With few options, made the most of it #Kids #life

There were some plans for the weekend. But most of them fell apart in the face of the weather. Which is okay because we made the most of it anyway. The necessary things got done. And we still had some fun amidst the snow and rain.

There was some hope for a trip to Denver on Saturday, to get the passes to the amusement park, and maybe a short museum visit. But the sketchy weather put an end to that idea. But we did get some things done. Kim did a spring cleaning of Emily’s wardrobe. Danny got some new shoes. And Jimmy got a lot of school work made up over the course of the weekend. So it was a good weekend as far as the basic weekend projects.

Jimmy did get to have some fun. Going to a birthday party for a couple of hours on Saturday. He also helped Danny pick out a new game for the Xbox, which they proceeded to paly a lot over the course of the weekend. It was good to see them playing together and having fun. Especially considering that Danny had been suffering from a bug last week.

I still went up to Denver on Sunday for my game. The driving was fine, just a lot of wet snow and rain, with nothing on the roads. And Kim managed to keep the whip cracking on the kids over the course of the day to get the house ready for the week.

Kim and I watched a lot of TV over the weekend. Which is what happens when you are shut in by the weather, but do not have the motivation to undertake any major projects. I was fine with that, it is one of those things that we enjoy doing together.

We had a brief visit from my sister on Friday night. It was nice to see her and get caught up. Even if the kids were not exactly on their best behavior.

And now today I can start a month fresh, with some hopes and plans. And hopefully the weather will cooperate in coming weekends. And count down the last few weeks of the school year.

It has come to my attention

Well, no one brought it to my attention, but the thought occurred to me. I really need to get better at writing long form, better developed, entries. Not every day, because my brain is not at that point. But maybe once a week. So that is what I am going to do. I am still going to do my mostly daily weekday posting. But at least one post a week will be longer, and more go deeper into the topic. I am going to post this promise on both of my blogs because that is a goal for both blogs.

I am guilty about expectations #Kids #Mentalhealth

There is a trap that you can easily fall into as a parent. You want to believe that your child is special because they are special to you. If you can see why this wonderful being is so great, why can’t others see it? I try to be realistic about these things, objective about the capabilities of my kids. But I am guilty of falling into that trap.

Jimmy’s adventure with the online school is a perfect example. I was sure that he would not only be able to handle it, but he might even thrive when given more independence to study. I was wrong. And I was wrong for obvious reasons. I may think that he is mature and smart and driven. And he is all of those things in certain amounts. But he is still only 14, and there are certain behaviors and ways where that is going to come up. And that is okay, it is not the end of the world (although he might feel that way with all of the restrictions he is on until he gets his grades up.)

I am more realistic with Danny, probably because he is the younger child. And also, because I had the reality of who he is and what he is capable of kind of smack me in the face the past year or two. But there are still times when I expect him to act in a certain way, or be able to do something, and it does not happen the way I think it will.

Emily is lucky, as the youngest my expectations are more under control. If she excels it is great, but I have learned to temper my expectations better by now. But that leads to the good side of all this.

Because when I can be objective, and temper my expectations, I get more out of it when they do excel. When Danny does something really well it is that much cooler.

The real negative about all this is that when they are not able to something that I think they should be able to do I can get a little bent out of shape. Which is one reason I have had to develop a different approach to their homework. So I am not surprised when they do not know something and ask for help. That is a real challenge for me. I have to get better at managing my expectations in order to be a better help. And the added side effect of acting like they can do something without my help is that they do not think they can ask me to help them. That becomes a vicious cycle.

The upshot of all this is that I have to get better at managing my expectations. Be wary of the trap of thinking that just because the kids are capable of doing something does not mean they know how to do it yet. And be more open about providing help in a way that matches their abilities. I like to think I am getting better at this. But it is a long road, as I have to learn it myself.

How times change #NFL #Hobbies

Hey, guess what? Today is the first day of the NFL Draft! This used to be a big day of the year for me. I remember when I threatened to take the day off work just to watch the draft. And spending all day glued to the TV watching each pick.

Of course, the draft itself has changed. It has gone from one day to a 3 day event. And instead of just a weekend event it now occupies the prime time of 2 weekdays. Which makes it a little easier if you are a junkie to really get your fix. You do not have to devote a full day to it anymore really. And of course, with Twitter, and the internet in general, there is so much more coverage that it would be possible to really overdose on it all.

All of which makes me happy that those days are behind me for the most part. Following sports has become more of an intellectual exercise for me than a past time. I read up on my team news every day. But I have less and less desire to devote more time than that. It just does not have the same appeal.

I would much rather spend my time on my other hobbies. If you told me I could spend an afternoon devoted to any of my past times, watching sports has gradually moved down the list. Spending Super Bowl Sunday playing Pathfinder was a big step for me, one that I am quite pleased with.

Because watching sports is a passive event for the most part. It can be social, and you can enjoy it with others. But in the end, you are not really using your brain in the same fashion.


Doing my best to not get distracted #Kids #mentalhealth

Yep, I now understand. I always thought my parents were a little strange and acted especially odd when I was younger. But today (and recent times in general) make it all very clear. It is clear that children, especially teenagers, are to blame for many mental illnesses (just kidding for the sake of exaggeration.)

We are at out wits end with our eldest son. His behavior in the last couple of months has gone far beyond the normal troublesome behavior of teenagers. For the sake of his privacy, I will not go into the details. I will just say that if I had hair to pull out I would have done so by now. Today I had to have a little primal scream therapy just to get myself ready to cope with going to work.

I am doing what I can. One of the things I did do today was to put in a call to his therapist and fill him in on the full story so there can be some honest sessions. It is just like if he was physically ill, I would have called his physician, there is no shame in enlisting whatever help we can. Because clearly there are some deep seated issues here.

Of course, this is especially hard on me. The past couple of days were really tough. And there is not any simple end in sight. Which means that I have to be especially cognizant  of my own feelings and behaviors. I need to be wary of issues and problems that are a result of being too hard on myself. I need to be very clear where the problems are. And do things like last night when I just walked away from the problem, when I knew that my temper would just make things worse.

Because this is definitely a case where I have little real control. I can provide support, and help, but I cannot control the outcome. And with my OCD that is really hard to cope with. I just have to keep myself focused on what I can control, and do what I can do. And do my best to not let these other issues distract me from the things I need to do and can control. That is really the hardest part of being a parent. Knowing, recognizing and accepting when I cannot control certain behaviors.

So today I am focusing on the little things that I can do. Making calls, getting things done at work, and things for the other kids. Trying to keep myself busy with those tasks and not get bogged down with the distractions of things I cannot control. I can and will do it, it just may not be very fun or relaxing.


Worked together, got a lot done #Projects #Kids

A couple of weeks ago, after one of my posts where I talked about the grind of the daily and weekly cleaning, my father offered some sage advice which amounted to make the kids do more. I will admit that is something we have gradually been working on. We are not to the point that I was for example, but we are getting there. And this weekend we put some of that practice to work.

I had a list of things I wanted to get done this weekend. Like most weekends. And we got to most of those. And we got there by putting the kids to work. Making them accountable for their own stuff to some extent. I also managed to get in some time for my own stuff.

Due to the 3 day weekend, the little ones got in some sleepovers and a play date. So they had plenty of fun. So it was not a question of being forced to slave away all weekend. But they still had to do their part.

Sunday morning specifically I used the whiteboard to just outline what each child needed to do that day and even work out a schedule for it. And that worked out pretty well, letting them know in advance all that they had to do. It was kind of like the Montessori concept of assigning works to do each day.

What all did we get done? We did a deeper cleaning of the main rooms in the house than I normally get done on the weekend. We got all the laundry done and put away. We got the rec room cleaned up, so when the rains come if there is flooding we at least will not be worried about random trash and toys getting in the way of the cleanup, or things being ruined by the moisture. And we got Danny’s science fair project finished and put together to take to school today. I am pretty happy with all of that. And the kids did their part in getting all that done.

In between all of that we had some fun as well. I watched a number of TV shows. We enjoyed a birthday party for my cousin’s daughter. We enjoyed some quiet time as well. And last I was able to do some work on a project I had in mind.

In keeping with my goal of being more crafty and working more with better materials I had been looking at nice wooden dice boxes. At least until my good friend at Sidgl comes up with a solution. Last week I decided to just get an inexpensive box at the craft store and decorate it. But nothing there really met my needs. Then I remembered that I had a box at home that might work. This is an old wooden cigar box that I inherited from my older brother Dan, and have no idea where he got it from. I have kept it around for years, occasionally using it as a pen box. So I decided to redecorate it and add some bells and whistles to use as a nice dice box (I prefer boxes to bags.) Here is what I ended up with:


I added some felt to the inside, and as you can see it holds plenty of dice.


I thought about going all the way with stripping it and staining it but decided that it was not that high of quality wood. So getting a nice metallic spray paint did a fine job of jazzing it up. The only drawback is there is no latch to hold it closed. I spent a while playing with some magnetic tape on Saturday but that just did not work, the magnet was not strong enough and it would not close properly. I still have some other ideas that I might use. But for now that will work, and I can just use some string or a rubber band to hold it shut while transporting. But I feel better about using this that the plastic container I was using before. And it will do until I see what Sidgl comes up with.

It was a productive weekend. It had plenty of fun moments. And we got the children to do their part in keeping the house and yard clean.



Acceptance of the inevitable #Life #mentalhealth

Startlingly we have no major weekend plans. Sure there are projects. And the weekly cleaning. But nothing that is very time sensitive. So we can devote our time to things around the house, and relax some as well. So I will take some time today to discuss something that interests me.

Yesterday a famous person died. Prince was a great musician, a talented artist, and from all accounts a good guy. I did not really know who Prince was, I just knew that he was a musician who everyone seemed to like when I had my first introduction to him, and his music.

My older brother, home for Xmas, asked me if I wanted to go see the movie Purple Rain with a friend of his. I said sure. And it was a pretty amazing movie to watch for a Junior in High School. The music was amazing. The funny part is my brother was disappointed because he expected the music to have less of a hard edge to it.

But my absolute favorite memory of Prince and that movie came later that year. I remember waiting for a bus at the downtown bus station. And a street person came by, just singing ‘When Doves Cry’ at the top of his lungs. He was really into it. That has always stuck with me, that this song, with some powerful words, got into someone’s head like that, to the point where they would just sing it out loud.

I have continued to like Prince’s music over the years. I spent the afternoon yesterday listening to my song list on iTunes. He really was a talented guy. And he will be missed.

That is not what I really want to talk about. Instead, I want to talk about death and the deaths of famous people. In general, I do not mourn these deaths. I did not know the person personally. And even if their work had an impact on my life it is not a huge part. So I normally accept it, death is part of life, and they will always be with us through their art.

And often the people who die are older. They have lived long lives. And in many cases had a great time living those lives. In the words of Hunter Thompson: ‘They stomped on Terra.’

But I make exceptions when the person who died is young (or not considered old.) Or if the way they died was dramatic, and had an impact on me. When Robin Williams committed suicide that was a big deal to me.

Which is why I am writing about Prince today. Because he was not elderly. He was only 7 years older than me. Yes, he lived an extraordinary life and his impact will last forever. But it is still shocking when someone dies that young. So writing a memorial today is my way of coping with that difference, this was not an ordinary celebrity death of someone who had lived a long and fruitful life.