Kinda bummed, plus weekend plans

Figured out that I will have to wait to get the new iPhone for a couple of months. Not going to be able to get out on my own this weekend for a night to myself but figured out a better alternative. Taking the time to mention a couple of birthdays of some important people.

I took the time this weekend to exhaustively dig into all of the options involving our iPhone services. It was an interesting mental exercise. We are on an older, grandfathered plan for the family, which is a pretty good plan. But planning on upgrading 3 phones means it made sense to dig into alternatives. What I found was interesting. AT&T (which is our carrier, I know groans etc. but it is the only major carrier that uses union labor, for what it’s worth) has a great family plan, Mobile Share. But what is not noted in the fine print is that unless you own your phones outright (that is bought before the plan or paid for in full) you will get dinged an additional 25$ per phone if you get the contract discount. I won’t go any further into the details, but what it boiled down to is that while we will get Kim her new phone now, Mom & I will have to wait until November (I know First World Problem.) But it was an interesting little mental exercise to try and figure this out, and then try and dig the information out of a chat session.

I was also hoping and thinking of getting out for a night to myself this weekend. But when I wrote my friends to see if they were role playing this week I was rebuffed (for some good reasons but still not going to rejoin that group.) My Blood Bowl league is on a semi-permanent hiatus so no games there for a while. So I thought, maybe there’s a movie out there that I want to see that the rest of the family doesn’t? Nope, no such luck. In the end I gave up on the idea, and will just wait to get a night out to myself. My plan is to take some time Saturday to go for a drive and get some pictures, for a little down time.

But the good news is that Kim & I have a date planned for Saturday, one of the great things about Jimmy getting older is that we don’t really have to get a baby sitter for a weekend night unless we plan to be out real late. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

This weekend we will be celebrating the birthday of one of the hardest working people I know, my mother in law. I know I joke about her, and worry about her, but the bottom line is she is an amazing person, with an astounding work ethic, and just an amazingly selfless person. Last weekend we had a party for my step mother, who is another of those amazing women who just doesn’t understand the concept of rest and being selfish. Her actual birthday is this weekend so wishing her a Happy Birthday as well.

I am keeping things balanced. Some me time, some family time, some fitness time. I figure that is the key to sanity, maintain that balance as much as possible, particularly in light of the oncoming ‘month of birthdays’.

This is just the life I plan to lead

Took a couple of steps this week. Pondering how to manage things. And thinking on how to manage the fine line of control versus chaos.

Made the choice to switch from weekly to monthly therapy appointments. I think it is time to make the switch. I have learned a lot, and am more aware of the things I need to watch. And it was getting to the stage of repetition, which has it’s benefits but it is almost better to save the money for new things.

Here are some of the things I need to be aware of, and manage. I need to manage my time around people better, realize I am an introvert, and I need down time to prepare/recover when there are large gatherings. So with the month of Birthdays coming up I need to manage that. If I have a party on Saturday I need to be sure Sunday is kept open to recover, if the party is on Sunday I need to keep Saturday open to prepare.

I need to manage my need for control, and to fix problems better. I need to be more flexible/accepting of the inherent chaos that comes with raising 3 kids and being a part of a large, close knit extended family. Realize that I cannot fix all problems, and it is not even up to me to fix a lot of them. Because if I keep taking on the problems of all these people I will never get rest. To live up to the cliche of the Serenity prayer:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

I need to keep up the diversity of interests. Gaming, photography, fitness, television shows, football, these are all things I enjoy. And going overboard on any one of them can create problems for me. The key is to enjoy them, not be perfect. So if I enjoy my game of Bloodbowl, but lose that’s okay. If I like the results of my photography but they are not prize winners, that is okay. I already accepted I will not be winning any races, but getting back to enjoying running, and being fit is also important, so long as training does not occupy my life. The key is to live up to my handle of Freerangeek.

Aside from the genetic/biological/chemical issues that are being resolved by medication this is what brought me down. I was trying to control too many things, and letting myself dive deeper into a variety of things than I could realistically handle. And knowing that and being more self aware is what should make the difference moving forward.

It was an interesting mix of a weekend

Busy, but not busy, weekend. There was a fair amount of quiet, just sit around the house time. And then there was a lot of running from place to place. I had to spend way too much time sitting still, trying to recovery from self inflicted injuries.

Friday night, Saturday morning were very quiet affairs. The kids friends were absent this weekend so it was just the kids around the house so I didn’t do much, and they were content to just relax and play quietly or watch videos. Saturday got kind of crazy hectic. I dropped off oldest & youngest at parents for a family birthday party while I took Danny to sell some popcorn. Then it was home for a brief change of clothes and then off to drop off all 3 kids at another party. And then Saturday night and Sunday morning were also quiet times. Sunday we did a little shopping, I made it through the Bronco game, and the kids had a few friends over.

So I had my share of quiet, relaxed time. And then some running around, with some impromptu events thrown in. But I handled it all just fine. No eruptions, and even as the kids began to get gradually more tired I just accepted it. Now today Danny is home sick with a tummy ache, I think likely due to a kind of mental exhaustion from all those events. It is easy to forget how much those events can wear me down, and him as well.

I threw myself into a new workout program last Thursday, and really overdid it. My legs, specifically my quads, were super sore all weekend, which meant no exercise for me. That threw me off to a large extent as well, as I ended up watching more TV and football than I would like, just because I was stuck. Not going to let that experience throw me off though, I do want to stick with this and get back into a better health regimen.

Sadly that immobility also kept me from getting out and taking some pictures on what would have been a great day for it. But like all of these things, just remind myself that there will be other chances and weekends. I did manage to do a little tinkering with settings on my camera to get a better idea of what I want to do and what it will do.

In the end it all comes down to accepting life for what happens. And then moving on, with hope and plans to do other things. I cannot let one failure determine my whole experience with anything.

A change of pace (and topic, sort of)

Gonna talk about my pictures today. First, I know that this is all amateur stuff, and it is just a hobby. But an interesting conversation with a friend inspired me to learn something I didn’t really know before. And now I have a much better understanding of what is happening with my pictures.

It all started with my going through my iCloud Photostream, clearing out pictures. Ever since I started taking more pictures (and learned that I have the ability to take more shots by just holding the button down) my photo cache has gotten quite full, often with shots I am just throwing away. Well I was seeing some of the shots Kim took with her phone on the camp trip with Danny last weekend. And I thought, gee I really hope that both of us upgrade to the new phones this fall, so that she will have a much better camera available when she takes pictures.

Well I mentioned this to my friend and proceeded to get an eyeful (we were chatting online) about how even a point and shoot camera is better than a camera phone. After some back and forth he mentioned something that I had sort of wondered about, but never actually took the time to learn about: the difference between optical and digital zoom. I found this nice explanation online. 

What digital zoom does is take a central portion of the image and enlarging it, thus ‘simulating’ optical zoom. In other words, the camera crops a portion of the image and then enlarges it back to size. In so doing, you lose image quality.

See I never really knew that before. And to be honest I hesitate to use the zoom in my camera because the effects in my phone camera are always so odd. But now I will try to make more use of the actual zoom with my camera, knowing it is still trying to take a good picture.

This is all really an exploration, finding out how to use aperture and speed settings, when to use zoom and what it does. So far I really like a lot of my pictures, but as I learn more I think I will learn to like what I take more. And that really is the goal.

Moving on to the next stage

I’ve learned a lot these past few months. I am more of an introvert than I thought I was, and need to respect that. At the same time I have learned that I need to keep busy finding things I enjoy. I also need to accept that I have more than a little OCD, and that I need to respect that and orchestrate my life accordingly. Last, I have a great family, and it is okay to be proud of that. Learning and accepting all these things will help me move on to the rest of my life.

While I always realized that I was an introvert I wasn’t really understanding what that really meant. I though it just meant that I didn’t mind being alone, or doing stuff alone. What I didn’t realize was that the flip side is that it takes more energy for me to be in a group situation. So when asked to participate in big gatherings or events I have to temper that, make sure I have a plan for recovery time after the fact, and not over extend myself. 

I adopted the handle ‘Freerangegeek’ several years ago for my online presence. And while it originated from the concept of Free Range Parenting, I have taken it to mean a number of other things. Most importantly for me is the understanding that this is what works best for me. The concept of Free Range Geek being that I feel free to have a wide range of interests and things I enjoy doing. And I need to foster that, avoid becoming too focused on any one occupation or hobby. Because when I zero in on one thing that triggers my need to control it, and that isn’t healthy for me.

Which leads to respecting the OCD. Know that is a part of me, and try to keep that from overwhelming things. Sure it is okay to have a daily or morning routine, to want to put dishes away a certain way etc. But, don’t let an obsession with those things overcome me. And not let the inevitable disruption in those things bother me as much. Accept that chaos is a part of life, and while I may not embrace that chaos, at least accept and understand that it is there and nothing I can do will keep it from cropping up.

Last, my family is my life. I have built that, it is a fundamental part of what makes me tick. And that is why I make many of the choices I make. Do many of the things I do. And to be proud of it. I have great kids. Jimmy (or basement monster) is a terrifically well rounded great guy. Danny is just about the sweetest little kid around, and he has more than a few of the same issues that I carry. And Emily, my little Princess. Does she have me wrapped around her little finger? Hell yes she does! Doesn’t mean I can’t say no to her, but there is very little I wouldn’t do for her. And of course my goofy girl, Kim. She’s my wife, and her own person. Just about the hardest worker you will ever meet. And the right kind of tom boy for an active family. And a terrific mom, volunteering and throwing herself into the kids activities like scouting and wrestling in ways I just couldn’t handle. We have built a pretty great life for ourselves. Which is something I have a tendency to forget or take for granted.

That’s where I am at. I have a deeper understanding of who I am and what makes me tick (or not tick as the case may be.) I know better now where I fit in my life, and what I need to do to make that work. I’m not 100% out of the woods, but I feel like I can see the trail now, and that is all I can ask for at this point.

Success, fun and an interesting change

I would pronounce this weekend a success. I was fighting the worst part of a cold (those days with the sore throat, tired etc.) but got the rest I needed. The D & D game went very well. And while I did watch some football it clearly doesn’t have the same appeal. And for the most part my plans all worked out.

Today I am mostly symptom free, but not happy about skipping 2 running days. But like I told someone else, you have to think long term with this stuff, losing 2 days of running to fight off an illness that could have ended up lingering and costing me more time and misery was worth the down time from running.

The D & D game was fun and went very well. The boys had a good time, and kept asking me to keep playing or start back up the next day. It might have lasted a little longer had I been healthier. And I did make a tactical error in providing a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew to kids who don’t normally drink much soda (their normally short attention span got much shorter.) It went so well that I have already extended the invite to the next session and follow up adventure in 3 weeks. 

And while it wasn’t a great test I can safely say that I was happy with how 5th Edition flowed. It is much better now, everything is modernized and pretty much matches most other games. The concept of just having pretty much be about simple target numbers is so much easier to handle versus the old Thac0 days in many respects. Much easier to explain the basics to new gamers now than it used to be.

Saturday especially I had the opportunity to just soak in nothing but football. The kids were all playing peacefully, Kim was gone. But the thrill of just watching is gone for the most part this year. The average game is just so slow and boring now. And the endless commercials! I guess I was spoiled by the World Cup to some extent, where the games were shorter, not constantly interrupted, and you have to pay attention because something could happen at any time (as opposed to watching a guy run smack into a group of tacklers for a couple of yards over and over again.) So with the exception of the Broncos game I found myself either getting up and doing other stuff (cleaning,  etc.) or just flipping over to another show.  And even with the Broncos game I was losing patience towards the end, just wishing the game would end. I guess losing that OCD level obsession with the game helps.

THe final tally for the weekend: Fun playing games, watching other shows. Success in making sure Kim returned to a mostly clean house while the kids did their part. And success in fending off the worst parts of the cold.

It’s going to be different, that’s for sure; embracing the change

This will be a very different weekend around the house. Kim & Danny will be gone for 2 nights. I will be playing host to a group of boys for a game of D & D. And it is possible that Emily will be gone for a night as well, as the family tries to scatter to the four winds.

Kim and Danny are going on a Scout camping trip, with several other kids from the troop, they are joining some Boy Scouts for a Scout event. So of course it is raining. But I think Kim will be better prepared than I was. And is just better at these types of events than I am. But that also means that there will be no Kim or Danny sleeping in the house for 2 nights, which will feel strange. They were gone last summer, but not lately. And a lot has changed, I have really begun to develop a different bond with Danny lately, so it will be strange to not have him around.

Looking at the schedule I realized that this would make the perfect opportunity for me to finally run the introduction game of Dungeons and Dragons for Jimmy and his buddies. So 3 extra tween/teen boys will be staying the night tonight. I will do my best to keep it fun and light, and realize that there is a real possibility that they will be overcome with the case of the wiggles and lose focus. If that happens, it is okay, I will not get me ego into it, it is not a reflection on me, just a normal case of kids being kids.

And there is the chance that Emily might do a sleepover tonight with the neighbor girls. If so that means it will be just me and the boys, which would be nice. Because I can just crash when I get tired, and get up and go for a run without worrying about someone needing to be fed early in the morning. My big plan for the weekend otherwise is to clean house, get out and take some pictures, and watch some football.

I don’t want to spoil things, but I think that my normal obsession with football is finally waning.I haven’t tried to watch an entire game yet, despite more than a few chances. It remains to be seen if that will last, but I am hoping that I can just let that be something I do occasionally for fun but not the full time obsession that it has been in the past. And a big part of that is how low key I am about the fact that this is the first true weekend of football, Kim will be gone, nothing to stop me from overdoing it, and yet I just am not all that excited.

There you have it: family scattered, fun things planned, and changing plans. And more excited about doing something different than the same old thing.