Dad Diary: My Lenten Letter to My Children

Paczki | DonutsYes, I had a pazcki for breakfast. Yes, I’m going to eat my favorite fast food for lunch. Yes, I’m going to have an Old Fashioned this evening, but it’s Fat Tuesday, for heaven’s sake. However, tomorrow, with the first day of Lent, it’s going to be a “first-day” of a new life where I take care of myself, my body, and my brain first in order to be a better father, husband, employee, friend, and human.

All religions talk extensively about the greatest gift we have from God is our body. Do most of us treat our body as a gift?  Ahem. My recent adventure onto a scale at my Dr.’s office suggests, no, I treat my body like a rental storage unit (and my cholesterol results suggested I’m a hoarder and that storage unit has every old magazine I ever subscribed to). I look around any mall or grocery store, or theme park, or sporting event, and looking at most people’s bodies, well, I can see most of us don’t treat our bodies like temples and gifts. I’m not breaking any ground there.

I’m going to change that. Starting tomorrow and pray for me that it’s forever.  44 years are in the books on this body I have. Let’s see if I can get 44 more, and make them healthy and fit.  And now, a letter I wrote to the people who love me. They say, if you write something down, you’re more likely to follow through. Let’s test that theory.

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body” -Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

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Dad Diary: I Promise to Take Care of Myself

My oldest daughter often frowns when I head to the cupboard or fridge for a snack, or if I take seconds at dinner. When I say I had some fast-food for lunch, she gets on my case. She’s right to do that. As I’ve documented many times on this Blog, I have heart disease coming and going on both sides of my family, Alzheimers is out there in my genes, and all by myself I added Bronchiectasis so I gotta take care of my lungs, too.

Basically, I should be 25 pounds overweight and I shouldn’t eat what I eat.

The commercial embedded below that’s running during the Olympics has really gotten my attention. I take care of my house. I baby my car like it’s a vintage classic. I try to keep my dog healthy. My iPhone is updated and my PCs run at their peak performance level. My lawn is artwork. The kitchen? Oh, I keep up on that and it’s an oasis.

Yet, I neglect me.

Why?!?!?

A good family friend passed away this weekend. He lived a great life. Had a wonderful marriage, three great kids, had grandchildren, and only being in his 60s, just seemed too, too young to leave us.  I lost my Mom 13 1/2 years ago when she was only 59.  My Uncle passed away two years ago this month, and he wasn’t quite 70.  I don’t want to be a guy who people say “to soon” about. Now, I can’t say by losing weight and exercising, and eating healthy will guarantee I live forever, but I can guarantee those things will make the days I have better, and let’s be real – of course I’ll live longer.

I’m writing this Blog a mere 48 hours from the start of Lent, and I always try some life-improving promises and I give up bad things, but this year, I’m going to write a letter to my kids. I won’t give it to them, but I’ll read it over and over again. I’m going to promise them that I’m going to take care of myself.

Part of being a Dad is setting a good example and keeping promises to your kids. I’m going to promise them I’ll do everything in my power to make sure I’m around for as long as I can be.

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.

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.