Friday, March 25, 2011

What goes around comes around

Many people who know me know one of my true loves in life is to eat food. For as long as I can remember, I've always eaten A LOT. (Funny side note: check out this blog for an amusing outlook on the incorrect spelling of "alot") Anyway, back to the story... Sometimes as a kid my requests were outlandish and denied. When we'd have donuts on a Sunday morning, I'd want a dozen glazed for myself. I'd want a dozen tacos when we went to Taco Bell. But more often than not, parents caved and I ate a lot of food growing up. I'd normally eat a large pizza by myself when we ordered, I would eat two Subway footlongs on my own. I even remember one time my mom and step dad grilled 6 filets and I got to eat 4 of them (plus 2 baked potatoes)!! My record for most number of slices of pizza eaten in one setting is 18. Ridiculous, I know.

You might be thinking, "Wow, Kris, you were quite the slobby fat ass growing up. No wonder there is a child obesity problem in this country. You're the posterchild for it." Normally, I'd say that's a logical thought, but the reality was that I was eating a good 4000-5000 calories per day, and in high school I was 5'9" and 135 lbs at my heaviest. I was an eating machine. I don't eat like that anymore (although I wish I could), but even as an adult I can still eat a helluva lot when I want to. One time, while eating lunch with some friends, I ordered a gigantic half sausage half hamburger smothered in chili with a side order of chili fries. Keep in mind the plate of chili fries was about the same size as a platter at a Mexican restaraunt. The waitress said, "If you can actually eat all that, you can have it for free." My friends replied, "Oh man, you have no idea how much he can eat." So I ate it all, and true to her word, I got it for free. I was so full that I didn't eat again for another 24 hours, but I ate it nonetheless. The point is that I eat a lot and I cost my parents a lot of money growing up.

Fast forward now to parenthood. I have two boys who on occasion (thankfully not every meal), will eat extremely large quantities of food. If they are doing this now at ages 6 and 3, I cringe at how much they are going to cost us in food growing up. As Alex, who is still only 3 years old, put down 4 slices of pizza last night, I started to reflect on some of the amazing feats they've accomplished so far in their young eating careers. Here are some highlights that I can remember--although there are so many more that I can't remember--for most food eaten per sitting:

  • 7 chicken nuggets (age 3)
  • 4 hot dogs (ages 4 and 5)
  • entire mini pizza (ages 3 and up)
  • 4 waffles; multiple times he's done this (age 6)
  • 3 hot dogs, helping of veggies, cup of yogurt, cup of pudding (ages 4 and up)
  • 3 slices of pizza, an entire large cucumber, and a popsicle (age 6)

  • half a Red Baron-sized pizza (age 3)
  • half a hamburger, 1 hot dog, cup of peaches, side of green beans (age 1)
  • 3 waffles and 1 pancake (age 3)
  • 4 pancakes (age 3)
  • 4 hot dogs (age 2)
  • 7 chicken nuggets (age 2)

There are other times where they've eaten a normal size main portion, but we gave them as much fruit and veggies as they were willing to eat. Oh, and that child obesity issue: both boys are skinny as a rail.

Well, it looks like I'm now being paid back two-fold for all the food I ate and the money it cost to feed me. Let's hope I can afford to send them to college after paying for all their food.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Soccer season has kicked off

Last weekend was the first game of the spring soccer season for Brady and Alex. It was a great weekend and you can find pics here:

Brady's game
Alex's game

Last year, Alex seemed very uninterested. He preferred to goof with friends, run around aimlessly, and play with the ground more so than actually trying to play soccer. Of course, he's only three, but at the same time we wanted to be sure that we weren't forcing him to play something he didn't want to play. We asked him if he wanted to play this year, and told him he didn't have to if he didn't want to, but he wanted to. In his first game this season, I can say the difference is night and day! He played really hard, tried to dribble and score goals, didn't goof around, and it was obvious he was having fun! Eureka! He almost scored a goal or two, but the shots weren't quite on net. He did put one in the goal for the other team, but that's part of the learning process. I'm just happy he's trying hard and having fun.

Brady was clearly a little rusty in his game. But it slowly started to come back to him in the second half. One thing is for sure, no kid will ever out-hustle him. He was the only kid on either team to play for the entire 40 minute game! He was always getting to the ball first and running back to help out on defense. I love it when he plays that hard. And the one skill I've been harping on him to start doing--using his left foot--finally came out on Saturday when he dribbled a couple of times with his left. It's still not natural for him, but he's getting used to the idea. He did score a goal in his team's 4-0 win. I suspect he'll be racking up a lot more goals this year once he shakes the rust off. And course, he had a blast doing it! That kid just love running and playing sports.

It was a great weekend and I was very proud of both of them.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day to everyone. I can say that I'm very happy. I've been mulling this over for a couple of weeks and decided to post something on happiness. Let's go back to the origin of my blog title, "Having it All."

There are three things in life that truly make me happy: my family, my job, and triathlon. I'm one of the rare lucky people that really enjoys their job. I'm selfish in that if only one or two of those things are going well, then I don't feel as happy as I should be. All three need to be going well for me to really feel great. Because time is limited, I am often sacrificing one, two, or sometimes even all three of those things.

More often than not, it's triathlon that gets cut out of the equation when things get busy. In 2008, my work hours went up quite a bit, and around April 2009, they increased drastically. I was putting in 60-65 hours per week, sometimes even up to 75 hrs/week a couple of times. I quickly cut out triathlon, and unfortunately, family time also was sacrificed. I was really happy with my job productivity, but I was a very unhappy person overall.

In 2010, I made a promise to cut back on work because the sacrificing family time was unacceptable anymore. I did cut back to 50-55 hrs/week and family life was a lot more fun (because there was more of it!). That was great, but it's still only 2/3rds of what I really want out of life.

Now, in 2011, something hit me. Here are some data on my cycling miles by year, a surrogate for my 'triathlon' aspect of life happiness:

Yes, my cycling miles have plummted from over 3,000 per year to a mere 106 miles in 2010. I had carved out more time for family in 2010, but I felt too selfish to carve out more time for my personal happiness (i.e., triathlon). I realized this year that I need to be more selfish. So I've started taking some more time for myself and restricting my work to only 40-45 hrs/week. Holy cow! I can't believe how much free time someone has when they work 40 hrs/week!! I feel great. I'm sticking to a very modest training schedule: 3 runs per week, 1-2 bike rides per week. Nothing too fancy since I'm not preparing to race anytime soon, just enjoying the time being active. And I still have lots of time for family at home and with the kids' sports. Melanie has time to get in her workouts, too. And while my work hours have reduced, I try to be extremely efficient with the limited hours I have and still be productive. I'm pretty happy with how well I'm getting more done with less hours with work.

I'm as happy as I've been in years. So far so good, but I hope you find a similar level of happiness in your lives!


Alternate titles: Why do you run? or Why do you do triathlons?

I have 3 blog posts to update today. I was going to space them out, but as I let them sit, the ideas soon leave my head and I never get around to it. So let's just jump in with the first one.

Before I get into the real 'meat' of the post, I first wanted to share a great video on run mechanics. This is a really great illustration of some key attributes of running efficiently from Jesse Kropelnicki.

Now to the heart of the post: the title. The answer to these questions in this title are different for everyone. For me, I've just loved running since I was a little kid. I can't explain why, I just love it. For triathlon, it's for personal reasons. I'll keep those personal, although a few close people know why. For Melanie, she now loves running after hating it her whole life. Her motivation to start running was to lose weight. Through that process, she has really discovered what makes running so wonderful, and she did so independently of me (i.e., I didn't influence her to think that). She now tells me that she totally gets why I've always loved it so much. She loves her long runs on the weekends. For Brady, he's much like me. He just loves it. Alex has a few years to develop whether he likes it or not, so time will tell. The point is that everyone has different motivations.

If you are a runner or a triathlete, you also know it's sometimes very hard to keep at it and it's extremely easy to forget why you love it so. This post is for all my runner/triathlete friends to remind themselves why they truly love what they do. All your answers are different. But they are all correct.

If you're having a hard time getting motivated and out the door, have a look at these videos to remind you of your answers.

(I can never make it past the part where Derek Redmond's dad comes out of the stands to help him finish in the 1992 Olympics without getting choked up.)

And for triathlon:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Long time, no blog!

Well, let's see... Last posted an entry in August 2010 followed by one in March 2011. That sounds about standard. So I guess it's time for my frequent "I'm going to do better at posting a blog entry" declaration. Perhaps I'll stick with it this time, perhaps not? I guess I'll go for a quick recap of the last 8 months.

Alex started playing soccer. He's a typical 3 year old, more interested in running around and chasing than anything else. He seems disinterested, but he says he likes it and wants to keep playing, so he'll start back up here in a few weeks. Brady had another really good soccer season and is really getting into the sport. He's got a lot of hustle, that's for sure!

After soccer ended, Brady started his first season of football. He was nervous, but he picked it up very quickly. He used his best skill set: running and speed. He had several long runs and most of them went for long touchdowns. He's quite good at cutting to hit gaps and then exploding through them. He's very good on offense, but his defense needs a little work. :)

Melanie did some more triathlons and had fun. Like me, she gets into a good rhythm with working out, then it all gets derailed as she gets busy with work. Not to mention we're also quite busy with the boys' sports, too. Brady did his triathlon in October, too. He did awesome and went so much faster than he did last year. He's swimming sans life vest now, and it won't be long until he loses the training wheels on the bike. He loves that fact he can go faster without them!

Probably the most exciting news comes from the job front. Once again, it's that time of year when I am applying for assistant professor faculty positions. I had two offers this year from two schools that I really liked, and they were in really great areas to raise our family. I am excited to say that I accepted an offer from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA. Melanie, Brady, Alex, and I will be moving there in August. We're going to miss Ft. Worth and Texas quite a bit, but we're so excited to start this new chapter in our lives. From a selfish perspective, I'm so excited to start my new job. The faculty and adminstration have been great, all the students I've met have been great, and it's in such a nice area. I get to teach some really exciting classes and local research opportunities with lizards are abundant. I'm really looking forward to it. Now, if I can just get someone to buy my house before we move...

Other than that, I've just been doing some winter field work with one of our grad students. It's been a lot of fun, but I feel very behind in office work. Time to get crackin' on that.

Once again, I'm pledging to be more frequent with pretty meaningless updates, so stay tuned friends and family.