Grilled

Yesterday I was hanging out with an old friend of mine. We have been friends for over 35 years. No matter what happens in our lives- we have always remained in contact. We have had many adventures together, dating back to our childhood. 

The first day we met was in Edmonton when his family moved into the neighborhood.  I went over to say hello and introduce myself. Within minutes, we were playing together.  We ended up going down his sloped driveway in a little wooden wagon. We rolled down towards the road where the moving truck was parked blocking the driveway. Two little boys had almost no control over the wagon. Just before we hit the truck, my brand new best friend of five minutes “steered” the wagon with the little metal bar, thus forcing the front wheels to turn sideways.  The momentum of the wagon initiated a sudden crash as we flipped over onto the concrete driveway.  Scraped and bruised we ended our first day together.  A friendship that has never faltered. 

Over the years, we had bicycle accidents together. We attended Boy Scouts.  We played Colecovision for hours.  We made Lego spaceships and had sleepovers.  We got caught by my mother as we recorded on a cassette a song we sang about our penises. We went tubing down a river and he taught me how to play D&D. He was in university and I came to visit. On that trip, we got “arrested” by mall cops for smoking weed in an underground parking lot. He was in my wedding party.  He’s The Godfather of our eldest child. Through it all, we’ve been great friends.  I gave him a nickname when we were in grade 1 that he is still called by my wife and I:

Willbum Pukus.


Last night our adventures didn’t stop.  What should have been a nice dinner garnered some excitement right before the meal was served.  I broke one of my cardinal rules but since we’ve been friends forever, I didn’t think anything of it. 

“Never touch another man’s grill.” 


I have adhered to this rule all my life.  I never BBQ at a friend’s place, even if I am asked to.  You see each grill is a bit different.  There are hot spots and cold spots.  There are places on the grill that meat sticks to or slides gently off.  My grill is off limits to everyone but me.  Even my wife won’t use it.  But last night, my lifelong best friend asked me to attend to the grilling of the pork ribs.

Everything was going smoothly until I was about to take the meat off the grill.  Suddenly a grease fire took over.  I shut all of the burners off and moved the meat to the edges.  My friend in all of his wisdom acted quickly and dumped his beer into the grill.  A huge cloud of smoke went up into the air.  With a sudden crash, the bottom of the grill fell out.


More flames remained stuck on the bottom dancing wildly under the BBQ. My friend grabbed my beer and dumped it on.  This time the flames went out.  Grease fire and beer- not the smartest plan.  I had no idea we were going to his place for dinner and a show.  

My friend and I have had numerous adventures and we have lived to tell the tales. We are only ten days apart in age (I’m older-therefore wiser). Our sons have become good friends because they are very close in age. It’s a lifelong friendship that is passing on for another generation.  Many more stories to tell.

Assuming we don’t burn the place down in the process.

Summertime!

June is almost over and if you are like me and have kids- they are super excited right about now.  This has caused a lack of thinking and functionality from our three beasts. The weather is nicer and the act of being stuck in a classroom is overwhelming. Getting home and the idea of chores or homework is forgotten.  Soon my children.  Soon it will all be over.  Summer is officially here.

And with summer comes the great scare. What do we do with kids at home for ten weeks??? 


Every one of my days off is slowly getting accounted for.  All my freedom is becoming locked down into day trips, nature walks and BBQ dinners with friends.  Long evenings sipping cold drinks are upon us.  Letting the kids run around the yard until the sun goes down for the day. I have realized that my summer can be broken down into four basic hang outs.

1. My family: beaches, rivers, road trips, long walks, drive in movies.

2. My wife: relaxing in the yard, watching tv, just being besties.

3. My friends: laughs, drinks, more laughs, discovering new beers, laughing some more.

4. My work: having the ability to work both indoors or outdoors on a regular basis is a great benefit when the weather is beautiful.


I am excited about the many adventures that we shall go on this summer.  I hope to share them all here in my blog.  I wish we could do more. If only work would stop getting in the way.

Where Was My Father Figure in those 1980’s Movies?

I am often nostalgic for my youth.  Mainly sharing with my kids the films that I grew up on.  For the most part, the films were goofy, adventurous and fun. But upon reflection of these 1980’s classics- there was something usually missing…  A father.

I’m not sure if this was the norm in the 80’s.  Perhaps it was because divorce and working mothers were on the rise in society.  It made it seem like no parents were around in these films. It was also very popular to have child actors go on big adventures well outside of their comfort zone. But I loved these films nonetheless. Often watched and rewatched on VHS until the lines of static over came the images.


E.T. was one of the first films that I can remember.  Boy finds an alien and becomes the parent figure trying to get E.T. home. To this day, E.T. scares the crap out of me.


Annie was about a bunch of orphans without parents in search of hoping to have a family one day.  Plus singing! This movie made me fall in love with musicals.


Goonies where the only adults in the movie were the villains trying to hunt the kids down. Even at the end the parents weren’t listening to the kids. “Hey you guys!”


The Neverending Story had us following two separate boys on adventures without adult role models. Only at the start of the movie is the father shown, and he basically tells his son to grow up.


The Last Starfighter was about a teenage boy living with his mom in a trailer park who played an arcade game so well, aliens took him away to protect the universe. Videogames leading to space travel?  Every child’s dream…


Explorers had three young boys traveling into space.  Again, no parents. How did they get out in the middle of the night?


Stand By Me had four boys searching out a dead body and just wandering around. This is an excellent “coming of age” style film about boys becoming men.


Big was a strange film about a boy turning into a man. Besides a brief moment of the mother freaking out, they kind of forget about that aspect of the story as this kid is on his own to explore the world in an adult body.


Pee-wee’s Big Adventure was kind of the opposite of Big. It was a grown man acting like a child.  Maybe PW needed a father figure growing up…


The Secret of NIMH is the only cartoon that I’m going to add to this list. The father was long gone, but constantly referenced as a good man, er, mouse. Plus, Don Bluth animation is my favorite of all time.

Moving on from the lack of actual fathers in these films, there were a few films that had “Father Figures” in them.


Back to the Future where Marty looked up to “Doc” as a father figure since he regarded his own dad was a wimp at the beginning of the film. Plus Marty’s mom was hitting on him in the past.  Creepy.


Beetlejuice did have parents in the movie, but they never listened to Lydia, so the dead couple tried to take care of her and protect her from Beetlejuice. My love of Tim Burton films keeps this as re-watchable to this day.


The Wizard was about three kids running away to go to a videogame competition. At least this film had the father trying to find them and he developed an understanding for the video game fascination.

There are plenty of other films that fit the genre of “1980’s Children Adventures” but these were some of my favorites. There is nothing wrong with the lack of parents to push the story forward.  Maybe it was the fact that I was a child during this era and  that I felt I could relate because my father was constantly working long hours and weekends. It was my father’s way of doing things.  He loved to work.

In the long run, I think these films helped to mold me into being the father I always wanted around.  I’d say I’ve successfully gone on many adventures with my family and hope to have many more.  Sure, none of them have been magical or going into outer space, but who knows what the future holds for us. I’m just happy to be their father.

Music is Life


I love music.  I enjoy hearing it echo throughout my home.  I installed speakers everywhere and I am always searching new styles of music to enjoy.  When I was a teenager, I listened to it as loud as possible while driving my car that my trunk would rattle.  Many a concert that I attended- I don’t remember much about them. But I have ticket stubs to say I was there. I’m surprised that I have only lost just under a quarter of my hearing in my right ear for certain decibels. 

We have kept music alive in our home for years. Once our children were born, we bought into the whole “Baby Einstein” thing.  I loved the music playing from the tv.  I think it helped to raise an appreciation for music and the arts in our children. When our children where in preschool, every month they learned about a different classical musician or artist.  It sure was better than hearing theme songs from Dora or Disney JR sung over and over.

Our children have been taking piano lessons since they were each in grade 1. We bought a grand piano nearly a decade ago.  It cost us the price of a car.  But it has brought much joy (and some anger) as they have played and practiced over the years. Today, our middle child had her Royal Conservatory Exam for Grade 3 piano.  Tomorrow night all three will be performing at a piano recital put on by their piano teacher.

Next year at school, our youngest will have an opportunity to start playing an instrument for band. My wife and I feel he should do trumpet.  He wants to try for a string instrument like the cello as well. Our kids love trying more unique instruments. This year, our middle child took on learning the Bassoon. She already had two years of clarinet, but wanted to stand out a bit more in music.  Our oldest joined choir this year.  I never knew she could sing at the caliber that she can. It also helped her with getting herself out there and perform for an audience.


I hope that our children have a lifelong appreciation for music.  I’d love to see them pursue more long term in the arts after leaving school.  I don’t want them to have regrets about not continuing on like many of my adult friends have had.

Batman

Adam West passed away yesterday evening. He was the first Batman I saw when I was a child.  The show was already in reruns in the mid-eighties. Batman was my summer time weekday programming. I’ve seen every episode a few times over.  Even the movie is in my collection of DVDs.

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. West at Fan Expo Vancouver.  He was at his autograph table right next to his former co-star Burt Ward.  There was no line up to meet them on the Sunday, so my son and I decided to go say hello.  My son was only six at the time and a couple of days before we had watched the old Batman movie.


Adam West was the nicest man to my son.  They talked for a while about the movie.  My son told him that his favorite part was the scene where he was running around with the big bomb.  It was great to just hear them interact.  Adam West was like an uncle sharing a good laugh with his nephew. After about ten minutes of laughs and conversation, my son said thank you and they shook hands.

Immediately after our meeting, we wandered over to meet the actor who played Boba Fett (Jeremy Bulloch).  My son was so excited- he told Boba Fett that he had just met Batman.

Adam West made an impression on me as a child.  He also made an impression on my son but in a more direct manner.  My son and I have bonded over your version of Batman. Thank you for the years of laughs.  

501st

This is now my 501st blog post.  I’ve written diligently everyday now since I started this hobby.  I often write about my children, my past, comic conventions, and movies.  My favorite movie franchise is Star Wars.  It has had a profound impact on my life.  But instead of writing again about my love of Star Wars, I wanted to thank those who use their passion for the Force and do good deeds.


Of course I’m talking about The 501st Legion.  It started with a small group of Star Wars fans back in 1997.   Then in 2007, George Lucas granted the Legion a limited use of the copyrighted Star Wars characters provided the members of the 501st promised never to use their costumes for personal profit and that they represent the franchise in a positive and respectful manner. 

Originally just having screen accurate Storm Trooper costumes, they now sport a variety of costumes from many of the Star Wars films, comics, and cartoons. Branching out from the original group in California- the group has since grown in numbers and factions. There are groups worldwide in various countries.

Our first Vancouver Fan Expo.

At the numerous Comic Cons I have gone to up and down the West Coast- there is always a 501st Legion in attendance.  Taking photos for donations, sometimes for the “Make A Wish” foundation, oher times for “The Children’s Hospital”.  Nearly every time we see them, I make a donation for my children to have a photo taken.  


The 501st is the only organization that I have been wanting to join.  Giving more than just money, I’d love to give some of my time.  Especially when it comes to children. I have always been a huge supporter of making children happy and keeping the magic alive as long as possible.  From the parades I would volunteer at with the movie theater to my years of working at Chuck E. Cheese’s, to the support of my own children- joining the 501 is something I feel I should do.

To the many volunteers and fans from the 501st- thank you for all you do and have done. Bad guys doing good. I know that many children, and other fans, have loved everything you have done for the communities you live 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?

Train Garden


Back in the summer of 2008, a year after we had moved into our home, we decided (mostly with my influence) to build a trainset in our garden instead of a pond. We cut down some trees and built up the ground to lay the tracks. It was a lot of time and a lot of fun.  The kids were happy to help out in building it and watching it run.  Plus at ages 2,4 & 6 playing in dirt is always the best.


Over the years, many changes have occurred to the train garden.  Some of it was just trial and error as I figured out how to make it look good and continue to run. Some were just for fun.  I’ve reconfigured the loops twice, built new bridges, placed bricks under the tracks to keep it level and even added in a small tunnel.  We have had issues with moles, birds and even a snake trying to make a home out of the garden. 


But the biggest hurdle is that I haven’t figured out how to keep the engines running smoothly. The tracks are outside all year and the electrical connection drops in various parts.  This has caused excessive wear on the motors on both of my engines.  I’ve had to replace the motors a few times now.  My next option is to buy a battery pack- like the type used for RC cars. And of course a remote control to help run them. A remote that can eventually be used to control every aspect of the railroad.  From lights to sounds to even lining switches. That way I can use the power source that I currently have to add some lighting to buildings or other structures. I love scale models of scenery shots. They’re so much fun to set up.

Our next biggest hurdle is money for my project.  It would seem that whenever a bit of extra fun is wanted, something more serious rears its ugly head.  Unfortunately this time it appears that our washing machine has decided to leak from who-knows-where.  I’ve tried to take it apart to find the source of the leak, but to no avail.  Looks like a new washer is about to be purchased in a couple of days.  


Or we can just enjoy stinky, dirty clothes and have a cool trainset for the summer.  I’ll let my wife decide.  I know my choice. 

Woo-woo!

Grade 7 Camp


It seems to be a rite of passage for those in Grade 7 to go on a class camping trip.  I did it when I was younger.  Our oldest daughter did it two years ago. And today our middle child is off to camp for the week.

Taking the children away for a week is like a breath of fresh air for us parents.  So far a minimum of 8 years has been spent taking the kids to school.  Add two more to that for us since we did two years of part time preschool! We have been helping them with homework or friend problems along the way.  This camping adventure is also a way for the teachers to unwind a bit and let the kids prove that they are becoming young adults before entering into middle/high school. There’s probably some teachable moments thrown in…


Of course there will be swimming, hiking, campfires, archery, canoeing, and all the other good times.  Some skills that the kids will enjoy, while other skills will be more life lessons. Mess hall meals and scheduled sleep times will help to keep them in line. All-in-all lots of fun and games with friends and not too many parents.

I’m going to miss our daughter this week.  So it’s a good thing I’ll be sleeping all day long and working through the nights.  I hope she enjoys the trip with her classmates. I remember enjoying mine.  That reminds me- I should probably look at booking our campsite for later this summer before they’re all gone…