It was a whirlwind #Family #Kids


This last week was my first use of Paid time off from my new job. I took the week off to spend time with family. My brother and his family came up to visit for a couple of weeks. I was able to parlay 3 days of PTO into 9 days off from work, due to the holiday week. Which is a nice deal if you can manage it.

I am really glad I did so. I had a really good time with everyone. Did a number of different activities. Had some good food. Good conversations. The cousins were able to spend lots of time together. But now it is time to pause, recuperate, and get ready to resume normal activities. Before I really do so I wanted to take some time today to reflect and review. And I choose to do so with pictures from the week.

There was loads of fun family time. Visiting with each other. Enjoying a birthday celebration for those who we will not see closer to their actual birthdays. Playing on a lake. Exploring a museum. Playing around the house. And some bowling.

There are some missing folks from these pictures. Sorry I could not get good shots of everyone. Of course, those who were missed most were off on their own adventure. Kim and Emily were at the family Girl Scout camp. Which they enjoyed immensely. But they were missed all the same. So I would be remiss if I did not include a picture from the camp:

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As is clear from the pictures, a lot of fun was had by all. It was a good week. Now it is time to resume ‘normal’ life. Or at least time for me to return to work along with Kim. While the kids get to enjoy some true time off with no camps of other activities for at least a week.

 

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It was an exciting year, full of fun, challenges, and changes #Kids #Life #Mentalhealth


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First Day

For Emily, it was her last year of Lower El. The last year of Ruch kids for Mrs. Clarice.  It was another good year for her. She continued to be the social butterfly. With friends of all ages. There were challenges, particularly the running club. But she persevered for the most part.

It was another great year of Girl Scouts for her. Kim took over the Troop officially. They had a good year, although it was exhausting just to see Kim on Mondays between Scout meetings. Emily did have a stellar year of cookie sales, reaching her goal of 2000 cookies!

She continues to mature and grow. She is smart as a whip when she wants to apply herself. And is a joy for all her teachers to have in class. She is more than ready for the next level next year though.

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Last Day

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First Day

This was a big year for Danny. First year at a new school. The first year of Middle school. First full year as a Boy Scout. I cannot say enough about how much he has grown this year: mentally, emotionally and physically.

We were a little worried about he would do academically at the new school. There were some initial challenges. But in the end, the picture below is him after accepting awards for the Arrow Club (requires a 3.5 GPA for at least 2 quarters) and Excellence in Social Studies. Turns out he really thrived in a more traditional academic classroom over the openness of the Montessori.

Socially he has also grown, he has made friends at the new school that he enjoys spending time with. And watching him at this last Boy Scout Camp showed me how well he is capable of handling himself in large group settings.

For Boy Scouts, he continues to enjoy himself. Kim has joined him as well as Assistant Scout Master (Yay Super Mom Kim!) He earned his first rank. And seems to enjoy the meetings and being a Scout. Which I think is really good for him.

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Last Day

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First Day

Last, there is this guy. As you can see there was a lot of growth for him. Physically he continues to mature. His first year of High School was full of challenges. There were some successes along the way. And I envision a bright future for him.

James discovered a love of singing this year in Men’s Choir. While not naturally gifted he does enjoy the singing. Which balances out his wrestling to keep him balanced. Wrestling season was solid for a JV year. He continues to enjoy the physical challenge.

Academics were a challenge. Poor study habits, laziness, and health conspired to keep him from realizing his full potential. And then there were the emotional issues.

We finally recognized the symptoms and got James the help he needs as he was diagnosed with Depression (damn genetics.) Of course this after a nearly wasted quarter, many arguments and trials, followed by a scare when he decided to simply run away one night. All is well now on this front.

All of the above were not helped by his learning the challenges of teenage relationships. That contributed to the wasted quarter and the stress that led to the attempt to simply run away.

However, after getting the help that he needed he was able to turn things around. Turning a failing semester into an average Semester. He now has the understanding of what he needs to do in the future to succeed, and I think the emotional balance that is also needed to get there.

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Last Day

It was an interesting school year, to say the least. Made even more interesting by my own life changes as I transitioned to a new job.  We could not have done as well as we did without the aid of Supermom Kim. Here we are at the beginning of Summer break.

The kids all have activities. Summer enrichment programs take up the month of June. Everyone has at least one camp. James starts with his wrestling camp. Then Emily has her first sleep away camp. Later in the summer, Kim joins Emily and then Danny for other Scout camps. While I work, due to the lack of vacation time that comes with a new job.  All in all, life remains good for the most part.

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.

Routine resumes #Life #Mentalhealth


Finally had a full week. The kids had a full week of school. I had my first full week of work on the floor. The kids were mostly able to return to their normal sleeping arrangements. About the only thing missing was the regular Monday events because of the crazy wind storm that shut the schools down. It felt good.

My first full week of regular work went very well. I continue to shine in the basics. With most every call I can feel myself getting better. The calls get easier. I can foresee doing this for quite a while.

The kids all made it through their first (mostly) full week of school. Which went well. No traumas. Jimmy even had a chance to wrestle with the Varsity at their dual. He wrestled well but lost. The kids all seemed to adjust to the new reality of Dad working again.

Kim even undertook the project of getting our room rearranged. Setting up her new entertainment options in there. The goal being for her (and us) to have the option of a place where we can go and hide away when necessary.

I don’t want to go overboard, but I feel good about where we all are. I don’t have the same feelings of boredom and tedium I had at my last job. While there is a general undercurrent of worry about politics it is not a constant preoccupation. I am not letting sports occupy my time either. (Although I am impressed by the choices my teams made for their new head coaches.) In general, my mind has happily been focused on work, and role playing. Which is a good place to be in for me, living in the now where I have control of what I am doing.

It is still just the first real week of the New Year, but the return to a routine felt good. And the new elements of that routine are improved and manageable.

Marking another milestone #Life #Mentalhealth


So here we are, another year gone. There are plenty of reasons to tell 2016 to get the hell out of here and don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out. Far too many disappointments and sadness for most years. On the other hand, I had some real positive things happen over the past year that I prefer to think of. And on the gripping hand, a year is just a year, a metaphorical placeholder to mark the passage of time in our lives.

I lost some people in my life. A friend of mine whose life was lost far too early in a tragic death. A loved family member. In both cases, I think of those left behind. In one case, family members who will have to live life without that person around. In the other case, it is the young children who will have to face life and continue growing up with only one parent.

I lost a job I had held for quite a while. Forcing me out into the cold of job hunting and starting over. In the big picture, though, that was as much of a blessing as it was difficult. I was able to have some time off to do a lot of things. Enjoy time with friends. Be there for those who needed my assistance. And make some necessary personality adjustments. At this point, I prefer to think of that unplanned change as more of a positive than a negative.

I reunited with many old friends. Strengthening bonds that already existed in some cases. Made some new friends (or turned acquaintances into friendships.) In the end, I think that the year was definitely a net gain in this department.

Politics was dreadful. So very many disappointments. One of the true positives of my new job is the lack of daily internet access, which is slowing down the firehouse of doom and gloom. None of it has changed the facts of what happened or what might happen. But at least I am not as deeply immersed in it all.

Sports was different. I accomplished my goal of not letting my obsessions with sports control my emotional and mental well being. I was happy when my teams did something positive, winning games. But I took it in stride when they did not. That was a continued journey.

Now I can face the next milestone with good cheer. I am doing all that I can to make my life better. I am also happy to be doing things to make others lives better. From welcoming new kids to my games to organizing grateful farewells. I even get the feeling that my job has the chance to help other people in a way that my old one did not. I am embracing the hope that the future will be better, rather than focusing on all the tragedy and frustration of the previous year. And I am doing all I can to ensure that brighter tomorrow happens, instead of letting myself just drift with the prevailing winds.

Breaking the silence #Life #Mentalhealth


It has been a rough couple of weeks. There have been some good moments, but not enough to offset the bad. Kids were making my life difficult, not intentionally. The job search hit a particularly rough patch. All of my role playing games kept canceling. Just now getting a chance to breathe and look at some semblance of a regular routine again.

I had to spend the week home with the kids for Thanksgiving while Kim put in extraordinarily long hours. I was not looking forward to that because Jimmy especially was on extra restrictions. Which meant I had the possibility of spending a week home with a grumpy teenager.

Fortunately, Jimmy was actually very good. He had wrestling practice almost every day which helped occupy his time. He kept to his part of the restriction for the most part. Did a lot of useful work around the house. Helped entertain the little ones instead of sitting in his room sulking. It was not perfect, but it was better than I anticipated.

I finally got word on 2 jobs I had interviewed for. One I was kind of counting on, and it took a long time to get a response from. The news was not good, though. I was turned down for both positions. Which was very discouraging. I am in a rough spot career-wise. I maintain I have spent 20 years working in customer service. But the normal customer service folks look at my resume and see 10 years of technical help desk work. On the other hand, I do not have the technical training and background to make the technical support postings look at me. It is rough. And a real emotional drain. I am sticking to it, and am being as realistic as possible. It just is not fun or enjoyable.

Normally in all of this, I would at least have had the escape of my role playing games.  I did resume the boys game. With a couple of beginning sessions. But that is not the same escape as getting out of the house and playing with my friends. And the last 3 of those sessions have been canceled due to illnesses of other plans. There is hope on the horizon. But that is colored by the possibility that when I do get a job I could very well be working the kind of hours that preclude my being able to attend those games.

Like I said, it has been rough. I have endeavored to persevere. I have constructed escapes when I could. Tried to keep my mind busy with things I enjoy. Focused on what is good. I know that this is temporary. It will pass. It is just not easy to see that in the moment when I feel stuck and trapped. I am still here, still breathing, and focusing on the moments ahead as much as I can. Always Forward, Never back.

A variety keeps life interesting #Life


Completed a weekend full of variety and amusement. From watching a movie with the kids. To a fun game of D&D. To a fun family birthday party. And ended with a combination of amusement park and Pathfinder. Overall I had a really good weekend, and now the school year, and all of its issues begins in earnest.

Friday night Kim went out, while I stayed home with the kids. We had some pizza. I rented Batman Vs. Superman. And had a nice evening, with about an hour intermission caused by a power outage from a tremendous rain storm. We enjoyed the movie. It had its drawbacks of course. I am beginning to think that the problem with some of these movies is that they are drawing in far too much plot. When they try to edit it down to a decent size it becomes hard to follow.

Saturday I did some cleaning and picking up. Followed by the return of the boys D&D game. That went very well I thought. I enjoyed it, and the kids all seemed to as well. After the game finished the kids were able to play some more before we all went over to my cousin’s house for his birthday party. I enjoyed the party and catching up with various people I don’t see all that much.

Sunday was a fun day. Even with the addition of more than a little chaos. I had my game in Denver. I suggested that Kim could use our season pass for Elitch Gardens at the same time. She told the kids that they could bring friends. That is where things became complex. I ended up taking the teenagers in my car and dropping them off, while Kim had the younger kids. After my game, I came back and spent a little time at the park and then switched out and brought the younger ones home. I had a good time, but it exhausted Kim (so maybe not the best idea I ever had.)

We got home, got the kids bathed and into bed at their bedtimes. I then had some time to try to refocus. I did okay for the most part until my brain began to ponder options for my Pathfinder game, which made it a little tough to get to sleep.

This morning was the first Monday of the school year. It went well for the most part I thought. Now it is time to get to work on some other projects around the house. But I think we are ready for it all.