Tag Archives: happiness

Momcraft: Moms Who Play Minecraft (and love it)

10 Aug

I was first introduced to Minecraft by a student.  “I built you a math stage!” he announced during a private tutoring session, “It’s a theater for you do to math in, because you love math so much!”

I will admit, when I first downloaded the game, merely to use as an educational and motivational tool, I was underwhelmed.  I just…chop down trees?  And dig for stuff?  How is this fun?

But as I used the game to teach arrays, fractions, and logic, curiosity got the better of me.  One night, after coming home from teaching, I opened the game and clicked on “survival mode.”  Instead of a plain world in which to build anything I wanted, I was plopped into the middle of the pixelated wilderness, with nothing but the clothes on my body.

Minecraft Spawn

That’s me. I get to be Supergirl in Minecraft. Oh, look! Pigs!

Minecraft is an open-ended survival game.  There are goals and challenges to complete.  Secret lairs and dungeons to discover, but you can just as easily spend your time farming and raising pigs or creating a herd of rainbow-dyed sheep.  So as I chopped down my first tree, the possibilities were endless.

After playing by myself for a while, I began to get lonely.  So I found Vikki, who became addicted to downloaded Minecraft after watching her son come down the stairs in tears after a particularly terrible gaming night.  Vikki and I met in front of a pumpkin patch on a private server I begged my husband to build, and it was almost as good as being with her in person.  To this day, there’s something wonderful about seeing her pixelated blue hoodie walk my way, knowing that my friend is practically within imaginary arm’s reach.

Together, we built a town.  We farmed and mined, creating something from nothing.  And slowly, other parents joined in on the fun.  We battled an incessant monster infestation, built fountains that resulted in our own drownings, and laughed at the arrows in each other’s butts.  Jessi explored, Lizz built a house (that I filled with chickens on her birthday), and Addye braved it outside the city walls.  We now have a hot tub, a diner, and an armory, along with sheep of every color, and a clubhouse to rival even the most exclusive.  And as of this week?  Momcraft even has a dad.

The town the moms built.

The town the moms built.

And though Vikki and I have graduated to a more public server (complete with a gold-based economy, stadium for games and shenanigans, and teenage players who can build circles around us), we long for the good ol’ days, where newbie parents battled the virtual elements together.  We have both found ourselves growing closer to our kids because of a shared love for the game, and I’m so grateful for both the fun and perspective Minecraft have provided.

As an educator?  I love the open-ended structure, the problem solving, the spacial reasoning, and the circuitry the game presents to players.  As a mom, I love that I have something I can play with my almost-six-year-old – not too violent and not too hard.  And as a gamer?  I love the fun.

Unless, of course, a creeper blows me up while I’m carrying 3 stacks of gold and the enchanted infinity bow I *just* made on my anvil.  Then, you’ll probably see me slam my laptop down in solidarity with all the 8-year-olds out there.  Like I said, perspective.

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Wanna join us?  Want to try the game out before deciding if it’s right for your kids?  Want to see why your children are screaming at the computer screen and have tears rolling down their cheeks because of a “zombie pig man?”  Come say hello in our closed Face Book group or leave a comment below!

I promise, you don’t need to know a thing to play.  You just need a computer, the game, and a username.  We’ll take care of the rest!

Momcraft Header

It Is Not A Hat

8 Aug

One, two, three.

Double.

One, two, three.

Double.

I count stitches until the rhythm takes over and intuition reigns,

knowing when to lift two loops over my hook in place of one.

Tiny twists capture wandering thoughts,

pulling them gently back to my hands.

In meditation,

string becomes stitches,

stitches become rows.

A form takes shape,

like clay on a potter’s wheel.

I am a machine

and I am not a machine.

It is a hat

and it is not a hat.

 

 

lambiehat

 

hat

Saying Goodbye

11 Jun

It used to happen every year.  We would gather on the sidewalk and wave as the children began their last bus ride home for the year.  Then we would meander to our classrooms, all looking a little bit lost, gathering up loose papers and little bits of broken pencils left under the coat hooks.  Thank goodness for our school counselor’s yearly ritual of singing “schooooool’s out for summer” over the loud speaker.  It was just the bit of levity I think we all needed to help us navigate that awkward place between joy and sorrow, relief and nostalgia.

As an elementary teacher, you spend 9 months entrenched in the academic and social lives of your students.  You struggle together.  You succeed together.  You form a bond that will never again exist.  When you really think about it, the exact combination of students and teachers will never share the same room again.  And no matter how welcome that fact might make the impending break, there’s a sadness about it, too.

I’ve been out of the public school classroom for 5 school years, now.  From my living room window, I’ve watched the first bus of the year pick up excited students carrying brand new backpacks and I’ve watched the last bus of the year bring home jubilant children.  And because I get to use my teaching chops workshopping piano solos and providing academic tutoring to private students, I haven’t found myself missing the classroom.  It’s the best of both worlds, staying at home and teaching.

And then this year, as my tutoring student handed me a thank you card, I fought back tears as I tried to find the words to tell him how proud I was of all his work; of how much I enjoyed working with him.  I was instantly transported back to those afternoons, standing in the center of an empty classroom, hoping the students I just sent into their summer knew how loved they were.

I realize now that I want more of that.  I don’t think I’ll find myself back in the public school classroom again.  But I’d like to take my academic tutoring from an occasional favor for friends of friends into something more.  Now I just have to figure out what.

In Defense of Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

Have I ever told you I worked at a Hallmark?  Three of them, to be precise.  They were great jobs.  Nice folks to work with, friendly customers, and the Martha Stewart in me never got tired of wrapping gifts and making balloon bouquets.  To this day, I still find it difficult to go down a card aisle in the grocery store without replacing misplaced cards and straightening envelopes.

Let me tell you a little insider secret.  Hallmark LOVES Valentine’s Day.  It really is a “Hallmark holiday.”  All those cards.  Those pointless little decorative gifts.  The overpriced candy.  What’s not to love about it if you’re a commercial enterprise focused on monetizing sentiment?

foam stickers + twigs from the yard = easy decorating

foam stickers + twigs from the yard = easy decorating

And still, I look forward to it every year.  Here’s why.

I know that ideally, the husband and I would take time each day to remind each other of our love.  And ideally, dishwasher-emptying and child-rearing would count as romantic gestures.  But being married with two small children means that sometimes you have to face reality, and the bottom line is that we rarely have time to make the other person feel special.  By putting romance on the calendar, we guarantee that it will happen.  It’s like scheduling sex.  Not ideal, but you gotta do what works to stay connected.

This February, the four-year-old and I put three small mailboxes (thank you, Target dollar section!) on the front table.  We’ve been leaving little love notes and trinkets for each other all month and though they’ve been small gestures, it’s meant the world to all of us.  The heart garland around the front door makes us all feel special and adds some FUN to our home.  And the husband and I had some nice, simple, romantic plans… until he and the kids contacted the flu this week anyway.

valentines mailboxes

So though I agree that holidays have become too commercial these days, and I know for sure that Hallmark loves Valentine’s Day, I say make it what you want.  Take the opportunity to slow down and say I love you to the friends and family in your life.

And if you want to make it even better, celebrate it on February 15th.  When all the candy is 50% off.  Nothing says “I love you” like discounted candy.  Seriously.

She Walks!

13 Dec

This one?  Is fearless.  Such a different little person from her big sister.

Quiet.  Easy-going.  And mobile.

Send wine.

— Email subscribers may need to click through for video. —

Almost One

29 Nov

Maybe it’s the mid-cycle hormones, or all the pictures of friends’ new babies, but I find myself craving that newborn smell and the way a teeny baby fits into the crook of my arm.  I haven’t forgotten how hard those first few months were, and I adore this age – all the amazing milestones, the personality, the new experiences that happen between 6 and 12 months –  but as No2’s first birthday quickly approaches, I find myself increasingly nostalgic for her first few days and weeks.

Our Less-Is-More Thanksgiving

25 Nov

I’m committed to less stress this holiday season.  Instead of filling up my calendar with a list of “shoulds” I’m choosing activities that will bring our family joy, and making the most out of each task.  No more over-scheduling myself and then wondering why the holidays are exhausting.

We started our Less-Is-More holiday this weekend with Thanksgiving at my parents’ home.  I contributed tubes of crescent rolls, a Sara Lee frozen pecan pie, and two adorable grandchildren. No stressful attempt at baking with one moody preschooler and one teething baby at my feet, and no equating my worth with how much food I brought along.  We arrived when we could and let my parents and my brother enjoy the kids while we snuck downstairs to play pool.  Dinner was whenever the turkey was done, and naps were whenever the kids got tired.  We spent the rest of the day relaxing on the couch, watching football and playing cars with the kids.  No expectations.  No grand plans.  No Black Friday shopping.

It was the best Thanksgiving I can remember since those of my childhood.

 

 

 

 

 

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful and full of family and love.

 

And then we got drunk and made an infomercial. . .

15 Sep

I feel like I should explain before I publish this video and share it with the internet and my future grandchildren.

Yesterday I went to Target for two things: storage bins and swiffer sweeping cloths.  I came back with kids’ scissors, construction paper, a dress, a clock, and an inflatable moose head.

I couldn’t help myself.  At first when I picked it up from the clearance shelf, I intended only to laugh at the ridiculousness of its existence.  Then I flipped the box over and read the back:

Decorating your home has never been so easy!  Simply inflate your moose head, then hang it up to instantly add character to any room.  Inflated moose head measures 30″H x 29″W x 24″D.  Made from durable vinyl, the moose head comes with a repair patch for any accidents and its own hang tab and string for quick and easy decorating.  Easy, inflatable, fun!  Wooden mount not included.

Since when was inflatable vinyl considered decorating?  I mean, I like a good animal carcass on the wall as much as the next girl, but I like mine good and dead.  Not plastic.  And it sure seems a little large.  But wait.  It comes with a repair patch? For inflatable moose head-related accidents?  Sold.

And then it jumped in my cart, rode home in my car, and sat on the table during dinner while my husband and I finished a bottle of wine.

This video is a result of that bottle of wine. And though I believe I might regret posting this, it’s just too silly not to share.

Enjoy.

Gifts of Imperfection – Introduction, Week 1

10 Sep

If you’ve read my about page, you know how much Brene Brown’s work has inspired me to live an authentic life – to be vulnerable and honest with myself and others.  After I saw her video (linked on the about page), I downloaded Gifts of Imperfection: Letting Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are to my Kindle and devoured it in a matter of days.

It was life-changing.

It allowed me to gently look at who I know myself to be and to examine why I was hiding my true self from others.  It taught me about the perils of shame.  And it pushed me to write my story.  This story.  My blog is the result of a giant leap of faith I took after completing the book.  Brene wrote about how vulnerability contributes to happiness – and so I told the world about my PPD.  Fearful of the reaction, I pressed the “publish” button.  I have never regretted that click.

So I’d like to share the book with you.  I started discussing it with my friends over at Mama’s Comfort Camp on Facebook, but feel like this might be a better place.  I’ll summarize a chapter each week and ask you to respond to a prompt to get us started.  You can join in at any time, and there is no deadline on a chapter.  I’ll add a Discuss tab to the menu bar so you can find the discussion easily.

Here’s where you can find a copy of the book.  And here is Brene’s blog, which is awesome.  She has a new book called Daring Greatly, which I can’t wait to read.  When I have time to read again, that is.  ;)

There’s a preface, but I’d like to start with the Introduction.  Ready?

Gifts of Imperfection, Introduction

The introduction is an overview of the entire book…a little of everything. Brene talks about her interpretation of Wholeheartedness and suggests that daily practice of courage, compassion, belonging, and being vulnerable can lead to already fulfilling life.

The sentence that resonated the most with me is on the first page: “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.” I want to get back to a place where I believe this about myself.  I measure the successfulness of my days by counting dishes in the sink and crumbs on the floor.  I calculate how much I depended on other people for help and feel guilty or “less than” for needing it.  I know I’m not alone in being my harshest critic, and I think that this idea of unconditional worth could be transformational for us all.

What was your immediate reaction to the sentence above?  What kind of emotions did it bring up for you?

What sentence/idea from this chapter resonated the most with you, and why?

 

Disclaimer: I purchased the book Gifts of Imperfection on my own and am not being compensated for my review of the book or for promoting it. I receive no kickback from any of the Amazon links provided above. I simply love the book and want to share.

Wordless Wednesday

29 Aug

Today I felt beautiful. Ever have days like that?
And just look at those girls.
Today was good.
I don’t get to say that often but today I can.
Maybe it’s the wine talking, but I might just be looking forward to tomorrow.

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