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Mike is currently hanging out at his Tumblr -- http://themikestand.tumblr.com/

Posted bythemikestand at 1:01 PM  

And the House is Still Standing!

The sun is out! The wind is blowing at a paltry 40km/h! Birds are singing frigidly in the bare March trees! It must be Spring. Well, maybe not, but here I am to say that I made it through the winter as a stay-at-home-dad. Since the Baby Girl was born, I had planned to take some SAHD time (though between you and me, I prefer "DILF"); it worked well for The Lovely Wife's plan to start a new job before the end of 2010, and I was finally in a job that offered some salary top-up, if only for a couple of months.

Time-warp to now... some three months later...

I knew that stay-at-homes did a lot of work, and that it would be challenging to have the Baby Girl every day of the week, and Five (middle child, younger son... damn, these nicknames are so confusing) for most of the week, while Seven (SEVEN! HOW DID HE GET TO BE SEVEN?) was in Grade 1. [update video montage not available]

So it was no surprise that I learned just how much work it takes to keep a house (which I did only moderately well) while keeping kids happy and, more importantly, alive all day.

Other things I learned:

1. I am a Ninja
Wait. Let me clarify. I'm not a ninja Ninja. But I have so finely tuned my senses that I can now step on a Cheerio and retract my foot before it disintegrates into a dusty pile of aaaannnnd-now-I-have-to-clean-that-up. The first week of being at home, I swept the kitchen floor more times than I think I did all last year. The floor was so clean you could eat off it (and if Baby Girl had her way, she would.).

2. Some Naps are Sacred
You'd better have a good reason to not high-tail it home from dropping off kids at school, or to decide to only let the Girl nap for a short time in the morning. This is Golden Time, both for you and her. It lets you get things done, like cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast, putting in your first (sometimes second) load of laundry, or teaching your kid to read (aka "waterboarding").

3. The Clean House is a Myth
How is it that I can be in this house all day long, constantly picking things up, and at the end of the day, it looks like a rave happened here? (Less all the glow sticks and ecstasy. There may be some children's vitamins laying around, but I swear those are legal.)

4. The Laundry. It is Never Ending. 
Seriously, people. I know I wear one of three pairs of jeans and the same hoodie for two or three days (I usually change it before it looks tie-dyed with barf) so I'm not contributing to the Pile as I used to, but is going through every bit of clothing in your drawers your new job? Because it seems that the answer to the question of "what should I do next" could always be, "Well, you could do some laundry!".

5. Don't Tell Me "At Least You Get To Rest On The Weekends" Or I Will Slap You
All week long it's a chore to remain on top of what activity is happening after school: soccer? basketball? Other soccer? Skating? Sure, the weekends are slightly lower on the insanity scale, but they were a far cry from "relaxing". But hey, at least the shopping is done! I would have done that two or three times through the week. Which is probably why we have no money to do anything on the weekends? I figure maybe once I got caught up on all the laundry and got the house into a state that didn't look like a laundromat or a dorm room, with underwear strewn about haphazardly.

 6. 8:30 is A Completely Respectable Time To Start Your Day 
Suffice it to say that getting out of bed at the same time as everyone else (not 30 minutes early to get coffee and breakfast ready, get in a hot shower, etc) is an extremely relaxing way to ease into your day. I have never gone so many days without having a shower AND NOT EVEN CARING. The three-day beard is almost expected of the stay at home dad, if other stay at homes dropping off kids at school are any indication. As long as I don't look like the Unabomber or look like I should be driving a van with no back windows, I figure I'm doing alright. 

7.  The Grocery Store Is My New Home
I swear, going into this gig I thought we would save so much money on groceries. Sure, we buy mostly organic and natural stuff, but I was sure TLW was being imprudent with her purchasing habits. I can now safely say that there is no way to shop for "a few things" without breaking the $150 mark. Also, I have no control when it comes to sale items. I don't mean to suggest that I come home with 14 kilos of basmati rice or a Bar Mitzva pack of Fruity Pebbles every time I shop, but I admit I may go off the list from time to time. I also kind of got used to parking in the spot for "pregnant women and moms with small children". And to all of you who are using that spot and NOT pulling kids out of your car? Eff. You.

8. These Blogging Stay-At-Homes Must Be On Drugs
Where, oh where do all these women (and a few men) find the time and energy to blog while getting all their shit done (My guess? Pharmaceuticals) Or maybe it doesn't get done? I suppose with more time at this gig, I could find the time to throw at least a picture up now and then as proof of life. Alas, in the spare moments of quiet solitude, I did not rush for the computer, except maybe to check the weather, download some music, or pay a bill. Blogging was an unfortunate casualty.

By the time all was said and done and I was ready to go back to work, I had decided that the stay-at-home gig was pretty sweet, and if TLW could just make a quarter million dollars a year, we could do this forever. Alas, she claims "we" need my pension more than we need me to stay at home and play house. So I guess it's back to the grind.


*Note: The title of this entry is based on this Bill Murray quote.

Posted bythemikestand at 12:32 PM 6 stepped up to the mike  

Anatomy of a Night from Hell

Last night started out just fine... after a day of skating and a nice dinner with the cousins, we hit the sack at a reasonable hour (10:00!) and drifted off into merry slumber. Sometime after that it all went off the rails.

Midnight - Baby Girl stirs. The Lovely Wife gets up to replace soother and/or see what's up. One or both of the boys are moaning in their sleep.

0100: Five and Six take turns moaning in their sleep. Bad dreams? 

0224:  I wake to the sound of the gate banging closed over and over, just outside our corner of the house. TLW informs me it's been doing that for half an hour and that she's had almost no sleep so far. I put on my boots, grab a flashlight, and hope I don't encounter any snacking raccoons as I pass by the compost on my way to close the jammed latch on the gate.

0250: Six exhibits signs of influenza (read: runs to the bathroom and barfs.) Aside: I'm glad that I have at least one of my children trained to run for the toilet when feeling queasy.

0300: Six is once again purging. By now we're at the mostly-dry heave stage. Yay.

0330: Snowplows driving up and down the neighbourhood streets. Evidently the inch dusting of snow we've received overnight (is it still overnight at this point?) requires an army of trucks scraping and salting the streets. Ah, taxes. They are seemingly endless.

0400: Six is still going at it. We give him some childrens' gravol and decide to move Five out of the shared bedroom and into our bed. Baby Girl has stirred again, and we hope she doesn't have any ideas about getting up for the day.

0415: TLW moves out of our bed and onto the couch. I attempt sleep beside a snoring, but thankfully not barfing, Five.

Somewhere after that I drift off, until...

0530: Six is again sprinting for the bathroom. Baby Girl is chirping happily in her crib. Five is snoring still. At this point, the day has begun. TLW hits the shower in hopes of getting to work, I grind some beans for coffee (really, what damage could I do with a loud coffee grinder at this point?) and offer myself up to a day of challenges, including the possibility that someone else in the house could be flu-ridden by the end of the day.

Now it's 0755. Cartoons are on. One child is ready for a nap, an hour and a half ahead of schedule. This can't end well.

Post Script: After taking Five and Baby Girl out for a brief sleigh ride and driveway-clearing party, most everyone is in better spirits. Even the dry heaver hasn't done the 10 metre sprint for over an hour now.

Fingers crossed. (But feel free to send saltines and gatorade.)

Posted bythemikestand at 8:34 AM 7 stepped up to the mike  

7 Days Winter 2010

Here's the wrapup from the 7Days project from Winter 2010... apparently I missed Day 5? Ugh, how did that happen?


7days: Day 1 - late to the party
7days: Day 1 - late to the party
So, with a gentle reminder from @Citystreams, I'm back to celebrate the season (of 7Days) with you all. Yesterday was a 5th birthday party and an overnight visit to a close-by hotel with a pool and a great water slide.

Here's me (with the rest of the adults not captured) relaxing as the kids were all amusing themselves in one of the rooms and the baby was asleep. Hopefully this bodes well for future overnight trips!

7Days: Day 2 - Bright and cheery
7Days: Day 2 - Bright and cheery
A little bathroom photoshoot last night with Stella, who was her usual bright and cheery self. Getting her to look at me-in-the-mirror and not me-sitting-beside her is the real trick, of course. Lots of outtakes to this one (like this, and this) which are actually better framed, but I couldn't pass up the face. At 7 months, she's fairly used to the camera by now, and I'm happy to show her off to the 7 days crew when she's not asleep!

7 Days: Day 3 - Merry Birthdaymas!
7 Days: Day 3 - Merry Birthdaymas!
Since Oliver's birthday is on the 24h (long story here), every year we do the birthday thing well before we do the Christmas thing, and I always make sure to keep the birthday paraphernalia up right up until the actual birthday. I have been recycling this banner for years now (and I don't think anyone has noticed). The worst thing would be for him to think he's getting the short end of the stick due to his ill-timed birthday. Frankly, his older brother got stiffed on his third Christmas, as that year it fell on the 26th ;)

7 Days: Day 4 - The Fridge Door
7 Days: Day 4 - The Fridge Door
This is the Fridge Door. In some ways, it's the family bible. If it's not on the calendar, it DOES. NOT. HAPPEN. *

Also included are various pictures with The Lovely Wife has posted. See the notes, of course.


*There's also another calendar. This will be my undoing.

7 Days: Day 6 - In da haus
7 Days: Day 6 - In da haus
I finally gave in to the Gingerbread House Project, and the boys and I took on the task or raising the literal roof on this bad boy. A word to the wise: The purple icing? Don't. Special appearance by Stella, who I don't believe was in attendance for the construction project. Possibly napping? Who knows.

7 Days: Day7 - Not even a mouse
7 Days: Day7 - Not even a mouse
It's Christmas eve! How many of us have The Night Before Christmas as a bedtime ritual? (Last year we had to print it off because we couldn't find the book). Well, we found, or possiibly borrowed the book this year and continued the tradition. Clearly the youngest could not stay up long enough to endure the tradition.


a quickr pickr post

Posted bythemikestand at 3:11 PM 1 stepped up to the mike  

Movember 2010

Folks, it's been a while since I've checked in with you all. And one of the reasons for my absence has been this thing called "Movember" (click here to learn more, or here to see all my previous Movember adventures!). I've been asked to chair the Halifax Committee for this year's campaign to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research. Along with a fantastic team of volunteers, this year's efforts in Halifax (indeed, in the world) is going to break all previous records. So far we've had TV time, two radio stations are involved, and we've surpassed our expectations in terms of registrations for the city.

I have the same high hopes for my own moustache, only I think that it's going to be tough to make major follicular improvements with the genes I've been given!

My own fundraising goals are very ambitious this year: $2,000 in personally collected donations. So far I'm off to a good start with over $100, but if you have the ability to donate to this very worthy cause, I would much appreciate it.

To make a donation (you can use a credit card! and get a tax receipt!), go here: http://ca.movember.com/mospace/3289/ and click the "Donate to me" link. If you'd like to go another route, you can paypal me and I'll make sure you get your receipt. Email or leave a comment and we'll work it out.

For those of you who've supported me in the past, I thank you. For those who've meant to donate but haven't done so, now is your chance :)

Oh, and I promise to post pictures again...who doesn't like to see my attempts at growing the Mo!

So far it all looks like the "before" shot:



(All my daily pics can be seen here: http://ca.movember.com/mospace/3289/ ) Don't forget to donate when you visit ;)



-Mike

Posted bythemikestand at 9:47 AM 1 stepped up to the mike  

Tri hard, have fun.

Here's a bit of a late update: Last month, I competed in my first Triathlon. As part of the Wolfville Triathlon Festival, they held a Just for Fun triathlon (the fun was un-missable -- it was printed on everything!). I had done some training for the swim portion with K-Bez, a friend, elite cyclist, and eager competitor in everything from running to cycling to swimming (seemed like a no-brainer to go for the Tri, you'd think). Otherwise, I've been pretty un-trained this year, instead taking to being a "recreational" runner and cyclist, going out on lunch hours and getting in the odd weekend run or ride here and there with Ian L (click to read his race report) and Bicycle Boy. 

Owing to the fact that Bicycle Nova Scotia was having a Time Trial event that day and Triathlon Nova Scotia was holding a "real" triathlon in Guysborough that day, the Wolfville Just For Fun Triathlon seemed the perfect event: not too long, not too crowded, and above all, very inexpensive. There were several categories; I entered into the Adult Long course (which wasn't long, but they needed to distinguish it from the reallyreallyreallyshort course): 400m in the pool, 10km ride, 4km run. Of the three, only the swim was of concern to me. I hadn't swum 400m without stopping before, so knew that adrenaline would have to carry me through the panic when it undoubtedly would hit.

I drove up with Bicycle Boy, who was volunteering at the event and would be stationed at the dismount line. We arrived with not much time to spare, so I quickly got changed into my gear and set up the bike and running shoes at Transition. Then on to the pre-race meeting, and down to the pool deck for the 0815 start time. I was in the first of what would turn out to be three heats (we thought there would be two, so some people doubled up in pool lanes, something I'm pretty used to). Ian L and K-Bez weren't in my heat, and it would turn out that they were in separate heats themselves. We received our pool instructions and jumped in, waiting for the start. I found it particularly strange how low-key the event was. When the race director said "ready.... go!", I was oddly calm, possibly too calm to be taking this seriously, Just For Fun moniker notwithstanding.

The swim progressed without major issue. I was able to push through the 400m in mostly OK form, head out of the water a little here and there to stave off the panic and pushing well off the end walls (probably not legal in real triathlons?). I was swimming with David W, a long time friend and avid cyclist, and I had no idea where we were in relation to each other. I thought I was about half a length ahead of him, while he maintains I finished a lap and a half ahead. Seems unlikely, but whatever.

For your benefit, no pictures of me post-swim. You're welcome.

Into transition, I had a devil of a time getting my cycling jersey on, tearing two of the four pins out of my race number. I would endure the bike course with an annoying, flapping number before tearing it off completely on the run and stuffing it in my jersey pocket. I have no idea how long I was in Transition -- my stopwatch wasn't running in the swim, and therefore any splits I attempted to monitor weren't being logged. Silly me.

The bike course was a 2.5km stretch of road through the Town of Wolfville, and the out-and-back was repeated for 10km total. I felt alright on the bike, though my legs were pretty sluggish. I hadn't warmed up at all prior to the swim, a mistake I wouldn't make if I were to compete in a longer, more competitive event. In the end, I would average about 27km/hr, which isn't too bad considering the hairpin turnarounds and one pesky little hill in the middle. I heard Bicycle Boy's cheering each time I came to the turnaround/dismount line, which was very helpful!

Back into Transition again 20 minutes later, the guy I had passed just 100 metres from the dismount line ("Oh, come on!", I would hear him cry out at the time.) streaked past me onto the run course (a 1km out and back, repeated twice for a total of 4km) and I followed about 100m behind him for most of the run. I figure I ran about 6:00 kms for the first couple of kilometres while my legs adjusted to that 'brick' feeling and I pushed through it and found my cardio zone. The second two kilometres I gained a little on my competitor in front, and found enough energy for a little kick at the end. What I didn't know is that the guy ahead of me was in FIRST PLACE in our heat, and would end up finishing two seconds ahead of me. So I finished second in the heat, but middle of the pack overall (9/22). I did definitely have fun, and can see some specific areas for improvement in my next Tri.

We would have to wait for our results until the following day or the day after, and with all the hubbub associated with three heats on the same course, it was really tough to tell how well you did. None of us had timed our splits, so about the best we could do is guess on our run time and read the bike computer for our ride time/pace. Finally, the results came out:

That's me around the middle there: #504. K-Bez would finish first in the event (right up top there, #522), Ian L would finish second (#502), and David W (#508) would finish 14th.  We joked about getting our One-Tenth Ironman tattoos.

I was sure I could have done all the events better and done better in transition. I guess it's good to have goals, eh? At the very least, I should have kicked earlier on the last run and beat out my new nemesis, "Eric". Eric, if you're reading this (you're not), I'm coming for you next year. For more of THE FUN.

Since then, K-Bez and I have been hitting the pool with more regularity and have worked up to 1,500m in the pool in one workout (not continuous, but in under an hour). Next year we'll definitely sign up for the Sprint distance (750m swim), with hopes of someday completing an Olympic Distance Tri (1,500m in the pool, 40km ride, 10km run).
For more pictures from the event, check the Facebook album.

When I put the boys in their first Tri this summer, I briefly considered that I wouldn't get to do one this year, so I'm extremely happy that I got to compete in a Tri and complete it. And I gotta hand it to the organizers: it was fun.

Posted bythemikestand at 10:30 AM 3 stepped up to the mike  

First Day of School


First Day of School
Originally uploaded by themikestand
How the hell did these kids get so big?

Posted bythemikestand at 3:22 PM 1 stepped up to the mike