Next Generation Of Milestones

When you have children, there are tons of exciting milestones at a young age:

  • First step
  • First tooth
  • First word
  • First Christmas

Then they get a couple years with a few moments here and there until first day of school. After that there’s not a whole lot more that you can get excited about. About ten years pass by until the next set of milestones.

  • First job
  • First love
  • First car

I won’t celebrate their first kiss. That’s a personal moment- but it’s kind of a big deal for pre-teen/teenagers. Let them enjoy it. Driving their first car or getting a job- that’s a step into adulthood. A scary realization that this is the next stage of life.

Today, our fifteen year old daughter went for a job interview. Sort of. It was more a meet and greet for an opportunity of employment. A former coworker of mine messaged me that her work was looking for some extra part time help. It was nice of her to think of me and my children. It also made this a bit easier for a first job opportunity to our oldest daughter.

So I took our eldest daughter to meet the owner. For the past couple of days I tried to prepare her for what may happen at an interview. The questions asked, the answers she should give, I also told her to study up on the business as well. Driving there, we went over everything again. She was nervous. She was ready to give up before even entering. But she knew she had an opportunity here to get out of the house and make some money.

We walked in and were greeted with some smiles. I saw my former co-worker and introduced my daughter. I then let them be, because as much as I want to tout all the great things about my daughter to an old friend and a prospective boss- this was about my daughter using her courage and showing off who she is. From what I could tell, his afternoon went really well.

We shall see how it goes now. Will she get a call back? Will she be able to do the job? Will she enjoy it? In the end, it’s been a good learning opportunity for my daughter. Whether anything comes of it or not. It has started something deep inside of her- a drive to enter the adult world.

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Choir Night 2017

Since our children began at Langley Fine Arts, they have expanded their interest in many arts. While their majors are in the music program, they have enjoyed drama, art, photography and film. Tonight is the yearly Christmas showcase of the choir talents of the school.

I was never very talented at singing. My wife is decent, but won’t perform for people. So it surprised me when all three of our children willingly joined choir at school. All of them have enjoyed it so much so, that they keep returning to it.

My wife and I are extremely proud of our children. We are looking forward to watching the annual “Night of Choir”. This is a great way to get us all in the Christmas spirit a few weeks ahead of schedule.

Screaming Children

It’s that time of year again. Parents dragging little kids on errands against their wishes. Kids being taken to Christmas choir nights, or sports events for older siblings, even shopping lately means more families in the stores. These children, when unsatisfied, tend to express their displeasure with nothing more than a scream. A perpetual going-to-run-out-of-breath-at-some-point scream.

And it sucks.

It sucks for the parents. It sucks for the people around, it also sucks for the child. The child who really didn’t want to be there in the first place. Shushing starts, then bribes, usually a phone is handed off, and on the rare occasion- the parent takes the child away. Perhaps to punish the child, but more often than not to give in to the demands of a screaming toddler.

I feel for parents during these moments. I spent five years working at Chuck E. Cheese’s and saw it all. There’s no easy way to deal with it. The tantrums are like a storm that you just need to ride out.

I’m happy that my children are past the age of just screaming. (Although, it was rare that they would even do it.) I now just need them to stop raising their voices in anger at one another. Ugh. So much drama now.

Any advice besides locking them away? They seem to enjoy that “punishment”.

Go Karts

Last night was our management Christmas Party. We started with a regular meeting at work followed up with an evening of Go Karts. I haven’t driven a Go Kart in close to 15 years. Of which, I have driven real Go Karts only about three times in my life.

Most of my Kart skills are from Mario Kart. Which started back in 1992 with Super Mario Kart on the Super Nintendo. I have owned at some point in my life, nearly every Mario Kart game. I have spent hours and hours memorizing the courses. The biggest problem I face when racing now is my family.

They beat me.

Constantly.

It’s almost at a point where I don’t like racing them. But I still enjoy the quality time I get to spend with them. Plus no one usually gets injured.

Last night at Go Karts, I got hit pretty bad. I was cutting through a corner and got nailed by another driver. The result is a huge bruise that is causing some intense pain on my outer ribs. I’m not having any problems breathing, so my ribs should be ok. Last night was pretty fierce and competitive. If we do this again as a team building, I’ll gladly go and watch from the sidelines.

But in the meantime I think I’ll just stick to losing in the comfort of my living room with the sounds of cackles and insults from my children.

When I Listen to My Music- Everyone Else Does As Well

Driving to pick up the kids today I decided to crank the radio- as I usually do. I’ve always loved listening to music loudly. Anyone who knows me knows this to be true. No matter what song I am listening to, if I like it- I don’t get easily embarrassed playing it loudly.

As I sat in the pick up lane to get the kids, some classic 90’s songs were heard coming from my car. This also included some choreography as I sat there. As parents walked by, they couldn’t help but smile, hum along and dance as well. Hearing the Spice Girls played so loud that you could hear it in the school was my way of summoning my children out.

As my children entered the car, some complaining and embarrassed looks were had. But the volume didn’t get turned down. Their classmates headed towards their respective rides home and smiled and danced along. The ride home was eventually filled with fun from the kids as they realized that this was happening no matter what.

Our journey home was great. No fighting or complaining. We listened to Trans Siberian Orchestra: Wizards in Winter belt out holiday cheer. When we got home, the kids asked if I could put on Christmas music throughout the house. Something about loud progressive rock music made us all joyous.

Or else it was the ringing in our ears that reminded us of sleigh bells.

Either way, Christmas Cheer is here!

Getting Into The Christmas Spirit Through Films

To me, Christmas and Christmas movies go hand-in-hand. We have a collection of Christmas DVDs that we bring out every year and start watching them as a family every couple of days or so until Christmas.

Last night we watched “The Polar Express” as a family. Usually we skip this one because the kids end up watching it in school at some point. It seems the teachers like this film or the live action “The Grinch” to show kids before Christmas break.

We also watched “The Powerpuff Girls” afterwards. PPG is what brought my wife and I together when we first started dating. Since then, we have gone out to meet the voice actors and had them autograph our PPG movie poster. I get good feels enjoying this animated short.

The last day of school, or shortly there after, we sit down and enjoy “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. It’s a great way to realize that doesn’t matter what happens over the holidays, as long as you make the best of it.

And of course, on Christmas Eve, we watch “A Christmas Story”. This has always been my personal favorite film every since it used to be aired repeatedly for 24 hours on tv back in the day.

We also watch lots of other Christmas films throughout the next 30 days. “Scrooged” “Elf” “Gremlins” “Die Hard” plus many more. I love that we can spend time as a family just enjoying these shows. It makes the Christmas spirit come alive as we near the final day. I’m pretty sure my kids will continue to watch these and many more festive films as they grow up.

November 25,2017

Today is the pivotal point in my year. Not only is it one month until Christmas, but it’s also the anniversary of my father’s death. I wrote about him last year: Sixteen Years. Today marks year 17 without him on this planet.

As with my yearly tradition, I will visit his grave. I try and visit on his birthday in September, but if I can’t, I make sure to visit him today. I’ll be taking my family with me to his grave later on, followed by a visit to the Fort Langley Golf Course for a beer and hot chocolate. That was the place my father spent most of his free time.

It feels like I sense him more at that location than I do at his tombstone. Partly because of his love of golf, but also because he wanted his ashes spread on the golf course. My mother decided to not acknowledge his wishes and chose to bury his ashes in the graveyard instead, much to my chagrin and displeasure. I still don’t agree with her decision, however, the tombstone allows people a place to read his name if they so chose to visit.

Since my mother and sister moved away from Langley years ago, I think I’m the only one to visit his grave on a regular basis. Because it is so close to my children’s school, sometimes I’ll take a minute or two to stop in and have one of those “speaking to no one in the air” moments. It sometimes clears my thoughts, other times it brings forth strong emotions.

I’ve mentioned how I didn’t always know who my father was. Perhaps my idea of him is skewed in my memories. One thing is for certain- I’m raising my children very differently than he raised his. Hell, he had a daughter I’ve never met. I have a half sister somewhere in Europe that I’ll probably never meet. I could try and find her, but after my 41 years on this planet and only having my father in common, what’s the point? Maybe she’ll try and find me one day. But I doubt it.

So here it is- year 17 without him. And I’m doing quite well, thank you. The only thing I’ve done differently is I decided to grow a beard on his birthday and plan on shaving it off this weekend. I think I will make it my new yearly tradition to remember him.

Cheers grandpa. May you continue to be at rest.

Wrap It Up.

Pretty sure that my wife and I are ready for Christmas now. At least in the gift department area. We always do our shopping throughout the year and we try and make “Black Friday” the last day possible. Most years we don’t even do shopping this weekend. That’s how prepared we are for Christmas! Now to move onto wrapping the gifts.

I’m hoping to get most of the presents wrapped up over the next week or so before the kids get out of school. We won’t need tags either because of my Geniusness plan from years ago. Wrapping before hand also gives us a chance to decide if we are giving too much or too little to our kids. If it’s too much, a gift or two will stored away for a future birthday.

The kids in school makes it easier to wrap during the week. We can take over the dining room table and whip through the gifts in an afternoon or two. I want to try and get them wrapped up soon. I’m not sure if our kids hunt around the house for gifts or not.

I used to search for gifts.

I spoiled a few Christmases for myself as a child. I would search closets, attics, under beds, even in the trunk of my parent’s cars. All in the crazy search for gifts for me or my sister. I just wanted to know how to react on Christmas morning. After finding the stash of presents, I planned out each reaction I would give. Super excited or awestruck? Which is the best face to use? Should I jump up and hug my parents? Being a child is tough as it is. But the obligations to show enthusiasm is equally tough. Even for the things that weren’t exactly desired. (I didn’t want the cassette player boom box, but it definitely got lots of use later on as I grew up.)

Hopefully my kids didn’t follow in my footsteps over the past few years. Maybe I should pay attention to their reactions this year. Will dad get a hug for no reason? I guess I’ll find out.

Distopian Life

Our eldest daughter just discovered the novel 1984. I had recommended it to her ages ago, but of course she only wanted to read it when she discovered it at school. Why would Dad know something about anything. But I digress.

I am happy she is enjoying it. I’m trying to recommend other novels as well. I loved reading about dystopian ideas as a teen. Sometimes the ideas, like the ones in the novel 1984, hit close to home eventually. You could easily compare “Fake News” to “Doublespeak” with today’s information sharing. Even terminology was derived from the novel- “Big Brother is watching.” Sadly, we’ve all just become accustomed to it.

I have even recommended a couple of movies to my daughter. Brazil is a personal favorite. I love Terry Gilliam films, always have. Somehow he envisions people working around “the system” with possible consequences. Not everything is a happy ending. Perhaps my children need to learn that not everything has Disney feel good moments. Sometimes the world just exists and the people are merely pawns.

And as we move forward through life, staring at smartphones, sharing our lives willingly on social media- I can’t help but think that we are somehow living in Orwellian Times. As said in 1984:

Ignorance is strength.

Grilled Cheese

When I was about 11, I had my first grilled cheese sandwich. It was in a restaurant with my family during a road trip to go skiing at Big White in Kelowna BC. My father had arranged this trip with his Czech buddies and it was only one of two ski vacations we went on as an entire family.

We drove to a mountain chalet for a week long ski trip. All I can remember about the building was the indoor pool, playing arcade bowling, and a sign that read, “Das Hofbräuhaus“. These two trips were the only time my father willingly spent quality time with me.

In the morning, I had ski lessons. By afternoon, my father and I would go down the hill for a few runs. By dinner, I would be back at our room for a quick dinner, then off to swim and play in the small arcade. No adult supervision by the pool or in the arcade. These were simpler times where a boy could spend his quarters happily without restrictions.

After this wind down, my parents would head to the pub inside the chalet to hang out with my father’s friends. They’d stay out late, so before my parents returned, I would watch some HBO in hopes to catch a glimpse of a boob or two. But my strongest memory of this trip was still at the very beginning of it.

To get to our vacation destination, we left our home in my dad’s packed Hyundai Stellar. (I don’t think I have a picture of the car because my father hated it, but I found one online.) Within the first hour or so of our journey we stopped in Hope, BC at a truck stop to meet up with his friends in order to make a sort of convoy to the ski resort. This is where I had my first ever grilled cheese sandwich. There was even ham inside of it. I was in heaven.

When we returned home from our trip, I vowed to learn how to make a perfect grilled cheese. I had never cooked before, so this was exciting for me. Years and years of frying up bread and cheese followed. I have now mastered the art of the grilled cheese. I have made numerous variations of them, all with near perfect results. It has gotten to a point that my family would ask for a sandwich if I was making one. But soon it shall be no longer.

Over the past few weeks, our 11 year old son has been doing his best to make grilled cheese sandwiches. He has asked for advice and tips as he slowly creates his near-perfect meal. Even though he has tried to argue some of my points, he would use them and realize that dad was right.

If my father was still around today, he’d probably never have guessed that the time he spent with me would come down to a simple sandwich. A sandwich that his grandson now excitedly creates almost daily. I don’t think my son knows where my obsession came from, but he is following suit.

All of this stems from one trip, one stop, and one happy memory. Thanks dad for that.