Archive for ‘Dad’s Blog’


Are You Off Today?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have been asked that!  Just try and get a haircut on a weekday, during “working” hours and not have that question posed to you!  Then, reply that you are a stay at home dad and you’ll likely get a response of, “oh, that’s nice”!  Wouldn’t it be great to have one of those thought balloons over the stylist’s head to see what he or she is really thinking?

There are many misconceptions about being a stay at home dad (SAHD)…we’re lazy, like to sleep ’till noon, we watch SportsCenter all day, lack motivation and we are really don’t care if we do the job of being a full time dad well or not!  More about those later.

The number of SAHDs in the United States has nearly tripled in the past decade.  There are still far more stay at home moms than dads, but we’re gaining a little on them.  Many men have made the decision to stay at home with the kids either by economic necessity (especially this past year) or like myself, by choice.

Here’s my story…

Following the birth of our first child, my wife and I decided it was important for one of us to be home with him.  She had just received a promotion at work and we had relocated from Minnesota to Southern California for her job.  I was looking for work, without much success, so it was decided that I was the logical choice to stay home with our son and be the one to do deal with the dirty diapers!  Ahh…okay! It went well, but of course, it took some getting used to and there was quite an adjustment period.  A few years passed and we then added another son to our family.  I was still home, but now had TWO boys to take care of! A couple of years later and following a move back to the Twin Cities, we found out our second son had a serious speech problem.  He began speech therapy at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis and I worked with him at home.  His appointment times and days often varied, so it was virtually impossible for me to work outside of the home, plus he needed someone to work with him at home, so being a SAHD continued.  Over the years, he has made tremendous progress with his speech and I am very glad my wife & I made the decision to work as a “team” and have her be the breadwinner and me stay home.  We have since added a beautiful daughter to our family, or as I refer to her as, daddy’s “job security”!  Then this past winter, I discovered a book about starting a blog and  publishing a webcomic and so, here I am!

Now about those misconceptions…

SAHDs are not lazy, we do not lack motivation and all of those other silly things!  We simply have a strong desire to help out our families, even if that means, giving up a traditional career and “running the household”!  My alarm goes off at 5:00 AM and most mornings I throw on a pair of running shoes and head out for a run (or in the winter, to the treadmill, it is Minnesota after all).  After I finish, I shower, get dressed and begin the process of getting the kids out of bed, fed and ready for school.  I should note, that a fair amount of coffee has been consumed by said, SAHD at this point!  After the kids are out the door, it’s time to clean the house, do some laundry, pay some bills, run some errands, mow the lawn, shovel the driveway, occassionally volunteer at one of the kid’s schools and lately, draw some cartoons.  The kids start arriving home before you know it and along with that comes, rides to be given, homework to be supervised, dinner to be made, dishes to be done, backpacks loaded for the next day and get the kids to bed!  Usually by then, it’s 10:00 PM, so there’s some time to read or watch a little TV and finally get some much needed sleep!

Oh yeah, we don’t get weekends off either!

But, seriously…

I do consider myself lucky to able to spend time with my kids on a daily basis, no matter how tiring it may be at times!  Being a SAHD is a great course in “time management” and you also learn some patience along the way!  It may not be the most physically demanding job, but, mentally, it can be challenging.  All SAHDs and SAHMs too, should remember the important role they play in the development of their children!

Okay, enough of the serious talk…

Let’s see if Dave can gain some of that confidence and respect in the coming weeks of the strip.  I have a hunch, he’ll hit a few “bumps” along the way!


Dad’s Taxi

Well, my kids have been back in school for two weeks now and “Dad’s Taxi Service” is back in business!  My oldest drives, while helpful, brings it own set of issues, but that’s for another day.  My two other children ride the school bus and both leave and return home at different times.  It’s called a “staggered” start by our school district, I call it, cutting into my free time!  Some days it seems like the last kid is just leaving when another is coming home!  Also, trying to keep straight who comes home when can be a challenge!

But here’s the twist this week, riding the bus was out for my two youngest kids since one had cross-country after school and the other was working as a “crossing guard” at her school in the morning and afternoon.  My little crossing guard required a ride to school in the morning and a 3:00 pick-up in the afternoon.  My cross-country runner was done at 5:00 and also needed a ride home, which was fine, but, on Monday, my oldest son had to work (there goes the option of him helping out), it was “Curriculum Night” at the Middle School, which went from 6:30 until 8:00, my “runner” had a Boy Scout meeting at 7:00, and to top it off, my wife, due to an appointment, couldn’t help me out!  Needless to say, I was doing doing a little “running” of my own!

That was the inspiration for today’s strip.  As hard as you try to stay “on schedule”, some days, it’s next to impossible!  My daughter started dance on Tuesday, at “dinner time” and of course she needed a ride to and from! My middle child began Confirmation at our church on Wednesday night, which started about an hour after cross-country.  I picked him up from “cc” at 5:00 and after we got home he had time for a shower and a quick bite to eat.  My daughter sings in the Children’s Choir at our church, which usually starts at the same time as Confirmation, but she had to be there early for tryouts for a musical, which meant they needed separate rides!

Someone could have a good laugh if I had a GPS tracking device on my van!  Lots of zigging and zagging!

My daughter had dance yesterday too, but of course, at a different time than on Tuesday and my runner had his first meet and you guessed it, at the same time!  And to top it off, my wife left for a business trip yesterday morning!  Ahhh!!!

… someone please pass the Advil!

I’m thinking about having our van painted an obnoxious shade of yellow and maybe earning some extra cash doing some airport pick-ups during my “free time”,  I believe I have the necessary experience!  Look for “Dave” to have some similiar experiences in the coming editions of the strip!


A Nice Quiet Weekend (Almost)

Following a pretty hectic week of adjusting to new schedules for my kids and lots of running around in “Dad’s Taxi”, I was really looking forward to a nice, quiet, uneventful weekend.

My last “official” SAHD duty for the week was Friday night at six o’clock, when I dropped off my youngest son for a weekend Boy Scout camping trip.  My oldest boy was suppose to go too, but he recently began a new job and was unable to get someone to cover his shift on Saturday.  He was scheduled to work from seven in the morning until three in the afternoon and then he said he would go to the scout campout, which was about an hour and twenty minute drive from our house.  “Sounds good,” I told him, “I’ll be happy to drive you when you get home from work!”

You guessed it…

“But, Dad, I’m a good driver AND I can drive myself!”

My son is sixteen and he has had his license since December.  By all accounts he is a good driver, no accidents, no speeding tickets and he knows the consequences of using a cell phone when he his driving.  He drives to and from school, to and from his job and also runs various errands in the area.  He has some experience driving on freeways and interstates.

I am comfortable riding with him when he is driving.

But…

This wasn’t exactly a short trip, he would be by himself and it required interstate driving.  It also required driving about forty miles on one of the busiest and most accident prone stretches of interstate in Minnesota!  We had the usual back and forth about the wisdom of me letting him make the trip by himself, when I was more than willing to give up watching a little college football to ensure he arrived at camp safely.

It came down to my thirty one-plus years of driving experience versus his nine months.

Game, set and match, I’m making the drive!

We began our journey shortly before four o’clock, traffic was pretty heavy, as it usually is on this stretch of highway.  We passed an outlet mall where a few months ago, a driver of a car missed the exit for the mall and then decided it would be smarter to make an illegal “u-turn” rather than go to the next exit, about a mile down the road.  The driver made the illegal “u-turn”, but didn’t see an on-coming tanker truck, who tried to avoid hitting the car, flippped over and crashed.  Thankfully, no one was killed, but the interstate was closed in both directions for nine hours!  We also talked about how often we hear about accidents on this road on our local news.  It’s just a busy, dangerous, stretch of pavement!

We got to the camp a little after five, my son unloaded his gear, I chatted a few minutes with some of the adults, who were on the trip and then I left for home.  Well, guess what happened on the ride home…

I’m in the middle lane, going close to the speed limit, pretty heavy traffic, approaching the outskirts of the Twin Cities, and no, in case you were wondering, I didn’t stop at the outlet mall, when all of a sudden some big, black, “mat-looking” thing came flying at me from the left lane!  I had no time to react or any chance to avoid hitting it as there were cars on both sides of me.  Breaking wasn’t an option either, since it happened so fast and there were vehicles behind me.

So, BAM, I hit it!

It made a really loud noise when it hit the front of my car.  I then ran over it and could see the SUV behind me hit it.  I could see the SUV pull over and other cars trying avoid hitting it.  I thought about pulling over, but decided, any damage could wait until I got home to inspect and it appeared it hadn’t caused an accident.

After I got home, I immediately checked the car.  On the front bumper there were black tar marks from the rubber and a large crack all the way through it.   It was going to need to be repaired, something I wasn’t looking forward to adding to my “to do” list this week!

I’m still not sure what I hit, but my best guess is a liner from a pick-up truck that came lose and flew out.  It’s kind of a pain, but I am grateful it wasn’t something more dangerous that hit me or that it didn’t cause a big chain-reaction accident.

I am also very grateful I didn’t let my son make the trip by himself this weekend. If this would have happened to him, I’m not sure what his reaction would have been.  I know he will encounter similiar experiences when he his driving, but hopefully, it’s after he gains some more experience behind the wheel!


Single Parent

Well, at least for a few more hours!  My wife has been out of town the past two days on business and I have been holding things down on the homefront.  She gets home later tonight, okay, it’s twenty one hours and seventeen minutes, but who’s counting!?

Even though I’m used to her being gone from time to time, I will say it adds a “degree of difficulty” to the job of a being a SAHD.  I didn’t think it was possible, but our family schedule is even more hectic than usual this year.  As I have mentioned, our oldest child is working at various times throughout the week, our middle child is running cross-country five days a week and has Confirmation on Wednesday nights. Our daughter is in dance, but, joined a “competitive” program this fall.  She now has practice two nights per week,for a couple of hours, but they are scheduled around the dinner hour.  My sons are in Boy Scouts and my daughter is in Girl Scouts, just to add to the list of activities.  So yes, as much as I hate to admit it, on occasion, I do say, “yes, we would like fries with that”!

I’m still trying to work out the “kinks” in our schedule, trying to eat together and avoid fast food, trying to get them to activities on time (and to the correct places) and helping them with their homework.  I am positive we’ll work it out and things will run more smoothly!  But I will say, I’m looking forward to having some help in twenty one hours and seven minutes!


Back To “Full Strength”

Since Minnesota is referred to as, “The State of Hockey” and a term from that sport is “power play”, I feel that is an appropriate way to discribe this past week. A “power play” is when one team has a “man” advantage over the other for a certain amount of time. With my wife out of town on business most of the week, my side of the family was down a person and it sure felt at like my kids were on a “power play”!

I had requests coming at me one after the other and from all angles! “Dad, can you help me with this?” or “Dad, I need a ride and I can’t be late!” or the classic, “I need help with my homework!”. It wasn’t just requests from the kids either, we had places to be and at times, it almost seemed simultaneously! Cross-country, dance class, Confirmation, musical rehearsal, Parent Information Night at my daughter’s school, more dance, more cross-country, and of course, more help with homework!

I felt like a goalie in a game seven of the Stanley Cup!

Nothing was getting by me! I was reacting to everything and handling the pressure like an MVP! I was going for the shut out, the perfect week, no mistakes by good ‘ol Dad!

I am happy to report, we made it to all of our activities, everyone was dropped off and picked up on time, everyone was fed (although, not at the same time) and all homework was completed!

The only thing left was to give my wife a big hug & kiss when she got home late Wednesday night.

Opps!

There went my shut out!

I fell asleep while waiting for her! The goalie was just too tired to hold out any longer! The “welcome home” hug & kiss had to wait until morning, but, borrowing one more hockey term, at least our team is now back to “full strength”!


You Betcha!

Friday night our kids were all out of the house. It was Homecoming here in town so our kids were busy with the game, dances and sleepovers. My wife and I decided we would take advantage of the quiet and watch the movie, “New In Town”, starring Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr., which is set in New Ulm, Minnesota. Zellweger’s character relocates to frozen Minnesota from sunny Miami. The movie was so-so, very predictable and one that you were glad you rented instead of paying to see in the theater.

The one funny part of the movie was how they poke fun of life here in Minnesota. As it seems with every movie set in this state, it is always the “dead of winter”, about fifty degrees below zero and people end every sentence with “you betcha”! The movies, “Fargo”, “Grumpy Old Men”, “Grumpier Old Men” and “The Mighty Ducks” come to mind. Of course with the latter, a movie about hockey, set in the summer probably wouldn’t be too smart!

Ahh, stereotypes!

I think, Hollywood would like you to believe we watch our “Fourth of July” fireworks shot off over frozen lakes! In “New In Town”, Zellweger’s character arrives in the “Gopher State” before Thanksgiving, but it looked like it was the middle of January! There was the predictable scene where she arrives at the Minneapolis airport in high heels, lacking a winter coat and is suddenly hit smack in the face with our free air-conditioning and plenty of snow! In the movie, townspeople were celebrating the first day of ice fishing, even before enjoying their turkey dinner!

Okay, a state has ONE Halloween snowstorm and receives THIRTY inches of snow and it’s labeled for life, come on!

In “New In Town”, the winter was predictably harsh, but it was also NEVERENDING!

Now, being a native Iowan, or as Minnesotans like to call us, “Iowawegians”, I do get a laugh out of Hollywood’s portrayal of life here, I mean, Minnesotans do dish out their share of Iowa and Wisconsin jokes! Some people here believe there is this dramatic transformation when you cross the border from a neighboring state. There may be 10,000 plus lakes here, but there is also no sign that says, “Welcome To Minnesota, A Carbon Copy Of Hawaii” either! So it is hard not to laugh when Hollywood makes fun of our perceived year-round winter and temps well below freezing and of course, the accent!

But, to be fair to the good people of the Northland, it would be nice to see to a movie set here, just once when the ice is off the lakes and the term, “wind chill” isn’t the punchline of a joke! Minnesota is a beautiful state, with a wonderful change of seasons, which it’s citizens choose to embrace. Too bad it doesn’t work in movies!

I suppose if they did have a movie set during the summer in Minnesota, it would probably have mosquitoes the size of bats and we wouldn’t be able to go outside! Could Hollywood could make it work?

You betcha!


Random

Just a few quick thoughts as I rush to get today’s comic loaded and also be on time for my son’s cross-country meet…

Fall has definitely arrived in Minnesota in a big way! We were enjoying a beautiful weekend when someone threw a switch and suddenly the temps dropped and the wind was howling! We were scrambling to find long pants and jackets for school on Monday. The winds have died down, but, the temps are still cool. Now, we’re just waiting for the fall colors to arrive!

I am running a ten mile race on Sunday so I’m hoping the cool temps stick around for that. No wind or rain are on my “wish list” too!

I do most of the grocery shopping for our family and I guess I must frequent a certain store a little too much. Not to mention any names, but it’s the one with the red “bullseye” for a logo! Anyway, I’m in there A LOT and I’m starting to feel a little like the character, “Norm” from “Cheers”. Remember when he used to walk into the bar and everyone yelled, “Norm!”? I am kind of half expecting everyone to yell, “Mike!” the next time I walk into the bullseye! I think I know the cashiers and the people who work the Starbucks there on a first name basis. I am also reminded of how often I shop there everytime I open our credit card bill from that place!

Remember our car that got damaged a little over a week ago when I hit a pick-up truck liner that came into my lane?

$1,200 and three days to repair it! It went in the shop on Monday.

Gotta get to the CC meet!


I’m A Runner

I’ve been talking a lot lately about how stay-at-home parents are always “on the run” with carting kids to and from activities. SAHDs & SAHMs always seem to be going here or there.

But, talk about irony, in my spare time, I enjoy long distance running!

I took up the sport several years ago and I have to admit, I’m a bit “addicted” to it! I like to rise early in the morning, put on my gear, grab my I-Pod and head out the door for a run. I enjoy the solitude of running, along with watching some beautiful sunrises. My early morning run gives me a chance to think through the coming activities for the day and it gets my batteries charged for dealing with the kids!

I have completed four marathons and several other shorter distance races since 2003. I enjoy the challenge of running a marathon and more importantly, the challenge of training for a marathon, which I consider to be more difficult.

If you can get through sixteen to eighteen weeks of training, you can run 26.2 miles!

I like having a race as a goal and for motivation to do the training. I think it would be too easy for me to hit the “snooze” button in the morning unless, I knew I was training for a race.

It also keeps me from gaining weight!

Being a SAHD, one of the challenges I face is, fighting the urge to snack! I admit it, I like to snack and sometimes my “will power” isn’t as strong as it should be!

It’s hard not to snack when you are within feet of the fridge and pantry most of the day!

Around 3:00 PM is the hardest time for me, long past lunch and still some time to go until dinner. A real easy time to let my guard down!

So if my “will power” needs a boast, I just picture how much harder it will be to run the last 6 miles of a marathon while lugging an extra twenty pounds on my body!

As for the actual races…

I like the adrenaline rush of being on the starting line, when the gun goes off! (The “rush” from getting the kids out the door in the morning is good, but it just isn’t the same!)

I also like the thrill of coming down to the finish line, while people are cheering you on! (So what if you’re a couple of hours behind the winner, they’re still yelling encouragement!)

I am reminded of the Billy Crystal line from the movie, “City Slickers”, “There’s nothing like bringing in a herd!” -I agree!

I like the sense of accomplishment. The setting of a goal, working hard for it and finally reaching it! Being a SAHD, it is sometimes difficult to have such tangible goals.

Injuries? You bet!

I’ve had “Runner’s Knee”, “Hip Bursitis”, a stress fracture above my ankle and “Plantar Fasciitis”, although, I originally got that from my “day job” and not wearing shoes around the house! (Lesson learned with that one!)

Even with all of that, I still enjoy running! (I think this where the “addiction” part may be applicable, at least my wife and kids think so!)

I was scheduled to run the Des Moines Marathon on October 18th. On July 9th I had a quadricep injury in my right leg (I’ll have to add it to the list). I didn’t run for six weeks and even after I started back running, it was still painful and I wasn’t anywhere near full strength. I still held out hope that I would be able to run the full marathon on the 18th, but in early September I realized that wasn’t going to happen. I thought, maybe I would be back in shape enough to complete a half marathon, so I switched my registration from the full to the half.

Since I do have a propensity for injury, I have made adjustments to my training schedule. I run less days, rest some days and I do more cross training, such as, bike riding.

I stuck with the training and gradually increased my miles, I am almost back to full strength and on Sunday I’m running the Twin Cities 10 Mile Race and in two weeks I’ll be lined up to run the Des Moines Half Marathon. Not really shooting for any “personal best” time in either race, but rather, I’ll enjoy the experience of running with some buddies and the scenery.

Just happy to be back doing something I really enjoy!

Good Luck to all runners in “The Most Beautiful Urban Marathon In America” and of course, The Twin Cities 10 Mile Race!

Check back to see how I fared!


Monday Morning Dad

It was a busy weekend for me with Twin Cities 10 Mile activities.

Saturday was packet pick-up day at the race expo in St. Paul. It is always fun hanging out at the expo. It gets you fired up for the race and it gives you a chance to waste some money on running gear that you probably really don’t need!

However, my race packet pick-up hit a little glitch.

A friend of mine, who works for one of the race’s sponsors had given me a “pass” to enter the race. There was some miscommunication and for awhile it looked like I might not be able to get in.

Following a nervous hour, things got worked out and I was “officially” in the race!

A big “thank you” goes out to a volunteer by the name of Sue, who was working at the “Help” desk. She was very understanding and handled things for me. From my point of view, she was certainly the right person to be working that station!

So, my 1,868th place finish is dedicated to Sue!

As for race day…

It was an early 4:00 AM wake-up call for me Sunday morning. I got up, had a pre-race meal that consisted of a bagel with cream cheese, a couple of pieces of turkey bacon and some strawberry yogurt.

I left my house at 5:30, picked up my neighbor, who was also running the 10 miler and we headed to downtown Minneapolis for the start.

It was a cool morning, the temp was around 40 degrees.

One of the nice things about running Twin Cities is the Metrodome is open prior to the race. It gives you place to stay warm, stretch out and it has restrooms, which is VERY important before a race!

We hung out in the Dome for about forty minutes.

We met a nice man from southern Minnesota, who was running the full marathon. It was his first Twins Cities Marathon and only his second one overall. He indicated to us that he was a little nervous about the race. My friend & I gave him a few pointers about the race course, some sites to be on the lookout for, we wished him well and left for the start of the 10 Miler.

The weather was ideal for running!

As I mentioned, the temperature was cool and there was very little wind. The race started at 7:05, so the sun was just beginning to rise.

There were approximately 6,000 registered for the race and they had us assigned to different “corrals” for a staggered start.

I could have gone in the first corral, but my friend was assigned to the fourth, so I decided to drop back with him. It just meant about an extra ten minute wait until the other corrals went ahead of us.

The race was “chip” timed so starting farther back was no big deal.

I have spent the past two months recovering from a quadricep injury and have just recently felt like I was getting back to full strength. So I was a little hesitant heading into the race about what pace I would be able to run.

I had completed a 10 mile training run the week prior, so my confidence was getting better.

Understandably, it was pretty crowded starting off, I ran my first two miles in about 19 minutes. Before mile 3, I felt like I got into a groove and more importantly, felt pretty strong.

With the good weather conditions and feeling good I was able to pick up the pace and maintain it to the end of the race.

My finishing time was 1 hour and 24 minutes, which was good for 1,868 place out of 5,797 finishers. I was very happy with my time and was energized about running the Des Moines Half Marathon in two weeks.

A special “thanks” goes out to all of the wonderful race volunteers, who gave up their Sunday morning, worked the starting and finishing areas, water stations, etc, etc…they helped make the race a great experience!

Following a “rest day”, I’ll be back at it, getting ready for Des Moines!


TGIF

Another busy week in our household is mercifully coming to an end!

My wife returned at midnight on Wednesday from a business trip to Orlando. The funny part was I thought she had gone to Phoenix! She has been traveling more lately and I had gotten itineraries for this week’s trip mixed up with next week’s trip.

It was a funny phone conservation when she called from “Downtown Disney” in Orlando and I thought she had gone to Phoenix!

When had Disney expanded into the “Valley of the Sun”, I wondered?

Sorry, Mickey, it was me that screwed up!

In fairness, she did leave REALLY, REALLY early Monday morning and as I recall, I hadn’t had any coffee yet!

I am quite sure she leaves for Phoenix this Sunday morning, just don’t ask me what airline or flight number!

If her travel schedule wasn’t confussing enough, two of our three kids had school conferences this week. Not a big deal, but…our two boys were off from school on Thursday & Friday, but our daughter was only off on Friday!

Okay, who has to get up and who gets to sleep in?

One of my pet peeves about our school district is the elementary schools follows one academic calendar, while the middle school and high school follow another. It simply means they’ll have different days off from time to time throughout the school year. It sure would make things simpler if they were all on the same page!

But at least I got the right one on the school bus Thursday morning and I didn’t receive a call later wondering why our fourth grader was at the high school!

So I am looking forward to this weekend, when I know everyone is going to be home!

Oh yeah, expect for my wife, who is working a church youth lock-in VERY EARLY Saturday morning, one son being gone on a scout trip, the other son working and my wife’s trip to San Diego on Sunday.

Oops! Did I say, San Diego? I mean, Phoenix!

See, I’ve got it straight!