Saturday, November 28, 2015

Better Than Fries




A little over seven months ago, I started a new category on my blog called "Hubby Health." For those of you who have been reading average jester on a regular basis, you know that I haven't posted a lot in that category as of late. A little conversation tonight at dinner got me thinking about it again and I thought I should catch you up (accountability) and give you an update on my next steps (planning).



Well, truth be told, Hubby Health was a train wreck. I don't want to be overly dramatic about it, but I couldn't pass up using the above image because (in my mind) a train wreck was the first word that came to mind. In reality, a stalled car would have been more accurate, but where's the fun in that??

I haven't gone off the deep end and started gorging myself every time I came across a plate of food, but I have taken a few steps back on my portion control progress. A wonderful Thanksgiving feast this week probably didn't encourage me either, but that's my own mental hurdle to jump. I don't think I have gone back to quite where I was on portions before my health goal started, but I'm probably not too far away from there.

The bigger issue I see (and was reminded of tonight at dinner) is the lack of exercise. Now that summer is behind us, the walks, bike rides (although limited) and yard work have tapered off. Being the "completely unmotivated to exercise" person that I am, I find myself rightly concerned about how I'm going to kick the exercise portion of my health goal back into gear.

The most immediate solution may be presenting itself this week in the form of 6-12" of snow. Shoveling snow is a great workout, but it's also limited (or dictated) by the weather. I'm banking on a lot of snow this year to give me the easy option for exercise. Having a good amount of snow on the ground will make my walks more beneficial too. Walking through a foot or two of snow will help me burn a lot more calories than the summer walks on the sidewalk did. Is it too much to ask for a lot of snow, but above zero temperatures?

I am now on the quest to find another form of exercise that I can (at least learn to) enjoy and doesn't cost me a fortune to get started. Cross country skiing first popped into my head with the snow on its way, but I quickly realized I would have to sell both my kidneys to get outfitted for that. I could use work-out videos like my wife does, but so far she hasn't appreciated me sitting around watching her Jillian Michaels DVD's. (That's a joke.)

I have often toyed with the idea of getting a heavy bag and getting back into a punching/kicking workout. Who knows, maybe my wife would be interested in that as well?? It wouldn't be an all bad thing to find a workout that suits us both. It would certainly help me since she's the one with the drive to actually workout each morning. We'll see what I come up with. I guess the best I can say right now is it's better to be a couch potato than fries, but that's not really a choice at this point. Until next time....

Thursday, November 19, 2015

What To Teach Your Daughters




For those of you new to the blog, I started a category called Dads with Daughters. My initial intent was to share a little information with other dads outs there who may be wondering what it's like to raise a daughter. Raising a son may seem more natural since us dads were also little boys at one time, but raising a daughter isn't too terribly different. I guess I can't technically speak with authority on that since I only have daughters...so let's just call it a justifiable assumption.

On this post, I am going to break away from the unique skills dads with daughters pick up, like braiding hair or playing with Barbies, and take a look at a few things that are "gender neutral." Without further ado, here are a few of my favorite activities my daughters and I enjoy:


Tree Climbing
This past weekend while my girls and I were sitting around the house trying to be lazy (another thing I taught them), my wife said we should go outside and do something. Since we were being lazy, nothing exciting sprang to mind. Then she said, "Go outside and climb a tree or something." Well, being a former tree man myself, my ears perked up....as did the girls'.

Withing a few minutes, the girls and I were out in the back yard ready to climb. In our current society of bike helmets and car seats, I didn't want to risk letting the neighbors see my girls free climbing our trees like I did as a kid. Fortunately, I remembered how to tie a Swiss saddle from my adventures at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center in my younger years. That's good since my climbing saddle is way to big for them. Needless to say, they had a blast and were even asking to climb a tree again the very next day.

The takeaway from this is that is was great daddy-daughter bonding. We got some fresh air and exercise. They both built up a little more trust in their old man since I had them on belay the whole time. (We'll work on climbing knots and climbing next time.) No matter what they learned from it, we all had fun.



Fighting
I guess I should come up with another name for this, but we just started calling it fighting and it stuck. Between my years in various forms of martial arts and my Marine Corps training, I have a number of things I plan to teach my girls over the years. Teaching my older daughter Ziva to punch was actually to get her to stop hitting others. She went through a brief stage where she used hitting to express her anger, disagreement or even boredom.

I sat her down and said I was going to give her an opportunity to punch whenever she wanted to, but there were ground rules. She could only hit me. It would only happen when we had a planned "training session." She would always wear the appropriate training gear. She got so good so fast (and started punching so hard) that she got a pair of pink boxing gloves for Christmas that year.

The takeaway on this is fun, exercise and self control. As a dad, I can honestly say I love that she enjoys it because it will be that much easier to transition her into martial arts and self defense in the future. The better she know how to protect herself, the less time I'll have to spend cleaning a shotgun on the front porch when she starts dating in 30 or 40 years.

[Sidenote: For those of you wanting to train your kids how to punch, I strongly suggest you always remain in a kneeling position. A solid back punch always feels better to the face than the groin.]



Fishing
I have loved fishing since I was a young boy. For some reason, fishing was always a guy thing for me. Not that there aren't a ton of women out there who would out-fish me any day of the week...I just happened to have always gone fishing with the guys. I was thrilled to introduce fishing to my wife about 10 years ago. I thought it was a long shot, but she ended up loving it. (She's also one of those women who will out-fish me every time.)

A couple of years ago, I got to introduce my love of fishing to my girls. Ziva wasn't too thrilled with the idea, but my younger daughter Siri absolutely loved it. It probably didn't hurt that she landed a 4 pound Largemouth Bass on her fourth cast. (Since my wife will probably point this out in the comments section, I'll get it out of the way now: I helped Siri with the first three casts that produced nothing. Sarah helped her with the fourth and landed the Bass.)

The takeaway on this is that my girls aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and I'm more likely to get out fishing more often...something I haven't done with any regularity in years lately. I suppose it will also help should they find themselves lost in the wilderness and have to fish a river to survive. (Note to self: Teach the girls survival skills too.)



Blogging
Writing a blog is about as gender neutral as you can get. I pretty much just put this in here because both my girls (and my wife for that matter) enjoy blogging. Their idea of writing a blog may be a little different than mine, but it's fun to see we have a common interest. Truth be told, their blogs would probably get more subscribers than mine....so I'm not going to publish them anytime soon.



Respect
Of all the things I teach my daughters, one of the most important things I can teach them is respect. Those of you with kids know that kids magically overhear EVERYTHING. They hear you when you argue. They hear you when you step on a lego in the kitchen and blurt out a word you probably shouldn't. They most certainly hear you when you're talking about some big surprise that might happen the next day.

The takeaway (or maybe I should say giveaway??) is that a real dad will teach his daughters about respect. They see the way you treat your wife (their mother) and it teaches them, good or bad, how a woman is supposed to be treated. Show them how you love and respect your wife by the way you treat her. (Preferably even when the kids aren't in earshot.) This will teach them to find a man of their own, in 30-40 years, that treats them with respect. If they happen to guess wrong once or twice, make sure you've also been training them mixed martial arts from the time they're four years old....just in case. Until next time....

Friday, November 13, 2015

Naptime




I saw a challenge today on Facebook that looked quite appealing to me. It was laid out like your typical workout routine with varying levels of repetitions that increase over time throughout the month-long challenge. The reason this challenge appealed to me is because it was a napping challenge. To give you a quick overview, it goes something like this:

Day 1: 5 minute nap
Day 2: 10 minute nap
Day 3: 15 minute nap
Day 4: Rest
Day 5: 20 minute nap
Day 6: 25 minute nap
Day 7: Recover

I think you get the idea. As a 40+ year old father of two, I can tell you that this looks like a fun challenge to take on. My not-quite-40 wife will probably laugh when she reads this (and more than likely throw something at me) because she is the one who could really use the napping time. I can't deny it. I can sleep through anything while she seems to hear everything while trying to sleep.

As a point of reference on my napping abilities, one of the best naps I ever had was in the Marine Corps waiting for my squad's turn to run through a live fire exercise. There were numerous riflemen laying down a line of fire, machine gunners adding to the mix, and even a Cobra gunship doing a pass or two over the live fire range. Yet there I was, snoozing away. Anyone who's ever spent time serving in an Infantry unit will tell you that you sleep when you can, but that's not really the point here.

I am curious why our sleeping patterns seem to change with age. I won't even get into the whole newborn/infant "sleep" schedule because I understand the constant need for feeding. (I too have been known to wake up in the middle of the night for a snack.) I am more interested in the age ranges over 4 years old.

As a kid, apparently around age four, we suddenly despise napping. The same seems to apply to sleeping in on a Saturday morning. What is it that makes a four year old want to be awake all the time? Is it a burning desire to learn things and/or not miss anything? Does it somehow make you feel older to not take a nap so you fight it with every fiber of your being? I really don't know why, but I wish I could go back in time and tell myself at four years old to take advantage of it while I could.

Once you get to the teen years, the napping gene seems to kick back into gear. I don't yet have a teenager of my own, but I do recall sleeping in on a Saturday morning...and needing multiple alarms to wake up on a school day. I actually know a person who (will remain nameless because I don't want to embarrass Rachel) actually once set an alarm for 12 Noon so she wouldn't sleep too long that day. Where have those days gone? I am fairly certain my little human alarms put an end to any possibility of that for me...at least for the next 10 years or so.

Now that I'm in my 40's, I really cherish the moments I get to take a good old fashioned nap. This is where I really have to give due credit to my wife. She often allows me to take an afternoon nap on the weekend. I don't know why since she's the one who actually deserves the nap, but I'm certainly not going to complain. She must really love me or something.

Now this is the part that really gets me confused. Something happens over the next 2-3 decades of our life that somehow puts an end to this love of napping again. Does it get boring? Do we not want to miss part of our day because we realize we're nearing the end of our life? I really want to know what makes us get back into the pattern of waking up at 4 am to start our day. I'm afraid the answer is probably more morbid than I choose to think about in my 40's, but time will tell.

Well, this post has really taken a lot out of me. If I hurry, I think I might be able to sneak a quick nap in before bedtime. If you haven't already fallen asleep reading this, go find a cozy spot to kick back and take a nap. Until next time....



Thursday, November 12, 2015

Your Life Aint Over Yet




I am happy to announce that I am now a member of a prestigious club called SAR. For those of you who weren't sitting at my kitchen table this evening as my membership was approved, SAR is the "Super Awesome (w)Riters" club. Ok, so maybe it's not quite as prestigious as I first let on, but it seemed like a pretty big deal to my six year old daughter who created the club...and named it.

To kick of the initial meeting of SAR, I asked her what we should write about. Within seconds, I had numerous ideas that involved puppies, ponies and/or princesses. My ideas were quickly dismissed by her as she had another topic in mind. She said we should write about how Grandma got sick, died and then went to heaven. So much for a lighthearted fluff piece to start off??

The gears instantly started turning in my head generating new ideas. (My fellow bloggers out there would understand...and those around me can often hear them....the gears, that is.) I thought about how many posts I have done recently about babies being born (one of which is today by the way) and thought maybe it was fitting to talk about the other end of the life spectrum. First though, I am going to share my daughter's post on this topic:
Grandma got sick and we went to see her in Texas. When we left, I said "Te Amo" to Grandma. Grandma died and went to Heaven with Jesus before we went back to Texas the next time.

For those of you who don't speak Spanish, "Te Amo" means I love you. The little tidbit she left out was that we were loading into the car to leave and she saw that we were all a little teary eyed. At this point, she understood that Grandma was sick and that she wasn't going to get better. I think it just finally sunk in for her that this would be the last time she'd get to see Grandma. It was at this point that she ran back to Grandma, gave her another hug, and said "Te Amo." Well, if there weren't waterworks enough already, there certainly were at that point.

Now, as a Christian, I could spend the next few pages explaining how we were sad that Grandma was going to die, but happy knowing that she would be free of pain and living in splendor with her Savior shortly in Heaven. My daughters (and the rest of my family for that matter) continue to be sad that we can't call her up on the phone whenever we want while also continuing to be happy that she is in Heaven...where we will one day be reunited with her. Like I said, I "could" go on and on, but regardless of how important that is to me, it's not the route I'm going to take tonight.

It will be two years in January since my Mom passed away. My girls continue to amaze me with their crystal clear recollection of those couple of months two years ago. (We had about six weeks from hearing a terminal cancer diagnosis to Mom passing away.) In the past weeks and months, I have had a number of friends lose a loved one. Some were an unexpected shock while others were the expected end to a serious health battle. What really stands out to me though is how many of them were a parent of a friend.

There is no "one size fits all" cure for how to deal with the loss of a loved one and I am by no means a licensed therapist or counselor. I am however an everyday average guy who likes to explain things in an everyday average way. I don't really recall going through the five stages of grief as any therapist would explain to you. I would imagine they would try and explain to me that I went through them all and just didn't realize it. I know what I felt and what surprised me. I obviously didn't know what to expect, not having been through it before, so it really did surprise me.

My first reaction was probably shock. Not shock like a surprise. More like numb. I had the "advantage" of knowing it was going to happen very soon, so it wasn't a surprise. I expected that when that day finally came I would explode into tears and breakdown. That didn't happen. Although I am not a tearful kind of guy, that still surprised me that I didn't cry at that point.

Fast forward to the funeral. Having gone more than a week without breaking down in tears, I agreed to do a reading at my mom's funeral. About three words into a wonderful reading about Grace, I got a lump in my throat the size of an grapefruit. Let's just say I somehow made it through the whole reading while gnawing on the inside of my cheek in an effort to avoid breaking down. (Some would say that was me getting past the denial stage.) Aside from choking back tears through a couple of hymns in the church that day, that seemed to be the end of the tearful sadness I was half expecting.

Fast forward again a few months (and now years) and I continue to be surprised by what gets me choked up. It's not because it happens to be the anniversary of her death. It's not (at least very often) because someone asks me about her. No, it's from the weirdest things. One of my girls can make a facial expression that reminds me of my Mom. The smell of chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. Seeing a quilt my Mom made. Basically, just some off the wall little things that I wouldn't have expected.

What I really learned from it was not how I cope with the loss of my Mom, but rather how I now value the other friends and family I still have. (I wrote about this a while back in a post called "Family Time" if you want to read a bit more.) Like the title of this post says, "Your life ain't over yet."

Yes, you're going to be sad. Yes, there will probably be tears. Yes, you're going to miss them. But while you're doing all that, look around you. Chances are pretty good that you will see you are surrounded by friends and family members who are pulling the same double duty you are. Being sad and understanding alongside you while also being cheerful and uplifting at the same time. Tragedy and loss are often followed by an enormous amount of togetherness and love. The key lesson I was reminded of by this is that the togetherness and love was (and is) always there. It's just often overlooked when we don't have a reason to "need" it at the moment.

Thank you to those of you who managed to read through another long-winded post on my part. As I said before, I don't claim to be an expert. In fact, I hope you appreciate what I've said because I'm not an expert...just an average guy who's been through it. My heart goes out to those of you who have lost someone. I pray that you will find your peace, take note of the love around you and resume your life without the ability to be able to call that loved one on the phone at a moment's notice.

I feel like I should write a quick post about a princess who had a pony or a puppy just so I can end on a cheerful note. Then again, recognizing the true value of your friends and family is pretty cheerful in itself. Until next time....

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Hunting For Love




It's that time of year again. We've already started seeing the Christmas decorations for sale at local retail stores. This means it's only a matter of time before my wife starts dreaming about watching "Love Actually" - her favorite Christmastime movie. I figured since this is my 100th average jester blog post (according to my post ticker anyway), I thought I should do something special today. I'm going to write about LOVE.

LOVE makes us want to search for it
Even at an early age, we feel the attraction within ourselves. Love is a completely natural feeling that only seems to grow as you get older and wiser...and get a little more life experience. From those early days on, the internal need to find love seems to grow. There may be times that we get that "love at first sight" feeling, but more often than not, we end up spending more time searching for it.

We try to attract LOVE
Obviously, sitting there just waiting for love to come to you isn't always the most productive way of finding love, so we come up with ways to attract it. We spend a lot of time analyzing the way we act, look and even dress, in an effort to somehow attract love. In the end though, it often comes down to blind luck, fate and just being in the right place at the right time. Once we feel we have found a possibility for LOVE, we tend to try and bring it closer to us. Love typically shows for one sooner that the other. Because of this, we makes every effort to draw that love to us. The closer you get to the other - the better chance there is to find love.

LOVE takes over you when you see it
The first sight of love is a very powerful thing. Your heart feels like it's going to beat out of your chest. Your palms get sweaty. Your mouth goes dry. You feel like you can't even breath. Everything else races out of your mind and you fixate on that love. This is also a time when some people freeze up and fail to act. They may feel like any wrong move could ruin their chance of love, but no action is a guaranteed way to not find love.

You need to act on LOVE
Once you have that love in your sight, you need to act. Remember, no action means no love. Calm yourself. Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly. Then squeeze the trigger. A heart shot is instant, but I hear it's generally safer to go for the spot just behind the heart and lungs for a better chance at hitting vital organs. Wait...What? I'm talking about hunting. What did you think I was talking about? There's a lot of love involved in hunting. Prep time. Time in the woods. The thrill of the hunt itself. The meat you get to eat later. There's a lot to love.

100 is a special number
I figured since this is my 100th blog post, I would write something that's 100% fiction. I say this because I have never been hunting in my life, so I pretty much made everything up based on assumption and a little bit of knowledge I've overheard from friends who do hunt. I guess it's not really totally fiction.... Some of this could technically apply to other types of love...except maybe the "squeeze the trigger" part.

Feel free to re-read the post again, but with the mindset of hunting. I think you will see the true intent of this post....besides shooting for 100% fiction. Happy hunting! Until next time....



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

When Mom Is Away...The Kids Will Play




It's a rare occurrence for my wife to get a little time away from the house and kids...and hubby. It's extremely rare for it to be an overnight getaway to another town. The stars must be in perfect alignment because she is getting that chance this week. Granted it will only be for about 24 hours, but it's 24 hours that are well deserved. Although she will be attending a conference for work, I'm hoping she takes advantage of the night at the hotel. In my mind, she'll be lounging in her pj's in her hotel room with a glass of wine and watching some tv show she hasn't gotten to see in ages. In her mind though, she's probably just looking forward to not having housework, screaming kids or spectators while going to the bathroom. I wouldn't put it past her to just go to sleep early and enjoy the peace and quiet...like she used to about, oh, seven years ago.

Back on the home front though, it will be a much different story. Leaving me alone to supervise our kids is only slightly better than leaving the kids alone to supervise me. Much fun will be had. We have a 24 hour window to get a few things out of our system....hopefully without burning the house to the ground. Although....we have talked about doing some remodeling.

I wouldn't be a good father if I didn't make sure we had at least a little structure to our schedule, so I put a little thought into the pre-planning of this 24 hour event. I have devised the following list of challenges to help us make the most of our Daddy-Daughters bonding time:

Dirty Dish Challenge
This challenge is one I was very proficient at during my days as a bachelor. It basically involves seeing how many meals you can eat without having to wash any dishes. Since we only have 24 hours, I have modified this event to see how many dishes we can dirty in 24 hours. I have a feeling my girls will give me a run for my money in this event because we seem to accumulate 20+ dirty dishes after our ten minute rush to eat breakfast on weekday mornings. My only possible redeeming factor in this challenge may be my ability to utilize three times the amount of pots, pans and cooking utensils needed to prepare any given meal.

Laundry Pile Challenge
Knowing my wife will probably have all the laundry in our house washed, dried and folded before she leaves (Yes. She's that awesome...or OCD...or something.), this event truly will be a challenge. The only rule is to see who can fill their hamper full of dirty laundry quicker - me or the girls. You may think it's an unfair advantage because my clothes are bigger than theirs and will fill up the hamper more quickly, but I think they may take this event. For starters, there are two of them and only one of me. The other advantage they have is that I've never seen them eat anything without spilling on their clothes. (I mean ANYTHING. They can't chew gum without somehow drooling on themselves or getting it stuck to their shirt.)

Belching Challenge
I have to be honest on this challenge. The real reason we're holding this event in Mom's absence is because it's the only time one of us would actually have a chance of winning. It wouldn't even be a fair challenge for us to go up against Mom in this event. She is the undisputed reigning belching champ in our household. As a matter or fact, she could probably phone in her submission to the challenge and still beat us. Hopefully she won't read this until she's back and won't be able to enter her belching submission.

Hide the Carpet Challenge
This challenge is pretty much a no-brainer. It is merely a guide for us to know just how much fun we're having in general. To me, the less carpet you can see because it's covered with toys is a direct indicator of how much fun has been had. You can correct me if I'm wrong, but think about the good parties you've had. Did you have to clean up afterwards? If not, how much fun was really had at that party? Remember, Mom's 24 hour hiatus isn't just a part for her. It's a chance for us kids...I mean, my kids to cut loose.

Clean-up Challenge
This final challenge is a necessary evil. I am confident that after successfully completing the previous challenges, we will certainly need perform well in this last four part challenge. I have not yet decided if this will be setup as an individual, team or relay event. All I know is that if we don't complete the "Wash Dishes, Pickup Laundry (at least), Stop Belching and Find the Carpet" challenges, we will be in for a world of hurt. None of us wants to attempt the "Who can run faster than Mom?" challenge.

If all goes well, we will have a lot of fun while Mom gets to relax for at least one night in this decade. I know that relaxation on her part will be for naught if she comes home to a house burning to the ground. If for some reason you never see another average jester blog post appear on my page, you'll know it didn't end well when Mom got home. Until next time....    (hopefully)