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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

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How do you take my favorite Easter treat and make it even better?  Dip it in chocolate of course!

Courtesy of the wife, this year for Easter I got chocolate dipped Peeps.  Yum.

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Introducing Aria Grace, the newest member of my family and the reason I have not blogged for almost a month (well, that’s my excuse anyways).

She is actually 4 weeks old as of today!  Born at 6 lbs 9 oz, she had some jaundice issues and dropped a lot of weight early going, going down to only 5 lbs 12 oz.  Kind of freaked us out because both our previous babies were well over 8 lbs.  Thankfully she’s doing great now and is gaining weight at a steady pace.

Another future gaming partner?  We shall see… right now it’s more of a game of “try to figure out why the baby is crying this time”.

 

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Had kind of a humorous conversation with my wife (who is 8 months pregnant) the other day while driving home from the store with our 4 year old and 2 year old being annoyingly noisy in the back seat of our minivan.  The conversation started with “So, why did we have kids again?”

I jokingly say that we had our first kid because we were bored, our second kid because we didn’t want to have an only child, and we aren’t exactly sure why we are having a 3rd kid.  There is some truth to all this, though; we were sort of bored 1 1/2 years into marriage when we decided to have Sienna, and we definitely didn’t want to have an only child so we were always going to try to have at least 2.  It’s hard to say why exactly we are having a 3rd kid other than we love family and the richness of relationships between children within healthy families.

Certainly I believe children are a blessing, but I also believe children (like marriage) help to keep selfishness in check.  Nothing against people who choose to remain unmarried, or couples who choose not to have children, but I have definitely noticed that people who lack these sort of family commitments can easily trend toward selfishness.  When no one is competing for your time or money it’s natural to spend it all on yourself and your own interests, which over time can become a lifestyle pattern that is difficult to depart.  Not that there aren’t plenty of exceptions to this but it’s certainly something I’ve seen in a lot of people and something I can easily see happening in myself had I chosen a life that didn’t include marriage and family.  So the wife and kids help constantly give me a reason to look beyond myself and my own needs and desires in order to sacrifice my time and resources to help meet their needs and desires.  It’s a costly cycle but one that I have no doubt is making me into a better person than I otherwise might be.  As a quote from one of my favorite pastors goes, “guys are like pickup trucks; they run better with a load”.

So how does this apply to gaming?  (Because this is, after all, a gaming blog…)  It means the amount of time I have to sink into games is pretty low right now, and with a 3rd kid on the way it is about to become even more limited than it has been.  This in turn means that the focus of gaming for me will continue to revolve around games that can be played in small groups or solitaire in short sessions and still provide a rewarding experience.  When I do get a chance to game the time window is usually quite small.  It also means that I will continue to have a minimal presence in computer gaming, particularly MMOs of which EVE is central.  Though this isn’t completely a bad thing as I am frightened at how much EVE Online I would play if I had more time for it.

Of course, in a sense having children is a sort of long-term gaming investment.  The idea is that eventually if my kids end up growing up to be gamers (to my wife’s horror) I will have a few new very accessible gaming buddies.  Family gaming is something I have very fond memories of growing up, particularly playing wargames with my dad, so I see this as something to hope that my kids can someday enjoy.  With boardgaming going through something of a renaissance right now I think there is a strong possibility for boardgaming to become a more substantial sub-culture than it already is by the time my kids get older, something that I think would in general be good for society.

In the meantime I am gearing up to change dirty diapers and spoon babyfood at the expense of time spent gaming, but I recognize this is just a season of life to be appreciated for what it is and that future seasons may include family boardgame nights where I can enjoy teaching my children some my favorite games from my collection.

Sorry to wax all philosophical on you guys there.

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My mom got my wife and I a package to take our kids to Great Wolf Lodge which we finally cashed in earlier this week.  Indoor waterparks are pretty awesome to begin with, but an indoor waterpark in the Puget Sound area with its notoriously bad weather is basically a cash cow.  And trust me, they know.

We read a ton of reviews before going trying to discern what it would be like, particularly for a family with real young kids, but the stories were all over the place so it was hard to put together a full picture.  So we booked 2 nights and hoped for the best.

On the positive side, the waterpark itself was pretty cool.  It featured 4 large waterslides, a couple medium slides, a wave pool, an activity pool targeted at older kids, and a decently large kiddy pool.  There is quite a bit to do in the waterpark for younger kids along with a few other activities elsewhere in the lodge to fill in the gaps.  Magiquest, in particular, looked like it could suck many hours and most everyone I saw doing it looked like they were having a good time though paying for multiple kids to play could easily cost a small fortune.  They also have an ingenious wristband microchip system where your wristband counts as your room key and your waterpark pass, meaning you never have to worry about losing it or leaving it behind as its always on your arm.  The in-lodge dining wasn’t bad, I thought, though fairly pricey.

On the negative side, I found the water to be slightly cold, despite the warm air in the park.  But our main problem was that our kids were just too young and/or too wimpy to do much in the waterpark.  My 3 year old daughter was too afraid to attempt even some of the more mundane kiddy pool slides, although she did enjoy the wave pool and spent many hours in there.  She was technically tall enough to go down all but the largest slides but just had no interest, she’s too cautious.  My 1 year old son would usually be in a good mood till he got splashed in the face and would then pout for a while.  Overall I think they both had fun at times but it was interspersed between bouts of panic attacks and general unhappiness related to splashing or spraying water.  Bottom line is, if you have kids 3 or younger there are things for them to do there but I would only take them if I was also taking older kids as well or if they are exceptionally adventurous.  Though I did get some sweet pictures of my daughter crying by the side of the kiddy pool that will probably be priceless when she’s a teenager.

The rooms are ok as long as your expectations aren’t too high.  They are decently large and well furnished but the beds and bedding are poor quality; I think they know parents are there for the kids so they can scrimp on the accommodations for parents and get away with it.  As for the prices, pretty much every single thing is overpriced by a fair margin from the rooms to the dining to the gift shop.

I would say overall we had a good time, and thanks the package from my mom we made off without too large of a hit to the wallet despite staying 2 nights and eating several meals there.  However, I would put off visiting again till my kids get more outgoing about this sort of thing.

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Thoughts on Turning 30

Well, I’m 30 today.  I’ve been mentally preparing for this day for a couple months now.  Whether or not 30 is considered “old” seems to depend on who you talk to; to high school students, 30 would seem incredibly old.  To the other engineers in their 50s and 60s that I work with, many of whom have children around my age, 30 is still very young.  I can’t decide for myself but I know one thing:  30 means I have definitively left “youth” behind.  As long as I was in my 20s, I felt like I could still consider myself in the period of youth, but no more.

30 seems like one of those ages where you take stock of your life.  Now if you were to have asked me when I was, say, 16, where I would want to be when I was 30 I probably would have answered married to a beautiful woman who I love, raising a family, working a good job, living comfortably, and involved in a good church.  All of those are true and on top of that I have the blessing of living in the town I consider home and being near much of my family including my parents.

So while I may have left youth behind, I have a lot to look forward to and I consider myself singularly blessed.

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On the occasion of my wife’s 27th birthday today, I’d just like to say how thankful I am for her patience and understanding when it comes to my gaming hobby. Heather has been gracious so many times in allowing me to set up lengthy gaming sessions at our house, or take off for an evening to game somewhere else. With two small kids at home, time for computer games and boardgames is a lot more limited and having Heather’s understanding makes such a huge difference. I met some girls in college who were very anti-gaming, viewing it as a waste of time and a harmful and unproductive hobby, so I understand how truly lucky I am.

The truth is, Heather is quite the gamer herself; she’s dabbled in various computer games for a while, including a lot of Sims and Civilization. But from the day when I brought Warcraft home and installed it and she looked over my shoulder and asked “what’s this?” she was hooked. She’s been playing WoW faithfully for over 3 years now on a pretty hardcore level. She’s also willing to play a lot of lighter boardgames in groups, and though we don’t play a lot of 1v1 games anymore we’ve done some of that in the past as well.

Having a spouse that understands and even shares your hobbies is a huge blessing and I try not to take it for granted.

Happy Birthday Heather, I love you!

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