A Day in the Life – VikingDad

This site, this blog, was intended to display our creative outlet for those who are interested in what we do, those that are in similar situations, or just looking for information on those sometimes Herculean obstacles we overcome in our life’s journey.

What would that be without having some insight into who we are and what it is we deal with on a daily basis but words on a page?

To dispel that notion, let me share with you what an average day in the life of VikingDad looks like:

Midnight – I will have been asleep for about an hour or so at this point, so not much going on.  I am a light sleeper, so I wear earplugs.

4:30AM – Generally around this time, Enya, one of our elderly dogs generally wakes up at this time and tries to get us to feed her.  Now, this time is fluid.  It’s sometimes as early as 12:30AM, and rarely ever is it after this time.  Granted, on those days she gets us up before 4:30, it’s due to her ears (she sometimes has infections so they need to be cleaned regularly) and just letting her out and then sleeping with her on the couch until 4:30 does the trick.  The shield-maiden usually takes the bulk of this (thankfully for me) as the couch is just a bit too short for me to stretch out.  Alternatively, I get up and take Enya for a jog at this time, usually two to three times a week. For simplicity sake, let us say that this is not one of those days. So currently I have gone back to bed.

6:00AM – Benvolio wakes up.  This is also fluid. Sometimes it’s as early as 5:00, other times, it’s as late as 7:00, but this is the general time frame.  He then comes looking for me.  We get up and I relieve the shield-maiden from couch duty to let her go back to sleep in an actual bed.   I get moving, feed Trixie, the other elder dog, and then go about getting breakfast ready for both children.  Charlotte is often still asleep at this time (though there are the infrequent mornings she gets up at 4:30 or 5:00 to come out and get some alone time with Minecraft on the Xbox).  For simplicity sake, let us say that this is not one of those days.  I also, at this time, make sure that Charlotte’s lunch for school is packed.  We try to make sure she has at least one veggie and one fruit, doubling up on one or the other to accompany her sandwich.  I am also certain to have prepped the shield-maiden’s caffeine (Wild Strawberry Crystal Light Energy packet).

7:00AM – Breakfast.  Charlotte and Ben and I have breakfast to the sultry sound of Clone Wars on Netflix.   I make sure that they stay on task and not get too enraptured with the television.  I also make sure that Charlotte is ready for school.

8:00AM – Charlotte is off to school, Ben is being occupied and I am organizing my day (and doing some form of calisthenics), taking care of administrative tasks (either doing a rune draw, or filing requisite paperwork, answering email and doing research).

9:00AM – I have woken the shield-maiden up at this time and after making certain we have all eaten and are prepared for our day.  I’ve also usually started the laundry at this time.  Once all the requisites have gotten out of the way (and Ben has proudly proclaimed his successful use of the potty), we check our white board for our tasks for the day and start on them.  This is the start of where one or the other of us get the bulk of our physical work done (sewing craft for the shield-maiden and wood or chain craft for myself).

NOTE: We try to organize our weekly goals and daily tasks in order to achieve them on a whiteboard in our office.  It’s extremely handy.  The key to remember is to schedule the beginning heavy and the end light… and to be forgiving of yourself since things come up that limit what you can do in a day and if something needs to be pushed off until tomorrow, that’s OK.

12:30PM – By this time, one or the other of us have been on point with Benvolio so that the other can get work done, or he’s been able to entertain himself for a bit while we both collaborate on a task for a few minutes. I then go and prep lunch.  More often than not, it’s for the three of us, but occasionally there are scheduling things that mean it’s just for Ben and me. For simplicity sake, let us say that this is not one of those days.

1:00PM – LUNCH!!!! Not as exciting as I make it sound, but it usually takes forty-five minutes from start to finish for Ben to complete the entirety of his lunch.

2:00PM – QUIET TIME!!!!!!! OK, the theory of this is REALLY exciting for us parents.  Since Ben doesn’t nap any longer, he understands that this is his quiet time. Usually it means playing on his leapster, or getting to watch a movie or something, but that this is the time when (since one or the other of us have played with him for the better part of the morning) he entertains himself.  This is better in theory than in practice, however.  One or the other of us is working in the family room with him, so we’re in proximity while he does so.

4:00PM – RELEASE THE BENVOLIO!!!! Benvolio, who has been entertaining himself for the better part of this time is (usually quite literally) screaming for human interaction.  Charlotte is now home from school and she gets to work on her chores (emptying the dishwasher and her lunchbox) and then homework, after a short snack for her and Ben.  I then take point on Benvolio and the shield-maiden hits the workshop if she’s not there already.

5:00PM – Feed the hounds.

6:00PM – The shield-maiden then generally gets dinner started (NOTE: we’ve also got a whiteboard in the kitchen with dinner plans and grocery lists… yup, another whiteboard… sensing a theme?).  This time is also a bit fluid.  At this point, if Charlotte is done with her homework, she and Benvolio get some Xbox time together.  This gives me a bit of time to also catch up on email, social media posts, etc…

7:00PM – DINNER!!!!! We have a dinner together where we talk about our day.

7:30PM – Bath/Bedtime for the Benvolio.  I would normally put this in all caps, because really, it’s an exciting time, but I’m usually too exhausted by this point to be really excited about much.

8:00PM – Charlotte gets about half an hour or so of alone time on the Xbox.

9:00PM – PARENTAL FREE TIME!!!! I have regained a tad bit of energy and now am able to be excited about sitting down with the shield-maiden, having a glass of red wine and either working on collaborative projects or simply enjoying an episode of something on Netflix.

10:30PM – BEDTIME!!!! I try to be in bed at this time, but usually it’s more towards 11.

There you have it… a day in the life of VikingDad!

Honey-Citrus Granola

We get a lot of our groceries from Costco.  It saves money, but it means that we end up with things like 10 lb bags of rolled oats.  And there is only so much oatmeal you can eat.  After a round of oatmeal Craisin cookies or banana oatmeal bread, you still have five pounds of rolled oats staring at you.  Let me tell you, the Quaker Oats guy can give a mean stink-eye after a while.

And so I’ve been making granola on a semi-regular basis*.  The other night I pulled out my current favorite recipe from Mother Nature Network.  Unfortunately, I was short several ingredients: no nuts, limited cinnamon, and limited vanilla extract.  I excavated a bottle of orange extract from the back of the cupboard and found lemons and limes in the fridge from a recent grocery trip.  Add in the rather large jar of ground nutmeg and and idea formed: Citrus Granola.  That sounded breakfast-y!  Time for an experiment.  Below is the recipe I used.  The result was a granola with a very distinct citrus-flavor.  I have enough orange extract left that I will most likely make it again.

If you decide to make it, let me know how it turned out for you.

Continue reading Honey-Citrus Granola

Yuletide – Celebrations and Decorations

For a lot of people, this time of year is filled with stress and depression glazed over with the guise of requisite and expected holiday cheer.  For some there’s not enough money to purchase gifts and even when there is, there’s high-impact shopping and impatient crowds to deal with.  For others, it’s the spending time away from loved or lost ones.

One of the main celebratory meanings behind Yule was that the days stop getting shorter and the long, dark nights become less so. The concept that the hardest part is behind us and worth a twelve-day-long celebration is, well, celebration worthy, in my opinion.  Getting together at the end of the darkest days of the year with friends and family to celebrate the light, celebrate the lives of those lost, celebrate community, and celebrate life is something that I feel may have been lost along the way.

I want this to be a positive post, not a rant (those come later) so I won’t focus on where I feel it’s been lost.  I want to focus on happiness, laughter, light and love.

For me, a Viking from Michigan who loves the cold and snow, this season is very very important to me.  Yes, shorter days and longer nights, colder weather and greater inconveniences thanks to inclement weather, but I like to look at the positive aspects those things bring:  Shorter days means I get to burn more candles and oil lamps.  Colder weather means I get to wear sweaters (a thing I love) and cuddle with my family more.  Cold and snowy weather… well, that’s just a Northman’s playground… snow forts, snowball fights, sledding, hikes in the woods with the wind whipping around you in blurry white gusts.  For me, that’s fun… getting to share that with my family, Charlotte and Ben in particular, is a little bit of heaven.

The day after we brought Ben home, there was a huge snowstorm here that dumped a few feet of snow on the ground overnight and pretty much closed everything down for the week. Charlotte and I got to go sledding and go play in the snow.  It was amazing. I got to spend the week inside, with the love of my life, our daughter and our new-born son.

It reminds me to appreciate those moments, and to remember what this holiday is really about:  Celebrating the fact that the darkest part (of whatever) is behind us.

This year, we have an actual Yule log we’re working on together.  We will have our usual Solstice bonfire on Friday night (scheduling reasons, we know the actual Solstice is on Sunday), we are putting the book tree up tonight (pictures to come tomorrow), the house has transitioned from the scents of cinnamon and harvest/pumpkin spice (Autumn) to pine/cedar trees (Winter).  The shield-maiden made decorations, seen in her tutorials here and here.

All in all, it is gearing up to be the best Yule/Solstice yet, for us… and with that said, I hope it is becoming that for you all as well.  If you’re having trouble, start within. Start by finding something, anything, that reminds you of a happy time this season and work from there.  Decorate your living space with whatever makes you happy, whatever symbolizes the end of struggle and renewal.  If you’re still feeling not in the Yuletide celebratory spirit, feel free to comment, or email and I’ll be happy to send words of compassion and love.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my celebration with you all.  Happy Yule!

Toilet Paper Roll Garland Tutorial

If you’ve been saving your toilet paper rolls for seed starter pots and find yourself with still more rolls than you have use for, make a pretty holiday garland.  Little crafters can help with some of the construction, so they can feel part of the holiday decorations.  The idea of this garland was inspired by toilet paper roll flowers pictures here.  Coloring them green and red give them a festive feel. Continue reading Toilet Paper Roll Garland Tutorial

Backyard Garden Project: Harvested Goods

The thing about yard clean up, the kind that involves cutting branches and hauling stones and pulling down fences, is that you end up with a lot of stuff. Most of it gets sorted into the compost heap, or rubbish bin, or stacked up for use later on. Some of it you look at and think, “I bet I could do something with that.” You might not know what, exactly, you could do. But you decide to set it aside just in case. Continue reading Backyard Garden Project: Harvested Goods

Backyard Garden Project: Raised Beds

The idea started off simply enough: to turn the backyard into a garden.  The indecision, however, is in the details.  While we could, theoretically, pull up all the lawn and plant right into the ground, we have two dogs who have no regard for boundaries.  Enya, a German short-haired pointer, will trample over plants, push over fences and chicken wire, and steal cucumbers right off the vine.  We also have our share of rabbits who trek through the yard, despite the wooden fence and the presence of the dogs.  I’ve lost more pea shoots than I can count to bunny thieves.  Taking all of those factors into account, we decided raised beds throughout the backyard would be our best bet. Continue reading Backyard Garden Project: Raised Beds

Backyard Garden Project: Woodpile & Compost Heap

In my quest to create a backyard garden (as opposed to a garden in my backyard) some things had to be tidied up.  November was going to be that month.  We knew we had to work quickly as possible since winter seemed on planning an early arrival.

Nightshade Covered Woodpile
Nightshade had taken over the wood pile. Pretty, but smelly, and got in the way of getting to the wood.

The big projects for the month involved trimming the branches from trees, the woodpile and the compost heap.  Trimming the branches would give us all sorts of wood for the fire pit next year.  Alas, the wood pile was still filled with branches and wood from previous years. Continue reading Backyard Garden Project: Woodpile & Compost Heap

Gardening as a Radical Act

My grandparents’ house stood on an acre of land, half of which was given over to gardening.  Most of it was taken up by vegetables: peas, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, even a few pumpkin plants for the grandkids come Halloween.  There was a small strip that I always thought of as The Orchard: an elderberry tree, pear, apple and cherry trees, as well as a few grape vines.  The perimeter of the area was ringed by berry bushes: gooseberry, currant, Chinese cherries.  Having raised five kids on little money, my grandparents, my grandmother in particular, had the cultivation and production of foodstuffs down to an art.

Continue reading Gardening as a Radical Act

Doing the Math

I’ve been trying for a while to write this all out.  I’ve gone through several drafts.  The obstacle I keep running into is not knowing how to start.

So let’s start here: At one point I went through lengthy arbitration with The Bank That Shall Not Be Named.  I had to show P/L sheets, bank balances, invoices, etc. to prove my low-income status.  Looking over my year’s expenses and sales showed a net income in the low three figures.  The man who represented the bank was less than kind in his response.  “That’s all you make from sewing?  Why even bother?”*

Continue reading Doing the Math

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!