November 2009


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My wife had a conference in Phoenix last week, so I was in charge of both of our girls for three days (and nights).  While having two kids is more demanding than two, at least you’re not outnumbered when both parents are present.

I was outnumbered last week.

I’ve learned that when there are more children than adults in a household, you have to switch from man-on-man coverage to a zone defense.  I was essentially trying to cover the middle third of the field and not give up any big plays.  Fortunately, we are blessed to have two very good girls and there were no major catastrophes, but any time you have sole responsibility over a 1 year old and 4 year old, there will be some stress.

Take dinner time for example.  I like to eat.  I enjoy dinner with my family.  I even like to cook!  But when all the extraneous demands of parenting hit at once, dinner can easily become a race to see how fast I can get my kids to down cheese toast covered in ketchup (hey, that’s what they wanted) before anything too bad happens.

As a special treat, I cooked my homemade pizza Friday night.  Here’s a rundown on how this went:

I’m about to take the pizza out of the oven.  Olivia is watching iCarly.  “Olivia, go wash your hands.  We’re about to eat.”

“Ok, daddy.”

I begin slicing the pizza.  What’s that smell?  Amelia walks by – gotta change a diaper.

I change the diaper and bring the baby back downstairs where I finish slicing the pizza.

“Olivia, wash your hands, please.”

“Ok, daddy.”

I get the plates fixed up for the girls and put Amelia in her high chair.

“OLIVIA, WASH YOUR HANDS NOW!”

“Can I pause the TV?”  My 4 year old daughter knows how to operate a DVR – if only she could teach my wife.

The girls are at the table, blessings have been said, and I’m about to take a bite out of my delicious pizza.  Olivia takes her bite first and the 4000 degree molten cheese under a pepperoni scalds her mouth.  I get her to drink her milk and after much consoling convince her to continue eating.  Now I can enjoy my dinner.

Not yet!  Amelia thinks the tomato sauce from her pizza would make a wonderful shampoo.  Not only that, but she thinks it feels wonderful in her ears. 

I get her cleaned up.  Olivia needs more milk.

I get Olivia more milk.  Amelia needs more food.

With everyone temporarily satisfied, I get ready to take my first bite.  Before I can even get my slice of pizza off my plate, Olivia says, “I need to go poop.”  While she’s old enough to go on her own, I still have to clean up.  So I put down my pizza and wait for her to take care of business so I can clean her up before eating my dinner.

Back at the table, I finally get to enjoy my room temperature pizza.  It is at this point that my dog, who is under the table, decides to release some of the nastiest gas that has ever emanated from any creature.  I finally get to eat my cold pizza while smelling dog gas after recently wiping a child’s rear end.  How appetizing!

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I like muffins.  Who doesn’t?  When you think about it, the word “muffin” is really little more than a euphemism that makes us feel slightly less guilty about having cake for breakfast.  I made some muffins the other day, but rather than using our regular brand, I tried a Fiber One muffin mix.  I wanted to try the Fiber One mix because I am pretty health conscious and try to take care of myself (okay, I had a coupon).

After having my muffin breakfast, I soon realized that my stomach was making noises that sounded like a spirited debate between humpback whales. 

The debate escalated.

I checked the nutritional information on the muffin mix to learn that each muffing had 5 grams of fiber.  I ate three of them.  In case you’re wondering, this means that I had about 60% of the recommended daily fiber intake over a span of about 5 minutes.  Oh yeah, and that was followed by three cups of black coffee.

Normally this wouldn’t be too big of a deal, but I would soon be teaching a two-hour long class.  I made it through the class, but I had to time my voice inflections just right to drown out the cries of rage from inside my stomach.

We all know that fiber is a good thing, but get too much at once and… well you know how that sentence ends.  In fact, too much of anything (even if it is supposed to be good for you) is bad for you.  A little sunshine lifts your mood and provides a dose of vitamin D – too much and you get cancer.  If you hear Hanson’s Mmm Bop once (yeah, you remember that song) it can put a little pep in your step – hear it more than once and you become a threat to national security.  We’re supposed to drink a lot of water for numerous health reasons, but guess what – you can even die from drinking too much water!

The point is, just about anything taken too far is going to have some negative effects on you… and it doesn’t end with what we eat and drink.  Too much work, too much play, too many responsibilities, too many commitments – sometimes it’s best to just simplify.  I’m all for setting the bar high and striving for great achievements, but sometimes the act of pursuing an achievement can get in the way of that which we wish to achieve.

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There was a time in my life when rewinding of the clocks by one hour in the fall represented an extra hour of sleep.  Unfortunately my two little girls can’t tell time.  I was up a little before 6 am this Sunday to put milk in a cup, a S’mores Pop Tart on a plate, and to turn on Little Einsteins. 

It was still dark.

That’s fine with me.  I’m usually an early riser and the whole getting an extra hour to get stuff done is fascinating to me.  I spent my hour making spreadsheets for one of my MBA classes… exciting, I know.

I don’t like the sun going down earlier, but I love the one 25 hour day of the year.  As I go through the house turning those clocks back, I feel like I have somehow cheated the space-time continuum.  I feel so much more efficient and wonder why every day can’t be 25 hours long.

Aside from the fact that this would require the rotation of the earth to slow substantially, I’m not sure if it would be such a good thing.  Although I got a lot done and felt great all day long, I woke myself with a loud snore in my chair at 9:15 that night.

Maybe more time isn’t the answer.  It seems that my mind and body can only take a 24 hour day.