Category Archives: Dad Life

Why I Run

Reading Time: 2 minutes

I used to be a reasonably competitive distance runner.  Team titles, individual titles, all conference, academic all American, blah blah…  Like decent.  Not world class.  Not national champion.  But generally not somebody you wanted on your shoulder 1,000 meters out.  And running was a really big part of me and my identity.

Some days, those accomplishments seem like they were achieved by a different human. Despite only being ~15 pounds over my racing weight back in college.

Working out regularly and even structured training is still part of the mix.  Even after some time away post college.  I eventually came back to the training and competing.  Because I need it.  That is just who I am.  It is part of me.  Chicken or egg problem.

The bike (or bike trainer) has been a big part of that regime.  But still nothing beats running for me.  Despite the nagging and chronic pain and injuries that began plaguing me late in my college career. And continue still.

As I was recently attempting another come back from my injury (I will call it my injury because it’s been with me for decades), I began reflecting on why I run.  What am I trying to get out of it?

In my days competing, the goal was to be as fast as possible in the races that mattered.  Period.  Everything was focused on enhancing performance.  At the risk of actually not competing in those races, because you broke.  But the risk was worth it.  And necessary.  Everyone else was pretty much doing the same thing.

The motto I trained under was:  Take one day off; you know it.  Take two days off; your coach knows it.  Take three days off; everyone knows.  Each year, I could generally count days without a run on my fingers.  And, I found it easier to track weekly mileage on a plus, minus ten basis.  Just the deltas to ten.  Eight was minus 2; ten was zero; 12 was plus 2, etc.

Now it is different.  I run and train with different goal in mind.  I run today, so I can run tomorrow.  

And that impacts each run and the decision making around each run.  It may lead me to run slower (ok, maybe a lot slower) or shorter or stop at the first twinge of pain or even take days off (gasp).  

Maybe I am just getting old.  But thinking about running and training through this lens has helped.

Travel Shave Kit

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Thought I would share my travel shave kit, which I have been using for a number of years. 

I use a safety razor at home, which I found out the hard way, is not travel friendly.  Also, I prefer to have a separate bath kit packed.

My kit:

  • Razor – Yes, sir! No twelve bladed shaving monstrosity here.
  • Brush – Economy brush; nothing fancy.
  • Shave Cream – Palmolive Classic Shave Stick.

A few key features:

  • Small and compact
  • Versatile – equally functional at a hotel or campground
  • Carry on Friendly – no liquids
  • Inexpensive – the shave stick is $4 and has lasted for years
  • No Surprises – not going to run out of shaving cream unexpectedly
Photo by Kolleen Gladden on Unsplash

A Sense of Accomplishment

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Am I the only one that gets a sense of accomplishment out of using up household items like a bar of soap or a bag of coffee? 

Why do I do that? Am I weird? (Rhetorical question – don’t answer that)

I think some of that ties back to work not providing much of a sense of completion on a daily basis. That’s the downside of knowledge work. I think one of the differences between working in iIndustry” versus working in consulting or banking is there is no finish line with the former.  With Banking and Consulting every project is a finish line.

The time scale in “industry” is much longer. You can look back and see “years” of accomplishment. Transitions and shifts in the business that took a relatively long time to manifest themselves.

Further reading: Shop Class as Soul Craft

Book Report: The Conscious Parent

Reading Time: 2 minutes

This is meant to be more of a book report, than a review.  In particular, I want to highlight three lessons from the book, The Conscious Parent by Shefali Tsabary, that I found impactful.

This is a book that Mrs. SFTE read and highly recommended.  As with most books that require a bit of work, I struggled through it a little bit.  It was more me than the book. However, I found the book to have some concepts worth thinking about and that are really relevant across many situations – not just parenting.

The theme that I appreciated the most is that despite being a little unconventional and promoting concepts such as spirituality, mindfulness, and meditation, etc., the book is most certainly not suggesting that life should be all roses and rainbows.  In fact, a main message within the book is the life is not alway going to be pleasant and a parent must help a child understand that there will be frustrations, boredom, and the just plain “ordinary.” I found this theme welcome in a world full of millenial attitudes and expectations.

  1. Changing Your Behavior – “Matching our emotional energy to that of our children is far more effective than asking them to match their energy to ours.”  Be the grown up in the relationship. Parenting is as much about modifying your behavior to meet the situation as it is modifying your child’s behavior to what you think it should be.
  2. Focus on the Process as Much as the Outcome – This is a sentiment that crosses many disciplines.  And there’s good reason. “When we focus on the achievement of a goal instead of the learning process, our children miss many opportunities to develop their self-esteem.  Rather than telling them, ‘Good job. Here is your gift,’ it’s important to highlight their character development, sharing with them how proud we are that they showed patience, determination, and bravery. … In this way our children discover the joy in learning, quite apart from reaching a destination.”
  3. Allow Your Child to Just Be – In order to allow your child to develop, grow, and flourish, sometimes you need to step back and let them be who they are and figure things out for themselves.  “We are so heavily invested in our children, determined that they not mess up but become a success, that in our desire to be “good” parents, we find it difficult to just be with our children in their as is state, allowing whatever is happening to exist.”

In summary, a good book that certainly inspired some self-reflection.

Gear Review: Dexter-Russell All-Purpose Turner

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Not to get all Marie Kondo on you, but every time I pickup the Dexter-Russell All-Purpose Turner (not spatula), I’m happy with my decision to spend a little extra.  And I would place this solidly in the “buy it for life” category of purchases.

Pancakes. Pancakes.

Plus, it turns me into a pancake making machine.

There are multiple styles, but I chose the 5 inch, “all-purpose” version and purchased through Amazon, but available elsewhere.

Purchase Date:      October 2018
Summary:  Definitely a worthwhile purchase.

Pros:

  • Solid, well made cooking utensil
  • Beats the pants off a plastic spatula
  • Thinner metal blade with rounded corners and beveling slides under food
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Really not that expensive
  • Looks good too!

Cons:

  • For the grill, you could use a longer handle (12” overall)

Good-Bye K-Cups

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Pour Over Setup

We’ve had an unstable relationship with our Keurig for a while now.  Actually, our Keurig machine seemed to prove fairly durable compared to some family and friends that seemed to go through the machines on a relatively frequent basis.  But the plastic waste we were putting out on a daily basis from the single serve cups always made us uncomfortable. Sort of a guilty pleasure. Without any pleasure.

So, the Keurig was sent to Goodwill.

And, we’ve started using a pour over setup for our weekday routine (we always make a full pot of coffee on the weekends). That’s a Hario V60 and Bonavita gooseneck electric kettle.

If you need some additional prompting, here’s a stat for you:

“While Keurig does sell some recyclable K-Cups, as well as a reusable mesh cup for ground coffee, 95% of the K-Cups they produce cannot be recycled and aren’t biodegradable. “ – Impacts of Materials on Society (https://rampages.us/materials/2015/10/13/796/)

Kinco 5210 Alyeska Lined Ragg Wool Half Finger Glove

Reading Time: 2 minutes

“Handle your tools without mittens.” – Benjamin Franklin

Ben may want to rethink his quote with these half finger pocket gloves from Kinco.

We’ve lived in Ohio for about eight years now.  And, winter activities have become a necessary way of life.  Neither I nor Mrs. SFTE grew up with winter sports. We are from warmer locales. But, we’re not inside people, and in order to be outside in Ohio for a good portion of the year, you better be geared appropriately.

This main issue with gloves and mittens is the loss of dexterity.  And with our daughter still needing help with her own gear, you find yourself removing your own gloves on a frequent basis.  Plus, the touchscreen on your phone. I’ve not found the gloves that claim to be touchscreen compatible to work that well – and they’re generally more of a liner weight anyway.

I picked up a few pairs of these Kinco Wool gloves ahead of our indescribably amazing Yellowstone trip over the winter break in 2017.  They worked great on that trip. Warm. Grippy. And dexterity without having to remove your glove. There’s a magnet that keeps the pocket flipped back – to stay out of the way.

They’re perfect for winter hiking, shoveling the driveway, or gearing up for skiing in the parking lot – when you need to get the skis off the roof rack and put your boots on – but need something on your hands.

This photo is from a recent hike up to Rainbow Lake in Frisco, Co with ambient temperatures in the low teens.  No temperature issues at all. Perfect for helping the kiddos get buckled into their snowshoes.

Frisco, CO
Frisco, CO

The price (~$18) is well within budget.  I’ve purchased an assortment of Kinco gloves from Discount Work Gear.

The only consideration is these are not liner weight gloves.  They are beefy. That means they have some bulk.

Overall, a great addition to Dad Gear.