Sunday, 9 December 2012


This is a picture Kate made by tracing her hand and her Daddy's, then colouring them in and writing our names in them. It is quite the privilege to be her Daddy! Although:

Some days go by so slowly when I'm home with Kate and her brother--especially when one of them is tired and they start to fight. It's like waiting for molasses to come out of the carton (not that I do that very often)...waiting for Michelle to come home from school to help me deal with the fallout. But other days go well. Now we re-enter the 2 year old stage with Malachi, as Kate continues to spread her little wings and slowly train to fly. Empty nesting is only 16 years away!

(I've been told many times that "they grow up so fast." This is usually followed by the qualifier, "it doesn't seem like it at the time, but it really does go by fast." While I believe this must be true, I'll wait until they're grown up to make this advice my own.)

As an update to my previous post about S.A.D., I have been feeling much better lately. My lousy mood only lasted for a few days, and then lifted. It then came back a few weeks later for a day or two. I happened to have a doctor's appointment around then and according to his quick test I had a mild case of the blues--not clinically depressed. But he gave me a tool to look at for help; it is called the Antidepressant Skills Workbook. So it's something to keep in mind should I need it. Interestingly enough, neither my N.D. or my M.D. mentioned light therapy, although they both checked to make sure I was getting enough Vitamin D.

Thursday, 15 November 2012


I felt sad today. So much so that I shared my feelings with a few people, noting that it might be Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.), a result of being cooped up inside for most of the week, lots of rain/no sun, not getting much exercise, etc. I had forgotten the physical feeling that accompanies this--it is hard to describe to someone who hasn't experience depression, but it's a heaviness somewhere in the stomach. Anyway, if it doesn't clear up soon, I'll do something about it--or I won't, because I won't feel like's a bit insidious that way.

I went to Prayer Night at church tonight--that always helps lift my spirits on the best or worst of days.

...which reminds me, there has been lots going on at church lately, and more to come, especially with Christmas coming. That may be part of my problem--too much to do. Where's the Grinch when you need him, anyway??!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Kate People

Kate started drawing 'people' a few months ago. I think they are so funny and cool. Lately they are getting hands, feet, fingers, more hairs, etc. But the crooked smiles and big eyes are definitely fuzzy-feeling inducers.

Maybe one day she will be a great artist, just as I once aspired to be. I never made it past Graphics 12, though.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

October Happenings

Things are going well heading into mid-October. The last month and a half have been quite busy with Michelle's school stuff (busier than usual for September even), which has kept me at home with the kids a lot, on some late nights, mostly. But in-between I've managed to do a thing or two, such as:

-finish up the kitchen, notably with some tiling:

-modify a used bike trailer we bought at the thrift store to be towed by my bike (it was missing quite a few parts). I have used it twice to take Kate to preschool; however it's hard on Malachi as this happens during his nap time and by the end of the pick-up trip he doesn't want to be in there anymore. So I'm not sure how much more use it will get.

-discover how to 'right click' the mouse on a mac laptop. I knew you could press ctrl-click or whatever, but I didn't know you could just hold the click button down a bit longer.

-teach a few junior high sunday school classes. Absolute Chaos! --but not the whole time. There's been a few good, teachable moments every week.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Solid Surface Renos 8

Note: this is the last post in a series of countertop renovations. See #1 for the beginning and work your way backwards from there. :)

I placed the big sink piece and it fit pretty good. I think I had to scribe a little bit, but not much. Then I placed the other half on top and glued it together.

After sanding the site seam, I hooked up the taps and eventually got the plumbing sorted out too. I had a small leak but some plumbers putty seemed to fix it up!

After a week or two I got around to making the other corner piece. It is made out of four little sink cutouts, and I ran out of colour-matched seamkit so there's a couple of black lines where the seams are. Oh well, it's usually covered with stuff anyway!

Done at last! ...except for some painting and tiling. Oh, and the bar under the windowsill... :) I'm happy with it, it's looking good!

Solid Surface Renos 7

Finally starting to look like something...

I disconnected the old sink, including the garburator. (I made sure the new sink would line up so I wouldn't have to change the drain pipes. It's 1 inch deeper but still fits as the countertop itself is a bit higher.)

Time to take out the old tops! There's a few screws from below.

Routering the drain board with a half-moon type router bit. I shimmed up the straightedge on one end to make a trench that gets deeper towards the sink, helping the water drain away from the countertop.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Solid Surface Renos 6

Profiling the front edges with a quarter inch radius router bit.

Profiling from another angle.

Attaching the sink with silicone, clamps.

Applying build-up and batten strips (to support the many seams).

Front edge, plywood build-up, batten strips (bottom of countertop).

Solid Surface Renos 5

The first few seams. Notice the clamp, spray can and measuring tape--those are strategically placed as weights to make the seams level.

Checking the size so far with my cardboard template.

A mirror seam in progress. The straight router bit takes a sixteenth off of each side, leaving a perfect seam even if my straightedge isn't perfect (it's a little warped).

The main countertop, all one piece now.

I had to cut a big piece off one end to fit the whole top in the elevator; it would be seamed back together in my kitchen. It hurt to cut it apart though! I also cut my sink hole using a plywood template that I drew out using the actual sink basins as a guide.

Solid Surface Renos 4

Should I use the original 8 inch sink or go with a free undermount 9 inch with minimal damage? I decided to go with the new one. I could have undermounted the old one but it's a bit more work.

I laid the sink cutouts over the template to try to figure out where I would put the seams. It's not easy with this shape of countertop!

Sink Cutouts. Corian Maui.

I headed downstairs to the workshop. It's a concrete bunker/bike storage, but it works. I used a skil saw and a plywood straightedge to make my rough cuts. I have a triple chip (melamine) blade that cuts nicely.

Here is a seam that is drying. In the middle is colour-matched seamkit (epoxy). The two pieces being joined are placed on a perfectly level surface and held together with masking tape stretched over blocks. It actually works pretty well. Later the excess glue is belt-sanded away along with any high spots.

Solid Surface Renos 3

Using a hammer to break the old backsplash apart, for templating purposes. No turning back now!

Surprise! Behind the backsplash under the bar was a laminated piece that matched the tops. To be tiled over later.

Using a big piece of cardboard to make a template. I cut around the taps so that I could use the sink until the last minute possible.

A beautiful template. Much more practical to use than measurements and angles.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Solid Surface Renos 2

Back of the mitre in original countertop, where raised bar (windowsill) joined up. Nicely done.

Side view of above bar.

Drain rack and nasty rubber drain board.

Nasty drain board continued. To be replaced by trenches in the countertop itself.

Original countertop over dishwasher. Plan taped to wall.

Solid Surface Renovations 1

So, following is a pictoral review of my recent re&re job. I replaced laminate covetop with solid surface for cheap (but lots of labour hours). At work we did an apartment building a few years back with solid surface, and I saved the sink cutouts. You will see how I seamed them together to make some nice tops!

Here's the solid surface kitchen table I made a few years ago with the same method. It is made of about 8 or 9 sink cutouts. It has been a great surface for eating, especially with kids--foodsafe and easy to clean. I wanted to match the rest of the kitchen, partly for future sale of our condo.

The original countertops (covered with stuff!)

The original top mount sink.

The original countertops, cleaned off.

Mitre joint in the covetop near the sink. It doesn't look too bad but has opened up a bit/swelled up as mitres near sinks tend to do over time, since water makes the particle board under the laminate swell up. I'm guessing that these are 16 years old, but they may be newer.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Compa Knee's Crowd

Well, you faithful followers may remember my frustration regarding my daughter's fears and my hope that adding company would ease the sleep situation. And, joy, my hopes have been partially realized with some help from her mother's wisdom. We moved Malachi into Kate's room a few weeks ago, and they adjusted quite quickly and it's been going okay. Things can get a little bit hairy at bedtime when one or the other is ready to sleep and one is not, and bedtime routines have gotten conglomerated or otherwise watered down, but overall it's working. Kate is even sleeping with the light off when Malachi is in his nearby crib! And we have our room to ourselves again and I don't have to tiptoe past my sleeping toddler at strange hours and hope that he doesn't wake up and see me!

On another vein my batching week went well, other than the fact that I worked every spare waking minute on my kitchen countertops and still didn't quite get the sink hooked up by the time my family returned. But the main piece is in and working and looks pretty good (if I do say so myself!). Now there remains a small piece where the phone sits, and a long bar under the windowsill, but those can be done in good time. Also there is a bit of tiling to do (to replace the backsplash). I have not done any tiling before, but I have two people who have volunteered to help me out, so that is good! In the near future I will post some pictures of the countertop in fabrication for anybody who is interested in the inner workings of the solid surface industry (trade secrets!).

Friday, 6 July 2012

Scared of a Fly

My daughter is scared of a fly. Literally. She's also scared of shadows, the dark, random noises, empty spaces, you name it. If she has company, she seems to be okay. Which is why we might have to move our son into her room at night: although they might wake each other up more at night, Kate might actually sleep better! And, our little guy would be out of our closet. :)

A project I've been working on for a long time has been to build the kids beds. Michelle and I have designed them to be bunk beds, with the top one perpendicular to the bottom one (covering the foot of the bed) and being supported by a custom set of drawers, with some stair-drawers ascending up the end. So far I've only built the bottom bed, which Kate has been using for quite some time. It's hard to make time to be away from the kids and the wife to go to the basement and work by myself; another project I want to finish is the kitchen countertops in solid surface, but that is also quite time-consuming. I'm looking forward to a break from family life when Michelle takes the kids to see Grandma and Grandpa on the farm for a week. Though I will be working lots, I'm hoping to have the energy to do the countertops start to finish. Then I can focus on the beds. In the meantime, Malachi's crib converts to a toddler bed. So all we have to do is move him. Will that fix Kate's fears? I don't know. Hope it helps!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Berry Time

For the first time this year, I noticed some blackberry bush flowers as I rode my bicycle home from work today. As I pondered the changing of the seasons and the significance they may have on my little life, my eye caught a glimpse of bright red. There were ripe berries on the bushes! But they are the thimble/salmon berry type. I like them, they are a bit seedy and not too sweet, but good...and these were at their best, even a bit juicy. Yay!

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Too Many Beans

Okay, okay, I didn't eat too many beans, as the title of this post may have suggested to you. I just couldn't think of a title. And although the two Jumping Beans pictured above are quite rambunctious, there are not too many of them. Two is just right!

It's been a quiet evening in our household tonight; the kids went to bed with a fuss and a bath and a bang and then were asleep; the wife went to dance some Zumba with a friend, and I stayed home and quietly played Settlers online, then listened to some music. I am enjoying the current PRAISE contest called the Local Music Search. Anyone can submit a song (CCM) and twelve are chosen for listeners to vote for, and the winner wins a bunch of stuff including opening for Starfield at our local summer fair. So far 8 of the 12 entries have been revealed and I am not one of them (yet--keep hope alive!). But they are all great songs to listen to and good for drawing me closer to God. As for the song I submitted--well, after I heard about the contest, I wrote the lyrics, then the next day some music, then the next day recorded the tracks, and the last day, mixed and mastered it. So it was a quick process, not as polished as it could have been, but I feel good about it--that it is original and speaks about where my heart is at.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

I read Job 21 today.

Job complains about how the wicked live the 'good life.' Given his present state of bitterness, he is obviously generalizing...but maybe he's on to something. The wicked live, are blessed, die. Done. Short and sweet. The righteous, on the other hand, have Troubles. Why?

I wonder if the answer has been staring me in the face for the last few years. Perhaps it's truly because "God disciplines his sons." (Proverbs 3:11-12) The righteous person has a desire to know God--to be just and compassionate, to do "right." (see Jeremiah 22:15b-16) God honours this desire and teaches this person with a measure of Discipline. It's painful at the time but worth it in the long run (Hebrews 12:11). I don't know about you, but I learn best from my mistakes and painful experiences, not from taking notes in a class. The righteous person sees the big picture: his impact on earth as well as the endless sea of eternity to come.

Job went through huge pain and somehow came through it--not blameless, but having met God. I went through a small trial of my own with my health (see my early blog posts for more). I wonder how much wisdom I have retained through my ordeal. I am glad for the experience of being broken, as much as I hated it. I trust that is a 'righteous' response.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Tapwater Duckies

During tonight's Kate-brushing-teeth saga, I noticed an artsy shot through the water of the tap. I could see a ducky in the water, as shown (click on the middle of the photo for high-def).

Here's the same shot with the focus on the actual duck.

I know. So interesting. Ah well. It's a matter of perspective.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Busy Week

Sunday Michelle got sick. Malachi got sick. Taught Sunday School. Didn't get much sleep.
Monday I stayed home to help out the sickies. Didn't get much sleep.
Tuesday I went to work. Got some sleep.
Wednesday I got sick. Dragged myself through the workday. Barely survived. Took 2 ibuprofen after supper, felt 100% better.
Thursday felt okay. Installed Paperstone countertops in North Vancouver.
Friday felt okay, improving.
Saturday felt better. Picked up a few thousand chestnuts from a church friend's backyard. Went shopping by myself at Superstore with both kids in the shopping cart. Had a double date with wife and friends, saw The Importance of Being Earnest at Gallery 7.
Sunday felt good. Led worship at church. Taught Sunday School. Hosted Care Group. Returned call from friend who had left 5 or 6 messages since Thursday.
Things are looking up! :)

Sunday, 11 March 2012

A Poem

It is not yet a respectable hour
Outside, the clouds pour down the usual suspect
Dim, oblong windows flit across the ceiling
Occasional headlights swimming in Peardonville Road
The Advil-filled furnace on my chest breathes quickly
Time to carry him back to bed.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Simple Meal Day

See previous post for a description of my "refugee meal." Today was the day.

7am Ate 3/4 cup of cooked rice with a little bit of oil for breakfast.
7:30 Started cooking rest of rice and beans. Feel hungry already.
9am 1/2 cup of rice for snack. Feel good. Beans almost cooked. Deterred Kate from eating my rice.
11:10am Lunch: about 1 cup of rice and half of the precious beans with some oil and salt. Lots of rice left. I gave 1/2 cup of my rice to an insistent Kate. She mixed it with mustard and ranch dressing, then barely ate 3 bites.
1:30 snack: rice and oil; have been feeling fine, though a bit hungry/weak.
3:30 snack: a little bit of rice
5pm Supper: rice and the rest of the beans and oil. Fairly filling.
7pm snacked on the last of the rice. It went fast when there was nothing left to eat!

The day went fine. Other than feeling a little bit hungry, I felt good. I also felt a bit sleepy/tired around 3:00pm, likely from not having the protein that I'm used to (it's a bit of a familiar feeling from my regular eating troubles). I stayed home all day except for a good walk to Safeway and back, pushing both kids in the double stroller--it was decent exercise. The day was not too stressful other than dealing with some whiny kids.

I cooked the rice for about 25 minutes; the beans had soaked overnight so were boiled for 10 minutes and then simmered for an hour. The proportion of rice to beans is what surprised me the most. There is enough food for someone to live on, no question there. It seemed like too much rice, but when I saw how few beans there were to eat, and how quickly the oil disappeared, I was glad to eat the extra rice. While I felt a bit hungry all day, I'm sure after a few days my stomach would adjust.

I missed eating fruits and vegetables (nutrients). I missed snacking on things--I drank water instead. What must it be like for a refugee who has travelled for days or months from their home, lost everything (including, perhaps, some family members), and is malnourished, to receive a ration of rice and beans and oil from an organization such as Canadian Foodgrains Bank? I think it must be excellent. But I will gratefully continue to eat my many nutritious foods. I will eat rice and beans once or twice a month to remember what a good portion of the world eats every day.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Andy's Refugee Camp

Welcome to Andy's Refugee Camp. Here you are safe from the unrest of your own country. You can stay here as long as you need. Thanks to some generous donors you will be given some daily rations to cook and consume at your leisure. You will also be provided with potable water for cooking and drinking. (It is Clearbrook Waterworks water: one of the best!)

The Winter 2012 issue of a Common Place has a sidebar in their piece about the famine in East Africa that was very interesting to me. There is a picture of an average daily ration at a refugee camp. It is the same picture as shown above and is provided by the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. See for the original piece.
I wanted to try their suggestion of eating a similar meal for a day in solidarity of those suffering from drought and hunger. However, I don't have a scale so I had to use Google to find some conversion sites, in order to figure out how much 50 grams of beans is, etc. I put 1 1/2 cups of dry brown rice in a bag and weighed it on my bathroom scale and it was approximately 1 pound (450 grams). 2 cups may be more accurate, but I'll pretend I got shafted in the daily provisions. 50 grams of dry beans is about 1/4 cup, so you see some kidney beans in a measuring cup, and 50 grams of canola oil is 3 3/4 tablespoons. I decided to salt to taste but I doubt I'll use 5 grams of salt.

As I figured out the measure-ments, I snacked on frozen berries and chocolate chips. I think I am going to try this tomorrow. Too bad I just baked rye bread today! (I used to fast on occasion before my hypoglycemia issues; I found that I was always offered free food at the most inconvenient times!) Complicating this is the fact that we are going to Arizona the next day so I'll be furiously attempting to pack myself and otherwise prepare for our early morning departure including 2 munchkins. I'm already wondering how I will fare with my regular diet while traveling...but anyway, this is just for a day, and I am home from work so won't need too much extra energy. I soaked the beans tonight and will cook them tomorrow. It looks like there will be plenty of rice for me, but the beans and oil will have to be spread out a bit. Why don't they give the refugees a bit more protein and a bit less carbs? Maybe I'll find out tomorrow!!!

Stay posted for the results of my refugee-ing. If I don't post ever again, you'll know that it...didn't work out.