I have a confession to make, I forgot it was my son’s birthday today. I knew it was coming up and for some reason my mind told me that it was Friday, when it fact it was today. Mom had made a FaceTime call this morning, which she never does and soon as the words “Happy Birthday” came out of her mouth my heart sank. Oops, I didn’t even realize what day it was.
It was rather sad and sobering fact to me to have forgotten, as we had an awesome cuddle session in the morning while lying on the couch and it would have been nice to sing him Happy Birthday while we cuddled… I suppose it’s a good thing that he is just turning four and it went over his head that I had forgotten.
And I must also confess I am totally unprepared for a birthday today, with it still being so close to Christmas perhaps in future years just grab him a couple of extra presents and leave them in my closet for today. I will also be spending the afternoon making a SpiderMan birthday as I like to do every year for my kids when they make their request. It’s a good thing that the Bulk Barn rents out shaped cake pans and I am hoping that a SpiderMan head is among their selections… if not I will have to get creative.
Jennifer requested a Princess Peach cake this past year, and well let’s just say that Mario Kart is a few years behind the times and finding anything Princess Peach was several missions. I ended up having to get creative and make a Pink Castle cake along with a Princess Peach themed background on a large cake board. Turned out pretty good in my humble opinion.
So today we will head out shopping, and I will enjoy every second of my day with Austin as currently he is running around and having a great time with Kristi screaming giggling and tickling as they run around the house playing Monsters… Argghhh I’m gonna get you…
I have this giant calendar on my fridge, and the lesson that I have learned today is to write it down, perhaps set a reminder on one number of the pieces of technology that I possess. Or perhaps I need to slow things down in my life and make sure that I focus on the truly important things in my life, like my son’s birthday. #fail 🙂
I signed up my little ones for a hip hop dance class at the YMCA on Monday nights. Tonight is week 2 of a 12 week run, I’ve watched my older daughters go through similar classes in the past but was unsure of what to expect with ages 3 and 5.
It starts with a warmup basically organized chaos and running all around the gym. Loosening up leg and arm muscles as they run back and forth working up a sweat. And now they are being shown and repeating some basic hip hop moves.
Austin for two weeks in a row, every time I mention the class says “I’m not dancing…” and makes a funny face.
While sitting here watching the class go down he is right there with his sister shuffling back and forth across the dance floor (aka gym) and seems to be having a great time as there is a big smile on his face.
I was slightly worried that he would be the kid that was distracted by everything that went by, or wasn’t listening to the instructor like this other little boy is who is currently running laps around the exterior of the gym instead of participating. Kind of funny…
I suspect that it is because his sister is in the class with him and had this been a solo mission for Austin he might be acting differently. It’s fun watching them have fun, get exercise and not be sitting there in front of the TV watching mindlessly.
I love the YMCA it has great programs for the kids that doesn’t cost any extra for the discounted membership price I was given. Perhaps I will give that Yoga class a try I’ve been itching to try out…
Morning all, so I wrote quickly yesterday morning about feeling a bit overwhelmed about the day ahead, and I am very happy to report that I got it all done, and then some! The morning was filled with driving around, and my boy was just super well behaved in the car for a couple of hours, his favorite reward being a Kinder Egg which he attacks with such enthusiasm every time he gets one. He is such a sweet little boy, wanted to buy his big sister Emily a heart shaped ring from the dollar store and then gave it to her later in the day, warmed my heart so much to see that.
When I got home it was cookie production time, as I mentioned that I am starting up an online baking company, North West Bakery which has been such fun to start up. I found some awesome Valentine’s Day boxes to pack up cookies, and made some promo cookies as well that I am going to photo and add to the website today. My order from Vista Print arrives today as well so I can turn my Jeep into a mobile advertising platform, business cards and t-shirts to wear at the gym tonight when I work out. Going to be fun!
While Austin was down for a nap. I decided to hit the road for a lovely 10km run through the streets my subdivision on the 10th day of my 100 day run challenge. I was doing a Nike Run audio guided run and I humble suggest that any runners with an Iphone download the app and give it a try. Remember to turn your phone to airplane mode to avoid any phone calls as for some reason it kicks off the audio track during the run which has only been slightly annoying. I find the talking, the verbal coaching in your ear to be a great motivator, and I will try it again at the gym tonight.
After school was filled with icing cookies, and playing with my two young children. It was wrestle time and we had so much fun rolling around the couch, having pillow fights, and letting them pummel me and believe you me, pummel me is the right word. Horsey rides, tickle fights and playing Monsters (basically chasing them around the house making monsters sounds) and they loved it. Mom came and picked up the little ones, and I settled into the couch and a good movie and had a nap…
After a little despite, I engaged both of my older girls to end the day. Megan came home from the mall and was so excited to tell me all about it, share some videos that she took, showed off the 1000 page book that she bought. She even let me explain to her how to play the Star Wars X-Wing miniatures game that I have been dying to play, and then offered to play with me. I should have jumped at the chance, by I was down to my last little bit of energon for the da and knew I would be napping soon. We have rescheduled the space combat mission for this weekend, perhaps even tonight.
And then I talked with Emily about what is going on in her life. I challenged her to make a plan of action over the next few days to help her both feel better and get her school life back on track. She has been steadily improving the last few weeks and I want to see her take that next step. I need to remember to focus on the GREAT things that she is doing, and try not to focus on the negative things. I believe she will respond better with positive reinforcement when it is so easy to point out those negative things we all see and don’t like on a personal level.
I’ve gotten a bit away from writing about my daughters, as I learned a real valuable lesson about sharing too much especially when you have neighbours that think they know better than you do when it comes to raising your own kids. An absolute humbling lesson about a hand reaching out while sliding a knife into your back.. I digress as I choice to focus on the positive and the things that I have control over, right?
Today’s agenda is fun. Lot’s of playing with Austin today, in and around some website construction usually when he eats lunch, and naps. Swim lessons start up again tonight so back to the YMCA and then a nice little workout afterwards (run 11) and then home for dinner and a movie(s) night, first with the little ones and then another with my teenagers. Want to start a tradition each week watching one of the Marvel movies in order leading up to the release of Infinity War in May. This will give us the chance to talk about life, the day and whatever else comes up…
To start July I celebrated my 45th birthday, and shortly afterwards I had 10 days scheduled off from work for a nice long vacation. One I felt was sorely overdue after the events of the previous 11 months and the experience of separating, selling my house and moving on with my life. I spent a lot of my down time trying to plan the perfect road trip with my kids…
One of my biggest fears was seeing this trip turn into something from the movie Vacation, where is something can go wrong will go wrong. I also feared extended hours in the car with two teenage girls and the potential issues that might arise. I had talked to the girls about what they wanted to do and the things that they wanted to see, and to be honest I didn’t quite get the reaction that I was hoping for from them. They didn’t seem super excited as I was for this trip…
That being said I have learned so much about me, and my relationship(s) with these girls that next summer the trip of a lifetime will happen and it will become an annual tradition. I was a different person back then as opposed to the man that sits here today. At some point I decided to break this road trip into two seperate ones… a trip with my buddies (as I was planning on draggin my daughters to some US ballparks) and one with Emily and Megan.
So upon returning from the States (more on that later) I unpacked, and then repacked the Jeep and we were off. The plan was to head towards Ottawa as I had booked a KOA campground for several nights, on all the back roads to explore this great country that we have. One of the things the boys and I had talked about just a few days before was saving turtles when you would see one trying to cross the road, Ryan was telling the story about he rescues turtles and turns to me and says, “I am sure your the same Ed?” I nodded politely and the conversation carried on. In my head I was thinking that one I’ve never rescued a turtle, and two I don’t think I’ve ever even seen a turtle crossing the road.
Well wouldn’t you know it after only a few hours on the road, there right in the middle was the poor little turtle trying to make it across the road.
We immediately pulled over and ran out into the middle of the road to rescue the poor little guy, when I bent over to pick him up by the edges of his shell he did what all good turtles tend to do. Pull his head inside of his shell and then proceeded to piss all over my left. Thankfully my dexterity was up to the challenge and I was able to Tennessee two step my way out of the stream just in time. We placed the turtle onto the side of the road, and facing in the same direction he was already headed, jumped back in the Jeep and we continued on the way.
Rescuing turtles will always be something that I will now be on the lookout for!
We continued to head North, stopping at not only the Candy Shoppe on the 400 North, we also hit up the Kawartha Dairy for a delicious ice cream cone and pulled over at several national parks to stretch our legs and have bathroom breaks as needed.
Once we got to our campsite in Ottawa and settled in, it was time for dinner. Over the first few months of the this summer I learned how to cook over an open campfire. Not the easiest thing to do as every single campfire will be different in terms of its intensity and distance from fire to food. It requires constant supervision and adjustments throughout the cooking process as too not too burn anything. Yes I’ve ruined a few hot dogs in my day but I pretty much have gotten the hang of it, and not once did I have to break out the Coleman stove that I bought as backup.
Nights around the campfire are my favorite. Sitting there listening to good music, talking and sharing stories, roasting marshmallows and making smores.
My only disappointment with this trip was my inability to get Emily to re-engage with some family time each night. She would retreat into the cabin with her headphones in, listening to her music and sending out an endless parade of SnapChats to her friends. Megan was all in and I had just the best time with her playing frisbee, catch and other games around the campsite. Emily was reluctant to join in on any of this family fun, she wouldn’t even go swimming with us at the pool and the lake.
The next day the weather was not the best and we did some shopping at the Tanger outlet mall in Ottawa and had some lunch while in town. We did a lot of shopping over the summer, getting the girls some fun things along the way and I basically replaced my entire wardrobe and shoe collection this year. I think this shopping trip was my last of this year in terms of clothing as my perception on money and how best to spend it was already starting to change… (more on the that in my #1 post for 2017.
I has asked the girls what they wanted to do while up in Ottawa and two common things come from this conversation, one was to go Zip Lining and the other was the chance to drive the Jeep. Both of these were crossed off the list the next day! I have a healthy respect for heights and was a little afraid of what the day might bring, but it was a beautiful drive over and across a large river dividing Ontario and Quebec that was a delight to see.
The zip lining course was at the top of a mountain and it was a long and winding road up to the top through some beautiful summer views.
We arrived on time, got all geared up and had the chance to watch the group ahead of us finish up with the final zipline back to the base camp. We walked out into the woods, had our orientation and away we went. My only other ziplining experience was in Jamaica and it was much different than what I experienced in Ottawa. I figured it would be a guided tour through the trees with instructors in front and behind us, travelling in a large group. Well that was not the case at all, we were pretty much on our own as the instructors kept watch from the safety of the ground. Being the first three on the course we were able to go at our own pace, and with two adventurous girls leading the way we quickly were ahead of everyone else and having just the best time imaginable.
The course started off with several climbing in and around type obstacles to orientate one from being off the ground and to get more comfortable with the zipline to come. It was actually a really fun time for me and I quickly got over my fear of heights to the point where it wasn’t even a factor. Watching my girls hit each line ahead of me allowed me to see what I was in store for, how fast the line might move and to prepare for each landing. The difference between an 80 lb girl and a 180 lb man are quite different in terms of speed and impact on each landing. I was able to generate a lot more speed across the ziplines than either of the girls were able to do so.
We had so much fun this day, I was able to conquer some of my own fears and felt that I grew closer to each girl throughout the afternoon.
Up next on the agenda was some off road driving in the Jeep after searching for the right road to drive on. With Emily turning 16 later in the year I knew that she would want to get some experience behind the wheel. I didn’t want to just trespass in an open field or on private property so while drive around the water I simply followed a sign for an empty lot for sale. The road turned from paved to gravel, and then eventually to no road at all and we ended up on an abandoned lot down on the Ottawa River. It was perfect!
I drove the Jeep right up to the edge of the water and enjoyed a few minutes of sheer beauty and some peace and quiet. Right up until the girls were attacked by a few wasps… hilarity ensued!
I was able to do some off roading across this lot and back up and down the “road” that led down to this cottage, and I even allowed the girls a chance to get behind the wheel of the Jeep for a trip themselves. Both girls showed no fear and had a blast driving the Jeep with not another soul around.
After several trips up and down and back again we headed back to the campgrounds for another fire roasted dinner of deliciousness. We would spend one more day in Ottawa before returning to the real world back here in Barrie. I know personally I had a wonderful time and learned a lot about myself and what is truly important in life and spending time with my girls. We would go camping several more times throughout the summer as I shared the wonderful world that is mother nature.
It was during this trip that I started to realize just what was important to me, the Summer of George has started with the idea of having the time of my life and doing a lot of crazy things that money could buy you. Sitting in the best seats if you will, replacing a wardrobe, buying countless baseball jersey and matching ball caps, Star Wars battle drones, and many other things… This extended road trip was the beginning of my understanding of what truly is important in life, my family, my friends. Spending time with them, having fun, creating memories. One that last a lifetime and are not easily forgotten or replaced, this thought process I would chase for the remainder of this year and wouldn’t fully understand until mid September.
I have always been a very proud Canadian, especially due to the fact that my birthday falls on Canada Day, July 1st our National holiday. The running joke in my family was always about all the fireworks and celebrations all for little ol me. There is something very cool about always having fireworks to celebrate your birthday. My favorite may have been my 39th or 40th birthday when I was still living on Autumnleaf Cres in Mississauga, as we backed right onto a park with tennis courts, soccer fields, and a playground. That year some local fireworks companies pooled their resources and did a rather amazing fireworks display that we were able to watch from the comfort of our deck.
This past year Canada was celebrating its 150th birthday, I was celebrating my 45th birthday and with the Summer of George mentality still going strong something extra special needed to be done. (Side Note: I am currently watching this game I PVR’d back in July for the 1st time).
Most years the Toronto Blue Jays play a home game on Canada Day and as a big of a baseball fan that I am, I’ve never actually been to that game. Well this year was the year that I was going to go, and if I was going it was going to be in style. There is sitting in the front row and then there is sitting right on the field. I think you can guess where I was going to be sitting, I cannot with a clean conscience ever tell anyone how much those tickets cost but it was worth every penny.
I decided to take my oldest daughter Emily with me, as she has been through one tough year herself. My hope was that we would be able to reconnect during the afternoon and I could share my appreciation and knowledge of baseball with her. I also had an longshot goal of acquiring foul ball number three that afternoon.
Toronto was playing division rival Boston Red Sox and strikeout machine Chris Sale was pitching for the enemy. Final score of the game was Boston 15, Toronto 1 not even close… but that was just fine with me. I had so much fun that afternoon with everything else going on around me, most of all spending the afternoon with Emily. And yes we even got our foul ball # 3 not for lack of trying.
Early in the game Xander Bogaerts who plays for Boston and was a player on my fantasy team this year (I am a big fan of fantasy baseball) hit a grounder right off the wall, at the time I was busy eating a hot dog and totally unprepared to catch the ball as it rolled down the line foul into the outfield. I immediately thought well there goes my chance for the day… later in the game Bogaerts was up again and hit another screamer down the line in the exact same spot, and this time I was ready.
With catlike reflexes and glove in hand I dove from my seat up and almost over the railing to nimbly snag the hot shot grounder screaming down the line. Great story eh? Well that’s not quite what happened… I actually dove a little too intensely and landing promptly on the field of play and had to scramble back to my seat. Security doesn’t mess around with fans on the field and I was promptly ejected from the park for my error! Well that didn’t quite happen either, but would have also made for a great story.
What actually happened was I made a swipe at the ball, felt it bounce off the tip of my glove and rolled down the line into the outfield. I had my chance, I had two of them in fact but I didn’t come up with either ball. I ended up being the recipient of a foul ball courtesy of the kind elderly lady who handed it to my daughter after it had been tossed to her from former Blue Jays manager John Butterfield, now a third base coach for Boston and actually talked to and interacted with the fans quite a bit. Twice in fact tossing balls to the fans in the general area where we were sitting, the first time he came back after a half inning break and handed the ball personally to a young fan sitting right behind us.
End of day, mission accomplished and everyone left happy despite the Blue Jays getting blown out of the place.
This was a great way to spend my birthday, and I know I most likely won’t ever get the chance to sit in these seats again so I made sure to enjoy every second of it. The company was also great and may just have been the start of Emily and I’s improved relationship. I hope that she appreciated the events going on around her that day as I know I did. I have seen some magical things happen at the Skydome over the years, today ranked right up on my list of favorites.
Most guys would either have their man cave in the garage or perhaps down in the basement. I would argue the conversation goes something like, “You want to do what? Not in my house…” I jokingly say that as when the idea struck me to build my own recreational room I knew I would have no limitations and could put it wherever I wanted.
The first thing I needed to consider was the room dimensions as I knew the centerpiece of the room would be a brand new pool table. Living in a four bedroom townhouse with four children, well I didn’t have many options. Had I been living at my old house, which had the perfect Great Room that would have been a pool and ping pong heaven, alas the choice here were down to three. The basement offered the most room, but no thanks. That left either the front room or the family room attached to the kitchen.
The front room offered a few more feet of space and was the winner. Originally this room had turned into a kid storage area, with some toys but didn’t really get used all that much. So in July construction begun! I cleaned out my basement, which in all reality didn’t have much in t to begin with and that area was turned into a kids play palace and Dad workout area. The large floor space is enough for them to run around, ride bikes and wiggly cars, and when they leave all their toys scattered about well no can see it!!
I scavaged all my pop culture items that I had for a while, and some I haven’t put up on walls in years. Can someone explain to me why I can’t hang Star Wars posters in my house when they are a big part of defining who I am? I had to look at two ladies playing the violin for years and was never explained what was important about that painting or why I had to stare at it for nine years… I would much rather have had Darth Vader scowling at me instead. My Star Wars posters are originals back from when the films first came out, I have had them for almost 35 years and have been hard mounted on wooden frames and are the centerpiece of the room.
Growing up a big sports fan, and having the extreme pleasure of meeting 4 players from the 1992 and 1993 World Champion Toronto Blue Jays and I have some autographed memorabilia as a result of those meetings. I also went out shopping for additional pieces to the room, and added my own homemade items as well. I knew the room would need a chalkboard and or a dry erase board to keep score, etc… I had able to turn one are eisle into two custom scoreboards and four home made lightsabers that act as picture holders and chalk holders along the wall.
I’ve added Canadian flags, and some DC Comics items as well focusing on Superman and a few other items as well. Walking around just looking at the room, I can tell you where each piece comes from and why is it important to me, why it was an important part of my history.
The room will never really be finished, as I continue to add more bling for the wall every once in awhile. A new R2-D2 wall bust being the latest boxing day purchase to be installed this weekend… this room has quickly become my favorite in the house and one where I am completely at peace. The kids enjoy this room almost as much as I do… almost.
Megan and I enjoy playing ping pong together, and she is quite good. She has already beaten me a few times playing, and plays smart. Always putting that ball where I am not, and requiring me to make super athletic feats just to return the ball. Once she learns how to hit an overhead smash, I am completely toast.
Jennifer, Austin and I love to play pool together. At the moment they use their hands to roll the ball into the pockets and have so much fun. It’s spending time with Dad that they love, but both will grow up being excellent pool players, and it’s also great for working on the hand eye coordination.
I’ve have my circle of friends over many times and we always end up playing pool or darts, during baseball season I move a TV into the room and would come home after work through on a Dodgers game and shoot a few racks. You could call it my happy place.
I have also received many positive comments on the room when it is seen for the first time, I remember the time I had ordered Domino’s pizza for the first time and the delivery driver was so enthralled with what he saw I invited him in to take a look around. Twenty minutes later a different driver showed up at my door with a 2L Cola (that I didn’t order) and I suspect when the first driver got back to the store he was sharing the story of the awesome room that he just saw and this second driver had to see it for himself. Got me a free 2L cola out of it…
Two final thoughts on the rec room, as it has turned into my favorite place in the house. It will be fully transportable when it is time to move to another house and can re replicated and enhanced at the new place. More items can and will be added to the walls as time goes by, but much more than all that is the memories that have been creating in this room with my friends, but more importantly my children. Boyfriends are starting to come around and the kids entertain in that room, I have family events in there all the time and my pool game has improved by 500% over the past six months.
I love my man cave, everyone should have one of their own!