Take the Time…

My children love getting my attention.  On the weeks that I work four night shifts, they don’t really see me until my first day off.  So on that day, they all clamor for my attention.  As much as I want some time to myself to unwind a bit, I know that I should spend the time with them.  So I did.  

This afternoon, my son approached me and wanted to assemble a wooden toy he had bought at the Calgary Expo back in April.  I really wanted to say no, but knew that it would be better to work with him on it at a time that worked for him.  He was attentive and very focused as he put it together.  I held the pieces and cleared the excess glue as we went.  He was very happy with the final result and is wanting to put it on display in his room.  

As my son and I were working together, my daughter sat to watch and asked if we could build one of her models next.  As reluctant as I wanted to be, I still said yes.  So we built a cute little anime style panda together.  All I had to do was take the pieces off the plastic tray and she assembled the entire thing.  When we finished, she ran off and took a bunch of photos of her Panda and her other matching bear in pretend battles.

Both projects took less than 15 minutes each.  My children were so happy to have me there to help, even though we all knew that they really didn’t need me for the projects.  It was a nice way to say “I love you” and spend time together. Putting my children first when it comes to these moments are important to me and to them. 

As tired as I might be, or as annoyed as I might feel, putting those feelings aside for thirty minutes made all the difference in the world this afternoon.  Everyone was happy at dinner, we all sang and joked as well.  Pretty sure it was all because of the little things in life that we do for each other.

Now I am off to have quality time with my wife as we drive out to visit some friends.  My days off aren’t really days off.  😊

What’s My Age Again?

I went for breakfast with a coworker this morning.  We are fairly similar in age and are of the same mindset in many ways.  Talking with him we discussed work, people, children, movies, and the 80’s.  He has a similar outlook on life as I did. Where as I saw television as a “third parent”, he called it “the church of tv”.  TV was where we learned our moral compass and how to be decent people in this world.

I often forget how old I am. All it takes is a breakfast with a friend for the realization to creep up on me. We laughed about bad movies and the stupid people we know.  But what gets me is how right he was about our ages.  For some reason we grew up in the vortex of being able to relate to nearly everyone.  We saw the rise of cable tv, video games, portable communication devices, the internet… We are also witnesses to the decline of some of those things as well. And then the rise of nostalgia for it all.

I don’t need to share those lists that float around on Facebook about “growing up in the 80’s” or “being a kid in the 90’s” for me to understand that I did both.  I even survived the 00’s and the tail end of the 1970’s.  I can relate to nearly everyone I meet on some level.  Except for people in their 60’s-70’s.

That is the age group of people who would fit in to my parents’ category.  They are set in their ways.  They feel like they’ve done their share in the world and that they are owed something.  It’s the age of retirement. The idea of “I put in my time, now the world owes me.”  It’s as if that age reverts back to being a two year old that doesn’t need to give a shit about anything but themselves. Which is completely understandable.  When I hit retirement age, I’m pretty sure I won’t want to answer to anyone either.

I don’t ever act my age.  Sometimes I’m immature.  Sometimes I’m extremely serious. It all depends on the situation.  I don’t have a set age to behave like.  So I just enjoy life and being me.  Now get off my lawn!

Diamonds Are A Boys Best Friend…

When I was around 16 or 17 I got my ear pierced. That was nearly 25 years ago.  I was at the mall with a female friend who wanted only one piercing, but the cost of getting two was the same price. So I went for it.  About a year later I did the same thing with a different female friend.  I now had two piercings in one ear lobe.  For many years I wore small loops in them.  I liked having a pierced ear with two holes.  It meant I could buy a pair of earrings and use them both.

At age 19 I got my tongue pierced. I had it for almost two years, then took it out. I realized that I missed the piercing, so at age 24, I had my tongue re-pierced. That hurt badly.  When it was redone, they pushed the needle back through the scar tissue on my tongue. The swelling was incredible.  My mouth was full of blood. I vowed to never go through that again. Since then, I rarely take out that piercing.  I’ll be a grandpa with it in.  I still use the original stud and have never replaced it.

About 15 years ago, my wife bought me a pair of diamond earrings as a gift. Originally, I only wore them on date nights with her.  But after a few years I decided that I prefer them over the simple hoop style I once had.  I really like my diamond earrings.  They have come to define who I am. 

For years my father hated that I had pierced my ear.  When he found out I had done my tongue, he told me I’d never get a real job.  Eventually, he was wrong.  I did have a hard time finding a job, but that was from lack of education and experience.  I am impressed nowadays that society has accepted piercings and tattoos as normal in the workforce.  It makes it easier to be oneself without always conforming to someone else’s expectations. It was one of the many reasons I hated working at Chuck E Cheese’s as a manager.  I had to enforce a dress code on teens that I couldn’t agree with. Especially since I never took out my tongue ring.  Many of my staff didn’t even know I had it.

I don’t tend to accessorize lavishly.  So the diamond earrings are a one off.  I don’t even own a watch worth more than $20. But, if I find a diamond tongue stud, I may have to buy it.  Just because.

Josef Andrew Havelka Version 1.0

The body of Josef Andrew Havelka V1.0 has been through quite a bit over the years since coming off the assembly line.  Right from the beginning, there were issues with the air intake.  Had this been the dark ages, this model would’ve been destroyed early on. But after a minor repair at age 2, everything seemed to be going ok.

Until the ear infections kicked in resulting in tubes getting installed in the drum assembly to help drain excess fluid.  Then came the allergies and asthma that have lasted most of the lifetime of this 1976 Model Josef.  

A few years ago, there was a procedure implemented in order to prevent spreading of this version into the world.  Three byproducts seemed to be the limit achieved. A slight swelling and uncomfortableness occurred briefly…

Then, some diagnostic tests were performed to see if the possibility of Marfan Syndrome was possible.  As this body has shown many signs of it, the doctors ruled it out at this moment, but have requested a check up every five years.

Recently, there has been a new issue arising. A difficulty when swallowing.  Right above my stomach, it feels like choking. Now I wait for an appointment to have a scope pushed down my throat to check out the esophagus.

There’s still a few more years and miles left on this version of me.  A few nicks and scratches on the outer shell, some loss of hair as well adds to the charm. Growing older and deterioration of the body is to be expected.  Good thing I don’t plan on staying in Josef Andrew Havelka V1.0 once the time comes.

The biggest challenge in life is to avoid death.  Unfortunately there hasn’t been any winners yet in the Live Forever category.  I hope to be the first.  The game is on!

Is The Grass Greener?

We love to travel.  We love to visit friends. We love relaxing. We love our home.?.

It’s always difficult to return home after experiencing a bit of luxury. For example, earlier this week we spent some time Lakeside at our children’s coaches’ home.  It was a home that her grandparents had bought, now they live there with her parents and children.  It’s a lovely piece of land that I understand completely why they would keep it in the family.  If I could move our house onto that land, it’d be complete luxury.

Then there’s my sister’s home which I briefly mentioned this spring in my quick adventure about Traveling Vancouver Island. She lives right on the water’s edge in Powell River.  My family and I are planning a visit to see her and her family this August. It is a lovely place with spectacular views. She is very lucky to have all of that.

As jealous as I am of anyone with waterfront property, I have to remind myself that people are sometimes envious of our property as well. We are just far enough away from the suburbs and city that we can still do our shopping and I can go to work.  The land we have is surrounded by trees giving us nothing but privacy.  I love living in the countryside. Even though I am constantly doing Home repairs, I don’t know when or if there would be a right time to sell this place and move.

We aren’t rich and we aren’t poor.  We are what they say as House Rich/cash poor. We live in a home that has some fantastic features.  But it also has some tremendous flaws.  The key word is “home“. This is our home.  At the end of the day, I love where we live.  I don’t think I could ever give it up.

As You Wish…

Today is our daughter’s 15th birthday.  My wife and I offered for her to do whatever she wanted.  She could have a party, go out with friends, go shopping, pretty much whatever a 15 year old girl would want to do. 

Here is what she chose:

  1. Bake and ice her own cake.
  2. Watch Netflix.
  3. Play badminton.
  4. Go for sushi.

It’s really convenient that she is a low maintenance child.  She enjoys a calm & relaxed lifestyle.  She’s content to read a book or paint a picture.  She’s not as outgoing as I am, so I need to remember and respect that. Today is her birthday. She could’ve done whatever she wanted.  She chose to be around the house and spend time with us as a family. Her wish to do nothing out of the ordinary was granted.

As you wish.

Happy Birthday Random.  

Work Friends

My work friends are pretty cool.  We all have a job to do and we each play a different role to achieve a common goal. We are in the business of servicing customers and moving trains. Everyone knows that, and we all work hard at it.

Here’s my brief history: 

I started at the job being a conductor/switchman.  I loved it.  Even during the rainy season, night shifts, scorching hot summer days and frigid cold winter months. The fact that I could work outside was a great change from my previous jobs. I grew and learned and showed respect to all of my coworkers.  Within three months of hiring on, I was a qualified switchman.  

Three months after that, I applied to take on another role. A role that I shouldn’t have been able to take on since the requirements from the company were that I must have two years experience switching on the ground. But since I was a go-getter and fairly quick at learning, I passed the testing and interview process and started my training as “Traffic Coordinator” aka Yardmaster. I barely knew the yard layout, but with my confidence and no fear ability to ask for help when needed, I became one of the best and most respected Yardmasters in the terminal. 

I had been a Yardmaster and switchman for the majority of my career in the railroad.  As I mentioned back in December: Changing It Up, I took on yet another role at my work. I went from a Union position to a management role as an “Assistant Trainmaster”. Now instead of directing crews as a Yardmaster- I now needed to look at a grander picture by focusing on train building, inbound/outbound workload, and the trains much further out from just our terminal. Because I never changed my personality and had years of experience in the railroad, the change was seemless.  The switchmen, engineers and Yardmasters appreciated the fact that I was knowledgeable. 

Much like when I started as a conductor, I wasn’t satisfied with just being an Assistant Trainmaster. Over the past few months, I pushed my learning and expanded my abilities.  I found out what I needed to learn to get to the next level and pursued it.  I went out and accomplished it by asking my coworkers questions, putting myself out there and taking on the challenge.  

A little gift from my children.

With the help of Trainmasters, Assistant Superintendents and people in other departments, I learned as much as I could.  My goal was accomplished in seven months.  Again, this is a goal that would take most around two years to achieve. I am now a Trainmaster, not an Assistant Trainmaster any more.

No one will look at my career path and just hand me a promotion. I knew I could accomplish my goal, and so the pressure was on.  No pressure from the upper management, it was a pressure I put on myself.  By asking questions and demanding more of myself, I hit my goal. I appreciate everything that everyone has done for me.

A big thank you to everybody who helped me along the way.  I appreciate it all.

Nacho Break

This afternoon was the perfect day to share a plate of nachos with my family.  My children had never shared a plate of nachos before, so that’s exactly what we did. We went to the one place I remember always getting a large plate of nachos to share with friends- Boston Pizza.

We shared a plate of over priced and small portioned nachos from Boston Pizza.  Needless to say it was disappointing.  This has secured the fact that we will not be returning to any of the Boston Pizza franchises for food.  It also means that my children as they grow up, won’t want to go to Boston Pizza with their friends. One person tells five and they tell five, etc… 

With the fact that the food was over priced and not in large portions hurt my feelings.  It pissed me off because my wife and I remember mounds of toppings that even four grown adults would have trouble finishing them. In order to not be discouraged from nacho share-ablility, I am making it my goal for the rest of the year to find a perfect plate of nachos.  

It needs to pass three simple factors:

  1. Large portions
  2. Price
  3. Taste

None of the nachos are to be “specialty” nachos. Simple toppings of cheese, ground beef, peppers, onions, and tomatos.  Side of salsa and sour cream. No cheap nachos and watery cheese either.

Please comment on some of the great nacho places that you have enjoyed. I don’t want to lose faith in nachos.

Mid Week Peace by the Lake

Our two youngest are planning on doing speed skating starting in the fall.  So during the summer, they need to keep up with exercising.  The coaches have been kind enough to open up their home this summer.   It’s only 45 minutes from our home. The nicest part is that it’s right on a lake.  

So while the kids are running laps, we get to chill out by the water.  It’s a lovely little location.  I’m really happy to have a few minutes to relax and write my blog this evening.

The outside property is very charming in a hodgepodge way. The family has set up plenty of little sitting areas all around. 

Perfect for enjoying the sunset as the evening comes to a close. Especially knowing that the kids will have worked to exhaustion by the end, and the car ride will be peaceful.

Pants-Free Comfort at Home

I came home tonight after work and did a very “Dad” thing.  I took off my pants and just hung out in my underpants and dress shirt. It’s a liberating sensation to just drop the trousers and let your legs air out.

Usually I put some on lounge pants or shorts, but today I didn’t.  No reason really. I just didn’t want to.  Maybe I’m a bit lazy. Maybe I wanted some more freedom in my own home.

Butt, I’m happy not putting on pants this evening.  Sure, my wife and kids are embarrassed- only more for themselves, not me.  I’m not embarrassed.  It was mentioned though by everyone in the household that I should be wearing pants at the dinner table.

I’m not showing off anything totes inappropes, so who cares.  I know in the past, friends have seen me in far less clothing, or even naked, on occasion.  I’m not exactly a sex symbol to most folks.  However, I’m kind of ok with how I look. I’m not trying to impress anyone.

Don’t look!

So there you have it.  I did a stereotypical “Dad” thing this evening after a long day at work.  Now I’m going to bed.  

I plan on sleeping naked- just in case you needed that visual tonight. All in the name of comfort.