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Showing posts from July, 2013

Training (what training?) report...

The nice thing about having 3 sports is that there is always at least one you can do indoors. (This is also a negative against triathlon for those of you who have trouble finding motivation for training. You'll feel like a bad person if you don't go.) So when Mother Nature wasn't cooperating last night, I went to the pool for the first time in about a month.

Pretty easy workout of 25's and 50's for about 30 minutes. Why does it always seem like no matter how hard or easy I swim, it always comes out to 2:00/100m on the pace clock? Which is nice if I can settle into the "why not just go easy then?" attitude. I'll be honest though, I was just screwing around. It felt good and my form came back...maybe not so much on the endurance end. But with nothing actually "scheduled" and no race to anticipate, it feels to me like just wandering around the lanes of a pool for awhile. I did some off strokes and intervals and called it a night.

This has been …

The birthday festival

Even if we knew a bunch of other families with young kids (we do not), I don't know that we could be that family that plans a huge, kid-oriented birthday party. What we CAN do is invite our immediate family to Chicago for a long weekend and give our birthday boy a helluva fun time. To that, I say, "mission accomplished." (In a sincere way. Not in a George W. Bush standing on an aircraft carrier filled with irony kind-of-way.)

I think Cole had fun. Which was goal number one. As it turns out, the parting wasn't so sad because, for the grandma on my side, it isn't "see you in October." It was "see you next week." Kelly may have a very last minute work trip where I can drag the kids along for a couple days.

Anyway, we started the weekend off on Friday morning by trying to pick up Grandma and Grandpa from the train station after their plane came in. Cole was deathly afraid of anything near the train station now--after The Incident--so that was chal…

My oldest turns 3!

Between my "little" Cole turning 3 this week and the birth of the royal baby, there's been a lot of chances lately to reflect on what it was like to be a new parent. One of my favorite activities with Cole at the computer has been showing him old photos.

"What's that?" is his usual inquiry.

"That's me helping give you your first bath in the hospital."

"I'm crying."

"Yes, you weren't very happy when you first came out of mama. When we brought you home we were really happy, but you used to cry until mommy or daddy would come hold you in the chair in your room."

Cole laughs. This is both ridiculous and he doesn't remember. Yet, here's a photo of him quite obviously covered in yogurt so it must have happened.

I still remember stopping at Starbucks and getting Kelly a tea before her labor started. La la la. What are you doing today? Oh, nothing much, just having a baby.

After he was born, they'd bring him in …

The commercialization of childhood

No, this isn't one of those rants. This is an argument for the commercialization of childhood. Within reason.

I should preface this all by saying a few cautionary words...I feel very differently about educational commercialization than I do vapid branding. Curious George learning how we get maple syrup from maple trees through a complicated processing is one thing. If it makes my kids want maple syrup, good for them. This is probably why PBS is the most-trusted source for children's media is that, yes, your kid is learning to want Thomas toysets and anything with Elmo on it--but they're also getting a fairly healthy dose of the alphabet, colors, numbers, shapes, social skills, life lessons, and character building of the non-merchandising sort.

I also should say that we're very, very pro-nature and in favor of toys and games that are plain and creative in ways that branded toys are not. My kids play with sticks, rocks, string, paper towel tubes, egg cartons, and non-poi…

The longest night

It was my night to take Leda to swim lessons again and we were much better about not arriving early this time. Get in right on time, choose a duck, head to the pool with no waiting. Lots of dads there again--clearly, parents are splitting the duties like us. (We always joke that we're a very typical family for being so atypical.)

Leda knew where we were going immediately and was super excited. But I think she used all her energy in anticipation because about halfway through the lesson she just zoned out. She was cold and tired and 6:30 is just too close to bedtime. She didn't jump in like she did with Kelly, but we sang songs (and clung to her rubber duck) with enthusiasm.

It's a mix of kids with different ages and developmental stages so it ranges from smaller than Leda up to Cole's age. So Leda's not quite ready for the closed "scoop" finger bowl making elementary strokes in the water. She blows bubbles in the air but isn't quite ready to blow them …

I should have brought the road bike

Kelly's bike was her baby before we had babies. (Well, and Kieran the greyhound!) When I moved in, it lived upstairs in the extra room that is now Cole's bedroom. At one point, she bought a wall mount for it to hang in the dining room--now playroom--but we couldn't find the beams to install it correctly since we live in a nearly 100 year old building. To be fair, it's a nice bike. The rule was don't touch the bike. I could ride it in the trainer in the basement and adjust the seat down. But hands off everything else.

Lately, I'd been doing more of the cycling in our household and it was looking more and more like I was hoping to do Ironman Wisconsin...with only a hybrid to my name. So she graciously offered her roadie to me for training and the race next year. It was an amazing gesture considering how much she is uncomfortable with someone tinkering with it. But it just made sense to do that kind of distance (112 miles) on a bike built for it.

So after Pleasant…

It's ok to be a guy!

(Today's jumping off point is this David Brooks piece in the NY Times -- Men on the Threshold. You may want to have a read before my comments.)

My degree is in Psychology. And one of my most-remembered (though not favorite) courses was on gender psychology. I never imagined that I'd end up as a gender stereotype-breaking SAHD. But now that I am, I find the topic fascinating and write about gender issues frequently.

We tackled, back then, quite a bit of info on the "war against boys." I was neutral at the time. And I'm still not sure how much of it is actual gender bias versus shifting cultural expectations. I've seen these topics explored in more detail, and better, other places...but Brooks does an ok job to continue the discussion. Especially the inability of boys/men to excel in the educational and employment climate we're now facing. The lack of masculine role models. Or, better stated, the double whammy of a decline in male culture and the inability …

Get in...or I'm putting you in

The longer I parent, the more convinced I am that parenting is 99% being able to adapt and change plans...and 1% being able to hear the same question/music/toy/movie/book over and over again without going crazy.

Or at least that's what I'm telling myself in the wake of a "worst parents in the world" moment on Friday.

We'd planned to take our usual bike ride at the gardens in the afternoon but Cole was being especially adamant that he wanted to "go to the playground." Over. And over. And over. Fine. We're going to go on a nice, pleasant bike ride on Sunday morning anyway (ha, that's what you think!) so let's humor the kid. We were going to the gardens anyway, why not still go and he can play in the Children's Garden?

Wrong. We got there at about 4:45pm and headed to a favorite splash area. No sooner did we get our hands wet than a voice came on the loudspeaker informing us that the Children's Garden would be closing in 10 minutes. Ugh…

Swim lessons for Leda

Cole was very upset last night that Daddy was taking Sister on a special trip that he didn't get attend. "I want to go to." So now I have to think up something special for the two of us. He had a great time playing outside with Mama, apparently, but he's a kid who does like to be included. Or, rather, he likes the family to do things together.

Leda was in her swimsuit from a late-afternoon test fit still...she refused to let me take it off she loved it so much. It's actually a hand-me-down of Cole's so I forgive the teacher for calling her a him initially. It's black swim trunks with skulls and a white swim shirt. Anyway, we left plenty early and arrived what I considered "on time" at 15 minutes before class. But this time we're at an indoor pool at the high school and there is a class before ours. So if you're waiting at the class meeting spot in the hallway, you're there in the hot-sauna while a stream of kids and parents come out …

When I get older...

Now that I've reached a certain age and a certain lifestyle (read: mid-30's, parent, trying to stay active), it really has become small things that give me great pleasure. You sort of realize it the first time when you hit a birthday where you want nothing. I mean nothing. Because if you really wanted something you'd have gone and gotten it already. For yourself. Or what you really want is either too extravagant or too boring.

Case in point--you have no idea how excited I was to go to the bike shop yesterday and buy the extremely exciting...wait for it...two tubes of Nuun, two packets of Skratch (more below), a hex wrench set, and a bottle of chain lube. I'd been thinking about this trip for the entire weekend. I've turned into that guy who is happy in life having the right wrench to finally remove that bolt from that thing. For me, it's a Profile Design behind-seat double water bottle holder that somebody clamped to the saddle with two different size hex bolts…

Developmentally appropriate (aka toddlers being a pain in the ass)

It's been a roller coaster weekend of ups and downs with a nearly-2 year old and a nearly-3 year old.

Leda continues her mischief, don't let Cole's new antics fool you. She sleeps poorly. She eats poorly. She has moments of cuteness and angelic halos over her head combined with moments where her mother and I would like to sell her to the highest any bidder. We frequently put her down in her crib (she won't go to sleep on her own yet though she sometimes will fall asleep on the couch so hopefully that transition phase is starting like it did with Cole) and she wakes up an hour later, crying. Or she'll make it until 2:00am and sometimes I can now get her to fall back asleep without picking her up. I'll find her pacifier, pat her on the back, and she'll roll back over. More frequently, she needs to be held for hours.

I'm a great dad between the hours of 7am and 9pm, but will be honest that the middle of the night parenting is not my strongest element. Kell…

Guilty Summer TV Viewing

For a family that usually goes pretty PBS in our television viewing, we've been watching a lot of lowbrow commercial tv lately. Here's my take on the best(?) of what we're currently addicted to...
Whodunnit?  This ABC reality show is bad. But highly watchable. The butler is the host. The worst contestant from the previous week becomes the murder victim the next. You get your choice between investigating the murder scene, last known whereabouts, or morgue for evidence. You have to barter for info and put together your version of events. The big reveal is a formal dinner where we learn who got the mystery right and which players need to be "scared" they'll be the next victim. 
Mistresses Another ABC show but this one is a fairly good drama. I'm a little ashamed I just said that. It's actually fairly well-written for a soap-opera type show about infidelity. For dudes, this show has it all. Alyssa Milano. Lesbian shower scenes. The characters and plots stri…

Happy Independence Day!

Democracy alone has constructed an unlimited civilization capable of infinite progress in the improvement of human life. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt Whew! Seriously? July 4 already? I had to look back and figure out when I last's been a crazy week.

Cole has been accepted for school in the fall so he'll be going for 3 hours every morning--5 days a week--to a pretty small class size that I think is going to be perfect for getting him used to some peers and the idea of school in general. He's super excited. We'll have some serious work getting him on a schedule and used to being away. I'm sure he'll have his up and down days, come home exhausted and cranky, and full of energy about all the new things he'll be learning. It's just for the best probably for all of us. He'll also be free from the watchful eye of his sister and Leda will now get one-on-one time with Daddy. Frankly, she gets that for probably 30 minutes each day now because she slee…