years for Easter and Halloween- they divide up their haul amongst one another. I think this began when we realized the oldest was always getting the most, while the youngest got the least. Today was the opposite. Our youngest brought in the biggest collection and had to spread it out.

These traditions are important to my wife and I. As our children become adults, the traditions may evolve over time. Or make an egg-ception, like when we went to Tokyo DisneySea in 2018. But we will continue to make sure those imaginary gift givers keep visiting.

Disneyland Churros

Disney released the greatest thing ever this week. They released their churro recipe for those of us at home who miss attending the parks. The recipe is extremely easy. Find it at Disney Parks Blog Churros.

Of course, we HAD TO MAKE THEM!

My kids had a great time helping make the churros, deep fry the churros, sugar the churros and of course- eat the churros!

It was a fun bonding time with the kids and surprisingly easy to make. (Especially with a deep fryer). I highly suggest those who love churros and miss the most magical place on earth- try this recipe. It’s a great way to bring the magic home.

And don’t forget to listen to your favorite Disney music while making them!

Putting the Fun in Funeral

Facebook reminded me of my first ever tagged photo.

The picture is of my father’s gravestone. It got me thinking, especially with everything going on in the world, about my funeral. No, I’m not being morbid. I’m thinking about how my service would go. I’d start it off with Dead by Korn. The song has some bagpipes in it that go back to my Scottish roots on my mother’s side.

Click on the image to hear the song “Dead” by Korn

“All I want in life is to be happy (happy) All I want in life is to be happy (happy) All I want in life is to be happy (happy) All I want in life is to be happy (happy)
It seems funny to me
How fucked things can be
Everytime I get ahead
I feel more dead”

It’s a pretty accurate song about life. I’d like to be playing “All I want in life is to be happy” on repeat very silently during the service.

As the final song to say farewell to me in that day, I’d like to have playing is Just a Man by Faith No More. I love the climax of the song and his voice is gospel at times. It would be a prefect send off. Here is a link to the live performance: Faith No More 1997.

What are your funeral songs? Is it tough to think about your own mortality?