Why we have children

Role playing in paradise
Role playing in paradise

When I was pregnant, I used to joke with people that we were having kids so that my husband would have a built in gaming group constantly available. Anyone who has ever been with my husband on a quiet evening and seen the glint in his eyes and he pulled out a dice bag and asked who was up for a Cthulu one shot knows that I wasn’t really kidding.

Still, kids have had more of a dampening than enhancing effect on our gaming life. Our weekly game has survived (the fourth kid has recently been added to the table in the person of a wee little boy born on Christmas Eve), but… well… let’s just say that Adam missed Gencon hotel reservation because he was picking up a sick kid. If anyone has an extra spot in a Gencon hotel let me know. He’ll only be there from midnight to 7 am.

But lately the kids have been getting old enough to do some real actual gaming. Grey is a full on reader, and pretty patient with games. What Thane lacks in literacy he makes up for in spacial reasoning genius. I refuse to play the game, but I bet he’d whup me in Ricochet Robot.

Adam has been playing games with the boys for years. He’s taught them to roll dice and simplified systems. He’s drawn maps and created compelling npcs with silly voices. Grey has played “Eric of the Golden Sword” for years. Thane calls his 1:! game with dad “Lord of the Rings” (it’s not).

On the plan to Cozumel – in which tropical island I currently find myself – Grey read a 7 page Fate rulebook. (Reading a rulebook cover to cover puts him one up on me…) And right now, on the front porch, Grey is running a game he’s been working on all day. There are puzzles and NPCs and monsters and props. Thane and Daddy are sitting with the GM, enjoying the story. Grey is doing a great job – I’ve played in worse games than he’s currently running.

Adam may not have been waiting for this QUITE his whole life. But he has been waiting for it all Grey’s life. Let the gaming begin.

Blogger/Reader conference

Last night was my first ever “Parent Teacher Conference” with my sons’ teachers. Grey’s held few surprises. His teacher hadn’t managed to peg his reading level, but stumped him on ‘refridgerator’. Since Grey self-reports well, it was nice but not groundbreaking. I was more curious about Thane’s. While he talks a ton for a not-quite-two-year-old, it doesn’t involve a very good answer to “How was your day?” (Thane’s reply: “BU CAR! BU CAR VROOM! Thane’s BU CAR! My turn!”) The funniest moment’s of Thane’s were the note that Thane does not accept correction. For example, he will misidentify a color “Bu Car!”. You will correct him, “No, that is actually a black car.” “No! BU! CAR!”. He will wear you down until you give up, and he will never admit that it was indeed a black car. This is SO TRUE.

Anyway, afterwards I had a phone conversation with my sister where I updated her on some of the stuff I’m doing, and she was surprised. How can anyone be surprised about my life? I have a blog, which OBVIOUSLY everyone reads with bated breath! (Or not…) So I thought I’d give you an update on what’s been going on with me lately.

1) I’m thinking about running a 5k. (My sister’s response “What, did you fall on your head recently?”) I’ve been working out more often than I have since, hmmm… well, maybe since the summer before my wedding? Or maybe since I managed to lose my baby weight from Grey (a feat I have not yet managed with Thane’s baby weight). Anyway, I’ve been doing this two mile loop, and I’m getting faster and better. Like after I’m done now, I feel good, instead of feeling like I just got out of the tumble dry cycle. And I don’t wish I was dead at the 1.2 mile mark any more. There’s a 5K in Melrose that Grey has been BEGGING to go to… and I think I might try it. Crazy, no?

2) We fixed stuff on the house. Four days of Mr. Handyman’s time and all our window sills are hardened, caulked, repaired and painted. So is the rotting wood on the porch I totally didn’t know about and the basement window cover that was caving in. My husband finally fixed the overhead light in the living room. (Seriously, remote controls for lights? I bet it sounds brilliant when you’re 70 but what a PITA when you have small children. And when you lose the remote, and your light mysteriously turns off, your husband spends his ENTIRE Columbus Day trying to figure it out to no avail. Then you finally go buy a new light fixture, because it is getting dark these days ya know. Then while your poor, put upon husband is taking down the old light fixture and putting up the new one, he finds the little bit of wiring that connected to the remote control you lost two years ago, and now the light works FINE. And you have the new one on your dining room table, but it doesn’t quite fit back in its box. But hey, LET THERE BE LIGHT.

But hey! Our window are no longer rotting! The porch has been structurally rescued from water damage! I won’t have a guilty pang at the basement window every time I walk past! And I have a light in my living room again!

Next up: bats in the attic. At least Mr. Handyman put up the bat house I bought, so I won’t feel quite so horrible evicting them.

3) I got a promotion at work. I’m now a Business Analyst. I’m actually very excited about this, since it is really what I’ve been trying to articulate as the perfect job for me for the last several years. Who knew there was a job title (if a generic sounding one) that means that?! And like books and certification and stuff. I mean, it’s almost like a real job! I like my new boss. I like my new job description. There’s still tons of uncertainty during the reoganization, but my brain is fully engaged at work, and I like it. (I’m also pictured in this year’s benefits package. The picture tells me I badly need a new haircut.)

4) My husband has talked me into doing a solo-player RPG. He let me pick the system, so we’re playing Pendragon. I think it’ll be a lot of fun — I’ve never played a generational game before. He’s been reading this blog non-stop in his free time, which has inspired him greatly. (He says I shouldn’t read it because it’s spoilery.)

In related news, I’m trying an MMORP (LOTR) for the first time with a fellow gamer-parent. Because I need to have fun, that’s why. How bad could it be? I mean, MMORPGs aren’t addictive, right? Right? (If this paragraph didn’t make any sense to you at all, don’t worry. Go read this and feel comforted.)

5) I’ve started wearing makeup. Woooooo. OK, this is actually more of a big deal than you might think. Given #3, and another significant number (32), I have decided it’s time to figure out what level of makeup I can live with every day. That’s the danger of makeup. You start to get used to seeing yourself like that, and then it’s hard NOT to wear it or you look bad. And given #1, I will often have to apply said makeup twice a day. But I think I’ve gotten it to a level I’m comfortable with and I think it does help me look more grownup.

6) Possibly in rebellion to #5, I’ve decided to start liking football this year. You may not think that’s how it’s done… who DECIDES they’re going to like something? But that’s exactly what I did with baseball and it turned out wonderfully, thankyouverymuch. So you may now feel free to invite me to your football watching parties because I’m game. I’ll cheer with the best of them when the Patriots get their first downs, and marvel at their tight ends, and, um, stuff. OK, so maybe I still have a lot to learn….

So that’s what’s up with me. What’s up with you?

My husband turns 33

I spend most of my family-blogging words on my sons. There are several reasons for this. For one thing, they tend to say and do funnier things than, say, the cats. Also, they will not correct me if I apply selective editing to tighten up the tales of their goofballery. Finally, they do not claim that just because I was an English major, I am not permitted to use words in whatever way I deem fit. Like goofballery. So generally they make easier targets for writing about than, say, my husband.

However, my SONS are not turning 33 today, so I will risk grammatical corrections and the fact my that my target will actually read what I write to tell you about my husband.

First if all, he’s 33 today.

Which is divisible by 11, in case you’re curious.

Give me the camera
Give me the camera

My husband claims that before he met me, he was innocent of sin. He did not know what the “Snooze” button on the alarm clock did. Long before he met me, however, he was deeply immersed in the world of the RPG – Role Playing Games. He spent his childhood reading supplements and devising fantastic adventures with intricate maps and completely consistent world-views. When he grew to adulthood, he put aside such childish things in order to focus on more mature pursuits: rules systems. He wrote several of his own and has an entire bookcase of rules systems, which he’s generally read cover to cover. I remember he once turned to me and said, “Brenda, I think I’ve actually read everything on the internet about these games.” Granted, that was when the internet was a smaller infinity, but still.

I mention role-playing first because when I think about what makes my husband who he is, it’s right up there. But that’s hardly comprehensive.

Adam loves delving deeply into arcane problems. He’s currently being tempted, non-ironically, by a book called “Growing Object-Oriented Software, Guided By Tests”. He used to complain that no one would ever play obscure gaming systems with him. Now he complains that he doesn’t get to do test-driven agile programming. Previous deep-drinking has included medieval sociology (where he’s more knowledgeable than I) and aikido texts.

His #1 repetitive complaint is that he doesn’t have a photographic memory and can’t remember everything he’s read.

Adam and sons
Adam and sons

This might make him sound like a distant academic. He’s nothing like that. I love, love watching him with our sons. He’ll cook with Grey and hold one-sided cooing conversations with Thane. While I was watching baseball, Adam was sending pitches across the back yard to Grey. There is a lot of tickling, chasing and zombie-noises when the boys are all home.

If you’re met Adam, you were probably dazzled by his smile. He has a great smile, which always includes his eyes. I don’t think he knows how to fake-smile.

His dazzling smile
His dazzling smile

He makes an amazing chocolate cake.

Adam is an optimizer. He’s always looking for ways to make things better; for the most efficient and most logical way of doing things. Once he arrives at what he thinks is an optimal solution, he’s happy to stick with it until and unless data presents itself that there is a better solution. I love variety. I’ll go out one way and come back another only because they are different. This boggles his mind.

He listens to techno when he programs.

His body is composed of 60% pretzels, 30% iced tea and 10% trace elements.

He mixes three cereals in the morning in order to arrive at the optimum combination of texture and taste.

Adam loves songs. He has a beautiful warm tenor and he’s not afraid to use it. He specializes in Celtic/Irish songs and folk ballads. When we were in Saudi Arabia and Washington State (you do not want to KNOW about our phone bills that summer), he used to sing me “Road Go Ever Ever On”. I thought he was an English major when I met him, because he quoted Kipling and Byron at me until I was bedazzled. I never stopped being bedazzled.

His actual degree was in Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology — but he hated Chemistry.

He has an astonishing ability to fall without hurting himself. Usually he hurts himself doing things that you couldn’t possibly think you could hurt yourself doing, like walking down the hall.

He reminds me to pray.

He is a remarkable husband. He supports me when I choose to do something, advocates for my needs when I subsume them, compliments me even when I feel unlovely, never fails to look me in the eyes and tell me he loves me, and holds my hand as often as he can.

This is the 14th time we’ve celebrated together on his birthday. The first time I got him a wax dragon candle thingy.

I could run through a thousand more bullet points and still fail to capture just who he is. He is my husband and I love him.

How I will always see my husband
How I will always see my husband

PS – Watch this space for the comment from him with corrections or clarifications! ;-)