Love my (eccentric, odd, extended) family #Life


This week saw an unplanned visit. Which was a truly enjoyable time. At the same time, I continued to embrace change at work. While the final stages of one project led to exhaustion.

This week my stepdad paid us a brief visit. This was my mother’s second husband who was there during my formative years of elementary school. And then was an intermittent part of our lives over the many intervening years after. It had been quite some time since we had seen him and his wife. He had never even met my kids.

It was a brief visit. But enough to remind me how much I enjoyed his presence. And in particular one shared story really demonstrated how much I enjoy what is surely an unusual family.

The year was 1977. This was after the divorce and his remarriage. Mom had taken us to see Star Wars A New Hope.  As we stood in line, The 2 of them came up to visit, as they were going to see the same movie. Then her sister also came over. A man behind us began to make noises, which caused this little woman to turn and round on this much larger man and just tell him off. It was extremely funny. And that fact that we all share this story as a family event makes it all the more fun.

Anyway, I just enjoyed the moment of seeing these folks again. And embrace my extended family. The visit even prompted me to reach out to their daughter, my ersatz step-sister (to go with my other 3 step-sisters, Step brother, and foster brother.) It is just another source of joy for my life.

I changed teams at work this week and moved desks. Still doing the same job. It is all due to growth at the company. Which is a good thing for me. I have also been enjoying a change in our parking situation. I now have to walk a little over a half a mile from my parking spot every day. Which guarantees me a good amount of physical exercise every day.

Today is the final, last day of cookie sales. I went and helped the girls at their booth yesterday (as an excuse for some exercise.) They have a booth today and that is it. It has been an especially exhausting last week or so with the final push for Emily to reach her goal.

The most unfortunate part has been that Kim’s schedule at work changed. Which means she has in effect had almost no sleep this week. It has made this final push that much harder. However, that will mean that the end of it all next week will be even sweeter.

So this week saw a reminder that it is best to keep an eye on the bigger picture. Embracing all the good parts of our life. Know that times will change; if we just focus on the people and not on the little things that we know have an end. Do what we can to overcome all the other little obstacles.

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What’s going on? #life #mentalhealth


Where have I been? Well, work has been very good. There has been sickness. There has been car trouble. Yet we have adapted and overcome. I even handled a bit of real anxiety in the midst of all this.

Work has its challenges. But it has not been dull or tedious. I have really begun to dig into the meat of the work. Making a serious mental effort to improve. The key for me has been finding a way to make the information real so when I explain things I will be persuasive. It’s a very different kind of work than I was doing before. However, I find the work more interesting, While the difficult parts present a unique kind of work.

This week a plague descended upon our house. All three kids were home from school on Tuesday. Number One son was hit the hardest. He ended up missing 4 days of school, which meant 2 wrestling meets out the door. It made mornings hard for me as I would try to get him to get up and go. Which meant I had to start every morning with a battle.

That led to my fighting a case of anxiety. It was tough. I managed to make it through. I even managed to work through it all. I am really happy with how I handled that because there were so many stressors at work at once. Kids sick, car trouble, adapting to work. I took it all, figured it out and managed it without too much trouble.

Yeah, my car gave me some trouble this week. In fact, I have to take it back next week. Which was a big pain in the neck. But nearly as bad is it would be without the aid of parents who were willing to loan vehicles out.

So I made it through the last 2 weeks intact. And now I get to look forward to the craziness of Girl Scout cookie season. In fact, as I sit and type this my nostrils are filled with the scent of cardboard from the stacks of cookies filling up the room. I will regale you with more stories about that tomorrow as I plan for a double post weekend to make up for last weekend.

To recap, I made it through family illness, transportation problems, anxiety trouble to say that it was a good couple of weeks. I have the joy of continual challenge at work. Family health is recovering. I am moving more, feeling better physically. In short, life is good.

 

It is a dark and snowy morning to ponder the week past #life #Mentalhealth #Kids


Got up especially early this morning. Had to get Number One son off to the bus for wrestling. Freerangewife will then take Number two son to a Scouting event, Later a trip to Denver to watch aforementioned wrestling will be on top. While Freerangewife takes the girl for some shopping and then eventually her own scouting event. All of this activity will take place on a morning and day where the expected high temperature is barely out of the single digits, and there are a couple of inches on the ground and drifting into higher levels. All of this activity is a frantic way to spend the first true weekend day that the Freerangegeek has to experience in nearly 4 months.

It was a different week for the Freerangegeek. For a variety of reasons, he prefers not to give the actual name of his new place of employment here. But he is quite pleased with how the first week went. It was a full week of rather intense training. He made sure that he grokked what was being taught by taking the time each evening to type out all his notes.

It will be simultaneously similar and very different work from what he has been doing most of his adult life. He will be in a call center taking inbound calls from customers. He will be tethered to a computer and desk. In these ways, his job will be much the same.

But he will be allowed, encouraged even, to have real conversations with his customers. And he will be speaking to them about real life things instead of focused on the esoterica of their computer software issues. He is excited about this difference. Because he is at the right stage in his life, with the kind of life experiences that will make this much easier.

Not surprisingly he has found that he is surrounded by people younger than him, in some cases much younger. This does not bother him as much as it could. In some ways, it even energizes him. And it also allows him to shine as his maturity and experience make a real difference.

The schedule is also encouragingly busy. With fewer breaks and shorter lunches. There is less of an opportunity for him to fall back into certain bad habits. In fact, it even looks as if there will be a chance to develop better habits as he can eat better and take advantage of the exercise equipment available to him.

His biggest concern, that spending all that time surrounded by people, would overwhelm him. That has not bothered him as much as expected. He handled it well. And there promises to be ways for him to escape when needed. Most importantly, this job prizes the traits that he possesses: punctuality, ability to focus on work when he is there, and work hard.

All in all, it was a good week. Work went well. The family adapted well to his absence. It is an especially hectic time of year to make this transition. But surviving this at this time will only sharpen everyone’s ability to make the best of it once everything else settles down some. He is very encouraged by how well it all went, and for the first time in a quite a while he is excited by what the future holds for him, not just his family.

It’s cool, real cool #Life


It is Friday. Another week gone. Had to make some choices this week. Came to an interesting realization. Preparing ever so slowly for the last milestone. It is all coming together with crackerjack timing.

On the job front, I had some hard thinking. I have not given up on my first choice, still hoping that I will get a call. B ut still began moving onto some alternatives. Which does mean I will have to get out of my current comfort zone in order to get one of these jobs. But beggars cannot be choosers. At this point, I have to just suck it up and embrace all of my past experience.

On a happier note, tomorrow is the last of the birthdays for the month. 4 family parties in 30 days can really wear me out. But tomorrow is the last one. I have to buckle down and get some cleaning done today in order to be ready for that. But I can do so knowing that this is the last hurdle to get over. Which is a good mental state to be in, seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

This week I came to an interesting realization. I spent the first week or 2 of my unemployment watching TV. But since then I have been gradually moving away from that. I realized this week that I just do not have as much desire to just sit and watch TV all day. I missed my time browsing the internet. Initially, the reverse was the case. I was willing to ignore the online world. But as the time has worn on, my focus has returned to the outside world via the Internet.

There you have it. Right about the time that my being home has ceased its real usefulness my mind is already making the switch. My mind is getting me ready to get back out of the house. Even if it means doing something that is not in my personal comfort zone but I am at least able to handle with competence. I consider that crackerjack timing.

 

 

It all worked out better than I hoped. #Life #Weekend


The weekend started with a Memorial service that was far better than I had hoped. And a reception that had some unexpected benefits. Saturday I traveled for a family game day that was definitely more fun than I thought it might be. Sunday I had a long walk with the Pokemon, followed by a day of shopping and walking with Kim. At the end I was tired, but in a far better place emotionally than I was pretty much all last week.

The memorial service was very fitting for the person whose life was being celebrated. There was music. There were many funny stories and observations. So there was laughter, and selfies and more music. There were some sad moments and crying, but not so much that it made the affair overly grim. Instead, we all gathered with the purpose of celebrating an awesome person’s life, and that is what we did.

Afterward, we went to the reception at her favorite restaurant and bar. We spent most of the time catching up with old friends that we had not seen in quite some time. During one of those conversations, I came up with a bright idea. Two of the boys there were kids we had known for many years. And it came to me that they might want to join my D&D game. So I invited them while I was at the reception and followed up the next day. This will have the benefit of improving my game. And since one of the boys is the son of the woman who was killed it will be helpful for that family as well.

Saturday I took the boys and Mom up to Denver for a game day hosted by my brother’s brother in law. Apparently, this group gathers together once a month at someone’s house for an afternoon of games. I was a little nervous, to be honest, I was not certain that I would be able to get into the games, and how the boys would behave. But it went very well. I learned how to play a new game, and did pretty well at it. I won a game of Settlers of Catan. And the boys were very good and had a great time. And now we are hosting the next such event, which will be combined with Mom’s birthday party at the beginning of September.

Sunday morning I got up and took a long walk, for some Pokemon hunting. It was part of my overall plan to get out more. I used to set aside Sunday mornings for my long runs, so I figured it would be good to do the same with some Pokemon hunting. That was nice, if tiring. Little would I know what was in store.

Sunday ended up being the store walking day. We went grocery shopping to get things started. Then after we got that done it was off for school supply shopping. That was a couple of stores worth of shopping. We then topped that off with some looking at a couple of stores for items that we can use in our plans to remodel the basement. At the end of it all, I ended up with over 8 miles of walking! My feet were very sore, but I still felt very good about it. All of that was topped off by getting to spend pretty much the entire day with Kim, which I felt that we needed.

When we got home we played some games with just the family. That was a fun change of pace from our normal ritual of sitting in front of the TV.

At the end of it all, it was a very satisfying and fun weekend. I had some closure for my friend. Plenty of good game times. And we managed to get a lot of constructive things done as far as planning and school shopping. All in all, the kind of weekend that I really needed.

How I Spent my Summer Vacation, Pt. 3 #Family #Life


The last weekend of my vacation was devoted to 2 things. Continuing to binge through my television shows. And family events. They pretty much balanced each other perfectly, as I used one to balance out the time spent on the other. Which helped me be ready for my return to work this week with a clear head.

Friday was my nephews birthday. We celebrated that night by going over to his house, eating some cake. And spending nearly 3 hours playing football in the street. Once again I did pretty well, staying out there playing with the young kids. Not keeping up with them, even at my top conditioning I could not run as fast as some of these young kids. But staying out there running around and playing, having some impact. It was a good time.

Saturday we went over to my in-laws house for another family gathering as another of my nephews was here visiting.

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It was a warm afternoon. Which was all the excuse Jimmy and the birthday boy needed to remove their shirts. With the requisite moment of flexing of course.

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The nice weather led to a group hair cut afternoon. As virtually everyone who needed one got a family haircut. We totaled it up and decided that we collectively saved over a hundred dollars in haircuts. It was a fun way to spend some time. The one who needed it the most was Emily, who got a real short haircut.

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She looks really good now, and it is much easier for her to keep clean and control. Also, much cooler which is handy as we enter the really hot days of the summer.

We played some yard games, ate some good food, chatted and generally had a very nice afternoon. But between the two events on back to back days I was very much ready for a quiet day to myself.

Which I got on Sunday as Kim took Danny off to Scout camp, Emily had a friend over and Jimmy played computer games.

All told I had a good vacation. Some good times with family. Catching up with folks I only see once a year. I got some things done that needed doing. And I managed to also give myself a nice mental break. Now I can brace for a long time between vacations or even long weekends as my next break is Labor Day. But I am ready for that.

How I spent my summer vacation, Pt. 1 #Life #Mentalhealth


A lot went on last week. Lots of different experiences. And I figure the best way to capture it all is in a couple of different posts. Because there was a trip. A couple of days spent running errands. And then a couple of days spent with more family. Ending with a day of recovery. Here is the first part, Glacier Lodge and family.

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Could not wait to get in the pool!

Every summer for 30 plus years now my family on my Mother’s side has gathered in Estes Park, Colorado at the wonderful Glacier Lodge. I have only missed out on this wonderful trip a few times over the years. Our original plan was to spend the entire week this year. However, Kim’s work and other trips forced us to cut the trip short.

There are a lot of different things to do in Estes Park. For the younger two kids, the highlight is spending as much time in the pool at the lodge. In fact for two years now, we have arrived before we could actually check in but were allowed to get in the pool while we waited for our cabin to open up. The pool is a lot of fun, and I spent the better part of one afternoon there with the little ones, getting a nice sunburn and having fun playing in the water with my kids.

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Another fun thing to do is to sit around and play games. Since these are quite nice cabins with large tables and space to do that. Since the little ones are not exactly hikers or in love with the outdoors that does not involve swimming this was a good alternative. This was especially nice for them to spend time with my Mom, whose days of hiking in the mountains are behind her.

Estes Park is a wonderful town. And has some really nice places to just enjoy the mountain streams. When we went into town one day to look around we made sure to take the time to do this, and let the kids play around.

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Another tradition is the pilgrimage to the knife shop in town. A small shop that has stayed open for over 30+ years of floods and other disasters. Our family has certainly helped them out over the years. Here is James enjoying the fruits of his trip: edged throwing cards and a butterfly knife.

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I did manage to get into the park for one hike with my cousin and his family. Which was nice as he is younger and I have not spent a lot of time with his kids at all. I got in some interesting conversations with each of the kids. And at the end of it, I got to enjoy this wonderful waterfall.

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Another highlight of these annual trips is time spent at the local amusement center. Which is memorable for the big slide. We all went there on our last morning in town. Riding the slide, bumper cars, bumper boats, go carts. It was a good time for all ages.

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The trip did have to come to an end. We had to return home so Kim could get back to work. But it was a good trip. The kids all had fun. And to some extent, it was better that we left when we did so no one got bored.

I would be remiss if I did not mention a couple of things. First, all of these trips and wonderful memories would not have been possible without the generosity of my mother. For making it a point to join in every year while I was younger. And now that I am older making sure that we have a place to stay even for a couple of days. So thanks, Mom, for making sure we can do this and make Estes Park a part of our lives.

Second, I did need to be reminded to practice a little self-care. After the first full day and evening at the cabin, I was ready for a break from the family. I was definitely at the end of my proverbial rope. Which is why I snuck away for the hike with my cousin. It was not entirely solo, but it was still a break from the immediate family that I needed. Nothing terrible happened, I just needed a little reminder to give myself some time on these trips.