But mercy is above this sceptered sway. It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings
Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I
As a parent, I normally take great pride in my children’s accomplishments. I’m pretty sure it’s a written rule somewhere in The Parenting Handbook…which was buried centuries ago on Oak Island. But I’m competitive too, and that’s not always a good thing. Especially when those accomplishments overlap. I’m pretty sure there’s also something in that handbook about being a gracious loser, and I am. Or at least I try really hard to be. We all have our moments of parenting fails, and that’s when we have to admit our mistakes and trust our kids are gracious with us.
Don’t worry – I’m not writing about a parenting fail. At least, not right now.
It’s no secret I like video games. The
obsession interest took shape just before Big Guy moved out. He got me hooked on Guitar Hero. And since his Xbox 360 went with him, he conspired with Hubby to give me my very own. I’ve wasted hours of my life since.
Unlike Little Guy, I’m not obsessed with earning all the trophies and racing through the levels. I try to enjoy the journey. Until I get stuck and force one of my kids to get me over the hump. I’ve helped them through a few too, but at an ever decreasing rate. Worse, I’m at a higher level than both of them, but can’t seem to kill it quite the same way. And the algorithm groups me with players who are levels below me.
It can be frustrating!
In the Summer, after a particularly brutal game of Monopoly, I felt conflicted, so I wrestled through this question: When did my kids get better at everything than me (leaving me feeling like a washed up loser who is ready to sit in a senior centre and weave baskets while singing Kum Ba Ya)?
An aging gamer, Theo Karasavvas described gaming in his younger days as “breathing…then all of a sudden, after thousands of hours spent playing across genres and platforms, boredom hit me hard for the first time”. He assumed he need only find a different game to stimulate his interest once again. He also blamed more responsibilities and stress in life for ruining his appetite. But is his reasoning completely accurate?
Sure, our appetites changes as we grow older, but (sometimes sadly) so do other things. Like our priorities, our sense of accomplishment changes too. High scores pale compared to a lower body mass index, especially as muffins tops sprout exponentially with every decade.
The desire to compete also decreases with age. The core gaming market targets 18-30 year olds. Many of the first-person shooter-style games, like my favorites, Halo & Overwatch, take time to develop skills. Older gamers simply don’t want to invest that amount of time, and prefer slower-paced, or solo games.
And who can forget that our bodies and brains are slowing down with every passing birthday! We tend to buy into the lie that we can’t keep up with our younger counterparts and our struggles become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Sometimes we can’t keep up, but gaming continue to have benefits as we age. There are a number of reasons why I play video games. And as long as my kids don’t mind if I sometimes slow them down, I’m going to keep playing. This “senior gamer” prefers to call it – leveling up!
All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. – John Gunther
Few women dislike flowers, and carnations are one flower that is readily available and certainly affordable, even in winter. The symbolism of a carnation include fascination, distinction, love, whether from the love of a sweetheart or the undying love of a mother.
This white teacup, edged with gold and frilly light and dark pink carnations, belonged to my Grandmother. It is Royal Vale bone china made in England.Based on some research, it can be dated pre-1950.
Royal Vale bone china began as the Colclough China Company in Longton, Stoke-On-Trent, Staffordshire, England. The founder, former Mayor Herbert Joseph Colclough, received a prestigious royal license from King George V and Queen Mary in 1913. His vision was to make fine bone china affordable for ordinary people who had wanted to be like the aristocracy.
The Royal Vale bone china mark was purchased by Pearsons, bought Colclough’s of Longton, including the Royal license. In the 1950’s, Pearsons purchased several other companies, including Ridgway who had Royal Licenses from Queen Victoria, and Royal Albert, Paragon and Royal Crown Derby.
In 1964, the company was split the company in half, retaining Booths and Colclough‘s, and along with it the Royal Vale mark, but effectively selling off the Ridgway/Adderley to Josiah Wedgwood.
There are two distinct phases of production and backstamps. The original Royal Vale production was based at the Longton Vale Potteries from 1913 onwards. The second, or post-war period under the Ridgway label lasted until 1964. Finally, in 1972, Pearson purchased Royal Doulton, but de-merged the brand in 1993.
Every day of your life is a special occasion. -Thomas S. Monson
Mondays never seem like a particularly special occasion, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make the effort. We’re worth it – Happy Monday!
It wasn’t supposed to end this way. In the first round, I had purchased a number of key properties, including Boardwalk. A few more rounds and I owned 3 railroads, both Get Out of Jail Free cards, and both utilities. A few more rounds after that, I added Park Place and completed 2 more sets. With the exception of the community chest and one railroad, I owned the entire left side of the board. I was rolling in dough with 15 properties to my name, while Little Guy had a mere 6 and a small wad of cash, mostly pink and white. I could hear the frustration in his voice, the half-hearted attempt at lightheartedness, and my Mama Mode kicked in. In the end, it was my fatal flaw. I didn’t purchase the red property he needed to complete his set. “Thanks Mom”, he sighed. It had seemed so genuine.
And then he went in for the kill.
Every parent hopes their kids gain some wisdom from our patient explanations (while our blood pressure secretly skyrockets), and our oft long-winded anecdotal life lessons. We teach them to play fair, take turns, and consider the other person. But we also don’t want them to be doormats. We want them to learn to stand up for themselves, and to participate in healthy competition. Winning and losing builds character. Apparently somewhere along the way, Little Guy’s character learned to like winning.
There was nothing particularly untoward in his behaviour, save a few smart-alecky remarks as his eyes sparkled and he licked his lips with glee…or perhaps I was just imagining that. But there were things he did that I hope he wouldn’t do in real life. He took scary chances. We all play it too safe sometimes and we regret not taking a risk (another game I lost this week). But as soon as he obtained cash, he invested it in houses and hotels. He held nothing back, and at least once, went into debt. To me – Mrs. I-own-the-best-properties! And I let him because, well…Mama mode! Even after he bought the property I needed to finish a set and yes, I reminded him how I had been gracious in not buying the property he needed. He actually took delight in exploiting my grand gesture. Which makes me start to wonder what did he learn from me…?
The issue really isn’t that he built a row of hotels on the property I graciously didn’t buy and he bankrupted me, while I did the responsible things like not going to jail, and modestly investing in and improving those lots with affordable housing and making sure I had money to cover my debts. It’s an issue, but not the central one. (I lost everything!)
The issue is this – When did my kids get better at everything than me (leaving me feeling like a washed up loser who is ready to sit in a senior centre and weave baskets while singing Kum Ba Ya)?
I have come to expect that they will excel at activities that require strength and endurance, like cartwheels or running long distances without losing their breath and quite possibly, their lunch. I can almost accept that their eye-hand coordination means they will excel at first person video games, or they can catch a ball without looking like a total spazz…while missing it. Of course that’s going to happen. But I have unknowingly believed that my 45 years of life experience would garner some respect and some advantage in, let’s say, intellectual aspirations. Managing money? Glory be, yes! I’ve had to balance a cheque book, pay student loans, refinance a mortgage, and a bunch of other incredibly boring adulting stuff involving math and coin.
I was mistaken. Horribly mistaken.
Still, my Mama Mode kicked in and I made a decision, one that ended in my tears, instead of Little Guy’s tears. My hope has always been that my boys would grow into caring, confident, independent men, and I see their strength and drive, and ability to do more than one push-up at a time, as something to celebrate, even as I start to tune my vocal cords for kum ba ya. So while I may have lost at Monopoly this week (and Risk), in a frustrating and catastrophic manner, maybe I haven’t really lost at all.
Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands. – Anne Frank
This week, Son #2 and I took some time from our busy schedule (mostly video games) to take in a few hours on the course…the mini golf course. In the dark.
Together, we compiled a list of “life lessons” drawn from our experiences, that we would like to share:
We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
6. Engage. In Healthy Competition. Healthy competition means pushing yourself and pushing others, to do their best. It does not mean obliterating their soul beside Hole #12, just because they kept bouncing off the concrete wall, and you aced it first try.
7. Control. Don’t let the scorecard dictate your behaviour. You can choose to be a cheerful winner or a gracious loser…or a such a grouchy loser that no one will want to play with you again. Ever. Not because you’re that good…but because you’re that bad!
8. Stay. On the course. When you whack the ball so hard you end up “under water” or you get “lost in the dark”, the game drags on. You won’t achieve your goals. You might even trip and get hurt on the way back. Or run over that little kid with the green glowing arm bracelet and the loud voice. (which did not happen, by the way – it’s an analogy).
9. Relax. There will always be someone who is bigger, brighter or better at scoring under par. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have something to contribute. It doesn’t mean that you suck. It just means it’s someone else’s turn to shine. Let them
10. Laugh and Play. Life is hard. No one can deny it. Whether you are facing a monstrous whale of a problem, or just a glow-in-the-dark one, remember to take time to laugh and play, and enjoy the journey. Every obstacle shapes who you will become, and how you will impact others. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with others. Be silly.
If you keep playing the game, you will eventually reach Hole #18. Make sure you reach it with your dignity intact, your friendship strengthened, and your smile spreading from ear to ear.
Then, go out for ice cream.
Dolly Parton, in 9 to 5, was a secretary with huge assets. Donna from Suits was a secretary with a can opener. Even the assistant in Dilbert has a crossbow. So what’s my “secretary with a …”?
This week we discovered that it could be… Secretary with an Axe!
I went from being the worst in the pack at the beginning…regularly missing the target completely, or bouncing it off the wooden cookie…to fighting my way through 3 grueling rounds in the winning Round 2 of “The Championship”!
Not only did I get a bullseye…in the course of the afternoon, I got 10! Only 2 were in a row.
I won a t-shirt, which I wore the very next. It sparked a conversation with some construction workers at Tim’s that made me laugh. Never underestimate short people!
It required focus and a great desire to just have fun! One more thing to knock off my Mid-Life Crisis list! Secretary with an Axe. It does have a ring to it, doesn’t it?
That’s right…tonight is Halo Night, probably the last one for a few months.
My oldest son scolded me earlier this month because I didn’t do “H is for Halo”. It’s his fault that I’m playing it now. It was a forbidden game in our house when he was much younger. I cited the usual…addiction to violence, inability to separate fantasy and reality, dangers to physical health, blah, blah… I tried playing it once, maybe 6 years ago. The controls were confusing. Actually, figuring out how to look around was confusing. It went like this:
“Nope, mom, that’s the sky. Look down. Too far, that’s your feet. Ok, now just…nope. You’re dead!”
I don’t know how he talked me into trying it ever again. But we did…together. I learned some things about myself as I learned to defend the universe. I’ve been criticized for playing, told I need to “grow up”, but I believe part of growing up is discovering who you are, finding what you like to do, and not letting anyone steal your joy. Here’s why I play Halo:
6) It’s fun! It may not be your idea of a good time, and that’s OK. Go watch a documentary on the life cycle of a water beetle, drool in a recipe book, or inventory your lint trap collection. Find something that makes you happy.
5) It’s even more fun when it surprises others! Recently, an electrical apprentice struck up a conversation at work over the week he was there. He was shocked to find out I wasn’t in my 20s. He was shocked to find out I had a 27 year old son. He was shocked to find out I had a tattoo (considering I work in a church, for some…that is shocking)! At the end of the week, somehow, Halo came up. As he packed up his gear, he smiled at me and told me, “Jenn, you are full of surprises”! I’m a plain, quiet, middle-aged “church lady”, so…cool!
I’ve wasted far too much of the first half of my life crying, so I am determined to laugh more (even if it means by myself or laughing at myself – I will never cease to be amused). – jennsmidlifecrisis
4) For health reason. A 2003 study showed that action gamers were better than non-gamers at quickly processing complex info, estimating numbers, controlling their attention spatially, and switching between tasks. Video games can also help with fine motor control and reaction time, as well as in developing strengths like patience, perseverance, and strategizing/problem-solving. I enjoy the mental stimulation of a challenge, and the euphoria of success!
3) I find it relaxing. I can zone out from the real world for a short time, which gives my mind and my body a break. I can take my frustrations in a place where I won’t cause harm. Increased dopamine helps reduce frustration. It’s one of the strongest drivers of work ethic because we focus on building successes or positive outcomes. Our brains then create optimistic and hopeful feelings. As our focus shifts to improving, it can heighten our sense of having control in a situation, which then transfers into the real world. We all, at times, need to “reboot”.
2) I can do it! There are a lot of things I can’t do, for one reason or another. I have physical limitations – the spirit is willing, but the body can’t keep up! I have mental limitations – math, for example, is not my friend! The gifts and talents I have been given are not transferrable to every area, in every part of the known universe. But in this world, I am strong. I am capable. I am in control. I feel like a dangerous and invincible warrior!
Warriors are those who choose to stand between their enemy and all that he loves or holds sacred – Author unknown
1) I get to spend time with my kid. He grew up too fast. He’s moved away and building his own life. I’m proud of him – that’s how it’s supposed to be. So if he still wants to hang out with me, from time to time, bring it on! Relationships are a two-way street. If I don’t take an interest in the things that interest him, we might drift apart, and I can’t bear the thought of not having him in my life. Besides, I’ve improving and sometimes, I can kick his butt!
Bonus – I get to do it in a hot body!
We didn’t make it to the Fair on Saturday, despite our best intentions. We were determined to go. Hubby wanted to see the Monster Trucks and enjoy some Fair fare. Little Guy wanted to ride the Alien Invasion ride, even if it made him feel like he was going to throw up. I wanted to go on the ride that spins really fast and tangles your hair. Oh, and fudge!
It was drizzling and damp, the kind of damp that seeps in under the cuffs of your shirt and clings to your back. But we were determined to go. I wore my rubber boots and a thick flannel shirt.
We drove half-way there before it started to rain and the sky blackened. Walking in the rain and eating in the rain are fine. But sitting in the rain to watch Monster trucks and worse, sitting in the rain on a ride (especially if the rain has already puddled in the seat), not so fine. So I asked the question: Do we really want to do this? After all, what are the 3 things you do at a Fair? You walk, you ride, and you eat things that are bad for you. Then I had an idea!
Friends of ours have 4 kids. They are an awesome family, who believe in making their own fun. And from time to time, that homespun fun includes a trip to the local grocery store. Every person gets a set amount of cash and they can buy whatever they want. Cash can be pooled and items negotiated. At the end, the booty is spread out at home in front of a movie and enjoyed by all.
So that’s what we did. We rode in the car on a soggy Saturday afternoon. We walked all around the grocery store, each of us with $5 to spend (taxes had to be included to increase the challenge). We went home to spread out our fare together and play Minecraft.
But what can you get for $5? Once you started looking at what was available, deciding what you really wanted, thinking how to maximize your $5, the options grew exponentially. Salty, sweet or savoury? Healthy or unhealthy? Baked or deep-fried? It took us more than half an hour before we finally checked out.
Here’s what we got:
Hubby: Lebanese pitas with herb & garlic cream cheese. Toast it lightly under the broiler. Yum!
Little Guy: Double chocolate cake and an Aero bar – mint-flavoured. Yum!
Me: 6 raisin butter tarts and a Mr. Big. Yum!
And we did it all for less than $15 – the cost of 1 small bar of fudge at the Fair!
“There are 2 food groups in the world: the one you put cheese on and the one you put chocolate on.” – Author Unknown
What would your “go-to” snack be in the grocery challenge? Go ahead and call me nosy – I don’t mind! 🙂
I know this may seem weird. Most photographers are snapping beautiful pictures of family gatherings, shoppers clustered in the malls, and scenes that warm the heart. I like the hymn, I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. I wrote about it last year. In it, the poet talks about his sense of despair because “hate is strong”. This time of year, I sometimes feel a gathering of emotions – joy at having time gathered with family and friends, sadness for those who are lonely and grieving, mourning for the brokenness of our world, and a longing for Jesus’ return. It can be easy to let fear and despair shroud our souls. So I paired this picture – a silly game played with family (obviously I’m losing!!) with the words of another song to remind me, if no one else, that even when it seems like all is lost, there is hope and we need to shout that love and hope is still alive in our world!
“You’re on the edge of giving up, You know I feel it too
You won’t be alone because I’m with you
Bring the fire, bring the smoke, bring the rain
We will bend but we will never break.
If we believe we can’t lose, Even mountains will move
It’s my faith, it’s my life – This is our battle cry
They can’t take us down if we stand our ground
If we live, if we die – We will shout out our battle cry
Can you hear it? Can you feel it?
Let it rise like a prayer in the night,
Shout for love, shout for hope
Let them hear us!” – Skillet, Battle Cry
To see more Gathering photos, click here.
"Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing." —Laurie Buchanan
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