Baseball. It has been my best friend, my worst enemy and everything in between. I used to love it. I used to hate it. But thanks to being a dad and those dang Toronto Blue Jays, as Jay Z would say, I think I got my swagger back.
Baseball has once again become a big part of my life. I even have my first glove since I was a teen.
For those who knew me as a kid, you would remember my sticker collections, building mini stadiums in my room and of course knowing every single
baseball stat there was (BEFORE THE INTERNET).
I grew up as a Detroit Tigers fan and that meant despising the Toronto Blue Jays. Yes I f’in hated George Bell, Dave Stieb and every dude associated with them.
I never played organized baseball, but I played and played often with neighbourhood buddies. I saw myself as the Canadian Mark McGwire before there was a Mark McGwire.
I dug the long ball before I even knew about the chicks.
Just sitting here now, if I really try hard, my first memory of watching MLB was the World Series when the Cardinals and Brewers squared off in 1982. I remember Robin Yount, Cecil Cooper and just have friggen fast those Cardinals were.
Have I proved to you how much I loved baseball yet?
Each day is a different beast. Whether it is work, kids, taking transit, shoveling snow or just trying to deal with too many inner thoughts, everyone has their own life-preserver that makes it all better.
The essential things, moments and people who bring us back to our happy place. Life can get pretty chaotic and sometimes miserable, so here are 10 essentials to my day being great.
1. A hot cup of tea. For anyone who knows me, they know that tea is my fuel. Tea is my warm blanket. Tea is what makes me happy. It has been a routine for most of my life. Just putting the kettle on is a shield for me from the big, bad world. There is little that I can’t get through holding my mug in hand. It’s the first thing I drink in the morning, it’s the last thing I drink in the evening. I am practically a commercial for Tetley or Red Rose.
2. Family smiles. The mornings are crazy. The evenings are tiring. But scattered throughout the journey are smiles. Smiles from my wife and two boys. You can be in the shittiest mood, but a smile will bring you back from the brink. I think Charlie was put on this planet to provide smiles that make everything better. He should become a professional. As parents, the hours go by so fast. But it’s nice to share smiles. They are quiet and convey a message that does not add to the noise of the household. Harry actually reminds me to smile more. That in itself makes me happy.
3. My phone. Say what you want about becoming reliant on technology, but we have. My Galaxy Note 4 is my command center. Other than writing blog posts, I hardly sit at my computer anymore. My phone is my mobile connection to the world. It is what I read books on, play games on and take pictures with. It tells me the weather and helps me relax with jazz. It’s hard to remember a time when I did not have everything I need on my person at all times.
4. 30 minutes of TV. Now that is around the minimum of what I feel I need to relax. There is usually more, but I am talking about time by yourself to just watch whatever and turn the brain off. For me, this reboot time is just after the kids go to bed. I will watch some 25 minute show, whether it is about food, sports of home DIY. It is simply for rebooting the brain after surviving another day. Then I am ready to digest whatever is next. In the week, it is more TV with Katie. I think we all need a 25-30 minute reboot to refresh and start again. A TV show is what does it for me.
5. A tidy space. I am not talking eat off the floor clean, I just mean in order. It’s hard for me to complete a task in a room that is messy. It can be as simple as picking Lego off the floor, but I need to do it. My mind can’t focus or relax with a mess right next to me. I don’t need to clean the house before I move on, just the direct surroundings. Same for the kitchen. Clutter and mess are not the best for having fun cooking dinner. Same for working. A desk that is covered in stuff, just distracts me.
6. A walk. Walking is a great way to change the narrative in your day. It can be 10 minutes or an hour. For me it gets me going, gets the brain going and breaks up any lazy routine I am probably falling into. I walk the kids to and from school every day and even that 20 minutes sparks my thoughts again. I like seeing even the smallest changes in the neighbourhood and breathing in fresh air. Some days, I go a little over board and walk for hours. Thanks to my phone, I even have gotten caught up in tracking it.
7. Emails. I love emails. I hate talking on the phone. I am not that big of a texter. Katie and I have been exchanging dozens of emails a day for 10 years. It’s how we communicate and shed stuff from our brains. It is how we keep in touch and stick together as a team. If for whatever reason one of us can’t email for a few hours, it gets a little lonely wondering what each of us are up to. I can live without Facebook, Twitter and all that noise, but email, I am 100% certain it is an essential to my day.
8. Quiet. I love quiet. I love hearing nothing but the sounds of the outside world leaking in through the windows. I am also lucky enough that for the most part I get to control my level of quiet. At home or when working, I am always in a place that is pretty low-key. A lot of busy noise stresses me out. Sounds I can’t really control can also bother me as well. But that is probably the case for many of you. Quiet is a recharge for me. After a few hours of being out in Toronto, on the TTC or at a mall, I need to go home and plug into some quiet.
9. Pillows. Pillows play a big part in my day. More importantly a pillow can also make my day rough. I like to find that sweet spot for my bed pillow or couch pillow. You know that spot. You just feel so comfortable. Funny enough, every now and then, I lose that spot. Pillow cases get washed, pillows get moved and you lose that comfort zone. It makes for bad sleeps and uncomfortable TV watching. I hate moving pillows. I guess I just fear I will lose that sweet spot and never find it again. Very silly I know, but this is my list, not yours.
10. Hugs. See 2. Family Smiles. I grew up in a family where hugs did the trick. We were not super huggers. We did not grab on to anyone. But those who hugged, did it right. I know Katie has always been a fan of my big hugs. I also think I have passed on the hugging gene to the boys. They love hugs. In fact they are very much super huggers. They have little filtering on who gets hugs. It’s great. Hugs are something everyone needs every day. I wish it were true that everyone did get hugs.
See, I don’t need much to have a great day. I don’t need much to bounce back from a shitty day. There is certainly a theme to my 10 essentials. For the most part, they are the things that help me feel protected from the cold, outside world of problems and annoyances. They all are in some way keeping me attached to who I am and who my family is. I am not going to say I will fall apart without each of these 10 things each day, but I will certainly be much more grumpy and less me-like. And who wants that?
Our senses sure trigger memories don’t they? Seeing, smelling or hearing something from the past, immediately brings me back to a special time. But when it comes to the boys, that time is really starting to speed up. I know they are not running off to college any time soon, but man, they are growing up fast.
Just the other day I turned on the TV and it happened to be on TVO. The theme song to Raa Raa the Noisy Little Lion was playing. This used to be a staple in our house when I was home with Charlie. Every morning before taking Harry to school, we would watch it.
Fast forward a few months and Charlie is at daycare becoming a noisy little lion of his own. It was only November when this ended, but it feels like a year. Charlie is no longer a baby. He is a little boy with a mind of his own.
It is very silly, but just hearing the song for a few seconds made my brain race through all my time at home with Charlie. All our one-on-one time before he went to daycare. I treasure those days. The little music jingle made me sad and smile all at the same time. I certainly don’t need to relive those days, but I do wish to have some of those moments back.
Harry is practically a teenager these days. So smart and so independent. He still likes to snuggle with dad, but it’s not the same. Charlie, he is still my source for warm and comforting snuggles. Harry is my source for going out and doing fun things. At his age, the option are pretty limitless. I mean, we can’t go for a beer yet, but we do have our Sunday afternoon hot chocolate dates at Roncy’s Bean.
When I look at my life. Time is going at normal speed. Nothing has really changed. A month feels like a month and a year feels like a year. But when looking at the boys, even just a week seems to go by in a blur. It’s bittersweet. On the one hand I love watching the boys grow up. On the other hand, I miss when they were little and just figuring things out. I am guessing this is why people keep having kids.
Soon I won’t be able to carry Harry around. I damn well still try because I love it, but those days are coming to an end. Charlie as well. The boy really does not like walking in bumpy snow. I am not complaining as it’s one of the few chances left where he asks for a ride.
I am thankful for the age of digital photos, videos and other media because I would hate to forget the times we have had. Until my memory goes in the dumper, I am going to enjoy all the smells, sights and sounds that take me back to any one of the moments that has made being a dad the best.
The other day it was Raa Raa, tomorrow it could be finding an old pair of pants the boys used to wear. As a parent, it always seems to be something that touches a memory. Oh to be able to jump back and relive it for only a few minutes. Now that would be an interactive photo.
I have always been a sentimental soul. I have vivid memories of the good times and the bad times. Who I was with and where they took place. They are all special in their own way. When it comes to our two wonderful boys, those memories are placed on an even higher level. I can’t wait to add more to the list.
Damn it, you noisy little lion. Time to go cool a steak, drink some scotch and read Maxim. Nah, just kidding. I am comfortable in my own skin and the fact that I am unmanly manly dad.
The last few months have been a blur. Going back to work and Charlie starting at daycare really changed things in our house. During the week, we really only see the boys for a few hours. It sucks. But that’s life. The thing I need to keep reminding myself to do, is to just stop and look at the kids. They are changing so fast and I feel like I am missing things.
New words, faces, laughs and much more are occurring more and more. I think I am seeing them, but they are not having the impact they used to. Maybe it is because we have two kids now and each thing is not a first. Who knows.
But Charlie is such a different kid from Harry, that I really need to start celebrating those differences. He makes me laugh almost every time I see him. Such a cheery guy.
Harry, he is not even a little kid anymore. He is a tall, smart and well spoken boy. Yes he is 5, but I swear he is really 7 or 8. The scary part is I am going to blink and it is going to be true.
Slow down life.
When we only had 1 kid, everything was in the spot light. No matter how big or small, it seemed like Katie and I had the time to see it, digest it, talk about it and pop it in the memory bank.
With Charlie, I don’t feel like I am doing that enough. Things are crazy. Our small amount of time together is all about something being dinner or trekking to and from school, or trying to carve out an hour of no kids just to relax.
I don’t even take as nearly as many photos as I used it. I probably went out of control with Harry, but the photo taking has dropped off to only a few per week now.
The boys are by no means boring, they are the complete opposite. I just think they move so fast now, that it’s hard to sit back and enjoy the little moments.
Do you find that with your kids? Weeks fly by where you just think to yourself, where did the time go.
Bottom line, I am going to try to get back into just enjoying everything they do good and bad. I don’t want all my time with them be filled with process and getting annoyed with them.
As this stay-at-home dad nears the time of going back to work, one important area that needs to be addressed is wardrobe.
No more sweat pants, jeans or t-shirts. Those will be replaced with actual pants and shirts with a collar.
Now I am not working on Wall Street or anything, so I get to keep it pretty casual, but I don’t want to skimp on style.
There are a few problems with the clothes scenario. First, going shopping for new clothes with a toddler does not seem like fun. Second, I have never really enjoyed shopping for clothes in general. There is something about men’s clothing stores that bug me. Anyways, that is not the point here.