Fall Vibes

Fall is supposedly “here” although in LA it doesn’t always feel like it. We’ve had a very warm fall and while the days are becoming shorter, when you look outside at noon it looks like a summer’s day to me.

One thing I miss about the mid-west is the beautiful falls we would have. All the leafy trees would change color and there would be a noticeable “crispness” to the air. I love going out in the morning and seeing your breath and starting a fire at night to keep the house warm. I am long overdue for a trip back to Ohio to visit the folks and I’m trying to convince the girls to come with me, but they really are California girls and they love the sun and the heat. And let’s be real, Ohio isn’t the most thrilling place to visit. But it’s beautiful, it’s home and it’s where my family lives.

One of my favorite memories as a child is visiting the fall fair every year. We would go on rides, see horses and eat tons of crappy food like caramel apples and caramel corn and hot dogs. My older brother always made me jealous by going on all of the rides I wasn’t old or tall enough to join him on and I would often cry to my mom who couldn’t do a thing about it haha. Once I was older I loved going on rides with him even though I was secretly terrified most of the time. Oh boys. The things we do.

I really want to start fall traditions with my family now that I’m a father and I think annual trips to Ohio would be a nice idea. You just don’t get the fall “feeling” in LA so it’s a great excuse to get away in my eyes. Now to convince the girls. 😉

 

Living Healthy: Making Alkaline Water

As a parent, I’m often very focussed on what my family is eating and drinking, and whether it is the healthiest option. In recent months, I’ve heard a lot of talk around the subject of healthy water. In particular, I’ve heard that it’s optimal to drink alkaline water. When I first heard the term “alkaline water”, I had absolutely no idea what it meant. Luckily, I’ve come up the learning curve quickly and I’m pleased to now say that our home is an alkaline water home.

As I understand it, alkaline water is essentially water that is more basic than it is acidic. Some of you may remember learning about acids and bases during chemistry class in high school. Some of you may even recall using litmus paper to test whether a fluid was more acidic or basic, and exactly how acidic or basic it was. The logic of why people think that alkaline water is better for you than normal water is grounded in the basic fact that our bodies are not particularly healthy when they are excessively acidic environments, as such an environment can contribute to the onset of certain diseases.

The theory further posits that our bodies become more acidic if we put acidic things into it, including things such as coffee, alcohol, and meats. On the other hand, we can make our bodies less acidic (that is, more basic), by filling it with things that are basic, like alkaline water.

There seems to be a ton of hype and misinformation out there (i.e. on the internet) about how to make alkaline water. A lot of websites suggest that you need to buy some fancy, expensive machine to shoot electricity through your water to make it more alkaline. However, it turns out that there are ways to naturally, inexpensively, and easily make alkaline water. For a step-by-step guide, check out this interesting and detailed blog post on the subject of how to make alkaline water. As the blog post explains, you can make natural alkaline water using something so simple as a copper water bottle.

For now, Rebecca and I are drinking alkaline water in moderation and seeing how we feel. I’m even keeping a little diary and noting any changes in energy levels etc. Maybe I can convince Rebecca to do the same! We plan on holding off on giving any alkaline water to Hannah at least until we use it for an extended period without noticing any side effects. 🙂

Trying to Stay Fit: The Curse of “Dad Bod”

It’s been a real challenge trying to stay fit ever since Hannah was born. Back in my bachelor days, I generally started every morning with a long visit to the gym, complete with a 10 minute session in the steam room to clear my body of all of the toxins that it inevitably and inexplicably accumulated over the preceding weekend. 🙂 When Rebecca and I tied the knot, we started going to the gym together, but with far less frequency. We’ve always enjoyed going on walks together, and slowly those walks replaced more vigorous trips to the gym.

After Hannah was born, Rebecca and I continued our habit of going on walks, and simply took Hannah along in her stroller or strapped to my back. So, while I was still getting some decent exercise, it was nothing like the vigorous trips to the gym that I was accustomed to. Then, as things became more busy with Hannah, Rebecca and I would often feel exhausted by the end of day and in no mood for a walk.

Having said that, now that Hannah is about a year old it has become a bit easier to manage our lives and squeeze in some self-care every now and then. I can tell you from experience that the first 12 months of being a parent can be a whirlwind experience; you are suddenly responsible for a living creature but lack most of the knowledge and experience required to do so! That tends to lead to a very high learning curve, which squeezes out most time to do anything else.

Now that Rebecca and I have gone a fair amount of the way up the learning curve, I finally have a bit more time to hit the gym. There is a great gym about a 10 minute walk from our place with great fitness classes held four or five times a day. In particular, there is a high intensity interval training (HIIT) fitness class first thing in the morning around 6 AM every weekday. Given that I don’t need to be at work until 9 AM, I figured that I’ll start attending this class. I know it will be painful to get used to vigorous workouts again, but I think it’ll be a quick way to relieve stress and maybe do away with this “dad bod” that I’ve been carrying around for far too long. 🙂

Digging into Some Books

I don’t get much time for myself these days, which is a pretty common symptom of being the primary breadwinner of the household as well as a dad. But, when I do manage to get a bit of free time by myself, which usually happens when Hannah is asleep and Rebecca is out with her mom or catching up with her friends, I love sitting in my big comfy chair by the fireplace and sifting through a good book.

Many years ago, when I was an undergraduate student, I found, at a garage sale, a lovely set of books known as the Harvard Classics. The Harvard Classics were a series of 50 volumes first published in the early 1900s. Apparently, a contingent of professors at Harvard University were tasked with compiling together, in one concise set of 50 volumes, the greatest literature in the world ranging from philosophy, to the sciences, to politics.

I remember seeing that 50 volume set resting on the lawn outside the garage. The price tag said $25, which I knew to be a steal. The Harvard Classics, if maintained in good condition, can easily go for a few hundred dollars on Ebay back then – maybe more now. Suffice it to say that I leapt in the action, grabbed the 50 volumes clumsily from up off the ground and dropped them into a nearby cardboard box, and promptly paid the man his $25.

I remember getting back to my dorm that night and reading the introductory pages in the first volume of the Harvard Classics. Apparently, the Harvard Classics had been designed to enable the ordinary layperson (i.e. a guy like me) to read and appreciate the world’s greatest literature. All that the layperson had to do was commit to reading 5 to 10 pages per day. In other words, the Harvard Classics were designed to be accessible.

It’s been about seven or eight years since I picked up that 50 volume set from the grass outside the garage. I’m a bit embarrassed to say that, since that day years ago, I’ve only been through five or six of the volumes. I found myself mostly drawn to the Ancient Greek works, like the Iliad the Odyssey. I also have really enjoyed reading Elizabethan drama, namely Shakespeare. I’m currently reading the Prince, which is a 16th-century political treatise, by the Italian diplomat and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli.

My goal is to finish the entire set of 50 volumes by the time I turn 40. By then, Hannah will be entering her teenage years. Perhaps she’ll have caught the literary bug by then and I can hand the set down to her. 🙂

Family Day in Santa Monica/Venice

Yesterday Rebecca and I strapped Hannah to my back and went for a beautiful long walk through Santa Monica and down the Venice boardwalk. For those of you who haven’t spent much time in Los Angeles, Santa Monica is a suburb with a lovely stretch of beach that blends into another small suburb called Venice. Interestingly, Venice was given that name because of the efforts on the part of a gentleman named Abbot Kinney, an early resident of the region and businessman, to create a series of water channels in the area which very much resemble those in Venice, Italy.

We spent about four hours walking around, enjoying the sun, checking out the scene, and even enjoying a little bit of froyo. One of the most interesting parts of Venice is a skateboard park that was built sometime in the 1980’s (I think, don’t quote me on that). The skateboard park has become a bit of a mecca in the skateboarding community, drawing a ton of very talented skateboarders, along with hordes of tourists, interested locals, and other people interested in skateboarding. On any given day, hundreds of people are standing along the railings and watching the skateboarders work their magic.

Something about the skateboarders makes them absolutely mesmerizing to me. Most of them manage to pick up a fair amount of speed as they weave through the skateboard park, and those that are skilled enough often perform a series of tricks which find them launching themselves high in the air. While the tricks and speed is impressive in and of itself, one of the most interesting things from my perspective is the degree to which the skateboarders’ activities are synchronized and integrated, or at least organized in a matter that is not only pleasing to the eye, but functional. In the hour or so that we spent watching the skateboarders, standing there at the handrail, we saw absolutely no collisions between the skateboarders, despite there being relatively little space. It was as though each of them had an internal radar or at least some extra sensory awareness of where everyone else in the skate park was given time. Cool stuff.

Rebecca and I were especially impressed with one young skateboarder named TJ, who we learned is only eight years old. We heard from another spectator that TJ comes to the skateboard park quite regularly and has been skating there for about two years. This blew us away because, at eight years of age, TJ was one of the best skateboarders we had ever witnessed. He was able to skate considerably faster than a lot of adult skateboarders, and pull off tricks that others couldn’t. It was very impressive to say the least, and I envy his parents for raising a kid with such incredible skills. But, at the same time, I don’t know how they can stomach watching him do all of those crazy tricks! I certainly would be pretty nervous sitting on the sidelines watching Hannah do those things, at any age! 🙂

After watching the skateboarders for a while (it was hard to pull ourselves away, they’re so mesmerizing!) we walked up to Abbot Kinney Boulevard, which is a very popular street with a ton of independent boutiques, restaurants, and other shops. Does the name of the street sound familiar? 🙂

If you recognize the name, you were paying attention! Abbot Kinney was, as noted above, an early resident of Venice who advocated for building canals resembling those in Venice, Italy. I’m sure that Mr. Kinney would be delighted to know that he is the namesake to what many people today call the coolest street in North America!

We popped into a few shops along Abbot Kinney Boulevard, and also enjoyed some really delicious crepes from one of the shops there. The thing about Abbot Kinney Boulevard is that you don’t need to go there with any plans; it’s such a great place for people watching, and the people are generally so friendly that you can easily strike up a conversation and make a new friend right on the spot. As usual, Hannah flashed her cute smile at everyone that walked past and made a bundle of friends. 🙂

After having some fun walking up and down Abbot Kinney Boulevard, we headed back to the Venice boardwalk and made our way back to Santa Monica. We’re big fans of transit, which can be a crazy thing to admit in a city like Los Angeles. Luckily, we live fairly close to the metro line, so it isn’t terribly inconvenient to use transit for us.

So, all in all, pretty awesome way to spend the day. Rebecca and Hannah were both pretty tired, but definitely happy. And, at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters. 🙂

Musings on Being a Dad

Today marks the first year anniversary of me becoming a dad. Me. At 32 years of age, most would describe me as an adult. But most of the time, even during the last 365 days that I’ve been the parent and custodian of an actual living being, I’ve often felt that I’m not particularly good at adulting. And, frankly, it’s sometimes a bit alarming to realize that you’re responsible for a kid even though, deep down, you feel like you’re still a kid yourself.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love being a father and wouldn’t give it up for anything. My daughter, Hannah, is definitely the joy of my life, second only to my wife, Rebecca. What I love the most are the little moments: feeding Hannah in the morning, playing with her in the few spare minutes I have before heading out the door to work, rushing home to see her before she falls asleep, taking her on adventures, (usually strapped to my back) during the weekends. It’s these things that give meaning to my life and make my endless toiling away in the office seemingly worth something…

I’m also amazed at how she has a personality so distinct from mine and Rebecca’s. Before I became a father, I had this naïve impression that children are essentially the blends of their parents, both physically and when it comes to personalities. But while I am somewhat reserved (I have been described as having “quiet confidence”) and while Rebecca is quite shy, Hannah is a firecracker and cleary on the path to the becoming an extrovert. She loves playtime, and she loves meeting people and making new friends.

Sometimes I worry about her teenage years, and how hard those will likely be for me. Becoming a father has awoken within me a very protective nature. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always been very protective of Rebecca, the same way I was protective of my younger brother Ed when we were kids. But, something about having a kid, a daughter no less, ramps up your level of protectiveness to a whole new level. I absolutely dread the day when she starts thinking about boys and all the heart ache that will likely entail. I think the best I can do is raise her to speak her mind, know her worth, and think independently. With attributes like that, hopefully the doofus boys of the world shouldn’t stand a chance.

Anyway, these have been my meditations on the anniversary of the coming of father. It’s been tough, and sometimes it feels like a slog, but boy, is it worth it. 🙂