Tag - family


We took the Canadian Thanksgiving off and went down the Oregon coast after spending some time at the Great Wolf Lodge in Centralia, Washington.

Here are a few of the pictures:

Every kid's dream: Aidan is a Canuck

We are all Canucks.

Last night, my son Aidan lived that in a very special way. He was selected to join the Vancouver Canucks for the pre-game skate and the national anthems for one of the biggest games in Canucks history: game 7 of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks.

This is his story …

Getting ready to leave
We pack up Aidan’s gear and stick in the car and head out to downtown Vancouver:
Ready to go!

We arrive at Roger’s Arena in Vancouver
There's Roger's Arena, under the Skytrain

It’s a party in Vancouver, but we don’t like dark birds of prey

We chill for a bit at Blenz with a cup of hot chocolate
Chilling @ Blenz with a hot chocolate

And then Aidan gets his face painted at the CBC’s offices

We get a pic with Peter Puck at the CBC
With Peter Puck by the CBC

We go in to the Canuck’s offices – gate 16
Going in Gate 16 ...

Aidan chills by playing some hockey at gate 16 and hits me with a “puck”

In the hall of heroes
Ready for the game, waiting in the Canuck's offices

We go down to ice level at Rogers Arena – it’s the calm before the storm
The calm before the storm

Aidan makes a new friend – a son of one of the Canucks’ coaches:

The Canucks come out for the pre-game skate – Burrows flips a puck over the glass for Aidan
Burrows digs it out

The pre-game action heats up:

Lu makes some sick saves:

Aidan is all eyes
Aidan watching ice heroes

Here’s the puck that Alexandre Burrows flicked over the glass to Aidan
Burrows shot me a puck!

Time to get suited up for the pre-game skate and national anthem
Getting dressed

Backstage at Rogers Arena – Aidan gets final instructions

We get a pic taken by the Canucks’ logo
Aidan and me by the Canuck's dressing room

Aidan skates out with Lu and the rest of the Vancouver Canucks

Aidan with the starting line-up for the national anthems

The whole crowd joins in singing the Canadian national anthem

Afterwards, Aidan changes out of his hockey gear and we head to our seats
In our seats after changing ...

The crowd goes nuts with our Roger Neilson towels
Canucks fans celebrate

The game is unbelievably awesome – one of the best in Canucks’ history

We check out the merch during the second intermission
Checking the shwag ...

Canpages (my company) shows on the scoreboard at center ice
Canpages on the scoreboard!

The Canucks win in overtime and Rogers Arena ERUPTS

The shake of shame for the Blackhawks, led by Jonathan Toews
The shake of shame (for the Hawks!)

A friendly fellow fan takes a shot of the historic game 7 overtime winning moment
A celebratory pic after the Canucks win

The celebration continues outdoors

Some random guy puts Aidan on his shoulders as we walk down West Georgia
The victory parade outside Roger's Arena

5 minutes after getting in the car … one tired Canuck
One tired Canuck

. . .
. . .

We had a wonderful time. Thanks Canucks for a great opportunity and a great game! Thanks Vancouver for such a fun and exciting and safe celebration after the game!

Here’s to the next round: Nashville here we come.

Ubuntu Linux as a computing appliance

I have a lot of PCs in my house. No, I mean a LOT.

As a result of building software, testing, working with PC manufacturing partners, and owning personal computers, I have no fewer than 19 laptops, desktops, and netbooks in my home. Which prompts a number of problems … not least of which is “Daddy, can I have one?”

So a couple of weeks ago I took two netbooks that I received from Disney when working on the Disney Netpal project and slapped Ubuntu Linux, netbook edition, on them. And gave them to my daughter (14) and older son (10) … and sat back and watched.

The results have been unbelievable.

Sure, they’ve found and used the games. But they’ve also discovered how to install new software via Ubuntu’s Software Center. And the results are amazing. My daughter has downloaded the GIMP, and is playing with making, mixing, and editing images. My son is downloading games and other applications. They’re changing the desktop images, customizing their machines, and having a lot of fun.

The most fascinating thing for me, however, and the key to their whole computing experience is in how iPad-like Ubuntu can be. Think of iPad. Simple, tap, download, use, right? How could it get easier? That is almost exactly how my kids are using Ubuntu.

Of course, Ubuntu is a full all-purpose operating system with a user-accessible filesystem and all the grotty power of Linux, if you choose to go there. But on the surface, using it like a waterstrider bug walking on water … these kids are installing applications, creating documents, customizing their computers, and more. And if you ever tried to install the GIMP 5-6 years ago, that’s quite an accomplishment.

The OOBE (out of the box experience) of Ubuntu is impressive. Right from the desktop, it’s completely usable. With zero instruction, my kids were able to find games, open folders, use all their programs, and get new ones. That’s all enabled by a shell that basically displays all the computer’s functionality in an easily explorable way.

Here are my kids’ desktops:

I’m pretty impressed with Ubuntu … even for kids.

Google "safesearch" isn't very

I’ve been looking for safe search options lately – both professionally and as a father. Since Google is the leading search engine, it’s one place you need to check.

Google’s SafeSearch feature is supposed to cleanse search results of adult content. As the Google blog recently commented:

When you’re searching on Google, we think you should have the choice to keep adult content out of your search results. That’s why we developed SafeSearch, a feature that lets you filter sexually explicit web sites and images from your search results.

They do admit that no filter is 100% accurate and safe … but I expected better than this:


The very spot where World War II ended

It’s been tough re-adjusting to normal life after our Hawaii trip.

This morning was cold, wet, and punctuated by the arrival of 200+ stampeding emails flooding my work in-box. Ah well … it was great while it lasted.

Every so often, I’m going to post pictures of what we did and saw in Hawaii … and here’s the first one. It’s a photo I took on the deck of the USS Missouri, the ship on which General Douglas MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender in Tokyo bay. This was the surrender that formally ended World War II.

And here’s the exact spot it happened:

The Missouri is now docked in Pearl Harbor, overlooking the last resting place of the USS Arizona. Ironically, that’s where the WWII began for America, when Japan launched a surprise attack on December 7, 1941, the “date that will live in infamy.”

Growing up online

I watched a re-broadcast of Growing Up Online tonight. This is an excellent, nuanced treatment of issues with kids online, including cyber-bullying and online predators.

This chapter on Ryan Halligan rips at my heart:

My daughter Gabrielle is in middle school as well, and the thought of her being attacked online is difficult to think of. I’m glad our computers are in public places, and I think she’s a smart kid who knows what’s right and wrong, and knows how to take care of herself … but social pressure is intense at this age. It’s something we’ll have to discuss – perhaps after watching that chapter together.

On a brighter note, it was neat to see danah boyd on the show (in other chapters) supplying some good insight on what’s going on in kid’s online worlds … which essentially, are their worlds.

iPhone family

We went to my sister’s place yesterday where we were having a family party for my nephew Jacob, who was turning 14. The place was lousy with iPhones.

  • I had one.
  • My sister Maria had one.
  • Her daughter Megan had one.
  • My sister Renee had one.
  • Her husband Jeroen had one.

Naturally, since I’m the technical one in the family, I was immediately pressed into duty helping everyone figure out everything they wanted to know about how to use their iPhone. But it was fun.

You know something is going mainstream when suddenly your entire family starts buying it …

It's perfectly illegal

I just let the kids watch Gever Tulley’s video 5 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kid Do. One of them is driving your car.

Immediately Aidan, our 5 year old, asked if he could drive my car tomorrow. I said no, maybe on Saturday, though. Right away he went off to Teresa and told her that Daddy had said that he could drive the car on Saturday.

When that statement was greeted with a somewhat strained silence, he added with great assurance: “it’s perfectly illegal!”

Here’s the video. Enjoy!

[ update August 21 ]

So I did it – I let Aidan (5) and Ethan (8) drive my Mini. Kind of gave my heart a good workout.

I found a nice parking lot, let them sit in the driver’s seat (I actually had to sit behind them) and drive the car. Ethan freaked me out when he pushed the gas pedal hard, but fortunately we were still in Park. Of course, they loved it, and maybe we’ll try it again sometime … in a decade or so.

Chocolate bunny

Chocolate bunny

Originally uploaded by johnkoetsier

Aidan recently entered a coloring contest at a local store.

The prize was a 5 kilogram chocolate Easter bunny, and Aidan was 100% sure he was going to win.

Sure enough, on Friday last week we got a call from the store. Aidan, Ethan, and I went down and picked up the bunny, which is bigger than Aidan.

As soon as I saw it, I was thinking … hmm … probably from China, the chocolate probably tastes like wax. Actually, it was made in Montreal, and the chocolate – while not exactly gourmet – is not bad at all.

Good thing it’s hollow, but I still have no clue how we’re going to eat it all!

Non-chocolate bunnyHere’s a shot of him actually inside the box …

Now the question is: what on earth are we going to do with 5 kilograms of milk chocolate?

Anybody want some chocolate, cheap?

Ethan's bad jersey

Ethan (my 8-year-old son) has made a jersey that he’s selling for big bucks on Cafepress.


ethan’s t-shirt

It can be yours for a mere $18.99 – $5 of which is Ethan’s profit. Hopefully there will be no pyrotechnical antics in Ethan’s future … at least until he’s grown and out of the house!



Originally uploaded by johnkoetsier

My daughter Gabrielle won her school’s spelling bee this past week Thursday.

I was in Winnipeg for a quick business trip, but my wife Teresa took pictures and our son Aidan (4) took video.

The really cool thing beyond Gabrielle winning is that she’s in the lowest grade of middle school right now, so she beat out kids not only in grade 6, her grade, but also grades 7 and 8.

Her prize was the Ripley’s Believe it or Not book in her hand, and in March she may go to the regional spelling bee in Vancouver’s Orpheum.

Congratulations, Gabrielle!

Unbelievably busy

Well, I haven’t gotten around to doing anything at all on my new combined blog in the past week or so.  Part of the problem is the new job and the tremendous workload as I transition out of the old and squeeze into the new. Another part is the two courses I’m taking for my masters program. (That was a huge mistake: two courses plus a full-time demanding job plus a family plus some friends equals absolutely no time for numero uno.) I’m looking forward to December, because on December 1 I will have (God willing) completely all my papers and assignments for my courses, and I’ll be able to slow down a bit. I just submitted my last assignment for ETEC 522 – a education venture capital course – last night at midnight … and I have one last paper due for my ETEC 511.

It’s a 3000-word paper, though, so it’s not a minor project. Such is life: intentional imbalance for short periods of time to accomplish set goals. But I hope to regain some semblance of balance soon! 

The Weird Family

(This is a story by my son Ethan, who is 8 years old.)Chapter 1Once upon a time there was a boy who loved to swing.One day he swung so high that he slipped of and flew though the air! Then a peregrine falcon stuck him down flying the fastest he could! He fell and fell until he fell into a lake! The lake lead to a river. A current swept him into the river. The river carried him from the lake to a swing. He swung on the swing and jumped off! But just as he jumped off he realized that he was just at his house! (He had gone around the Earth in one hour!)Now he was flapping his arms but that just made him faster because his name is Fly, he is four (But very good at swinging.),and he is one pound! Now because he hadn’t got hit he was up in space orbiting the Earth! His Mom was geting worried now. Just as he thought he was going to get dehydrated halley’s comet blasted him back to Earth! (He was saved!) He landed on his swing and it broke. Yahow he yelled! Because ofcorse he didn’t like swinging anymore.Chapter 2Fly’s parents got divorced because Fly broke the swing that his worked hard for. His Mom stayed but his Dad didn’t. Fly’s new Dad had very long arms so he needed to get to work on a weird bike because it was to much work in a car. His new Dad didn’t like to get to work on a bike because he got to tired. So they decided to make a car that he could drive to work but it cost 987’000’000 dolars! But he still bought it anyway! And that’s when they became poor! But he got more money because he got in the guienss book of world records!Chapter 3Fly’s parents had a baby girl that was not ordinary. It was born with teeth, hair and size two feet. Soon in three months the baby had lost a tooth, had long hair and was walking! When it was in preschool she knew what ninetyeight x sevendysix equals! (It equals 7,448.)So she had to skip a grade but she was still to smart so she needed to skip another grade. But she was still too smart so she needed to skip another grade! And another and another and another and another and another and another and another and another and another and another until it was time to go to College! But she was still to smart so she had to go to universery and that’s just right for her even though people laugh at her for being so smallTHE END– by Ethan Koetsier

How to blow one balloon inside another

Ethan’s instructions:

1. Blow both balloons up first (to stretch the balloons)
2. Let the air out of both
3. Blow up the balloon that’s supposed to be bigger (on the outside)
4. While holding the outside balloon put the other balloon inside it
5. Blow up the inside balloon6. Blow up the outside balloon just a bit more
7. Tie them both


Skookumchuck Rapids

We’re currently on BC’s Sunshine Coast taking a week’s holiday. A couple of days ago we took a two-hour hike to Skookumchuck Narrows, which is where the tidal flow into a huge basin is constricted through a narrow passage and can exceed 30 km/hr.

Really cool rapids and standing waves … which the kayakers enjoy:

Fun with photobooth

Ethan and Aidan were playing around with Photobooth, Apple’s fun picture-taking software that accompanies the newer iMacs and MacBooks with built-in cameras.

A couple of the results:


And one that they liked better:


The painting you see in the back? It’s Jeroen Vermeulen‘s … their uncle (and my brother-in-law).

[tags] ethan, aidan, john koetsier, family, pix, photo [/tags]

Summer Holidays

(a poem by Gabrielle Koetsier, age 10)

Children sitting, solemn, silent.
Bell rings! Screaming, yelling, violent!
Running, rushing, up the stairs.
“Children, wait!” nobody cares.
School’s out! It’s summer! Time to play!
No more teachers! Run away!
We are going to the pool.
Perfect way to keep us cool.
Let’s go buy some lemonade!
We will drink it in the shade.
Our skin is brown, our feet are bare.
And we are free without a care.
Playing, laughing, summer days,
We’re on summer holidays!

(I typed it all out by myself too!)

Easter egg clues …

This past Easter we, naturally, had an easter egg hunt. Each of the kids had a chance to hide the eggs and let the others find them.

And Gabrielle, being the creative girl she is, had to make it more interesting … with clues. Here they are …

Hrm …. in the library?




This doesn’t sound too good for chocolate ….


OK, this one’s easy:


But I’m not sure I want to eat this egg:


[tags] easter, eggs, hunt, fun, kids, pictures, john koetsier, gabrielle [/tags]

delicious and nutritious

I love well-constructed and vivid language. Here’s a snippet I ran across today that inspired some memories:

A few years back, I was struggling to liberate a new Barbie doll from the almost invincible packaging that imprisoned her …

(Seen in an email newsletter from Character Counts … written by Michael Josephson.)

A day at Mount Baker

I took the day off today and we spent the day at Mount Baker. Tubing, playing, feeding the birds … absolutely gorgeous:


Here’s a short video that I took while tubing … following Gabrielle down the hill:

[tags] mount baker, tubing, john koetsier [/tags]

Opa’s last happy birthday message

Teresa’s grandfather’s last message … we left it on our answering machine for almost two years, until I recorded it onto my computer.

Click the pink play button:

powered by ODEO

opa1.jpgTeresa’s Opa (Rienk Koat) died in 2005. Here’s one of the pictures we have of him in our kitchen.

He died less than a month after leaving this message. Growing up is hard to do, sometimes.

. . .
. . .

Posting this made me think of something I wrote about Corrie Koat, his wife, and Teresa’s Oma.

Kids and reality: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Saw this today: His sister in danger, 4-year-old plays hero.

The robber was holding a gun to 5-year-old Mary Long’s head when a 3-foot-tall Mighty Morphin Power Ranger leapt into the room. “Get away from my family,” 4-year-old Stevie Long shouted, punctuating his screams with swipes of his plastic sword and hearty “yah, yahs.”

The robber and his accomplice, who was waiting outside the apartment Friday night, fled with credit cards, jewelry, cash and other items that Stevie’s mother, Jennifer Long, dumped from her purse.

“I scared the bad guys away,” Stevie said Tuesday evening at the apartment at 901 Chalk Level Road in north Durham.

The most interesting part is at the bottom: the 4-year old hero actually believes he morphed into a power ranger. This rings a bell – our kids also have believed, or stated vociferously that they believe, all kinds of interesting things … like being Spiderman.

[tags] kids, reality, mighty morphin power rangers, hero, john koetsier [/tags]


So Aidan wanted to watch The Lord of the Rings.

I said no, it’s too scary for 3-year olds. He disagreed, saying that he would not be scared. “I’m tough!” he declared. Teresa backed me up, telling Aidan that there were lots of parts in LOTR that she was even scared by.

He thought for a second. “But I could wear sunglasses!”

(Gabrielle forced me to blog this.)

[tags] kids, movies, LOTR, john koetsier [/tags]