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.

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I just like to build


Pondering hobby things today. I missed out on my Blood Bowl game last night, which put me in to a funk. And then I have been in a mental mode of thinking about Magic as well. And I think I have come to a conclusion, well more of an epiphany really.

At least in my hobbies: table top games, card games, books etc. I like construction and building. And this is one of the reasons I have found myself put off some of the table top games I used to play more. In books I like to read stories about characters building something, with a real goal in mind, rather than just pure action. And in some of my favorite series I have been utterly delighted when what appeared to be disconnected pieces of action all of a sudden found themselves coming together into a whole.

The biggest recent example is my Blood Bowl league. I enjoy the games, it is generally a pleasant diversion. But more than that I like the fact that a good chunk of the game centers around building and improving the teams. That with each game I can gradually change and improve the team. And that makes the game unique among most table top games. The other games I have played: Warhammer, Warhammer 40K, Clan War, Warzone, etc. do not have a concept of experience and improvement built in. So the building in those games is limited to the physical building: buying the miniatures, assembling units, painting, figuring out points. And that is generally fun, but has lost it’s appeal to me (failing eyesight, physical dexterity, space issues, probably all contribute to that.)

Magic has a big element of that. Tracking down the cards, or sorting from what you have. Then assembling and building a deck. Then, having completed that, fine tuning it by adding and subtracting elements. The games are almost secondary to some extent. Of course it is a lot different now, with so many sets and cards out there that it is nearly impossible to keep pace in building decks. Which is something I am running into playing with Jimmy & his buddies.  They are much closer to the new sets and find it easier to keep track, while I tend to get confused by what is out there.

If I had to track to this back I would say it comes from my Role playing roots. As much as I enjoyed playing, the idea of improving on the character, gaining new skills and equipment, that was what I enjoyed. In fact I used to drive some people nuts with how I would focus on that and show up for the next session having figured out how to add this or that.

Heck, part of the appeal of running to me is the idea of building (or rebuilding) myself up to new stages. Adding a new challenge, going just a little bit farther so next week I can go even farther. That is a constant challenge to keep it fun for me.

In the ‘real world’ I guess this is why I enjoy being a parent so much. I love helping and watching my kids gain new skills and ‘level up’. Watching Jimmy obsess over Magic, rushing to the local shop after school, is fun for me because I know that he is gaining new skills and experiences. Same applies to Danny and scouting, Emily and her various dolls, etc. They are all constantly advancing. It takes patience, but you know it will never be the same, there is constant change.

In the end, I just like to build, not literally, but to construct things and watch them develop. And that is just me, it is what I am. Some people are content or feel a need for stability. While I like routine, I only need it so it is easier for the things I am building to grow. Like keeping a garden weed free, or a workbench clean. That is what routine is for me: keeping the things that can stop the change and growth from occurring to a minimum.

A holiday weekend that barely felt like a holiday


The kids had a 3 day weekend, which Jimmy celebrated by having friends over and overdosing on Magic. We did not have a 3 day weekend, and had to struggle to get some things done. Lots of family and extended family at multiple gatherings.

**********Jimmy & Magic**********

So Jimmy ended up having 2 buddies over for the night Friday night, and they went to the new local store for Friday Night Magic. They all played in the tournament (not faring super well since their decks had to be stripped of some cards to make them legal for the format.) Then when I got them home I had to make some repeated warnings to get them to settle down to sleep.

Then they all woke up early Saturday and began playing again, which is surprising as normally Jimmy at least sleeps in on the weekends. The even lured me into 2 games. The first was fun but the second took far too long. And then Jimmy kept asking the rest of the weekend if I could take him back to the store to get more cards. He has clearly succumbed to that interesting combination of fun versus addiction.

It will take some work to keep him balanced. But then again his other focus was on somehow getting to the store so he could buy a video game that he plays with another friend. So he is still mostly balanced. I will only worry when he stops asking me to play, and even turns down offers of games in favor of other things.

**********Fighting sleep deprivation and work issues************

As a result of that late Friday night for Jimmy I didn’t get much sleep because the dog would not go to sleep as long as it kept hearing the boys talking. So I was tired and not as energetic as I might have wanted. Then Kim got home and was really frustrated by some work events, coupled with being tired as well. And all of this did not help the fact that we needed to get the house ready to host a family holiday event.

But, as we normally do, we worked it out. Got some of the essential work done that night. And then we were able to knock the rest out in a relatively short time Sunday morning. The only real consequence was that I skipped my running, but that is actually more par for the course for a holiday, so I am not beating myself up over it.

So it all worked out, but it still put a little bit of a crimp in the weekends events. So with the coming weekend being similar (kids 3 day weekend, nice weather, but regular work for us) we need to coordinate our scheduling. And be glad that we have no actual planned events.

************Lots of Family & extended family**********

Saturday was my cousin’s daughters birthday party, which we attended. And then for the holiday we went over to my Dad’s for one party, and then hosted Kim’s family at our house after that. All told I think we saw pretty much every family member and several extended family members who live within a decent driving distance (a couple of hours). And that was a lot of fun.

I was able to capture it all in a few good pictures.

Unplanned 3 generations

Here is an unstaged 3 generation photo, Emily with Uncle Dave and Grandma Lolly.

Cousins at play

Cousins at play on the front sidewalk. It is pictures like this that will be great to show in the future as they age, to remind them that they can all have fun together. And you have to especially enjoy when the 14 year old is not too cool to enjoy some time with the little kids.

 

Watcha lookin' at?

Watcha lookin’ at?

And of course nephew Karlen enjoying his first Easter, that look is a combination of ‘this is my egg’ and ‘really, another picture?’

That really tells the story of the day in pictures. For all the religious overtones, and commercial overtones I really see days like this as just another excuse for family to gather and enjoy themselves and each others company. And I think those pictures paint a picture of just that.

 

Talking football, Blood bowl, Magic the Gathering


It is the mid-week, a day I have neglected to blog about for a few weeks. But today I have some things to talk about that are not directly linked to family. I have a few thoughts on NFL Free Agency regarding my 2 favorite teams. I have a game report and discussion of a Blood Bowl game. And last some thoughts on Magic, kids and West Side.

******************

NFL free agency opened yesterday and my 2 favorite teams (just to update I am an NFL bigamist) chose different approaches. Since they will be playing very similar schedules this year, including facing each other, the results of these approaches will become apparent.

The Rams have apparently decided to sit out the land rush for the ‘top’ players. Instead choosing to focus on middle tier players and the draft to keep building what is a very young team. For the most part I agree with this approach. There wasn’t a player out there that would make a substantial difference to the team, certainly not one worth the potential cost. It is clear that the Rams front office is in this for the long haul, building a contender from the ground up, rather than chasing the marquee players.

The Broncos on the other hand took the opposite approach, already shelling out for 2 top players at their respective positions. And they are apparently in the running for at least one if not 2 more players. The best part of this is they are focusing on what was broken: the secondary. No one was scared of the Broncos secondary and defense last year, certainly not once Miller got hurt. Not to say that a better defense would have made a big difference in the Super Bowl. But if they couple this focus on rebuilding & improving the defense with a revised approach to the offense that is aimed at more balance I think they will accomplish the one thing they really needed to do. Insure that Peyton Manning does not have to win every game, that other parts of the team can take care of that and he can just be a part of the overall package. So overall I am happy with both teams because they are doing what is best for where they are right now.

*************************

Well all good things must come to an end. And the glorious win streak of the Black Pillar Panthers came to it’s end last night. About the only good things that can be said about the game was no Panthers players got permanently injured and I will have a full roster for the next game. And the fact that the game was effectively meaningless as I had already gotten myself into the Championship game. But the sad fact remains that the damn Wood elves remain my kryptonite. But I had fun overall, and with 3 players gaining new skills the Panthers remain poised for bigger and better things.

It has been fun to play in these leagues, it is an excellent diversion. And the only real drawback is that the game room is not well heated so on cold nights my feet end up becoming ice cubes which makes it very hard to get home and get to sleep. But I can live that in general, as the weather is improving.

*************************

It is official, someone has opened a Magic the Gathering in Old Colorado City. Which means no more saving up for trips to Wal Mart to buy more cards. And from what I can see in the web site it has space for open games and tournaments. Which also makes it a little easier to get Jimmy out of the house and together with his buddies. We will check it out this weekend, see how big it really is etc. I know that so long as it remains friendly I will try to make sure that the shop gets at least my families Magic business. Because I really appreciate the fact that there is something on the West Side, when there hasn’t been a real hobby shop west of Academy and south of Constitution since the Compleat Gamer closed. So the real key will be how open and hospitable the place is for the kids, will it be a place that I can take Jimmy to and drop him off for a couple of hours on a weekend day? That remains to be seen.

A ‘Magical’ night, more TV binging, and some outdoor fun.


My trip to Friday Night Magic with 10 BV/Westside kids was a success, with some unexpected highlights. Kim and I chose to spend Saturday on the cheap with another massive TV binge. Sunday we all got out of the house for a couple of hours at least. And I thought of something new to try with Danny and spelling.

I was a tad bit nervous about organizing a visit of what ended up being 10 kids ranging from 4th grade to 6th grade to my favorite game store. I knew that these were all more or less good kids, but I was still nervous mixing them with a place that I like to spend time in and where I have a number of adult friends. But the night was a resounding success. The kids all had a great time, and some were asking when could they come back. And they made such a good impression that the guy who ran the night said they were all welcome to come back any time. And I had a good time, even though I ended up playing 1 adult, and then 2 kids I already have played (one of them being Jimmy.)

There were a couple of unexpected things. One of the younger kids had never actually played much before, and in fact did not realize that it cost money. And one of the other kids volunteered to pony up they costs so the other kid could play. And when this kid ended up in last place for the overall night standings he got a bonus prize of a whole bunch of extra cards. Meaning he ended up doubling what he could take home to play with. And to top that it turned out that Friday was his birthday. So this kid, whose family does not have much money at all got to have a great night for his birthday, totally on accident. The second was one of the kids, who is one of the older players and more veteran players, gave the eventual evening winner such a good couple of games that he gave the kid his prize (a custom game mat.) Just a couple of wonderful examples of generosity and wonderful gestures.

Saturday, faced with nothing really to do, and the weather still being on the chilly side Kim and I had to decide how to spend our time. We decided to not a) take the kids to a movie that no one was very excited about, or b) go shopping and spend money an things we don’t need. We ended up buying 8 episodes of Season 4 of The Walking Dead and between that and On Demand we caught up completely to the current episode. Were there other, less couch potato things we could have done? Sure, but it was low in cost (less than the cost for the 2 of us to watch 1 movie) and we really enjoyed it all, and it filled up a day while the kids were able to pretty much do their own things.

Sunday we all did get out of the house. Kim & Emily had a Girl Scout cookie event that lasted about 3 hours. And then I took all the kids to the park for a last minute birthday party for a friend (the same kid I mentioned above.) I used some of the time to get in my short Sunday run and then all the adults stood around and talked in the chilly wind for a while until the kids were ready to go home. So, even though it was windy & chilly we still got out some, didn’t hide inside the entire weekend.

I had an idea this morning. I know that one of Danny’s big issues with spelling is translating to paper. So I thought, what would he do if I just opened a Note on my Ipad and had him type the spelling word instead of writing it. And the results were encouraging. Of course I have to turn off auto-correct first, but it is something I plan to keep doing for a little while. And I imagine points to where his difficulties lie.

Happily onto the next step


Got a call from the school yesterday, they are going ahead with testing on Danny. Looking forward to returning to hobby mode over the next 2 weekends. I can feel life easing back into a routine. Kim & I have found a new shared interest.

**************Danny**************

I turned in the official from to the district today, agreeing to let them evaluate Danny for a learning disability. I was worried that when they had their meeting they might say that he did not need the testing and I would have to push them. But that was not the case. In talking with the Special Ed teacher on the phone she agreed that she was seeing the same trends in testing that we had: Math scores average or above, but reading scores always below average. While I do wonder a little about how long the school would have gone without doing the testing I won’t worry about that now.

The evaluation is a process, not just a 1 day test. So it might end up with him not seeing the real benefit of the results this school year. But the goal is long term now, need to get this done so he can see the benefits next year and moving forward in his education. I am actually pretty excited to see the results so we can all know how to help him better.

***************Hobbies******************

I get to return to some hobby diversions in the coming weeks. We are doing a Blood Bowl mini or exhibition season starting the week. I will be playing with a different team, the Dark Elves, looking for the change of speed and agility over the brute force of the Dwarves. I am just happy to be playing again, it felt like the last month was too long off.

And then next week I have organized a group of kids to go to Gamers Haven for a Friday Night Magic draft. These are kids that have done this at other stores but I thought I would try to get them over to my friends store for a change up. One of the fun things is that all of the kids that are planning to go at this point have all been in Jimmy’s class at school at one time or another, and most have been a member of the same Scout troop with Danny, and many of them played soccer together. So it is fun to see them all finding another common event again. I kind of had to get the store to change up it’s schedule for this, but when I told them I would be bringing 7-8 kids they were willing to make the change. And I will be honest, I am kind of excited to play myself, we haven’t had any Magic days at the house since school resumed.

**********************Walking Dead***********************

Neither Kim or I are big horror movie types. We do not seek out those kinds of movies. So we did not rush to jump on the bandwagon for this show. But this weekend, as we were stuck in the house on Sunday, we decided to give the show a chance. And we are hooked! We binge watched the first 5 episodes together on Sunday, and now we are both getting through an episode a night on our own, as it does a lot of cliff hanger endings.

It’s a very good show. Pretty gory, as one would imagine a show about the zombie apocalypse would be. But still quite interesting. And it always good for us to find something new that we enjoy together. Once the weather improves I imagine we will have other things we can do, but until then we at least have something new.

So, the weather is improving, and the family is returning to health. And routine should gradually return. Just in time for new routines of course as Jimmy changes over from wrestling to track. But that is less of a big deal, and easier to adjust to.

Not exactly the ideal end, but overall a great time off.


I timed my vacation so that I could be home with the kids until their vacation ended. And it worked out well for everyone. Much Magic was played, many football games were enjoyed, a lot of screen time was devoted to the new Kindles, and a lot of time was spent adjusting to the new household addition. The time off ended on a sour note as I got hit with the vicious flu bug that is making the rounds, putting me down for 3 days, but at least I didn’t lose any work time.

Kids enjoyed their time off

I am not certain how, but the kids were still not bored with their new Kindles, despite having them on almost continuously for the last week and a half. They played with them all the time, ar at least spent their time watching online videos or listening to music. So they were certainly a very good presents, well worth the investment.

And we got a new laptop, so Jimmy was able to monopolize the old one to his more or less hearts content (which he did.) So there was a lot of screen time for the winter break. But I think it was okay, the weather was not exactly conducive to running around outside. And while the little ones did have friends over, and also got out for some birthday parties, they were still limited to an extent as far as options.

We did what we could, watching moves, playing games, helping build Lego. And encouraging them to help with the adjustment of the new addition.

We welcome a new addition

The Saturday after Xmas we decided to try out the addition of a new dog. This dog, a pure bred Shih Tzu, name of Chewbacca or Chewie, was more or less inherited. It took some time get him adjusted to the sleeping arrangements, which meant I spent part or all of a few nights sleeping with Danny, but by now he is pretty much settled in that arrangement.

He is potty trained, although for some reason he seem to think our bedroom is the great outdoors still so we have to keep him out of there. And he really is a good little dog. A great walker (much easier than Spotty.) And so far the dogs have gotten along very well, they wrestle occasionally, but no big problems. He hasn’t adjusted to the cat yet (although he has been nailed twice by her so far) which means his attempts to chase her and just stand and bark at her are the only real issue.

And most importantly, Danny gets to say that he got a dog for Xmas (even if that isn’t really the case.) I have done my best to keep him involved with the dog, even setting a standard of his having to take him for a walk every day after school. And he gets to have to dog sleep with him. And that is a big deal for Danny, my sweet hearted little guy, who can now have yet another avenue for his attachments.

Much Magic was played

Jimmy got a lot of cards for Xmas, and then proceeded to spend all the money he got on more cards. So he now has amassed a pretty good collection. And he has learned the joy of constructing and building new decks.

We had 1 planned gathering at our house for a couple of his buddies. And then he spent the night a couple of times with his buddies where more Magic was played. I daresay that he came close to his fill of the game for a little while.

And I reawakened my own joy with the game, adjusting and building some new decks of my own. And playing many games with Jimmy and a few with his friends.

A dreadful, terrible, no fun end to the time off

First let me say that if I have not stated in clear enough terms my admiration for my wife’s toughness and strength before I need to make that clear now. I am occasionally reminded how much tougher she is than me, but never more so than these past couple of days. Saturday night the cough started hinting, and by Sunday morning I was done for. I got hit hard by the flu that has been making the rounds, making the last 3 days off pretty miserable for me. At least I was off work and didn’t feel the need to come in. And today I almost feel human. But, Kim got hit with this before Xmas, and not only worked more than I did at home she worked all of her work hours and overtime, gutting it out in far more physically demanding job than I have, what a trooper.

And that is how the time off ended, with me laying around sick while the kids played with their electronics and Kim did her best to get many little projects done around the house. It wasn’t exactly ideal, but it could have been worse. And it made me appreciate the previous days off even more.