Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Just Me and My Son

We have had a fun morning here in the man cave.  Asher had fallen asleep again while watching teetee so when I rolled out of bed it was deathly quiet in the house.  The little man woke shortly after and we have been busy ever since. 

Asher brought out the deck of cards first and proceeded to continuation bet on a flop of ace, queen, jack.  I called with my ace ten.  He bet again on the turn and river, while I made both calls without improving my hand.  He flipped over his cards one and at time, happily announcing that they both had a match: the nine that had hit the turn, and the seven that had hit the river.  He is 2 and a half.

Next, Asher pretended to be a "moncur" while I attempted to hide under a couple of blankets.  It's not every day that a growling, scary lizard gets spooked by the dark, but this little guy did.  After he found me under the blankets, he immediately had to go as the windows were all closed up.  He is 2 and a half.

Asher climbed on top of the eliptical machine, and while he can't make it go with his feet, he is strong enough to move the arms and turn the wheels.  He called over to me for help with counting as he completed 10 reps.  Asher is 2 and a half.

After we took a break to get dressed and watch the garbage truck come by, it was time for breakfast.  I poured a bowl of golden grahams and grabbed a glass of water.  I came back downstairs, and he followed a minute later with a chocolate pop tart.  No offer to share his find, he was more than willing to alternate bites of cereal with me while also eating the whole confection.  He is 2 and a half.

I received a series of high fives and low fives topped off with a kiss before Asher spotted me for a set of reverse dumbbell flys.  He was also kind enough to count my reps for me, only skipping the numbers 5 and 8 on our way to 10.  Asher is indeed 2 and a half.

We have managed to squeeze in a little basement baseball too despite being so busy this morning.  At one point he called to me to take a picture.  He had put on my weight lifting gloves and had 1 leg resting on the weight bench with a tooth filled smile plastered on his face.  What can I say?  I've had  a great morning with my Asher.  He is 2 and a half.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Do This Do That

I'm back in front of my keyboard with a little time on my hands and I figured, what better to do with my time than to lull my small band of loyal readers into a false sense of enjoyment?  I kid indeed, the content in this space is not intended to entertain, because if I went about it that way, I would be setting myself up for failure.  If, after I type this piece and you have read it and enjoy it, then and only then should I recieve any credit whatsoever. 

Lately, I have noticed that I am a bit depleted.  How so you might ask.  It is kind of hard to explain.  See, it's been a couple of years since I started making positive changes in my life.  Slowly, I began to make more and more changes, and it is entirely possible that I reached some kind of limit.  I was going to categorize the different changes I made, but in actuality, they all tie back into physical and mental health.  Most of the things that would find a place on my mental list have been mentioned in this space.  Sheila has joked on occasion that I just didn't have the time in a day to do all the things I had in mind.  It seems in the past few months rather than run myself ragged getting all sorts of things done, I have copped out and done less, or even less than less, nothing at all.  You might think, oh, what a smart move.  Less burnout.  Matt must be feeling better.  I'm not so sure.  There really is something amazing about the way you feel having accomplished numerous things in your day.  This is not to say that I can't find hapiness in the small things.  Jasmine and Asher give me reasons to smile all the time as I documented in my last post with Jasmine's new trumpet.  I want to use my time today to make a list of things I was doing to better myself either physically or mentally that I have gotten away from either completely or somewhat.  I intend these to be short snipets, rapid fire style, but you know me, long winded is an understatement.  I am hoping that getting these things down on virtual paper will inspire me to get back at them.

-MORE CARDIO!  Ugh, I had a few soccer injuries that became convenient excuses, but the last 3 weeks or so I have been flat out lazy.  Get on your bike son!  Go walking with the kids!  Get a few jogs in before our 6 month winter sets in. 

-EAT HEALTHIER!  This one has slowly crept up on me.  Too much pizza.  When I was doing well, my treats and junk food were limited to night time while watching boob tube or playing cards.  I should be able to have decent will power during the day when I am not even hungry.

-TAKE YOUR VITAMINS!  This one should be easy.  It takes about 2 minutes to open the bottles and pop the pills.  No effort required.  I currently have green tea tablets, ginseng, fish oil, glucosamine sulfate, calcium, coenzyme Q10 and a multivitamin.  When I take the lot of them after a meal, I end up feeling much better throughout the day.  2 minutes of time to feel better all day?  Only an idiot would be too lazy to not bother.

-PROTEIN!  I also haven't been bothering with protein shakes.  Stupid.  I usually have cereal or yogurt for breakfast, then a sandwich or leftovers for lunch.  Sheila is a great cook and dinner is always good whether she or I make it.  That extra 20 grams of protein that a daily shake provides in needed for my health.  It's also one of the only ways I consume milk as I rarely think to just have a glass. 

-ACTIVITIES WITH JASMINE!  It has dawned on me recently.  It's much easier to entertain a 2 year old then it is a 10 year old.  We did take advantage of our nice September weather, and I had the kids out exploring at the Nechako River, soaking up the sun at West Lake, and a few other things.  Asher thoroughly enjoys anything we end up doing.  Aside from swimming weekly, where I am occupied with her brother, Jasmine doesn't have any regular activities that we do together.  I aim to work on that.

-MORE HELP AROUND THE HOUSE!  This one comes and goes.  Sometimes I am very helpful for weeks, other times, not so much.  I had been making more meals and getting more chores taken care of, but this rut I find myself in has led to less productivity in all aspects of my life.  Cook more, clean more, feel accomplished.  Allow Sheila to relax more.  Seems simple enough.

PICK UP A GOOD BOOK!  I had a short virtual conversation with one of my few reading buddies over the weekend.  She asked if I had read anything good lately, and I was ashamed to admit, I have barely been reading.  My spare time at work is best for reading, but it seems I haven't managed to get motivated.  I did read a solid mystery novel recently by Louise Penny that I got through quickly due to my interest level, so perhaps I have turned a corner.  Reading is so much more enjoyable than mindlessly staring at a computer screen or television though I forget this at times. 

WRITE MORE!  This poor blog has been neglected for too long.  If I do more things with my spare time, I will have more things to write about.  Easy game.

BRUSH YOUR TEETH!  This one is a bit embarassing.  I always brush in the morning and usually once or twice more during the day.  I floss religiously, something I never forget due to a few small gaps in my teeth that are essentially magnets for food scraps.  It's the bedtime brushing that I am lazy about, and it's been getting to me.  Haul your lazy ass out of your bed and spend 2 minutes in the bathroom scrubbing the stubs.  60 year old me will thank 30 year old me in the future.

HELP ASHER GROW!  So my little guy is getting pretty close to being a 3 year old.  He is growing physically and mentally every day.  My brother was over for a visit last night with my neice Charlotte who is but a few months old.  The little one is cute as a button, and she provided a reminder to me about just how different children are at 2 months as opposed to 32 months of age.  It is up to Sheila and I to mentor and guide Asher's ever growing mind.  We were both estatic the other night when he counted 10 dots for us!  He is beginning to learn the different colors too!  We have been locked in a months long struggle towards potty training.  Asher has been peeing in the toilet for a couple months now, and even will initiate the visits to the bathroom so he can go.  Number 2 has not been so easy.  Sheila and I have been working at it, and he has managed to go twice now, but both times Sheila had to trick him somewhat.  We have established a rewards system that he is well aware of, but after he got the toy motorcycle, he seemed to be content.  No need for the other cars apparently. I am lucky enough as a Dad to get lots of one on one time with my little guy.  I need to be more productive with this time.

SEEK OUT NEW MUSIC!  I am a music lover.  I have no shame in admitting that I will listen to most any genre if I enjoy what I am hearing.  Music can often alter my moods significantly, and I will use it to pick me up if I need a boost.  It is also important for me to keep finding new stuff so I don't get bored with what I have.  Go forth and journey young man!

LIFT MORE WEIGHTS!  More cardio is one thing, but I would also like to get stronger.  No one wants to be a string bean.  I have done pretty good with this one, but I find that my workouts are taking longer and longer as my motivation has been lacking.  Routines that could be completed in a matter of 45 minutes end up taking me upwards of 2 hours as I search for things to distract myself with.  I often run out of time and have to cut exercises out of my plans.  Sad, sad, sad!

ENJOY WHAT YOU HAVE!  I am not good with being appreciative.  There are many things in my life that I am thankful for, but as I rush through life I don't think I spend enough time reflecting.  I have a woman in my life who adores me, despite my numerous flaws.  I have two very healthy children who are beautiful and well behaved.  We have a house to call a home, and reliable vehicles to get us around.  My extended family is close by, and they are very supportive.  I see people struggling and I empathize with them, but I am often too busy bemoaning the minor difficulties in my own life to properly put things in perspective. 

DO MORE FOR OTHERS!  I have been thinking about this one for a few weeks, ever since I found out my work schedule will not allow me to coach Jasmine's basketball team this winter.  Perhaps there is something more I should be doing?  Volunteer coaching is something, but it is only a few hours a week for a few months of the year.  This is me telling me that I will help with the Good Cheer campaign at Christmas time.  Maybe it is time that Jasmine and I start volunteering at the soup kitchen like we have discussed a few times?  I will have my Saturday mornings free throughout the winter so even the feeblest of excuses is gone.  I can't afford to give financially, but for many charitable organizations they need man power more than money power. 

That's my time, I hope everyone has a great week.  With all of these topics in mind, I know I will.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Bonding Over Trumpet Blasts: Who Knew?

I am coming to you late in the week for a rare Friday afternoon installment.  It has been an amazing couple of weeks to be outdoors in Prince George.  Most years at this time we are already dreading the long winter slog that lies ahead in the not so distant future.  None of those thoughts have entered my mind.  Hockey season is starting, the Spruce Kings our local junior A team have their home opener tonight, and it is currently 28C/82F 3 hours before puck drop.  My soccer team is scheduled to play our semifinal game on Sunday afternoon.  The weatherman is calling for a high of 30C/87F that day.  Luckily, the Terry Fox Walk takes place at 10 that morning, so the inbetween time cam be used to cool off. 

During the past 2 weeks I have managed to squeeze in a few fun outings with Jasmine and Asher.  Last week we took a drive out to Miworth after I had realized that 10 years after moving to Prince George, I still hadn't seen the area.  We drove to Wilkins Park and found ourselves right on the banks of the Nechako River.  Asher, Jasmine and I went out to water's edge to check out the slow moving water.  We found a few shells, but the baby toads got Jasmine most excited.  She carted a couple of the them around as we went for a short hike down the river.  We toyed with the idea of bringing them home, but then decided that mom might not like that.  After playing soccer for a bit in the nice grassy area, we were on our way.  I hadn't really planned the day, but as we were getting hungry I decided to stop off at Dana Mandi to try their lunch buffet I had heard about.  Jasmine dug right in, and Asher was so riled up to be out at a restaurant that he could hardly eat.  He stayed in his seat for the most part unless Dad or Jasmine was up getting more food.  Then, he was up.  And around, and in the back area of the restaurant.  It was quiet in the place, so he wasn't as disruptive as you might imagine.  Jasmine and I ate our fill (always have to have 2 plates at any buffet is my rule (Jas had 3!)) while Asher ate about 7 pieces of Naan bread and 2 bites of Butter Chicken.  I went to pay, and the ladies working (all part of the owner/operator family) told me that I need not worry about paying for Asher "he is just little" were her words.  A nice gesture that you rarely see these days.  I added to the tip and we were on our way.  Off to the swimming pool for some fun and exercise, then a stop at the Pastry Chef Bakery as is our custom, and an exhausted Asher passed out in the car on the way home.  It was a nice way to celebrate Jasmine's last day before school started.

This week, Asher and I have taken advantage of the nice weather by walking each of the last 4 days.  Tuesday, we walked to the high school and stopped to play soccer while watching the school teams work out.  Wednesday, we walked to Jasmine's school to attend Strong Start for the first time this year.  Asher had a lot of fun seeing all of his old friends, and getting his stamp at the end of circle time from his teacher.  He has been looking forward to "school" for weeks.  In the afternoon, we went swimming with Jasmine. 

Thursday, as we got ready for another walk, I looked around the house for Asher's hat.  Having no luck, I grabbed one of mine and he was happy to borrow it from me.  We made it to the high school and started golfing.  Asher insisted that we bring the "real" clubs, telling me that his plastic ones were old and didn't work anymore.  Smart boy he is.  Well, the junior version of the "real" clubs are too heavy for him.  Did he care?  No, not at all.  The only way he could connect was by pushing the ball along the ground with the 7 iron, but after getting plenty of praise from me he didn't know the difference.  Many of the highschool kids were commenting on how cute he was with his oversized ball cap and giant club.  He didn't get discouraged, instead he got a lot of fun out of chasing the balls that I hit across the field.  After a bit we decided to put the clubs away and take out the soccer ball.  We moved over to the big goal to take some shots.  Then I hear, "hey Dad!  My hat!"  I turn around and see Asher holding up what appears to be a ball cap, but it has been mangled by the lawnmower.  I get closer, and sure enough, it is Asher's roots ball cap that he wears regularly.  Though I don't remember, we must have left it at the field on Tuesday when we were there.  The coincidence of him finding it himself got an interesting reaction from him.  He thought it was kind of funny how it was shredded with grass all stuck to it, but he was also quite sad that his hat was wrecked.  Later, as we were leaving to finish our walk, we loaded the wrecked hat in the stroller so we could toss it.  Asher got a little sad about it until I told him he could keep my Expos hat because it was my fault that his was ruined.  "That's pretty funny Daddy!"  It was still on his mind a while later when an older later waved hello to us, then stopped to oogle Asher.  She got to hear all about the mean lawnmower and what it had done. 

As we were walking, a thought crossed my mind.  It is so nice out, it would be cool to head to the lake.  Jasmine would get a kick out of it, expecially on a school day.  We had a nice time, even though it was sooooo hot.  Jasmine did plenty of swimming, but Asher was too scared of the little fish that were swimming everywhere.  We left after a few hours that ended with Asher getting stung by a wasp.  He had already had a wasp land on his face 5 minutes before so this was ridiculous.  2 wasps in 5 minutes?  I would have expected a 2 year old to be more upset when stung by a wasp, but man is he tough.  A little bit of crying, calmed down within a minute, then he held the side of his face quietly for the whole drive home.  No fussing at all.  He calmly told his mom what happened and had a cold cloth on it for 2 minutes.  Then he moved on with his day, never mentioning it again.  After eating dinner we decided to go to the pool for some more swimming, then topped the day off with an ice cream cone.  Asher was so tired out from his long day that the sugar jolt had little effect and he fell asleep quite quickly after we got home. 

While all of my time with Jasmine and Asher is important to me, there were a few very cool things that happened in the last couple of weeks that reminded me just how much my kids love me.  Jasmine has recently started grade 5 and is 10 years old.  She has already entered that phase where outward affection towards her Dad is not always the cool thing to do.  Now, she does still give me a kiss and a hug before she leaves for school, but I know this will not always be the case.  She doesn't spontaneously announce her love for mom and dad like she used to.  It's been a while since she told us that she planned to live with us forever.  Forget all that.  I don't need words, when actions provide the same message. 

A couple of weeks ago, I looked into minor basketball as Jasmine was considering playing again.  I got confirmation that the games would be Sunday morning this year instead of Saturday meaning that I could no longer Coach due to work commitments.  When I broke the news to Jasmine, she was quite upset.  She wasn't sure if she wanted to play anymore because as she put it: "you have always been my coach Dad."  It's true.  She hasn't played soccer or basketball without me being one of her coaches.  I was happy to see that I am still wanted, and not yet a source of embarassment made me tear up a little.  Sheila and I did convince her that playing was still a good idea, and she went ahead and signed up.  On Tuesday night after she had soccer, Jasmine tagged along to my practice.  She was going to sit and watch, and get some reading done for school.  Instead, she spent a bunch of time booting the ball around with me while I warmed up.  She was genuinely disappointed when I told her she couldn't play with the guys during our scrimmage.  Jasmine doesn't take much interest in soccer practice, so this was awesome to see. 

A little while back, we started hearing from Jasmine that she wanted to be in the school band.  As parents, we are always happy to hear about new interests, and we were supportive of this one too.  The first week of school she came home with information about the band program.  There was to be a meeting where the kids could try out the instruments, and Jasmine was going to go and decided that night what she was going to play.  We talked about the band a few times during the week, and I told her a few stories about my 2 years spent playing the trumpet.  By the time the meeting came along this past Wednesday, Jasmine had already decided that she would play the trumpet.  Her two best friends were also signing up for band, but Jasmine wasn't worried about what instrument they were picking.  She picked the trumpet solely because I had played it, and she told me just that.  Wow, that blew me away.  I told her that maybe we can look into getting 2 trumpets so we could play together.  Not only did this not repulse her, she actually got excited about it!  We signed up for a 2 month rental which gives me time to shop around online.  The trumpet market is pretty competitve, so getting 2 of them won't be that expensive.  The opportunity to bond over music is too good to pass up.

Jasmine is now signed up for band, minor basketball and Girl Guides so she spent plenty of time joking with me and Sheila about all he clubs and teams.  She let us know that she was also going to do lunch time monitoring for the younger grades, and decided that this counted as another "club".  This is probably enough to have on her plate, as she will have regular homework, plus plenty of swimming outings, as well as winter fun when the snow flies.  It's good to keep 'em busy somebody once said.

One last story to pass on as I my time runs out.  Asher has been pretty excited about the whole trumpet development this past week.  Last night, as Jasmine was practicing, he even got in on the act, blasting a couple of notes and getting a good laugh out of us.  Jasmine, Asher and I were all downstairs listening to some trumpet music on the computer.  I have a modest collection of ska music, a style that incorporates elements of punk music with big band style brass instruments.  On most records, the trumpet is just a bit player, but we found an album that featured trumpet playing on every song, and it was the lead instrument on a number of the songs.  We played a few songs off of the "Skatalites - The Best of" album and then Jasmine strolled off with her mom to the band meeting.  The next morning as Asher and I engaged in a spirited session on blanket hiding ("the bad guys is coming!  close up the windows!") he abruptly turned to me and asked for "trumpet music".  He does tend to be in awe of the things Jasmine gets to do, but this was still pretty shocking.  I put the album on, and a little later after we finished playing he asked to lay down.  What?  Still wondering what was going on, I set him up with a pillow and blanket on the couch.  It was only 930 in the morning.  Asher will sometimes initiate this as a prelude to a nap, but tends to be closer to noon or later.  He didn't seem tired, and he wasn't.  He laid quietly listening to the music.  As confirmation that he was indeed listening, he called to me a couple times when there was gaps between songs, wondering when the next one would start.  He fell asleep after about 45 minutes of listening to "trumpet music".  Fast forward to this morning, and right around 930 he once again asked for "trumpet music".  This was in response to me telling him I was going to put music on.  He immeadiately asked for help getting up onto the couch and he once again set himself up to listen to the tunes.  After about 30 minutes he was once again having an early morning nap after relaxing to the sweet sounds of Johnny Moore on the trumpet. 

That's my time.  I'm glad I got the chance to share today, as many of the little things in life have led to me smiling constantly over the last few days.