Monday, 24 November 2014

The Schedule Keeps Me Regular

As I sit in a sleepy daze at my desk this morning I am contemplating my week ahead.  I don't have a ton of things on my plate, but there is enough to do that I will be kept busy every day.  I like to write out a little weekly schedule so that I have a little less anxiety.  It is nice to have the visual plan so that I don't feel too overwhelmed if a planned task or fun activity gets missed as I can often find time later in the week to fit it in.  This schedule is also where I write down anything I have to do at a certain time that isn't quite as flexible.  A few things each week would fall into that category and this week is no different.  Asher and I are bringing my car in for an oil change tomorrow, and we will do our weekly grocery shopping afterwards.  Instead of being off on Thursday this week, I will be renewing my level 1 first aid certification.  It's not mandatory, but I have plans to take the kids to the hockey game Tuesday night, and I have my own hockey game to play on the Thursday night.  Many of the things that find their way onto my weekly schedule are there somewhat unnecessarily.  No, I am not going to forget completely about my game Thursday night if it isn't written down.  What the sheet stops me from doing that had driven me a little mad over the period of my adult life was my habit of continuously going through my mental to do checklist.  I would do this all day every day and often it would distract me from enjoying the moment that I am currently in.  For example, rather than be racking my brain trying to remember what it is I have to do the next day just that the list exists is enough to stop me from mentally created the list which in turn doesn't allow me to focus and/or enjoy whatever it is I am currently doing.

I can't tell you if my life changes much without "the list" but at this point the habit has become too engrained for me to chance it.  I feel out of sorts if that lists isn't written up on the Saturday or Sunday.  I am usually overly ambitious when writing the list, and I am proud of myself if at the end of the week the essential things have been done or attended and at least some of the optional things have happened.  One of the reasons I started to do this was because I would go through my 3 days off without having done anything really.  Nothing had been done that I could point to and say, "See!  I did something!"  Asher coming along has made me much more of a go getter in my downtime.  Gone are the days when I would just zone out on the online poker tables, or watch numerous sporting events all evening only later stopping to wonder where the time went.  Don't feel bad for me.  I'm not filling my schedule with arduous tasks and endless chores.  They are in there too, but the main point of the schedule is to make sure we don't miss Strong Start, or swimming, or skating, or the library, or the hockey game, etc.  I also feel quite guilty when I skip things that are for the kids, and the visual browbeating that the schedule provides means that we miss stuff way less often then we might without it.  Busy is a good thing, especially when you have a pint sized sidekick that nearly without fail will go along with every idea you come up with.  There is really something special about how revered I am by the little guy.  I don't want to let him in on the secret and spoil the fun.  Let Asher go on thinking that I am really cool. 

Despite having a fulfilling life with days consumed by fun and commitments, I still find the time to watch plenty of movies, read fairly regularly, and also to keep up on a handful of sitcoms that Sheila and I both enjoy.  I'm going to keep today's post rather brief, leaving off with an unsolicited look into what I have enjoyed this year in the form of movies, television programs and books.

Books I Have Enjoyed This Year

1)  Paddle Your Own Canoe (2013) - Nick Offerman
2)  The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared (2009) - Jonas Jonasson
3) Looking For Alaska (2005) - John Green
4)  The Gambler (1867) - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
5) Trainspotting (1993) - Irving Welsh
6) The Kite Runner (2003) - Khaled Hosseini
7) Will To Live (2011) - Les Stroud
8) The Fault In Our Stars (2012) - John Green
9) The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden (2013) - Jonas Jonasson
10) Up, Up and Away (2014) - Jonah Keri
11) Poor Folk (1846) - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
12) An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth (2013) - Chris Hadfield

Best Movies of 2014 (In My Humble Opinion)

1) Gone Girl - director David Fincher
2) Chef - director Jon Favreau
3) Snowpiercer - director Bong Joon-Ho
4) Guardians of the Galaxy - director James Gunn
5) The Lego Movie - directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
6) St.Vincent - director Theodore Melfi
7) Big Hero 6 - directors Don Hall and Chris Williams
8) Cold In July - director Jim Mickle
9) X-Men: Days of Future Past - director Bryan Singer
10) Neighbours - director Nicholas Stoller
11) John Wick - director Chad Stahelski
12) Godzilla - director Gareth Edwards
13) Captain America: The Winter Soldier - directors Anthony and Joe Russo
14) How To Train Your Dragon 2 - director Dean DeBlois
15) A Walk Among the Tombstones - director Scott Frank
16) 22 Jump Street - directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
17) The Amazing Spiderman 2 - director Marc Webb
18) 300: Rise of an Empire - director Noam Murro

Movies of 2014 That Sucked (That I Sat Through)

Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
If I Stay
A Million Ways To Die In The West
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Albums I Am Currently Listening To

Ed Sheeran - "x"
Omar Souleyman - "Wenu Wenu"
Run the Jewels - "Run the Jewels 2"
Pink Floyd - "The Dark Side of the Moon"
Passenger - "All the Little Lights"
Born Ruffians - "Birthmarks"
Langhorne Slim and the Law - "The Way We Move"
Duck Sauce - "Quack"
Avicii - "True"
Old Crow Medicine Show - "Carry Me Back"
The Steeldrivers - "The Steeldrivers"
Ozomatli - "Ozomatli"
MO - "No Mythologies To Follow"
Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 - "Many Things"
Sheppard - "Bombs Away"
Spoek Mathambo - "Father Creeper"
Watsky - "Cardboard Castles"
Weird Al - "Mandatory Fun"
Iggy Azalea - "The New Classic"
Ariana Grande - "My Everything"
2 Chainz - "B.O.A.T.S II: Me Time"
Naughty Boy - "Hotel Cabana"
Mr. Scruff - "Friendly Bacteria"
Meghan Trainor - "Title"
Maroon 5 - "V"
Major Lazer - "Guns Don't Kill People ... Lazers Do"
Lindsey Stirling - "Lindsey Stirling"
Ab-Soul - "These Days..."
Afrojack - "Forget the World"
Alexandra Stan - "Cliche (Hush Hush)"
Amos Lee - "Mission Bell"
Asher Roth - "RetroHash"
Bad Boy Bill - "The Album"
Bastille - "Bad Blood"
Beyonce - "Beyonce"
Booka Shade - "Eve"
Ellie Goulding - "Halcyon Days"
Foster the People - "Supermodel"
Goat - "World Music"
Gotye - "Making Mirrors"
The Grascals - "The Famous Lefty Flynn's"
The Howlin' Brother - "Trouble"
Imagine Dragons - "Night Visions"
Jai Paul - "Jai Paul"
FKA - "Twigs EP2"
Disclosure - "Settle"
Diplo - "Express Yourself"
Die Antwoord - "Donker Mag"
Del Mccoury Band - "The Promised Land"
Daily and Vincent - "Daily and Vincent"
Deadmau5 - "while (1<2)"
Collie Buddz - "On The Rock"
Classified - "Classified"
Eliza Doolittle - "Eliza Doolittle"
K-Os - "BLack on BLonde"
Kaskade - "Atmosphere"
Kidstreet - "Fuh Yeah"
Knife Party - "Haunted House"
Lecrae - "Anomaly"
Lorde - "Pure Heroine"
London Grammar - "If You Wait"
Morcheeba - "Blood Like Lemonade"
Mr. Vegas - "Sweet Jamaica"

This isn't a complete list of my current favorites but all of the listed albums I have listened to recently, and would recommend.  My tastes are all over the place, but I tend to listen to upbeat stuff when it fits my mood, and more somber stuff when I am digging it.  I'll be back to add more when I have access to my master collection.

Have a great week all!  Hi Sheila!  and Ed!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Boring Life? Not So Fast.

This little slice of the internet has been pretty much deserted over the last six months.  I've been busy to an extent but for the most part  routines have been formed and myself and the rest of the family have been slogging through them.  Routines aren't bad.  In my opinion one should be quite happy with their routine because for the most part, you should be the one who chose the things that make up said routine.  I know that once you have kids or others that rely on your assistance and support you get less input on the types of things that make up the routine, but for the most part, even the things that your children are involved in are your choice.  If I hadn't actively encouraged Jasmine to join basketball it may never have become so enjoyable for her.  I don't mind in the least driving her to practices and games knowing that she gets so much out of it.  It hasn't all been routine though around the Prosk/Theriault house over the past six months.  We have been lucky enough to get out and smell the roses so to speak.

Over the course of the summer and fall months I managed to take 4 road trips.  Yes, 4.   I think back to the time of my University education when I would wrap up classes for the year and make my annual trek back to Quesnel to live in my parent's basement.  I would have a few weeks of doing almost nothing before the summer jobs would start.  For the most part, the summer jobs consumed all of my time and there was not time or money that would make a road trip possible.  So, yes, I am quite thankful for the opportunities that I took advantage of this year.

Jasmine and I had great fun on our overnight trip to the Robson Valley Music Festival in Dunster.  The trip was cheap (Jas will gladly point out that I love cheap things!) and we enjoyed a really unique experience that very few people know about.  I would guess that at it's peak the crowd swelled to 6 or 7 hundred people on the Friday night that we attended.  The cost was minimal, ticket for me, Jas was free, gas to get there, tiny fee to pitch our tent, and well priced food trucks to eat at.  What we got was a chance to see some unbelievable musicians from all over the world. We got to hear The Chimney Swallows a banjo and guitar folk duo, who's guitarist Raghu Lokanathan I heard for the first time 10 years ago and have been a fan of his ever since.  We heard Quesnel artist Doug Koyama doing his improvisional style electronica music.  As the sky got dark and night moved in, the music just got better and better.  Luke and Tess Pretty, both teenagers killed their set with fast paced instrumental tunes.  Luke on the keyboards (he played 3 different keyboards at the same time) and Tess on the drum kit, they were seasoned professionals.  Luke jumped up and down for 30 minutes while delivering the set and his enthusiasm was infectious.  Next up was Jack Garton and the Demon Squadron.  Jasmine and I had a pretty lengthy debate after the festival about who was the most impressive act we saw.  Jack narrowly lost out to the following act, but it was darn close.  Jack had impressive vocals which he belted out while shredding the accordion (is that a thing?).  I just about fainted when after nailing a verse complete with corresponding accordion riffs, Jack picked up a trumpet with one hand and blasted out a trumpet solo.  His song "Music Is the Key" was my favorite of the evening.  You can check out Jack's music at:

If the night had ended at this point, I would have been satisfied.  It didn't end, and satisfaction continued.  Likely, most of you will die never having heard the artist named Scott Jeffers who performs as the lead of the group Traveller.  It's too bad because you will have missed something so unreal that it is difficult to digest all at once.  I don't just want to see him again, I need to.  I haven't seen a ton of concerts in my life but none of them come close to the show that Scott Jeffers put on.  Jasmine and I voted him the top act of the night.  he didn't have all of his band members with him as they are from Arizona, but he recruited a couple members of Mamguroove to perform with him.  Scott plays the violin in a world fusion style.  The music that he plays has a distinct persian flavour.  When he isn't destroying the violin, Scott picks up the oud, bouzouki or cumbus and expertly shows his chops on all of the lesser known instruments as well.  I was already swooning at this point, and had pulled a reluctant Jasmine up to stand right in front of the stage, when Scott decides it's time to pull out his Freddie Mercury impersonation.  In a word, amazing.  The night rounded out with: 1) Aurora Jane, a trio from Melbourne, Australia, 2) Kinnie Star, an alt rock/hip hop artist from Calgary, and 3) OKA, a reggae/hip hop fusion trio from Australia that we unfortunately were too tired to stay up for as it was past 1 am.  Jasmine and I also enjoyed a couple of hours discovering the Ancient Forest on the way to the festival.  We still chat about how much fun we had, and have been making tentative plans to include next summer's festival in our travel plans.

The last road trip of 2014 for me saw the Prosk men (well, 3 of us anyway) take our almost annual pilgrimage to attend a sporting event or two.  This year, my brother Ian was able to join my dad and I on our drive down to Vancouver.  We crashed at my mom's sister's place.  My auntie Steph, my uncle Fred and their 4 children played host as we had dinner and caught up.  I hadn't seen any of my cousins or my uncle for many years, so it was really nice to get the chance to catch up.  We spent the evening updating each other on our lives before we found some sleeping space to crash for the night.  While my dad and I took off in the morning to see the Whitecaps and Sounders soccer game in Seattle, Ian hung out and visited some more before splurging for his first tattoo at a nearby shop that he had researched.  We met up with him the next day in downtown Vancouver. 

I had never been to Seattle, and with the limited amount of time we got to spend in the city, I still kind of feel like I haven't really seen it.  What I did see, was quite nice.  Dad and I found our hotel and relaxed for a bit before getting our Whitecaps gear on walking towards the stadium.  Seattle has a really cool marketplace called Pike's Market that backs right onto Puget Sound.  Fresh seafood was a given, but there was dozens and dozens of other quirky little shops and stalls.  After checking the market out we continued towards CenturyLink Field.  There were pubs all along the way, and the soccer fans were deep along the sidewalk for the last mile or so towards the stadium.  We were plenty early when we arrived, so the stadium's 67,000 seats stood mostly empty.  Except for the top right corner of the upper bowl.  There, the Southsiders, the top supporters club for the Whitecaps FC had set up shop.  An hour before the game and their group was already hard at work.  Singing endlessly, it was quite a sight.  Dad and I speculated about just how big the crowd would be.  As the warm ups took place, the stands filled.  Soon, our awesome seats at centre pitch 15 rows up were closed in.  We were a lonely couple of Whitecaps supporters in a sea of lime green.  As it turns out some 56,000 fans showed up, making it one of the biggest MLS crowds of the season.  The game itself was a struggle for the Whitecaps.  The Sounders had never lost a game in front of a crowd of 50,000+.  They had lost 1 home game all year.  The Whitecaps have a poor goal scoring record on the road.  There were numerous stats pointing towards a Whitecaps loss.  The Sounders were the best team in the MLS at the time (they went on to win the Supporters Shield awarded to the top team in the league).  I will never forget the out of this world feeling when Kekuta Manneh scored for Vancouver just before half.  Dad and I were jumping up and down wildly screaming and shouting while tens of thousands of other fans were groaning and swearing.  Of course, there were a few hundred other Whitecaps supporters sprinkled throughout the crowd but none that we could see from our spot.  Except for the Southsiders in the upper bowl who's numbers had swelled to around 1,000.  The Whitecaps spent the whole second hanging on for dear life.  They pulled out the win, 1-0.  The Sounders fans were top notch, I have got to say that.  There were a number of times during the game that the entire crowd broke out in song as part of one tradition or another.  The call and response the fans did for the player introductions was chilling.  Likely, this was the best atmosphere I have ever experienced at a sporting event.

While we were waiting to cross the border into the United States in Cloverdale not far from my Aunt and Uncle's house a strange coincidence too place.  I was driving Dad's car and I noticed an Oilers decal on the back of the truck just to our left and ahead.  Mildly amused, I planned to shout to the occupants about their wise choice (lol, not really!).  As we crept a bit closer, I recognized the guy in the back right seat.  It turned out that 4 of the lads from my soccer team in Prince George were in the pick up truck!  Matt, Jeremy, Andy and Nick were riding in Nick's oilers branded pickup.  I had a conversation or two with a couple of the guys who had been considering taking a road trip on the same weekend that Dad and I had already booked.  The chances of being right beside them in the border lineup were slim to say the least.  We chatted away as we slowly moved forward and realized that we would be sitting one section apart at the game.  As the Whitecaps celebrated their Cascadia Cup win after the game (a challenge cup awarded to the winner of the Seattle/Vancouver/Portland season series) I joined the boys in a rousing rendition of "When the Caps Go Marching In".  Dad and I said our goodbyes, badly in need of finding some food.  As we left the game we stopped to hear a few songs from the Sounders resident marching band.  A touch of class, performing even after a home team loss.    Thanks Dad for suggesting and organizing this little jaunt to Seattle.

As we made our way back to Canada the next day we were corresponding with Ian who had made his way downtown.  By the time we arrived in Vancouver, Ian had already checked into the hotel.  Excitement from the soccer game hadn't subsided but now it was time for hockey.  I had seen one Oilers game live a few years ago in Edmonton, but now we were set to see them in Vancouver.  It was the first time I would see a hockey game in the current Rogers Arena.  I did get the chance (thanks Dad!) to see a couple of NBA games in the arena when the Vancouver Grizzlies were a thing.  Ian had recently bought a slick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins jersey, and Dad and I soon changed into our Oilers t-shirts.  We wandered around the downtown core, eventually eating at the mall while doing a bit of shopping.  Vancouverites weren't hostile really, with the odd jab at us for our choice of attire.  We arrived very early for the game, taking in the warm up from up close before finding our seats in the nosebleeds.  The Oilers started out strong but ultimately disappointed us and their other fans in attendance.  Sometimes I wonder why they are "my team".  A huge barrage penalties seemingly did them in and the Canucks took the game in a shootout.

We rounded out our road trip with a return trip to auntie Steph's for turkey dinner.  We got a chance to visit with the family once again, and meet cousin Ben's girlfriend Carolynne.  A few other visitors joined us, and a very nice meal and visit was had by all.  The trip wound down nicely as we headed back to our hotel for one last night.  I didn't spend a cent on anything other than eating and gambling during the trip, which was odd.  I don't tend to splurge too often but usually I find a thing or two to blow my money on.  Not even the outlet mall in Seattle could tempt me to dust off the wallet.  We made our way home on the Monday with a stop at Horstings Farm in Cache Creek.  My Dad had been so very excited on the way down to see that the place had reopened after being closed for a few years.  We picked up some fresh local produce and had delicious sandwiches made with bread that was baked just hours before being used.  A nice way to round out the trip, and perhaps a new go to place on the arduous drives from Prince George to the Lower Mainland.

Here in Prince George, British Columbia, Canada winter has begun but with one little thing missing, the white stuff.  For Asher, winter doesn't start on some arbitrary date.  Nor does he measure winter by the temperature.  There has to be snow, or winter doesn't happen.  Further to that, Asher has convinced himself that once it snows ice will form under the snow and he will be able to play hockey at the outdoor rinks.  Be patient my young man, hockey will come if you wait long enough.  That doesn't mean hockey hasn't been part of our life, in fact, hockey kind of took over as it does annually in September.

Half way through November and I have had the chance to see 4 different hockey teams that I support live and up close.  The Oilers as documented above are a sorry bunch again this year, but I still appreciate the chance I got to see them.  Locally, I am pretty excited about the prospects of all three teams, the WHL Cougars, the BCHL Spruce Kings, and the BCMML Cougars.  I caught the WHL Cougars opening night with my friend while working, then saw them again with Jasmine, Asher and my dad a few weeks later.  The Cougars happened to run into the two best teams in the league on those nights, but overall they are at 11 wins and 11 losses.  The Spruce Kings, who I saw with Sheila, Jasmine and Asher last week also lost when we went.  But, they are looking really good in the standings at 14 wins and 8 losses.  The best team of the bunch is the Major Midget version of the Cougars.  These guys are a bit younger, ranging in age from 15-17.  They were taking on the second place team out of 11 this weekend, so I took the opportunity to catch a game with the guys I work with on Sunday morning.  Ian and his little girl Charlotte joined us at the rink.  Despite it being quite cold, even in the rink, the game was top notch.  These are guys who all have plans to move on further with their hockey, on to junior, and eventually to the professional ranks.  Their desire is high, and it shows on the ice.  The Cougars had knocked off the Giants from Northwest Vancouver 5-1 on the Saturday, so the road team was out for revenge.  Despite getting a number of power plays in the first period the Giants could not find a lead.  The scored really early, only to have the Cougars tie it less than a minute later.  The Cougars took a lead in the second and never looked back.  I was impressed with how physical the game was as well.  Mostly clean, there was a number of huge hits in the game.  Tempers flared at the end of the game, the Giants seemingly frustrated after taking two losses in Prince George after spending 10 hours on a bus travelling.  The wins leave the Cougars at 15 wins, 2 losses and 1 tie.  The Giants are now well back at 12 wins and 4 losses.  I'm going to make a point of seeing more of this bunch.  Not to mention, the games are free!  Jasmine would say: "that's probably your favorite part!"

As this post begins to reach biblical lengths, I can't help but mention one last hockey team.  You see, I would have been foolish to mention the success of the Roseneau Transport Express a few weeks ago, because of course that would have put a terrible hex on the team.  At that point we had played 11 regular season games in the Westwood Pub Prince George Recreational Hockey League with nary a blemish.  11 games, 11 wins.  We finally did go down to defeat last week before bouncing back last night with a narrow 3-2 win.  Our record now stands at 12 wins and 1 loss, good enough for a 6 point lead over the second place team.  My continually improving level of fitness seems to be paying off as I have managed 8 goals and 5 assists in the 8 games that I have played.  Proudly, I have only been called for 1 penalty, and it occurred when I wildly crashed into the goaltender, not because of anything malicious on my part.  After my soccer team took the regular season crown for the over 30 division this year, this whole being on successful teams thing is quite enjoyable.  I could get used it.

Until next time, hi Sheila!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

What Has The Proskitault Posse Been Up To?

I've spent the last number of weeks under mounting pressure in regards to this very blog space.  My most rabid fans have been barraging me with heavy handed reminders that my typing fingers have remained dormant, therefor they have been falling behind on their Prosk and Theriault news.  Of course, those very same fans have also been partly to blame for my lack of writing, as I have been busying spending time with them, and the rest of my family.  It feels like it is time to share a few highlights from a summer busier than any I can remember.  We have been the good kind of busy, with our days full of activity and events, including visiting with family in Richmond, Delta, Quesnel and at home.  Many members of my family discussed how the get their life updates from us through my blog, and I took that as a good sign that I am producing readable content.  Of course, maybe I could provide these updates to interested family members in person, but our modern world dictates my delivery.  Allow me to get on with it, the summer filled with highlights not soon forgotten.

It was just a few days ago that we saw my sister Erin off following what was her longest visit since her returning home from University for the summer days.  It gave us all a chance for a proper visit despite Sheila, Ian and myself having work shifts dotting the schedule.  Erin's long-time partner, and my brother-in-law, Adam was also in Prince George for a few days of spoiling his niece and nephew.  A quick note: Adam and Jasmine together quickly become a whirlwind of split second decision making, which usually devolves into constant eating and fun stuff devoid of any concern for cost.  Jasmine really enjoyed it as a nice escape from my constant cheapness, and I was joking with Adam about his ability to embrace the "never say no" Uncle role.  As if the fun of Erin and Adam visiting wasn't enough, my Auntie came up for a few days from Cloverdale.  I am terrible about keeping up with family members, but this summer has allowed us some time to rectify that.  My Aunt sadly had never met either Jasmine or Asher.  Auntie Steph is as outgoing and fun to be around as I remember, and she fell into favour with both the kids quite quickly.  Asher thinks its funny that adults have aunties but he really didn't mind having another one.  At times over last weekend, Aunties Erin, Paulette, Larissa and Steph were all in the same place at the same time.  With Uncles Adam and Ian also hanging out, Asher and Jasmine were getting spoiled from all angles.

I really can't say thank you enough times for all the treating that occurred.  Auntie Steph treated us to dinner at "Spicy Greens" and the Indian cuisine was bang on.  My sister Paulette celebrated her birthday during the visit, and that dinner happened at "Mr. Mikes".  Adam treated the sushi fans (Jasmine, Ian, Adam and myself) to dinner at "Sushi Star", and the visit was capped with a trip to "Shiraz" Prince George's premier Persian restaurant.  The meals that did happen at our house were great too.  Sheila made a vegetarian gluten free lasagna for our Sunday get together which was celebrating Paulette's birthday, Dad's birthday and Sheila and I were also celebrating our anniversary.  I missed out on my Dad's meat platter, as he filled the barbecue with a variety of cuts and grilled them to perfection.  Sadly, that was the day I was stuck at work.

Now, it may sound like the visit was all about food, but despite our consuming ice cream or frozen yogurt nearly every day of the visit, and my sister actually getting sick due to excessive eating, there were other highlights as well.  Adam, Jasmine, Paulette, Asher and I took in the new and most assuredly cheesy film "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles".  Despite the movies's awful acting, crappy product placement, and utterly awful Michael Bay style action scenes, everyone had a great time.  Asher laid on me throughout the film, and was quite tired.  He would lay his head on my chest for a moment, but as soon as he heard something from the movie, his head would snap back around to check up on what he had missed.  He ended up laying quietly on me for the last hour of the movie, perhaps his calm behaviour was partly due to him being tired (it was bed time ish), but I was pleasantly surprised.  We should be able to try again, as we haven't attempted to attend the theatre with Asher for quite a while.  Another day we all went to Fort George Park where Asher had a blast getting soaked in the water park and the grown ups and Jasmine enjoyed visiting and horsing around a bit.  Grandpa managed to toss his newly turned 33 year old daughter into the water, but alas I had already left for work.  Asher absolutely wore his Uncle Adam out with his constant requests to play sports and goof around.  If Adam managed to convince Asher that he was too tired, he then turned his attention to his Auntie Erin, or his Grandpa, or Auntie Steph.  He really was in his glory with so many willing participants around.  Everyone seemed to enjoy their time together, and it was quite bittersweet when the week came to an end.

With all the dead air around this space, I haven't had a chance to brag about our trip to Richmond that occurred in July.  For the 6 days that Sheila, Jasmine, Asher and I were in the Lower Mainland area, we were able to enjoy some very nice weather.  Only a few sprinkles of rain fell, and we were able to take advantage of the overload of sun.  One afternoon was spent at the ballpark as we took in a minor league baseball game at Nat Bailey Stadium.  I had been to the stadium once as a child, and was motivated to take my son to enjoy the experience.  Asher's patience was tested, as he struggled to sit still long enough to take it all in.  He was struck with tunnel vision, firmly focused on the kids play area.  I finally appeased him, reluctantly, as it was impossible to follow the game from the outfield area where the play place was set up.  I was pleasantly surprised by how into the game Jasmine and Sheila were.  When the Vancouver team turned a slick double play, I was shocked when Jasmine did a huge fist pump and hollered "Yes!".  We enjoyed keeping track of the poor shortstop for the visiting team who made at least 3 errors, as well as a number of other poor plays that didn't count as errors.  We were hosted in Richmond by Jasmine's Auntie Anne and her daughters Nikki and Rhianna.  Sheila and Anne are very good friends, and the kids all had a great time hanging out.  Auntie Anne loves to spoil the kids with her exuberant energy and over the top generosity.  Jasmine enjoyed a sushi dinner with the girls, Auntie Anne more than happy to cater to Jasmine's request.  The girls also had a blast having a sleepover at their dad's place, with Jasmine tagging along.

Our time in Vancouver was filled with fun stuff that I had spent numerous hours carefully planning.  Of course, as the planner of said activities I coincidentally was a part of all the plans.  On one of the first days of our visit, Jasmine and I made our way to the PNE grounds to try out the rides at Playland.  Jasmine has been before, but this was something quite new for me.  I was a wimp growing up.  In more ways than one, I was always playing it safe.  The rides at any amusement park were no exception.  I was afraid of them.  Not just the scariest ones, but almost every ride that rose above a child level of excitement.  I was still like that throughout my teens, and as a young adult, amusement rides never crossed my mind as I never had any interest in trying them.  As Jasmine got a bit older, I had the opportunity to shed my image as a wimp on a few occasions.  A few years ago, on another visit to Richmond there were some rides set up at the local mall near Auntie Anne's.  I bravely jumped on a few rides with Jasmine, but the scariest ones on offer were the pirate ship and high swings.  Hardly enough to shed my wimpy image.  Well, I think it is fair to say that I have shed that image now.  As we made our way through the park in the morning, we quietly tried nearly every ride we came across.  The park was quiet on a weekday morning, filled mostly with daycare groups in color coordinated shirts who stuck to the kiddie rides.

 As we ate our lunch we began to realize that we were well on our way to trying every ride in the park.  We had just come off of the flume ride that oozes character, before fitting in a go on the signature wooden roller coaster.  My wallet had been safely stored in some random girl's purse after heeding the "anything not tied down will likely fall out" warning signs.  I had never been on a roller coaster in my life until earlier in the morning when we had taken a go on the slightly more modern corkscrew roller coaster.  Jasmine and I had to endure our longest wait of the day, but eventually we made it onto the oldest wooden roller coaster in the world.  Somewhat scared, somewhat concerned (the wooden structure was built in 1958), the ride was a blast.  I am starting to realize that stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things is way more fun then sticking to my old boring ways.  Earlier this summer I had a chance to try tubing behind a boat for the first time, again, breaking out of my comfort zone.  As we munched our overpriced lunch at the cafeteria that was devoid of any air circulation whatsoever, Jasmine and I decided we would have to go for it.  Every single ride.  Jasmine even wanted the kiddie rides included which led us to the Merry Go Round and a few other painfully slow ones.  The heat was beating down on us, but our quest would not go unfulfilled.  We braved the Hellevator which involved being sucked straight up in the air for about 200 feet, then unceremoniously delivered straight back down.  All of this in about 5 seconds.  Jasmine challenged me to try some of the tougher rides, but her one and only hang up was a surprising one.  She had no fears about the roller coasters, or the aforementioned Hellevator.  She didn't mind Hell's Gate or the Beach Party.  It was the giant chair swing that she had planned to avoid.  Eventually, her desire to complete our task overcame her concerns about the ride.  The swings are over 200 feet in the air and while riding, I had an overwhelming sense of euphoria overcome me.  I mean, the swings were the highest thing in the whole park.  Riding up above the roller coasters, and the sling shot ride that we didn't pay to go on, it felt a whole lot more dangerous than it really was.  Jasmine came away very happy that she had "manned up", and we set about completing our goal.  The heat began to overwhelm us just as we finished up, and we decided to duck out in order to avoid getting sick.  We strolled back over to our car and took off, and Jasmine spent the rest of the trip happily recounting how we had conquered the Playland challenge.

As Saturday in Richmond rolled around, it was time for the mens to head out for an adventure.  Asher famously declares that things are: "for mens!" in a rather cute but sexist way.  Some of his notions are pretty funny, including his gender classifying of nearly every song he hears.  "Turn this off Dad!  It's a girls song!"  Cute at 3 years old, offensive in a few years.  We will work on that.  Asher didn't need to be convinced that seeing the "B C Whyyyoooons" was a very manly thing to do.  Our afternoon started with a stroll over to the nearest skytrain station.  We got sidetracked by a celebration at a bank near the station.  A very attractive bank employee let us know there was treats and a prize wheel, and of course face painting inside.  Well now, football could wait, face painting was available!  Truthfully, we had plenty of time to spare as I had accounted for these types of distractions when planning the trip.  We patiently waited our turn, and I turned to Asher to ask him what he was going to have painted.  The lady doing the painting turned out to be a professional make up artist.  There would be no squiggly lines on Asher's face loosely resembling cat whiskers.  He could probably ask for almost anything and this professional would accommodate.  Without hesitation, Asher announced his intention: "I want a flower daddy!"  Not wanting to get too creative, Asher had simply seen the flower that the lady had painted on her own face, and decided he wanted one of his own.  She spent 20 minutes giving him the best free face painting I have witnessed, and all concerns about my 3 year old son being sexist went out the window.  He thanked the lady with his toothy grin, and us mens were back on our way.  Asher loved everything about the skytrain.  The ticket machine with the change tinkling down to the bottom, the train itself with its big crowd and bars to hang onto, the little old lady making a fuss over him, and the orange clad people who Asher was happy to note must be headed to the big game as well.  He also had a blast when we went under ground on the skytrain, not having been prepared for what the skytrain was all about.

We arrived downtown and as we emerged from under ground, commotion surrounded us.  I wasn't sure which direction to head, searching around for a map or sign to point me in the right direction.  Before I had a chance, Asher was quickly absorbed in the action on the street to our right.  Little did I know that we had happened upon Granville Street (I believe that's it) which happens to be pedestrian only.  Right where we were, the road had been designated as a busking area.  Two men were mid-act, basketballs spinning wildly as they danced around.  Asher was engrossed until they finished, then he quickly moved down the block where he had noticed a street hockey game going on.  Actually, there were 3 games taking place, part of a charity tournament.  Asher wanted to join in.  Most of the players were adults, with the youngest participants being at least 11 or 12.  I tried to explain this to my little man, but he wasn't too happy.  We watched a while longer, then strolled back towards the street performers.  A young man was doing a juggling act, 2 sticks connected by a string that was used to toss around diabolos (google it, I did).  He did this with up to 3 at a time, taking a number of chances that didn't quite work out.  At one point, he lost a diabolo that skittered away in our direction.  Asher, who had been crouching down as requested by the hype man, rushed over to grab it and brought it back to the performer.  Wanting to hand it right to the guy, Asher patiently waited while the guy continued his routine.  Other group members were gesturing for him to put it down and get out of the way, but Asher was determined to complete his helpful task.  Eventually, he relinquished the apparatus to one of the other guys, and Asher was more than pleased that he was able to help.  Another proud moment for his Pops.  All of a sudden there was a big ruckus coming up the cross street to our left.  A huge protest filled the street and as it moved by I realized what it was.  Some sort of Free Palestine rally was taking place, heading in the exact direction that we needed to go!  It turned out to be a peaceful march with much loud chanting, but devoid of anything more extreme.  It looked to be a crowd of around 5000 people of all walks of life.  We strolled along the street beside the march, Asher blissfully unaware of what we were witnessing.  Being the political nerd that I am, I found the whole thing quite exciting.  Eventually after a fairly long walk, that included walking the circumference of the stadium in order to get to our section, we arrived at B.C. Place Stadium.

We had arrived nearly an hour early, so it gave us plenty of time to visit the inflatable slide and ball pit (really, does every event that may attract kids need this stuff?) .  We fired a few footballs through the target provided, then moved on to find our seats.  Up in the nosebleeds we found our cheap seats.  It worked out, as the view of the field was just fine, and the gigantic scoreboard also gave us a chance to catch plays that we may have missed.  Asher enjoyed pointing out things he saw as the players warmed up.  "Hey Dad!  They are kicking the ball!" "Hey Dad!  The teams is talking to each other!"  Sure enough, he was correct in his observations.  As the players left the field for a bit before the game started, we went and cashed in our vouchers for hotdogs and drinks.  Really, considering the tickets were 30 dollars each, the dry dogs and tiny soda pops were a nice add on.  All the eating and drinking was quite tiring, so after watching the first few minutes of the game Asher fell asleep on my lap for the rest of the first half.  I didn't worry about him "missing out" as I knew that a cranky Asher would make it tough for both of us to enjoy the game.  I did wake him at halftime so that we could run down and grab a Sponge Bob ice cream and take a few more turns down the slide.  In the second half, the Lions continued to pound away on Montreal scoring touchdown after touchdown.  Asher jumped up and cheered wildly for most of the plays, even throwing in an extra big cheer for an awesome catch.  If you know Asher, you know he loves to dance.  He isn't shy about busting out his moves where ever he feels like it.  Between plays he would jump up and do the robot, incorporating a few pop and lock moves that are hilarious to watch.  When the "Dance Cam" came on he gave it his all, but even his break dancing attempt wasn't enough to get him on the big screen.  All in all, us "mens" had a great time. 

As my fingers begin to protest the length of this submission I will leave you hanging at this point.  This riveting summer update will be continued soon with details from our time at both the Vancouver Folk Fest and the Robson Valley Music Festival.  Yes, my music addiction has only been strengthened by 2 awesome days.  Details to come.  Over and out.

Monday, 16 June 2014

The Remax Balloons Rule the Roost!

It has been a pretty busy couple of months at the Prosk/Theriault household.  Sheila has been busy gobbling up extra hours at work, staying late after shifts and going in on Saturdays to catch up.  I have been trying my best to keep up, working a couple of extra shifts last week, and another one again this week.  Sheila and I have joked regularly about how she is the family breadwinner, even more so now after she earned herself a significant raise recently.  I don't mind in the least, and have made a concerted effort recently to step up in the domestic duties department.  I have been doing the grocery shopping for most of 2014, and even Sheila will admit, I have done a bang up job.  The basement freezer has gone from empty to overflowing, as I am not afraid to buy volume if the price is right.  I have made more dinners, washed more dishes, vacuumed more floors, and folded more laundry then I ever have before.  Let's not get carried away, I went from not nearly enough helping to almost enough helping, but progress is being made.

When I am not busy with the tasks of keeping the house liveable, Asher, Jasmine and I have been more than busy soaking up the spring sunshine and playing every sport imaginable.  When I ask Asher what he would like to do, the answer almost every time recently is: "Dad!  Let's walk to the high school and play baseball!"  We walk the kilometer or so to the high school diamond, not forgetting to pack our bat, our gloves, our baseball, and our most recent acquisitions: an elbow pad for batting, and an umpire's brush for sweeping off the plate.  My son, who is not quite 3 and a half, can throw a strike from 20 feet away.  Now, I don't know how crazy that is really, but most children his age have no clue how to hold a ball in order to throw it.  The actual act of throwing it is far beyond the scope of possibilities.  Last night, Asher was figuring out how to squeeze his glove when the ball goes in, so he doesn't drop it.  He managed to hold on a number of times before getting bored with baseball.  The last time we were at the diamond Asher squared up a number of hits, including one he hit so hard that the grounder made it past me and all the way to the outfield grass.  Oh, and it's not just baseball.  That last trip to the school, we brought along our football and a soccer ball as well.  Asher thought it was pretty cool that we were going to play all 3 sports before coming home.  Unfortunately, during our spirited game of soccer, I was defending Jasmine pretty hard (next goal was the winner), and due to us being in bare feet she bent her big toe the wrong way, leaving her pretty badly incapacitated.

While Jasmine hasn't been and won't be as sports obsessed as her dad or her brother, she also loves to be active.  In the past week she and I have had a chance to toss a football a few different times, we stopped and played basketball at the school, we bounced on the trampoline together, she joined Asher and I for a game of baseball, she regularly rides her bike to school, not to mention the ill-fated soccer game on top of her regular soccer sessions with her team.  Toss in a couple of trips to the swimming pool and I think Jasmine is doing a decent job of staying active.  Her toe injury has laid her up a bit for the last couple days, and she will likely have to miss her second soccer game tonight, but she should be as good as new before long.  Of all the casual sports activities she has been doing, it's her skill with a football that has been most impressive.  She is a rather tall 11 year old with long arms and legs, a rather ideal build for both throwing and catching the football.  And wow, throw the ball she does.  Again, I have no idea how a typical 11 year old throws a football, but my girl has a pretty serious arm.  She can hit me from 15 yards no problem, and even at 20 with a little less accuracy.  With more practice her already solid catching ability will only get better.  I started out jokingly suggesting she try football, but as we have played catch more and more she has warmed to the idea.  I have made it clear to her that she is pretty good with this throw and catching, it's the whole  tackling and blocking thing that she may find tough.  She is not exactly a violent person.  We are still contemplating the idea of joining the football league, Jasmine's one condition being that I need to coach in some way.  It made me all warm and fuzzy knowing that she still wants Pops be her side when she jumps into these things.  If she ends up playing, I have told her that yes, I'll be there to try it out with her.

Aside from all of our backyard sporting activities, we have been more than busy with organized soccer.  Since the start of May we have been at the fields on Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night and Saturday mornings.  I have had a lot of fun coaching Jasmine and Asher's teams, unfortunately both teams have played at 9 am Saturday morning for most of the season.  This past Saturday was a rare chance to coach both teams as the games were scheduled for 9 and 10 o'clock.  I love see the little guys every Saturday, all so very cute in their too big jersey's, and their shorts and socks that cover every inch of their legs.  We only had 5 boys this week as it was a busy weekend for many families, and the blustery wind may have kept a few away too.  The boys have a hard time having any kind of a game at this age, but this week both teams did really well.  The game went for over 20 minutes, easily the longest game of the season.  Asher is always engaged in the game, but this time a few others joined him, and between the 2 teams there was only the coaches and 1 or 2 other parents on the field, also a big accomplishment in the under 3 division.  My son, without being too dramatic, is far beyond the level of the other boys.  I didn't realize that our frequent goofing around sessions in the basement and in the yard would lead to him being a "Ronaldo" of sorts.  With his uncle Ian and his cousin Charlotte at the field watching Asher managed 11 goals, 10 of them on the right net.  After high fiving all the boys for their effort, Asher and I made our way over to the bigger fields where Jasmine's team was getting ready to start their game.

The game was set to start as we arrived on the sidelines.  My co-coach Brady was finishing off the warm up with the girls, and I joined in to run sideline to sideline a few times with the girls.  The turnout was notably sparse.  Jasmine was pitch side, but in her clothes, sitting in a lawn chair due to her previously mentioned injury.  The 11 and 12 year old girls play on a 3/4 sized field, 8 players on at a time instead of the standard 11 players on the full sized field.  Looking around, we only had 7 girls.  Bizarrely, the turn out has been better for our Wednesday practices then it has been for games.  We had 12 girls at our last practice.  This day, we would play without Jasmine, without Autumn, without Payden, without Kate, and without Nyiesha.  The Remax Balloons (as the girls coined themselves) did have 7 players ready to go, including our 2 first year players Ariel and Kyrija, as well as our best player Taylor, and our best defender Kayla.  We also had a goalie, Taryn, ready to go.  We also had Katie and Carah who would fill out the 3-3-0 formation that we were set to play.  Yes, we had to go without a forward due to being short a player.  Most of the girls are not prepared to play the whole game, so this would be quite a monumental ask of them.  Oh, did I forget to mention that of our previous 10 games, we had lost all 10 of them?  To top it off, for some reason, the girls are at their worst on Saturday mornings, Brady having had to witness a 9-1 dismantling and a 10-2 debacle the previous 2 weeks.  On this day though, something special happened.

The Remax Balloons didn't have just one or two girls working hard and playing their best, all 7 girls decided that it was time to see what they were capable of.  Taylor is the straw that stirs the proverbial drink.  She has significant amounts of skill, but her main advantage is her aggressive and constant pursuit of the soccer ball.  On this day, we were asking her to play centre midfield, striker, and even help out on defence.  And she did. 

The girls started the game very well, and Brady and I quickly took note of the level of aggression that Carah was playing with.  She hasn't made it to too many of the games, so we still didn't have a good idea of how she played.  Carah has played many different positions this season when she has been at games, but this week, she was playing left defence.  Wow!  As they say in soccer, she plays a "heavy game".  Every other girl on our team suffers from simply being "too nice" on the soccer pitch.  Even those like Taylor, Autumn and Payden who play quite aggressively will slow down or take it easy when they think that a collision or physical confrontation is approaching.  Not Carah.  At times on Saturday, she even appeared to enjoy the physical part of the game.  Now, we as coaches are not about to encourage the girls to commit fouls or to play dirty, but Carah's approach to the game leaves us in a limbo of sorts.  She is fairly new to the game, so if we tell her to slow down, she may slow down too much.  We don't want her to hurt anyone else or herself, but the way I saw it, she was providing the muscle for our team that had been so sorely lacking.  The referee was on his game and called a few fouls, which were warranted as Carah was around the ball constantly during the game.  She combined with Kayla, who always plays a very steady centre defence to smother the other team.  Kayla's game is quite the opposite of Carah's.  Never one to commit a foul, but also never one to give up on a play, Kayla plays a smart soccer game.  She is the stay at home defender who covers for her teammates who stray out of position.  So steady is she, that often she is taken for granted by myself and Brady (her dad).  Katie rounded out the defensive group with a very good effort herself.  She is one of our regular defenders as well, and she was at her best Saturday making smart safe passes away from our goal and up towards our midfield attackers.  Our goalie Taryn only had a couple of shots, and they were slow rollers that she easily picked up. 

The key to the Remax Balloon's first win of the season was not the steady and always reliable play of Taylor, or even the stout and impenetrable defence provided by Carah, Kayla and Katie, it was the effort put out by our two first year players, Ariel and Kyrija.  Now, when the season started I'll admit that I was pretty surprised that of the 12 girls on the roster, 2 of them would be playing for the first time.  When I met the girls, and saw them play for the first time, neither of the new girls would be considered "a natural".  I immediately took a liking to both girls, but for different reasons.  Ariel struck me as bit hard headed, she has a bit of a tough attitude, and she demonstrated this famously by quipping towards the end of our second game: "I f---ing hate soccer!!"  After I inquired as to why, she pointed out: "I'm only playing because my foster mom made me!  I wanted to sign up for karate!"  Oddly enough, she had put forth a strong effort in the game, and I was more then happy to point out to her how well she played.  "You may hate it, but this soccer might be your thing," I replied.  Kyrija her aunt told me was trying out sports for the first time.  She and her mom had encouraged Kyrija to step out of her comfort zone and try a few new things, and soccer was one of them.  Kyrija is quite a small girl, and due to her unfamiliarity with soccer, she is nervous about being run into, she is worried about being hit with the ball, and she has no clue what to do as far as positioning on the field goes.  Brady and I have continued to assign her a position, but for the most part we just ask her to try her best.  A few weeks ago, she was running around the field doing what appeared to be a form of interpretive dance.  Some games, the game is the furthest thing from her mind.  On this particular Saturday morning, Ariel did not hate soccer, and most certainly Kyrija's mind was focused on soccer. 

The first goal of the game came due to a herculean effort from Ariel. I have been more than impressed all season by her willingness to give maximum effort on the field.  Many girls in this age group never sprint full out.  They refuse to kick the ball as hard they can, perhaps worried about hurting someone.  Not Ariel.  She has become our throw in specialist simply because she rears back and throws the ball with all of her strength.  On this play, she fought to take the ball from a defender, then made a solid pass to Taylor.  Taylor played a lead ball down the pitch, too far for Ariel.  As the defender went back to collect it, she was surprised when she looked up because Ariel and sprinted down the field and applied pressure.  The defender rushed, and made a dangerous pass towards the middle of the field.  Taylor got to the ball first and after a strong first touch she slotted the ball into the back of the net.  Brady and I were beaming.  This was the first time all season that we had been ahead!  I was happy for all of the girls, but Ariel most of all.  She simply isn't aware of what she is capable of.  The game continued, and Carah and Kayla continued to play stifling defence giving the other team very few chances to score.  I pointed out to Brady that Kyrija was way more involved in the play than she ever had been before, even getting her foot to the ball on a few occasions.  Already having touched the ball more times than she had all season, she got herself involved with a bit of traffic in the other teams box.  The ball squirted out to her where she put her foot to the ball and hit it towards the net.  As the ball slowly rolled towards the far post, I momentarily convinced myself that it was headed in.  Alas, it lacked the power to elude the goaltender, but that didn't stop Brady and I from celebrating another victory for the team.  Moments afterwards, perhaps buoyed by the effort from her less skilled teammates, Taylor took advantage of a loose ball and blasted in a second goal.  This one from at least 25 yards out, a distance that most of the girls wouldn't even think to be shooting from.  As the minutes wound down, and a win became more and more a possibility, I couldn't help but smile uncontrollably.  Jasmine had provided a cheering section from the bench, and she quite enjoyed the win despite her injury.  We got a chance to celebrate afterwards, 2 of the girls winning a soccer game for the first time in their life.  Tonight we get a chance to do it all again, maybe those who missed the game Saturday will be inspired to get a win of their own.  All I know, is that I am still beaming with pride from the last game.

That about does it for me.  I hope you have enjoyed my rambling account of a pretty fun Saturday morning at the soccer field.  I had a great Father's Day yesterday even though I fell asleep during the family movie.  I dozed off on the sofa before 8 pm only to wake up 7 hours later and crawl upstairs and into bed.  We have another busy week ahead before soccer ends for the summer.  Take care Mom, Sheila, Elizabeth and my other three readers!

Monday, 12 May 2014

Lists: Here is where I tell you what you should like, cuz well, I like it.

This edition of lists was inspired by the super cute movie "Good Burger" that Jasmine, Sheila and Asher and I watched last night.  The movie was released in 1997 though I never saw it at the time.  It will find a place in my "Favourite family movies of the 1990s" list that includes a few of my all time favorite movies.  Enjoy.

Matt's Favourite Family Movies of the 1990s

20) Good Burger
19) George of the Jungle
18) Heavyweights
17) Toy Story
16) Beauty and the Beast
15) Angels in the Outfield
14) The Santa Clause
13) Casper
12) The Lion King
11) The Little Rascals
10) Space Jam
9) The Sandlot
8) Simon Burch
7) Hook
6) The Secret Garden
5) Aladdin
4) The Mighty Ducks
3) Free Willy
2) Matilda
1) Harriet the Spy

notes:  I actually had a hard time narrowing this list to 20.  The top 4 rank among my favourite movies ever.  Some of these I haven't seen in at least 15 years, and will enjoy watching them again with Jasmine over the next few months.  Some of these I have seen dozens of times.  Free Willy probably has the most viewings out of the whole bunch.  We wore that VHS tape out at Mom and Dad's. 

Matt's Favourite Autobiography/Biography Books

12) Man In The Middle - John Amaechi
11) Tales of a First Round Nothing - Terry Ryan
10) Heart For the Fight - Brian Stann and John Bruning
9) Leon Trotsky: A Revolutionary's Life - Josh Rubenstein
8) Roseannearchy - Roseanne Barr
7) The Call Me Baba Booey - Gary Dell'Abate
6) Cheech and Chong: The Unauthorized Biography - Tommy Chong
5) Bossypants - Tina Fey
4) Open - Andre Agassi
3) Nerd Do Well - Simon Pegg
2) Paddle Your Own Canoe - Nick Offerman
1) Last Words - George Carlin

notes: Funny people often write funny books.  Currently reading Nick Offerman's book, and the man is quite frankly a wordsmith. 

Matt's Favourite Sports Right Now

8) Lacrosse
7) Golf
6) Football
5) Basketball
4) Running
3) Hockey
2) Baseball
1) Soccer

I'm Proud

It's Monday morning and for me, as has been the case for more than five years, the dreaded day of the week for most is the one the signals the end of my work week.  I enjoy my job for many reasons so I don't usually celebrate the end of the work week like some people do.  It means I transition to my other job, caring for my kids.  Now, I do some of that "work" on the weekends too, but Friday through Sunday, Sheila most certainly takes the lead in that regard.  It's a rewarding task, and on most days, not one that I find the least bit arduous.  Monday through Thursday I get to spend lots of quality "men's time" as Asher so eloquently puts it.  When Jasmine arrives home from school, and most certainly when Sheila arrives home from work, the time turns into more traditional "family time". 

Last week was busier then normal for our family as we jumped head first into the soccer season.  We also reached a pretty significant family milestone as our little girl was getting her braces installed at the orthodontist.  All in all, I made 3 trips to the soccer field, 2 trips to the orthodontist, 2 trips to the swimming pool, 1 trip to the library, 1 trip to the city park downtown, 1 trip to Masich Place Stadium, 1 trip to the grocery store and a couple of trips over to the school.  Rewarding is the word I suppose.  This week should be a little less hectic, but soccer is rolling on, and the orthodontist will need to do some repairs on a loose bracket.  When life is busy it can be easy to just participate and not allow for the events that are happening to be fully appreciated.  Allow me to take a moment and truly appreciate. 

Until this past weekend I had not experienced the event that is the "Relay for Life".  For those like me who are in the dark about this wonderful event, it is put on in hundreds of cities and towns across Canada and is a fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society.  It takes place on different weekends in different cities, but the goal is the same.  Raise money, raise hope, inspire, participate.  Prince George does it up real big.  Of the 487 Relay events that took place in 2013, only 1 raised more money than Prince George's event.  As far as I know, our fair city hosts the only 24 hour event in the country.  I was most certainly inspired by my time at the event, a mere 2 hours on Saturday morning.  The whole spectacle was a sight to see.  Most of the big companies in town were involved.  Starbucks and Van Houtte were selling coffees, Save On Foods were giving out fruit to the participants, Prince George Taxi employees were serving samosas, numerous teams were having bake sales, selling trinkets, all in the name of Cancer research.  Did you want to enjoy a massage?  Pay by donation.  Did you want a temporary tattoo?  Pay by donation. 

Sheila, Jasmine, and Asher were much more dedicated than I.  Sheila and the kids were at the event from 9 am Saturday morning until 1230 am Sunday morning.  They came home for a quick nap and were back at it by 730 am to finish off the event.  At some point during this past year Sheila decided that Bandstra Transportation, her employer, she get involved with the Relay for Life.  Sheila, like myself, had not attended any of the previous events, but she wanted to get involved on behalf of many of her family members who have battled Cancer.  Some won, some lost, but Sheila wanted to honour all of them.  Sheila approached management at Bandstra and got the go ahead.  She recruited team members, she organized a bake sale and then later a hot dog lunch, with all proceeds going to the Relay team.  Bandstra also made a very generous donation to the team as well.  Sheila spent time signing everyone up, collecting funds, organizing the time slots and much more.  I was inspired because she was so dedicated to the task.  Sheila spent the afternoon yesterday napping, relaxing and getting a Mother's day massage from her daughter, all with a noticeable glow about her.  She is already looking forward to next year.  I'm proud.

As I mentioned, Jasmine has been proudly sporting braces since Thursday afternoon.  I was pretty taken aback by how excited Jasmine has been about the whole process.  It is hard for me to fathom that my barely 11 year old daughter was getting braces, and it was even more difficult for me to understand the excitement surrounding the event.  Jasmine's teeth are to put it bluntly, whacked.  It seems that every tooth she has decided to head off in a direction other than the one it was supposed to go in.  The braces have a difficult task at hand.  They were bothering her teeth quite a bit the first day, but she didn't whine and complain, she took a few pain pills and was fine.  To be honest, Jasmine does very little whining, partly because Sheila and I have established that it just won't work with us.  We will be back this week to get them fixed up, and Jasmine was worried that I would would be mad about the bracket that came loose.  I reassured her that these things happen to people who get braces, and it was no big deal to go and get it fixed.  She has been sporting her blue and green and aqua and purple braces for 4 days with about 800 more to go.  Jasmine has handled the whole situation with maturity that I wasn't quite ready for.  I'm proud.

I have come to realize something in the past few weeks as far as raising children goes.  Have gaps  people.  Embrace them.  The gap in age between Jasmine and Asher is nearly 8 years, and it really is a great thing for so many reasons.  I can appreciate all of the little things that Asher does as if I have never experienced them before.  I know part of this is that I am older and more mature, and in my youth I was too stupid to realize all of the cool things that little kids are capable of.  Jasmine was and is a very well mannered and fun child who I am lucky to spend time with every single day.  Asher doesn't need to do much to entertain me, or remind me how lucky I am.  Sheila got a great video of Asher dancing at the relay, he was giving her bright and early yesterday morning without a care in the world.  He strolled into the backyard yesterday to find me laying on the trampoline surfing the web.  "Dad!!  What you doin' there?  Laptop not supposed to go on tha trampoween!!  Thas funny!!"  So very observant he is.  I had no chair.  For dinner we splurged and got take out from our favorite Prince George restaurant, Dana Mandhi.  Sheila loves it, Jasmine loves it, I love it.  Asher eats every kind of food we have ever offered him, but yesterday's order was "medium spice" and his only hang up is when something is "too picy".  No sweat, he went ahead and ate his dinner, even stopping to ask what the name of each thing was, then giggling at Dad's poor pronunciation attempts.  We ordered a dish called malai kofta that we hadn't tried before and the "delicious face" he made was priceless.  After eating our tasty dinner we all laid down in bed to watch "Good Burger" together.  Asher enjoyed it, but Jasmine was really into it.  It was a really fun family movie, and a great way to finish off Mother's Day even though I couldn't keep my eyes open for the climax.  Hey, it was nearly 9!  I am looking forward to another fun week of soccer, Strong Start, swimming, and general farting around with my kids.  I'm sure Asher will say and do many more things that will have me shaking my head in amazement.  What can I say?  I am proud.

Monday, 28 April 2014

I Remember....

Hello out there.  It's been a while.  I have been reasonably busy, but for the most part this space has been silent due to a lack of inspiration.  Well, inspired I am this morning.  There has been a few recent triggers for this post, most notably was a photo that Sheila found yesterday while doing a huge cleanup of our basement.  The photo is of a young me (I believe I was in grade 5 but I always was so small and youthful I could have passed as age 7) in my official hockey photo.  Asher instantly fell in love with the photo.  He found it very amusing that I was using a wooden stick (I did have an aluminum stick at the time but not in the photo), and he was also pretty impressed by my San Jose Sharks style gloves that his Grandpa had bought me for Christmas that year.  The photo brought back a number of memories for me, and planted the seed for me to gets to typin'.  I bring to you, a random collection of youthful memories.

(1)  E.T.F. (Estimated time frame): grade 5

I was tiny throughout my adolescence, usually the smallest in any class, tiniest on any team, in both height and weight.  I had proven myself a decent hockey player mostly due to my Dad's extreme dedication to getting me on the ice.  I was skating regularly from the time I was 2.  I still remember the Cooper brand helmet shaped like a sphere.  The atom division was made up of grade 5 and 6 kids, and to start the year they did a series of evaluating ice times to determine if you should be in tier 1 or tier 2.  Keep in mind I was the smallest of the grade 5 kids, so obviously the grade 6 kids were also bigger.  I also worked my ass off at any sport I was involved in, but I would bet that neither I, or my Dad thought I had any business making my way to the top tier where the biggest and best kids would be playing.  As it turned out, less than 10 first year atom players made the top tier, and to everyone's surprise, I was one of them.  I ended up playing much of that season on a forward line with Chris Oakley and Pardeep Sunner, both a year older, and both at least a foot taller and 50 or 75 pounds heavier.  There wasn't a whole lot of tangible highlights in the season, with only 4 goals scored in total, but one glorious Saturday morning I managed to score 2 of those goals on the same shift.

(2) E.T.F.: grade 1

My Dad deserves most of the credit for my modest prowess when it comes to hockey, but when it comes to soccer, he could and should take all of the credit.  You see, for as long as I've been living (and likely long before that) my Dad has lived and breathed soccer.  It has led to some pretty cool bonding trips in my teenage and adult years as we have witnessed many high level soccer matches together including a really exciting Vancouver Whitecaps match this past fall.  In the late 1980s in Quesnel, you couldn't register your child for the youth soccer league until age 5 or 6.  That didn't stop my Dad.  He went ahead and created a program for younger kids so they could play at age 4.  I started there, so when organized soccer came into my life, I was miles ahead of most of the other kids.  I scored goals.  Lots of them.  In fact, there wasn't a soccer season that I can remember that I didn't get at least 20.  Okay, I slowed down when I was older, but this statement holds up until age 15 or 16.  In grade 1, playing for the green team "Sign Stop" patch proudly displayed on my chest, I had a particularly notable game.  The best goal came when I really loud plane buzzed over the field (airport nearby) and all of the other players stopped to stare skyward.  I knew what an airplane looked like, and more importantly, I knew how much I enjoyed scoring goals.  So, with little resistance, I dribbled the ball up the field and deftly slid it into the net.  My Dad was always my coach, and while he has instilled many values in me that I hold dear, I don't recall too many times that he told me to "slow down" or to "share the ball", though I did do a fair bit of that.  My airplane assisted goal was my 5th one that day.

(3) E.T.F.: grade 1, 2, 3, 4

Being that I was raised by two elementary school teachers, it should shock no one that the rules and guidelines that me and my siblings were raised by were rather strict.  One thing I can appreciate now is that these guidelines weren't based on religion nor were they set in place solely to make my parents life easier or more free.  My Mom often joked that our bed times were early because she and Dad wanted free time in the evening.  I'm sure that was part of it, but getting a proper sleep was also good for us.  Doing our homework first before going outside to play, just smart (didn't help that Pops was my teacher for 3 years, couldn't lie about my homework load).  Not being allowed to play outside after dark?  Just being safe.  I don't recall being disciplined too often, but I think that was a result of my Mom being very good at her role as a disappointed but concerned parent.  One thing that drove me crazy as a young boy was the strict guidelines placed on television programs and movies I was allowed to see.  Having younger siblings did nothing but make these guidelines even tougher to live by.  Professional wrestling?  No way, even when I was 20 and home for the summer.  The Simpsons?  Get real.  Home Alone, when literally every other kid breathing saw it?  Not likely.  Jurassic Park?  Them there dinosaurs could cause nightmares.  Did this mean I never saw these programs?  Well, for some of them, yes.  I still haven't seen Home Alone in its entirety, or Jurassic Park for that matter.  But, thanks to a few friends, I did get to experience some of the contraband footage.  There was some television that passed my parents rigorous screening process, and the most memorable was the Friday night ABC lineup called "T.G.I.F.".  The block of 4 shows ran from 8 pm - 10 pm starting in 1988 and running until 2000.  The lineup that I most remember consisted of the shows: "Family Matters", "Boy Meets World", "Step by Step", and "Hangin' With Mr.Cooper".  The first 3 shows were enjoyed as a family and it was a big deal that we were still up at 930.  I didn't see that time of night any other day of the week.  Most every show that we watched as a family was wholesome and message-filled, two things that often limit the quality of the product.  As a child, that was not the case with the above shows, "Family Matters" in particular.  There was nothing funnier as a kid than Urkel and Carl's hijinx.  Reginald VelJohnson's "Carl" was simply awesome.  If you didn't see his "anger management" techniques, you are missing out.  I also have very fond memories of watching "Road to Avonlea", "Wind at My Back", "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman" and a few more very appropriate shows, with my mom and dad right there with me and my sisters and brother.

(4) E.T.F.: grade 9

Darcy and Ryan, who lived down the street from us for most of the time I was a kid, shared nearly every one of my interests.  At times, Darcy and I were inseparable.  At other times, Ryan and I were best buds.  Lovers of all things sports?  Check.  Soccer above all others? Check.  Wrestling fans? Check.  Backyard swimming pool fans? Check.  Darcy and I would compete annually to see who would lead the soccer league in goals.  He was often on a different house league team, but we were teammates for every one of my most memorable soccer moments.  Every Quesnel all-star team, high school team, and as 13 year olds, we were 2 of the 4 boys from Quesnel to make a zone team that went to the B.C. Summer Games.  I remember only a few specific moments on the soccer pitch, but one that is as vivid as the day it happened was a goal that I scored after an incredible set up from Darcy.  We were 14 or 15, and it was the final game of the Zone play downs.  We were up against Prince George, and needed to win (tie wasn't good enough) in order to move on to the Provincials.  Darcy beat a couple of guys on the right side, then laid a pass across to the left where I always played.  It was ahead of me, which enticed the goalkeeper to come charging out of the net.  I was about 30 yards out, and the goalie had made it about halfway out when I caught up to the ball.  I sent the ball first touch, and curled it around the goalie into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.  Screaming, we were both mobbed by our teammates in one of the biggest celebrations I can recall being a part of.  The joy was cut short with a few minutes left when Prince George scored to tie the game and claim the berth in the Provincial Tournament, but that moment will stay with me forever. 

I hope you have enjoyed my little stroll as much as I have.  Have a great week Mom and Sheila!

Monday, 24 February 2014

Bitcoin Blogger Freeroll

Hi there.  For those who have never met me this may come as some sort of revelation.  For everyone else, no shock should be induced.  I like poker.  I at times obsess about it.  The opportunity to play in a free tournament is always a good thing.  Even better when prizes are awarded.  I have been considering playing on this site for a while, but I have not had to the ability to deposit.  I am still not sure if I can play, as I am in Canada, and this site seems to be populated mostly by Americans.  At the very least, this will serve as a small promotional post for a poker site that is generously putting up significant prizes for a bunch of bloggers who love poker.  Please consider joining us on Wednesday at 5 pm pst, the site can be found at the link below.

Check out Poker Meister's blog for more info.  Located here.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Boys and Their Parts

Thursday morning is generally reserved for plenty of lounging and relaxing at our house.  Today is no different.  Sheila is at work and Jasmine is at school.  The men?  We are about as relaxed as can be.  Those who know really well won't find this revelation shocking, but some might.  I hate clothes.  Not certain kinds, or certain styles, just all of them.  I put them on to leave the house, but this is only out of a desire to conform with social convention.  My reasonably new hobby of lifting weights has only made fully clothed at home time even more rare.  Honestly, who wants to lift weights with sweaty clothing draped all over their body?  So, I sit at my computer between sets in my skivvies.  No, I don't recommend others use my computer chair.  Asher has picked up the habit to some extent.  He seems to be okay wearing clothes around the house for some activities.  Others, not so much.  Carpet hockey simply cannot be properly enjoyed with clothes on.  When he has settled on playing, he will quickly strip his shirt and pants then holler: "Naked boy!"  His tiny little dinosaur or pirate briefs are much cuter than when a 30 year old man sports the look.  Today, in an attempt to obtain the pinnacle of relaxation, Asher is going with the shirt only get up.  No pants, no socks, no underwear either.  There is something bizarre about looking over and seeing a toy helicopter "fly" through the air, steered by a little guy while his little bird dangles in the wind.  We also played baseball, had a game of hockey, then raced our hot wheels cars, all while we were free and easy.  I told you, Thursday is for relaxing.

While Thursday is almost always for relaxing, we are even more tired today then normal.  You see, "us mens" had a busy day yesterday.  Getting out of the house by 9, we went to Strong Start to play a little basketball in the gym.  After basketball, we spent time painting, playing store, building a train track, having a snack, singing songs, listening to a story and getting a stamp.  All of which are important to a good time at Strong Start.  We came home and ate and napped, as one is wont to due after all that excitement.  Asher woke in time for us to go and pick up Jasmine from school.  Off to the swimming pool where I chased Asher around for over an hour, while Jasmine did her thing.  We had just enough time to come home and have dinner before Jasmine went off to her friends house (she was meeting up with Sheila at the pool to swim again).  Asher and I made our way to the CN Centre to catch the Prince George Cougars against the Portland Winterhawks.  We walked around the rink before the game, during the intermissions and after the game.  Asher started asking to go home during the second period, even though he was into the game somewhat.  He was playing hockey against himself during the game, drawing plenty of smiles from other fans.  If you haven't seen a hockey player fight himself you don't know what you are missing.  I laughed pretty hard when not long after standing and swaying while listening to the 2 national anthems, Asher decided to sing O Canada again himself while the game was on.  It was a small quiet crowd so all those near us could hear what he was up to.  Some of the little things he notices during the game are very cute, and they let me know just how much Asher is going to love the game.  He is mildly irritated when the Portland goalie didn't sway back and forth during the anthem.  He pointed out the distinct lack of pucks caught in the safety net, as he had scored a puck once when it was jostled out of the net at a game.  In his most profound moment, while sitting on my lap he let me know that "none of these guys has dads".  Referring to the players.  They were unlucky enough not to have a dad with them while they played.  "But he has his dad", pointing about 50 feet away.  Asking him to clarify, he pointed again.  Asher had noticed a man about my age with an older gentleman of about 60.  If I was to guess, he was probably right.  There was some resemblance.  I thought this observation to be much too astute for a 3 year old.  Not to worry, I assured Asher that the hockey guys most likely had dads, they just weren't on the ice with them.  He was content with that thought. 

I've had my mind somewhat cluttered lately while I try to find a balance between time with my children, and earning enough money to provide for my children, and also trying to find leisure time for myself.  My leisure time is complicated by the fact that poker falls into both the trying to earn money category and the leisure time category.  Asher and I have lots of time on my days off to fart around and be guys.  In any given week we play hockey in the carpet, hockey in the driveway, we watch hockey on television, we attend live hockey games, we consume hockey in any available form.  We wrestle regularly, and we also like to watch wrestling (go Daniel Bryan!).  In a scene out of those extreme parent shows, I was counting reps for Asher as he performed shoulder presses yesterday.  This was all his idea, but I have to admit, his form was pretty good.  Unfortunately, as Jasmine gets older, she seems to be getting less interested in spending time with Dad.  I'm not sure it can be helped, as this is likely pretty common with girls.  She still likes to go places with us, swimming with Asher and I yesterday and attending a movie Tuesday with Sheila.  Her hobbies are important to her to some extent, but time with her friends is definitely priority number one.  I just want her to be happy, so I will have to kind of play it by ear.  I want her to be able to confide in me, so I need to maintain a friendly relationship with my big little girl.  At Strong Start yesterday, I had another adult mention how well Asher was eating his snack.  I thought, um, well, it's an english muffin with honey, who the hell wouldn't eat that?  As the discussion continued, I mentioned that the only thing Asher turns his nose at, is if something is "too picy". (sic)  As a consequence, onions are the only thing we won't go for.  This drew astonishment from the two ladies at the table, one who's daughter refused a muffin with jam on it (she doesn't like jam, what?!?)  This led me to mentioning that my 10 year old daughter likes everything.  I could not think of a thing that Jasmine won't eat.  She tasted a bit of Brussel Sprout at Christmas.  She recently told her Grandma " I don't really like zucchini, but hey, if it's mixed in with other things."  Mom and I both found this both funny and profound.  Last night, as I prepared omelets for dinner, I mentioned to Jasmine that I was going to add bean sprouts and bok choy to make an asian style.  Jasmine actually got excited.  No child has ever had their heart race when hearing about bean sprouts.  "Dad!  It's been a long time since we had Bok Choy!"  "Mmmm, I forgot had good bean sprouts are!"  Said while shoving bite after bite into her mouth.  Jasmine also shares my affinity for Indian cuisine, going so far as to claim the same favourite restaurant as me "Dana Mandhi".  Perhaps food can be the hobby that keeps us close as she enters her difficult teenage years.

I mentioned finding a balance between earning money, spending time with my children, and relaxing.  It seems my children have taken over, and I don't regret that for an instant.  I have a few hobbies that really enjoy.  During the winter months, hockey in all its forms provides hours and hours of entertainment.  This week alone, I went to the Spruce Kings game Friday with one of the guys from work, I played hockey Sunday with Sheila and the kids watching, and last night Asher and I went to the Cougars game.  Tonight, a friend is coming by to watch the first game of the Olympic hockey tournament.  I am entered in no less than 5 hockey pools.  Sheila and I like to watch sitcoms together, and lately we have found some time to enjoy a few movies together.  We have watched the Butler, Dallas Buyers Club and Fruitvale Station in recent weeks, and we thoroughly enjoyed all of them.  I like to read, though most of my reading time is when it is quiet at work.  I have almost gotten through "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" which has been one of the most challenging reads I have ever tackled.  James Joyce is just not going to be a favourite of mine. 

One of my more time consuming hobbies doubles as a money maker for me.  Poker for me is part hobby, part job, and part obsession.  Lately, it has become more job and less hobby.  This has consequently led to it becoming less fun.  I want to enjoy it, but it has become boring over time.  I have played a lot in the 8 years since I learned the game.  It was an absolute obsession for many of those years.  I didn't play hockey in the winter, or soccer in the summer, or have a toddler to entertain, or weights to lift, or runs to take.  All of my free time was spent playing poker.  I made more free time by not committing to anything.  Last year, 2013 was quite a drop off as far as result are concerned.  I've identified a number of reasons above.  I often would chose a 5 km run over a poker session.  I'd lift weights instead.  I'd play with Asher out in the yard.  Sheila and I would watch a movie instead.  Ultimately, I spent about half as much time at the tables in 2013.  I think my casino time only totaled about 180 hours all together.  Online, I got away from playing my best games, settling for whatever I had time to squeeze into my schedule.  I don't win playing online cash games, and I am a breakeven player in sit and gos.  I am a modest winner in the tournaments, but I rarely had the time to sit down and play.  The schedule for tournaments is pretty undesirable after 9 pm, which is when I would be able to sit down.  This had all become quite frustrating as I knew that I needed to make a little money to supplement my income.  Even with all the negative feelings surrounding my money making hobby, I still managed a winning year at the live tables, averaging around 8 dollars an hour.  That said, while I am confident in my abilities, its hard to have high expectations when the other players are spending considerably more time than you are practicing their craft.  Even bad players will benefit from time spent.  I'm too dedicated to my family and my own health to devote the amount of time to poker that I used to.  At the same time, there is nothing stopping me from making the most of the time I have.  I have an extensive library of poker books that I can re-read.  I can access the myriad of advice available online for study.  Ultimately, I would like to play 10-12 hours a week.  There is more money to be made at the casino then on the computer, but I also must risk considerably more to win said money.  The days of the week that I am available are not the best ones, and on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays most opponents will be of the heavily seasoned variety.  Online, again, Friday and Saturday night play would be best, but I work.  Perhaps I could play 2 sessions during the week, periodically replacing an online tournament session with a trip to the casino.  My confidence found a boost last week when I scored two decent results.  On Monday I made the final table of a 11 dollar 6 max tournament, finishing 4th of 272.  On Wednesday, I bested myself, scoring 3rd out of 278 in the same tournament.  I played a few more sessions since, so I currently sit at about 400 dollars more than I had a couple weeks ago.  I have now final tabled this tournament 5 times in the last year, which has me focusing on tournaments again.  Lucky?  Yes, to some extent.  I made a number of really good plays that surprised myself.  I had lost my swagger, and these results will hopefully bring some of it back.  I don't expect to get rich.  Just to survive. 

That's enough for me today, Asher and I have some eating and napping to do.  What?  I told you we were relaxing. 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

It's Been a While (Super Bowl, hockey, movies and fitbit)

As I type we are less than 9 hours from the start of the holiest of American Holidays.  I guess you could call the whole day a holiday, or perhaps even the week should be set aside.  The National Football League really is in a class all its own when it comes to marketing.  Most of us are aware at least to some extent the kind of money involved in the Super Bowl and all of its accompanying pageantry.  A short 30 second commercial spot during the game today will likely cost 3 or 4 million dollars.  Players who the casual observer have never heard of will be "made famous" for a variety of reasons today, both good and bad.  Any other television show mentioned during the big game will get a huge boost.  This is actually how Survivor was originally marketed.  It didn't hurt in the ratings game when millions of snack covered sweat pant warriors were unable to emerge from their food comas to turn the channel, hence the Survivor viewing numbers.  What I find most impressive about the job that the NFL does, is how they manage to get millions and millions of people to care about a game that they have no rooting interest in. 

I have a weird relationship with the sport of American Football.  As a child and teenager, I never watched.  My dad wasn't interested, my small handful of friends were hardly interested, and I was more than occupied with my own hockey and volleyball interests in the fall and winter months.  When I had free time, I spent it watching hockey, or playing various forms of carpet hockey once my brother was old enough to provide adequate fodder.  I watched some NFL action during University, particularly on Sundays when I was feeling lousy from whatever stupid things I did the night before, and my interest intensified if I had assignments deadlines looming.  I think my interests picked up when I discovered the rush of sports betting.  I had some fun for a few seasons, but this year my only ties to the NFL were in the form of a couple of fantasy teams that I shared with a friend.  The fantasy season wraps up in the regular season, so my interest in the playoffs has been very limited.  I watched the Seattle game last week, taking a number of short naps while the game was on.  Will I be watching later today?  Probably.  I feel like I am suppose to.  I'm battling an illness, so I won't be surprised if I end up napping my way through parts of the longest sporting event of the year.

At our house, we had a trying week as our little Asher went through his first illness of his life.  He has had a cold once or twice, but last Monday heading into Tuesday we could tell something was wrong.  Asher went to the walk in clinic with Sheila on Wednesday night and ended up with a prescription for antibiotics.  He had been diagnosed with bronchitis.  While we dealt with plenty of whining from our little guy, it soon became clear that Asher had no idea how to deal with being sick.  For most of the week, he laid in bed watching "teetee", hardly eating.  We knew he was really sick because his hockey gear lay idle.  Three morning in a row he asked me if he could have a bath.  Asher loves having baths, but he has never asked me to run a bath for him early in the day like that.  They seemed to pick up his spirits quite a bit each time, but it was back to laying down and cuddling after each one.  He was very upset about taking his medicine, unable to make the connection between the liquid and the idea of getting better.  For that matter, he kept insisting that he wasn't sick.  Yesterday, recovery seemingly well underway, Jasmine asked me if she and Asher could go and play outside.  Keep in mind, she asked while I was in the shower.  Clearly not thinking straight, I called out a fatherly warning to dress very warm due to the cold spell we are currently enjoying.  After a few more gallons of steamy hot water hit me I hollered back to Jasmine.  I had changed my mind after remembering that although Asher was feeling better, it wasn't a good idea to send him outside.  This reversal of fortune was traumatizing to the little guy.  He was hearing none of my reasoning and had to be bought off with a snack and an episode of Sponge Bob.  A little later we were talking about all of the activities he was going to get back to next week, now that he is feeling better.  He couldn't decide what he missed the most, but he is looking forward to going to daycare, Strong Start and the swimming pool next week.

Sheila and I have decided to combine Valentine's Day and her birthday into one date.  Hey, as parents of two on a shoestring budget, we are lucky to have a night out at all.  Sheila is still on could nine about our engagement and told me not to bother with gifts for the two special days coming up.  I know better than that, so will be on the lookout for something she will like.  Pretty much anything will be a let down after "the ring", so I'm pretty much sunk.  It is cute that Sheila seems to have taken on some of my spend thrift ways.  The date night planned falls between Valentine's and the birthday, on Tuesday the 18th.  We can avoid the Valentine's crowds (i'm working Valentine's evening anyway), we can visit the theatre on cheap night, and best of all, we can use the gift card Sheila has for the Keg.  Of course, if I am polite enough not to mention sports, poker or any other of my annoying guy hobbies, she won't probably won't care that the date is being paid for with pocket change.  It's the time spent together that really matters, right?

The gift card that I mentioned above was one of quite a few that Sheila has been given by her manager at work recently.  It seems that he gives these to her as a token for all of her hard work and dedication to her job.  Sheila works at a transportation company, and a few weeks ago they took on a significant amount of new business due to the closure of another company in town.  This has led to considerably less down time between tasks, and also has had Sheila working the last couple of Saturdays.  The manager at the company is a very nice guy from what I can tell.  Sheila enjoys working for him, and these tokens of appreciation are a solid gesture.  She works her ass off because that's just how she is, and also because she wants to be considered for advancement and raises like most due.  For most people, it's just talk.  They want to advance without working for it.  Sheila has gave her company the best effort she has for over 5 years.  Actions speak louder than words as they always do, and I know Sheila takes pride in what she does.  As the company grows and new opportunities arise, I have no doubt my lady will be there to "carpe diem" as they say.

I think that part of my blase attitude towards watching or caring about football is that I have spent the last number of months totally immersed once again in all things hockey.  With my little man getting more and more into the sport himself, it has only given me more reason to get carried away.  I have spent much time cursing my Oilers on the television, enjoyed 10 or so live Spruce Kings games, caught a few live Cariboo Cougars games (15-17 year olds), attended 2 WHL Cougars games (once with my friend at work, the other with Asher), participated in 5 different hockey pools, played nearly 20 games for my rec league team, also played pick up hockey a few times, gone skating with the kids a few times, played hours of basement hockey, and also i've watched dozens of NHL that didn't involve the Oilers.  It seems finding new teams to enjoy is one way to keep from going off the deep end.  Edmonton has driven me to begin calling the New York Islanders, the Dallas Stars, the Winnipeg Jets and the Tampa Bay Lightning my "other favourite teams".  I also follow many players that find themselves scattered throughout the league due to their presence on one or more of my pool teams. 

I most enjoy watching hockey when Asher watches with me.  He will curl up with me on the couch or bed to take in the "Oilahs".  Humourously, he has taken to saying that they "suck" recently, something he likely picked up from me during one of their many losses.  Before a recent game he asked me "is the Oilahs losing Daddy?"  I told him the game hadn't started, but he just responded with "they suck Daddy."  Sure enough, I was able to confirm that they were indeed losing just a few minutes later.  Asher has even started figuring out some of the other teams.  He knows the Canucks, and his Mom and sister's mild affinity for them.  He surprised me last week by calling out the "Blackhawks" name.  He knows that Montreal is his Uncle Patrick's team, and that Toronto is Daddy's friend Jason's team.  Definitely the most fun we have had recently, was our father and son trip to the Cougars game a couple of weeks ago.  Asher brought along his gick and a puck, which kept him busy for the most part.  We found a seat 3 rows up right behind the net, and we even switched ends each period so we could see the Cougars goals with little chance of missing them.  Asher sat with me for most of the third period, and we had a lot of fun cheering for each goal.  We already have plans to go back for one more game, in a couple of weeks they are playing mid-week again, and he is raring to go.

Lately, I have been able to view a number of really, really good movies.  Sheila had been itching to watch "The Butler" and we finally had a chance to check it out.  I was skeptical about my chances of staying awake for a 3 hour drama film while laying in bed tired.  As it turns out, I had no problem keeping my eyes open.  The film is moving and heartfelt.  Its put together in a way that really showcased Forest Whittaker's acting talent.  Oprah played a supporting role as the butler's wife, and she's no slouch in the acting department either.  I am lucky enough to go to the movies at work fairly regularly, and in recent months I have seen "American Hustle", "Lone Survivor", and "12 Years A Slave" at our local theatre.  Sheila and I also got a chance to watch recent release "Dallas Buyers Club" the other night.  I tell you what.  That is a hell of a collection of movies right there.  Hustle, Buyers Club and 12 Years A Slave are all up for Best Picture at the Oscars.  It's extremely difficult to rank these movies as far which was my favourite, but that is what I do, I make lists.  So here it is.

5) Lone Survivor is probably the best movie Mark Wahlberg has ever done.  The movie is almost entirely made up of a gunfight between al Queda fighters and 4 American soldiers.  The action during the fight feels so real and genuine, it's easy enough to get lost in its authenticity.  3.5/5

4)  American Hustle was great as expected.  The cast is filled with superstars from Christian Bale to Bradley Cooper to Jennifer Lawrence.  It started to drag on a bit towards the end, but that took away from the movie only a slight bit.

3) The Butler Definitely one of the best movies for couples to come out recently.  A love bio pics, as it seems to add an element of importance to the story being told.  Add in the previously mentioned performances from Whittaker and Oprah, and you have a really well done movie.

2) Dallas Buyers Club I have raved to anyone who would listen about how good Matthew McConaughey was in his last movie "Mud".  I went so far as to list it at #2 in my favourite movies of 2013.  He has outdone himself with this one.  Everyone is talking about his losing 50 pounds for the role, something I find amazing considering the physique he already had.  There was no fat to be dropped, losing 50 pounds of mostly muscle is pretty incredible.  His character, Ron Woodruff, is so complex, but McConaughey seems to handle it with ease.  Coupled with the supporting performance by Jared Leto playing a transgendered woman who becomes Ron Woodruff's business partner, I was hooked from beginning to end. 

1) 12 Years A Slave Words simply can not do this movie justice.  Everyone over the age of 16 should see this film.  The unique way in which the director Steve McQueen shot the film, captures even small details and makes you realize that they are all part of the bigger picture.  Incredible acting performances by everyone in the film.  Engaging subject matter that left me unwilling to look away.  Heart wrenching scenes, culminating with Lupita Nyong'o's character getting a violent beating that the slave owner forced her friend to administer.  This is likely one of the best movies I have ever seen, and I am still shaken from his powerful force days later.  Do whatever you can to get out and see it, it's a life changer.

Before I wrap this up, I can't neglect to mention a most awesome gift I was given by my sister Erin for Christmas.  She was lucky enough to pull my name for our family secret santa this year.  She was very generous, and one of the things she gave me was a fitbit flex.  It's a little wristband with a tracking chip inside of it.  You wear it, and it tracks your steps taken, distance traveled and calories burnt throughout the day.  It also can track sleeping patterns though I haven't sued it for that.  It does work as a silent alarm as well, though my habit of smashing the sleep button leads me to worry that the fitbit won't wake me up.  Sheila is such a light sleeper that the silent vibrations at my wrist wake her up.  I digress.  Erin is well aware of my affinity for all things fitness, and while I had heard about the fitbit, I knew little about it.  As it turns out, it has done wonders to motivate me to keep active.  I find it very hard to have a lazy day when I have this readily available visual reminder about how much or how little I have done on any given day.  Even when I am having a lazy day, usually falling on Sundays and Mondays due to sleep deprivation, I find that my fitbit gets me to at least do some physical activity.  The lights on the wristband let you know how close to your daily goal you are.  I have mine set to 10,000 steps taken, so for every light it's 2000 steps.  I haven't had a day under 6000, even when I am "taking the day off" so to speak.  I have knocked it out of the park a few times, culminating last week in a day when I hit 18,000 steps.  If I remember correctly, that day consisted of 3 different walks, a jog, tons of work around the house, taking the dog out in the yard, a hockey game and more.  When choosing something to do, I find that the fitbit has me leaning towards the most active option almost every time.  Thanks Erin, it's definitely one of the coolest gifts I have received.

With that, I bid adieu to my small gaggle of loyal readers.  To my mom, hang in there, I'm looking forward to visiting with you soon.  To my most loyal reader Sheila, thanks for lighting a fire under my blog neglecting posterior.  To Elizabeth, I hope your recovery is going well, please take it easy.  To the rest of you, take care, I shall be back soon.