Lost in the Wild

IMG_4851We are not the Robinson family, although we do like to explore. We try to experience something new on our new country, when we leave the house, ever since we moved here.  It has been an absolutely fantastic adventure, despite some minor less fantastic moments – but let’s not dwelve on the darker times.

In recent months, we have talked a lot about getting more familiar with the great outdoors.  We live in the mountains, next to a huge state park, and pride ourselves of having joined the great scouts organisations for both girls and boys.  As such, we must learn and explore!

Last week we finally build up the courage to face nature head on, and go into the great wilderness – well armed with bug sprays, water, pocket knife and of course iPhone.

We found what we thought would be a good beginner and family trail, in the majestic Bear Mountains which is over 5000 acres of trees, lakes, rivers, wild life that will kill you and of course animals.

For this virgin trek, we even brought our loco brown 2 year old Labrador.  She hates other dogs, gets extremely hyper when she meets people and pulls like a bull.  It would be good for her to burn some energy and at the same time train walking on a leash like a normal dog.

The family SUV took us to the starting point and we prepared ourselves for a “short” trek around in the woods.  My dear wife sprayed all of us with insect repellent.  With the amount she used, mosquitos quickly became an endangered species in a 5 mile radius.

Hi Ho Hi Ho – off we go … we are family … we will survive” were tunes that we spontaneously started singing while climbing our first little ledge.  I personally prefer the soundtrack from “Sound of Music” but perhaps not relevant at that very moment.

The girls climbed large rocks, ran into the wilderness, looked at all insects and screamed by the sight of most insects.  It was a true family bonding moment.  Our son was less impressed as her prefers so watch movies about outdoors, and not being inside it.

Marking a tree in case we don't make it back!
Marking a tree in case we don’t make it back!

I felt awesome.  Putting my scouting experience to use and explained random things to the girls, hoping they would pay somewhat attention.  I showed them the markers on the trees, showing the trail we were on (little did I know that these would become essential for our survival 2 hours later) and was skipping along the path in my trekking sandals.

In hindside, none of us had selected the best footwear for this outing, but we still managed and took our time as we scaled various cliffs and streams.  We had fun and that was important.

As we got deeper and deeper into the wilderness, we encountered less and less people.  They obviously knew something we didn’t or had better trial maps.

2 hours in we finally met another family.  They asked us for direction and we joked that we were heading back to the car and pointed towards a wider trial.  It was only when their lead scout shared his map that I realised that we were slightly of course.  In fact, had we stayed on the trail, we would’ve ended up 10 miles from our starting point and car.

somewhere here
somewhere here

I tried not to panic in the presence of our kids, who all looked at me for guidance.  A nervous giggle emerged from my throat and I proudly pointed towards the path we just came from and exclaimed with a trembling voice “we are going back on the trial we just came from“.  Inside my head I as screaming “we are lost and will die!

Thankfully the kids did not argue and simply turned around.  They just turned, faced the path and started walking while humming.

The good thing was, we knew the path challenges already, and we could easily find our way back to the car as we followed the trial markers. I told you they were important!

Soon we could hear cars again and suddenly I spotted our car in the parking lot, and we had one bar coverage on cell network. It was a joyous and emotional moment being back in civilisation.

Part of me doubted my tracking skills, but my fatherly GPS senses kicked in and navigated us back to safety.  My wife actually kissed the car and hugged all of us with tears rolling down her face.

What did we learn from this family bonding adventure?

  • My youngest daughter knows how to pee in the wild
  • We need to wear better shoes
  • Would be ideal to have a trial map and compass
  • Bring more water and perhaps snacks
  • Prepare to be lost better!
  • Bring pen and paper to write letters home
  • The loco Labrador can actually work nicely (probably exhausted too)

All in all, it was a great afternoon spent with the family and we are absolutely returning to the wild in the near future.

While we wait

jesusmangerChristmas – the most family focused event in the Christian side of the World’s religions.

They wait in anticipation for the coming of Christ, and celebrate his birth in a small barn somewhere in the outskirts of Bethlehem.

Perhaps not the most sanitary surroundings, but this is how Mary and Big Joe were rolling.  In fact, clean healthy environments were probably very hard to find, as indoor plumbing was still fairly basic during the rise of the Roman empire.  But I’m impressed Mary kept the sheets so white.

santa-stuckToday kids are eager with suspense as they wait for a fat dude to drop off a load of presents.  Somehow the simple science that a obese old man can fit into a small chimney does not not deter kids from believing – and rightfully so.  Santa is awesome and he loves to make kids happy (and some adults including me!).

How do you entertain kids from when school closes for the holidays, and how do you prevent them from searching the house in best Indiana Jones style, looking for the hidden presents?  Do you actually admit that Santa does not exist?  Although that would be lying to yourself too.  Of course he exist 🙂

Our little family really enjoy the festive season.  Every weekend is Christmas baking, thanks to my awesome wife, and spending time with the kids for Advent.  They get a small Advent present, which they look forward to.

On the day itself, 24 December, which is day when we celebrate Christmas, the kids wake up super early.  I mean ridiculously early.  Much earlier and easier than on school days.

The day starts with movies, breakfast, and then more movies. It is the old classical movies such as ‘Jingle All the Way‘, ‘Home Alone 1+2‘, ‘Santa Clause‘, ‘Elf‘, ‘Sound of Music‘ and of course ‘National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation‘ … the shitter is full.

It’s all about total relaxation, doing as little as possible and simply spend time with the family. All while eating 🙂

cookiesThis year we introduced family board games.  We wanted to encourage the kids to play board games instead of Xbox games.  The beauty is that we can all participate, and nothing wrong with teaching kids competitiveness. Probably too early to introduce Risk to teach them World domination –  maybe next year.

Later in the morning, we start making cookies while I prepare the traditional Christmas dinner. Kids get the chance to help, but they seem more interested in playing games.

It’s not that hard entertaining the kids. You just need to participate and have fun. Not rocket science really.  Merry Christmas y’all!

What do you do while we wait for Christmas dinner and the imminent arrival of Santa?

Star Wars Spoilers

My wife had dropped a major bomb in our relationship before Christmas, stating that she never really liked Star Wars movies.  I was in utter shock and wasn’t too sure how our relationship could survive.  What other things was she hiding from me?

I had taken her to the premieres of SW 1 and SW2, at midnight, and seriously thought she enjoyed the story.  She had gone to the dark side!awakens

When Star Wars Force Awakens was released in the cinema, I was stuck at home looking at trailers and listning to my colleagues at work raving about the movie.  JJ Abrams had done a great job, apparently, and the effects were above expectations.  It’s just not the same watching a 2:43 min trailer compared to a 2h 19min movie in IMAX.  I felt as if I was missing out on a lot of important details.

When the movie was finally released on iTunes, I bought it. No hesitation.  Just a quick one-click decision.  And, I didn’t tell my wife.  It was like cheating on her.  Buying stuff only for me. Something she didn’t like.  I felt naughty and the feelings of the dark side were stirring inside me.  It felt good.

But, this excitement only lasted a few days.  Suddenly our kids fell ill and I did not have time to watch the movie.  It was my fatherly obligations to choose kids over Star Wars.  Not really a hard decision, but my soul was still torn.

One morning, I had to work from home, and the kids wanted to watch the new Star Wars while having projectile vomiting on the sofa.  Why not.  I’m a good dad.  I launched the movie, and slowly walked back to my office computer.  The intro music was filling the house and I peaked over my shoulders like a schoolboy trying to watch Exorcist when parents weren’t watching.

It was pure agony.  I could hear the effects.  i could hear the kids being amazed with the story and movie.  They cheered, cried and laughed.  Then the movie ended.  I had passed the challenge and would pass into the West.

Unfortunately my six year old kid ran into the kitchen.  Big eyes and shouted “DAD!!!  Han Solo died! And the bad guy survived”

I was like  O M G.  What do I do?  Slap her for spoiling the movie or just laugh it of.  Corporal punishment is no longer permitted so I just laughed.  It wasn’t real laughter, but painful and tearful at the same time.

I had waited so long,  Finally got my copy of the movie and then my six year old tells me an important part of the movie.  oh well, the joys of parenting.  I was pleased she had her Star Wars moment, which she will cherish just as much as I, when I first saw Chewie and Han.

My the force be with you my little Sith Daughter!

Speed Dating Parent Teacher Meetings

The school year has flown by.  I can’t believe that there’s only a few months left until the summer break.  It seems as yesterday when my daughter started her middle school adventures.

In true school spirit, we have to meet the teachers every three months to really assess how our children are progressing … or not.

The first semester was awesome.  Our daughter was initially placed in AIS, much to my dismay, to assist her with math.

Academic Intervention Services are services required by New York State which provide additional instruction to students in English and/or mathematics based upon performance.

Nobody puts baby in the corner, but despite doing so, she showed them all how wrong they were.  She was was added to B honours roll in first semester – and to my absolutely delight, jumped to A honours roll in March.

She obviously has my wife’s intelligence, and good lucks.  Not too sure what genes she got from me.  Probably the rock music and playing games parts.

My wife and I went to the first parent / teacher meeting, but due to other parenting needs at the house, I went to the recent one alone while my wife looked after the kids.

speed-datingI was amazed with the new format of parent / teacher meetings.  I do not remember it being like that previously.  It was like speed dating, just with teachers.  You have a defined amount of time with one teacher, as soon as you get to the interesting parts, then you get pushed to the next teacher.

Ahead of the teacher conference, which they call it nowadays, we had to select specific times to meet key teachers.  It’s a bit like an interview for a job, where you have to speak to a series of potential colleagues to make sure you are the right person.  Except this time you talk about your child.

  • There’s an awkward moment when you look at the teacher, and they attempt to find your child based on your good looks.
  • You have exactly 6 minutes with each teacher, and spent more time introducing yourself, getting comfortable in the shitty chairs and look at a list the teacher has prepared
  • You stand in line until your name is called, hoping the parents ahead of you are not there or have few questions.
  • You rush to the next teacher on the list, running down the hallways.  I find the latter exciting as it reminds of my time in school, and teachers shouting at me “NO RUNNING” … so I ran faster today 🙂
  • You are late for the next session, you think, but realise quickly that some parent has abused the speed dating rules about timekeeping.
  • You try to do small talk, which fails as teacher is only interested in your child’s performance
  • You try to remember all the questions you had prepared in advance, but fail in every aspect and frantically text my wife before I sit down
  • The worst bit, you can hear how well the child next to you is doing … and in some cases they are not doing very well at all.  Both parents and teacher are trying to keep smiling, while delivering some scathing comments.

Keep-calmHonestly, I’m not too sure I got the full picture of my daughter’s performance.  All the teachers loved her.  Her grades are top, She’s a great friend to her class mates and she interacts with everyone.

I was proud when I heard all this, but more so when the teacher said she stands up for other kids, and defends some kids against bullies.  That’s my girl!

Next time I might dress up a bit, bring my chess clock and play some tricks on the teachers.  We gotta spice up the teacher speed dating thing a bit.

Or, perhaps I pretend to be the father of another child too, which would really confuse most teachers 🙂  It’ll be alright and we are all awesome.

Happy Birthday

12years
Breakfast w/ scones

Today is exactly 12 years ago since our coolest and oldest daughter arrived.  She was 5 weeks premature, but that has certainly not stopped her from being an awesome child.

I’m very proud we were chosen to be her parents.  It has been, and still is, an honour to see her grow up and become the awesome individual she is today.  I know she will continue to grow and become an amazing woman with all the possibilities ahead of her.

She is excelling at school, which is obviously good genes from her mother.  She loves games, outdoors and has great sense of humour.

Happy Birthday my little girl!

Disclaimer / Warning

I do wish to warn all boys that I have a small forest behind the house, with plenty of wild life and areas not often visited by by-passers.  If any you hurt my baby girl, break her heart for some foolish attempts to be her boyfriend and then dumping her, you will probably not be walking away from it. 

I have several friends who would happily share their protective gestures and outbursts, if anything emotional harm would be afflicted on her.  Just like I would support them if their daughter’s were harmed.

We hare the clan of proud fathers.  We have viking blood running in our veins, and some of my brothers are trained in the art of pain.