Category Archives: Family
Annual Blog Post
Well, looks like it’s about that time. Haha. I don’t post once a year here on purpose, it just sorta happens that way. It’s truly remarkable how fast the time goes. I remember adults lamenting about how fast time passes when I was a kid. To “enjoy it while it lasts”. It always felt kinda bitter in context when I’d hear it, but I suppose I’ve gained the perspective to understand it a little bit better. And if anything “enjoy it while it lasts” is sound advice no matter where you are in life.
It’s nuts to think that Lucas is only a year away from Middle School. He’s only a few short years away from getting his learner’s permit. There’s going to be so much change in the next few years in his life, and I’m really looking forward to soaking up every little moment along the way. He and his friends are starting to talk more about “who likes who” sort of stuff now. It’s fun to listen to him talk about it. It’s such an innocent/not innocent take. He was telling me a story about playing truth or dare on the bus. There was an awkward moment building up and it just happened to time out that the bus got to the bus stop and he just proclaimed to everyone, “I’m outta here! And I was off like a shot.” he said.
He’s pretty forthcoming and honest. Like he’ll admit that he uses “bad words” around his friends. And I don’t come down too hard on him other than saying, “If you know they’re bad you know those words can get you in trouble. And getting in trouble over a word is pretty dumb.” To which he’ll say, “Good point.” Haha. What a guy.
Emma has hit a freaking growth spurt! All of a sudden none of her pants fit anymore! I swear it was just a week or two a go they were all too big. She’s just about to turn 5 here in a couple weeks, and some of her 5T stuff, is just too small. She’s been scarfing up everything in sight. A pretty stark contrast to not that long ago when it was a high level negotiation to get her to eat anything at all.
I love the way her brain works. She loves everyone, everyone loves her. She’s insanely curious about the world, and super sharp and observant. One of my favorite moments is picking her up from daycare and taking her to pre-school. We have about a 30 minute drive every weekday and it’s so fun to pick her brain while she munches on the lunch I packed for her. (She’s the only kid I know that will eat the entire crust off her PBJ FIRST and then eat the rest of it)
We’ve gone over the last year and a half or so from counting and “What do cows eat?”, to talking about Ninja Turtles, how to bake, how the north wind is cold, and the south wind is hot, why turkeys aren’t chickens, and a very thorough analysis of Emma’s family tree, past, present, and future according to her.
I’m so happy I got to have both a boy and a girl. It’s so wild to see what kinds of things each gravitate to. Emma definitely draws more pictures of “friends, pets, unicorns, etc”, where as Lucas at that age was all about cars and tanks. He still is! Is it a boy girl thing? Did I subconsciously influence them? They are definitely their own unique complex humans for sure. They have their own big dreams, wants and desires, just like I do. And the time really does fly. Trying not to take any moment for granted.
This spring has been really pretty good. I’m settling into life a little bit now. The first school year after my divorce wasn’t “hard” as so many situations weren’t stressful because “you just have to do it” there wasn’t any choice to it. I liken it to changing diapers. Changing someone else’s kids diapers is a hard pass. But when it’s your own kids, you just kinda have to roll up your sleeves and get in there because no one is going to do it for you. Finding childcare, balancing work and home, staying up on projects and chores. It was just something that wasn’t going to take care of itself, so I just got in there.
The kids were gone most of last summer, and it gave me a chance to put some focus back on work and my new position. While the timing was good for that, when the kids came back for this school year, I really found myself off balance. Projects ground to a halt, I had a hard time keeping up on the house, the kids felt like they were in constant need. I was really searching myself to try and figure out what changed.
Looking back I think I was just expecting too much from myself. I was trying to squeeze too much family, too much work, too much everything else, into too little time. Still today I find a lot of my days booked, or scheduled out, or filled with stuff more minutes than not. But I’m getting more realistic about what I can and can’t do with that time. I was having a conversation with someone at work that I put on my calendar “Print document for Patrick”. That didn’t seem like something you should have to put on a calendar, but if I didn’t budget the time for it, it just wouldn’t get done. So I’ve really been putting almost everything on the calendar. I haven’t gone as far as “do the dishes”, however, if it’s something that’s really been nagging at me for a while to get done, I will absolutely put it on the calendar no matter how mundane it is so that I don’t end up spending that time somewhere else with something else. It’s really improved my mental health quite a bit.
And this spring has given me a lot to look forward to. I feel like I just sorta “made it through” the last year or so. But this spring I’m really starting to build towards the things I really want to do. I got the JetSkis sold. Those were just a big bulky thing sitting in my yard reminding me every day that they served no purpose in my life right now. They are gone. I just had one ugly loveseat in my family room, and now I’ve got a big ol couch and comfy recliner down there, along with a foosball table that Luke and I can throw down with at any moment. Luke has his own ATV now that we can all go out and ride together with. The van and the truck are both running great and I can hop in either of them and go anywhere without the stress they could explode.
I’ve really been enjoying the YouTube thing as a hobby. It’s been fun to watch it slowly grow from nothing. It’s still tiny, but it’s cool to put something out there and get feedback on it, most of it positive. Haha.
There’s just this feeling of optimism that seems like I’m gaining some momentum and it feels good. Today I’m going to enjoy a nice day outside finishing up the ground work in the yard and get some grass planted. By next weekend I’m going to have to mow, and I always look forward to time spent on the Ride King.
Summer is coming which means the kids will be out of school and my schedule will be changing a bit again. I’m sure that will come with another period of adjustment. But we’ll see how it goes! With Andrea back in Great Bend, the kids won’t be gone all summer like last time, something I’m looking forward to quite a bit.
I’ve been actually writing a lot, but it’s stuff that never makes it to the blog. Every time I check in here, I always tell myself that I want to do this more often, and I certainly don’t want to commit to that right now. But this has become a pretty remarkable archive of my life. One that I’m thankful exists and deserves that I continue to contribute to in some way. But for today, this is it.
The State of Things
I am in my zone. For whatever reason I feel like a lot of stuff has been coming together. Yeah sure there’s a lot out of place, but nothing that I feel like is out of control. We’ve had a tree fall on our house, well a big part of one. A flood. ATV problems. Car problems. Budget problems. But all that seems like stuff that we can knock out just given enough time. All the imporant stuff is great.
Emma is growing so fast now. Every day she is picking up new words and phrases, she is starting to be able to communicate. It’s a little bit of a relief. Every stage is a lot of fun with kids, but communication sure makes the job of parent easier in a lot of ways. She wants to be involved in everything, absolutely everything. Yesterday I was going to run out to the shop real quick to get some tools for the basement, and she absolutely would not stand for letting me go alone. She had to tag a long and see what’s up. And then she followed me down to the basement and took some screwdrivers and went around touching it to various things and promptly exclaiming “I did it!”. Then she grabbed the hammer and put a couple new dents in the walls before I could notice…. oh well. It’s all getting rebuilt anyway! At least I have an expert in demolition on my team.
Luke is in 2nd grade. That’s incredible. I hope he’s enjoying growing up. From about 3rd until 5th grade I remember having the time of my life. He’s a smart kid but takes a little pushing to get going. But it’s so cool when he wants to learn about something and gets totally into it. For the longest time he was all about Titanic. It was Titanic everything. Right now he’s getting into games and stuff. I had my first parent scratching my head at a video game moment when he wanted to play Robox. I had just assumed it was a Minecraft knockoff. But when I started to read about it… I was way off. If anything it seems more like “Second Life” for kids. People can create these different scenarios that you can play and partake in. And that means that people can create ANYTHING, and the internet being the internet… it’s not all wholesome, even if it is wrapped in this kid themed playground. So we locked down his permissions. He can’t chat with anybody, he can only play approved scenarios. But you know, he’s 8 years old. He’s a good kid, but at 8, you still trust pretty much everybody.
Andrea and I got to go on a little impromptu trip together a couple of weeks ago. The kids went to stay with Andrea’s sister, and we decided we were just going to go hop in the Jeep, camp at Wilson then drive. We had the top off the Jeep and got a bunch of sun on day one. I myself got a little crispy. I think Andrea did okay though. It was hot as balls at Wilson Lake. Not bad in the shade, but there wasn’t hardly a tree big enough to catch any. We ended up spending time sitting on the ground in the shade of the Jeep drinking all the water we brought with us.
After that it was fun just to explore the countryside. We generally stayed off the highways. We found the Geographic Center of the United States completely by accident. Just little stuff like that. Exploring, being together, wind in your hair sorta thing. It was a good time, but I think we both also appreciated home when we got there.
And on the homefront the basement is the big looming project. It feels really daunting to be honest. We are still doing de-construction and clean up. There’s so many little things, and I want to make sure all the mold is as dead as I can get it. I know mold can always come back if it gets wet down there again. But I just don’t want mold to find a way to start going again under normal circumstances. It doesn’t smell all musty down there anymore, which is a good thing. I think we’ll get to the point here in a couple of weeks that we can start hanging sheetrock again. We want to build some shelving into the walls for the media stuff while were at it. Kind of like the bookshelves under the stairs. I guess it will go quicker if we don’t have to be careful this time! Haha.
But where’s all the money for it come from? Well, we have some savings, but we’re pretty good about earmarking our dollars and what they are saved for. We have some money saved up for an insurance deductible. We think we can use that and take some from a few of our other goals to get this done. I’m planning on doing all of it ourselves, except for the carpet. I love learning new skills, but carpet is a job that doesn’t look fun, or sound fun, and if I mess it up, I’ve wasted a lot of expensive carpet.
So that is the current state of things. A little off balance it feels. But excited to have the projects that we do. Now I just need to get cracking on all of it instead of playing Rocket League and Octopath Traveler in the evenings… but those are goals too!
I told you. I told you in the last post. Be careful what you wish for. I was so excited to get the last of the floor wrapped up, the Jeep put back together and be done with projects for a while. Then what happens?
The biggest flood since 1993. So more projects! Yay. All things considered, we didn’t get it that bad. Sooo many people around us got it so much worse. We didn’t have any of the nasty floodwater come into our home, but we did get lots and lots of crystal clear ground water bubbling up through any nook or cranny in the basement.
It started on Friday. It’d been raining for probably 2 weeks at this point and the flood was already forecast. At the beginning, it was just some wet spots in the carpet. By the end, the whole floor was drenched.
So gutting the carpet and dry wall quickly became a project on necessity. It took a few days, but with Andrea’s help, we got everything moved out of the basement. All the wet stuff cut out, and loaded up on the trailer. Later today I get to make a run to the landfill… if it doesn’t rain.
I’ve never experienced a flood first hand before. And I think my town has to be the absolute best place to have to go through such a thing. We live in a very small community, so everyone was pitching in, helping each other out. Checking on each other.
Once all the sandbags were stacked, everyone as prepared as you could be for such a thing, there was just this errie calm that fell over the town. Up and down the streets, everyone was just sitting out on their porch, waiting for it to roll in. What else can you do? There was an attitude of indifference about it all no matter who you talked to. So we fell in line, pulled up some chairs, and waited.
For Luke especially, this was an event I wanted him to see and take in. There’s not a ton of stuff a person remembers when you’re seven or eight years old, but this is something that I bet he will remember for the rest of his life.
It’s going to take some time, but we’ll be fine. It’s been about a week and water is still coming into the house. Our sump pump keeps pumping it out non stop… after it runs across the floor of course. So it’s not like our basement is filled with water. All the mold friendly spaces have been cut out. So now, we just wait.
The stress hasn’t got too me too much… the only annoying thing is having half of our belongings stacked up in the garage taking up space. Well that and all the water in my basement. But 6 months or so from now, we’ll be back to normal. This is just temporary, and will definitely be an experience we’ll never forget.
So far… so good.
I had mentioned in the previous post that one of the things I really want to get back to is creating things. Making things. And thus far in 2019 I’m off to a pretty good start. We built some under the stair shelves that turned out pretty great. Not necessarily perfect, but I’m more than satisfied given the talent and tools that I had available.
Overall since the holidays have wrapped up, I’ve been in a pretty good place mentally. It’s so easy to stop and think about all the things you want to do, or want to have, then get sad that you don’t have them, or convince yourself that you’ve made the wrong choices to get where you are. I think that’s a little short sighted.
Problem is that line of thinking has no end. It’s a game with no way to win. For example. I want to build and make things, I also want to spend time with my family and have fun watching the kids grow up. I want to fix up and restore the black car and the Jeep. I want to play more games and get through some of them that I really enjoy. I want to go see family more. I want to ride ATVs. I want to play D&D more. I want to go on vacations. I want to study Spanish. I want to stay home.
Choosing to do any one of those things, takes away from all of the others. It’s the opportunity cost of making your choice. Everything you choose to do comes at the cost of whatever else you COULD have done instead. But I refuse to feel bad about these choices. Because the option to do ALL of them was never an option at all. You are only one person that can be in one place at a time. To be disappointed that you can’t be everywhere with unlimited resources at all times is something silly to be upset about.
I’m putting my best effort into being thankful for the opportunities that I have to do any number of things. To not be resentful of the experiences that I couldn’t have, but rather to be grateful for those that I did.
Not a long blog this time around. Just a couple pictures of running around last night. Andrea was stuck working, and Luke had put on his calendar over the weekend that today was the day to go to the park. So we loaded up for a little cruise into town and decided to take the back roads.
Andrea had just washed a ton of mud off the Jeep from a muddy ride we took together on Saturday. And we happened to hit a couple small puddles on our way into town. Don’t worry, I cleaned up my mess, haha.
The park was PACKED. Was a bit refreshing to see. People say kids don’t play outside anymore, but there was no shortage of all ages this evening. Little itty bity babies, litter than Emma. All the way up to the jerk teenagers. Saw one kid tackle a girl to steal her Takis. A kid three or four years older than Luke took great pleasure in out running Lucas all over the playground playing “tag”. I didn’t mind though. Luke went out pretty early.
Kids can sure be jerks though. And it’s a little tough to explain why to Lucas sometimes, because I really don’t know. Heck usually the kids don’t know why they are mean. One boy called Lucas a baby. Luke was fairly concerned because he knew he wasn’t a baby, and it was important to him that this other kid knew that. But the other boy was just trying to rile Luke up. Instead of getting upset, Luke just followed this kid around the playground for about 10 minutes explaining how, objectively, he was not infact, a baby. Haha.
Is it Spring Yet?
So since the last post, we’ve finally found some time to work on the ATVs…. my parents took the kids for a weekend, and Andrea and I did what I’m sure all free parents do, spend some time working in the shop together! Haha. At times we even felt a little bit guilty enjoying our temporary “freedom”.
Out of the three ATVs we own, only one ran. With it being really too cold to ride, winter is supposedly a good time to work on them. But man is it so hard with young kids. Luke is getting old enough that he could actually be helpful, but I struggle with getting him interested. He’s on board for a hot minute, then he’s begging to go do something else. I don’t want to force the kid. I mean, heck it might just not be his thing. But at six years old, do you even have a “thing” yet? I just don’t want him to end up hating it I guess.
Emma for sure is less than interested unless she can hold it and stick it in her mouth. That’s probably appropriate though when you’re nine months old. However with Andrea being full time Mom all day, I like to come home and kinda take over as caretaker at least until the kids go to bed. Give her a little bit of a breather and some sanity. So I feel super guilty even when she encourages me to go work on… well anything outside of the house.
After bed times are finally over it’s about 9PM. I look at the clock, think about some of the other things I want to do, play a game, watch a show, actually have an adult conversation with my wife… then I usually convince myself that there’s not even really enough time to get started on anything, and end up doing mostly nothing. Then I feel pretty disgusted with myself all around.
So it was nice that Andrea and I both were able to be out there working together. She was able to change the engine and transmission oil on her Honda. I finally finished putting back together the engine on the Arctic Cat, and much to my surprise, it actually started and ran! I think I have a few more adjustments to make on the clutch, but it drives! We got more done in one day than we have so far all winter!
That’s not to say I don’t love my children, I most definitely do! I was so happy to see them when they got back. It’s just that everything takes a lot longer. It’s hard to look at your list of things and not get discouraged with yourself, or feel “lazy” when in reality, you’ve HAVE been busy, doing OTHER important things. I keep telling Andrea that there will be a day in the not incredibly distant future where we will wish they were coming to us more, wanting to jabber and jabber for ever, wanting to play with us, and trusting that we can fix all the problems in the world. The challenge for now is to appreciate it. And I think probably also later, to not pretend that it was all only beautiful and without its own challenge and sacrifice.
It’s hard, being a parent, finding a balance between your identity and “parent”. But I think in the words of Jimmy Dugan, “The hard is what makes it great”.
Where’d Summer Go?
Man, time really does fly. I was talking to Mom last night and realized I haven’t been back out to Cimarron since June and here it is September. It doesn’t seem like that much time has passed, and I couldn’t really tell you exactly what’s been taking up all that time between then and now.
Luke is growing and changing every day it seems like. He’s really gotten into Hot Wheels cars. We all have around the house I guess. Andrea has been cataloging them all on the Hot Wheels website, I’ll even find myself in the store alone looking for cars he doesn’t have. Getting harder and harder to do!
We have a lot of that orange track, and Luke got one of those big tower launchers for his birthday, so we set it up and have a lot of fun drag racing them, or setting up a course to run them through and seeing which cars make it the farthest. Luke gets so into it. It’s serious business to him and he has a blast. Andrea has a hard time because sometimes she comes up with rules (like the car that finishes first wins) and Luke isn’t so much about following anyone else’s rules but his own (which change on a whim). But playing with cars is always a fun time for all of us no matter what.
I’ve been playing some games. Mostly Mario Kart 8 and Guild Wars 2. I haven’t written much about Mario Kart 8 here yet. A lot of what I feel about the game is an echo of what I’ve already written about for Mario Kart 7. The two games are VERY similar. The biggest difference being the amount of detail in the graphics for Mario Kart 8. It is an absolutely beautiful game. Oh, and I finally got my Royal Raceway re-make. =)
I played some Mario Kart 64 last night before I went to bed, it was a bit alarming how I had gotten used to the way the new game plays and took some getting used to to get back into the swing of things on Mario Kart 64. I wasn’t breaking any records, but the old N64 stuff comes back to the top pretty quickly.
I’ve slacked off a bit in completing FFX-HD. I’m quite close to the end, I need to just power through. But I’ve gotten to a stage where I’ve been power leveling up my characters a bit so there hasn’t been a lot of action and I need to come back and push forward in the story. Then on to play FFX-2-HD. A game I haven’t played since I beat it the first time. I’m probably more excited to replay that one than the first!
And I’m finally closing in on the completion of my personal story in Guild Wars 2. It’s only taken 2 years… After that there’s still a ton of content to play. It’s a fun game and there is still so much to explore and see, when I have like 6 solid hours to kill on a Saturday, it’s a great way to soak that up, but that just doesn’t happen as much as I wish it would!
So that’s a very vague update. I’m getting a new phone this week which will be nice because I’ll be able to take some more spontaneous photos and use twitter more often. It’s just an exercise in frustration with my current phone. And those pictures are always great for enhancing the blog posts here, so I’m looking forward to that a lot!
But for now, lunch break over and back to work!
My Grandpa Frank passed away last week. We rushed up to Topeka after hearing he was going into emergency heart surgery. Unfortunately we got the call about 30 minutes away that he didn’t make it.
I spent a good amount of time between then and now thinking about the time I got to spend with him. I’m blessed to have so many great memories with him from when I was just a little kid, all the way to seeing him be GREAT Grandpa for my son.
Walking around his farm this past week was so eerie. Do you have any place in the world where you go and feel completely safe and comfortable? That has always been the farm for me. For me it’s always been a place where nothing bad happens. But now you look around at so many things Grandpa touched or built and it was difficult to imagine that he wasn’t coming back. There was a wrench laying next to his generator that he used to take the battery off and put it on the charger just days earlier. He didn’t even put the wrench away, because I’m sure he thought he would just be back to put it back on anyway. We placed it back on the wall where it hung with the rest of the set… just little things like that got me all week long. So many signs that made it look like he’d be right back.
As a kid we would visit the farm all the time. We would come back every summer for sure for Vacation Bible School. Grandpa would take me over to Seneca sometimes for coffee with the guys, and that really made me feel like a grown up, even if I was only six or seven years old.
When birthdays would roll around, it was Grandpa Frank’s duty to give out the spankin’s. One for each year and of course… one to grow on. It was an event filled with laughter, but grandpa’s spankin’s weren’t exactly pain free either!
He would always be out doing chores while I played outside with some of Dad’s old toys or swung on the swing. He would putt by on one of his tractors and I never really gave much thought to what he was actually doing, other than “his chores”. I rode with him one day to go check on some cattle and we stopped by a bush on the pasture and picked berries and ate them right off the bush.
Grandpa Frank always enjoyed playing games with my sister and me. Though he was ruthless. One of our favorites was croquet. We’d set all the wickets up next to the house and if Grandpa got the chance, he’d knock your ball clean out of the yard. Then he would laugh heartily. If you tried to do the same to him he would declare, “Hey! That’s dirty croquet!” At the time I thought he was just provoking me, and don’t get me wrong, Grandpa always enjoyed beating you. But the thing was, if you gave Grandpa the opportunity to beat you, he would take it every time. So eventually you learn to play whatever game you happen to be playing with him in a way, that you didn’t give him a chance to win. And he made you better.
I can think of endless other stories as I write this. The part that makes me proud though, is that to me: he was Grandpa. But Frank Althouse was so much more than a grandpa. He made an impact on so many people besides myself. Whether as a husband, a father, or a friend. He was more than even I got to know. And I think that’s pretty special to think that that great man was my Grandpa.
Slip Slide’n By Himself!
Last week and this week we’ve been doing swimming lessons with Luke. The goal isn’t to get a 2 year old to swim, but more so get them comfortable around water and be safe. But today he actually got to swim in the “deep” end by himself with a floaty kick stick (with mom right next to him) and he got to go down the water slide all by himself! What a big boy!
A Day Out With Thomas
What an awesome day! My Mom got Luke and us all tickets to A Day Out With Thomas for this past weekend. Luke is huge into trains, and most prominently, Thomas the Tank Engine. Little Guy could watch the same ones over and over again for hours. We have fun playing with all his little toy trains and making them talk to each other. But this event really brought it all to life.
I didn’t really know what to expect. If anything I figured it would be kinda like a “car show” for trains, with Thomas being the centerpiece. Well Thomas was the centerpiece, but there was so much more to do that walk around and look at trains. There were fire trucks there, a petting zoo, inflatables to play on, great food (for kids and grown-ups), toys and entertainment for all the kids. I was really impressed by it all. We spent about 5 hours there and Luke never was bored and cried when we had to leave.
It couldn’t have been any cooler. Thomas took a 5 car train for a 25 minute ride which was basically down a stretch of track and back. But we made it a point to get in line early so we could sit RIGHT BY THOMAS. We waited in line for probably 45 minutes before our departure time, but it was completely worth it. Luke was at the front of the train as close as you could possibly get while Thomas was pulling us down the track. I feel like if it were me, I would have felt a little disappointed if I was way in the back where you couldn’t even see him. We had fun pretending to talk to Thomas and just taking in the ride.
I really enjoyed it too. Everything was just so neat and perfectly set up for kids Luke’s age. There were a bunch of tables with toy trains for them to play with, temporary tattoos and lots of little freebies. He even got a whistle that sounds just like Thomas’s whistle from the show. I don’t remember anything this cool and authentic when I was a kid aside from maybe, Disney Land. And it was cool seeing Luke get to soak it all up.
So thanks to Mom for the tickets, and to Andrea’s sister Michelle and her family for letting us crash at their place just a short drive from the event. It was worth it in so many ways!