Saturday, April 28, 2012

Keeping your patience in a modern world.....

Patience (or forbearing) is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.

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Try doing the above now days and see how that goes. The entire modern world is completely set to test the patience of everyone a Dad. It can be as simple as your son getting a gift that requires some time to set-up and once this lengthy process is over he/they proceeds to break it in the first minutes of getting it.

I'm blessed with moderately intelligent children so why do they keep asking the same question a thousand times  ?
If I gave them the answered the first time, I am not,  under a weltering barrage of the same question, changing my mind.
I've now started to pretend to think about changing my mind and watch the little spark of hope grow , only for me to stick to my original answer.

It's the same with their homework. I have to count to 100 each time between the insistence that they do their homework to a reasonable standard whilst they maintain "that's all the teacher wanted". That is not the point, I patiently explain while grinding my teeth down to their roots.

And it flows on further to why should I expect them to not questioning you when you ask them to do something. When I was a kid it was simple your parents asked you to do something and off you went and did it. No questions.
Now days you need a full description of why , what the outcome will be and a range of viable options to get your kids to do anything !

I blame myself.

I have to accept that modern society has taught all of us to expect everything instantly. Take Instant Messaging for example, it was invented because people couldn't wait the 7.51 seconds it takes an email to be delivered.

So you see - No one has to wait - you don't have to have patience any more.

Watch what happens in a line for anything where someone is standing behind the person in front who can't decide what they want. You can literally see their patience wear out.

And don't get me started on road rage. Just walk along any street with traffic and watch people safely ensconced in their shiny metal capulses spluttering in apoplectic rage at each other for no apparent reason.

So what do you do. How do you not go postal over the little things ? I do exactly that. I treat them like little things. It doesn't mean I don't get frustrated or angry - I still do that . But over time I just learn to let the world go about its business because I don't want to be the angry old guy yelling at kids to get off his lawn.

I also take the time to be thankful.

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I'm thankful that I can walk out of the house in the morning and the wife has to get the kids to school via the traffic and inter car debates.

I'm thankful that the beloved has a spreadsheet list for shopping, as nothing can quite explain watching people without a shopping list in the supermarket.
It's like babies in a room full of toys, they go one way then see something shiny and rush the other way only to be distracted again by something red.

So as you make your way through this day and the next, look around and you will be surprised to see people losing their patience.

Just try not to let it be at you.........

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Dads and supermarket shopping

On the weekends in Coles, Aldi and Wooloworths around this great nation of ours you will often see Dads who would normally not go shopping with their child/ren in tow. I would hazard a guess that the normally patient mother / spouse has given the remaining members of the house a list and sent them packing, in order to get some much needed peace and quiet. So off to the supermarket they traipse, going though the pain of dealing with supermarket car parks and loading / unloading kids.

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So how have I reached this grandiose broad sweeping statement ?

Well they are pretty easy to spot. They have a couple of "tells" that give them away.

So here's a quick field guide to the species:

1) Identification - They are carrying a basket not a trolley, clutching a list like it's the 10 commandments and looking around nervously. To assume that anything else besides some bread, milk and a couple of other small items will fit in the basket is where the problems start. Trolleys are a trap and a blessing - it's good they hold so much but this results in you / others being able to add things and not really notice.

2) Environment - They will look pretty lost in the aisles. Not being a regular in the supermarket means they will often wander up and down several aisles looking for one thing before proceeding to the next item on their list. In trying to look like you know what you are doing, the exact opposite is usually conveyed.

3) Behavior Patterns - They will keep checking what the kids are doing or actually looking for the child/ren. When they find the actual listed item they are looking for they will spend an inordinate amount of time trying to decide which brand or price point they are supposed to choose. Then will often display confusion as the child/ren may offer suggestions like " that's not the one Mommy buys ! "

4) Checkout - At this point they are feeling a cross between stressed and relief that the end is in sight. A few more looks at the list to re-assure themselves that all is well. They will often miss the chocolate / treat free aisle that assist with the inevitable " daddy can we have.....". That always takes a few minutes to resolve.

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And then off they toddle with bags and kids in tow to the car park and out into the bright daylight that signals freedom.

As a regular supermarket shopper I feel for them. I remember the first time I was allowed to go by myself. I think I came home with $200.00 of "stuff " and most it was not on the list I had been supplied with. Over time I was trained in the art of shopping for a) the budget and b) what we would actually consume.

I really feel fore these guys. I can assure you that no where in "What to expect when you are expecting " or any book in that series does it explain or even hint at this kind of stuff.

And when I see them struggling, I just  want to take them gently by the hand and show them that the Pecans are in aisle 5.

So I never laugh and never sneer in derision when they don't know.

I just remind my self to drag out the minions and show them how to shop to live well.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Getting the kids to eat new things....

There is a plethora of studies around the introduction of food and food types in the first two years of a child's life on earth. Most of them to point to the direction that is - that the kid will pretty much put anything in their mouth *  - so why not get them to try all sorts of food and get used to it ?

And with out putting too fine a point on it we have extended family members who have very, very narrow food tolerance ranges. So we are painfully aware of the outcome of not being at least a little adventurous.

We have always had a mantra in the house " It's not a restaurant fella, that's what 's for dinner". Which really serves two functions. The first is -  we don't have time for everybody to have a separate meal prepared and secondly -  try different things it's good for you.

And when I look back at my food experience's as a child it would certainly indicate a predilection for eating well.

I'm blessed to be married to a very good cook and I've been told that I'm not too shabby myself. So it's fair to say a dish like this is common place.

Prosciutto wrapped white fish with lemon mayonnaise and asparagus

And all catering for parties is done by The Beloved with us constantly in her way ably assisting  including such jobs as
- Hand deep frying one by one Won ton wrappers, only to have the box they were in dropped and they all shatted
- Picking off the tiniest pieces of fennel and adding the to the the exact tip of a salmon mousse hors d'œuvres without denting the tip.

But it doesn't always go the way you want. The beloved once tried an eggplant dish on us, we all took the first mouthful and well, the look of horror said it all. But persistence beats resistance and we got more adventourous.

Any way our youngest grabbed this spirit of adventure and starting helping out with cooking. It's now at the stage where he and I cook over the weekend.

But not just anything.

Nope we get down the cookbooks and pick really stupidly difficult awesome stuff. Take this effort

Jamie's Hunter Lasagne

The recipe is very thorough and we had to really get some substitution going on, as I just didn't find a hen pheasant nor did I find a pigeon that I was happy to touch let alone eat.

Also I pretty much used ever pot and pan we had over a 5 hour period. It was truly exhausting. Try Roasting four types of meat and then try separating them into what resembles a big bowl of hair even before making the sauce.

Any way all I'm saying is encouragement seems to breed learning. I'm just concerned about the level !

So as I watch him leaf through "Heston at Home" I just hope that it's a dish that doesn't require anything to be ordered from a science store or that requires a permit from customs.

*( I've seen a cousin eat a cockroch so it must be true)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Use it or lose it

I first  heard this statement when I was very young. It seemed such a "throwaway" line that could apply to almost anything.

Did it mean that if I didn't play with every one of my toys my parents would throw them out ?

Did it mean that things that sat in the corner of the house never being used would disappear ?
The whole thing just didn't make sense.

When I was in my teens , it seemed to be more a saying just for old people who sat around all day or office workers who sat behind their shiny Commodore 64's, after all  I was an over active teenager doing everything.

When I was in my twenties I was fine with it as I was still relatively active. My social life was taking off, so I was still doing all sorts of stuff. In fact I barely even thought about it.

When I was in my thirties I thought I was doing fine. But the when I look back at the photos - I was a big guy. Too much of a good time was being had.

And certainly very little activity was going on.

The Beloved and I got married and along came the kids and I started to get active again. After all try being sedentary with two boys and see how that goes.

So I've always tried to get some activity in to what ever were doing even down to simply trying to ride or walk to work.  We even try to ensure holidays encompass some physical activity. But when its 3 degrees outside and raining, the urge is somewhat lessened.

And how many of us have set out the training gear the night before and mentally decided what we're going to do, gone to bed only to wake up in the morning and have no difficulty saying  to ourselves - tomorrow.

So when I discovered this article This is the full study I was impressed. Somebody had actually taken the time to look at the old adage and see if it was true. A simplified version can be found here This is the Explain it like I'm Five version and it fuelled me on to continue being active.

Which leads me to why I am at the start line of what is arguably one of the more difficult things to do on a Sunday - a Triathlon.

The start line is at St Kilda beach and I have to really try not to worry about swallowing any water as it will probably kill me with all the crap that's apparently in it.

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I'm wearing a fluoro orange bathing cap and seem to be the only person not wearing a wetsuit. There's a lovely southerly blowing ensuring I'm not only the coldest person there but also the whitest.

I'm sucking my stomach in and hoping that the others around me with chiseled abs are doing the same thing.

The waves on the water look little but the groups already in the water ahead of me look a bunch of black socks in a washing machine.

An hour and a bit later I'm done.

And I mean done.

Individually each activity is fine, but when you put them all together in one event the whole dynamic changes.

I did learn a couple of things along the way such as :

- You can't eat a muesli bar whilst riding a bike at 35 kph. Which is probably why they make everything for athletes in that disgusting, easy to consume "gel". Oh and by the way its not gel - its more like really thick snot.
- Always organise someone to pick you up from your event. It's very, very difficult to ride home afterwards.

So as I lay out my bike gear for the next days exercise, I wonder what the early morning discussion in my brain will sound like.......

Not going..........

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Dealing with Loss

I don't deal well with loss.

There I said it.

I really hate it when I had something and then I don't. Or worse when someone else had something and now no longer does.  ( I'm glaring at the moment at the other occupants of the house ). I know I'm not alone.

Nothing frustrates me more than when someone loses something of yours. And don't get me wrong I'm not just focusing on the cost of goods now days. Even though thirty years ago you could by 20cents of mixed lollies and they would last the walk home.
Now you have to by $20 dollars worth and hope the 8 lollies you get, last the drive home or an inter-car boxing tournament will break out.

No - I'm talking about caring. I think that if you're upset about the loss then you care.

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I once had a physical altercation with the refrigeration because I though it had lost my squeezy bottle of Dijonaise (you know the one Adrian Richardson advertises ?) Why , because I care. Plus that stuff is awesome on sandwiches.

It's quite frustrating seeing that look of  "Oh well I'll have to get another one " just drives me nuts.

It's not OK. You lost it.

Think about when you were at school. At the start of the year you are given beautiful fresh books, a set of pens, paper,pencils coloured pencils, Textas and an array of sharpeners erasers etc.

But by the middle of the year whats left ? 3 Half chewed HB pencils, 4 Textas with no lids and some of the coloured pencils.
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Now I get why my Father would get so cranky about me leaving his tools around the yard. He expected that if I would use them then I would afford the tool the usual courtesy of returning it to where it came from.

The issue is for a long time I was under the impression that if I left something in a certain spot that was because I would know to go back there to get it.

Let me illustrate how it works :

I get home and I want to change out of my "good " clothes into something comfortable ( for a long time this was just my jocks ) so I take of the good clothes and leave them on the floor. Exactly where I will be able to find them again later.

Why ? Because that way they will be where I could find them when I next need them.

Now let me illustrate how this all fell apart:

When the beloved first moved in she had commented that my "filing system " of on the floor was not suitable. I took this as "advice " ie It wasn't a set in stone rule. After a few more mentions, I had left clothes etc on the floor and then gone out to work. When I came home my clothes and other items left on the floor were now in the yard under a sprinkler.

The system was abandoned in favour of the new "advice".

So now I patiently try to teach the Minions that yes you can use my stuff and no you cannot leave it where ever you think you will remember it.

And I wonder how my Father put up with it all.......