I didn't draw this - and it's not the right number of kids, but it's got the general idea right.  My poly family is a family!

I didn't draw this - and it's not the right number of kids, but it's got the general idea right.  My poly family is a family!

This past weekend was a big deal.  My girlfriend Alissa (Squee) and her kids came to visit us for Easter, and to be a part of Missy's confirmation at church.  

There's so much to say about it all, I almost don't know where to begin.  

First off, there was the way even the prospect of the visit swept us all up in excitement and planning, at both our houses.  There were discussions about the best and most viable ways to travel (via a rented car), and schedule (travel all day Thursday and Monday), and time off (Friday for Missy and myself.)

And then the easter-bunnitizing.  Missy, Alissa, and I spent a whole bunch of time talking about ways to celebrate Easter.  We wanted stuff for the kids to enjoy, that wasn't all about getting stuff, but still let them really immerse themselves.  It involved a whole bunch of discussions about things that work well for them, and things that don't.  

Sparkly egg is sparkly

Sparkly egg is sparkly

We really made a family project out of it.  Missy and Marybeth shopped for days, looking for the right Easter Basket stuff, and for eggs for the egg hunt.  Me, I'm very-not-obvious about encouraging the kids to co-operate, not compete, so I searched for a way to make the egg hunt into a shared thing.

Here's what I ultimately came up with.  Missy got a bunch of sparkly, shiny empty plastic eggs.  I filled with a series of puzzle messages in a hidden code, based on a cipher key.  I also hid pieces of the cipher in other eggs.  The messages looked kind of like this:

If you really want to figure this out, do a search for the "pigpen cipher", and you'll be able to.

If you really want to figure this out, do a search for the "pigpen cipher", and you'll be able to.

Originally the message-puzzle was going to lead the kids to a hidden stash of pumpkin hand-pies I made for them.  And while I did in fact make them a bunch of those things (which they are all absolutely mad for), I had the better idea of having them search for the presents that were originally going to go in their easter baskets.  (Because scheduling, and food freshness, and the VERY HARD TASK of sneaking around three children to hide things.  You think linear algebra or organic chemistry is hard? It's piffle next to hiding presents from children.)

The special presents that were originally going to go in said easter baskets weren't super expensive things, just thoughtful ones.  Each had meaning to each kid because of inside jokes, games we play together as a family, or special interests they have.

We also looked for a super fun thing to do.  We ended up going to this escape room thing about an hour north of where we live.  It was hilariously awesome.  There was a fair amount of family-wrangling involved in our trying to get there for Friday, and we sort of blew it, because of holiday traffic.  But we made it work for us.  We wandered around the touristy town we were going to go to in the first place, having a great meal out, and just sort of wandering.

The next day, Alissa and the kids and I went back there, while Missy went to a confirmation rehearsal.  We got there totally early which was awesome.  All of the kids (and both grownups) were totally excited to get to do this thing.  Things have a way of working out.  Not only did we solve all the puzzles and escape the room, we did it with eight whole minutes to spare.

That's because we're a smart family.

That whole we-can-solve-puzzles-thing totally came back as an awesome "this is who we are" moment on Sunday morning, when the kids woke up, came downstairs, found their baskets and then the first sparkly egg.  S., the youngest cracked open the egg, saw a coded message and said, "Oh this is just like the escape room.  We can totally do this."  

Then all four grownups watched, delighted as the three kids tore through that egg hunt in short order.  L. the oldest, was sharp-eyed, and saw each egg before either of his sisters, and gently, lovingly, and bluntly-not-obviously gave them verbal clues to help them find them, like "I'm so on the fence about where the next one might be."

He's a great kid.  I love him so much.

Soon they had them all assembled, and put their heads together, and worked out the whole thing in minutes.  It was honestly, utterly and totally badass impressive.  

That sort of family co-operative thing was very much at play all weekend long.  We cooked meals together, set and cleaned the table together.  We supported one another, both when we were all together (like for meal times, or Missy's confirmation), and when we split off into groups.

Part of both that splitting off process and the larger group stuff was bonding.

Missy and Marybeth got girl-time with the girls, braiding hair.

Missy and Alissa spent quiet time together, cuddling and watching Moana.

Alissa and Marybeth got bonding time talking together about shared-life-experience stuff.  

Missy read stories to the kids at night, from The Great Brain books which she loves so much.

The kids and I did that co-op thing big time, playing this awesome silly videogame called Overcooked.

Yang even "helped" some with that.

Yang even "helped" some with that.

And there was plenty of alone-time and intimacy, too.  Alissa and I have a big rule that's super important to us, that when we're together, I don't dress or undress myself.  That's for her to do. We kept to it, too.  I goofed it a few times, and got spanked for it, too.  I was in diapers for bed every night, also.  And we made time for the intimacy with one another that we crave so much.

That wasn't weird or shoehorned in, either.  It fit organically into everything we did.  There was always at least one grownup looking out for, and utterly enjoying time with the kids. 

One of the highlights of the whole weekend was playing some of the games we play together across the internet together in our living room.  We played some QuipLash, and some drawful.

At one point, E., the oldest daughter drew this:



But I ventured the guess "accidental fart poops", which made pretty much everyone collapse in laughter.  

We all smiled at one another, basking in the warm glow of how very much we all love one another.

Because we're a family.

So, this morning Missy and I got up to go meet a woman at a flea market who was giving us a good deal on a dining room table, and chairs.  Afterward, we went for a sensible breakfast, and came home.  Missy had something she had to go do, and I had work to do on my side-business/software prototype, Project Drummond.

I'm in the midst of doing so, up to my elbows in javascript, when a reminder pops up on my computer, to pay some bills.

I dismissed it and kept going, but it kept bugging me.  Which is what it's supposed to do.  Eventually, I gave in, and went to the website for the power company, and paid the bill.  I repeated the same thing for our water bill, and our trash pickup.

I didn't even have to glance at my bank balance to make sure I had enough to pay them all.  I have it.  Lately, I'm on top of things financially to a degree I haven't been in a while.  I regularly save money, I don't buy too much silly bullshit I don't need (although some, because there's some joy in that).  

And when I was done, I turned back to working on my side-business.  That's when the unmistakable truth hit me full-on, right in my face.

I'm a grownup.

This was followed, about a minute later, by a residual tremor.

And I like it.

Feels kind of good.


AuthorMako Allen
Categories365 Gratitude

I was telling my friend Moliére last night that I'm feeling particularly blessed lately.  My relationships are great with my partners, things are going well at my day job, I've got not one but two side projects going, one I'm actively working on now, and the other I've got plans in the works to begin writing code for this summer.

All this activity and goodness does come with a price: I'm really busy.  I don't watch much television these days, take rare breaks for the occasional video game, and I have to watch my time management like a hawk.

It's not a code problem.. it's an opportunity to learn to do it better.

It's not a code problem.. it's an opportunity to learn to do it better.

Case in point:  So this morning I'm working on the prototype for my business, which I just decided I will call Project Drummond here in the blog.  I started working around 7:30, and felt my creative juices really kick in about 15 minutes later.  I begin creating a new javascript library, refactor a function I used on a previous page to be more flexible, create a new controller action, realize I need to customize a modal before I can proceed further, and begin doing that, and then.. WHAM.

I realize I'm basically out of time to keep going this morning.  Why?

Here's the scoop - I can't not do this, if I want to be able to sit.

Here's the scoop - I can't not do this, if I want to be able to sit.

Well, first of all, one of my household chores is to clean my cats litter box every single day.  It keeps them happy and healthy, makes the downstairs/guest/cat bathroom a pleasant room to be in, and prevents the dreaded "angry-cat-potty-elsewhere non-accident."   I typically do that just before I get out the door.

I let that go some the past few days, and got a right hard spanking for it, which I well deserved.

Sitting in traffic is total shit.

Sitting in traffic is total shit.

Second, while I'm fortunate that my day job is pretty flexible about my time, and lets me set my own schedule, work variable days, blah blah blah, there's still this other shit I have to deal with: traffic.  It's pretty bad around here, and if I don't want it to eat my day, I have to get on the road, really, no later than 9:30am to have a decently scheduled day.

As I was lamenting this first-world-not-a-terrible-problem problem of mine, I got a nice big gratitude epiphany, like a lightning bolt.  These are wonderful problems to have.  I have to juggle taking care of my delightful cats, living up to the responsibilities my loving and discipline minded Mommy and Aunty set for me, so I can have the energy to go to my really terrific job, while balancing the work of my very promising side business.

It's not like I'm crawling on my hands and knees over broken glass for thirty miles to get a dixie cup of water to bring back to the village, so they can water our one remaining Yak.  

Yes, dealing with shit like litter (actual shit), and traffic (shitty), and time being a finite quantity (shitty truth) are difficult, but they're great difficulties to have.

I'm grateful.

AuthorMako Allen
Categories365 Gratitude

This past weekend I was at a conference in Baltimore.  I actually went to college there, got my first real job there, and lots of other big life firsts.

One of those big firsts was discovering the BDSM scene.  I joined the Phoenix Society, a local play and education group.

Phoenix was a HUGE part of my life.  I used to basically live there on weekends. I threw myself into trying new things with vigor and wild abandon. My first night there, the educational session was about spanking. They needed a demo bottom. I volunteered, and minutes later jumped out of my clothes and onto a stage in front of about 30 people. 

They used to call me "slut boy", because I seemed to be up for anything.

After a year or so there, I even volunteered to be their membership chair. And I started to host a munch of sorts for people going to the party at the club on any given Saturday to have dinner together.

I called it the "Pre-Beating Meeting Seating for Eating."

Phoenix is long gone, vanished into the dust of memory.  However, the very funky, ageplay friendly restaurant where we held the PBMSFE, that's still there.


It's called the Paper Moon Diner. I took my good friend Moliére there for breakfast on Saturday, because we had an errand nearby to do.  

It was like stepping back in time. I remember when the 'moon was brand-new. The same crazy, bohemian vibe is still there. There's a huge collection of pez dispensers on one wall. Toys hang from the ceiling. The place has vegetarian options, and foodie sensibilities.  

We ordered our breakfast and when it came it was as good as ever. My brioche French toast came with only one side, but the very best kind: dozens of memories. 

I texted my old friend Nullmoniker, who used to go there with me all the time, and we savored the shared memories even as I told some of them to Moliére. 

Sometimes I forget that my life is rich with history. It's good to get these reminders.  


AuthorMako Allen