Parenting is All About Figuring it Out

It would be really easy if you could look in a book and learn all about how to be the best parent. You can’t, though. It would be great if children fit into some textbook mold so you can know what to expect. But they don’t. The reality is parenting is about the unexpected and walking around like you have no clue what’s going on most of the time, but are just really happy that everyone survived the day. Even if it did require a Deathwish french press coffee in the morning and only God knows how many other cups of instant caramel latte you consumed throughout the day.

I had my first child at 18. Imagine all of that insane wisdom that came with it for my friends in their future. When they mentioned a birth plan, I laughed. There is no planning it. There’s a “dream”; not a plan. I guarantee for the most part, nothing will go as planned. My birth plan at 18? Not to die in childbirth. I like to set the bar low. My birth plan at 29? Can’t say that it was much different. Just simply having a healthy baby and not dying in a pool of my own blood was sufficient enough. When I hear people start planning out their home birth, I do roll my eyes. I do judge. That’s great and all, but what about the unexpected? People need to learn to not be so rigid if they are going to have kids. Because the unexpected is your life now.

I have been very open about the differences between my oldest and my youngest. My youngest, who seems to be in an endless loop of observations and interventions. When he went to preschool for his IEP, I was happy that he was going to get the help that he needed. Or at least that first year, that they would be able to see that he needed speech therapy and set it up. They did. He got it for his second year of preschool. Then he satisfied his IEP and he went into Kindergarten with no plan. Aside from some anxiety issues, he didn’t do terribly in Kindergarten. For a kid who never spoke before 4, he was not only on par with his class in speech, he was exceeding some. He was a little “active” and had “attention” problems, but we all attributed them to his sensory disorder. It was fine.

Then at his parent teacher conference back in November, it was suggested that they do an occupational therapy evaluation on him because of some issues such as his handwriting and need for noise cancelling headphones in class. His teacher has been great. Eventually I finally got a letter a couple of months later. I was anxious to see what the results were. If they mailed it, that means they didn’t need to setup a meeting for an IEP, right? It turns out, it was a letter to inform me that there was more testing needed. It was stressful. When you have been dealing with evaluations for practically his whole life for various things, it does get into your head a little. It isn’t about me thinking he’s less than anything because of these interventions. It isn’t about what other kids will think of him. It’s all about wanting to do the best for your child. If he needs the help, I’m going to make sure that he gets what he needs. I want him to succeed. I want him to thrive. I just hate the waiting game, because that means you just sit around worrying until the results come in.

No one expects watching their young child go into surgery when they are planning out the nursery. No one expects struggling through evaluations when they feel that first kick. No one expects that they are going to agonize over every decision that they make because who knows what the repercussions are for their future. There is no greater responsibility in the world than being a parent. My best advice that I have ever given to any other parent is: “At the end of the day, as long as you did everything that you could to make sure everyone made it out alive, you did exactly what you were supposed to.” You can’t control what happens, but you can give them the best odds possible.

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The Overwatch League Season 2, Stage 1 Playoffs are Set! Who Made it and Other Interesting Boston Mentions.

For some reason, the other blog post didn’t post properly. But I can’t edit it or take it down. So this is the updated version.

As an Uprising fan, this weekend was especially important to me. Not only did Boston have their own fate in their hands in a must-win match that was preceded by some spice on both sides, there were other things that needed to happen for Boston to get a spot in the coveted “Top 8”. Jayne, being a little less spicy than normal, simply tweeted out “Good Morning to everyone but the Uprising”. (Something for which he would get toasted for later.) It was going to be a rough one, as rCk’s Sombra is beastly and aKm’s Zarya is far superior to Colourhex’s Zarya. (Notice, I still say “is”.) The ideal situation going into this match was a 4-0 for the Uprising, though a simple win would have been enough to keep them in it. (Spoiler: it wasn’t a 4-0)

For the first two maps of the Uprising/Fuel series, they were dominated by the Fuel. Sombra was still their weakness as was their Zarya play. AimGod and NotE could only really do so much to keep their team in it. Kellex was getting destroyed and Fusions was being the overly aggressive player that he is. And Colourhex was falling short in the Zarya match-up. Sombra was just tearing through the team. It was a rough few matches. As Boston fans, a group of fans who are notoriously superstitious, we tried to adjust. Maybe we weren’t wearing enough Uprising gear. Maybe we needed to put the rally cap on.

Then it happened. The reverse sweep came through. This team started to play together. AimGod was annihilating the Sombra and really anyone else who crossed his path. NotE was being cheeky and awesome despite his hilarious fat finger on King’s Row. Fusions was popping off. Even Colourhex, who I finally said he did awesome on Widow for the 2 seconds he was on Widow (Seriously, can we get the sniper meta now?) It was amazing to watch. They got their win over the Dallas Fuel and now it was the waiting game for Sunday’s matches.

Going into Sunday, to get in the playoffs all that the Boston Uprising needed was either Houston, Paris, or Vancouver to win. Just 1 of those teams needed to win. First, Paris was up then lost. Then Houston was up and in a heartbreaking match, lost. (Poor Dante and Muma though.) All that was left was the 6-0 Vancouver versus the Charge. Which not surprisingly, Vancouver won. We clinched our 8th seed, and to the playoffs we go. Where we will likely have to face the team that put us there first. It’s going to be a rough one.

Afterwards, I picked up Sideshow’s stream (which is completely fantastic) to see what was going on. Then I saw the hilarious Twitter exchange between Dante and a couple of the Uprising. (Which I think Colourhex’s spice was the winner there.) Which led an interesting but not really shocking discussion with former player Avast. While he didn’t comment on how much he got paid, Boston fans know that you don’t get paid the big bucks to play for these teams. It is very likely that they were paid just above the bare minimum (or more likely than not, at the bare minimum). What was interesting is what he had to say about his signing and what happened afterwards. He stated that he was basically told that Kellex was the starter and they didn’t believe in “subs”.

This statement alone shows why Colourhex stayed in despite his under-performance. They just stick to their starters and if they fail, they fail. That is a terrible terrible terrible approach. How many games would they have actually won had they been more flexible? Why would someone feel the need to get better as a player if there were no repercussions for a lackluster performance, such as someone else getting your spot. There’s no fear because as long as you have been anointed the “Starting 6”, you’re golden no matter how awful you’re doing. Maybe this approach should be reconsidered because it’s barely working for them.

The playoffs are going to be an uphill climb, but the Boston Uprising are in a “rebuilding” year. By that I mean, they only have 2 players from their main roster and a backup from last year. This is a new year and a new team that people once again counted out on the bottom of the rankings. Boston teams are comfortable as underdogs. We are a stubborn people. We are a determined people who like the challenge. I just hope that this team learns a little more flexibility otherwise they won’t be as successful in the big picture.

Overwatch League: Season 2, Stage 1, Week 4

As much as I really really want to dive right into discussing the Uprising’s match, holy cow at the Titans vs. Hunters match up. Myself, like a lot of other people, expected a trouncing but instead we got an insane match that was unbelievable to watch. The Hunters not only put up a fight, they forced the match into a tiebreaker map. They ultimately fell to the still undefeated Titans, but they made it an exciting battle to watch. If they had kept Baconjack in, they may have pulled off the upset. But the Titans are a strong team, so they should be proud of their performance.

Another interesting match was the one against the London Spitfire and the Shanghai Dragons. The fact that last year’s champions were defeated by the Dragons made me feel a little better about the Uprising loss to them. Interesting fact though: Dragons are currently 2-0 against my favorite teams. Maybe I’m the problem here. Diem was insane during the match, as was Gamsu. I was especially happy that Geguri got her first win on the big stage. It was a well-fought battle, but the Spitfire just didn’t bring it like they needed to. The Dragons are a completely different team this year and they should get a lot more respect. Now, if only they could beat NYXL. I’m dreaming, but it would be pretty sweet if they did.

The last match that I’m going to talk about is the Uprising match up. They needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. They needed a big win. After last week’s rough loss, they needed to come together and pick themselves up to learn from their mistakes. Fusions, was stellar as always. NotE is consistent and solid as is AimGod. Though, I think that NotE not getting the Player of the Match was insane. Yes, Fusions pulled off some great plays, but I feel as though D.Va players don’t get the credit that they deserve sometimes. He did his job. Everyone was solid, though I still really don’t like the choice of Colourhex on Zarya. Sure, he made some great plays. However, he’s mediocre at best. He’s inconsistent. He’s just not on the same level as the other Zarya’s in the league. I don’t know what they’re thinking, but Axxiom stepped up as Zarya and easily outperformed him. He seemed more consistent. I spent less time going “what was he thinking with that?!” when Axxiom was on Zarya. In HuK we trust? Colourhex needs to start performing a lot better, otherwise we are going to stay a weak team. Who knows when the meta is going to change, so we need to make sure we have a good Zarya to get us those wins.

A final note, trolling Bren like that was hilarious. It was hilarious every time I watched it. It was hilarious when Sideshow was dying of hysterics on his stream about it. It was the first Watchpoint Post-Game show that I was able to watch and I was not disappointed.

When You Get Into the Inner Layers

I admit, I look pretty together. People come to me for advice like I have a wealth of knowledge. I wouldn’t necessarily say I have knowledge. I have experience that I gained from really just winging it. Every bit of parenting “wisdom” that I have? There was no real knowledge behind those decisions. There was gut instinct and a crapshoot hoping that things would work out. Sometimes, I just get lucky. That’s really all life and even parenting is, right? Just a crapshoot where sometimes you get lucky, but most of the time you’re just hoping to break even. Even someone as seemingly chill as I am have complicated layers of breakdowns and anger problems, that fortunately (but unhealthily) I can keep in check by ignoring them. I’m really good at that.

But really, it’s those inner layers that we need to pay closer attention to. There’s a distinct difference between just getting by (on an emotional level) and living through the day. It’s that difference that impacts the mental health and suicide statistics. Some people just give up “just getting by”, if they were even fortunate enough to get to the “just getting by” point. There’s also the “barely waking up in the morning”. Of course, these aren’t proper “clinical” terms. These are the realistic terms. Mental health issues aren’t cut and dry because people aren’t.

Ignoring issues are great until you get to the meltdown. When my iPod died, wiped itself of my entire music collection, then wiping my computer of said music collection, I melted down. It wasn’t the fact that this product died, even though there is a sweet engraving on it from my husband, it was about the music that I could never get back. It was about my reliance on this to help me through my writing struggles. Whenever I had writer’s block or needed to focus on my edits, I’d pull out my trusty iPod and things would melt away. Whenever I felt down and was struggling emotionally, I put on my headphones and listened to the music as my problems just went away with it. My music is my therapy, my writing assistant, my workout coach, and it was a love of mine. And it went away. It seems dramatic, but it’s gone. CDs that are no longer in my possession through bad luck and other misfortunes are now gone. It may not have been the thing behind my meltdown, but what it was is something that could’ve helped me prevent the meltdown or pick myself up quicker when I hit the “funk”. But… it’s not there anymore.

Realistically, it was a crutch. Some people ease their issues with medications. I’m lucky where I was able to have this crutch to help me. Even on the “barely waking up in the morning” days. Sure, talking about things would be easier. But who has time for that? Plus, I’m a natural recluse. When I have a problem, my first instinct isn’t to reach out, it’s to curl in. It’s to write it out. Sometimes I throw it out afterwards, sometimes I keep it and make something of it. I’m pretty sure the meltdowns in “A Special Place for Noah” was definitely an accurate representation of that time in my life. I like channeling emotions, not discussing them. I’d like to think that’s what makes me good at what I do. I’d like to also think that’s what makes me a good friend.

I’m here for you. I’m here to listen to what you need to say. I think one of the biggest problems today is that there are a lot of people struggling but no one feels like there is someone that they can talk to. While I relish in that solace on my difficult days, other people can only thrive when one is willing to give up an ear (or their eyes) for just a few minutes. If you don’t have anyone else, I’m here. Sincerely.

Overwatch League: Season 2, Stage 1, Week 3

I wish that I could say that this was an exciting week, but there was really nothing too shocking as far as outcomes go. Fortunately on top of discussing some of the more interesting stories of the weekend, I can rant about everything that the Boston Uprising failed on during their truly disastrous match against the Defiant. So let’s get to it.

First of all, Dafran’s amazing grav play on Hollywood was spectacular. I’ve never seen anyone do that. I’ve never even considered trying it. Unfortunately, as Soe points out, now you are going to see everyone else try this when they can. Which will more likely than not fail rather than achieve the massive success Dafran saw with that move. That was real skill right there and should be evidence to any doubters that he belongs in the big leagues.

Then, there was the C9 that may cause everyone to refer to it as the “Shangnine” (Joke, courtesy of blasé) or just calling it the “Shanghai”. Why he would ever walk off the point like that is beyond everyone. Even the commentators had no clue what was going on when the “Round Complete” flashed on the screen. After a quick look, it was easy to see that Youngjin just walked off the payload, probably as a knee-jerk reaction to his dying teammate. Maybe he thought it capped. This was easily the most memorable moment of the week.

Another hot topic this week was the trash talk, specifically a focus on Dogman. In the mix was Neko’s constant trolling of the Uprising, using their sprays and kicking it, as well as his attempts to teabag Aimgod. A little competitive spirit is fine as long as it doesn’t get to a high level of toxicity. There’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed, but as long as it’s all in good fun there shouldn’t be any real issue with it. They wanted Overwatch to be similar to other professional sports leagues and the spice is all part of that.

Now it’s time to focus in on the Uprising matches. With Fusions back in their match against Seoul, Uprising had such a strong showing. Kellex and those boops were solid and Fusions was terrifyingly aggressive. I still wasn’t sold on Colourhex has Zarya, but he wasn’t too awful so I only complained about half the match about how Axxiom was better. They won against Seoul and found the momentum to keep the wins coming. That was until they faced off against former teammate Neko and the Toronto Defiant. The first 2 maps were rough going, but Uprising finally got a win on Anubis. Then they went to Rialto, where despite a strong few pushes they couldn’t quite pull out the win. It was a rough loss.

Colourhex was one of the biggest problems of the match. Ivy easily outperformed him in every way. This was most evident on Rialto where Ivy had 3 gravs before Colourhex even got one. He died early every fight in the entire match. It was a mess and I stand by the fact that Axxiom should have been in there as Zarya. But Brianne, he’s in there to flex as needed. Except when it was Rialto and he would’ve been more useful as Sombra and he ended up staying on his failed Zarya. NotE didn’t waste his ults; he likely just assumed that by the time Colourhex got his ult, that he would have enough self-destruct. NotE didn’t have the combos and just tossed his ult where it made the most sense to him. He did his job.

It was a mess. They didn’t adjust. They kept doing exactly the same. They did what they always do: stubbornly stay the same and hope the other team does something to fail. They are good at exploiting mistakes. They didn’t sub anyone in or out. They just kept hoping that something magically would click. It wouldn’t change because goats is so dependent on a good Zarya. I stand by what I said last week, almost. The starting six should be Fusions as MT, Axxiom as Zarya, NotE and blasé doing their thing, Aimgod as Zen, and Kellex as Lucio. That was their strongest showing. If you want flexibility, sub Colourhex in. But he has proven that he shouldn’t be the starting Zarya.

While stage playoffs might be out of the question, there’s still the bigger picture of the end of the year playoffs. Every match matters towards that, so Uprising really need to figure it out. Maybe they are hoping that come next patch, goats will be dead and they can thrive back as they did when dive was the meta. Maybe HuK is a genius and we should just trust him. But unless this team learns to adapt on the fly, they will not relive the success of last year.

When Getting Away Includes the Kids

My husband and I recently won a night away, our choice to take the kids or keep them home. Last year, we won the same trip and opted to go by ourselves. We learned a few things on that trip, our first away from our youngest on an overnight. (Our youngest is 6.) The first thing that we learned is that gambling really isn’t for us. We were more in awe of the food options and the pop culture store than anything else. We used our spending money as follows: about $50 on gambling and then the rest was spend on random junk food, treats for my parents who watched our kids, and the big chunk of money was spent on things to bring back to our kids.

We thought that the kids would enjoy the arcade and play area. Our oldest, who’s a swimmer, would love the pool. My husband, who doesn’t wake up early when he doesn’t have to, woke up at 9am so that we could hurry home to be back with the boys. We didn’t enjoy being away from them. The same thing happened on our honeymoon. We only spent a weekend away, because we missed our oldest. Vacations away aren’t fun to us. We look at the long game. You blink and suddenly they’re off to college. In just 2 years, our oldest will be potentially out of state in college. 2 years. A weekend away seems like too much especially when you’re that close to watching them leave the nest.

People think we’re strange. We get lectures about how we’re only weakening our relationship for not taking time to ourselves. That we couldn’t possibly have a close and strong relationship by only really going on a date night once or twice a year. But the thing is, every couple is different. Some people love going out, reliving their dating lives. Some people are homebodies that would rather be at home playing video games together or watching television together after the kids go to sleep. I always say that date night is every night in our house. I’m cheap and honestly, I don’t like people enough to be in a crowded room of them while I try to pretend that I’m not completely socially awkward.

I don’t need lectures about taking time for myself or time to ourselves to work on our relationship. Some couples need that and other’s don’t. I think when you’ve reached over a decade together and you still like each other and are still madly in love with each other, you don’t really need all of the extras. I need the little things, like surprise coffee during the day because he was driving around at work and just thought of me. I need little things like him surprising me with supper because he knew I was stressed or sick and he didn’t want me to have to cook and clean as well. He needs someone who lets him have that hot wing before bed even though we all know he’s going to complain all day about it. He needs someone that will let him play video games without harassing him about not paying attention. Luckily, I don’t require a lot of attention. In fact, I like the quiet.

So with the trip that we won this year, we are taking our kids with us. They are only going to be so little for so long. We have a strong foundation, a solid relationship, and we don’t want to miss out on experiences with them. We’d rather that than a night away where we keep talking about how we miss them or text our oldest to remind them both that we love them. Every couple is different and if they are working together, then there’s no need to judge. Their lives are not yours to have any say in.

Overwatch League Season 2: Stage 1, Week 2

It’s hard to believe that we have already reached week 2 in the 2nd season of the Overwatch League. While there were a lot of exciting matches, these matches seemed to be overlooked by a league technicality that allegedly a lot of people didn’t know about. Which wasn’t a problem when the Boston Uprising had a problem with it, but the minute other teams started complaining about it a discussion began to happen. More on this and other worthwhile mentions.

Goats seems to be killing a lot of previously solid teams. Houston, a team that shows they have a good DPS lineup seems to have its own struggles in this meta. While they won on Saturday against the Spark, they had struggled against NYXL. Such a passionate struggle that the talk of the game was the producer’s cut to Jake hitting the desk in frustration. To me, it’s no big deal. He’s a passionate player who takes his job seriously. Other teams should wish that they were so lucky to have such a dedicated player. Goats is only temporary, as was every other meta. Things change all the time as patches get released.

Another notable game that was hyped up this week was the Dallas Fuel/Philadelphia Fusion game. This occurred because Jayne, who’s honestly an Overwatch competitive genius, mentioned that Fusion had a “trash goats” comp. To which a “war” of words took place between Carpe and Jayne, with Carpe eventually saying “if they lose, it will be to trash goats”. Shockingly, they didn’t lose. Then Jayne got his last say and that was that.

Arguably the biggest event worth mentioning this week was Fusions of the Boston Uprising being deemed “ineligible to play” by the league as he was setting up on stage moments before the match against Shanghai. Due to his 2-way contract, he’s only allowed to play 2 games in a stage after competing in the most recent season of Overwatch League Contenders. This was a crucial match against the Shanghai Dragons, a team with former player Gamsu and who was hungry to break their 43-game losing streak. They wanted their first win and they got it against a disjointed Boston Uprising. After some shaky plays, awful comp decisions, and Sombra being their biggest weakness, the Uprising fell 3-1 against Shanghai. Shanghai got their first win with our beloved Gamsu as their main tank. This was a story that trended on Twitter. It was beautiful publicity for the Overwatch League.

While I don’t subscribe to the believe that the league did this just to get the publicity, it was an awful situation. Per league rules, the roster was submitted at least 2 hours prior to the match. But yet they didn’t inform the team of their main tank’s ineligibility until just minutes before the match began? That was a disaster that they could have avoided 2 hours earlier. Other teams, like the Philadelphia Fusion also seemed a little confused by this rule. Does this taint the Dragon’s first win? Yes and no. Yes if you believe that Shanghai had no chance of beating the Uprising, though realistically they did. DDing was a great Sombra. Even a mediocre Sombra would have torn Boston to shreds because they have no clue what to do about it. But Brianne, they needed a DPS player that could play Sombra. Then I would argue: what about one of our DPS, namely Colourhex? If they can drop our star D.Va onto a Reaper, then they could take our DPS and actually put him on DPS. But they didn’t. Yet again, they just let Sombra walk all over them.

What should Boston do moving forward? I liked their setup of Axxiom on Zarya, Fusions on MT (except his awful Winston), NotE on D.Va, blasé doing what he’s been doing, and Alemao on Lucio. I think this could be the best chance against Sombra. Alemao attracted attention for some solid plays against Sombra. I feel as though Colourhex wasn’t as strong of a Zarya as Axxiom was and I think that there was more synergy between him and Fusions than with Colourhex. Granted, we didn’t see Colourhex with Fusions, so this could be an unfair analysis. Still, I wasn’t impressed by Colourhex’s performance. Maybe he needs time, but I think Axxiom is a solid player that deserves to play.