Thursday morning is generally reserved for plenty of lounging and relaxing at our house. Today is no different. Sheila is at work and Jasmine is at school. The men? We are about as relaxed as can be. Those who know really well won't find this revelation shocking, but some might. I hate clothes. Not certain kinds, or certain styles, just all of them. I put them on to leave the house, but this is only out of a desire to conform with social convention. My reasonably new hobby of lifting weights has only made fully clothed at home time even more rare. Honestly, who wants to lift weights with sweaty clothing draped all over their body? So, I sit at my computer between sets in my skivvies. No, I don't recommend others use my computer chair. Asher has picked up the habit to some extent. He seems to be okay wearing clothes around the house for some activities. Others, not so much. Carpet hockey simply cannot be properly enjoyed with clothes on. When he has settled on playing, he will quickly strip his shirt and pants then holler: "Naked boy!" His tiny little dinosaur or pirate briefs are much cuter than when a 30 year old man sports the look. Today, in an attempt to obtain the pinnacle of relaxation, Asher is going with the shirt only get up. No pants, no socks, no underwear either. There is something bizarre about looking over and seeing a toy helicopter "fly" through the air, steered by a little guy while his little bird dangles in the wind. We also played baseball, had a game of hockey, then raced our hot wheels cars, all while we were free and easy. I told you, Thursday is for relaxing.
While Thursday is almost always for relaxing, we are even more tired today then normal. You see, "us mens" had a busy day yesterday. Getting out of the house by 9, we went to Strong Start to play a little basketball in the gym. After basketball, we spent time painting, playing store, building a train track, having a snack, singing songs, listening to a story and getting a stamp. All of which are important to a good time at Strong Start. We came home and ate and napped, as one is wont to due after all that excitement. Asher woke in time for us to go and pick up Jasmine from school. Off to the swimming pool where I chased Asher around for over an hour, while Jasmine did her thing. We had just enough time to come home and have dinner before Jasmine went off to her friends house (she was meeting up with Sheila at the pool to swim again). Asher and I made our way to the CN Centre to catch the Prince George Cougars against the Portland Winterhawks. We walked around the rink before the game, during the intermissions and after the game. Asher started asking to go home during the second period, even though he was into the game somewhat. He was playing hockey against himself during the game, drawing plenty of smiles from other fans. If you haven't seen a hockey player fight himself you don't know what you are missing. I laughed pretty hard when not long after standing and swaying while listening to the 2 national anthems, Asher decided to sing O Canada again himself while the game was on. It was a small quiet crowd so all those near us could hear what he was up to. Some of the little things he notices during the game are very cute, and they let me know just how much Asher is going to love the game. He is mildly irritated when the Portland goalie didn't sway back and forth during the anthem. He pointed out the distinct lack of pucks caught in the safety net, as he had scored a puck once when it was jostled out of the net at a game. In his most profound moment, while sitting on my lap he let me know that "none of these guys has dads". Referring to the players. They were unlucky enough not to have a dad with them while they played. "But he has his dad", pointing about 50 feet away. Asking him to clarify, he pointed again. Asher had noticed a man about my age with an older gentleman of about 60. If I was to guess, he was probably right. There was some resemblance. I thought this observation to be much too astute for a 3 year old. Not to worry, I assured Asher that the hockey guys most likely had dads, they just weren't on the ice with them. He was content with that thought.
I've had my mind somewhat cluttered lately while I try to find a balance between time with my children, and earning enough money to provide for my children, and also trying to find leisure time for myself. My leisure time is complicated by the fact that poker falls into both the trying to earn money category and the leisure time category. Asher and I have lots of time on my days off to fart around and be guys. In any given week we play hockey in the carpet, hockey in the driveway, we watch hockey on television, we attend live hockey games, we consume hockey in any available form. We wrestle regularly, and we also like to watch wrestling (go Daniel Bryan!). In a scene out of those extreme parent shows, I was counting reps for Asher as he performed shoulder presses yesterday. This was all his idea, but I have to admit, his form was pretty good. Unfortunately, as Jasmine gets older, she seems to be getting less interested in spending time with Dad. I'm not sure it can be helped, as this is likely pretty common with girls. She still likes to go places with us, swimming with Asher and I yesterday and attending a movie Tuesday with Sheila. Her hobbies are important to her to some extent, but time with her friends is definitely priority number one. I just want her to be happy, so I will have to kind of play it by ear. I want her to be able to confide in me, so I need to maintain a friendly relationship with my big little girl. At Strong Start yesterday, I had another adult mention how well Asher was eating his snack. I thought, um, well, it's an english muffin with honey, who the hell wouldn't eat that? As the discussion continued, I mentioned that the only thing Asher turns his nose at, is if something is "too picy". (sic) As a consequence, onions are the only thing we won't go for. This drew astonishment from the two ladies at the table, one who's daughter refused a muffin with jam on it (she doesn't like jam, what?!?) This led me to mentioning that my 10 year old daughter likes everything. I could not think of a thing that Jasmine won't eat. She tasted a bit of Brussel Sprout at Christmas. She recently told her Grandma " I don't really like zucchini, but hey, if it's mixed in with other things." Mom and I both found this both funny and profound. Last night, as I prepared omelets for dinner, I mentioned to Jasmine that I was going to add bean sprouts and bok choy to make an asian style. Jasmine actually got excited. No child has ever had their heart race when hearing about bean sprouts. "Dad! It's been a long time since we had Bok Choy!" "Mmmm, I forgot had good bean sprouts are!" Said while shoving bite after bite into her mouth. Jasmine also shares my affinity for Indian cuisine, going so far as to claim the same favourite restaurant as me "Dana Mandhi". Perhaps food can be the hobby that keeps us close as she enters her difficult teenage years.
I mentioned finding a balance between earning money, spending time with my children, and relaxing. It seems my children have taken over, and I don't regret that for an instant. I have a few hobbies that really enjoy. During the winter months, hockey in all its forms provides hours and hours of entertainment. This week alone, I went to the Spruce Kings game Friday with one of the guys from work, I played hockey Sunday with Sheila and the kids watching, and last night Asher and I went to the Cougars game. Tonight, a friend is coming by to watch the first game of the Olympic hockey tournament. I am entered in no less than 5 hockey pools. Sheila and I like to watch sitcoms together, and lately we have found some time to enjoy a few movies together. We have watched the Butler, Dallas Buyers Club and Fruitvale Station in recent weeks, and we thoroughly enjoyed all of them. I like to read, though most of my reading time is when it is quiet at work. I have almost gotten through "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" which has been one of the most challenging reads I have ever tackled. James Joyce is just not going to be a favourite of mine.
One of my more time consuming hobbies doubles as a money maker for me. Poker for me is part hobby, part job, and part obsession. Lately, it has become more job and less hobby. This has consequently led to it becoming less fun. I want to enjoy it, but it has become boring over time. I have played a lot in the 8 years since I learned the game. It was an absolute obsession for many of those years. I didn't play hockey in the winter, or soccer in the summer, or have a toddler to entertain, or weights to lift, or runs to take. All of my free time was spent playing poker. I made more free time by not committing to anything. Last year, 2013 was quite a drop off as far as result are concerned. I've identified a number of reasons above. I often would chose a 5 km run over a poker session. I'd lift weights instead. I'd play with Asher out in the yard. Sheila and I would watch a movie instead. Ultimately, I spent about half as much time at the tables in 2013. I think my casino time only totaled about 180 hours all together. Online, I got away from playing my best games, settling for whatever I had time to squeeze into my schedule. I don't win playing online cash games, and I am a breakeven player in sit and gos. I am a modest winner in the tournaments, but I rarely had the time to sit down and play. The schedule for tournaments is pretty undesirable after 9 pm, which is when I would be able to sit down. This had all become quite frustrating as I knew that I needed to make a little money to supplement my income. Even with all the negative feelings surrounding my money making hobby, I still managed a winning year at the live tables, averaging around 8 dollars an hour. That said, while I am confident in my abilities, its hard to have high expectations when the other players are spending considerably more time than you are practicing their craft. Even bad players will benefit from time spent. I'm too dedicated to my family and my own health to devote the amount of time to poker that I used to. At the same time, there is nothing stopping me from making the most of the time I have. I have an extensive library of poker books that I can re-read. I can access the myriad of advice available online for study. Ultimately, I would like to play 10-12 hours a week. There is more money to be made at the casino then on the computer, but I also must risk considerably more to win said money. The days of the week that I am available are not the best ones, and on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays most opponents will be of the heavily seasoned variety. Online, again, Friday and Saturday night play would be best, but I work. Perhaps I could play 2 sessions during the week, periodically replacing an online tournament session with a trip to the casino. My confidence found a boost last week when I scored two decent results. On Monday I made the final table of a 11 dollar 6 max tournament, finishing 4th of 272. On Wednesday, I bested myself, scoring 3rd out of 278 in the same tournament. I played a few more sessions since, so I currently sit at about 400 dollars more than I had a couple weeks ago. I have now final tabled this tournament 5 times in the last year, which has me focusing on tournaments again. Lucky? Yes, to some extent. I made a number of really good plays that surprised myself. I had lost my swagger, and these results will hopefully bring some of it back. I don't expect to get rich. Just to survive.
That's enough for me today, Asher and I have some eating and napping to do. What? I told you we were relaxing.