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.


Exhaustion, fun, family, games #Weekend #Mentalhealth

We all had a lot of fun this weekend. But I paid for it in numerous ways. There were live sports and televised sports. There were a lot of people and kids in and around the house with multiple sleepovers. We had multiple family events. And the kids and I enjoyed a rediscovery of an old friend. Through it all, I did my best to keep my head up but it was not easy and I did struggle some.

Friday night we attended the Scout night at the Switchbacks game (our local semi-pro Football club.) Which was a lot of fun for everyone. All of the kids had fun, which was unusual for a live sporting event. Jimmy especially had a great time, getting in with the rowdy fans. It was marred by some atrocious officiating, resulting in a draw game. But we had a good time anyway, even if we ended up awfully tired.

Saturday we started our D&D game, but were not able to complete the game. Because we get cut short with the start of our informal, regular, Memorial Day weekend cookout. We ended up with a fair amount of family coming over. And a lot of kids. For a total of around 15 people at the height of things. I did my utmost to keep in the thick of things, playing games, socializing. But I hit the wall in the evening and sat down to watch the Colorado Rapids game and the end of the NBA game.

Sunday would have been recovery from all of those people. Except that the kids all slept over so I had to make breakfast for everyone. And later in the day, we all went over to Kim’s Aunt & Uncles house for dinner. Which meant yet another gathering of extra people. I did manage some down time before heading over there. But it was still somewhat exhausting. And when we got home we had our nephew staying the night so he & Danny could get early on Monday for a Scouting event. Which meant another restless night of sleep for me.

All of that meant that on Monday, Kim and I were not in the mood for much of anything. I spent most of the day watching TV and videos. And when she got home Kim did the same thing. I was definitely glad for the extra day of rest & recovery.

For some reason, Jimmy got it in his head to rediscover Magic over the weekend. Which was good timing as our nephew had a bunch of the cards and has been wanting someone to play with him and teach him how to build decks. They spent a lot of time playing the game on Saturday night. And then on Sunday took their cards to that event. Which got the bug going for Danny and Emily. Enough that when we got home from that I got my own cards and Danny’s out of hiding and helped them get set up. And the kids spent most of Monday playing games of Magic, even teaching Emily to play. That was nice, to see them all enthusiastic about something that did not involve electronics and was social.

All of that social time was hard on me. I never really got the kind of break that I really needed until Monday. I think it was especially hard to have all those sleepovers. We had extra kids there every night this weekend. Which made it difficult to get my needed rest and especially some quiet time in the morning.

This coming weekend my brother and his family are coming to town. I am really excited for that. Even though I also know that means that we will have the same house full and big family events every day. But I can plan this out a little bit better. And we will not be having any sleepovers as a part of this visit so I will have some time in the mornings to gather my thoughts and prepare. I think I can apply my lessons from this weekend to the coming weekend to keep from falling into a deep funk after the fact on Monday.

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.


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.



Odd how excited I am about this #Kids #mentalhealth

The kids have a 3 day weekend this week. They have Friday off from school. I don’t have the day off, neither does Kim. But they will be off. And I am possibly more excited about this than the kids are for some reason.

I guess it is because the daily grind of waking them up, making lunches, getting them ready, taking them to school, is getting close to ending for the school year. Danny looked last night and said there are 30 days until the end of the school year. But those 30 days includes weekends. The fact is there are 4 weeks, 20 days, not including today or the last day of school for the little ones. Well, Jimmy will have another 4 days on top of that. But while there have been some drawbacks to the online school, it has the advantage of my not having to deal with him every morning. Ultimately, I have about a month until my mornings are clear, which is a good thing and something I am definitely looking forward to. So tomorrow is just a taste.

Mentally and emotionally this has been a good week. I was dreading it as I thought we would be especially short staffed. But it turned out that the staffing was not as bad as we thought it was going to be. We have been continuing to work with Jimmy, but he has been pretty good about accepting where he really is. So the usual stressors have not been there, or at least have been a minimum.

I have been feeling conflicted this week. You may recall my plan to get something for myself every month. Well, the first couple of months were easy to do that. I got my new iPad and cover, then the wonderful new book bag from Sidgl, and then some new shoes and headphones. But now I have run into a bit of a wall. I kind of want a new dice box and transport for some role playing gear. But I cannot bring myself to spend the kind of money the really nice one’s cost. Plus I am working with Sidgl on developing a solution for this as well.

There are a couple of other cool craft things out there I have been looking at. Impractical but fun things to own, like a set of wooden swords. Or a cool wristband made by another friend.

In looking at all the cool gaming gear products though I think I have decided to come up with a creative solution. It is a chance to get something that I will use. And actually, be creative as well. I plan to get some generic items tomorrow from the craft store and then decorate them myself. I will take pictures and post what the results look like. Hopefully, this will provide the outlet I am looking for in doing something for me this month.

Finding my own zen #Mentalhealth #Hobbies

Don’t be alarmed, but most of the time I have a lot of mental ‘free time’ on my hands. My work is not a continuous, constant type of job. There can be times and days when I can get a lot of work in a short time. And there can be times when I have a lot of downtimes. That is the nature of my work here in the digital mines.

What that means is that I have a fair amount of mental free time, when I am not actively engaging in things. For quite some time I filled that time up with browsing the internet. Which can be great, I have found a lot of interesting ideas, and inspiration from my browsing. And of course I do my writing during these times, so it is not a total loss.

But too much time browsing the internet can be mind numbing. You can only read the latest sports or movie or TV show recap or rumor so many times. It can also be nerve-wracking and almost dangerous for me as I find things to obsess over or worry about. It can almost be like an alcoholic wandering into a bar. Which meant I realized that I needed to find some other things to do.

I do read sometimes. But I look around and realize that a number of people in my office have their own little things they do at their desks. Building Lego items, or small crafts, or drawing. So I spent a lot of time thinking about this. When it came to me, I could paint! It took me a while to figure out how to assemble a portable painting set or kit. But last week I finally got it going.

And it has been great. I don’t try to paint all day. But it is actually better for me as a painter. Because one problem I have at home is I rush, because I cannot just leave stuff out all day long. But this way I can perform one step on a figure, stop and turn back to work or the internet, and bounce back and forth. It is a good mental break. And it has been fun this week to finish the figures for the boys characters.


It is not master class quality by any stretch. But the real goal is finding something to occupy my head space during the day. And that is worth it. It makes my day go faster, keeps me away from things that will drive me crazy or make me worry. And I can look at something at the end of the day and say I accomplished this today (beyond my actual work.)



What do you do with your downtime? #Hobbies #Mentalhealth

I’ve been thinking about hobbies and entertainment this week. In our current culture, we work hard (or most of us do.) The question becomes what do we do for our play, in our time when we are not working hard? Because having something to do in that time is a big deal. And there is a substantive difference between interactive and passive downtime.

I learn a lot about myself and life watching my kids. I am truly thankful that I did not grow up in this time of electronics. Not because electronic entertainment is bad. I don’t think that the Kindles, iPads, computers, Xbox are bad in and of themselves. In a big way, they prepare kids for the world where they will use similar devices all the time.

The reason I am thankful is because among my many mental ailments is a tendency to get sucked into passive entertainment. To the point where it becomes my whole life. I think of all the time I spent playing various computer games once I had access to them. I am not saying that thought does not occur when playing these games because they can be a mental exercise. But even the most introverted among us need some time when we interact with the environment around us, even if it is just a solitary walk. And these passive games force a person to focus on them, to lose contact with the environment around them.

Yes, I can lose focus on the world around me when I read or watch a riveting TV show. So those can be just as passive forms of entertainment. I know that from my own childhood when I would get lost in books, spending recess reading instead of out on the playground.

I am not arguing that all forms of passive entertainment are bad. Those can all be good. When you work hard, it can be healthy to have a time when you just lose yourself in that passive entertainment, forget about the day and the world around you for a time. I know that I need that myself, more than most people in fact.

What I think is needed in addition to that is something that entertains and also interacts with the larger world. That can be exercising, playing games, going to a social event, or less social or physical like making models, painting, building lego. But doing something that forces you to interact outside of your own self and mind.

I know from my own experience that when I am happiest is when I have a balance. I have my work. I have my passive entertainment in my TV shows, which I do share with other people sometimes, which allows me to mentally take a breath. And then I have my role playing, where I can interact with other people or at least with the larger environment when I paint figures or make plans for my games.

What the proportions are for each of these elements depends on the person. How much passive, unwinding time fits their life. How much interactive entertainment is good for them. Some people do not want that passive time, or need very little of it, instead, they want to be interacting with their environment all the time. Nothing wrong with that. There is no simple answer of perfect proportion for every person. All I am saying is that we all need some amount of variety in how we devote out time.