Learning to balance the two sides of life.


Okay, so I’m nearly 50 years old and I am still getting a handle on this topic. But I am trying to impress a lesson on Jimmy lately. In order to help him be better prepared in the mornings. And to help him manage his school work better. Like I told him this morning though, it is a question of doing your ‘Have To’s’ before you can do your ‘Want to’s’.

For example every morning I have a pretty set routine. I wake up, review e-mails, FB, and now Reminders. Then I get up, take a shower and dress. Then make the kids lunches, and breakfasts, and my own lunch. Then I can eat my own breakfast and read a little bit before it is time to wrangle kids to school. And that is similar to what I am trying to get Jimmy to work on. Get up, take a shower, make lunch, then sit down and eat breakfast while watching a cartoon. And when he gets home from school, sit down and do home work before going online and catching up with buddies and/or playing games.

It’s an interesting question and struggle. Balancing the have to’s and the want to’s. Being an adult is all about that balance. Some do a better job than others. And for some life is so full of Have To’s that they never get around to the Want To’s. And there are those who spend so much time on the Want To’s that they neglect the Have To’s, getting into trouble.

For me the problem is not so much that I neglect the immediate Have To’s. It has been that I have let some of them slip, because I was relying on my memory to remind me of them. Or I just let them sit out there unfinished and neglected because I was taking care of other ones. That meant my subconscious was full of niggling reminders that there were things I had to do, but hadn’t gotten around to doing so yet. Which drove my own anxieties, so I had to find a way to get a better handle on things.

But the real issue is learning to balance things, doing your have to’s, so you can have time for your want to’s. But not spending so much time on your want to’s that you neglect the have to’s. Again, I am still getting a handle on this myself. My tendency is to neglect the have to’s, or give them incorrect priorities (which is a whole different topic.) But I am hoping that by working on this now, and showing Jimmy what I am doing that he will develop his own ways of handling it all.

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Survived the struggle, and continuing to learn


This wasn’t the easiest weekend, but I survived and had fun for the most part. I managed to take some good pictures, and had some time to start learning Photoshop. Danny and I survived our rainy Camp Alexander for the most part. And in a lot of ways I am beginning to sense what is happening to me.

The Cub Scout camp was an interesting experience. And I thought we did pretty good considering it was up to the OCD, Introverted parent suffering from depression to keep up the spirits of the introverted child in the face of crowds, noise, poor conditions and chaos. Both Danny and I were in good spirits to start, and ready to handle things, but then the rain started. Rain so hard it overwhelmed the tent to some extent, and totally disrupted the schedule for the kids activities. Eventually forcing us into a large group area for the majority of the first day, which was neither of our strong points. And I was prepared to dash to our car at any moment during the night (which we didn’t have to do fortunately.)

The second day began much better. Clear skies, I was able to take some nice pictures. We got in some activities: crafts, first aid, archery. And some BB gun shooting after lunch before the storms settled in. Then it became a matter of just hanging in as we did some activities indoors. But around dinner time it became clear that the rain was not going to stop, and that we were not going to get much more out of the camp, so we packed up out tent in the rain and came home.

Overall it was a good experience, we both got out of our comfort zones for the most part. And we had some good times together. And I look forward to doing some other shared activities with Danny in the future.

I am also beginning to get a better grasp of what is going on with my therapy sessions. Beginning to realize how obsessive compulsive I have become. And realizing that a lot of the moments when I act out (for lack of a better term) occur when my systematic order is disrupted. Recognizing that is a big deal for me, because now I can do a better job of stopping and thinking “am I just upset because this person (typically the kids) are not following my sense of order? If so, is that order that important?” Because while kids do need some routine and sense of order, they don’t need the same amount that I follow and therefore there is no need for me to get so agitated. 

I know this is just the tip of the iceberg at this point, but as this begins to clear up for me it is making a big difference. And when I have moments like I did at the height of the rain storms at Camp when I just wanted to scream I can get myself to back off, because the reason I feel that way is not that important in the big scheme. 

So just a few weeks until school can begin and some sense of regular order returns, all the trips are done for now. Summer vacation is winding down. But I think it has been a very good one for the kids, and all the time off has been good for me in the larger sense. 

Football (sort of), cleaning, party; just another weekend


Did not get too caught up in watching the NFL draft on TV, mostly relying on online sources, kept me mostly sane. Spent a lot of time getting the house ready (including teaching a new chore.) Hosted our annual Mothers Day event. Just another typical weekend as we get very close to ending the school year.

NFL Draft

Every year I get caught up in what is really a manufactured wholly media event. But I think this year I did a better job of net getting so caught up in it that it became my sole focus. I mean it is certainly an interesting mental exercise to analyze how teams build, and think about if they made the right choice amongst a large pool of players. But it isn’t really sports, which means that it is not much different from watching a TV show about commodity traders or stock brokers making their choices. It really is amazing that the NFL has made such a seemingly boring event into a huge show. Enough commentary, how about my teams?

Broncos

What do you get the team that came in second in the NFL, and then ‘won’ free agency? This wasn’t a team with a lot of real needs. But it did a good job of getting players that will help this year or at least in the near future. They drafted a Corner who could start in the event of an injury ar at least play in Nickel or Dime situations, strengthening a defense that did need help. The Wide receiver they picked will get to essentially red shirt this year, only playing in a few sets, while he learns the offense and the NFL. And then they improved offensive line depth and linebacker.

They didn’t really get the return guy I wanted. I am assuming they expect to get that help either from some undrafted free agents, existing players or maybe in the second phase of free agency. But that was the only need they didn’t fulfill so I would say it was a good draft for a team that didn’t have to hit any home runs, just not screw up or reach too high for a pick.

Rams

Very happy with this draft. No they did not go the exciting route that I had hoped for as a football fan. But as a Rams fan I am happy with what they got. They continued to build along the lines, with top picks on offense and defense. They improved in the secondary. They got my favorite running back, a guy that I think could be a real difference maker. And they continued the franchise tradition of making history.

I am not certain that they got the quarterback of the future.  But they solidified all the other offensive positions so now there current ‘franchise quarterback’ doesn’t really have an excuse. And should he fail, as I was pointing out to a friend, 2015 should see a banner crop of top QB prospects in the draft.

Housework

We were hosting a party for Mothers Day. So Saturday morning became cleaning day. And I made the kids do their part, telling them to clean their rooms and basement ‘the way Mommy would’. And they actually did a good job of it. And then I taught Jimmy how to do his new chore, as he has been without a good regular chore since Blaze died. I taught him how to scrub the bathrooms. At one point he asked why he was being asked to do things no one else wanted to do, which got the simple response of “that’s why they are chores and not fun.” But we all did a good job, Kim was happy.

Mothers Day

I made sure Kim got to rest for Mothers Day. I cooked our normal Sunday morning breakfast, dealt with kids, dogs etc. And I did my best to make sure she didn’t do any of the work for the party.

It was a good party, the food was good, and people had a good time. In spite of what would normally be considered an unseasonable snow storm (but with climate change who is to say what is unseasonable any more?) No major battle amongst the cousins and everyone certainly had plenty to eat. And we were glad to be the hosts so there was room for all the kids to spread out and theoretically keep out of each others hair.

Realized this weekend that I may be overthinking this


I was talking to a friend this weekend about role playing. And how I want to get Jimmy and his buddies introduced to D & D. My biggest obstacle has always been mental. I realized a while ago that I am not Game Master material. I love putting together cool scenarios and settings. But I am not great at running sessions, or running continuing campaigns. And I was sharing with my friend that I just wish someone could come in and run the kids through some introductory D & D games.

Then I had an epiphany. These are middle schoolers. They don’t need complex campaigns. They don’t need sophisticated enemies and plots to solve. And if I want to attract them away from video games I need to provide that same level of engagement. So I thought back to when I first played the game and realized that I didn’t need complex characters or sophisticated campaigns. What I need to start is some basic games, simple dungeons. Then help them make basic characters: fighter, wizard, cleric, thief. And then set them loose, let them crawl through a few dungeons, killing all monsters in their path. Learn the joy of building experience, levelling up, finding treasure and magic items.

Because that is what the core of role playing is: playing characters and building them up. At some point some players ‘graduate’ to more sophisticated games and the emphasis changes to the role part, with players really acting as their characters. But that is really too much to expect of beginners, especially teenage boys. I think they would have more fun with the basics of hack and slash and rudimentary problem solving.

So, when I get the time and motivation I will either find and download or create my own basic adventure. Then pull out the old books, throw in some monsters, and then invite them over. In fact if I keep it simple enough I could probably involve Danny at this point. And that could become the second step, if you perceive Magic as the ‘gateway’ to the world of gaming, then the next is basic role playing, and then you can move on.

Things begin to settle down


The kids got a 3 day weekend this week (and again next week!), we did not. So Jimmy gets his first real test of watching the little ones for a day. We will see how that goes. Life is beginning to settle down, the April birthdays are almost done with. The weather is improving, which corresponds to our moods. And I finally got to play again.

***************Responsibility***************

Celebrating the fact that we can leave the 12 year old basically in charge today while we go to work. It makes me happy, happy that we can trust him enough to handle this. Happy that all of the kids are grown up enough to function without constant adult supervision.

We don’t go full on latch key, but the kids have all reached ages that they can spend more time without us being there. And I think it is a part of my parental job to let them try to handle this. I know that Lolly is next door (for most of the day) and that there are other adults on the block that they can run to if something terrible happens. But in most cases the kids have proven that with the exception of not being great at picking up toys etc when done they are responsible to leave as a group for this time frame. And that shows me that we (Kim, me, various grandparents) have done our jobs.

**************Weather & mood**************

I know that I am not alone in this. Nor am I expressing anything new. But man, nothing improves the family mood like the arrival of sun and warmth. It encourages the kids to get out of the house, away from the electronics and screen time. It grants more freedom in clothing choices. And it opens up our eating habits, because there is less feeling that we have to stuff ourselves when it is warm or hot outside.

And it will open up our family options on the weekends. We can plan more trips to parks, the zoo, hikes, mountains. As a whole we can likely reduce our screen time. I certainly look forward to that, despite being as guilty as anyone when it comes to being a prisoner of the omnipresent electronic entertainment options.

*************Blood Bowl***************

Finally played my second game of the season with my Lizards. And the Aztlan Gators finally did their thing. Knocking my opponents team down with regularity. And the luck evened out at least somewhat (for the record I still have the worst casualty ratio of any coach in the league.) Which led to a win for me. And now it is time for me to face my nemesis Wood Elves. I almost want to lose this one, end up in the league ‘Toilet Bowl’ just so I can keep improving the team. Because I think I am done looking over and seeing the greener grass on the other side. I am content with this team, I know it better, and feel like I know what I need to do to make it succeed.

 

Ultimately, balance is the goal.


Interestingly the idea of balance came up regarding my favorite hobbies and raising kids at the same time. Balance is always very important to me, being a Libra and all (if that astrology crap means anything to you.) And yesterday it came up in 2 different discussions in a way that I find interesting.

First, I was discussing the potential consequences of taking one of Jimmy’s friends with me to a game night at the store. My plan for this Friday night was to hopefully schedule a game of Blood bowl for me to play while the boys played Magic. And I hoped that since they would be there on a big gaming night that they might get a little bit of a bug for tabletop miniature games. Which I mentioned in passing to the kids parent, with a warning that these games can be an even bigger monetary suck that Magic. And her response was that if the kids were spending money on games where they are social and directly interacting with other people, rather than just another video game, it was not as big of a deal. Which I totally agreed with and understood. Which goes back to balance, trying to teach the kids the balance between doing something social versus solo video games (and don’t get me started about how online gaming is social, I cry B***s**t on that, social means face to face, not using a keyboard to communicate in my book.)

Second, as I have been spending more and more time at the store I find myself intrigued by the idea of getting into a new game or army for one of the games I already play. This is where balance comes in. Because the last thing I want is to invest in a new game, choose an army/faction etc. only to find out that when I play that this cool army I built and painted and invested time in, is not the right one. And that it will pretty much always lose to certain other armies. Because the game is not well thought out or balanced, and is prone to the idea of ‘codex creep’. So I had sent a friend an e-mail asking about a game and he said that it is very well balanced. Which may or may not lead to my investing in a new game.

But one the interesting things to me is that for all the complaints there are about Magic, one thing you cannot say is that the game itself is unbalanced. All of the colors are pretty well balanced against each other, there is no one card color that will always win, it is purely a matter of game play and style. Now of course there are balance issues due to the overall idea of Collectible Card Games, because there are and always will be players who are willing to spend and trade and everything else in their power to build decks full of the best ‘power cards’ and combinations. But I consider that different from simply choosing an army because it is the ‘best’ and avoiding ‘weak’ armies. To my knowledge no one avoids a color in Magic because it is weak, only doing so because they don’t like how the decks play. And that is what makes the game fun to me, so long as I am not running up against one of the so-called power players with a super deck I stand an equal chance. And that happens because the game is balanced.

In the end that’s what I really want and ask for in life: balance. Balance for my kids as far as not overdoing it on one kind of entertainment and doing things with other kids. Balance in my hobbies, and balance in my games.

Sometimes the frustration boils over


I have the next week off from work, which is nice. I took the full week off anticipating the kids would be off as well, but it turned out they still have school Monday & Tuesday, so I get 2 days sort of to myself, which is even nicer. But, to prepare for that time off I had a lot of things to deal with at work and at home. And this had me pretty stressed out. Then there is the ongoing health problems with Jimmy and trying to keep him up to speed in his classes. So I kind of melted down this morning.

I had been going back and forth with his teacher about the missed assignments from the last time he was sick. Then last night I went on a search in his backpack and found 2 of the assignments he claimed had been turned in. So this morning, when he came up, still feeling the effects of this cold that has forced him to come home early the last 2 days I kind of lost it. Because I was tired of having this fight over the last time he was sick, and now it looked like I was going to have to do it again and he hadn’t even turned in 2 of the assignments!

He felt really bad, compounded by being too sick to even try going to school. As I got to work he sent me texts saying he was so sorry, he was doing his best etc. I felt bad for raising my voice, but geez come on, now I felt real bad. So I told him I was sorry too, and we would make sure when he goes in for his checkup next week we will try to figure out if there is anything we can do to keep him healthier. And try to figure out how we can help him get better organized with his assignments so next time I imply that it is the teachers fault I can be sure. Either way, there are solutions to these things, and it isn’t the end of the world, and hey, did I mention that I have the entire week off?!

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It is on this week! I get to return to gaming with a ‘vengeance’. First I will sneak in a practice game of Bloodbowl on Saturday and then start my league games on Monday. I am pretty excited to get to play. Then Wednesday I am planning on letting Jimmy invite some buddies over to play some Magic. So this week as a whole I get to dive back into my ‘geeky’ side.

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As I mentioned a few time I will be off next week so I might not post a whole lot. But I will try to get in at least one post to go over how the games went. And maybe post some pictures of various activities.