Nothing special about this weekend?

Should be just another weekend. Game tonight with the boys. Cleaning and yard work on Saturday. Then a small occasion on Saturday. Then the kids actually have a full week of school next week. Should be nice, if not very relaxing.

The kids did not have school today, teacher work day. So Danny went over to a friends house, and Jimmy had 2 buddies spend the night at our house. Which makes me dread going home, because who knows what the house will look like? But that makes it easier tonight for our game, because they will have had lots of goofing off time and catching up, so they should be a little more settled for the game tonight (at least that’s my theory.)

Tomorrow we have to turn to, get the house and the yard cleaned up. Picking up trash, mowing, weed eating, all that fun stuff, that I have only partially completed the last couple of weekends. And Danny has his weekly appointment, and I hope to maybe take the kids to the pool if they are good and helpful when it comes to the cleaning. So I really need to be on my game as far as energetically cleaning and working.

Because we are hosting an event on Sunday. Lots of family coming over. I get to throw some meat on the grill, various other good foods. All of this so we can celebrate:

Happy Birthday Mom/Grandma Lolly!

This year is a  little extra special because we get to celebrate on her actual birthday, which is not always the case. I am happy to host, and looking forward to it.

And as a side note, this is the last weekend without the distraction that is football. I think I am in a good headspace to avoid that as the distraction it is, or at least just leave it as background noise while doing other stuff. It remains to be seen of course, because the season will not really be on us until then.

Figuring out the difference helps #Mental Health #Rants

I am tired today. But I am just physically tired, rather than psychically. I thought I was tired enough to go to sleep without a sleeping pill last night, turns out I was wrong. I tossed and turned for quite a while before I finally passed out. Which just makes me tired this morning, but not from an overdose of people. Nor is it a depressed tired.

Last night I got a little frustrated with the kids, but it was just normal frustrations, not getting bent out of shape over the smallest little things. Jimmy was super restless, suffering from electronic gaming withdrawals. Emily was just annoying, and refused to eat her dinner, then got upset when I wouldn’t let her eat something else. So good reason to get a little frustrated.

While it is important to emphasize self care, it is just as important to figure out the difference between my mental health problems and ordinary every day problems. Some times it feels like the every day stuff is the other stuff. So I need to take a few minutes to pause and think it through, and then realize which one it is and respond accordingly. It is especially important these days with school starting and the added activities stacking up. But I am getting better at figuring that out.

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Bracing for impacts

This quarter we are already running into the inevitable: schedule conflicts with the kids activities. This is a big deal in the long run, because it sends an oh so subtle message to the kids about what is more important (or who.) And this will only happen more often as the kids get older, so we need to figure this out now.

On the horizon there is a wrestling meet the same day as a Scout event. The tough part is that due to a change in the scheduling there are fewer actual meets for the Middle Schools this year (compressed schedule, actually better this way.) At this point the likely plan is to forego this Scouting event, unless another Scout parent takes Danny. I think this is safe because we have pretty much never missed or skipped a Scouting event yet, so I don’t think Danny will feel as if he is getting second billing.

This quarter Jimmy ended up in a theater class as an elective. More accurately musical theater. Which he is okay with, but a little nervous. Kim is neutral on it pretty much. But I am excited, having been involved in my share of performances through tenth grade, and having loved it. And we can point Jimmy to his Uncle as one example of theater, and his cousin as another, so there is no doubt we are showing support and respect for his class, and encouragement.

But Kim pointed out that the week of the performance, one of the dress rehearsals is scheduled at the same time as wrestling practice, and there is a meet that week. Which means that will be a very busy week for Jimmy, wrestling meet, dress rehearsals and then the performances themselves. The problem is that at this point Kim thinks that he should skip the dress rehearsal for wrestling practice. And I have to brace to explain to her that it needs to be the other way around.

First, the rehearsal is part of a class where he gets a grade, while wrestling is extracurricular. Second, I know how important dress rehearsal is, especially the last one before the performance, it is not something you can easily skip. Third, skipping would send the message that wrestling is more important than an actual class. I know that there may have to some juggling if that practice includes the weigh in, but I don’t think it will (those are usually done the morning of the tournament.)

It all comes down to sending the proper message, what is most important, and who is most important. While I am over it for the most part, I still get a niggling feeling over the fact that my mother did not attend my high school graduation, because it was the same day as my brother’s college graduation (she actually skipped both events and attended a conference instead, so no favoritism was shown.) Again, not a life altering event, but there was a message in there, even if it was subconscious. And that is something my anxiety prone mind seeks to avoid at all costs.

All the boxes checked for the weekend

Productive? Check that off, got some of the needed work done. Fun? Check that off as well, for a variety of fun activities. Relaxing? Yes, took advantage of a long weekend to recharge some batteries. Really it was everything that I had hoped and wanted from the weekend.

We borrowed Dad’s lawn mower and mowed the front lawn, could have done more on the yard than that, but I didn’t. Kim got all the laundry done as normal. I helped her get the Scout stuff she wanted to get to help her get organized and ready for the new scouting year. And we kept the house more or less under control, and primarily ate home cooked meals throughout the weekend. Basically, we got done what needed to get done.

Friday night when I got home we played with the kids for a while, Kim had gotten Danny and Emily riding their bikes on their own, without training wheels so I went out and watched them practice. I read a short book series that nice, which also helped me with some ideas for my upcoming Boys role playing game. Sunday Jimmy and I had our Denver game, which was again a lot of fun, And when I got home Kim and I enjoyed the new episode of Fear the Walking Dead. And Monday Kim and I enjoyed some time alone, not doing anything special, just running errands together.

Overall I got some good down time, recharging my batteries and enjoying time with Kim. I think the kids had some good times as well, Jimmy got in some good friend time both weekend nights, as well as the game in Denver. Danny went over to the baseball game again with Kim, this time for the full sleepover experience. In general everyone had a good time and mostly got themselves recharged for another week of school.

Danny has a new way of expressing stress and anxiety. Now it is chest hurting, and claims of having trouble breathing. I mentioned this to the therapist on Saturday, and Danny said he liked the session. It is still early on that front, and early in the school year so it will take some adjustments. But as long as I remain focused on just accepting his anxieties, comfort him, encourage him, and make sure he gets the help he needs he should be well.

Jimmy did get strike one on the year for illnesses. When he woke up Monday he was not feeling well, tired, and complaining about stomach issues. He ended up coming home early from school as a result. There were two factors at work there. First, he did some serious junk food grazing Sunday at the game, something I can help him control, make sure to bring some healthier foods for him to snack on. Second, he snuck the computer down to his room and undoubtedly stayed up late Sunday night playing computer games, which led to the tiredness. That is easily remedied in the future by making sure that the computer stays out of his room at night. And I let him know that if he gets sick the day after the next Denver game that will be the end of his playing in that game, which should be additional incentive.

For me, the only real notable event was Saturday night. I was home, with full control of the TV with Kim & Danny gone. So I began watching the Broncos game. And got so bored with it that I barely made it past the first quarter before turning it off and watching something else. Which I take as a good sign, being able to just turn off football is a good thing, resisting the temptation to get into it.

Now this, this will be a cool weekend!

I mentioned before how one of the keys to life is to have things to look forward to do. And not just looking forward to states of being (i.e. being drunk.) But looking forward to doing things. All I really need in life is to have some things that I can look forward to. And that is what I have this weekend.

Tonight will be an uneventful night, just another Friday night. And then tomorrow I will get some yard work done, cannot put it off any longer, I now have access to a lawn mower so I just have to get it and get some stuff done. And I will have the teenager itching for some physical labor to keep building himself up to help. Then Kim and Danny will be off for the night to watch baseball again, while I get an evening at home with Emily and Jimmy, possible watch a little football, maybe rent a movie who knows.

But then Sunday is my Denver game again. Every 4 weeks just seems to take so long some times! But I get to go this weekend, with Jimmy, and I am really excited for it. The drive is a nice time with Jimmy to talk role playing and other stuff. And then the game itself. That is the piece de resistance!

And that is exactly what I mean when I mention the joy of having something to look forward to. If I can fill my life with these things I will be good. The boys game every other week, the monthly Denver game, that pretty much fills up my plate with role playing events. In between I have my books, writing for the games, and music. And then on the off weekend I need to make it a point to do something with Kim, and I will be overflowing!

Today is also Friday, the end of the firs ‘week’ of school ( I put week in quotes because it was not a full 5 day week for any of the kids.) And I can say that at least from my perspective that it was a great week. The morning were smooth, the dinners were relaxed, and the evenings went well so far. The new plan and schedule appears to be working as far as delegating certain tasks to the kids, like making lunches. So I would say it was all a successful start.

Except for Danny, who has found a new way to express his anxiety. The pain that was in his tummy has moved to his chest, leading him to declare that he is having trouble breathing (and then a minute later jumping around with no problem.) I have been supportive, encouraging him, giving him hugs, encouraging him to breathe. And telling him to think about all the things he can tell Mr. Pat on Saturday for his appointment. I pretty much new that this would happen, that his anxieties would arise after a week of school, so it is not a surprise. I am just glad he now has a planned outlet with someone who can help him understand and cope.

Yeah, the week went well, no hiccups over the beginning of school. And I have something to look forward to for the weekend. Isn’t that pretty much all that is good in life (aside from crushing my enemies, seeing them driven before me, hearing the lamentations of their women.)

Instinct versus planning

Just gonna spin this thought out there, not sure exactly where it is going. The thought occurred to me this morning that while I know I am a planner (I have a few posts on that topic) I am not the most instinctual person. I rarely do things without thought, or act on instinct. In fact, when presented with a situation where I have to act fast, without planning, I will often freeze, and have to think for a split second.

This is one of the reasons I was never that good at sports (aside from a lack of physical coordination.) If I had to react quickly to a situation, without thinking, I would often freeze. I knew what I should do, and often in restrospect would regret my choice I made. And with enough practice some things would become close to instinct. But really it was more common for me to stop and pause before deciding what to do.

Whenever I like to have a plan before I act. Even at work, when I troubleshoot an issue, I still have a general plan in my head, a pattern I follow to diagnose and resolve an issue. If it is something I am not sure of or a new issue I have to pause, slow down, and think before I proceed.

It is just who I am. I don’t do well at games where I either don’t have a strategy, or I have to respond quickly. For example, when I was playing table top miniature games I would excel in coming up with a good force and a plan. But when it came to actual game play, if the other player had an equal force or if the dice did not cooperate I would often freeze up, and then see my plan fall apart. It is why I was never great at chess, because you cannot really plan ahead with that, and the forces are exactly equal.

It is why I love table top role playing. Because there is time to figure out what I am doing. And I can do lots of mental preparation ahead of time so I am ready for a given situation.

The same thing happens with a project at home, or general cleaning, and it is the difference between Kim and I. If I have a project I like to pause, think about how I want to do it all, and then proceed. Whereas Kim will just dive in, thinking on her toes as she just starts cleaning or working, changes don’t throw her off.

That is who I am: the planner, the thinker, the strategist. Not the quick thinker, acting on instinct, or tactician. This affects my hobbies, and my life in general. It is just who I am.

Recognition and understanding

With school now fully back in gear for all the kids it is time for me to be smart enough to recognize and understand thins.¬†To not ignore Danny’s reports of stomach health problems. To realize that Jimmy is just as anxious as the rest of us, for different reasons. To understand all these things and deal with them correctly.

That didn’t take long, it took all of 1 day for Danny to begin declaring that he didn’t feel good in the morning. I know what that is, it is his not really being comfortable in the classroom. There are changes, he is in 5th Grade, with more expectations and responsibilities. He has a new Special Ed teacher. And the only way he knows how to express those feelings, and deal with them is to report them as physical problems. But I know what is going on now, so I can acknowledge his discomfort without discounting the reasons behind it. And more importantly I know that at the end of the week he will have a chance to talk about it all with someone other than me. And that will help him begin to slowly gain control over that part of his mind.

Jimmy said he wasn’t excited to return to school, or anxious, acted like it was nothing. And yet he was up at 5:00 AM this morning! And after I had everything squared away, and was quietly eating breakfast he was pacing around, ordering the little ones around, thinking of duties for them. At one point he hurt his hand when he sat down on a toy on the couch and had a fit, using the ‘F’ word. And when I asked him to watch his language he jumped all over me, saying he had said freaking not the other word. I just let it wash over me, I know he is just a ball of hormones and anxiety these days. And to not take any of his outbursts personally.

It is all perspective and keeping things in their place. Even Kim is affected as the weekly routines of Scouting return. I just have to ride it all out, know that things will settle down. And wait for the initial surge in illnesses to occur, as the increased exposure of filthy little germ spreading kids hits home. I know this song and dance by now. I just need to stay calm, try to stick with what I know, follow our routines. Keep a level head. And just about the time everything settles down the October birthday surge will be on us, followed by the winter Holiday rush. If I lay it out like this, recognize that it is coming, and understand it, I can better prepare.