What I’m Eating: Stress-Free Stuff

productimagemagnesiumlthreonateface300x500_300xIn 2018, I’m going to make money from my Blog. Yep. It’s gonna happen. And it’s gonna happen without me becoming a video-game review guy, or by Blogging about random stuff.  I’m going to make it a Dad Diary (which I’m surprised isn’t really out there) all about the stuff middle-aged father-dudes care about.

big thing I’m into, as I approach my 45th birthday, is reducing stress and improving sleep. Less stress and adequate sleep is the key to longevity and daily sanity.

So here’s what I’m doing:

  • Magnesium L-Threanate (two good articles here and here) supplement – there are many Magnesium supplements but this one is, “is heavily linked to improved learning and memory. “
  • Leafy spinach in a smoothie (my recipe is below) because it’s a natural source of Magnesium
  • Daily Fish Oil Supplement (for my Omega 3s) from Trader Joe’s
  • Half a Trader Joe’s Men’s Multi-Vite (why “half”? Because I eat good food and take a scoop of Green Vibrance daily; the multi-vitamin will give me the Vitamin C & E that are so important)
  • Almond Butter with celery and dark chocolate chips as a night time snack

71xqy3bti0l-_sx522_Don’s Dad Diary Calming Smoothie Recipe:

  • 1 cup chocolate almond milk
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup (or a good handful) of leafy spinach
  • 1 banana
  • 2 Tbl Spoons Almond Butter
  • 1/2 cup ice

Mix it all together in a Vitamix (or do your best with your blender …but seriously …invest in your sanity and get a Vitamix …a Vitamix is basically a garbage disposal on your counter-top …there’s nothing it can’t chew up and make into a smoothie).

Just gotta ad exercise and I think I’m adding years to my life.


Dad Diary: Clothes Mountain Has a Song

I might write a children’s book with the sole purpose of turning it into a cartoon, and with an awesome theme song.

Remember, I change the bed sheets each and ever week and my daugthers have clothes everywhereand since I refuse to determine which clothes are dirty, and which clothes are clean, I stack it all in a mountain.

Here’s the theme song. Picture this with a banjo and more lyrics.

Dad Diary, Someone Still Thinks I’m Awesome

Regular readers are probably aware – I have two teenagers in my house, and a sweet, kind, smiley pre-Teen (she calls herself a “Tween”) heading in that direction.

I’m compared often to Phil Dunphey on Modern Family. I should be offended that sitcoms always paint us dads as dimwitted simpletons who are way-too-easily entertained. I’m supposed to be complex, I guess. But I’m not. I like every “Best Dad Ever” mug I’ve ever gotten from every Secret Santa shop. I haven’t thrown any away. I like the cheap keychains they buy me (even though I don’t use a keyring). I keep the keychains in a drawer. I have a box under my bed filled with every father-themed artwork, picture, or ash tray – and I don’t smoke.

Basically, if one of my kids poured their heart and soul into something, I’m sappy and nostalgic, and I can’t throw things away, and I can’t let things go.

With teenagers, the “Super Dad” mugs and art projects are all gone. They don’t think I’m as funny anymore. And when I use our family message board to encourage everyone to write down New Year’s Resolutions, the wife and the teens roll their eyes and walk right by.

Not my Tween (her words). She, instead, makes a resolution typically made by someone 30+ and quotes a song more than 50-years-old.

I’m tellin’ ya folks. She’s gonna break the mold on typical teen behavior, and she’s gonna be respectful to people, while also being relaxed.

Leave a Comment with your resolution. Also, leave a comment …what should this feature be? Dad Diary? Dad Evolving? Fatherhood Chronicles? Lemme know.

Dad Evolving, Carpool Lane Etiquette

Having a teenage daughter is the best. Right? Everyone?

I currently have a teenage daughter, and another on the way (but I have hopes the younger one, when she reaches her Teen years, will revolutionize how teenage daughters and parents interact with each other).

Let’s discuss the morning drop off at school with my 14-Year-Old in the carpool lane. She’s been a high-schooler for 4 months. Too many times I’ve made the mistake of telling her, as we pull up to our spot in the carpool line, “have a great day,” and, “I love you,” and, “I’m proud of you.” Each time I say those horrible things, she ignores me, can’t leave the car fast enough, and storms off. I drive away wondering, “what did I say? Did I use the wrong tone? Is telling someone you love them not what it used to be?”

Turns out, I’ve been doing it all wrong. What was I doing wrong? Well, I was saying these shameful things when the car door was open and other random girls, parents, administrators, and TMZ reporters might hear me. For a teeange girl to be seen openly communicating with a parent in a joyful, friendly way is not cool. Not cool at all!

Today, however, as the car began to slow, my daughter said, “OK, Dad. Tell me you love me and get it out of the way before the door opens.”

Whoa! This is a revelation.

I told her, quickly, “I love you. I’m proud of how serious you take your studies. I think it’s great how well, and early, you went to bed last night. Sleep is so important. Have a great day. It’s going to be a great day. When you get home from school, eat a healthy snack …”

I could hardly stop myself. To be given this access and permission to speak directly to my 14-year-old, and without earbuds, or a screen in her hands illuminating her face …this doesn’t happen. It just doesn’t.

And because I followed proper protocol, before she opened the door to exit the vehicle and storm off with her way-too-heavy backpack and lunch, she said, “I love you, too, Dad.”

Yup. Those words came out of her mouth (would it have been embarrassing if I was filming that moment with my flip-cam? …probably). I heard them. This happened. My daughter said, “I love you, too.”

That kinda moment is better than a cuppa coffee for getting the adrenaline going.

Needless to say, when I pulled away and started on my commute to work, I turned on Imagine Dragons and cranked it all the way up.

p.s. I’m not sure where “Blogging about your teenager” ranks on the “Most Horrible Thing a Parent Can Do” list, but it’s gotta be up there.

Great Reading – The Stories We Tell Ourselves

51y1-une0elEvery Monday, for more than twenty years, a guy named Roy Williams has sent a memo to his friends, fans, clients, and subscribers called the Monday Morning Memo

Every Monday! Period. He never misses. The “memo” is interesting. Sometimes it applies to what I’m doing. Sometimes it doesn’t. And sometimes it smacks me in the face like a 2×4.

This week’s was one of his best …ever! It’s about the story we tell ourselves is how our story unfolds. What story are you telling yourself?

I encourage you, read the whole thing. Subscribe. Read it weekly.

The most important stories I tell, by far, are the stories I tell about myself, to myself. Those stories are the source of my identity and the foundation of my purpose in life. Here’s the truth…

  1. Whether good or bad, your current circumstances are temporary.
  2. Success is temporary.
  3. Failure is temporary.
  4. Your future depends on your choices.
  5. Your choices depend on what you believe.
  6. What you believe is not determined by what you see and hear, but by how you interpret what you see and hear.
  7. How you interpret what you see and hear is determined by the stories you tell yourself, about yourself.

He asks…

Who do you believe yourself to be? What do you believe about this world we live in? What does the future hold?

Then he asks…

Did you experience 5 years of life during the past 5 years? Or did you experience 1 year of life 5 times? Don’t let 2018 be the 6th straight year of 1 years’ experience.

Then he begs…

Do something new. Tell yourself a different story about yourself.

I beg myself to do the same, and beg you, too.

Donnie Jalapeno Reigns Supreme! And spunkybean and The Bachelor Recaps

10420130_886021651420367_2669192316384554899_nWhen I leave this world, if there isn’t a patron Saint of Salsa, I hope I’ll be canonized in that category. Why? Because my Donnie Jalapeno salsa is that good. Since about October, I’ve been hammered with requests for it, and since my salsa makes the world a better place (hence my push for Sainthood), how’s that song go???  This little light of mine? I’m gonna let it shine. Hide it under a bushel? No! I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.

“It” = salsa

I think I need to bring in Scott and Weldon to tell me if my worst-ever-business-model has any sustainability, but for now, I’m going to keep with how I do my salsa business.

  1. I post to Facebook, Twitter, and social media (and email my Donnie Jalapeno email list) that I’m making salsa on Thursday.
  2. Make salsa on Thursday in my kitchen.
  3. Have people come to my house on Friday and Saturday and pick up their salsa.

I don’t think you need an M.B.A. to recognize the flaw – limited distribution capability. The problem is, I know my salsa is the best but only when fresh (seriously …read the reviews).

Some food expert once said to add a preservative, and it changed the flavor. Someone else said “can it” and that worked, OK, but even then only has a limited shelf life.

That’s my challenge for 2018 …how to increase output without sacrificing the freshness that makes it the best salsa in the world.

What else? Oh, yes. The Bachelor is back!!! And so are my recaps at spunkybean. You can get started before Monday’s premiere by reading my quick analysis of all the women who’ll be chasing Arie.

Now, here’s that song about letting my light shine.

An Inspiring Poem

I made a pretty drastic change in my life, recently, and feel inspired. This poem has helped me know I made the right decision, or to say it better, if I didn’t make the right decision, I’m not going to worry about it. Or, to say it even better, still, I’m going to do what I need to do to make it the right decision. Not everything in the poem applies to me, but most does.

The poem is attributed to Nadine Stair, and she wrote it at the age of 85. If you Google it, you’ll find many versions very close to this, many have been altered. You’ll even see it attributed to Don Herold because he plagiarized or modified it slightly for Reader’s Digest in October of 1953.

Live is meant to be LIVED …not dreaded over.

If I had my life to live over,
I’d try to make more mistakes next time.
I would relax. I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have on this trip.
I would be crazier. I would be less hygienic.
I would take more chances, I would take more trips.
I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers,
and watch more sunsets.
I would burn more gasoline. I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I am one of those people who lives
prophylactically and sensibly and sanely,
hour after hour, day after day.

Oh, I have had my moments
And if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another.
Instead of living so many years ahead each day.
I have been one of those people who never go anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a gargle, a
raincoat, and a parachute.

If I had to do it over again, I would go places and do things.
I’d travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted
earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall.
I would play hooky more. I wouldn’t make such good grades
except by accident.
I would ride on merry-go-rounds.

I’d pick more daisies!


Beginning or Resuming?

I’m feelin’ like my old self. Like anything is possible and I’m king of the world.

I like this quote (even I don’t entirely understand it)…

“Begin. Keep on beginning. Nibble on everything.
Take a hike. Teach yourself to whistle. Lie.
The older you get the more they’ll want your stories.
Make them up. Talk to stones. Short-out electric
fences. Swim with the sea turtle into the moon. Learn
how to die. Eat moonshine pie. Drink wild geranium
tea. Run naked in the rain. Everything that happens
will happen and none of us will be safe from it. 
Pull up anchors. Sit close to the god of night.
Lie still in a stream and breathe water. Climb to the
top of the highest tree until you come to the branch
where the blue heron sleeps. Eat poems for breakfast.
Wear them on your forehead. Lick the mountain’s 
bare shoulder. Measure the color of days 
around your mother’s death. Put your hands over
your face and listen to what they tell you.”  -Ellen Kort

But I think it just means you and I should get started doing what we’ve always said we were gonna do. Not tomorrow. Not later. Not in 2018. But …now.


Google Home Might Be Greatest Thing Ever

Don’t tell my wife, but I’ve fallen in love with another woman. Well, another woman’s voice. OK. Not another “woman” in the literal sense, but the female voice that greets me when I say, “Hey, Google,” many, many times each day.

How did I not rush out and buy one of these things the minute it was invented? At one point in my life, I was an “early adopter” of things, and now I’m a Johnny-Come-Lately.

But I don’t care. I love the Google Home Mini that I got in a white-elephant gift exchange last weekend. Yes. It’s only been one week, but that’s all it took to fall head over heels in love.

“Hey, Google …dictate a WordPress Blog entry…”

Full disclosure, no, I didn’t do that, but I’ve synced a buncha stuff. I can play anything on Spotify (I have premium …because I’m awesome). I can ask for any local station on iHeart. I can ask for the sound of a rain forest or ocean waves. I can ask for the 5-day forecast. I can ask for a joke. I can ask for The Eagles Greatest Hits played on shuffle.  I can ask it to play Penatonix Christmas CD, or for an Old-Fashioned Christmas playlist. I wanted to hear Paul Simon’s Graceland and it was as simple as, “hey, Google …play Paul Simon’s Graceland album.”  And …poof …just like that, there it was, playing in brilliant sound from my Mini.

google-home-product-photos-20Did I say, “brilliant,” sound? I did. For a small speaker, it has surprisingly quality audio. And when I upgrade to the original Google Home, and pair that with two Minis in well-positioned spots around my main room, I’m going to have a poor man’s Sonos system that fills my house with sound, recipes, news reports, and eventually will control my lights and crap. Remember when I wanted a Sonos system in the worst way? Well …you probably don’t remember, but I did, and now . . . no more.

I’m surrendering my life to Google Home. I have 9 Google Apps on my iPhone, now, and used Googe Assistant to set myself a few reminders. I’m becoming addicted to voice commands.

My life will never be the same.


OK. I’ll Try Meditation

meditation_20171214A few things are universal in the self-help and coaching world.

  1. Exercise daily
  2. Avoid starches and sugars
  3. Sleep at least 7-hours each night
  4. Meditate

I’ve tried meditating. It’s difficult. My brain is the kind of brain that never stops. During the guided meditation session below, I drifted away at least 6 times. Thought about Christmas gifts I haven’t bought for my wife and when I do buy them, they’re going to suck compared to what she gives me. I thought about three Leads and a few people I need to call for appointments, I thought about my overdue library items and the current $15 fine, I thought about going to see Star Wars tonight, and a few other things.

Each time I came back to the meditation because I remember the lesson – meditation is a process that takes time and practice – like golf …or playing a musical instrument.

The world provides no shortage of meditation guides, tips, and Apps, but this one (also shown below) from Michigan State University’s own Professor Karl Gude (College of Communications Arts & Sciences) is as good as any (and he designed it to tap into creativity, which goes along with something else I want to rekindle, which is writing).

I’m going to try this every morning, as the first thing I do, from now until the end of the year.  Oh, and something that bothered me while doing this meditation was the fact I couldn’t remember the last time I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes and my sides hurt. I need to work on that.

Were you thinking about adding meditation to your 2018 resolutions? Maybe this will help.

Memories or Life Tips

My Uncle Jerry taught me many things in life, but something quite random he showed me makes an almost daily impact on me. My Blog readers know I’m obsessed about coffee. I don’t even have a drip coffee maker in my house – I only Aeropress or French Press my coffee (and sometimes when I’m lazy, I use my wife’s Nespresso).

One night at my Uncle Jerry’s house, after having enjoyed another incredible dinner from my Aunt Denise, he offered me a cuppa coffee and before he poured my coffee, he filled a mug, about halfway, with water, and microwaved it for a minute. He said, “it warms up the mug and I like pouring coffee into a warm mug.”

I’ve done it every time, since.


Dad Diary: Save Me from My Son

44-image2I was going to title this Blog post “Child Abuse” and then cleverly explain that my child is kicking my butt, but that seemed horrible. But truly, my son is kicking my butt. Humbling me. Yet, motivating me.

Do you remember my Project 44? It was my mission at the beginning of the year, a year in which I was turning 44-years-old, to build a personal improvement plan to get my weight to 144 pounds, go to bed at 9:44 nightly, wake at 4:44, exercise for 44-minutes daily, write for 44-minutes daily, and on and on.

I started. I stopped. I tried again. I stopped. Like everyone and their New Year’s resolutions and #Whole30 and 90-Day boot camps, I fizzled out. Then, I changed jobs and on the day I made that decision, my daughter had started a countdown-to-Thanksgiving note on our family chalkboard (where we write chores, important dates, things needed at the store …stuff like that), and my son wondered, “how many days until Christmas.”

We did the quick math and were amazed – there were exactly 44 days until Christmas.

If you read this Blog, you know I find meaning and messages in what some might think are random, everyday coincidences. I believe in coincidences. But I also believe Angels in heaven, possibly under the direction of Jesus, can’t really call us on the phone or text us, but are allowed to communicate to us through clever methods, and we need to be on the lookout for clues and what they want to say to us.

Was it my Mom? My Uncle, Grandmothers, or a host of other Angels that keep an eye on me? I don’t know …but it was clear …someone wanted me to realize #Project44 could be a reality (editor’s note: my overall neglect of myself will not allow me to get my weight to 144 pounds by Christmas, but I’ll make a dent).

Don, you say! Get to it! Why and how is your son kicking your butt? Oh, because that night, when I told him about the message I was getting to get back to #Project44, he and I dreamed up #Bootcamp44.  My son, being 13, wants to build muscles, get in shape, exercise and be faster for sports …ya know …all the stuff a teenager cares about. Me? I want to live longer and be healthy, again. I’m tired of wondering what chest pains really feel like, or did I just sleep wrong? I’m tired of my breathing issues and wondering, hmmm, if I was in any kind of better shape, would my breathing improve (and then combined with proper diet, how healthy could I actually be)? Could I really get my weight to 144 pounds? Would exercise really help my sleep like every article ever written on “sleep” and “stress” suggests?

So we started. We knew it wouldn’t be every day, but we are lucky to have a church near our house with a walking track and community center, and rooms where they have dance and karate classes, and it’s FREE!

#Bootcamp44 started simple enough…

  • 11 Push-Ups
  • 11 Sit-Ups
  • 11 Burpees
  • Ladders across the gym (some call these “suicides”)
  • Repeat 3 times (see why we picked 11? Do it 4-times and the workout is 44 of each exercise)

Then my son had the idea of “adding something new every week, or adding two things per week. And now, here’s what our workout has grown into…

  • 11 Push-Ups
  • 11 Sit-Ups
  • 11 Burpees
  • 22 Mountain Climbers (each leg comes forward 11 times)
  • 11 Dips (on a bench)
  • 11 Pull-Ups (with assistance)
  • Ladders across the gym (some call these “suicide sprints”)
  • A walking lap with dumbbell shoulder presses while walking (8 lb dumbbells)
  • Cool down lap
  • Repeat 3 times and end with a 44-second plank

Like I told the woman who works the front desk when she asked at the end of our workout last nigt, “did you two have fun tonight?”

No! I told her I’m being tortured. The kid is relentless. He never will let me take a night off. He’s always like “when are we going to the gym?” He won’t stop. He does the entire routine faster than me. On the Ladder/Suicides, he gives me a head start and then passes me. It’s humbling. But I guess that’s the difference between a 13-year-old coming into his prime and a 44-year-old a few years past his prime.

Seriously. I would let him have ice cream and play Playstation all night if he’d just let me skip – and he never lets me skip.

Oh, and did I mention, in between sets, he’s doing the other teenage boy thing …jumping up to touch every doorway or ceiling because boys like to jump and jump higher and amaze themselves at how high they can jump and how tall they’re getting.

Between sets, I pray for the roof to collapse and for forced evacuation from the facility in order to end the torture.

It’s for my own good. I know. But it’s killin’ me (even though it’s actually doing the opposite).

Wish me continued luck.