VikingDad Pro-Tip #6 (Popcorn Trick)

OK, so if you have an infant/toddler who can eat popcorn but isn’t old enough to know not to eat the kernels, this is a bit more important, however, this trick is handy for those who don’t like to deal with the kernels at the bottom of the bowl when you make microwave popcorn.

Here’s the trick I learned.  Pop the bag as normal, but when you pull it out, don’t tear it open right away… open the bag just a little bit.  This may be a bit tricky since the bag is hot and may already be partially opened. See the picture below:

Open the bag just a bit, enough for the kernels to get out, but not the popped corn.
Open the bag just a bit, enough for the kernels to get out, but not the popped corn.

This bag was already partially opened, but like the instructions on the side of the bag say (who reads those anyway, right?), gently tug on opposing corners if it’s not open at all.  You want to make sure it’s big enough to let out kernels but not too big to let all the popcorn fall out.  You then shake it over a bowl like in the picture below:

Shake the bag over the bowl, occasionally tilting to get the ones that gather in the corners.
Shake the bag over the bowl, occasionally tilting to get the ones that gather in the corners.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Do NOT shake the bag of popcorn directly over your garbage can.  While this may seem like a good idea to skip a seemingly pointless step, trust me, it’s not pointless.  What happens if you DO shake the bag of steaming hot popcorn and those steaming hot kernels go into your garbage is that they end up melting a bunch of little holes in your garbage bag (thus severely weakening the structural integrity of the flimsy plastic garbage bag) that makes garbage day at your house a bit more interesting when you try to pull it out (and it inevitably falls apart in mid air).  I speak from experience here.

So, shake the bag vigorously over the bowl tilting once in a while to either side to get the kernels that fall in those corners.  Once the kernels stop flowing while you shake (and have tilted) then you should be nearly kernel free and are able to enjoy a bowl of hot popcorn without worry that you’ll break a tooth when you’re watching your favorite movie and not really paying attention to what you’re putting in your mouth.

Enjoy!

VikingDad Pro-Tip #56 (Fitness from Home)

Being a stay-at-home viking requires a lot of energy and requires you to stay healthy.  Keeping in shape isn’t always easy, particularly in the middle of winter when no one really wants to leave the comfort of their own home. Fortunately, there are many ways around that to get you through the cold winter months.

There is this fitness site that has a ton of visual workouts for the geek in everyone (on top of other great fitness and wellness advice):  http://neilarey.com/

These are great, require no equipment you don’t already have around the house (like chairs and towels) and can be done pretty much anywhere you have enough room to lie down (aside from your bed).

The Shield-Maiden and I alternate times in the workshop since they take about half an hour each.  But doing these 5-7 times a week really helps.

I’ve also started to do 50 push-ups and a one minute plank before each meal.

Like I said, it’s not easy, but there are solutions out there to help you!  Here are the workouts I’m currently doing (alternating between them so I usually do only one or two of these a week):

http://neilarey.com/workouts/sao-survivor-workout.html

http://neilarey.com/workouts/hulk-workout.html

http://neilarey.com/workouts/thor-workout.html

http://neilarey.com/workouts/captain-america-workout.html

VikingDad Pro-Tip #15: The Power of Nachos

If things are going rough, make a snack and bond over it. I’ve yet to see two people be angry at each other while eating a plate of nachos.  Kids are no different. They get angry and frustrated, particularly easily when hungry, so take a few minutes, sprinkle some shredded cheese over some tortilla chips, pop it in the microwave for a minute or so and then voila, you have a plate of instant bonding. Never underestimate the power of nachos.

VikingDad Pro-Tip #3 (Yes, and…)

One of the things I’ve learned from interactive and improvisational theatre is the rule of “Yes, and…” as opposed to “No, this…”.  This works for children at play as well.  Kids have an expansive imagination that doesn’t adhere to many rules, if any, since they’ve not had the experience to apply them. That means they think of things that are hilariously inappropriate to any laws of science we know. Encourage this.  Instead of saying, “No, Boba Fett can’t wear Princess Leia hair, have Han Solo as a boyfriend and won’t be able to fly in the McGonagall dress using his jet pack” say, “Yeah, that’s pretty cool, and how about giving him a purple lightsaber” or something to that effect.  It will help both avoid a potential argument AND help the child feel you’re on the same page.   Also, as an addendum, when your child does say, “No, that won’t work…” ask why.  Encourage them to also embrace the “Yes, and…”

 

VikingDad Pro-Tip #28 (Know Your Surroundings)

When you have a rambunctious toddler, like I do, it’s important to make sure they get some socialization and play time in that doesn’t hurt your wallet too much. Know what local restaurants have ‘Kids Eat Free’ days and what’s around them.

For instance, usually every Tuesday is “Kid’s Eat Free” at our local IKEA.  They also have a wonderful thing called Småland.   It’s where you can drop your kids off for an hour and they get to play with other kids.  There are some requirements, but it’s a great way to go if you want to have a “regular” thing your kids get to do.  After the hour is up, we then usually go upstairs to the cafeteria and he gets to have lunch, for free.  Me, I bring my ‘Free Coffee for Life’ mug and enjoy the atmosphere, get some ideas for household stuff and basically get an hour of Dad time.

There are a bunch of restaurants locally that offer the ‘Kids Eat Free’ thing and usually nearby places for them to have fun (like a park, a playplace, children’s museum, etc…) or really anything that you’re into that you want to share with you child.

If you need help, there’s a wonderful website I’ve discovered called Kid’s Meal Deals.  You can search locally but as anything you find on the internet: trust but verify (i.e. call ahead to make sure before you leave the house).

Good luck fellow berserkers… and Happy New Year!

VikingDad Pro-Tip #41(Kid’s Breakfast)

So, when you’re a stay-at-home Viking looking after the little ones, a healthy breakfast is important.  Knowing how chaotic things can get in the morning, it might not be a bad idea (like the one the shield-maiden gave me) to prep breakfast for the kids the night before.

I know what you’re thinking… sure… sounds great on paper but how is it in practice.  While it may seem like a herculean task when you’re trudging off to bed, but trust me, your early morning bleary-eyed self will thank you for it.

Vanilla Yogurt, Homemade Granola, Fresh Blackberries, Fresh Raspberries, Fresh Pineapple
Vanilla Yogurt, Homemade Granola, Fresh Blackberries, Fresh Raspberries, Fresh Pineapple and a cup of apple juice.

For instance, this breakfast above can be prepped in only a few minutes and put in the fridge for the next morning.  A couple of spoons of vanilla yogurt then a couple of spoons of granola then more yogurt, then more granola and then topped with some fresh berries.  Just cover with some plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

When morning comes, yank it out of the fridge, pour them a glass of apple juice and Viola, a healthy breakfast that they can eat while you’re still waking up!

VikingDad Pro-Tip #13 (Holiday Eating)

So, with the holidays here, our house (dubbed “The Hollow”) is becoming filled with an assortment of wonderfully delicious (and highly caloric) goodies.  In order to combat my low-impulse control when it comes to things like cookies, fudge, the shield-maiden’s banana bread, etc… I have instituted this wonderful little regimen and hopefully it will help you all as well:

Every time I want a <insert delectable here>, I do 50 push-ups and a one-minute plank.  If, after that (roughly two minutes of exercise) I still want the <insert delectable here>, I can have it and have earned it.

That said, today I’m currently up to 100 push-ups and two minutes of plank.

While that number is my number, it may not be the number for you, so please, if this is something that appeals to you, find two exercises that you enjoy and stay within the parameters of fatigue.  i recommend, however, that one of those activities be something ab/core related, which is why I love planks.

Anyroad, hope this helps and Happy Holidays!