Half-Marathon Ahoy!

It's time to get ready for a year filled with Adventure! Three of my coworkers (all experienced runners) were talking about running a half-marathon together this year, and I jumped on the bandwagon. My birthday is next month; with the big three-oh staring me in the face, it seems like a good year to get into shape. I started tracking my workout regimen here and then today opened a new Twitter account to keep it up.

1/26: Pulled Natalie on sled for 24 minutes. We went down the road a bit, up and down the driveway a few times, and all over the yard through knee-deep snow. Followed tracks to a rabbit burrow under our stick pile! We went back inside after she fell off the second time.

1/27: 30 minutes of Yoga stretching and sitting meditation.

1/28: 40 minute 30/30 run through the bluffs. 10 minute warm-up walk, 15 minutes of walking/jogging, and 15 minutes walk back home. My goal was a 30 minute workout; I underestimated the return trip and went too far! 2.4 miles, 24°

1/29: I checked out The Beginning Runner's Handbook from the library, and learned that I should be taking a Rest Day between exercise days. Still, I carried Natalie on a slow 26 minute walk to the Nature Preserve Trailhead. Tomorrow, I'll officially begin the 13-week training program and logging my progress here. 10k in May!

"My, Earth certainly is full of Things."

That's a quote from the King of All Cosmos in Katamari Damacy. Is it ironic that one of my favorites mantras for minimalism comes from a video game where the goal is to roll up as much stuff as possible into a giant ball?

And yet it does help put things in perspective when I'm standing in the middle of a store full of stuff, feeling overwhelmed, thinking how much nicer that stuff would look in MY house. Delivered with the proper casual detachment, I can dismiss my overwhelming urge to buy as easily as the King dismisses your achievements in the game.

2011: the year of enough

Everything I need is right here.

We spent money last year like it was going out of style. Beyond the big expenses (house, gutters, windows) I splashed out on fancy anniversary gifts, commissioned artwork, and dozens of personal projects. And this is despite the fact that my wife lost her job in April. Believe it or not, I actually spend a lot of time trying to actively resist the temptation to buy non-essential stuff. But then Christmas came around and I got wrapped up in the cycle of desire all over again.

At the start of this year, we took a hard look at our bank account and decided it was time for a change. So we're trying something different in 2011. Celebrating enoughness. Natalie has plenty of toys, our house is full, and we can't complain of lacking anything important.

The goals for the year, then: doing, instead of buying. Quality time together, not quantity of possessions. Enjoying the things we have rather than wishing for things that we don't. For me I think this will look like bag lunches, trips to the library, and a dwindling supply in my liquor cabinet. Just wait. I'll become an ascetic yet.

Passing the torch

Joust recruitment poster design by Steve Thomas

I have been playing games on a TV screen since my father brought home that glorious Commodore 64 with its stacks of floppy discs full of pirated software. With luck my children will follow me in this proud tradition of video gaming. Like any toddler, Natalie wants to do whatever her parents are doing, and in our family that means learning to wield a controller and keyboard. Her training began this month.

We started with a classic: Mario. I handed her the Wii-mote, showed her the buttons, and let her play. Natalie had an intuitive understanding of the cause and effect at work, and immediately grasped how her inputs affected what was happening on the screen. She pushes a button and squeals, "that make him hop!" She presses on the D-pad and "that make him run all around!"

It only lasted a few minutes, but I'll always remember baby's first game session. Next she took the reins on Persona 3 since that's what I happen to be playing right now. In her hands, this complex and beautiful experience becomes a game about running up and down stairs. Over and over again. And she's delighted to be doing it. I'm so proud.

"Make him go uppa duh-tairs!"

Related: Playing video games with dad builds better daughters

2010 in review

It's time once again for my annual navel-gazing ritual! I started to write a point-by-point review of the year but that was too boring to finish. Instead I tried to consider emerging themes and lessons learned. It is still unbearably self-indulgent, but in an exciting, new way.

2010 was the year of quitting. Or of learning to say no. That's a more positive spin. I quit the Swap-o-Rama-Rama which went on to have a life of its own, diametrically opposed to my vision of the event, but a successful event despite (or because of) that change. MIX flourished in the capable hands of my planning partner Sarah, and I gladly gave her the reins to drive future events. We also turned down a large partnership opportunity for the Craftstravaganza. Overall the goal is to select projects that play to our strengths, benefit our people, and don't totally overwhelm us with too much work.

We moved into our new home in the country, of course, and all the life changes that come along with that shift. I sold my motorcycle, got some chickens, and we did our own nesting activities to make the house our own. I'm still 100% satisfied with the change. Everything is better. I'm in love.

Things I made:
I like making things.

The hours I spent at St. John's Abbey observing the Benedictine Day of Prayer would certainly rank as one of my favorite spiritual experiences, and I would even rank it as one of the most amazing days in my life so far. One of my fellow retreatants attends annually. I hope I could do the same. For the whole story, here's part 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

Last of all, we had a lovely Christmas season at home. We even hosted my family for two parties, a first for us, and a welcome change from the driving circuit we normally endure... the difference in Natalie's mood at the end of the day was incredible. She loved playing with her uncles and convinced them to juggle, march, and fly her around in a nonstop Christmas carnival.

I geeked out on games during the break. Once I was playing Super Paper Mario while playing Facebook games while listening to a gaming podcast. Shut up, it was awesome. My brothers stayed an extra day for a marathon session of Dungeons & Dragons that closed out the campaign we started in July of 2009. I was excited to surprise Jenna with her gift of a Wii because I thought she really wanted one, but well... apparently she only suggested it because she thought that I wanted one. It's the thought that counts, right? Anyway, we played a lot of Muscle March with my brothers and cousins. Now there's a gift that keeps on giving.

I'm going to call it the best Christmas ever. And it was a very good year for us.

Stuff our toddler says

I started a new Twitter account. Natalie's at that precious age where hilarious stuff comes out of her mouth on an almost daily basis (at least it's funny to us, you may not care). So I decided to capture these little outbursts on Twitter.

I put it right over there on the side of the page so you can enjoy or ignore at your leisure.