The Nutcrackers

Our friend Britt brought back a bunch of hazelnuts from Idaho last summer.

I was curious to see how the guys would take to the challenge of breaking them open for the tasty prize inside.

Levi being a bit older figured it out really quickly and went to town while Travis managed to crack a few on his own.

And nary a thumbnail was blackened during the process!

IMG_0535

IMG_0538

Levi is 4!

IMG_1046

Boy it’s been awhile since I posted here. Seems like it’s easier to email family and friends recent photos and happenings, or post something on good ol’ FB.

Life is good in Montana, Levi and Travis have a little sister now. The band is still playing about a hundred nights a year. The longest trips were to Florida and back and recently we went to the midwest for a few weeks. Things will get busy again in June with trips to New York and many other places.

Vegan Christmas

Yes, it’s still vegan December only this time the whole family had a vegan meal. The boys and Amanda are already vegetarian so it wasn’t that unusual for them. What did we eat? Tofu sautéed with Olive oil and Soy sauce, mashed potatoes with veggie gravy and a big tray of roasted vegetables including yams, carrots parsnip’s, green beans and onions. It was good!

Followed that up with a nice walk in the snow on a windy night in Montana, and while we both missed our families it was quite a magical Christmas.

Old School Photoshoot

Last Saturday we went on a bicycle ride called “The Tweed Ride”. The idea was to dress up in vintage clothing and ride around the town. There were about a hundred or so people with several on vintage bicycles from the 1930’s. Along the route we stopped to get our picture taken.

 

 

What’s In The Box?

Levi loves his soccer ball. We forgot his favourite one at a BBQ a while back and our friends dog ate it the next day. We had purchased that one in Vancouver, a classic black and white foam ball made by a company called Poof. Couldn’t find one here in Missoula so I took to the internet and about a minute later had a couple of soccer balls on their way to being shipped to our house. In the description online the ball was black and white but we ended up with a couple of neon ones. Oh well, he loves them!

The Magic Of The Carousel

It must be amazing to ride on a carousel from the perspective of a 2-year-old. Heck, I’m pretty much a full-grown adult and I find it really stimulating and charming! It’s kind of like stepping back into a by-gone era.

Mr. Rogers (Not Related By The Way)

Friday night! Party time! It’s getting crazy around here!

“Say, I have an idea: Let’s eat popcorn and watch YouTube videos as a family before we play Twister!” Mr. Rogers took top honours tonight. (Great name by the way) Ok, it was a three-way tie with Polka Dot Door and the intro to The Friendly Giant…but I liked this one the best!

 

Don’t Worry, Bee Happy!

This was Amanda’s birthday gift from the boys and I. We all love it and it does seem to have magical happy powers!

Promo Material:

“Don’t worry, bee happy!  Our team of world-class scientists have achieved the impossible… guaranteed happiness!  Our Bee Happy Solar Dancing Flower just needs a little sunlight to become a dancing machine. Have some good, clean, solar-powered fun.  Pollen-free, portable and requires no extra care to keep it alive!”

Levi @ The Ducks

"I Wonder What I Should Do With This Bag Of Birdseed?"
"I Seem To Be Surrounded..."

 

Mom & Grandma Are Curious

 

"Good Thing A Tall Guy Came Along And Picked Me Up!"

"Feeding The Ducks Makes Me Sleepy..."

Observing The Process

It’s been really fun observing Levi’s fascination with the harmonica. I guess he’s been playing for about 2 months or so. It’s the perfect instrument for a toddler really as all you need to do is breathe in and out to create a melody. I usually play “Oh Susanna” before I hand it over to him. When the day comes that he can play it back to me, my work will be done and Amanda and I can retire to the Bahamas.

 

"Lil Mississippi" On The Harp

 

 

Too Tired To Take The Wheel

After a long day of running around chasing after a toddler, Dad can get a little tired. It was only a half-hour drive back into the city tonight so I just curled up in the backseat and took a nap. Woke up feeling über refreshed!

 

Levi At The Wheel

 

 

 

Is It Really The Year Of The Rabbit Again?

Boy, that was a quick 12 years.

Walked down to Chinatown in the rain with the family today and caught the tail end of the parade.

It was so cool to see so many people participating and celebrating such a rich culture.

Amidst all of the clanging of cymbals and crackling of firecrackers someone remained firmly in dreamland…

He must have been having some pretty cool dreams.

“Bye-Bye”

Levi loves to say “bye-bye” to everyone and everything lately. Every night he waves “bye-bye” to the water running down the drain after his bath for example. The other day he went into the spare room and flipped on the old school 10 inch TV. He scrolled up the channels to the closed circuit security channel in our building, sat back and waited for people to exit just to say “bye-bye.” It’s a virtual world we live in…

When Things Get Quiet…

It’s time to check on the little ones…

 

Lo And Behold The Laundry Basket Somehow Emptied Itself. So Levi Made Himself At Home.

 

Anyone Want To Help Put The Clothes Back?
Job Well Done!

 

 

 

 

I’d Like To Be

Under the sea
In an octopus's garden in the shade
He'd let us in, knows where we've been
In his octopus's garden in the shade

I'd ask my friends to come and see
An octopus's garden with me
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus's garden in the shade

We would be warm below the storm
In our little hideaway beneath the waves
Resting our head on the sea bed
In an octopus's garden near a cave

We would sing and dance around
Because we know we can't be found
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus's garden in the shade

We would shout and swim about
The coral that lies beneath the waves
(Lies beneath the ocean waves)
Oh what joy for every girl and boy
Knowing they're happy and they're safe
(Happy and they're safe)

We would be so happy you and me
No one there to tell us what to do
I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus's garden with you
In an octopus's garden with you
In an octopus's garden with you

Today’s New Mothers

While there are dozens of different brands to choose from, I knew I needed to have the Snugli baby carrier when I went to their website and found the following: “Today’s new mothers need convenience and versatility to keep up with busy schedules and endless errands.”

It’s awkward to take on and off and not really that comfortable but the baby seems to like it and it gets us out and about and where we need to get to so thank you Snugli corporation!

Sincerely,

A new mother

White Christmas At The Stanley Theatre

What kind of saintly friend drives an hour into the city in holiday traffic to look after two little boys on Christmas eve so Mom & Dad can enjoy a Christmas classic for a couple of hours? None other than the talented and warmhearted Aunt Rebecca!

The Stanley Theatre is an awesome old school theatre that’s been a fixture on Granville Street since 1930. I drove faster than usual to get there on time utilizing quick acceleration to arrive quickly at the speed limit. Oil producing nations recommend jack-rabbit starts by the way.

We miraculously found a free parking spot just off of busy South Granville, managed to wriggle past some people who really wanted to sell us a Christmas wreath, took a quick picture and made it inside to our seats with ten minutes to spare.

I guess you could say we were in the cheap seats beside the orchestra pit but who can quibble about sitting in the second row at any event? OK, maybe the running of the bulls in Pamplona…

But to be that close to such a talented cast was incredible. It was almost better than watching TV in high-definition if you can believe it. That’s how realistic they all looked!

I really got caught up in the story and I truly felt the spirit of Christmas.  I’ve been wanting to feel that Christmas feeling as much as possible this December. Happy to report that it’s happened several times. It was nice to immerse myself in a story without any distractions. But truth be told, I was thinking about the boys most of the time. Thinking about how nice it will be to see them find their passion, whether it be music, acting, chasing bulls in Pamplona or whatever.

Watching those actors singing so beautifully and dancing so incredibly, all the while I was imagining them as little children taking their first steps, learning to ride a bike, roasting their first marshmallows yet somehow eventually finding themselves onstage at The Stanley Theatre tap dancing on a grand piano? Excited to see what the future holds for Levi and lil’ Travis…

Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire

We went downtown today to pick up a few Christmas gifts. For some unseasonable reason we spent most of the time trying to find me a pair of pants, but that’s not the point…

Amanda stopped on Granville Street and picked up some roasted chestnuts from a vendor. I had never tried them before. They were actually pretty tasty and are apparently nutritious. When we got home, we put on the seasonal fireplace CD that we got at the Kingsgate mall for $1.99. All of a sudden it felt like Christmas~A Kingsway Christmas!

One Day I WILL Own A Collector Car!

Dare to dream…

 

Spotted Today In A Parking Lot
The Beauty & The Splendour

 

 

Check that~ according to the criteria listed here I’ve owned 7 or 8 already…

Collector vehicles

Collector plates are special licence plates that show your vehicle is a real classic—while letting you save money on insurance too!

To qualify, your vehicle must be

  • at least 25 years old, or
  • at least 15 years old and a limited-production model (1500 or fewer manufactured that model year), or
  • at least 15 years old, with no vehicles of any kind built by its manufacturer for at least five years.

 

 

 

Santa’s Breakfast

Us & Santa

Santa’s Breakfast is one of those things that would only be fun with a little one in tow. This year we had two! It’s still vegan December so I had some kind of unidentifiable potato thing and a couple of cups of strong coffee to perk up.

It was a nice surprise to see old friend Shannon Saunders’s leading a fiddle group. They played Christmas carols and some old-time fiddle music.

Shannon's Fiddle Group
Levi & Hat

The Carol Ships In Ladner

We had a great day out in Ladner on Friday. There is so much fun stuff for Levi to explore around the house. Levi discovered the “perfect man” talking doll in dad’s den.

In the early evening we walked downtown to see the carol ships.

The Carol Ships In Ladner

But first there was a parade.

It wouldn’t be a parade without the bagpipes.

It was a great evening. We saw lots of old family and friends. We hung out for a little while at Grandma and Grandpa’s afterwards before we headed back into the city.

 

 

 

 

Easy Like Sunday Morning

There is something truly different about the way a Sunday feels. Whether one chooses to dedicate the day to football, church or sleeping in after staying out way too late Saturday night is their own personal choice, but most would agree Sunday has its own particular vibe. Quite different from a Monday. Take Lionel Richie’s take on a Sunday for instance:

I’m easy like Sunday morning

That’s why I’m easy
, I’m easy like Sunday morning

Because I’m easy,
 Easy like Sunday morning

Because I’m easy,
 Easy like Sunday morning

Nicely said father of Nicole. I’m guessing he meant relaxed. How’s bout you Kris Kristofferson?

G

Well I woke up Sunday morning

C              D7                                     G

With no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt

Em

And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad

D7

So I had one more for desert

G                              C

Then I fumbled thru my closet for my clothes

G       Em

And found my cleanest dirty shirt

C                 Am

And I shaved my face & combed my hair

C                 D                 G      C   G

Stumbled down the stairs to meet the day

I’d smoked my brain the night before on cigarettes

And songs that I’d been pickin’

But I lit my first & watched a small kid cussin’

at a can that he was kickin’

Then I crossed the empty street & caught the Sunday

Smell of someone fryin’ chicken

And it took me back to something that I’d lost

Somehow, somewhere along the way

G        G7            C…

On the Sunday morning sidewalks

G

Wishin’ Lord that I was stoned

D

‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday

G

That makes a body feel alone

G7               C

And there’s nothin’ short o’ dyin’

G

Half as lonesome as the sound

D

On the sleepin’ city sidewalks

G

Sunday morning coming down

In the park I saw a daddy, with a laughing little

Girl that he was swinging

And I stopped beside a Sunday school

And listened to the song that they were singing

Then I headed back for home & somewhere

far away a lonely bell was ringing

And it echoed thru the canyons

Like the disappearing dreams of yesterday.

I included the chords just in case you were inspired to pick up your guitar and sing along! Wrong chords courtesy of the internet unfortunately, so have fun with that one.

On this most recent Sunday, we set off walking to meet Elizabeth and Stephan for brunch and ended up trimming the Christmas tree later with old friends the Heltens. Ten miles or so through the streets of East Vancouver we ambled- Amanda and I and our little guys walking together on a clear sunny December day.

I actually carried Travis, and Levi was mostly asleep in the stroller but we won’t quibble over the details…just picture a family of four walking into the sun.

Travis & Elizabeth
Stephan & Cat Circa 1941
Levi Stressing About The Ten Pounds He's Gained This Year
Levi With Bottle Of Milk As Prop For Photo Shoot
Canadian Gothic
We Passed By A School On The Way To Christmas Tree Trimming
Forgot To Take A Picture Of The Beautiful Tree But Got One Of The Train Track

Loved Levi Coming To The Realization That Uncle Conrad & Dad Own The Same Ol' Guitar
Happy Boy

Hanging Out On The Floor

It’s so much fun to spend time with the little guy. He’s really developing an interest in the world around him. He spends most of his day sleeping, feeding or crying, but the rest of the time he is full of smiles, cute expressions and baby talk.

 

 

I Wish Every December 1st Was This Pleasant

Let’s see. What happened…

 

Walked With Levi To The Library For Music Class

 

Lo And Behold, We Ran In To My First Babysitter Dee Dee and her Husband Mike. We Invited Them Back To Grandma's House For Tea
They Were Looking After Their Grandson
The Boys Had Fun Playing Together
More Fun

 

 

Travis Was Hanging Around So I Took A Few Pics

Prepared Some Potatoes
Vegan Scalloped Potatoes Using Homemade Almond Milk

Played Beautiful Music With These Two Until Midnight In East Vancouver

 

 

Children’s Hospital

When Levi was born in May of 2009, he was pretty much on the brink of losing his battle with life. To make a long story short, he suffered oxygen deprivation, so as a precaution doctors cooled his body temperature down a few degrees to prevent any swelling of the brain. The first few days were quite stressful as he was also having seizures while he was hooked up to all these crazy machines. The staff at Children’s Hospital were amazing though. So skilled and pleasant and tireless under extreme conditions. Not wanting to give us any false hope, they encouraged us to take each day one at a time as they continued to monitor his progress.

Amanda and I were constantly at his bedside.  Family and friends came by for support. After a few days the seizures stopped and they slowly warmed him back up took and him off all the machines.  Six days later, on our way we went. Truly amazing! I would even go as far as to call it a miracle. But I gotta say, it was hard to say goodbye to all the other parents who weren’t going home anytime soon with their children, some of them having been in intensive care for several months already.

We were asked to participate in a study with 45 other children who had a similar birth experience. Basically, they want to follow-up on Levi’s progress over as many as 7 years with a few MRI’s, neurological testing and physiological assessment. From what I understand, the researchers would like to be able to offer up a quicker prognosis when a child is born with a brain injury.

We had one of our follow-up appointments yesterday morning. I was with new baby Travis in the waiting room at the hospital observing all the children with varying degrees of mental and physical challenges. I got to talking with the cutest little 6-year-old boy in a wheelchair. He was asking about the baby and had a really sweet disposition. After a while his mother came over and asked me if baby Travis had Spina Bifida too. I explained that I was actually here with my other son who was part of a study, and we were just killing time. I immediately felt something similar to the phenomenon of survivor’s guilt as I saw the look on her face change ever so slightly. I really felt for her at that moment, but I know that she and that little guy are going to be just fine. He didn’t strike me as having any limitations for living a happy, productive life.

I’m happy to report that it’s been nothing but good news for Levi at all of these follow-up appointments. We discovered recently he has mild hearing loss in the higher range, but the neurologist assured us that it is in no way related to his birth trauma. Intellectually and physically, he appears to be truckin’ along at the same pace as all the other kids his age! A huge thank-you to everyone at Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia!

Love you Levi!

Main Street

The majesty of the mountains on a crisp day during a record cold snap. What could possibly make a nicer backdrop for a city?

ps-Does anyone know how to Photoshop trolley wires out of a picture? 🙂

Our default walk is really just a stroll up and down Main Street from Broadway to 30th Avenue and back. It’s a relaxing way to pass the time. There are a lot of great areas to live in Vancouver but we’ve grown really accustomed to living in Mount Pleasant.  It’s a funky neighbourhood with a real community feel to it. Mount Pleasant reminds me of of a baby, baby Brooklyn.

On our walks, I say hi to almost everyone. Whether they like it or not! Usually it is other people with children or dog walkers or older folks admiring the boys that are the most open to conversation.

This night was a little extra frigid so we picked up the pace to get the the little guys home to a warm apartment. We knew we were almost there when we saw our beacon off in the distance- Buy Low! This night the one and only Buy Low at the Kingsgate Mall was competing for brightness with the full moon.

 

The Melancholic Mermaid

We went to Kidsbooks on Broadway last night for a reading and a book signing. The author is Kallie George, daughter of our good friends Paul and Adriane. Kallie read a few excerpts from The Melancholic Mermaid and talked a little about how the whole thing slowly came together. It was wonderful to see the finished product sitting on the shelf. Congratulations Kallie!

Amanda, Travis & Kallie

The Older Little Man Is 18 Months Already!

Wow! It’s been so much fun watching Levi’s development progress. From a newborn to a toddler to a senior citizen one day if all goes according to plan.

I love tucking him in at night. Just before he falls asleep, he generally opens his eyes and starts to giggle for a minute or two. Going to sleep happy has got to make for some really positive dreams. If only we could be privy to those dreams! Coming up next on Turner Classic Movies, Levi Rogers stars in the 1946 classic “A Toddler’s Dream.”

Levi And A Drum

Dad’s Shoes

There comes a time in a young mans life when he yearns to understand his role, not just in the family structure, but in the world at large. I guess Levi figured the best place to start was to put his little feet in dads shoes, if only for a moment. Dad’s shoes are big, not so fresh smelling in places, and worn a little with time. From his perspective, those shoes must perfectly embody his dad, the city we call home and that big ol’ world at large.

 

Dad's Shoes

 

 

 

Not Everyone Loves A Warm Bath In The Evening

Like a lot of people, one of my favourite things to do in the evening is to take a good old-fashioned bath. It’s a great place to think and relax. A bath can be therapeutic, invigorating and healing. Although after a good long soak, it’s a little sad to watch another day go down the drain along with the water when the plug is pulled. Whether it was a good day, a neutral day or a bad day, we only have so many.

Lil’ Travis is taking his time warming up to the ritual. He’ll get there.

Levi And I And Some Colourful Trees

Levi & I

The leaves changing colour are a poignant reminder that summer fun is behind us, and that winter will soon be here. Of course, autumn on the west coast is nowhere near as spectacular as it is out east but you won’t find me complaining.

A lot of mornings this past year Amanda and I, or often just me would take Levi to the play gym at the community centre and let him run around like a maniac for a few hours. Afterwards we would give him a bottle of diluted whole organic milk and that would generally send him off to dreamland for a few hours. While he would sleep, I was free to run some errands or make a few calls. But what I really enjoyed most was walking around the city and enjoying all the sights and sounds and the energy of the people. Now that we have been blessed with baby Travis, we are needing to rethink our childcare strategy to figure out new routines that work best for all concerned- Myself, Amanda, Levi and Travis.

With a little tweaking and compromise, I’m certain that everyone will continue to be in a happy place as we work towards finding a balance between work, play and family life. In the meantime, I’m loving life as it stands right now.  I couldn’t be happier with the changes life has brought me. I’m really just trying to enjoy these moments as the moments pass by pretty quickly.

Park Bench

Me And The Boys

I love neighbourhood walks. In the rain, in the snow, in the hot summer sun- it doesn’t matter. We are still trying to perfect our system now that we have two little ones. It’s easy with two adults, but when one is on their own all sorts of situations present themselves. Like most babies, Travis seems to be very content in the carrier so that is helpful. Levi is more of a going concern of course but I can currently still outrun him!

It Takes Much Longer To Type With Only One Free Hand

Capitalizing is especially tough, requiring a thorough finger stretch. Try it if you haven’t already. You will see what I mean. It’s kind of like trying to pick up a basketball with one hand. It is 1:30 in the morning. Lil’ Travis is currently asleep on my lap and is being supported by my left hand.  I am typing this blog entry with my right. Some might call it multi-tasking. In this moment, it seems appropriate to upload the ubiquitous father/son sleeping photo.

Two Boys On A Couch

 

We are so blessed to have two little guys in our world now. There is so much love in the apartment. While it’s true the workload has increased, so has the payback. It’s interesting to reflect on all the things that have changed in my life in the last few years. I’ll always have my music in some form or fashion, only now I’ve got a family to bring me a different kind of joy.

 

Look Out World!

It’s amusing to think that this will be Travis’s passport photo for a number of years~ I’m certain that he won’t change a bit! And it’s amazing Amanda was able to get him sitting the right position, that the stars aligned between cries and frowns, and the photographer snapped the picture at just the right time. We are looking forward to travelling to lots of far-flung places with the boys now that they both will have passports. Look out world, here comes Travis and Levi!

November Is Here Already?

How did that happen? Halloween has come and gone so I guess it’s time for the big gear-up for Christmas. When it’s not raining, November in Vancouver is generally crisp, cool and spectacular.  A walk at the beach or in the forest can be truly invigorating. Did I mention that it rains a lot in Vancouver? If you live here, you might as well get used to it and not let it cramp your style. I’m looking forward to active days outside and cozy nights indoors.

Halloween In The City

Arrived home from Oregon this afternoon and spent the evening wandering around the neighbourhood with Amanda, Levi, Travis and our friend Melanie and her son Ryder. There was definitely a festive energy in the air. Today was one of those rare occasions in the city when almost everyone was open to conversation and small talk. Kind of wish it was like that all the time in Vancouver.

Evening Rituals And Doubling One’s Audience

It doesn’t happen the same way every night, but in general there is an evening ritual around here that seems to serve Levi well. Dinner at 7, a bath at 7:30 and books and a bottle of milk at 8. I usually like to play guitar when he is in the bath. He seems to enjoy the music, and everyone knows the best acoustics in the house are generally in the bathroom! Having baby Travis around has forced Amanda and I to be a little more open to variation in our routine. But it won’t be too long before both boys are in the bath together and I’ll be playing my guitar for a captive audience of two. If only it were that easy to double one’s audience.

October Raspberries

Here it is the end of October and there are still raspberries on the vine at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. When we arrived for a visit this afternoon Levi bypassed the front door, instead walking alongside the house towards the back garden. He knew where he was headed. Grandpa was there and hoisted him up for a mouthful of tasty raspberry goodness in the afternoon sun.

 

The Annual Trek To The Pumpkin Patch

Westham Island in Ladner, British Columbia is a wonderful place to visit. When you cross that bridge, it’s kind of like stepping back into the 1940’s if you squint your eyes just a little. It’s become a destination for bird-watchers, berry pickers and those hoping to find the perfect pumpkin for Halloween! I feel blessed that my relatives still own a family farm and we are lucky enough to have a family reunion every year on the property Hay rides and all! After trudging through the mud for a while, we did indeed find the perfect pumpkin.

He Lived A Long, Rich Life

I wrote a blog a few months ago about a family friend who just happens to be 100 years old. He passed away yesterday. R.I.P. Edgar!

Delta loses a great man with Edgar Dunning’s passing

Delta lost a true gentleman with the sudden passing of Edgar Clesson Dunning Saturday.

Born in Elbow, Saskatchewan on Jan. 7, 1910, Dunning had celebrated his 100th birthday earlier this year.

Dunning had been a fixture in Delta for decades after his family moved from Alberta in 1922, when he was just 12, to start The Weekly Optimist. He held pretty much every position at the Optimist over the years, including reporter, editor and publisher.

He continued his affiliation with the newspaper throughout his retirement by writing his weekly Rambling column that brought the history of the municipality to life every Saturday. His last column was published on the day he passed away.

Dunning was a vibrant presence in the community even as a centenarian, and could be found at many community events. He was a noted historian who loved to share the history of Delta with others.

He earned great respect from all corners for his thoughtful approach and classy ways. It was often said that Dunning never had a bad word to say about anyone.

His humour, sincerity and charm made him an endearing figure woven into the historical fabric of the community in which he was also its most trusted storyteller.

Dunning was a founding member and first president of the Delta Historical and Museum Society and a former president of the Delta Board of Trade (now the Delta Chamber of Commerce).

He was involved with many groups, including the Kinsmen Club of Ladner, the first service club in Delta, which he helped form in 1935. He became its president four years later and just last year received Kin Canada’s highest honour by becoming a Hal Rogers Fellow.

A music lover, Dunning, who played drums in his youth, was one of the founders of the Delta Community Band Society, the sponsoring organization for the Delta Community Band.

He received numerous awards, including the first Freedom of the Municipality in 2004 as part of Delta’s 125th anniversary celebration. Other recognition included Citizen of the Year and a lifetime achievement award from the Delta Chamber of Commerce.

The new municipal-community archives will include a reading room that bears his name.

Dunning married Elsie Maria Bowing (1916-1998) in 1942 and they had two children, Susan and Gene. He had three grandkids and one great grandchild.

© Copyright (c) Delta Optimist
 

 

World’s Greatest Grandparents!

It sure is a blessing to have parents living so close to where we live. It is such a relief to know the little ones are in good hands when Amanda and I pop out for the occasional movie, kid-free walk or when I need to go out of town for a few days. It’s a win-win in so many ways for all concerned! Cheers Matthew and Patricia!

 

The Wheels On The Bus

When the little man wakes up, it will once again be time to saunter over to the community centre to sing children’s songs with other children and parents.

I sincerely think “The Wheels On The Bus” may be one of the most under-rated compositions of the Twentieth Century; A timeless melody. Thought provoking verses. A spine-tingling chorus. Truly evocative in almost every way…

Second Son Arrives! Travis John Nowlin Rogers

So happy to welcome the newest little guy into the world. So far things have gone incredibly smoothly. It helps that Levi is fascinated by the baby. The big people are a little tired but that is par for the course.  Nothing a strong cup of coffee can’t fix!

If only it were that easy to do something about my poor syntax…

 

City Hall

Levi~City Hall

This morning we went for a family walk down 10th Avenue to the grounds of City Hall. It’s a great place to hang out and catch your breath. Green grass, big trees and an awesome community garden. It was a beautiful September day. Sunny and bright with a gentle breeze.

Being the overly cautious/semi-paranoid guy that I am, I soon noticed a guy about the age of fifty, drinking beer and chain-smoking on a bench a few hundred feet away. It was a strategic place to sit and drink as this particular bench was nestled under a huge tree obscuring the vision of passers-by. I was chasing Levi around for about an hour when he walked over to me and said: “Can I say something to you? I’ve been watching you and your son the whole time you’ve been here. If growing up I had had someone care about me as much as you obviously care about your son, I know that I would be in a very different place right now.” I was a little taken aback, but I thanked him for the sentiment and told him that we would be seeing him around the neighbourhood.

This brief conversation got me thinking about all kinds of things, but I was mainly contemplating the profound role parent’s play in shaping the intellectual and emotional development of their children, and how some people in this world have a much tougher road to travel.

 

Piglet

Levi hasn’t shown much of an interest in stuffed animals until recently. It seems to have coincided with his current propensity to want to give his parents and other family members lots of hugs too. I love his hugs, and from a lower back perspective it’s now a little easier to carry him long distances when he holds on tightly to my neck.

We’ve had Piglet sitting on the couch since before Levi was born. It seemed like a good idea to furnish the apartment with “kid stuff” when he was born but poor Piglet wasn’t getting much attention until today. If I remember the story of Piglet correctly, my great Aunt Margaret made him for me when I was a baby. He was my fave until I was five or so but he’s been sitting in my old closet collecting dust since the 70’s. What’s old is new again!

 

Little Kids/Big Kids

It’s so much fun to see kids in the park interacting with each other, especially when they are at different stages of development. Levi tried his best to keep up but it was no competition. They were bigger, faster and surprisingly louder! But he still had a great time playing with his neighbourhood friends. They cavorted until the sun went down and then some. He will sleep well tonight.

 

Old Friends

It’s hard to believe how quickly ten years can pass by. We went to visit Ben and Anja and their beautiful children in North Vancouver. Another old friend Birte’ was visiting from Germany so it was a real reunion. It was so wonderful to catch up and watch the children play together. It was a bit of a time warp. It kind of took me back to a different era. Life was good then. Life is good now.

 

Anacortes, Washington

The Little Man In The Van

It was another whirlwind weekend down to Washington State. Friday night we were back at the Watertown Pub in downtown Anacortes. I think it’s been nine or ten years since we played there last.  We worked our way through three long sets to an appreciative crowd, said our goodbyes and it was off to sleep at the cozy Anacortes Inn.

In the morning we checked out and had breakfast at a really cool diner/bowling alley. I guess the theory is that after you eat a stick to your ribs breakfast, you then burn it off bowling. After the diner, we headed on down to the Anacortes Arts Festival. There sure was a lot of art there, tent after tent after tent…Lots of interesting and quirky stuff. Unfortunately it was raining and a little cold so after five or six hours of wandering around I think we were all looking forward to playing.

A local band called Spoonshine played before us on the main stage. We’ve known the mandolin/guitar/singer Jacob for quite a few years. They were really rockin’ out with lots of awesome solos. Seeing as how Jacob had his stuff already set up, we invited him to sit in on mandolin.  It was really nice to hear the banjo, the fiddle and the mandolin playing together at the same time. It rained a little but everyone had a good time. Thanks to Tim Carey for filling in on bass and my two intrepid roadtrippers Amanda and Levi for making the trip extra fun!

 

 

Levi’s First Steps

Little man took his first long walk today at Trout Lake. One of my favourite places. I think he was inspired by the East Van peers he had been observing all day. So happy he walked when I wasn’t away. I’ve had the first verse of “Cat’s in the Cradle” churning through my head since the day he was born…

My child arrived just the other day,
He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away.
And he was talking ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew,
He’d say, “I’m gonna be like you, dad.
You know I’m gonna be like you.”

Harry Chapin

 

Levi

Open D Tuning

Levi really digs the open D with the capo on the 5th fret. It’s hard for him, or anyone really (just ask Dolly Parton) to go wrong.

Everything sounds somewhat melodic, or dissonant in a cool sitar-like way. Levi hits the guitar like a bongo, loves accidental harmonics and recently started strumming with a pick as I voice the chords. Although the pick usually ends up in his mouth…

I’m just happy he loves music!

 

Canada Day

Throughout the year most Canadians are fairly patriotic in an unassuming way, but on Canada day all of our nationalistic modesty goes out the window. On July 1st, the iconic maple leaf becomes a ubiquitous part of our landscape.

We headed out to Ladner to a community function at the restored Kirkland house. There was music and local dignitaries and three legged races and lots of family and friends. And raspberries. Levi loves raspberries! Happy 143rd Canada! You could easily pass for 140.

 

Ladner May Days

It’s a yearly tradition in Ladner that’s been going on for 100 years. It’s a carnival, a beer garden, a baseball tournament, a music concert and a parade all built into one. It’s an opportunity to see people from the old days to catch up, meet each others kids, talk about high school, see how everyone is aging…Good times!

 

Sunday Afternoons

While I have yet to leave the apartment, it’s been a great day so far. Spent the morning playing with Levi, cleaned the apartment, jogged three miles on the treadmill, had a hot shower, made a batch of my famous hummus and am currently sitting down with a piping hot cup of coffee watching the Czech Republic battle Russia for the Gold medal as mom and baby sleep soundly in the next room. If I can get a bike ride in, phone a friend and play some guitar I would consider this a perfect day in my world.

Levi Is One

And what a wonderful year it has been! It feels like he’s been here forever. A true joy to be around!

Some highlights:

– long walks together visiting parks and beaches

– travelling to Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec, Florida, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington

– visits to friends and family

– playing guitar and seeing his face light up

– seeing how happy he makes his mom

– observing his interactions with other children

– the way he expresses his emotions so purely

– the fact that after spending his first week in intensive care all signs indicate that

– his development is normal

– the progression towards walking from sitting up, to crawling to standing to…stay tuned

– plain and simple I just like being around him and I hope that he has a long happy life!

Levi's First Birthday Cake

 

 

Levi And The Piano

Now that Levi can stand on his own, it’s opened up a whole new world of possibilities. When not trying to meticulously perfect the subtleties of Chopin’s Nocturne in E flat major, he can often be found clearing his head with activities more suited to that of a toddler.

 

 

A Conversation with A Spry Man

Yesterday after Uncle Robert’s funeral, I got to talking with Edgar Dunning. Mr. Dunning is a well known Ladner resident who writes a weekly column for the local newspaper his family started in 1922. Coincidentally, the band stayed with his daughter Susie in Duncan on Vancouver island when we played the Vancouver Island Folk Festival several years ago. We “rambled” a little about this and that. One thing he mentioned was that on his passing, he would like an outdoor celebration at Memorial Park in Ladner with three bands. Ideally in late July or early August as if it were to be held after the P.N.E. starts, it would be guaranteed to rain! It’s true. It always seems to rain during the Pacific National Exhibition.

I hope Mr. Dunning is around a long time to share his stories and insight. After all, he’s had a fair bit of experience on the planet. That spry man sitting beside us is a hundred years old!

Mr.Dunning, Myself & Levi

 

Memorial Service

Today Amanda, Levi and myself went to the memorial service of my Great Uncle Robert. I wasn’t sure if we should bring the baby or not, but knowing how much he loved children it seemed like the right decision.

It was a moving ceremony in a big church that was packed to the rafters. Born and raised in Ladner, Robert lived a rich life dedicated to family, friends and farming.

I always enjoyed seeing him, generally out on the family farm on Westham Island in Ladner. He had a big smile and a wonderful sense of humour. He also reminded me a lot of his brother John, my Grandpa.

After some classic hymns and an emotional slideshow chronicling his life, two women got up to sing a final song. First they shared a touching story: On Uncle Roberts last day, the family had gathered together in his room at Delta Hospital. A music therapist later arrived to sing a few songs. When asked what he wanted to hear, Robert requested “You Are My Sunshine.” During the singing of that beautiful song he passed on.

Uncle Robert

 

Swiss Chard

One of the great things about my parents place is that they have a big back yard with a sizeable garden. Every year my dad has planted a garden that is generally quite abundant come harvest time. It’s so nice to pick your own fruits and vegetables. No pesticides. No trucking in from California and Mexico. No having to go to the store to shell out moola and make smalltalk with a grumpy clerk.

Owing to a mild winter, the Swiss Chard survived and prospered. And Swiss Chard happens to be Levi’s favourite food right now. So we picked some, steamed it up, pureed it and within half an hour it was in the little guys tummy!

 

 

Saturday Night At The Heltens

Old friend, confidante, best man, european back pack partner and occasional hand bag sporting, chief cook and bottle washing, butcher, baker, candlestick making, 99 cent pizza eating, longtime musical collaborator and all round great guy Conrad lives a little east of us near Trout Lake.1

He has three beautiful children and a beautiful wife and they all live in a beautiful house in Beautiful British Columbia.TM It’s a pleasant walk down 10th avenue along the bike path so we slowly made our way over. So fun to see the children interacting! I hope they are all friends for a long, long time.

1 Gratuitous run on sentence

 

Clumsy Lover Olympic Show

Shows close to home rock. That’s for sure. So much better than waking up at 4 a.m. to drive a thousand miles to the next show in Lincoln, Nebraska or some other faraway place.

The only problem I find is that it’s sometimes hard to go from the guy that just unloaded the dishwasher, changed a diaper, watered the plants…etc… to that other person that has made it his occupation to strum a guitar, shriek into a microphone, invent a weird dance while trying to sing from the heart at the same time. I generally find it easier when I’m removed from my normal life. The ten week tours we used to do sucked in many ways, but at least my focus was on the next gig.

But seeing so many old friends and family and enthusiastic strangers all gathered together in one place ensured I could wave goodbye to the pre-gig jitters and slip into the moment. It was effortless. Tonight, like most nights it was smooth and natural and it felt good to be a part of the awesome spectacle that is the Vancouver Olympics.

 

Levi Tackles The Stairs

I’ve spent a lot of time going up and down those stairs. We moved into that wonderful house when I was 9 days old as I recall. I remember it like it was yesterday…

Actually the first thing I can vividly picture in my mind was learning to ride my bike when I was 5. That was a good day. Still have the same bike. It’s only one gear with a coaster brake and my knees hit the handlebars with every pedal, but it gets me where I need to go.

Levi is fascinated by stairs as of late. Today he made a beeline for them so I decided to shadow him to see how far he would get. Considering he only officially crawled for the first time 2 weeks ago, I was a combination of worried and curious as he began his ascent…

 

Children And Their Toys

Levi has a wide variety of toys given to him by family and friends. He loves them all to varying degrees depending on the day. But he also loves things that just happen to be around the apartment-like a spatula!

I don’t think the children’s spatula market will overtake the empire that is Fisher Price anytime soon, but you never know.

 

The Olympics

Boy does the time fly!

It doesn’t seem like that long ago Vancouver was chosen to host the 2010 games. Feels like yesterday. I checked online and discovered otherwise…

“Vancouver won the bidding process to host the Olympics by a vote of The International Olympic Committee on July 2, 2003”

2003?

I’ve got the Letterman show on as I write and Dave just said that former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot his hunting partner 4 years ago this day in history!

Actually, that seems like much longer now that we are in the Obama era but you know what I mean…

A recurring image in my mind, among many others pertaining to time flying, is the clock that they have downtown counting down the days to the start of the Olympics. Kind of like the Guinness clock they have at every Irish bar in America counting down the days until the next St. Patrick’s Day.

The Olympic clock would get a casual mention every once in a while on the news and I would think to myself “1123 days away? Let me know when we are a few weeks out.” But here we are with midnight approaching, and the torch will arrive at BC Place Stadium (that I can see out my window) tomorrow afternoon.

It is exciting to be at home right now. Somewhat surreal to see Vancouver in the news worldwide. Reminds me of Expo 86, but this is obviously more historic.

The band has a show downtown at an awesome outdoor venue next week. I wish we were doing more, seeing as how the world only drops by every once in a while but people know how to get a hold of us. That’s the way it goes I guess.

If they were to hold the Olympics in Moscow Idaho, I guarantee you the phone would be ringing off the hook.

It is interesting to see how the local newscasts have shifted to full on Olympic mode. I haven’t heard of a home invasion, mugging, attempted robbery….for at least a week.

And that’s probably a good thing. While I like to know what’s going on in my neighbourhood, following the news really does bring me down. So negative, sensationalized and disturbing. We’ve been doing injustices to one another since the Cro-Magnon era. That fact is well established. Enough already.

So the Olympics have been a welcome relief from all that.

For sure the games are expensive. 6 billion and counting? Some argue the money the government forked out should have gone to obvious social problems here in Vancouver. Maybe so. And perhaps in the long run that money may well have been better spent in that regard. But having said that, there will be tremendous media and worldwide focus on Vancouver. Hopefully that awareness and some of the money coming into town eventually trickles down to those who are suffering as our government struggles to find a way to try to solve the longstanding “troubles” of homelessness and addiction in the Downtown Eastside that are currently being broadcast worldwide.

All that aside, it truly is a once in a lifetime experience. It was fun to take lil’ Levi to meet his grandparents at the torch relay in my hometown. I am looking forward to some of the events, especially hockey. Ovechkin is currently my favourite player by far, but Crosby will be in my thoughts and prayers for the next few weeks:)

Levi my son, I know you won’t remember any of this, but you have seen the Olympic torch!

 

Advice From An Old Man On Main Street

One of the things I enjoy most about being out and about with Levi is he serves to break down the social wall that normally exists between strangers. Almost everyone we encounter smiles or has something to say. We were sitting outdoors at a coffee shop when a sharply dressed old timer sporting  blue jeans, red cowboy boots, a western shirt and a bolo tie walked past us. He did a double-take then back tracked, greeted the baby and told me this: “I’m 81 years old, I’ve never seen a doctor and neither I or my children have ever had a cold. Here’s the secret- Every week give your child a teaspoon of honey with a crushed clove of garlic mixed in. And for yourself, every week chew 2 cloves of garlic very slowly using your back teeth as there is a gland back there that determines whether or not you are going to get a cold. And from time to time, have a teaspoon of butter, lemon juice and a crushed clove of garlic.” And with that, he was on his way. Maybe I’ll try it.

 

I Have Yet To Meet A Kid That Didn’t Like Watermelon

It’s been fun observing Levi’s reaction to different “big people” foods. The past few months we’ve been trying with limited success to get him to eat. But two weeks ago he got his first two little teeth and started going wild for all sorts of things. His favourite is currently steamed squash, followed by applesauce and cantaloupe. He’s also tried parsnips, yams, banana’s, beans…and today-WATERMELON!

 

A Nice Place To Think

I guess I’ve been spending time at Spanish Banks fairly regularly for the last twenty years since I moved to Vancouver from the suburbs. It’s a beautiful beach close to the UBC campus across from the forested University Endowment Lands. When I lived all those years in Kits, I could ride my bike to the beach in about ten minutes so I was here all the time-winter, spring summer and fall. Now we live further East so it’s more like every few weeks or so.

Considering how near the multitudes reside in a densely packed city, it’s always astounded me how few people are down here on a rainy day. I encountered less than fifty fellow Vancouverites.

It was intended to be a family outing, but Amanda and Levi fell asleep in the car on our way there so I took the opportunity to take a little “Trev” time. I don’t know if there’s a place on earth where the air could be any fresher. And so many choices of rocks, logs and benches to sit on. What a perfect place to clear ones head and put things in perspective. I sat on AJ’s memorial bench.

 

 

 

 

The 6 O’Clock News

Amanda and her friend Erin and their boys generally go to baby yoga every week at Commercial and 10th. It’s a beautiful walk along tree-lined streets past character houses built in the 1920’s. It’s a busy avenue for cyclists and pedestrians and is the best way to travel east to west through the city as cars are in the minority. I always give Amanda and the baby kisses before we part and I hope for their safety when they are out and about.

Well, today there was a yet another targeted shooting and a young man was killed in his car on that beautiful 10th Avenue I was telling you about…just moments before 2 women and their babies walked by. Generally it’s the intended victim who dies, but it is only a matter of time before a stray bullet hit’s an innocent bystander. Noticing Vancouver police searching yards with guns drawn, they crossed the street and made their way to yoga. When they came out an hour later, several blocks were behind yellow investigation tape and Amanda and Erin were swamped by reporters asking them if they had seen anything pertinent. They hadn’t, but when we turned on the nightly news, there was Amanda talking about the neighbourhood. Even Levi was surprised to see his mom on TV! Today on East 10th Avenue no innocent parties were harmed, but somewhere out there is a mom who will never hug her son again.

Vancouver/CKNW(AM980)

1/27/2010

A brazen daytime shooting has rocked a neighborhood in East Vancouver.

One man is dead, and police don’t have any suspects.

It happened shortly after one on East 10th near Woodlands.

Vancouver Police say an Asian man in his 20’s was driving his car when he was hit by bullets.

Constable Lindsay Houghton says, “We believe we know who the individual is…but we still need to positively identify him”

Houghton who says police are now asking neighbors for assistance in locating evidence.

As a precaution, a nearby school was locked down shortly after the shooting happened. This is Vancouver’s second homicide of the year.

Christmas

Such a good time to catch up with family and friends. Unlike last year, there wasn’t any snow on the ground but the temperature was below freezing. The weather was crisp and sunny so it felt seasonal. This year was extra special as it was Levi’s first Christmas!

We went to church on Christmas eve, then to a Christmas party at Doug and Maureen’s. Christmas day was at mom and dads. Good times! And having a baby around made it all that more special.

Party At Toms

We live at Kingsway and 11th. Tom and Jenise and their beautiful baby Joah live westward. We decided to walk.

It was refreshing and therapeutic for sure. It felt so seasonal to be walking to meet friends in the cold December air.

Carolling

There’s nothing like having a few friends over on a cold December night to make merry and sing a few carols. Most people like to sing when given the opportunity under the right circumstances and Christmas time is the right time to sing out loud and proud!

Levi’s Baptism

It’s been seven months since lil’ Levi was born. Today he was baptised at Ladner United Church amongst family and friends. I was baptised there way back in the late 60’s when Hey Jude and Mrs. Robinson were ruling the airwaves. That’s how way back when it was… It’s a cozy little church, about a hundred years old. My dad has reel to reel tapes of me singing there when I was four or five. I’ve probably been there a thousand times or so for Sunday services, Easter, Christmas and plenty of weddings and funerals too. Like a lot of people, I only tend to get to church now and again but I’m always happy afterwards that I made the effort. December 13th, 2009: The day Levi was baptised on a snowy morning in Ladner.

Sunny December Stroll

There’s really nothing more pleasant than a stroll on a sunny day. Vancouver has a lot of rainy days so it’s in one’s best interest to take advantage of the sun when it eventually does come out. We started out on Commercial Drive and had a nice breakfast at Cafe Deux Soleils. Yes, it was vegan:) Next stop was Trout Lake: The jewel of East Van. It’s a great lake to walk around and take in a nice view of the mountains. Then it was back to Main Street to meet friends at The Reef on the balcony.

We usually choose to sit on the balcony if it’s not too busy so Levi can make lots of noise if he wants to. But he’s generally pretty quiet and content when he’s in the stroller. Good times! Awesome day!

To Paraphrase Sir Mixelot, Baby’s Got Croup

I’ve heard other parents talk about Croup in the past but like most guys without kids I never really payed much attention. In fact I would have figured it was spelled Kroup. It sounds Germanic to my ear. But when your little baby seems to be having a hard time breathing and is coughing like a 4 pack a day smoker, one is compelled to have him immediately looked at by health care professionals. We took him down to Children’s hospital at about midnight in the pouring rain. It was interesting to be back there again. It’s already been six months since he was born there last spring and I couldn’t help but think of all the wonderful doctors and nurses that helped him into the world. Our world! I don’t envy anyone working the night shift. They do great work and most manage to keep a smile on their face.

The emergency ward was packed full of other paranoid parents with their sick children. It made sense as we are in the middle of a flu pandemic. Levi didn’t have a fever so we were pretty sure that it wasn’t the H1N1 virus. It turns out as we suspected, that it was in fact Croup. If it had been a worse case they would have administered medication, but it didn’t seem to warrant that kind of attention so they sent us home around 4 a.m asking us to come back if it continued to get worse.

Within a few days the cough had diminished and he was back to his usual smiling self!

A Trip To Ladner

It’s always nice to leave the city for the little town of Ladner where I grew up and where my parents still live. It takes about a half hour or so to get there depending on the traffic. Amanda and baby Levi were along for the visit too. My parents are always overjoyed to see the baby. He was his usual super cute self! It was a beautiful September day so we spent some time in the garden eating raspberries and the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever tasted off the vine. Mom and Dad are always happy to watch Levi so Amanda and I went to see the movie Julie and Julia. We really enjoyed it, especially the images of Paris and New York. The cuteness of Amy Adams and the acting skills of Miss Streep didn’t hurt either…And I was inspired to start this blog and finally get my little website going. We picked up a beautiful sleeping baby on our way home and headed back into the city.