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Showing posts from March, 2013

Is my "healthy" hobby going to kill me?

Edit: just giving equal time...Runners World has got an article debunking lots of this (written in response to the WSJ below. 

I'm intrigued. Really, whenever my interests collide, I love it. Learning the physics of a bicycle. The chemistry of coffee. How statistics modeling correctly predicted the outcome of the November election.

So the health effects of endurance sports intrigues me. Usually, we get a steady stream of data showing that exercise is good for us. Very, very good for us. Don't let this post convince you not to exercise.

But, on the other hand, I like the phrase of one of the links below...there are "upper limits." You CAN have too much of a good thing. A cup of coffee may be a great way to start your day, but it is possible to have a caffeine overdose--granted, it's nearly impossible. If running a mile is good for you, 26.2 must be great? Right?

Well, this morning I dived down the rabbit hole when someone posted to a tri message board about heart …

DOMA? Time to stop defending marriage!

DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) has largely been framed in terms of gay rights. The denial of benefits, tax breaks, and hundreds of other incentives that go to state-recognized relationships between one man and one woman.

But the real issue is one of equality, not of marriage. Equal rights for everyone under the law. And the right to have your family protected by the law regardless of what it looks like. And a big thank you to our LGBT friends for helping to frame the issue of access.

45% of all households are NOT married. Over 12 million unmarried partners live together in over 6 million households.  (Including some unmarried same-sex households--12%.) 39% of births are to unmarried women. 41% of first births to unmarried women are born while cohabiting. 2/5 of children will live in a cohabiting house at some point. The percent of households headed by unmarried parents has doubled since 1970. Nearly 40% of unmarried, opposite-sex households include children. AND nearly one third of al…

Revenge of the SAHD

I was totally going to blog about being unmarried today and how the DOMA case at the Supreme Court may affect hetero couples...especially for tax purposes. Then I stumbled onto this: Why Stay At Home Dads Can Never Really Be Content.

Needless to say, it was intentionally written to get people worked up. And I'm fine with that.

It was also intentionally written by someone trying to counter the "Stay At Home Dads are awesome" counter-culture that has been slowly bubbling to the surface. I'm fine with that, too. It was written by at least a part-time SAHD.

Not everybody has to love every waking minute of being at home with the kids. I'd fully expect a Stay At Home Mom to have her frustrations. You're totally allowed to hate every minute of it, as a matter of fact. Heck, I'm even probably ok with you hating the cultural forces SAHDs like me are putting into the universe by insisting on our equality in the home. If your idea of maleness is tied to work and tra…

The Lent Project: Day 41?

A big Thank You to all my readers for my 12,000th visitor over the weekend! 

So today is Day 41 of The Lent Project where I give up social media for the season. If you're confused how we can be on Day 41 of a period that is supposed to have 40 days, you're not alone. Christianity is confused, too. So don't worry, you're in good company.

Is it still Lent? Technically, yes. If we want to go by the Catholics, Thursday would be the last day of Lent...but, get this, Lenten observances go on until Saturday...even though the Church technically counts Friday and Saturday as part of the Easter holiday. Oh, and Sundays don't count. Which is why the actual days of Lent are greater than the observed days of Lent.

Thank goodness I'm a Protestant...we write our own rules. Martin Luther for the win! Or rather "Jesus for the win." He didn't observe Lent. Or Easter. He was Jewish--he had Passover.

So now we're in a theologically messy land. But, hey, the whole…

The Lent Project: Day 38

Warning! Warning! Potty training story in the first section! TMI ahead. (But it's so darn cute!)

If you're a parent, you know there is no such thing as bathroom time to yourself. The kids are either waiting for you outside the door. Or pounding on the door. Or in the bathroom with you. In this case, Leda was in the room and Cole was in the hall outside. He'd just thrown Cookie Monster at me and I gave him the usual speech: Daddy will be done in a second. YOU could go sit on your potty, too.

Usually, I get a dead stare or laughter. Today, however, Cole raced to his room and grabbed his plastic chair and dragged it to the living room. When I finished, I expected to see him putting his cars inside. To my surprise, he was actually sitting--fully clothed, sure, but I'll take it!

"Oh wow, good job, buddy! That was exactly right! Thank you! Awesome! Would you like to sit on it a little longer?"

"No." (Cole grabs potty and quickly takes it back to his room …

The Lent Project: Day 37

I wasn't going to blog today. Then I saw this article from The Atlantic by author Hanna Rosin.
It's the rare article that does a nice, balanced job of confronting our electronic demons in the culture. And that tries to actually examine the issue rather than take a stand for or against immediately. She brings up a lot of good points. 
We have a love affair with books, but haven't developed our sense of childhood to yet include computers and handheld devices as basic to a child's learning. We want kids to be digitally savvy, but at the same time are cautious and even worried about too much screen time. We assume the "zombie effect" has to do with mentally tuning out--rather than a mental awareness and perhaps advanced cognition. 
I also frequently make the point with other parents that there is a difference between active and passive and educational and non-educational. We limit screen time in our household (adult programs only after 6pm), but letting my childr…

The Lent Project: Day 36

My son is obsessed with the juice train.

Oh, he still loves Thomas. But thanks to a couple of books about moving freight, he's become more and more drawn to the process of moving goods from one place to another. His truck book is essentially the story of moving a trailer full of tricycles (keep in mind he hasn't yet really taken to his own) through a variety of highway infrastructure--"tunnel ahead!"--to a loading dock where the cargo is unloaded. Then there's his freight train book with its colorful pictures of the different types of freight cars...yes, Cole knows what a box car, flat car, hopper car, tank car, and trestle are.

Then there is his 5 dvd set of railroading...ok, 4 dvd set because we've lost one. But he's currently stuck on disc 3. Specifically, fast forward to scene 3, please. That's the juice train.

For those of you who don't know--I sure didn't--Tropicana harvests oranges in Florida between October and June each year and sends…

The Lent Project: Day 35

Happy Spring!

Of course, it doesn't feel like it in Chicago...last year at this time it was 85 degrees in the middle of a heat wave. Current temperature is 24 and it may--I said MAY--get to freezing later this afternoon.

I feel like I should have something important to write about because this marks my 300th post on the blog. Quickly approaching 12,000 pageviews, too! But I have absolutely nothing to say today, really. The children yesterday evening and this morning have been behaving like wild beasts tearing apart a kill. I have been a little ill for a few days and have skipped a couple workouts that I'm slightly disappointed about. But I still have almost 3 months until race day so missing one bike and one swim isn't going to hurt me too much.


I did want to share this graphic from a new Los Angeles ad campaign advising drivers that cyclists are entitled to use the full lane under certain conditions and to be on the lookout. Much appreciated. 
I'm a fan of bicycling i…

The Lent Project: Day 34

Can you feel it? No, not spring...I wish. I mean, the end of my little experiment about avoiding social media for Lent. If only I'd counted correctly, I'd be in the last week. Er, technically, I am counting correctly and it's the Church that counts wrong. And it depends on who you talk to. Does Lent end on Palm Sunday? That's a common answer, but wrong. Really, Lent ends on the Thursday of the Last Supper...or, alternatively, the Saturday before Easter. So it depends how much fudging I want to do about my resolution. In any case, this is my last full week of Facebook and Twitter denial. I sure have missed all those cat pics!

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Well, it's finally happened...my bike has gone in for work! It's been a long time coming. It was supposed to get some upgrades for my birthday at the end of last summer, but that got put off. But it was time for my spring tuneup so I'm also getting clipless pedals, an extra water bottle cage, and a bike computer to keep track of m…

The Lent Project: Day 31

Happy Birthday to the DLP today! She's awesome in every way...so awesome that I actually filled the ice cube tray in the freezer in honor of her special day! No big plans here. I have to go bake her a cake so this will be a short entry. We may go out to dinner at some point, but with the kids that usually means not on a Friday night so we'll wait and go at 4:00pm on a Tuesday. Ha. Tonight we'll be watching her birthday gift of Murder She Wrote, I'm sure. And she requested that I do my long swim last night (more on that in a sec) and shop for a few dinner items for a relaxing evening in. Her favorite cheese and crackers, champagne, gourmet chocolate. We'll just settle for the fact that we've booked the bed and breakfast for our fall trip. Woohoo!

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And now...a special message for the men triathletes out there. If you're going to share a lane, please swim. Do not spend 10-15 min resting on the wall chatting up the attractive female triathlete in the next …

The Lent Project: Day 30

Happy Pi Day to all my geeky friends! That also means Kelly's birthday is tomorrow so I have a cake to bake today.

Last night we took Cole and Leda to an after-hours playgroup at a local children's museum. Now, when i say local I mean local...we're lucky to have maybe 4 in the area and this was on the other side of our suburb. We'd never been and were some of the first to arrive, but it eventually got pretty crowded.

We had set a pre-museum deadline of one hour because it started at 6pm and we weren't sure how to handle the fact that it was the kids' bedtime. As it was, however, 7pm brought lots of screaming from Cole as we asked him to leave. It was a combo of having fun and being tired...I think the extra hour would have made things worse though Kelly felt pretty guilty about making her children leave something they were really enjoying.

Cole went straight for the train table, obviously. But they eventually found everything from magnets and drums to playhouse…

The Lent Project: Day 29

Well, I won the lottery yesterday...the Chicago Marathon lottery, that is. The only problem? I feel kinda bad about it.

As I wrote here previously, I was very purposefully not in that first bunch of people who crashed the system during the first-come registration period. I was taking time off and not running a fall race. Or, at least, not running Chicago. But the more I thought about it, the more I decided that maybe I should stick my name in the pot afterall. Could I really handle not running a fall marathon for the first time in 5 years? Would I really be ok with having October roll around and knowing I was missing all the excitement of race day?

I feel like my initial instincts were sound. To train for Chicago, I'd need to pretty much get right to work following my June triathlon. No down time. It would be back to the long Sunday morning runs which I'd told myself to get away from for a bit. Have a nice, relaxing summer. Stay on top of training for Ironman but no need to hi…

The Lent Project: Day 28

It seems like these days, when Kelly comes home from work, I can't even keep up with the number of stories to tell about the kids. Both of them are nonstop new things and I frequently forget major milestones or funny behaviors.

It usually goes like this...Kelly: "did you know Leda can now go to the fridge, get a plate, make herself a peanut butter sandwich, pour herself a juice, and then wash the dishes afterwards?" (I wish!) Me: "oops, forgot to tell you because Cole is busy practicing Hamlet and juggling torches."

Ok, maybe the kids would impress nobody but me. I think it's because I see them everyday so I see in real time the major leaps forward. But it's everything from Cole coming to me and telling me to "take her" about his sister to his perfectly pronouncing a word like "raspberry" despite still calling a caboose a "boose." Leda has her own set of amazing tricks--shaking her head no, grabbing you to take you to the k…

The Lent Project: Day 27

Crazy time around here.

Friday, I did my first long swim (today starts Week 2 of tri training)...40 minutes in the pool, but surprisingly I made it through and felt great despite the full week of workouts. I think I'm finding my groove in the water and am able to push harder less and relax a bit more. A bit like running in that way...the key to doing better with more miles is to learn to keep loose. The less of a struggle it is, the better you feel.

Saturday then was my long bike which I already am tired of the indoors for. Hoping it warms up soon...I can ride outside for 2 hours straight and it's an awesome way to spend the morning. But an hour on the bike trainer is like torture. I don't envy you folks who train for an early season Ironman indoors. Blah! You couldn't pay me to do a 4 hour ride in the basement.

Saturday we also had a grocery delivery and then had a few odds and ends to get at the store that we don't trust Peapod to select--like fruit. Then we'…

The Lent Project: Day 24

If you want a slice of what being a SAHD is like...my son has been up since 4am. Three hours of that was him laying in bed playing with me occasionally walking in to tell him to "go back to sleep" but at 7am I finally gave up. I figured he needed breakfast and it was mean to confine him to one space if he really couldn't sleep. He was obviously tired by the look on his face, but no luck.

Leda, on the other hand, has been up since 4:30am...I think...Kelly got up with her. Tried to put her back in her crib, no go. So Kelly brought her in to me eventually in our bedroom because Kelly needed to get to the gym before work.

Then, we've been watching Thomas Christmas since Thanksgiving so why not add a little A Charlie Brown Christmas to the mix? I tried to get Cole interested back in December and he wanted none of it. Now, suddenly, like a lightbulb went off he's demanding "more Charlie Brown." Both kids are now wandering the house like zombies and ready for …

Sports deaths...who is to blame?

Thought I'd add a little PS for those of you who want to see what the fuss is about Escape From Alcatraz...here's footage shot during last weekend's race by a guy with a camera attached. 



The whole topic of who is to blame for the football head injury scandal is too big for my tastes--all I know is that I would have serious reservations about one of my kids wanting to play the sport. But once you get to the college level, there are freethinking adults involved, money at stake, millions of fans watching, and a host of other complicating factors.

To a lesser extent, the same can be said of the steroids scandals in baseball or cycling. It's not black and white and there is plenty of blame to go around.

So I've been watching with interest as the triathlon community tries to debate who is to blame for participant deaths at races. Triathletes loves to overthink things and have an altogether more intense attitude about life than, say, the running community. While a death …

The Lent Project: Day 23

We're weird and we're ok with that.

It sometimes manifests itself in frustrating ways like when I'm sitting at the registration desk of the hospital trying to get my daughter a chest x-ray. Explaining to the nice lady that Leda has my last name but the insurance is through their mom...who does not have our last name...because their mom works and I stay home with the kids. And I get a "isn't that great?!"--on top of the confused demographic info--surprised praise like a man staying home with his kids is something akin to a man in a panda suit selling ice cream at the fair.

Or frustrating like when you're explaining your daily routine to someone and have to backtrack to paint a clearer picture of how you have no dining room table or chairs and instead choose to eat meals often sitting on the floor of the living room. Usually healthy snack foods (we refer to as grazing) like fresh fruit, whole grain breads, cheese, or granola and yogurt. This also explains w…

The Lent Project: Day 22

Sorry, triathlon fans, back to parenting topics today...

I'm not in the habit of quoting, making reference to, or even reading The New York Post...it's sleazy. But this article on Bloomberg's teen pregnancy ad campaign caught my eye this morning. I have nothing against trying to reduce teen pregnancy. (As the author points out, NYC also hands out condoms, contraception, and morning after pills...perhaps a better solution since, hey, abstinence education doesn't work?) But, in this case, it's the lack-of-nuance, pro-marriage argument that annoys me. The idea being that without marriage these kids are destined for a life of poverty. In the "out of wedlock" crowd, babies who come without a ring on the finger of the mother are shorthand for a whole variety of problems from education to employment to child support. And the author wants to drag churches and talking about the "marriage advantage" into it. Along with the fact that the majority of babies…

The Lent Project: Day 21

As I write, we're in the middle of our largest snowfall of the year in Chicago. Some parts of the area will get 10 inches--though we're never the most because we live too close to the city.

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Yesterday, Cole was playing in the dining-room-turned-playroom...which was covered in toys...and he turned to me and said, "this place is a mess." Ok then. After I got done laughing in my head, I said, "should we clean up a little?"

His response was to grab the toy vacuum we got Leda for Christmas and pretend clean while saying over and over, "it's a mess!" in delighted tone.

No clue where he got this from though I think is speaks volumes about how our household works. lol

* * *

My first night of my first ever triathlon training plan was a little bit of a letdown...because, basically, it was the same workout I've been doing for weeks. A short swim.

But tonight's workout will finally be something a little different. A bike! Thank goodness I can…

The Lent Project: Day 20

Here I was getting all excited to say I'm halfway through my social media diet--proud to say Facebook has been bumped off my most-visited website panel on Chrome--then I realized I've been counting chronologically. And that's not how Lent works. I won't bother you with the specifics, but it turns out Sundays and Holy Week doesn't count so really Lent is longer than you'd expect.

It confuses me. Like all the fish commercials this time of year. Fish is meat, in my opinion. And I'm skeptical that Lent-eaters make up that large of a buying public...but, hey, every dollar counts.

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Forgot to mention yesterday that we've signed Leda up for swim lessons. These are the same parent-tot lessons that Cole was a freaked-out drop-out in last summer. Looking back, I'm not surprised. He may be adventurous, full of energy, and love the water, but he's not great with structure, transitions from activity to activity, and actually scares quite easily.

Leda, on…

The Lent Project: Day 19

I was on a fairly steady daily blog there for awhile, but fell off the wagon the last couple days. We've been busy...some of which is parenting related, but I'm not ready to write about yet...and some of it has been just odds and ends piling up.   
Yesterday was a little home improvement. Borrowed a drill from a neighbor and finally got around to hanging the curtains around Leda's crib. They've been sitting in the corner waiting, but necessity has motivated us. Leda has horrible sleep habits. Partially our fault, partially hers. She still requires us holding her to fall asleep and has somehow gained a love of absolute dark and quiet before she'll give in. And we love Cole's 7:30pm bedtime, but are lucky to get Leda down by 10pm frequently. 
Lately, Leda has taken to going down for a morning nap just fine--usually after I get Cole down for his--then refuses to nap in the late afternoon waiting until early evening. So it's a couple hours of horrible whining a…