A Happy Convergence of Positive Events

Yesterday was a happy convergence of events for my interests and hobbies. I have a very busy weekend on tap, multiple family events. But I am ready for it all and have some good stuff happening to soften the blow as it were.

I had planned on picking up the new Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook on my birthday. But my local game store was out of stock, apparently there was a wist for a second print run. Yes I could have purchased it online, but this is one of the few places where my allegiance to local business and friends takes precedence. After a week or so delay I decided to see if I could at least get a copy from the library, just to read through, before getting a personal copy for the family. Well yesterday the library copy became available on hold for me so I went and picked it up. Of course last night I got a call from the store that my copy is in, so I will go and get that on my lunch. I will keep the library copy for a couple of weeks for myself and let James spend some time with the family copy.

Just in the afternoon and evening of reading through the book I am really impressed and excited. Honestly it wasn’t that long ago that I had pretty much given up on Dungeons & Dragons, figured I would just use GURPS or Savage Worlds for the introduction of Jimmy and kids to gaming. But when I read so many positive things about the Starter set for 5th Edition I figured I would give it a shot. I have been very impressed with the game play so far with the boys. Then getting my hands on the book I am very impressed. It is a very well thought out, well organized and written book. Here are some of the short thoughts in bullet point:

  • The first thing that has struck me is the versatility of the system now. Gone are the old class and race restrictions. If you want to be a Halfling Paladin, or a Dwarven Sorcerer it is now possible. And if you want to be a sword wielding wizard a la Gandalf you can. Just about any fantasy option is now out there.
  • I really like the thinking on the spell lists, gone are the old class spells. Sure there are some spells that only certain classes can get, and every casting class has it’s own list. But you don’t have the old redundancy, trying to come up with a Cleric version of the Light spell, or a Wizard version of Speak to Animals.
  • While I am still figuring out game play (and still keeping to the KISS principle with the boys) it really is a good game flow. And almost elegant flow to everything.

So I am very excited about the book and the game. And I am looking forward to really getting a regular game going with the boys. It is funny, I had also pretty much given up on running games after my last few bad experiences. But running Dungeons & Dragons with the boys has been great so far. And a comment an old friend made on FB last week, about how I was his original DM 35 years ago had me thinking that it was okay to run the game. Sure I wouldn’t mind being in a game as well, but for now this is enough of a fix for me.

Of course I am also on a little bit of a high point after watching the Broncos win another Prime Time game. I was mildly confident going into the game that they should win. But they handled that game very well. And the way that they won, with a strong defense, and hard nosed running game, really impressed me. While last year was fun, it feels better to just handle very game, rather than having to resort to shootout wins every week. And it was fun to sit and read the new book during commercials for a change. A nice convergence of good events.

We have a full weekend planned. Tonight is the Fall Carnival for the kids at school, followed by a short visit with my little brother. Then tomorrow morning I go to Denver to lay my friend to rest. And then home to host a birthday sleepover for Emily, followed by a Sunday party for her, with a bunch of little girls and kids. Then we get to relax a little. So I get some time away from family while driving up to Denver and back (plus the drive time is alone time for me.) It will all be a little crazy but I am ready for it.

Balance in all things is the key

Tuesday I had what might be my last session with the therapist for this go around. And the main point I came away with is that I need to remain balanced. That when I let things get out of balance is when I get into trouble.

That means balance in my interests, remain the FreeRangeGeek. Loving lot’s of different things, but never focused on one to the exclusion of others. That means spending time with D&D, coming up with adventures for the kids and running those games. That means getting out and taking pictures and playing with Photoshop. It also means taking the time to watch my various shows and movies, and reading about them. It means continuing to read, and read lots of different books and genres. Also getting out and playing some Bloodbowl when the league returns. And yes, it does mean paying attention to sports, watching some level of NFL games, college games and other sports. These are all things I love to do, and as long as doing them provides me joy I need to keep doing them. And so long as I don’t let my focus on one take all of my time and focus I will be good.

It also means balance in health. Finding time to get out and run or walk. Trying my best to balance nutrition (not my strong suit but I can try.) Making sure that I get my sleep and rest as well. Not skip sleep to run as I was doing previously. That doesn’t mean I use sleep as an excuse to not run, it means that I plan things so that I am in bed the nights before I run at a reasonable hour.

Last I need to remain balanced with the family and social time. I’m not talking about balancing my time between the 3 kids and Kim. I mean also taking time for myself, even if it just a couple of hours on the weekends. Realizing that if I have a big family gathering coming up that I need to carve out time before or after to recover. This has been one of the hardest things to do, in part because the kids were younger and needed more face time with a parent. But it is also because family is really important to me, and as such I have to fight the feeling of guilt I get when I carve out that time.

If I had to point out the things where my life was most out of balance last year it was in family time and ‘hobby’ time. I let family take up a lot of my time, and I was not doing as good a job of keeping my interests spread out. But the biggest was health, specifically sleep and exercise. Part of that was the foot trouble, but a lot of that was the sleep, I was letting myself get sucked into the trap of shorting sleep so I could exercise. Which on the face of it seems good (I mean I was exercising right?) but was in the end taking a bigger toll than I realized.

That is my plan, and goal. I think I can do it. And use this blog as a form of measuring stick. If I write a post about my weekend and it is all family activity that is a negative sign. If I write an entire post devoted to just one interest, that could be a bad sign (depending on what the post is about, sometimes a single event can generate a post, like a set of picture.)

Quite an enjoyable and productive weekend, and learning to take care of myself

I had a very enjoyable weekend. Mixed in some fun, some playing, some work, and some hiking. The sleepover and Dungeons and Dragons game went very well. We got a lot of work done in the yard. And I got some quiet time to myself to work on some pictures and watch some more Arrow. And I am (slowly) realizing that I may have to re-evaluate some things for fitness and health sake.

Jimmy’s sleepover was a success. The kids spent plenty of time before we played running around, and that helped them calm down a little. I gave them a little speech about cooperation and consequences. And then had to enforce that cooperation lesson with some consequences. But overall it was a good time. I am definitely enjoying it, and am actually thinking of developing this as a regular event after the Winter holidays. As requested I did take a couple of pictures.

Here are the boys being silly, making faces.

And here are a couple of boys just trying to figure out what to do.10420308_10152559255847772_8713582859556532993_n

On Saturday I got the house picked up before family showed and before the guests arrived. Did some laundry as well. Sunday morning, after serving the teenagers breakfast we did some heavy cleaning in the back yard. Cleared a bunch of stuff out of the shed to take to Goodwill. We were then able to move the camping stuff from the porch into the shed in a far more organized fashion. Last, we cleaned up a bunch of the trash and toys in the backyard with (reluctant) help from the little ones. So the back yard is looking much better before the next big birthday event this weekend.

Saturday afternoon we went on the Scout hike in Red Rock open space. We took a different route than the normal. And we took the smaller dog along with us. It was a nice hike, and helped offset my not being able to run in the morning. I took a couple of nice pictures

Danny walking Chiu to start the hike

The awesome reflecting pool at the end of the hike in the late afternoon.

I did get some time to myself over the weekend. Friday night I was able to relax and just watch some episodes of the Arrow (I am almost done with Season 2, which means I am close to being fully caught up.) Sunday Kim took the little ones out to a movie and some shopping so I was able to get some time to work on pictures, back up the computer, and watch a little football. And then of course Sunday night we skipped the Walking Dead in order to watch the Broncos dominate the 49ers in convincing fashion.

In thinking about this past weekend, and in light of how I didn’t run this morning I am forced to re-think some things. I want to keep running, but I also need to get some sleep. As I get older (sigh) I find myself needing that sleep more and more, and really notice when I don’t get as much sleep as I might like. When things are more normal it is easier to just get to bed early before my running days. But with this string of crazy weekends (birthday parties, sleepovers etc.) that isn’t as easy as I might like. I don’t have a ready made answer yet, just commenting on this, and noting that I have been placing sleep over running during this string, which is different from previous practice. But it makes sense in light of how the current craziness involves a lot more more time around people, which means I need rest more than running.

Like I said, it was a good, active weekend. Did plenty of good things. Had some fun. Got some much needed projects done. It was a good, refreshing time.

Finding the line between good family time & becoming overly enmeshed

One of the things that I was initially warned about when I started therapy was that fine line between being a dedicated parent and loving my family and becoming enmeshed in it. And while it is a line I tend to straddle with differing success I have started to notice that Kim has gone too far in one direction. While I love her willingness to do whatever it takes for the family, diving into Scouting (Boy & Girl), attending wrestling meets etc. I tend to take that for granted. This week in particular she was stretched to the limit by it all.

Which means I need to take the initiative to figuratively kick her out of the house tonight for a night out. It means I get the kids to myself and that can be draining for me. But at this time she needs that time away more than I do. Because she will spending tomorrow doing more Scout activities, and then tomorrow night we have Jimmy’s sleepover. And since I will be running D&D for the big boys that means she will have to take care of the little ones. So she needs tonight.

And next Saturday I will be gone most of the day, arriving back in time to help with Emily’s sleepover. While it is not the most fun occasion (Justin’s memorial/celebration of life) it will still be time away for me. So I have that to look forward to, plus I get a 4 day weekend the next week.

It really is all about teamwork and sharing. Like how I tend to do most of the kitchen work, picking up duties, trash. While she does most of the laundry, deep cleaning. And we are gradually getting the kids to do more and more of their duties. Family is not about 1 person doing all the work. And in order to keep that balance healthy everyone has to share. Well the same applies to time away from the family. We need that time out in order to stay sane.

While I need to keep myself healthy by not getting too caught up in all this I need to be mindful of others. I know I need to be selfish enough to take that time for myself when I need it. And I also need to realize that it is not all on me to take care of the kids, that Kim is there and is perfectly capable of taking care of them if I am not there. But in order for that to happen she needs her time as well. To sum up: balance and moderation in all of this is the key. Don’t become so filled up with family that I lose myself. But also make sure that the family gets what it needs to.

Part of the answer is in me, plus a different revelation

Today I ran my third 3 mile run in a row, and I have to admit it makes a difference. Which leads me to think that maybe there is something to the idea of exercise being a part of mental health. Also had a revelation this week as far as healthy sports for kids.

First, to clarify I mean that for the third of my scheduled running days I reached at least 3 miles. Today wasn’t as long due to having an added difficulty level of a high hill. But either way, since I made a personal commitment last week to push myself more on the runs I have reached at least the 3 mile mark, with most of the distance being covered running.

What I have noticed, or begun to notice, is that I am not having as many down times this week. Not fighting the darkness quite as much. Not to say that has been as much a part of my life but last week it was starting to creep in a little. Which was one reason I made that renewed commitment to pushing the distance envelope, challenging myself. And it does make a difference, knowing that I pushed myself, the healthy soreness in my legs. I know it is not a universal cure, but it certainly helps.

On a totally different tack I have to share a revelation from this week. When I was younger I read the story of a young man named Todd Marinovich. He was raised by a former NFL player with the goal of making him an NFL quarterback. It was the ultimate overbearing parenting moment, which eventually led to serious dire consequences. I took that cautionary tale to heart. And when Jimmy was born I told Kim that she might have to reign me in when it came to pushing our son in athletics.

I knew that I have the seed in me to be the type of parent who could very easily live vicariously threw his son. Who would push for excellence and devote himself to making his child a great athlete. Because I am not a great athlete, but I really enjoy watching sports, particularly Football. So I worried that my obsession with the sport would send Jimmy the wrong message. Particularly once it became obvious that he will likely never become a large person, making him more vulnerable to injury.

It turns out that I am safe from that worry. Interestingly Jimmy has made his own choice to dedicate himself to a sport. And he has really chosen to push himself with that sport, working hard to excel and make himself stronger so he can excel. What is surprising is that the sport is wrestling, and even more surprising is how I have begun to enjoy and appreciate the sport. While his uncle wrestled, and we boys did plenty of messing around when we were younger real wrestling was certainly not a sport that I participated in or really paid any attention to. But I find myself really enjoying it, enjoying what it has done for Jimmy, and would heartily encourage it as a great sport for younger kids of both genders (although Danny does not have the mentality to enjoy it.)

In conclusion, this has been a week of revelations and conclusions. And all for the better. Both for me and for the family as a whole.

Today this kid become this guy

Hard to believe it has been thirteen years, time does seem to compress sometime. It is difficult to believe sometimes that this guy, my wrestler extraordinaire, muscle man, Magic and D & D player:

Jimmy invites you to the Gun Show

Jimmy invites you to the Gun Show

Was once this little guy, soccer kid, lover of trains and Star Wars:

Lil' Goalie

Lil’ Goalie

Here’s wishing my guy, little man that he is, the best of birthdays. You have become your own great guy. Well rounded, fearless, confident, smart, athletic, Responsible (sort of). A man couldn’t wish for a better son. Nor could I hope for a better big brother to sweet little Daniel and Emily.

Happy Birthday Jimmy!

Sometimes short weeks feel longer, either way it is over

You ever get the feeling when you have a short work or school week that it actually feels longer than a regular week? This week has felt that way, and my job is a steady one that rarely has much carry over from day to day or deadlines. But the weekend is here, and I get to have my official birthday party! Plus some planning for the future is in the works.

Sent out invites to the kids for next weekends birthday sleepover/D&D game for Jimmy’s birthday today. I’m actually getting pretty excited to run some D&D again, looking forward to making the plunge and getting the Players Handbook this weekend for us, as well as an official adventure, and maybe the Monster Manual. I am really getting into 5th Edition at this point, I haven’t been this excited about a game system in years.

I have also made it a point to get back into reading some books set in the campaign setting that these D&D rules mostly use. Not only are they fun to read, but it is also good for getting me into the same world setting in my head so if I have to free form things I am better prepared. And it is also a rich source of books to read that maybe Jimmy will get into (doubtful but possible.)

Sunday is a veritable cornucopia of cool things. There is an early Broncos game (always nice to get that out of the way.) Then the family birthday party for Jimmy and I (we share this event since our birthdays are so close and he is old enough to not care quite as much (he still gets his own event with his buddies next week.) Then in the evening the new season of Walking Dead begins, which is a pretty darn cool way to finish off the day.

Gradually getting the ball rolling on planning for my 30th High School reunion next year. How the introvert gets to be the one doing this I don’t really know. But it is important to me and I want it to go well, so the OCD side of me wants to plan it. I will try and get help from some other more outgoing classmates but someone needs to start the process.

Lots of balls in the air. Some planned, some flying the seat of the pants. But I’m keeping my head up, and finding more stuff to get excited about. That’s the biggest thing for me, gotta have some fun things to keep me from curling up in a ball.