August 3, 2016

Summer so far...

If you're from Vancouver--or much of British Columbia, really--you probably feel as I do: that the summer break is technically half over, but the good weather has barely just kicked in. 

Best make the most of it! 

As I write this, Kate and the kids are in Quebec, where I just came from. I made a whirlwind August Long Weekend tour of visiting with friends in Ottawa, where we basically spent an entire day next to their pool... and we filmed this genre-defining 60 second piece of ART. 

OK, my friend Sean and I made this while the kids laughed and our wives rolled their eyes. It's still art. 

Then we rolled on to Quebec, where Kate's family has a compound of houses along scenic Lake Ann; it boils down to about 40 people of all ages, running around, swimming and eating. It's so amazing for our kids to connect with their cousins, forging new friendships and living free-range, doing things like catching frogs!

It feels like a small failure that it's taken this long into their childhood to get the kids doing something as simple as catching a frog, but oh well, it's done now! 

And best of all, the weather was nice and toasty, like summer should be. Feet up, drink in hand, warm breezes, and great connections with friends and family. It may have only been a weekend for me, but it was regenerative. 

That's it for now! Enjoy the videos. What are all y'all doing with your summers? Comment below or on the YouTube videos! 

July 14, 2016

Such 'Rappellant' behaviour

I did it.
I came, I saw. I rose to the occasion, then dropped down the side of that occasion. 

*AND Exhaaaale.*
Yes. That's me. Look up... look waaaayyy up. 

I have mentioned a few times in the past while how I don't like man-made heights (unless it's an amusement park ride, in which case, giddyup).

I have also mentioned how I decided that, as an employee of Make-A-Wish BC & Yukon, I would put my money where my mouth is this year, and fundraise to participate in the Rope For Hope urban rappelling challenge.

I raised my minimum, and on July 8th, I did "it."

I'll let the video speak for itself, but the fact is, amid moments requiring deep breaths, or realizing how intense I was actually feeling about the whole thing, I was doing it and it was actually pretty fun. The video is pretty "Vlog style", so some of the sound and editing is choppy, but it moves along nicely!
Almost back to sweet, sweet terra firma! 

Aaanyway, after a whole day of working the event for Make-A-Wish, it was my turn to tackle the challenge myself. By the time I'd watched so many others go through the safety briefings and tests, and seen the joys and fears on the faces of the other participants, I was actually very ready to go. turns out I have more mental fortitude than I thought :P

As I mention half way down the 400 ft. wall in this video, thanks to everyone who helped me do it, both mentally and financially. There were as many donations of advice on how to conquer this fear as there were contributions to my fundraising goal--and it all helped!

Once again, the video link. Enjoy. I know I did, as much to my own surprise as that was.

I am history's greatest champion!! 

May 31, 2016

Me Tarzan. You bad parent?

OK, enough of the judgy parent bullsh*t a la Gorilla mom at the Cincinnati Ohio Zoo this week.

Did she do wrong? Oh hells yeah, for sure. I mean, it’s a zoo. Keep an eye on your kids.

But is she always that bad? I very much doubt it. Epic… EPIC fail on her part this time around, no doubt…

Listen, we’ve all, as parents, done some dumb, inattentive sh*t, so let they who are without sin cast the first stone, mmmkay?

Hell, let’s turn it into a fun drinking game, shall we?

in the style of ‘never have I ever...’ (if you have, then do a shot. Your choice of liquor. I’ll choose Scotch. Keep it sophisticated).

Never have I ever…

…dropped my child when they were a baby
…found my learning-to-crawl toddler halfway up a set of stairs I didn’t know they were on
…caught my kid drinking from the dog water bowl
…slammed my child’s hand in a car door
…been separated from my child on a crowded train
…been in the sole care of my child when they severed part of their finger while “playing” with an exercise bike…

OKAAAY, that’s enough sharing. I, for sure, am pretty buzzed by now.

Fact is, we all suck as parents at times. 

Go on, say it. It’s liberating. 

Luckily for most of us, our sucky parenting moments have not taken place in very public places that lead to consequences so drastic that one of our endangered hominidae cousins had to be snipered in order to save our children.

I’ll set aside the jokes now. I believe that Gorilla mom probably loves her little one just the same as you do yours—I know that my love for my kids is unconditional—and I believe that she probably is a good parent 99.9 per cent of the time, same as you and me.

There’s nothing good about this story. Parent not paying attention. Kid doing something it shouldn’t. Zoo, giving a paying public a view of one of its wildest creatures so clear that it’s barriers are now negotiable by a four-year old. A precious creature of the earth, dead.

Nothing will change this situation now. Go back to hating something where your energy can be a force for good. Like the Trump campaign.

Until next time, watch your kids, and enjoy your scotch >hic<

May 11, 2016

Being vaguely vegan

We recently decided to give up eating meat at home. And milk, eggs and cheese, too.

“What, are you going to hire a personal chef now?” replied a friend, in a tone of near-disgust when we mentioned this to them.

“It’s not that hard to cook healthy vegan meals”, was our reply. And then we laid out some of the reasons we are trying this, environmental sustainability chiefly among our motivations.

More retorts from the friend about our misguided thinking.

You know what? Fine. 

We're doing this at home, just for us, and we’re not asking others to do it too. If you come over for a barbecue, you’re still likely to get meat as we have a freezer with a backlog of the stuff.

That knee-jerk reaction of almost-horror or distaste seems to be common. It’s almost comical, to watch people avert their eyes or grasp at something to say in response to our attempts at going vegan. Sometimes it comes out vaguely insulting (see above) and sometimes the responses feign support: “good for…you guys?”

Look, the reasons really are our own, and we’re not trying to convert you to some new meat-free religion…unless that’s what you want… JOIN US! Mwhahahahaaaaaa!

We first turned our minds to the idea when we saw some facts about environmental impact of eating meat. Some of it we already knew, but we looked deeper. It’s remarkable. Fact is, animal agriculture is responsible for 18 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation sources put together, globally (13 per cent) FYI, that’s a stat from the United Nations, not just your hemp clothes-wearing uncle with the acre of weed growing in his backyard.

Funnily enough, the reports on animal agriculture practically make energy production look like the new environmentalism (OK not quite true), from land destruction to water usage to off-gassing, etc. the list goes on. but the fact that we focus so much hate on the energy industry and so little on animal agriculture is strange. 

Enough of the stats . Suffice it to say, these are several of our motivations for trying this veganism thing.

So far, our experiment at home has been fun. It’s really switched up our cooking routine, which frankly was growing repetitive and stale. It’s made MY guts feel better for sure. I won’t go into the gory details, but let’s just say that dairy never agreed with me anyway.

The kids have entered into this thing a little more trepidatiously, and fair enough. This is being forced upon them a little bit.  But it's pretty funny to watch. There are regular stink-eye sessions at the dinner table a la Calvin and Hobbes.
‘What IS this?”
“Cheesy stuff!... made from cashews… and... nine other ingredients… try it, you’ll like it!”
Little does our son realize it, but his gravy was recently made from his number one food nemesis: The hated mushroom. And he loved it. Sucker.

On the whole, things are going well. We’ll continue on with a pilot phase for a while, but so far, all signs point to being satisfied, full, healthy, etc. No, I am not wasting away from calcium deficiency. Yes, I get enough iron. Protein? If anything, I need less.

But we really don’t want you to worry. If you’re coming over for a BBQ, we’ll still have something for the grill. If you’re at a restaurant with us, we aren’t going to be those obnoxious people picking apart the menu and complaining that there’s nothing for a vegan to eat. In fact, It’s likely I’ll still eat a proper burger, and the kids will have their pepperoni pizza and mac ‘n’ cheese.

In the end, we will live our lives, you can live yours, and I hope we can still be friends that can look each other in the eye.

May 2, 2016

Travel tales: Assorted Injuries + the longest day

The Chase family recently had an incredible vacation. Five days in Florida, exploring the mammoth campuses of the Disney World parks. Then, it was down to the British Virgin Islands for another five full days aboard our own catamaran, island hopping at our leisure. 12 of us altogether on this whole adventure. Kids age 2-9, and we all got along!

It was all amazing, as outlined in the videos below! 

But seriously. Let’s be real. No one wants to hear about the picture perfect. They want disaster scenarios. So, here’s as close as we got:
  • One finger crushing injury in a hotel door. Six stitches for my son on that front. Hallelujah for good extended health, ‘cause who wants to have to pay for the US medical system?!*
  • One MCL injury, adding yet another knee damage story to my sister’s life-long list of leg traumas.**
  • One five year-old who melted down so hard it required complete extraction from a Disney park and a return to the hotel for a day, to settle their overloaded sensory system.***

And here: some specifics about one epic day of travel in the middle of it all, with one small piece of luggage that caused big headaches. Read this from the perspective of ‘here’s how to barely make a flight’ despite best intentions.

1          1. When it’s four a.m. and an airline employee tells you a piece of your luggage can be gate-checked (a paddle in a case, in this situation), don’t believe them. Give them your money and check it.

2.   When you’ve been through a 90-minute security line-up and your flight leaves in 20 minutes and ONLY THEN does a TSA agent says you can’t take that paddle on the plane, and you’ll have to go back to the airline counter, don’t argue. It wastes precious seconds. Just nod, accept that you might miss your flight (pro-tip, being nice to the TSA means they might help you through the line when you come back), say goodbye to your family, and run like hell back to the airline counter.
Two years in a row, this same
paddle bag, via the same airport,
has caused me grief. Cursed?  

3.   To try and save your ass, tell the airline counter staff they have an impossible question to figure out in the next 30 seconds:
a.       My paddle needs to be checked. If I, as a passenger MUST travel with my luggage, as per FAA rules, and they choose to put my paddle on the next flight in three hours, then so be it. BUT:
b.       My main luggage is ALREADY under the plane departing in (checks watch) 17 minutes.
c.       I have a connecting flight at the airport, so if I miss THIS flight, I probably miss that one, too. SO, do you as airline staff:
                                                    i. Delay the early morning flight long enough to take my luggage off, missed connections be damned, or
                                                                             ii. Delay the early morning flight long enough to check my fu**ing paddle, and let me run for the plane?
     4. When option ii. is accepted, run like Hell again, back to the security zone. Get quick access courtesy of kind TSA agent who had my description and was expecting me.

      5. Sweet talk a few passengers in front of you at this point, to whip through the body scanner. Run like hell again. 
      6. Thank Jesus Allah Buddha that the shuttle train from one terminal to the other is arriving just as you run up to the platform.

           7. Run like Hell some more to get to your gate once you get off the train.

      8. Smile sweetly and say thank you to the gate agents when you slide up to the gate at 6:11 a.m. for your 6:11 a.m. departure time.

      9.  Acknowledge your family’s delight and relief to see you stepping on to the same plane as them!

I’ll spare the rest of the details of the day, but:

1. All that rush was for nothing as our next connecting flight was delayed by several hours, much to the delight of the parents in the group who now had to entertain a buncha kids in a boring airport terminal for the interim.  

2. The paddle DID NOT make it to that connecting airport as or where expected, thus forcing yet further arrangements to ensure the paddle was found, and delivered to the next plane.

3. All the waiting around was for a 24-minute flight.

4. Even at the final destination, the paddle didn’t show. A lost baggage claim was filled in at this point, and we said goodbye to airports**** as we headed for our final destination, Tortola, BVI. Flip flops on, feet up, sand, sun, snorkeling, family time. Ahhhhhhhhh.

*The wrapped up finger turned into an all-access golden ticket for my son and anyone associated with him when he went back to Disney later in the same day.
** The knee issue remains as-yet unresolved, as Universal Health Care doesn’t always move at any sort of speedy pace.
***The five-year-olds’ day at the hotel did her introverted soul a world of good. Smooth sailing for remaining days at Disney.

****Paddle was found, I was reunited with it at said airport one week later. 
The Disney Vid!! 

The BVI Vid!