Bread

Bread is a big part of my daily diet. Toast, burgers or sandwiches- it’s a regular occurrence in my life. We go through bread products so much in our home that we rarely bother to make it fresh. It’s so much easier to just buy a few loaves each week and leave them in the cupboard.

Or on the counter apparently.

But the biggest issue I have is how to wrap or seal the bread bag once it’s opened. Our family has not come up with one style. Nor have I been able to find the culprit behind leaving the bag OPEN!

Unfortunately I taught my children how to flick snapped bread tags. So usually the tags are removed and found on the floor throughout the kitchen. Bad parenting decision from years ago. Do not teach your children this trick. Trust me. Your bread will stay fresher longer if those tags go back on.

How do you close your bread? Have you ever flicked bread tags? Let me know in the comment section.

Eighteen? How is This Possible?

I am beside myself. Our oldest daughter turned 18 today.

My goodness. I don’t even know what to feel. A part of me is so happy to have had all of these years growing up with her. Another part wants to go back and do it all again, only this time take it slower.

Throughout the years, we had our ups and downs. She often played up the fact that she was embarrassed by me and how I act. Especially when I was really proud of her accomplishments. I would cheer the loudest and even made signs to show my support to her. I always wanted to be around, even when she tried to shoo me away.

Perhaps that’s where my relationship with her is. Random, who like to be called Dom now, is a strong willed teenager. She is an adult now. It’s time to let her truly make her own mark in the world. Time for her to rise and fall as she navigates the next stages of her life.

And I will still be there for her. Shouting encouragement from the sidelines. This is my little girl. The one I swaddled and held close when she was born. Knowing that I had to do my best to protect her over the years.

I think it’s time to go get some tissues because this man’s eyes are full of tears.

Parent Volunteering

This afternoon I was with some of the Grade 12 parents as we prepared for tomorrow night’s festivities. There is a Speakeasy going on in Fort Langley as a fund raiser for the Dry Grad.

There were tons of props made already. Parents of Fine Arts students are equally as artistic as the children who attend the school. I’m glad to be a part of it all.

I was assisting with some painting and cooking. There is tons of finger foods and hors d’oeuvres for tomorrow’s dance. I enjoyed cooking on a gas stove once more. As we made food and props, we also enjoyed some music and some beverages.

Laughing and talking with other parents about our kids was great. We all have the same goal and want the best for our kids. Doing a Fund Raiser that also allows parents to have fun is a good way to break the ice and make memories for the parents (and later in the year- the teens).

Being a volunteer parent should be a mandatory job. I had nothing but fun with the mothers over the past few months and leading up to this afternoon. I’m looking forward to tomorrow night.

The Last Of It…

We have three teenagers in our home. They are witty, intelligent and caring of others. They are also moody, self absorbed and lazy. Not knowing which attribute we will see around the house is a fun game. A game I am not always prepared to play.

The worst part of this game is as a parent, I’ll ask a question of them. A question that I’m not expecting an answer to. More a rhetorical question that I want them to think about. As I grow older I realize that this is a typical “Dad Thing” to do. And my kids do the typical “Teenage Thing” as a response.

Here we see an example of what our kids love to do. They don’t quite use up everything. Just enough that they leave it for someone else to find/replace/change/throw out… a roll of toilet paper with one square… A carton of juice with five drops left… Sour cream with half a spoonful remaining… When I ask, “Who finished…?” I get the usual, “Not Me.” And sometimes, “It’s not empty…”

If I didn’t have to supply nourishment to them, there are some days I’d leave the fridge barren to prove a point. which I am tempted to do this weekend. Leave some lemon juice, a yogurt, pickled pepperoncinis, salad dressings and condiments- see how well they’d survive before asking for real food.

The joys of being a parent to three teenagers brings out my immaturity.

What My Teenagers Do On A Friday Night

Having teenagers can be difficult at times. Knowing what they’re up to in their free time can be even harder. My wife and I are lucky that we know exactly what ours are up to. They spend their Friday evenings at Speed Skating.

Our two oldest don’t just skate, they volunteer their time to be assistant coaches to the new and younger skaters. The new skaters are first on the ice every Wednesday and Friday. Seeing our daughters out there enjoying themselves and helping others has inspired our son to start joining them early as well.

After an hour and a half there is an ice cleaning. (The Zamboni Driver loves to give our high fives!) After which our kids hit the ice for their training. Which is far more rigorous. By the time we are home at 8:30 at night, our kids are tired and just want to veg watching some tv as a family.

Getting kids into sports is a great way to keep kids and teens out of trouble. As much as it pains my pocketbook and cuts into my free time, I’m happy and proud of who they are becoming. I’ll gladly give up my Friday night to watch them bring joy to some of the younger kids.

The Parents Who Volunteer

Fort St. John is a small community with a large Speed Skating Oval. While here, our kids got to experience a true sense of a tight knit community supporting their dreams.

The parents of almost every skater has volunteered their time in many aspects. From photography to lap counting to place judging and every background position possible. Setting up these meets and camps just to promote the kids and their goals.

The statue out front of the Pomeroy Sports Centre shows a father tying up his kid’s skates. This is the perfect representation of how sports bring forth a sense of family and camaraderie. I’ve tied my fair share of ice skates for many kids already. It’s a sense of encouragement that can mean so much out there.

I also love to hear the cheering going on for every child out there on the ice. The parents, coaches and other skaters cheer one another on. I’ve mentioned this before, but I still delight from the enthusiastic energy produced.

It makes all the difference in the world to many of these kids.

Parenting Nightmares

Over the past few nights I’ve had a tough time falling asleep. It’s rare for my mind to keep racing as I lay in bed. But the last few nights are different. I’ve been trying to come to terms with how to work in some preventative parenting towards our teenagers. It all stems from situations that have happened to other parents in my community.

I don’t usually share an opinion on emotional topics, nor do I usually discuss similar situations in my blog. Today is different. In Langley there were two recent loses of teenager life in two different ways. The kids were 14 and 15.

The first loss was a teen girl who took her own life. As many know, depression can hit hard to a great many people. It’s how we help others, or seek out help ourselves, that can be a changing point in this. I don’t have a magic fix to offer here. I have had friends battle depression. Some have lost that battle (such as my friend Jeremy) but many have tackled it successfully in a variety of ways. Suicide is a tragic answer and I always feel terrible hearing about it. Both for the loss of the life and for the friends and family that have to come to term with it and questioning whether they should’ve done more. Those questions are the hardest to find an answer to.

The other lose of life was a young boy at a skate park. I don’t know much about his life, but it sounded like he was a well loved kid and whose father treated him like a best friend. All the boy wanted to do was fit in, like many teenagers. Sadly he overdosed on narcotics. But what makes this story that much more saddening is that his “friends” were Snap Chatting his finally moments laughing about how he was tripping out. From what I understand, of those who saw the videos- no one did anything to help.

What I take away from this last situation is two things:

First- Drugs really are bad. I grew up as a kid hearing to “Say NO to drugs.” As a teenager, I lived right next door to where this teen lost his life. I’m not saying I was a smart teen/young adult living in that neighborhood. I think I felt pretty untouchable and indestructible like many teens. But I knew that it wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted and eventually left those “friends” behind. I was lucky, or smart, or unsure, but somehow I have gotten to this point in my life. I have seen and heard too many stories of drug use and overdoses and how it rips a family apart.

Second- Social media can be destructive. People hiding behind a cellphone sharing videos thinking it’s amusing. How are these teens going to deal with the loss of someone so young? A vigil was a great place to start for the grieving process. But again those questions come up, “why didn’t someone help sooner?” In today’s society we hear of far too many people thinking someone else will do something.

So as a parent, I talk to my kids on a regular basis. But when their eyes glaze over and they just nod and say, “yes dad” I just hope that my message is getting through to them. My wife and I can monitor every move they make. But we hope that they are willing to talk to us or help someone in need. Not to be the coward who thinks someone else will do something. Or fear of reprisals from their peers. The loss of a child’s life is the most tragic to bestow upon a family and community.

So stay vigilant out there. Try and help those who need it. Please share with me how you talk to your teenagers about suicide, drugs and social media. I’m sure I’m not the only parent trying to get through those hard talks. We could all use a little help.

Fastest Ice In The World

Calgary’s Olympic Oval is the reason we came out here this week. Our son attended a Speed Skating Camp at the Oval. He has his own ambitions and my wife and I want to see him succeed. I’m most impressed by how serious he is wanting to take his training.

Calgary’s Olympic Oval has the world’s fastest ice. Usually our son skates Short Track at our local ice rink and at similar meets in other ice rinks. He decided that he really wanted to get into Long Track Skating, so we got him out to Calgary to try it out. The first four days he wore his Short Track skates and dominated his own abilities.

Sadly, my wife and I ended up buying him his first pair of Long Track boots and blades. I say sadly more for our pocketbook. First these skates cost over $1000 and also the fact that we will be doing more traveling to other Long Track ice rinks in the coming years. There is also a new learning curve for him. But I think it’ll work out.

Our son wants to stand on the podium one day. He has set some lofty goals for himself. If my wife and I can help in any way, then we will. Next month- off to another Long Track for some more practice. In the mean time, lots of workouts and sideline cheering to keep him going.

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

Blanket Fort or Chores?

While my wife and I were away for the weekend with our son, we left our two oldest at home alone. At age 16 and 14 this was a good opportunity for them to earn some more trust from mom and dad. They are both well behaved and smart girls, so we really didn’t have too many concerns. Read as: No Parties.

Before we left, we gave them a few chores that they needed to do. Usually it takes my wife and I a bit of hounding to get the kids to do stuff around the house. Perhaps we should’ve been more diligent this weekend while we were in another province. When we returned home- it looked like they were expecting servants to clean up after them. (Aka mom and dad). None of their dishes were cleaned and their pizza boxes and lasagna tray from a few dinners before were cluttering up the counter.

Did they do the extra chores you may ask? Why, certainly not.

What they did do was this:

Our middle child made a blanket fort with loads of encouragement from her older sister. It stretched out from one end of our theater room into our main foyer, through to the disaster of a kitchen and around the corner into the dining room.

Our 14 year old daughter had done the entire thing on her own. That’s because she got bored while her sister was at work. Why couldn’t she just do her chores? She is very proud of her accomplishment and since there is another week of Spring Break- she will likely need that long to take it all down and re-fold the blankets and put everything away.

She was inspired by watching re-runs of Community. Growing up doesn’t mean losing sense of childish fun. But there is some grown up responsibilities to be had as well. Hopefully our examples of how to be adults will rub off on our kids.

If you’ll excuse me- I’m off to play some video games and then take a nap before working my night shift. See? Having fun and being responsible is possible.

What do you do to keep the childish fun inside of you alive? How do you balance responsibilities and fun?

Let me know in the comments.

Never Too Busy To Pause For Life’s Moments

Life can get pretty hectic. Especially towards the holiday season. Kids concerts, last minute gift shopping, year end work deadlines… Throughout it all, you need to remember to pause for a bit and just enjoy life.

It’s also tough to not want to compare your life with someone else’s. All those fun photos and memorable moments they’re having. Kinda wish I was doing the same sometimes. But my life is pretty darn good when I look at it. I just need to focus on what matters most to me:

My family.

They’re really good people who have stories to share with me. I need to remember to give them the attention that I give my social media feed. Sometimes I need to be an ear for them to talk to. Other times I just admire them without their knowledge. Catching those “Ah-Ha” moments when something clicks. Or seeing the kindness they can show others without being prompted.

Those are the moments I don’t want to miss. I just need to hit pause once in a while and enjoy.

Life Lesson

My son is only twelve years old and in grade 7. But he learned a tough lesson this week at school. He got suspended because of a fight that broke out the other day.

He wasn’t physically fighting, but he became one of the students in the small crowd of thirteen kids who watched and did nothing. Four of the students pulled out phones and filmed the situation. The rest cheered. Including my son who was caught on camera by one of the four kids. I support the school district’s decision about the punishment for all fifteen kids.

Yesterday at the end of school, my son was told that he was suspended. He was so distraught that his tears became heavy sobs.

I’m glad he learned this lesson now before adulthood kicks in. We’ve had a good discussion about what he could’ve done differently and what he plans to do next time. I also explained that as he gets older, there can be real world consequences for similar offenses.

His suspension has him home from school today. So I will be putting him to work doing some manual labor around the home. He knows that he better not argue with me about it.

Normally he is a great and loving child. This time he got caught up in the moment and made a poor decision which he has since regretted. I hope he learns from this and makes better choices to help people out instead of sitting idly by.

This Dad is There When Needed

Today my daughter needed me. So I was there for her in the best capacity I can be. She needed to be taken out, so I made sure to be there for her. Afterwards, we had some one on one time.

We went to a coffee shop near her school in Fort Langley called “The Blacksmith Bakery” for a mid morning breakfast. We each had a Chai Latte. I had a very tasty Butterfly Blue Matcha one. For breakfast I had a simple avocado toast with poached eggs. My daughter opted for a sticky bun. We had a good talk that I think we both needed.

Afterwards I took her home instead of school. She needed more dad time, so we continued it by decorating our home. She took a ton of photos as we played around and figured out where to put stuff. We listened to some comedy Christmas music as well. By the end of the day, she was smiling and joking.

She needed me today, so I was there for her. I really wish there was more I could do, but for now- I’m here when she needs me. Even if it’s just coffee and Christmas decorating.

Late Night/Early Morning

Having a late Friday night isn’t what it once was for me. Especially when I am required to have an early Saturday morning. Drinking and partying isn’t in play that’s for sure. This sacrifice is for our kids.

Friday evenings we spend a couple hours at an ice rink in our town while the kids practice Speed Skating. We get home by 9pm and have dinner. We hope to go to bed by 11pm. Saturday mornings we are up early to head out to a different ice rink that’s at least 45 minutes away from our home just so the kids can get one more hour of “ice time”.

Next weekend is the first competition. A good chance for the kids to see who they are up against this season. We kept our kids active all summer with dry land training, so hopefully their muscles can be better prepared.

If our kids didn’t like doing skating, we would’ve given this up years ago. But they love it. They have a drive and determination I don’t think I ever possessed. Plus, all of their friendships and competitions aren’t “ugly”. In fact at every meet, there is great sportsmanship shown.

They’re pretty good at this Skating thing. Volunteering my time is the least I can do for them. Calling out words of encouragement from the sidelines is my way of showing I care as well.

Dad Duty

My wife is away for the next few days at a Summit for her work. That means I’m in charge of the household! It’s my job as a father- But I’m not called a babysitter!

Our kids know that they need to help out during this time. They are pretty good when we need them to step up. Our oldest will make dinner for the next couple of nights. While the other two help with chores and cleaning. I don’t think there will be much pushback or arguing from them. If there are any problems, we can keep it a secret from my wife…

My wife tried to keep her enthusiasm at getting away to a minimum. I could tell she was looking forward to a couple of days out of the house. Before she left, she tried to give me advice on how “she did things” in the mornings. It seems there is a routine that she wants me to follow. I figure that it’ll all be fine for when she returns home.

It’s rare for me to be a solo parent for days on end. In fact, I can’t really think of a time that this has occurred for more than 24 hours. This summer, I am planning on dragging the kids away for some R&R- most likely without my wife. A few days in a cabin on a lake. I’m looking forward to it.

As long as these next few days work out…

Shared Cloud- A New Way to Parent?

About a month ago, I got myself a new cellphone. So I pulled the SIM card out of my old one and gave it to my son. Now he can play apps, take photos, and access the Internet.

However…

I chose to keep it connected to my iCloud account. Mostly to keep an eye on his online behavior and such. Of our children, he seems to be the one more prone to finding inappropriate things online. I’m not gonna lie- Part of that is my fault.

I don’t sensor what I say around my children. I also watch movies/ tv with our children that have a much stronger content rating than PG. (I do feel that an “R” rating in the 80’s and 90’s is much tamer than today’s standards.) Toilet humor is funny, so watching shows like Rick and Morty are something I share with my son. It also allows me to explain certain things if he has questions instead of “hearing it on the playground” like I had to growing up.

Sharing “The Cloud” is good. He knows I see what he sees and he can also see what I see- including saved photos. It has made me realize that some of my Memes are more questionable than they should be. My own moral compass is shifting.

So as I parent my son, he is also making me a better person.

Even if he does leave me messages to “Tuck Your Balls In.

Shine On

Remember when you were young?

I sometimes forget that I was once young. Not the kind of “forget” like of memories or events- more the forgetting of emotional struggles. Those tend to bubble up when I engage in frustrating talks with my children.

Remembering that my kids/teens have to go through struggles that I went through is challenging. I don’t want to yell, argue or say something to hurt their feelings. Their psyche needs to grow and develop. Remaining calm, cool and collected is the hardest part about parenting.

I don’t want to extinguish my children’s inner light either. Having strong personalities and allowing them to express themselves are great attributes that sometimes come at a price to my mental awareness. The price of having to know when to guide them, when to scold them, and when to let them have control. As long as we talk and discuss feelings, I have found they are more aware of how their actions work. I will always love them, even during difficult times.

Shine on you crazy diamond.

Parenting Out The Bad Behavior

Having children is wonderful.

I need to remind myself of this fact from time to time. Because as of late, our children are trying our patience.


They love to play a little game of “Mom vs Dad” and it drives us crazy. It’s not always the asking of something either. Like asking if they can go watch tv or eat some potato chips. Sometimes it’s just their behavior and the difference in how they treat us.


Lately our kids have been relatively rude to their mother but nice to me. As much as I kind of like the kindness generated towards me, I’m a teammate with my wife and she deserves the same respect. My wife and I don’t usually do good cop/bad cop. We are normally on the same page with respect to what we expect from our children.

My wife has thrown in the towel for the day, so I am going to play both roles for the next little bit. She will help from the sidelines still, but the kids need to come to me first.  It also means that they will get pretty tired of dad “being in charge” and will soon want happy mom back.

My style of parenting can be pretty demanding without much opportunity for them to talk back. I will keep them on the go so that they don’t have much time to think about excuses or a chance to hide.

I love my children very much. Usually they’re well behaved- particularly when outside of the home. We would like their good behavior to come home with them more frequently. It’s hard to live in the same household for years. Tempers flare and feelings get hurt. Trying to prevent this is what being a parent is all about.

Having children is wonderful.

Sisters

I am sometimes a horrible parent.

I know- hard to believe.

But let me share a story from Saturday night with you.

My wife and I went out for the evening to enjoy dinner and music.  We left our 3 children at home- none of them put in charge mind you.   So our evening out was for about three hours and on our way home I called our oldest daughter.  I asked her if she could meet us outside our home so she could give us some reusable bags and we would go buy soda and chips. She was more than happy to oblige, because junk food. We met her just up from our house and she decided she wanted to come with us.  So I asked if she saw her brother or sister before she left. Now the fun began.


As we drove up the road to the store, I decided to call our other daughter on her new cell phone.  She answered quickly so we talked for a bit. Then I asked where her older sister was because Random wasn’t answering her phone. She told me that Random was taking bags to meet us and had just left.  I then put on “worried dad voice” and said that we hadn’t even left the restaurant yet. Darwin became frazzled and was sure that her sister was meeting up with us.  I kept up the charade and told her I am hanging up the phone now to try and call her older sister back.


After a few minutes of my snickering in the car with my wife and Random, I decided to call Darwin back. Darwin was now in panic mode.  She kept saying that she was certain her sister was going to meet up with us.  I couldn’t help myself- I kept up the facade… I told her how much trouble her sister was going to be in when I found her.  I then told Darwin that I had to go and make some phone calls.  Moments later, Random began getting texts from a panicky little sister wondering where she had gotten to.


I went into the store and did the quick shopping with my wife.  About ten minutes later we were back at the car just as our oldest daughter was getting a FaceTime call. Random answered it and promptly turned the screen into my face. All I could see was Darwin and Theory staring at me in disbelief.  Then the connection went dead.

I tried repeatedly to call her.  But she wouldn’t answer the phone.  We got home and I tried to text her. My prank had not been received very well. My 13 year old daughter was right pissed off:


I was in her bad books for the rest of the weekend.  At least I know she will look out for her sister.  I also know that her sister didn’t play along with my prank. The two of them may fight and bicker, but in the end I know they have each other’s backs.

Now to try and make it up to my daughters.  This one will be tough… I am worried they may seek revenge on me one day.

Shift In Focus

My wife and I have come to a conclusion: we need less stuff cluttering our home. We are just inundated with belongings. Our home has become a catch all for things. Paraphernalia that her family or my family have decided necessary for us to possess or keep. 


Sometimes it’s even the newest toys and games that we all desire that takes over our home. (I’m looking at you Skylanders, Amiibos and Lego Dimmensions). The hardest part is saying no.  No to the freebies, no to the newest trend, no to spending money on junk. Sure, we now have stuff to show for it. And my family is pretty damn good at keeping things in near mint condition. 


Time to do away with wanting all of those possessions. We are going to attempt to become minimalistic. Both in our home and what we desire.  The big focus will be maintenance on our home and travel.  Lots more travel.  My recent vacation really made me appreciate how much beauty there is in the world.  We were really only a few hundred kilometers away from our home but still experienced wonderment. There is so much more to experience if we just venture a bit further. 

Time to start pinching pennies and those travel points. Life isn’t long enough to just be rooted down. I’m getting excited about the ideas.  So is my family.  

Look out world! 

The Havelka’s want to take you all in!

Good Rest

Getting a good sleep is something I never thought I needed. Today is proving difficult to function.  I rarely have days like this.  Usually I can get a full sleep or a couple naps when needed.  But even after 7 hours in bed, I feel like I could have slept double that.  

Unfortunately I have commitments today.  Ones that I really couldn’t give up on.  Perhaps the word “unfortunately” isn’t the best one to use. Tonight my son and his class are performing a year end show in the school auditorium.  There will be singing, dancing, and acting.


Most people cringe at the idea of watching young children perform.  Our children aren’t always front and center.  They aren’t the lead role or solo singers.  But they enjoy being a part of the groups.  They love knowing that there are no small parts. 

We are lucky to have our children in a Fine Arts School.  It pushes their imagination and abilities.  They explore their talents and discover some hidden talents.  The year end performance showcases these skills.  Our children love being here.


I really enjoy watching them perform as well.  I always made sure to see each and every performance that our children have done.  It can be draining and stressful to make sure I am present.  Days like today, where a part of me would rather be in bed, I won’t pass up the chance to see the show. I will push through the exhaustion and show my love and support.  Because that’s what a parent should do. 

Am I Doing This Right?

I’m not sure if or when it may have happened.  Apparently I am an adult. 


Yup.  This guy.  The one with a wife and three kids.  


I own a home with a mortgage. I also have car payments and bills.


This same guy who filled his garage with Lego some 12 years ago instead of parking his car is an adult. Yes, my shirt says “MUST BE THIS TALL TO RIDE”.


My version of becoming an adult is filled with “Dad Jokes” and silliness.  I can have all the responsibilities but continue to have the fun that I never wanted to give up. Being an adult isn’t easy.  But at the end of the day if I have food, shelter and a smile on my face- that’s a big win. 

This adulting thing is interesting to say the least.  Am I doing it right? I wonder what Mr. Smileyballoonface thinks?

One Race Closer to Pursuing The Gold


About a year ago I shared a story and aspirations I have for my son.  Here is the link: My Son- The Future Olympian.  Today I am with him again as he is working hard competing in another set of races.  This time we are at the Richmond Oval on the outskirts of Vancouver.  This was the location where the Speed Skating events were held during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.


Throughout the building there are inspirational images of the past Canadian athletes that partook in previous Olympics.  Seven years later- the facility is well maintained and busy.  The city has split the large oval into two separate rinks, and a dozen basketball courts. There’s a ping pong table tournament area as well as a sectioned off for a Cheerleading competition.  (Coincidentally, the Cheerleading competition that my daughter will be attending later today.)


These skating meets can be overwhelming.  The hardest part about these competitions is the waiting.  Waiting alongside racers from other clubs can feel intimidating.  Before the races, my son hangs out with his friends in the facility-  often playing on iPads, iPhones, or wandering around and even taking a break to play drop-in ping pong during lunch.  There is a special camaraderie in our skating club.  As the skaters are on the ice- the rest of the group cheers from the stands offering encouragement.


All of this waiting is for his two minutes of ice time.  During his two minutes of work- my son pushes his limits.  At his age, places don’t matter as much as his times for his age group.  So even if he comes in third out of five, his time may push him up another level for the next meet.  He wants to beat his personal best times. Sometimes he wants to improve his stance and form- so he focuses intently on that.   


When he gets on the ice- it’s him vs his own nerves.   He has a determination that shows up when he is on the ice.  As if he is the only soul in the arena.  The last person who can psyche him out is himself.  He has put himself out there and pushes his boundaries.

I’m proud of our son.

Raise it right

Being a parent is difficult.  We are often sharing advice with friends about raising children.  We are all on the same path- hoping our kids learn to be a productive functioning members of society.  This journey is a difficult one.  No matter what stage of parenting you are at, there is always someone you turn to in order to figure out what to you should do.  

From the first sense of “I better do everything I can to just keep this living creature alive” to “these monsters will be the death of me” to “I can’t wait until they move out”- raising kids is a crazy game.  Plenty of other parents out there are doing their best, just like us.


Doing the right thing when raising kids isn’t always easy.  We try and show them the pathway to a good life but of course, they don’t always listen.  I know I didn’t listen to my parents when I was a teen.  But it’s my mistakes that I want my children to avoid.  

However, mistakes are inevitable.  It’s a good learning experience for everyone.  As long as we grow and try to change our behavior to improve ourselves, then mistakes are good.


I have friends looking at mine and my wife’s parenting style.  Sometimes we are doing the right thing, other times, we are guessing just like the rest of you.  This weekend I had breakfast, lunch and dinner dates with friends.  We spoke of our lives and inevitably we began talking about our children.  I have noticed that the struggles are similar in many ways.  We all love our kids but they make us crazy when they don’t listen.

As much as it pains me when my kids are hurt, I pick them up, brush them off and let them try again.  Watching them break rules is aggravating when you have to dole out punishments.  We can’t always be the good guy.

I’m proud of all of the accomplishments our children have done.  When they succeed, I feel like we’ve done something right as parents.  

At the end of the day I just hope that when our children look back on their lives, they appreciate what we did to guide them.

Raising Atheist Children

I’m astonished by my 10 year old son. He told me the other day that he is uncomfortable singing a Christmas song at school and doesn’t want to sing some of the lyrics. I asked him what song and why.  

The song is “Away In A Manger.”

He said he doesn’t think he should have to sing it since he is an Atheist and doesn’t believe in god or Jesus and he feels uncomfortable singing about them. We fully respect him for his decision. I also told him that if the teacher asks why he isn’t singing, that he should express those feelings to her.  His comfort level around me vs a teacher may be very different.  I understand that at his age he may not be able to express his concerns to an authority style person.  If he needs us to explain to the teacher why he isn’t singing, we will.

This isn’t the first time my son has expressed that he is an Atheist.  The other memorable moment that I have witnessed was when he was seven and said to another child that he doesn’t believe in god.  This other child was dumbfounded and started asking my son how someone could not believe in god.  This other little boy just couldn’t grasp the concept.  Perhaps in the same way that my son can’t grasp the concept of believing in god.

The warmth of my home is all I need.


Now, back to the Christmas Season, as an Atheist I still enjoy the holidays.  I wish people a Merry Christmas.  I sometimes say Happy Holidays.  I gladly and respectfully return a greeting to friends or strangers based on their beliefs.  When I was a child, I had to sing religious based carols because I was going to a Catholic school.  A part of me still enjoys hearing them from time to time since they remind me of my childhood.


The idea of a mythical person bringing gifts through a chimney to place under a tree inside our home has always been a part of my family’s Christmas.  Sometimes we open gifts on the 24th, 25th or 26th.  The date doesn’t matter.  Baby Jesus isn’t a part of our custom.  If anything, we are sharing in the Winter Solstice with family and friends.  

The church near my home.

The other church near my home.


As an Atheist parent, I normally don’t discuss religions with my family.  My children have asked in the past why we don’t go to church and I’ve explained why this is.  I have also explained to them that they are more than welcome to explore different ideologies throughout their lives.  Currently, all of our children feel that they are Atheists.  I’m not going to close off their own free will to explore and question life.  If they so choose to find religion or god, that is their choice.

A humorous read about being Atheist.


Reading books is the best way to find answers in this world.  We encourage our children to read and expand their knowledge through books.  As well, if they have questions about anything, they are encouraged to ask.  Sometimes our dinner topics can be uncomfortable, but my wife and I don’t feel the need to sugar coat or ignore their queries.  Being an Atheist doesn’t mean we can’t be open minded.  Far from it actually.  

If a time comes that our children do become religious- we will respect their choice.  First and foremost, being a parent is about love and understanding.