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.

On Saturday, I woke up around 10 am.  

That's sort of ridiculous for me.  I'm a habitual morning person.  I tend to pop awake around 5 most days, ready to take on the world.

I had a big list of plans: Make sure Missy was in good shape, slip out to the gym for an hour, go grocery shop, work on my side project.

Except for the first part, none of that happened.

I just sort of lay there, exhausted.

And, for a smart person, I can be incredibly dense sometimes.  I felt guilty about it.  I eventually got a shower, and came downstairs to lay on the couch next to Missy, and just be near her and not do anything.

I lamented aloud about how useless I was or some such and my sister-in-law, MB gently, lovingly gave me the what-for.  I'm paraphrasing here, but it was something like, "Uh, duh, Mako, you had like the worst day ever yesterday.  You're allowed to do nothing."


She was right.  So, I eased up and allowed myself permission to just take things slow.

About an hour later, the doorbell rang.  It was our girl Rachel.  And she had brought Peruvian rotisserie chicken.  Like, a lot of it.

That's a lot of chicken.

That's a lot of chicken.

And she stayed over, and helped take care of Missy, and me, too.

I was so very, very grateful for it.


AuthorMako Allen
Categories365 Gratitude

This one's sort of a double-shot.

So last night at dinner, I'm telling Missy and my sister-in-law, MB, what a crazy bunch of days I have ahead of me.  First of all tonight I am going to get a much-needed sleep study, for which I need a small suitcase, because taking one of our really big ones would be silly.  Then tomorrow I'm driving down to North Carolina to visit Maya and Shokolada, and spend the weekend with them, going to a cool Phillip Glass concert, and just spending time.

This means I'm not going to be home for like 5 days.

MB volunteers a suitcase of hers, and goes downstairs to get it for me.  Supertotal nice!

She wishes me safe travels and to have fun down in NC.

After Missy and I have game night with Squee and the kids over the internet, we head off to sleep, and I promptly forget to bring the suitcase upstairs.  

This morning, Missy hugs me, we cuddle a bit, and have this sweet tender moment where she tells me to be safe, have a good time, and be a good boy while I'm away.  I get in the shower, feeling all schmoopy and good over it.

Then I remember that I need to pack, and that the suitcase is still downstairs in the kitchen.

Except it's not.  Missy went and got it for me and brought it upstairs while I was showering, to make it easier on me.

Did I mention that Missy's having trouble with her knee, and that going up and down the stairs doesn't particularly feel good for her just now?

These sorts of little things (that are in fact, not little things at all) are some of the best parts of my life.

I love that my family supports me, in who I am, and what I do.  I love that they're there for me, and get me.  I recognize that I'm kind of an odd duck, not quite like most folks, in so many ways.  But it feels so damn good when the people who I'm the closest to see it and support it.  It's so nice to have family who have my back.




AuthorMako Allen
Categories365 Gratitude

So deep in my lizard brain, my big weakness is that I think I don't matter to people.  It's my kryptonite, the idea that when I'm no right with them, making them laugh or feel good, I'm invisible, and irrelevant.

I know, I know, it's nonsense.  

It's just the bad place my head goes sometimes because of stuff I went through growing up.

Anyhow, the 13th was, like it is every year, my birthday.  And this thing happened, which happens every year, which every time it does, makes me feel so damn good.  I got a flood of good wishes and thoughtful gestures.

On social media I got over 100 such nice wishes from people in various places.  My wife made me amazing home made soup for my birthday dinner.  My sister-in-law, MB gave me a huge canvas print of my favorite piece of art, he Great Wave Off Kanagawa,  

So beautiful

So beautiful

And my brother called me, and sang to me.

All of which are a giant punch-in-the-throat to that awful lizard voice.  Sometime in the next 12 months I'm gonna hear the lizard voice again.  But as I always do, I'll remember stuff like this, and tell it to shut itself right up.

I'm pretty lucky.


AuthorMako Allen
Categories365 Gratitude