Why An Alberta Adventure? 2018

This is my first blog in a while, but it’s also the first on my new website. The site is still a work in progress, but I hope you check out everything there, sign up for the super exciting newsletters, and share the post if you like it. Any comments and feedback would be greatly appreciated. 🙂

Alberta travel

Alberta – Did you know Alberta hosts an annual testicle festival?

The Great Alberta Adventure – Day -1

Why? Why Alberta?

Being on-call for work,  the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World can’t get a ton of time off, but this year, she managed to get nearly a week. Not quite a whole week, but 6 days. Hard to do Europe in 6 days. Hard to even do Disney World in 6 days. Or Hawaii.

So we planned to see a place the boys had never been. Alberta.

Not as many leaning towers there. No spectacular seaside resorts. No cities with gangster tours. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to see.

First and foremost, many of our peeps are out that way. The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World’s parents live in Oliver and Osoyoos, and her bestest bestie had settled in Stony Plain (near Edmonton), which (coming from Calgary) is like someone choosing to live in a smelly basement rather than a penthouse suite. I mean, who could really like Edmonton? It’s either too hot or too cold. There are far too many mosquitoes, and their hockey team cheats. A lot. And looks funny.

Alberta travel

The road to Alberta lies this way ->

But aside from Edmonton, we’ll see the incredible Rockies, Drumheller with all its dinosaurs, the Calgary Zoo, the various monuments erected to celebrate my years in Calgary, and up north, near the polar bears and Santa’s hut, Edmonton’s famous mall.

Anyway, so, yeah, lots of reasons to head east.

And all doable in 6 days.

No planes, no trains, just one automobile. 30 hours driving, all told.

So a plan was made by the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and me, a balance between play-it-by-ear and making sure we have a place to stay each night.

I think we arrived at a good balance. No specific times, like at 8:24 we get up, peeing will happen from 8:24-8:27, handwashing from 8:27-8:28, then getting dressed from 8:28… nor nothing too generalized – like we’ll drive until we find something then do something then do something different and then come home.

We tried to lock down the key things, like the Calgary Zoo and since we have to actually book an appointment to see his majesty the panda, we had to be at the panda pavilion at 3:45, but what time we actually arrive at the zoo, well, we’ll play it by ear.

As well, we booked all our hotels so we wouldn’t have to search for a place to stay at the last minute. We could park our bags, take a nap, check out FB, Twitter, Instagram, youtube, and all things internetie, and chillax at the pool while deciding what’s most important.

Touring Alberta, Calgary, Drumheller, West Edmonton Mall

The Rockies, the prairies, Drumheller, Calgary, Edmonton… there’s a lot to see

But no sooner had we made our generalized plan than The-Youngest took over. The oldest, even right now, still doesn’t quite know what we’re doing even though we’ve told him 10 times, spent an evening showing him our plans on a map and even made a colorful file

folder he could consult at any time.

But The-Youngest, well, bless him, he loves to plan. It’s part of the trip for him. It’s the anticipation. It’s ‘see what others have done.’ It’s imagining himself doing all sorts of cool things.

So, come read the next post and see how an 11-year-old mind works.

How much do you plan for your adventures?

 

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10 New Mom Words

mom or queen?

Mother’s Day

In honor of Mother’s Day ..

10 Words I want to see in the English Language.

 

 

  1. Mommage –the act of mom working
    working moms

    ‘Mommage’ is doing everything.

    hard or carrying all the weight. “Wow, that’s some serious mommage there.”

  2. Mommified – the act of cleaning up a child before they head off to school. May involve such things as the use of mom-spit, bathing after a mom-sniffing or forcible changing of clothes like socks that don’t match or shorts in the middle of winter.
  3. Mommercise – the exercise of chasing your child around for a bath, wrestling them into clothes, running after them before they decide to chase a ball into traffic or realizing they left the water running in the bathtub and racing upstairs.
  4. Momsense – something moms say that actually makes sense. Wise words. “hey, when you told me not to lick the light socket, you know, that was some good momsense there.”
  5. Momforting – that comfort that can only be given by a mom to her child. Usually involves hugs, snuggles or a kiss on a boo-boo.
  6. the female terminator

    What happens when a mom hears someone’s hurting her child

    Momminator – that which the mom turns into when someone has hurt their child.

  7. Mommunication – the sole purpose of a cell phone, that is to say, to tell your mom where you are, where you’ve gone or when you’ll be home.
  8. Mombo – that dance move that moms do that embarrassed their kids (and often is done just to embarrass the kids.)
  9. Defconmom – the moment just before mom is about to lose her shit.
  10. Mawm!!! That word used when a child needs him mom like now, like right now. It’s either an arterial cut or they can’t find an eraser.

For me, I lost my mom a long time, ago. Before I could tell her how right she’d been, before I could thank her for all that she gave up for me and my brother, before I could apologize for all the times I made her angry or made her cry.

I miss you mom.

missing a mother

Missing my mom

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If Only Things Could Be Done Better Around the House

I Have A Dream

inception DiCaprio

I have a dream

Like Martin Luther King Jr, I too have a dream. Nothing as grand as his. Mine is a lot smaller and far, far less likely to happen.

I have a dream that toilet paper will be replaced when the last roll is used up, that no one will leave one sheet on the roll hoping someone else will use that one sheet and then replace the roll.

I have a dream that I can find scissors in the office supplies drawer when we have 40 of them in the house. Somewhere.

I have a dream that bread will be thrown out when the crust part is reached. I get that no one wants the crust, but why keep 10 packages of ‘only crusts’ hanging around. Why? Whyyyyyy?

I have a dream that the butter dish will be refilled when there is only enough to butter a mouse’s crumb. How can this be so hard?

I have a dream.

I have a dream that the dog will get fed without asking, though to be fair, the dog has the same dream as well.

I have a dream that the dishwasher will be emptied when the dishwasher has finished washing dishes – Or at least within 12 hours of it finishing – and that the difference between a dishwasher full of clean dishes and one full of dirty, disgusting, caked-on egg dishes will be recognized.

I have a dream that all school forms will be delivered to the parents without us finding them scrunched up in their backpack and soaked with something I’m scared to touch.

I have a dream that things not get lost within 24 hours of buying them. This, sadly, mostly applies to me.

I have a dream.

funny meme

bathroom flooded

I have a dream of walking into the bathroom after the boys have had a bath or shower and not stepping into a cold puddle the size of Lake Erie.

I have a dream that one day, all children will have children exactly like themselves so they may experience the joys of parenthood as we have experienced them. (Honestly, this is both a good and bad thing.)

In other words, I have a dream that so much more will be done without asking, nagging, prodding, yelling, begging, bribing or threatening the removal of electronics for a thousand years.

I have a dream.

But for those of you who might want the real speech for MLK, here it is below. One of the great speeches of all time. It still sends shivers up my spine.

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One of the Best Days as a Stepdad

Calvin and Hobbs with dad explaining

Calvin and Hobbs and the dad

There are tough days as a parent. You know them. Nagging the kids about homework. Dealing with heartbreak. Getting them to bed. Making them eat brussels sprouts or something with kale. (Oh, I have a list of these, oh yes I do, but check back in a few days.)

However every so often… something amazing happens.

This happened on Sunday.

Now, it’s nothing big. We didn’t go to Disneyland or find out where they buried Jimmy Hoffa or saw a UFO, we simply lived our simple lives and enjoyed it.

First off, I was able to get some decent writing done while The-Youngest did his hockey practice. If you’ve read the earlier blogs, you know that in the old days, I would have watched that practice and filmed it and blogged about it and talked about it and been about as attentive as a death row prisoner listening to his final meal choices. Now, though I’m 100% there for the games, wincing, cheering, clapping, face-palming as the situation requires, I can use that practice time effectively and get some good work done.

Afterwards, when we got home, The-Oldest was busy creating his latest masterpiece, a string quartet composition that he would enter in the Langley Community Music School‘s Young Composers Competition. We let him be so he could create something amazing, but it was fantastic to hear how his piece developed. It was funny that he talked to the piano while he composed, but I talk to the computer as I write so who am I to judge?

Then after a lunch of grilled cheese, the boyz and I played Catan. We fought with the board as it seemed to want to shoot every tile into the air but eventually got it all pressed down. I got utterly slaughtered. The-Youngest won. Usually, The-Oldest wins, despite all my clever-clever plans. But this time The-Youngest had a ‘grand strategy’ and he bargained, maneuvered and rolled the right dice-roll at the right time and cleaned up.

Darkest Hour Movie

Churchill’s Darkest Hour

But more fun was to come. While The-Oldest and the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World went to see a concert at the Chan Center, including a piano concerto by Stephen Hough, The-Youngest and I went to see Churchill… and have buttery, buttery popcorn. Mmmmm.

Now, The-Youngest is 11. I didn’t think he’d like the movie despite saying he wanted to see it, but he sat through all 22 hours of it and said he LOVED it. He said he thought he was like Churchill, a guy who always sticks by his beliefs no matter what all the other kids in school thought, then, at the end, they all agree with him. Apparently, he was mostly talking about projects they do in class.

Before the movie, I got a chance to chat about history and Churchill and the Darkest Hour and the Battle of Britain and all those cool WW2 things I love to talk about, and… and… and…. This time no one left the room to do laundry or shovel snow or answer a non-ringing phone.

How cool is that?

When The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and The-Oldest came home, I got a chance to hear all about the concert, which was impressive, then hear what The-Oldest had created – a complex and remarkable string quartet composition that I’m sure will impress anyone who hears it.

Catan game

Boys playing Catan. Note The-Youngest plotting our destruction while he eats chips.

I guess, what made the day so great was not the buttery, buttery popcorn, not the Catan game, not the movie or listening to The-Oldest’s composition. It was quality time with the boyz. Serious time. Fun time. Goofy time. Boy time.

It’s a magical time that will all too soon be gone.

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Cooking for Dummies

Being raised by Depression-era parents, I learned to cook a lot of things. Liver and Onions. Yum. Kidney and beans. So delicious. Spam. Spam loaf. Spam and eggs. Spam and toast. Spam and Spam with a side of Spam.

I also learned how to make some of the simple things. Eggs. Oatmeal. Hamburgers. Pasta. Sauces. That kind of thing. They also taught me how to BBQ, how to make a roast chicken with skin so crisp and brown, my mouth waters to even think about it. I learned how to overcook veggies and make tea and fry up bread.

Heck, my parents ground their own beef for meatloaf and if a single scrap of food went to waste, I’d be utterly surprised (I mean, nothing like a good casserole to get rid of leftovers.)

black forest cake

Cake

In school, however, I learned I had no real talent for cooking. I baked cakes that were so lopsided they looked like someone had sat on one end. I cooked a soufflé that had the appearance of a very dense frisbee. And…I managed to boil all the water out of a pot and burn the pot so badly, no amount of scrubbing would ever get it clean.

Later in life, free of my parents, I learned to cook Kraft dinner, heat up microwave dinners and dial up the best restaurants to deliver.

But now, the-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and I have decided to try a different way of eating, but to do that, I’m having to learn a whole bunch of different things.

In the past 4 weeks, I have learned to make things like smoothies, Swedish meatballs, ham and cheese stuffed pork chops, Caprese chicken, and all sorts of clever salads.

dredging machine

This is dredging to me

I’ve learned to clump, dump, dredge, drizzle, sprinkle, stir, sauté, spoon, scoop, season, pour, blend, mince, blanche, puree, roast, zest lemons, caramelize, clarify, whip, beat and mash. Some of these things I knew how to do, mostly, in a sort of vague way, and some things like ‘dredging’ I did but had no clue it was called dredging. I called it ‘coating’. Or ‘doing that yucky thing with eggs’.

However, the biggest change for us was simply making sure we planned out all our meals. Sure it takes time, but with proper planning, we can try to hit up mass sales on things like chicken or kale or vanilla beans, eat a great variety of foods, and still have leftovers for those days we have no energy.

The new eating plan, you ask? Keto. Seemed like a good idea at the time and we certainly have eaten well, but man, I am getting sick of eggs, cauliflower, and stevia. Still, so far, this month, I’m down 13lbs in three weeks. I don’t think I’ll be able to maintain it for my entire life, as some have, but when I reach my ideal goal, I’ll continue with eating healthy, but have the odd double-double or cheeseburger or bag-o-popcorn with lots and lots of buttery butter.

Keto book.

In the meantime, I’ll continue with no sugar, low carbs and lots of water.

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What No One Tells You About Having Kids

Things No One Tells You About Kids

  1. sSouthpark head lice episode

    Head lice, as seen by the mad minds behind Southpark.

    You get emails from the school about head lice. HEAD LICE!!! It’s just so NOT something I worried about before kids.

2. Colds. You get a lot of them. The math is simple. Take 10% for each child. Multiple that by the number of sports they play, then add 50% by having them in school germ factories. Add another 20% if you have a child that likes to lick or touch everything in sight. Our math is as follows… 2X10% = 20%. 20% X 3sports = 60%. 60% + 50% =110%. Add in The-Youngest and it’s at 130%. Daily! It’s a wonder I’m even walking around.

3. They are way harder to train than dogs. Think more like cats. Cats who have thumbs and can figure out the internet. At best, you can guide them along or ban them from stuff.

Oregon beach

Watching the waves roll in and making sure The-Youngest doesn’t get dragged out to Japan

4. There is absolutely no telling what advice they’ll listen to. Don’t stick your tongue into the light socket has held up pretty well so I’m counting that as a win. But ‘no standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon’s abyss’ is something that eludes them or don’t swim in the riptide.

5. They are not your audience. This came as a huge shock to me. I thought they’d be there to laugh at all my jokes, listen to all my incredible stories about back in the old days or nod with amazement as I told them how WW1 started.

6. You have to discuss sex with them at some point. Now, some people have this down, even discussing sex with their friends all the time, but me, not so much – I blush and start stammering and blinking a lot. It’s not pretty. It looks like I’m having a stroke. So, I rely on hand gestures, cartoons and, when it gets really tough, I tell them to go see their mother. Oddly, both of them seem relieved by this.

7. You must talk to other people, mostly parents. Being socially awkward, I find this hard sometimes. I’ll walk up to a group of hockey dads discussing, well, hockey. Them: “Did you see that game last night? Outstanding shot by Victor Ugumoff.” (or something) Me: “I like cake.”

8. It is even harder to lose weight. At a restaurant, after proclaiming that they are STARVING, they leave a mountain of French fries. Being, you know, frugal and all, I eat them up. Same with left-over pizza, one last cookie in a cookie box, or a candy bar found wedged between the car seats. It’s a war of frugality vs diet, and diet usually loses.

9. Your car will be a mess. Even your Mustang. Constant, daily cleaning will be needed and time being so minimal, it might be weeks before you discover that banana peel wedged under the front seat. Get used to dirt, chocolate smears, melted candy and a surprising collection of toys you thought got banned for choking hazards.

child leaving home

Leaving home

10. Time will fly by. In days, it seems, The-Oldest is growing a mustache. Before you blink, The-Youngest will want to be borrowing the car. Look away for a moment, and their rooms are empty, their beds untouched. No one needs a lunch made, or a hug, and the house is silent.

 

 

So, despite all the ‘fun’ of being a parent, I’m learning to cherish all the moments, good or bad, and embrace everything no one told me about.

What surprised you about being a parent?

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New Year’s Resolutions or “Do Betters”

calvin and hobbs

Calvin and Hobbs New Year’s Resolutions.

I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, but I do like to think about things I could do better. So here is my Do-Better List.

Eat Better – cuz man, last year I ate like I was 12 and lived in a fast food restaurant.  Changing won’t be easy and won’t be fun, but I’m going to cut down on everything tasty and yummy, while learning to love kale, coconut oil, and veggie burgers.

Grow 2 feet – This will certainly be easier than the first one, but jeez, Rick, I seem to be the shortest one in Langley. Maybe BC. Every kid over the age of 11 (and even some of them), are taller than me. Walking in a High School, I feel like I’m 6 again. It’s not right. Who’s fed these kids so well? Time to act. I’m sure the internet will have some good advice.

new website

A preview of my website

Get a Website Up and Running – I thought I’d get time for that last year, but this year, I mean it, I’m going to get a better website. Wait for it. Check back every week or so. It’s coming and it’ll be awesome.

Read More – I was down to 3 novels read last year. 3!!! That’s terrible. I did quite a bit of non-fiction reading, but that doesn’t count. So, a book a month. First up, Stephen King and the Stephen King drinking game.  Mr. Mercedes.

Drink More Water (or tea) – I am a coffee nut but health-wise, despite a whole ton of internet articles on the subject, coffee may not be my best choice of drink. Switching to scotch may seem like a better choice than water, and certainly a very understandable choice, but it costs more, it makes me sleep more (some say pass out), and I’m more likely to end up dancing on a table in my underwear. So, yeah, water. I hear there’s a new craze called raw water. Maybe I’ll try that.

Travel More – It’s hard to get away with the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World working on call, us getting the boys only every other week, and with commitments like hockey, baseball, piano or writer’s meetings. But this year, dammit, we’re going to find a nice place and go there. See it. Walk on it. Buy something to eat there. Smell something nice. Maybe something not so nice if we go to NY.  Who knows? But this year, we’ll have an adventure. Stay tuned.

Be Nicer to People – Not all people. No. But I have noticed as I get older, I get grumpier and less tolerant of morons, ignorant fools, and Facebook trolls. I’ll try to do a bit better this year. Really, I will. (less coffee should help.)

Get Another Book Done – Hard to get back on the writing horse after being rejected by all the horses, but I have to get moving forward. I have a few ideas and just have to fight through all the negative voices. Who ultimately knows what will sell? A book about being a stepdad? A medieval mystery? A fantasy novel about an executioner? A book of limericks? More to come.

Get a Newsletter Up and Running – As part of my website push, I’ll rework the WordPress website so that you don’t need to give THEM your email address so they can sell it to the North Koreans. It should be a nice easy way to connect with anyone who wants to read my blog or books or look at pictures of my stuffed animal collection.

Be a Better Stepdad and Husband – No set agenda here, I simply have to be more present, try harder to not be a complete goober and treat the Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and the boyz like they’re the most important thing in my life. Cuz they are.

Does anyone have any plans for 2018?

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