Tag Archives: Ditka

Picnic Parents

It’s a phrase my wife coined a few months back to describe how we approach dining around the crazy schedule that is life with a middle and high school students.  You see, our lives revolve around evening wrestling, kickboxing, karate, orchestra, band, youth group….you get the point.  Life runs as a million mile an hour and unless we have a plan, we are running through a drive through.  I cannot tell you how many times I have eaten Subway or Chipotle in the stands of some event.  Not that there is anything wrong with it but there is a better way.

There is a better way!!

Joy and I finally figured out during this year’s football season that we do not have to buy from the concession stand.  And get this, the food we were allowed to bring in……did not have to come from a fast service, franchised restaurant.  We finally figured out that we could make game night, date night and bring our own picnic.  Ok, I may be stretching to get credit for ‘date night’ on these evenings but we definitely eat better than most.

We bring our own food and are usually the envy of all around

The menus for the various events varies greatly from day to day but there are a few things that are consistent that make the ‘picnic’ a whole lot easier to pull off.

  • You are packing a meal – not packing for an Everest Expedition:

Ok, I may just be preaching to myself here but picnic dinners do not need to be 7 course meals.  Think all-in-ones.  Soups, stews, salads, tacos, etc.  The less your guests have to deal with in regards to utensils and plate-ware, the better.  There is a time and place for putting together a ton of options, this is not it.  (Andrew:  read that again, THIS IS NOT IT)

  • Invest in a soft sided cooler:

I cannot recommend a cooler that is soft-sided and can be carried like a duffel bag enough.  A rolling cooler is too big and bulky and the lunch box sizes are too small to feed the family (unless you are packing one for each member of the family).  I picked mine up as a give away from a golf tournament years ago but we have definitely put it to good use.  Just as importantly, it makes you focus on only what will actually fit in the cooler (Andrew – read the above point again).

  • Plan to eat cold food:

In my work life I do presentations for a living, often over lunch.  What I have learned is that I need to order something that will taste good cold.  Why?  Because by the time I get to eat, it is going to be stone cold anyways.  Same holds true for the picnic parent event.  For example, most wrestling matches start at 5:00.  We will typically not eat until 6:30ish.  Unless it is something in a Thermos, it is going to be cold.

  • Invest in portioned Tupperware and Thermoses:

We use these all the time but especially as picnic parents.  Everything is portioned out at home so when someone is ready to eat, we just pull out their Tupperware/Thermos.  No plates, no bowls, no serving a portion of this or that.  Think frozen dinner only healthy and tasty.  It also allows you to customize each meal to the particular diner.  For example, my wife primarily eats vegetarian.  My youngest son would live as a carnivore if we let him.  I can pack two different meals easily and everyone is happy.

  • Cut up everything in advance:

Yes, I do realize you are not 3 and yes, I do think you can cut your own chicken but have you ever seen someone try and balance a plate on their lap while trying to cut up food?  Make it easier on everyone and just cut it up in advance.

So there you go, the secrets to making picnic parenting work.  I look forward to seeing you at the next game and seeing what you brought to enjoy on your ‘picnic’.

What Mike Ditka had to say about being RoadWarriorFit

I recently had the great pleasure of hearing Mike Ditka speak as the keynote address to the attendees at our annual conference.  I have to be honest though, I did not have high hopes for his message.  I have every respect for him as a player, idolize him as a coach and appreciate him as a broadcaster but as a public speaker?  Let’s just say I was less than optimistic.

To put it simply, he blew me away.

While he shared some great stories, expounded on the current state of the NFL and had many pieces of sage advice, the one piece that particularly struck me was the following:

“If you are out working hard and on the road all week, don’t do some stupid ass thing with your buddies on the weekend.  That time is for your family” – Mike Ditka

I wanted to get up and scream “AMEN!!”

You see, it is particularly hitting home this weekend.  My family and I have been helping the ‘family’ across the street move to ‘their’ new home.  The reason I chose to use ‘family’ and ‘their’ in quotations is because only the mother and the kids who were heading to the house we assisted with.  The husband in this case has chosen to move on and move elsewhere.  You see,  he is on the road a lot and has simply grown apart. However, he is not a RoadWarrior.  He is the antithesis of a RoadWarrior.

It appears that through his physical separation, he has separated emotionally from the rest of his household as well.  He has other interests, other activities, other priorities.  He has separated from his wife and her kids.  He has chosen the path of least resistance.

A RoadWarrior does not quit.  They move forward but they absolutely do not quit.  They understand that life is lived at home and is not put on hold till they get back.  The work they do on the road is maximized in order to maximize their time at home.  By working their tails off while on the road, they ensure they are able to maximize their time with (not around) their family while they are at home.

That is why we helped the family across the street move and settle in to their new house.  Not just me.  My wife and both of my boys also.  We skipped our normal time on the karate matt.  We passed on being a part of the black belt test that was being conducted this afternoon.  We put off dinner with the grandparents who we have not seen in weeks.  We were present in the lives of those who needed us most, the family across the street and each other and we did it as a family

Iron Mike’s words could not have rung truer today.  I love to golf but that is 5 hours away from those who deserve my attention.  I am constantly trying to find more ways to be on the karate matt (most Saturday’s involve 5+ hours either doing or instructing) but today that would have been a ‘stupid ass thing to do’.  Today, I needed to feed into the lives of my neighbors by my actions and to my kids by my example.

Remember RoadWarriors, we do what we do for our families and friends.  Not in spite of them.