Year in Review or How I Conquered 2016

So much has happened this year that today was the perfect day to reflect on the changes.  For obvious reasons, I’m only going to write about my life, not the world in general.  There will be hundreds of other articles if you need to read about celebrities or world events.  I am but one man on a journey.  My wife used the term “retrospective” earlier when I told her about today’s topic.  I kind of like that term- because I’m always looking back on my life throughout my blog posts.  Here is my life over the past year:

Still Making It Up As I Go.

 

January 27th I wrote and shared my first ever blog post.  It was titled: Come Here To See All My Mistakes.  Honestly, since posting that title, I rarely made any mistakes in my writing.  My wonderful wife proofreads nearly every post prior to sharing it with the world.  She even proofread today’s post.  Writing daily proved to be a great challenge.  But I have made sure to post every day, no matter how early or late in the day.

My personal blog has 340 posts so far with 4500 different visitors and nearly 7000 views.  Not bad considering I’m not an “internet celebrity”, I don’t advertise my blog, nor am I selling anything.  Just word of mouth and some enjoyable moments that I have shared.  I have also been greeted by other bloggers in this world and welcomed with open arms.  No trolls for nearly a year.  Cool.

I love writing my blog posts.  I have shared numerous stories of my children, my work, and my life growing up.  It’s been a lot of fun to re-count my life and take stock of all of the wonderful (and sometimes sad) experiences that have defined who I am.

In March, I turned the big 4-0.  This brought on a bunch of emotions and feelings that I never knew a grown up could have.  I felt like I was ready to renew my life and start a new stage.  I jumped out of my comfort zone many times since then.

I fired my first gun and found a new respect for those who serve our country.  It also happened to be my most read blog post of the year.  Read about it here: Westie For A Day

I played with VR numerous times and was amazed at how hyper-real it was.  Here were some of my previous posts: Button MashingBohemian RhapsodyI’m Batman.  I even wrote a short story along the way: DOS Grampa.

My wife and I celebrated 15 years of marriage back in July.  She has been and will remain my best friend.  I’m still not sure how this came to be, but dang I’m a lucky guy.

I lost a friend due to depression which led to his suicide.  Even though all I could do was write a memory post about his life through my eyes (Jeremy) I wish that there was more that I could have done for him. Now I feel that I see the signs of depression and can do more for other friends in the future.  I’m still saddened by his passing, but I did reconnect with some old friends because of this.  Perhaps there is some good that came out of this.

I love where I work (Proud of Where I Work).  So I decided to change my career path at the end of the year and took on a new role at work.  Even at age 40, I still like being challenged at work.

I attended not one, but two NHL games in under a week.  What?  (Hockey and Game 2)  Not bad for a guy who isn’t very sports oriented.

My year has been pretty amazing to say the least.  Even with some ups and downs, I’m happy with how it turned out. I’m also really happy that my family and my friends have supported me throughout all of my endeavors.  I’ve said it before, and once again, I want to say Thank you for everything. (Thank you Jan.31)

Today, my social media is filled with some great inspirational images relating to the new year.  

I wish nothing but the best to everyone out there in the coming year.  Take the time to reflect on your life and your foreseeable future.  Who knows what a year can do.  Look at how much has changed in my life in 2016.

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I Walk The Thinnest Line


I walk the line between adulthood and immaturity on a regular basis.  I’m currently in our theater room, sitting in a beanbag chair writing.  Today I washed our new dishes and put up new curtains.  Later I’ll be playing videogames and joking with our kids.


Until recently at work, I was often a goofball.  I’m not saying that’s going to change, but certain aspects will.  No more crazy colors for my hair.  No more graphic t-shirts.  Time for dress pants and golf shirts.  I’m sure I’ll be able to sneak a bit of my nerdiness in.  My job title has changed, but who I am has not.  There are certain expectations at work that I need to meet.  I’m ok with that.

Parenting is another aspect of my life that I sway between being a kid at heart and acting all growed up.  I’d like to think that I’m a good parent to our children by encouraging them at school and in their interests as well as setting rules and regulations in our home that they need to follow.  On the other hand,  I enjoy playing and goofing off with them.  We joke and have a great time together as friends.  That’s a bond I don’t feel I had with my parents as much growing up.


Of course I have bills that I need to pay.  But there’s also a little bit of money set aside for fun.  Disneyland trips, Star Wars toys, videogames, movies, etc…  

I’m savoring life by keeping a healthy balance between responsibilities and being carefree.  I think everyone else should as well.

Is The Magic Over?

Post Christmas time.  We are putting away the gifts and eating the last of the rich food.  Soon the trees, lights and decorations will come down.  But that’s not what I mean by “Is The Magic Over?”


My three children are well past the age of believing in Santa.  But something else has occurred that I suspected was happening.  I found out while we were having dinner the other day.  Our middle daughter let it slip out…

She mentioned that she “accidentally” saw some Christmas gifts before Christmas.  After some discussion with the other two, my wife and I discovered that all three had “accidentally on purpose” found our hidden Christmas gifts.


When I was a child/teen I avidly looked for my Christmas gifts prior to the big day.  My parents weren’t very good at hiding places.  Pretty sure my mother figured out that I was searching for the gifts.  Sometimes she resorted to locking the gifts in the trunk of the car in hopes that I wouldn’t find them.  It was never spoken about, so I never had to deny it.  Now my kids are doing it.

But is the magic gone?  Or is it a rite of passage into adulthood?  Does the joy you feel from a surprise gift occur while you’re alone.  The happiness that we as parents once saw on their faces is now going away.  Perhaps the magic is gone for me as a father.  I loved seeing their eyes light up as they unwrapped their favorite gifts.  I worry that next year it won’t happen.  I worry that perhaps this is the beginning of the end of that magic. 

I guess I’ll find out next year.  Or I just need to hide the gifts better!

Game 2: A Different View

Would you believe it if I told you that I’ve only ever seen two NHL games live?  Both within a week.  Both were free of charge from a couple of friends.  Five days ago I had a great experience where I was able to enjoy some one-on-one time with an old buddy.  (Read about it here: HockeyTonight’s game was with a larger group from my work, so the experience was very different.


I spoke previously about altering my career path at work (Read about it here: Changing It Up)  So naturally, I have entered into a different group of work friends.  I’ve always been friendly with my supervisors and I like to think of myself as a relatively nice guy who is easy to get along with.  I found it really welcoming to be invited to a hockey game less than two weeks after accepting my new position and join my fellow supervisors for a relaxing night out.  It was a blast.  


We started the night by talking about work for about five minutes, then went straight into just hanging out and having fun.  The fellow who got us the tickets had box seats in the 200 Club section.  All the pizza and drinks we could want was included.  


There was a large couch and a big screen tv showing the feed from the game as well.  So we could watch the game live or watch the game sort of live.  We wandered around and socialized, never really having an assigned seat.  The game was action packed.  (Our home team won this time).

A big thank you to my coworkers for being so gracious and fantastic.  It’s amazing how people have very different personalities outside of work.  It’s great that something such as work can bring a ragtag group of individuals together over a common bond and share some great laughs.

Suddenly Silenced

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”

Like many fans of Star Wars, I was sad to hear of Carrie Fisher’s passing today.  Carrie Fisher’s role as Princess Leia struck a chord with me at a young age. Seeing that a woman can be tough and beautiful at the same time changed my perception of women early on.  She was also an icon in the Star Wars universe for many strong girls to look up to.  She was a space princess who could kick ass in a gold bikini.  

My daughter four years ago.


Both of our daughters have dressed up in their own version of Princess Leia at conventions in the past.  

Back in September at Edmonton Expo, my wife was selling her dragon hats when Carrie Fisher stopped by.  My wife had the pleasure of having a conversation with her.  She said that she was one of the nicest celebrities she had met as of late.  

The gift I gave my wife for her birthday this year.


Many great scenes came from Carrie Fisher’s role as Princess Leia.  My wife and I still quote “I love you.  I know.” almost daily.   In fact, for Christmas my wife got us matching shirts that say exactly that.  So today we wore them out in public and received many great compliments on them.  We are turning into a cute old couple…

I’m saddened to hear of Carrie Fisher’s passing.  I wasn’t planning on writing about it today, but it is in the forefront of my mind.  There are plenty of great news articles describing her career that have been written today.  Many of her other roles in film have been over shadowed by the role of Leia.  But whenever she could, she spoke her mind on many talk shows and was razor sharp with her wit.  

RIP Carrie Fisher.  

May the force be with you.

Season of the Force

Boxing Day

As you may have guessed- Christmas showed up yesterday.  Our day was a long one starting at 8am and ending at around 2am.  My social media (probably much like your social media feed) was all abuzz with multiple photos and videos of trees, gifts, food and family.  I was delighted seeing all of the happiness and joy my friends were sharing.  I had phone calls and texts from numerous friends all wishing me a Merry Christmas.  Many of whom I feel bad that I haven’t taken the time to spend with lately.  After all of the gift unwrapping was done on Christmas Day, there is often that one gift that you just didn’t receive which you had hoped Santa was going to bring.  


Enter Boxing Day.  December 26th is the day that stores in Canada offer up sales to entice people.  Much like Black Friday, only after Christmas, allowing people to buy for themselves the gift they really wanted.

When I was a teen/young adult I used to go Boxing Day shopping.  I would line up at 5am in order to get the best deals on electronics.  I bought tvs, vcrs, DVD players, stereos and the like for super cheap.  It was always expected so this became the norm in my household.  Even after my sister flew the coop, she still enjoyed a good Boxing Day Sale.  I have since stopped with bothering to brave the stores on Boxing Day.


Today we just lounged around and played with the gifts we got yesterday.  My oldest has already finished one of her books.  My middle has since learned a couple of magic tricks.  And my youngest has been in heaven building Lego.  I am nearly done my Lego set as well- I’m never going to grow up.

If you did hit the stores today with your gift cards and money, I hope you treated the store clerks nicely.  Not everyone had a chance to be home today.  Just because Christmas has come and gone, it doesn’t mean we should stop being kind to one another.

Christmas Morning

CHAOS

Well, maybe not as much as it once was.  Our children have grown up to an age that they allowed us to sleep in until 8am.  Unwrapping gifts was a pleasure.  Everyone remained calm and there was lots of smiles and joy.  This year all the lovely women in my life received the gift of music.  


Our youngest daughter was super excited about her vintage turntable.  Now she can pull out our old vinyls from the 80’s.  We also gave her a Nightmare Before Christmas Album with images printed directly on the records.  


Our oldest received her first acoustic guitar.  She had been sneaking some practice time on her younger sister’s electric one earlier in the year-which caused a few good fights.  So I took her out to the music store and asked her to find one she liked.  She surprised me by finding an acoustic one.  This morning, after almost all of the gifts were opened, she had a bit of disappointment on her face until I moved a blanket that had covered her new instrument.  I’m not saying she wasn’t happy with what she had already unwrapped- but she knew she was going to get this.  I think she was just waiting for it.


For my wife I bought her a bass guitar and amp.  She wasn’t expecting it.  But the joy on her face when she opened it was awesome.


She has since been Instagraming photos of her new instrument.  I hope she learns to play!

We also received a bunch of Lego as a family (somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 pieces when added up!)  There were lots of books and I received a bounty of craft beers.

Our children made some lovely paintings as gifts to my wife and I.  Encouraging their artistic side is something we love to do.  I have kept a bunch of their art as well as hung it up to display.


It was a funtastic morning.  In all my hurriedness last night to put out gifts, I forgot an entire bag full of gifts for my wife.  Oops.  So we opened them with her just before breakfast (which was at 1pm).

We are off for a walk now to talk about Christmas and spend some more time together for Christmas Day.

Merry Christmas from us goofballs!

My Christmas Traditions

Everyone who celebrates this season has a set of traditions.  We have many that evolved over the years.  I’m going to quickly share them.  (Most involve food and drinks).

Boozy Christmas Tree


On mornings that I don’t work throughout December- my coffee enjoys a touch of Bailey’s or Kahluha.  Then I enjoy the coffee.

A couple weeks into December, we decorate our kids’ trees as we play “Yule Be Wiggling” by The Wiggles.  It’s something that the kids love dancing to and decorating at the same time.  It’s been a lot of fun- so we keep it up.  We have three trees that get decorated.  Each year, our children take turns putting the Star on the special Christmas tree.  This is the central tree in our living room that the precious ornaments adorn and gifts go under.  


Throughout the month, I play Christmas music through the house and we take time to watch Christmas movies. We always save our favorite for the last. “A Christmas Story”.  


There are a few other kid’s movies that we still watch like “The Powerpuff Girls: ‘Twas the Fight Before Christmas.”  No matter how much the kids grow up, these movies are still fun to watch.

We bake cookies for about a week before the big day.  If we make them too soon- they get eaten before we make it to Christmas.

Christmas Eve is also filled with cleaning.  It’s the last chance to have a perfect home.  Then comes the cooking.

My father’s Fancy Sandwiches

Every Christmas Eve morning, I awake early to bake a couple of loaves of fresh bread.  Then in the afternoon I make what my father called “Fancy Sandwiches”.  We enjoy a couple of them in the late afternoon in order to suppress our hunger until later in the evening.  Saving a dozen or so for lunch the next day.

Our Christmas Eve Dinner is pretty basic. My wife prepares potato salad and I make the schnitzel.  The biggest difference for our Christmas Eve dinner is that we make Liver Ball Soup as an opener.  Not everyone likes liver, but this is really quite tasty.  Once a year tasty…

The night ends with the kids happily going to bed with excited anticipation for the following morning.  

Those are our traditions leading up to the Big Day.  They don’t seem like much, but my family loves every bit of it.  


So from my family to yours- have a safe a wonderful holiday.

Merry Christmas.

Hockey

I’ve never attended an NHL game before.  I’ve watched an occasional game on tv from time to time.  I’m partial to the Olympic Games and love how Canada kicks butt.  Last night an old friend took me to my first NHL game.  Canucks vs. Jets.


I had to say “yes” because it has been months since I’ve hung out with my old buddy.  He’s been my friend since we were 13.  I met him in grade 8 band class.  We’ve both been kind of dorky- he’s good at solving Rubik’s cube in a few seconds, I am a Sci-Fi nerd.  Our common ground was that we both owned a Sega Genesis and we played NHL ’91.  That’s my connection with my friend and hockey.  I also had to say “yes” because it was Penthouse seats.


The seats were amazing.  We sat above everyone else.  There was free food offered up throughout the game.  Food that was trendy and tasty: lamb, quinoa, kale salad, lobster, sushi and desserts galore.  It was full VIP treatment.  And everyone was super friendly.

The game itself was fairly uneventful.  Canucks up by the end of the first period 1-0.  But at the end of the second period a 1-1 tie with The Jets.  The energy in the building dropped as the period ended.  This caused The Jets taking control in the third period.  Hometown team- Canucks lost.


But it was fun.  Win or lose, I had a good time with an old friend.  Maybe I will see more games in the future.  Maybe next time our team will win.

Crazy Rush


I always try and have everything set for the holidays a couple of days in advance.  Today is my own personal cut off day for shopping until after December 27th.  If I can avoid malls and shops for the next five days (or longer) I’ll be a happy man.  It’s totally doable.  

Gift purchases are long since done.  95% of them are even wrapped and ready for under the tree.  This was mostly done by my wife this year since I took on my new role at work.  A huge sigh of relief has come over me- knowing that I won’t need to hit a Walmart for that last minute gift.  Today was just loading up on groceries from Costco for the next few days.  Meat and cheeses were the main deals.  Now it’s time to focus on baking a few batches of cookies over the next couple days.


Only once did I ever brave the mall on a Christmas Eve to do some shopping.  I was 17 at the time and had just gotten paid.  I called a female friend come with me as I searched for a gift for my parents.  It was sort of date and magical in a sense.  We shared stories of our Christmas traditions and childhood Christmases.  We walked arm in arm through the stores as she helped me find something of value to gift my parents.  I found a set of glassware that was in my budget and seemed like a responsible gift.  I drove my friend home, gave her a hug and wished her a Merry Christmas.  

At the time, I was too shy to make a romantic move on her.  It just wasn’t meant to be.  We are still online friends to this day and she has a wonderful family.  I saw her last year in person at a Christmas craft fair and she still seems happy as ever.  She has a spot in my heart with a special memory of Christmas Eve.