Category Archives: Dad life

Halloween and a Sunday Sesh

I hope everyone enjoyed their Halloween.  We spent our with a couple other families trick or treating across base. Kash power treated with a couple of her friends, while Hot Rod enjoyed the simple things in life like the question “why” and scaring people with his HULK mask. It was a quick affair, making sure we were back to the house in time to hand out candy to all the Japanese families who were allowed to partake in the festivities (it was also a great way to secretly get rid of some of our kiddos candy. I mean the stuff rots your teeth and is laced with razor blades and AK 47s!) While the kids did that, we sat around with some of the other parents, enjoyed some beverages, told stories, and watched Letterkenny.  After the sugar high, the kids fell asleep and October was over.  The focus is now on Thanksgiving and all the food that will be wrecked in a few weeks. Friday was a bore and Saturday the kids had a sleepover.  Sunday was becoming lazy, so we kicked into medium gear and made it to the gym.

It was a simple set on Sunday.  Sunday is church. Church means deadlifts. Deadlifts are life. Well, mostly.  There is also pizza, Kurt Russel, socks with sandals, Reese’s, late night snacks, shorts and long sleeve tee weather and of course love making with the wife. But anyway, onto the boring workout stuff.

I always bring my weight belt to the gym.  Whether I am pushing, pulling, or squatting, I keep it handy. It’s a staple.  Today though, I wanted to test myself. I wasn’t going to use it.  It was a pull day, so deadlifts were on the agenda.  I only had a short window while Krissi and the kids in the MOM Gym.*

*The MOM Gym is the worst. They threw a couple treadmills, an elipticle, some dumbbells, maybe a bench (if it isn’t moved back into the main gym) and an arena for your kids to play in. Good idea, with poor execution.  It’s like they only expect mom’s to treadmill and lift some light weight. While you should always make the best of what you have, at least give moms some better tools to become the smoking hot cougars’ young men want. Rant over.

I warmed up with 3 rounds of 5 deads at 155 lbs and 5 pullups. The music started to groove with Eminem and Dr. Dre.  I began to work up to a heavy three.  The last time I deadlifted without a belt, I pulled a single at 365. Today would turn out much different.

I threw 245 on the bar and pulled it for 3 reps. Then is was 335. Then 345. Then 355. Then 365.  365 was as smooth as butter.  As I was finishing that set, one of my favorites came across the headphones.

Ooh, baby, I like it raw. 

Yeah, baby, I like RAW!

Ooh, baby, I like it raw. 

Yeah, baby, I like RAW!

I found it fitting as I added a quarter (25 lb weight for you noobs) to each side of the barbell, totaling 385.  I placed my worn chucks under the bar and set my hands.  My hips dropped into position as I took a deep breath. 

“PULL!” I told myself. One rep down.

“PULL!” Two reps down.

“PULL!” Three reps done. 

My body had felt every single one.  Those reps weren’t as smooth as butter, but they had me feeling there was more in the tank. I threw on a 5 kilo on each side and pulled 2 reps and then 1 for good measure.  The last pulls were at 407 lbs.  I was satisfied where I was and moved on to finish the rest of the training.  I stripped the bar down to 155 and did some reverse grip barbell rows for 8 reps.  I added another 50 lbs and finished with two more sets at 5 reps.  Not wanting to be done with barbell rows, I used the regular grip on the bar and busted out 3 set at 5 reps at 227 lbs (all the odd looking lbs come from adding the small, yet solid, 5 kilo weights).  I cleaned up the rack, put my weights away and moved over to a bench for some dumbbell rows. The bench I wanted was being used by some shmuck to hold his cell phone and wallet while he did standing EZ bar curls (the same guy had also used the reverse hyper extension as a place to stow his phone and wallet while he was using the smith machine. His actions really chapped my ass that day). It was a simple flat bench I could roll the weight under to the other arm after a set.  I decided not to douche it up and settled for a different bench.  I snagged a 125 lb dumbbell and went to work, turning out 3 sets of 5 reps for each arm. I wrapped up the gym sesh with a super set of reverse hyper extensions and EZ bar curls at 8 reps each. 

 I wiped everything down and started to head to the MOM gym.  I turned the corner and there was my awesome family with smiles on their faces, ready to roll.  It had been a solid day all around.  The wife told me the kids argued the entire time while she was working out, so she just turned up her music and kept on keeping, letting the kids figure their life out.  We dropped our towels in the bucket, told the gym staff to smell us later and blew that popsicle stand waving our hands in the air like we just didn’t care.

Do Work, Be Rad

Mustache

The Whirlwind of Life: Tangling with the Unknown

I planned on turning some notes into posts today, but that is not what happened. Instead, I let my fingertips just work magic on the keyboard.

It’s been a while since I sat down and actually put a post together from my notes. I’ve been writing consistently in my notebooks, working on a bunch of different ideas and content. I’ve toyed around with shorter posts concerning random thoughts, stories and workouts (which you can read on the website). I took a small hiatus to restore the creative juices; I was beginning to get bogged down in the routine of creating. Since it’s a one-man show right now, having to come up with constant ideas was becoming a burden. I don’t want it to be at this point. I have enough to-dos with my family and working for the man. I want to get to a point where I have more time to devote to this endeavor, but it will be few more years before that becomes a reality.

I’ve been in Japan for 3 months now, while the family has been back in Virginia. The wife and I received some awesome news the other day; we will be able to live together here in Japan! Since we are a blended family, there were certain civil matters that needed to be addressed. While we planned on flying over as a family, our court case kept getting continued for various reasons. We lost our initial hearing (once it actually happened) and the appeal didn’t happen until this past week. We won. All of our money and effort finally paid off. When I left for Japan a few months ago, we didn’t know when the family would be back together. Was it going to be me flying home to visit, or them flying our here to live? To say is was a stressful situation would be an understatement. With my job, being away from the family comes with the territory. It was the unknown outcome of the court case that caused the most stress and heartache. I don’t wish this situation on anyone.

While being away, I have enjoyed the random videos I get of my kids. I watched my son smack his dome piece in his teepee and get back up like it was no big deal. My daughter got involved in gymnastics and is becoming quite the young lady (even though she is 4). I’ll be flying back to pick them up in about a month, and I can’t wait. There is still plenty to do, but we now know what direction to go. We have been sitting in a holding pattern waiting for the green light to land. My wife has been doing a hell of a job holding it down since I have been gone. Being able to facetime and talk daily has been a huge help. Both Kash and Lincoln enjoy when my face pops up on the TV (Isn’t technology is awesome?). Sometimes when I call, Hot Rod would get a hold of the phone and run off to hide, not wanting to share. If I had a weaker stomach, the motion sickness from his phone handling would have been terrible. He also enjoyed hitting the red button to end the call (future marine?). When I would talk to Kash, we came up with way to keep mom on her toes. The sandwich maker was not amused at times and used my full name a few times. 6,000 miles doesn’t really make a difference when your wife uses your full name. It still has the same effect.

The unknown can be a bitch. It’s something that is out of your control and you have to learn how to work with it. Plans can be made and executed, but it’s never a guarantee you will get the outcome you desire. We wanted to come to Japan as a family last year. We couldn’t, and we had to figure out how live not knowing when we would be back under the same roof. Sure, there are always things you learn that could have been done better, but beating yourself up over them doesn’t help. Looking back at this whole situation, I could have done some different things and maybe avoided some of this. Who knows? Hindsight is 20/20. All you can do is keep going and look to the goal. Shake off the missteps, press on, and adapt. If you have a hard time adapting, life will chew you up, spit you out and feed you to her chicks. 2017 was a rollercoaster of emotion for our family and we came out on top. While I would like life to slow down a bit, it’s still ramping up. The man has me working hard, the oldest will be starting school, and we will be living in a new country. It’s going to be awesome.

Do work, be rad

Mustache

A few drinks in: Rally naps and massage chairs.

Merry Christmas! When it comes to holidays, booze is a must. Especially if you have annoying in-laws around. While my family celebrates in America, I am 14 hours in the future partying with friends. After I was picked up, we went t 7-eleven. The 7-elevens in Japan put the ones in America to shame. Food selection, booze, and service are all better than anything i have witnessed state side (except the ability to buy strike force energy at the counter). I snagged a fifth of whiskey for 1700 yen (roughly $17) and a whiskey mix in a can (9% alcohol). The whiskey can got me started and the bottle wasn’t bad on ice. After chowing down in some fried chicken, velveeta shells and cheese, and wontons, I was ready to crash. I was offered the use of a massage chair. It was the best idea anyone had ever had while having some adult beverages. 10 minuets in, and I was out. People were competing at Just Dance, while others were cracking jokes about the terrible dance moves. I could hear all of it. I also was enjoying having my eyes shut. My wife complains that I have old man tendencies. Having to nap mid-day is one of those. I took full advantage of the massage chair and took an old man/rally nap. It was the best decision of my day. I am a huge fan of these. Sometimes you need a quick 20 to get back in the game and hang. Sometimes though, you go down for the count. If there is enough commotion, a rally nap will get me through the day and night (depending on how early I begin to booze).

The massage chair was a great idea and loosened up my back and butt. It also help me relax to get the shut eye I needed. As soon as I came too (20 min later), I poured myself a whiskey-ginger and was back on the train. Time to whip some ass at Mario Kart.

Family, meet the U.P. U.P. meet the Family Part 2: The Camp Experience

Life has been crazy the past couple of months. I finished up school at Great Lakes in Chicago, flew home to Virginia, then hit the road to visit family in Texas (I’ll expand on that at a later date). There are a lot of unknowns surrounding my family and me lately. While it hasn’t been easy to deal with, we have been pressing on and focusing on the future. I imagine when everything is wrapped up and settled, I’ll put pen to paper to reflect and laugh at much of it. I know I’ve left you with a cliffhanger and some vague information, so, now, a continuation of our family trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

We had arrived. We unloaded the kiddos and took a quick tour, from the Millionaire to Conway Lake. Then we headed over to the “Tupa” to check out our quarters for the next week. Tupa is Finnish for “little cabin”. It is the size of an efficiency apartment. Inside were the bunk beds my brother and I shared as kids, an air mattress and a small kitchenette. It was a blank canvas ready to be worked on. Krissi and I unloaded the truck and got settled in.

We went over to the Millionaire for dinner. It was a keto diet special, burgers without buns. My Aunt Ruth had prepared them for everyone. After dinner the kids took a dip in the lake. There is nothing like getting all washed up and clean with a lake bath. It gets you close to nature. By the end of “getting cleaned up” nature’s way, the matresses were calling our names…Ben, Krissi, Kash, Lincoln! Exhaustion was upon us and it was time to get some good, solid rest. Now, it doesn’t get dark until around 10 p.m. in the U.P. during mid-summer. Of course, we had to explain to Kash why it was time to go to sleep while the sun was still visible. And, after convincing the Sandwich maker that a bear wasn’t going to bust through the door and eat us, we finally zonked out.

Camp is a calming, yet amazing experience. There is no cell service and plenty of forest to run around in. You have to hall in your drinking and cooking water. There is a pump from the lake to fill the trash cans used for flushing toilets and washing dishes. Did I mention that you have to use a bucket to flush the toilet? There is an abundance of fish to catch with a few rowboats and canoes for lake cruising. The mosquitoes are as big as a small horse and will leave a welt on you the size of Georgia with a single bite. They can also be as thick as Black Friday shoppers at Wal-Mart at midnight.

I remember as a child always running through the woods, playing in the lake and attempting to catch fish (it has never been a strong suit of mine). My Nanny helped me catch a small garder snake, named him Conway. We took him back to Texas as a pet. We would hike to Lake Superior and climb Breakfast Roll. My cousins and I would build forts and explore the area around camp (we did most of this without parental supervision) for hours and hours on end. The sauna would be fired up throughout the day for our use. If you ever get the chance to use a wood burning stove sauna, do it. A lot of saunas now-a-days are electric. I enjoy pouring water on the hot rocks and choking on the rush of steam (it really opens up the lungs, ha). This trip, I took the time to learn what makes camp tick. I am at the age where I want to invest in learning the responsibilities that my parents had when I was a young’un. I started with the sauna. It wasn’t difficult, just simply starting a fire in a cast iron stove and keeping it fed. This meant keeping the wood pile stacked and the stove clear of ashes. We used it to relax and bathe. Both the kids enjoyed a sauna bath. We would stick them in dish washing bins. Hot Rod found enjoyment in splashing water everywhere, while Kash was all about using the ladle to bathe herself with.

We had the pleasure of Alexis and Ali (two of my cousin’s daughters) join us for a couple of days. They took Kash under their wings and showed her the ropes of being a kid out there. They took her to the fort in the woods, out of sight. There was some hesitation from Krissi (because of bears), but it was calmed by the “screams” of fun and laughter. They had a blast! We took a canoe ride later that day. It was a bit windy, which made for a fight on the way back to shore. Come to find out, it was both Krissi’s and Kash’s first time in a canoe. As dinner approached, we made our way over to Chris and Dave’s (GramB’s cousins) for a meal. They were the next camp down and live there full time during summer. Rachael and her dog Dude met us out there. Dinner was full of great food, good drinks, and superb conversation. Dave took the girls for a tour of his wood shop and Hot Rod crashed from all the excitement he experienced. We had some ice cream for desert and then headed back to “our place”. After we got back to camp and put the kiddos to sleep, Rachael, Krissi and I relaxed on the porch of the Tupa. We swapped stories and enjoyed some more adult beverages.

I could go on and on about camp. This just covered the first couple of days. There is still Lake Superior, adventures in Marquette and shenanigans at Pike Lake I want to share. I’ll save those for another day. My time up there has always been limited, leaving me to cram as many activities as I can into a short time. Camp is a real vacation from society. It forces you to put down the electronics and get your hands dirty. You can see an endless number of stars at night and hike through nature at it’s core. Kids make the forest their playground and adults can enjoy the calm of nature. It is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

Do work, be rad

Mustache

Family, meet the U.P. U.P. meet the Family. Part 1: Road Trip!

It was a Tuesday. The Sandwich maker, Hot Rod and I loaded up in the truck to pick up our girl from her dad’s house. I was re-enlisting later that morning and wanted the whole family to be there. While I could ceremony and certificate, I knew the wife and kids would get a kick out of being there. The ceremony was quick and to the point. The kids were recognized for putting up with me, and ended up stealing the show with their personalities. It is a great feeling to know you are supported by the ones you love.

We got back to the house and loaded up for our great adventure. Prior to getting on the road, a good hearty meal is the number one “to-do” for me. The wife and kids had never driven more than 4 hours anywhere before. This drive was going to be at least 18 hours. We decided to stop in at the small cafe where Maw-maw works to grab a bite to eat before hitting the road. It was 3 p.m. when we wrapped up our pre-trip meal and we were finally on the road. Our original route had us driving through the D.C. area. Siri recommended that we take a different route, saving us from the traffic and about 10 min. of drive time (Siri didn’t know we had kids with us – go figure). We decided, why not, and took the detour “she” recommended. It just so happened the new route took us right next to Krissi’s dad’s house. Maybe “she” knows more than we thought! We stopped in for an hour or so, said hi, let the kid’s run-a-muck, then we were back on the road. Krissi took over as pilot and made it to the beginning of the Pennsylvania turnpike. We decided to drive through the night, switching out as needed.

It was a great idea. We made the most distance driving at night while the kids slept. I made it about halfway into Ohio and Krissi got us about a third of the way into Michigan. We arrived at the Mackinac Bridge around 9 a.m. As we crossed the bridge, the air began to freshen and the foliage became lush and rich in color. The sky had a brighter color of blue than usual. Well, not exactly. It was cloudy and raining off and on. But Lake Michigan was a deep, rich blue. Krissi and the kiddos were amazed by the beauty of the U.P. and it was just the tip of what was in store.

After crossing the great Mackinac Bridge, Krissi noticed the plethora of smoked fish and pasty signs along the highway. What is a pasty?

Note: A pasty is a “meat pie” or “pot pie without the pot”. There is a history about it, but in the U.P., the miners used to take them to work for lunch. The U.P. has a Cornish and Finnish background, where the pasty originated.

We stopped at the White Tail Café/Resort on US Highway 2 to grab a couple of pasties, 1 beef and 1 bison. As we pulled back onto the highway, Krissi began to dispense the food to the three of us. Both Sweet Pea and the Sandwich maker were fans. A couple of hours later, we arrived at the Ore Dock in Marquette, MI. It felt great to be back. We hopped out of the truck and looked for GramB and Grump’s, but they were nowhere to be found. Then, from a distance, I spotted my father’s dome piece (he’s tall). They were on the other side of the parking lot making their way toward us. While Krissi was putting Kash together, Lincoln and I made our way to them. Linx was pumped, Kash was pumped, GramB was pumped, everyone was pumped! We took some photos at the Ore Dock, made a couple stops in Marquette, and then headed out to Big Bay.

The Millionaire, or Camp, is about a 20 min drive from Big Bay on a dirt road (black top to dirt, to two rut with many pot holes). After a stop at Cram’s in Big Bay for some ice, we arrived at the Huron Mountain Club gate. The drive was green and you could still smell the rain on all the bushes and trees (literal forest) that lined the road. The weather was cool and cloudy. Everyone was antsy to get to our destination. It seemed the longest part of our drive. We were ready to be done with wheels turning over the miles. After a few more twists and turns, we pulled into camp, the Millionaire, Conway Lake. We had arrived.

Do work, bed rad

Mustache

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pasty

https://www.hu.mtu.edu/vup/pasty/history.htm

Daily Quickie: The reuniting of mustaches: Part 1

After watching Alabama come-from-behind win against Mississippi State (I was hoping they would lose), I headed out to explore Sasebo. I grabbed some local food and a coffee, which were delicious, before I met up with my buddy Rusty. We started out a a dive bar with 2 tables and no chairs. The smell of cigarettes covered the air. The table was covered in grime and the beers were cheap. We made our way to another bar where you had my first Chu-hai. It was delicious and lived up to the hype. I had a tour through sailor town and saki town. We kept finding closed bars and restaurants (lame ass Sunday if you ask me). I have a list of spots to hit up during my next free evening. After strike no out a few times, we ended up at Sasebo burger for a quick meal. To be continued….

Daily Quickie: Cheese Curds in Japan!

Nothing says delicious like cheese curds. I made them a road trip snack while I was adventuring thought the northern part of the Midwest during early September of this year (2017). I was cruising over to the bar to wet my whistle, and decided to stop at the mini mart to grab some hydration before I partook in some libations. No shit, staring me in the face as I walked in, we’re some cheese curds from Wisconsin. I was blown away and was not expecting to see such a wondrous sight. I snagged a pack and went on my way. They will make the perfect late night snack.

Daily Quickie: Ring game on steroids.

So there I was, hammered. It was the summer of 2014, and I was drinking beer at the Blackrocks Brewery in Marquette, Michigan. I was with my (little) sister and cousin. The sun was on a downward trajectory and there was a slight breeze. The ring game at this local establishment had three different sizes to hook. Large, medium, and wedding ring. It took me a couple tries to get the big one. Once I had made it, I immediately went to the medium size. A few more tries and it was on. Two rings down, one to go. I placed my feet, squared up, took a swig and let go of the ring. Ding, ding (think about a dramatic scene in a movie about basketball where the ball teeters around the rim before go no in), hooked! I don’t know if it was destiny or the booze, but one shot is all it took. The small crowd that had gathered went bananas, and a small news crew popped up to interview me. After hooking the ring, I abruptly retired and rode off into the sunset towards the next barroom game.

Daily Quickie: Pink Flamingo

There are only a few things one needs for a garden. Some plants, lawn gnome, and a pink flamingo. When the wife and I got married, we bought this at our local big box store. While our garden was mostly dirt and weeds, the flamingo really brought it all together. It distracted from the ugly yucca plant and my wife’s lack of a green thumb (I still love you babe). It has survived hurricanes, punk ass kids, and relocation during flower bed renovations. It will be the one yard decoration we will carry through life until we settle at our forever home. This one is for you Pink Flamingo.