Category: Games

“Screen Time”

We get the “my kids are doing nothing but play video games/watch tv/look at a screen and I can’t stand it, what should I do?” question about once every week or so on our  (now huge) Christian unschooling Facebook group. It has become the norm. We are all kind of tired of it. Really. For many reasons. Mostly because we hear the fear, we know the paradigm shift hasn’t occurred yet, and  we know it will be a fight to get there, and that part is exhausting. The following is a recent response that I wrote while super-short on sleep 😀 but which ended up covering all the basics in one place.

Esther playing Sims.
Esther playing Sims.

To pull from something my dear friend Pam often points out; how much time is “nothing other than game on their PC/ds/Wii”. Do they get up to get a drink? Go to the bathroom? Eat something? Sleep? If they are doing those things then clarify. They are doing something other than just playing games. They are probably getting up. They may even jump around, do other things. They may spend a few minutes getting something, look something up, they may even go play with something else for a while, go outside, play together beside the tv, they are very likely doing something else too. We need to see those things and recognize that no, the child is not spending “all their time”, they are spending more time than we feel comfortable with.  When we start out with a generalization, it is really hard to get from the viewpoint of seeing it in a negative light to seeing “screens” as many different types of learning and internal things going on and the screen itself as just the media they are getting those things.

Rachel watching anime.
Rachel watching anime.

My husband spends the majority of his day in front of a screen. Working, playing, socializing. He does many different things and yes, he has always preferred doing things in front of a computer screen to elsewhere- there are just so many more things to do, it is a vast world full of many, many types of media in one place- no huge mess to clean up when he wants to play a game, he can write quickly and efficiently, read quickly and move between many different things to read, watch a movie, change the movie, and so on.  It is an amazing, miraculous thing that allows us to communicate with our friends across the world (he collaborates with people all across the US weekly on huge projects), work anywhere (he works with people from all across the globe) and so on. It is amazing that this technology is available in our lifetimes and our children get to learn the language of it now, easily, without fear.  Our kids are going to live in a world where much of their time is going to be in front of the computer. Some people won’t, but the vast majority will. They will use it for work, for play, for socialization, and as unschoolers we have the freedom to let them learn it right now, first hand, and be proficient at it. This is a huge boon compared to kids who are stuck in a classroom unable to look things up as they are interested. Our kids will be well prepared for the future, right now.

 “Technology is here to stay. So why would I choose to keep my kids illiterate in the language that they may need for the future? A half an hour a day does not give kids time to explore the land scape.” ~Aza Donnelly

That said, if you are still really uncomfortable with how much time they are spending, then you get off the computer (you are here, reading this, communicating with others, online) and do really cool things out where they will see. Things that they will love. You make things available that go with what they love on their games (you will probably have to get online to research those things). You find things that associate with what they are doing so there is a connection- if they are into a game that has an associated tv show or other media then there are probably lots of  products out there related to it- pick up a book connected with it, or some figurines, or whatever. If there is a website that has info about the game they are playing (hints, a walkthrough, a wiki- my kids learned to navigate the internet and read because they loved looking up info for their games) put it on your screen and show it to them. If the fact that they would be reading it on a screen bothers you, then you can often buy  a gamers guide but they do get expensive. Offer to help them create a database of the characters and their skills, or print up ones you find online for quick reference. Pick up a gaming magazine for kids, or a book about the collectibles or whatever. Find ways you can connect with the kids where they are, ask them about the games, the shows, whatever. Bring them healthy finger foods if you are worried about what they are eating or that they aren’t eating enough. Ask them about the game, what they are playing, the plot, the people in the games. Let them know you are thinking about them  and want to encourage their interests. Find some aspect you can understand and join them where they are.

Issac playing online with a friend.
Issac playing online with a friend.

This will help you connect with them and really get a feel for what they are getting out of all the things they do on that form of media, and maybe even why. And as they feel you are really trying and aren’t going to “take it away” and that you aren’t frowning about it at them, they will loosen their hold on it a bit and gradually they will start joining you in the cool things you are doing (not all), they will start looking at the books, playing with the associated toys or crafts, and so on. (Many of us have minecraft posters on the wall, or Pokemon, or Skylanders, or Terraria, and books, and action figures, stuffies, houses full of geek references.) Meeting them where they are will help you feel connection with them again (which is usually where the parents panic when they start feeling the kids are doing “nothing but screen things”.) It takes time for both sides, but it is like learning another language and our kids get to do it first-hand and be prepared for this changing world where screens are an everyday all the time part of our lives.

 

Happy Halloween

We finished Rachel’s Chell costume (from Portal) tonight.  Issac had to test out the Portal gun: made from a small soda bottle, a 2 liter, foam, paper, tape, glue gun, some pieces of plastic and wire found around the house, and a glow stick.  Designed by Rachel with help from Mom. The boots  are real boots with stockings over (drawn on with sharpie) and lots of electrical and packing tape.

PAX East

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The show floor from the sky bridge that you walk across everytime you want to get to a panel room across the building on the same floor as the last panel you saw.

We just got back from PAX East last night.  God provided that we had the money to get there, sold all the books while there and therefore had the money to get home.  Go God!!!  And thank you to the random gift givers who helped us get there.  You all are awesome!!!

Escapist Movie Night
The Escapist movie night panel, L-R: One of the dudes from the new show "Space Janitors", Shamus, Movie Bob, and the crew of Loading, Ready, Run: Matt Wiggins, Kathleen De Vere, Graham Stark

We got to find out how quickly Shamus’ book would sell out and wish we had brought more.

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Blankety Blank Panel which was hosted by Susan Arendt (NOT in the photo), in photo : Russ Pitts, an ex-reviewer who wrote a book that I can't remember the name of, Kathleen De Vere, and Movie Bob

We saw some amazingly funny panels (like the LLR panel and those that the Escapist creatives including Susan Arendt and Movie Bob were involved in). We got to meet some more cool people to add to the list of cool people we already know (like Russ Pitts and James Portnow along with a slew of Shamus’ readers and some really awesome indie game developers) and see friends we hadn’t seen for a year (like Susan Arendt and the LLR crew) .

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James Portnow of Extra Credits among many other things.

We got to see some incredibly thought provoking panels which I am still pondering and percolating posts thanks to (namely two that included James Portnow and were on topics close to my heart– one on Gaming and Education and one called the Genre Divide about rethinking why people play certain games and how games are divided into genres.)

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Girls Like Robots (a pretty fun indie game.)
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A very cool concept for a rpg that my kids are really looking forward to: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/JoshuaACNewman/mobile-frame-zero-rapid-attack

We got to see a ton of amazing indie games and some cool AAA games.

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Shamus crashed while waiting.

We got tired and hungry and sick of granola bars (thanks to the convention centers ridiculously huge symmetric layout where you have to go down a level and cross a sky bridge to get between two panels on the same floor and expensive food–$7 for a HOT DOG.)

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In front of the convention center-- parking was in rear and you had to walk a quarter mile of wind tunnel just to get in a door.

We got stuck in 2 hours of 5 mph traffic and only got lost in Boston once (last year we managed to add a half hour of wrong turns onto every single trip and this year we were saved mostly thanks to paying close attention, avoiding the roads we knew we had trouble with, and Josh’ excellent sense of direction.)

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The audience at the Escapist movie night panel.

Strewn

I have been thinking about strewing a lot, mostly because people keep asking about it. So I thought I would share some examples in our house (way less than usual because we have most stuff packed up and away or gotten rid of.)

Our new "This week's specials" board. This has the main foods available for quick meals and snacks each week.

The chalkboard on the cabinet and the food bins on the shelf and in the fridge are new additions. And yes, they are a type of strewing.   The chalkboard is so when I come home from shopping, instead of making a mealplan, I can quickly note the foods I bought so everyone knows what is available at a glance, and I can remove things if they go bad or get eaten.

Fridge: each person has a bin for the special "just for them" foods. And yes, we are almost out of cheese-- picking some up tomorrow. 🙂 We have two fridges, this one is mostly the stuff people grab during the day, the other is raw milk and backup stuff.

I don’t do meal plans and with everyone having certain foods they don’t like and do and other things they can and cannot eat it helps to have things organized so people can find what they are looking for and know what is there (and hopefully it will help us have less waste.)

Shelves

We have been searching for a solution that would allow the kids (and hubby) to know which foods I bought just for them and which are someone else’ as well as which things I have set aside for them (things which might otherwise get pushed to the back of the fridge.) This way one person doesn’t eat something that I bought special for someone else, at least not without asking first.

Most of our strewing is now via internet– either Facebook or Google chat or even email.  I took the following pictures while taking the other ones– they serve as a good example of why computer strewing works for us. 🙂

Esther playing Sims.

 

Esther was getting tired here– she has been going to bed in early evening so she can get up early and work on her book with friends online in other time zones.)  She spent the next hour after this watching our new Animaniacs dvds (which Issac bought with his own money.)

Issac playing online with a friend.

Issac was playing Roblox and talking to a friend in New Jersey as he does most days.

Rachel talking online with a friend while drawing and occasionally playing piano.

Rach was playing piano, drawing (working on illustrations for Esther’s book), and talking with a friend in Arizona.
The strewing photos here include just a few places– mostly living room and bathroom– yes, I strew in the bathroom.

Our coffee table strewn with rocks and game pieces.

I always keep the red painted locally hand-carved wooden  bowls (I adore these bowls) out in the living room out (there are more on the shelves and on the mantle) and fill them with random stuff that is interesting– some always have cool rocks because we all love rocks and love picking them up and messing with them. The other two contain game pieces from a set Rachel got for Christmas from my brother.

Our shelf strewn with games and rocks and vintage wooden boxes for holding more stuff when we aren't getting ready to move.

The board is on the shelf above (ontop of Blockus–which is an awesome game)– this way when they are bored they remember that it is there. I think next to come out will be the gaming dice– a bowl of those will be fun. In the past the bowls have had Christmas bulbs, random baubles, marbles, and fake cut gem stones from Michaels. Under the coffee table is a vintage wooden box with our magic cards, and another full of gaming devices and dvds. In the shelves on the coffee table are books I think the kids will like.

Books on the back of the toilet. Yes, is blurry.

We always keep books in the bathroom, along with writing utensils in case someone wants to do a workbook or crossword.

Shelf in bathroom.

More often I find the books and magazines disappear from the bathroom as once someone starts reading they tend to take it with them.

The Games are In!

Remember a while back I was illustrating a game?  Well the game has been printed, shipped, and is now FOR SALE!!!!  Yeah, I am a tad bit excited!  you can go buy a copy for yourself (and one for your friends and family and birthdays and holidays and….) over at Whimsy Games.

And in case you are wondering, yes, we have played it and yes, it is not only fun but takes a bit of brain work, decision making and some math.

Where we are: November

So it has been a month and I have had nothing to say.  Too much going on, too much social stuff irl so not enough energy to share elsewhere.

Rachel, waiting and reading, at Esther's practice where she would later help paint the set.
Waiting for practice to start.
Ready to go in.

*Esther’s show went wonderfully.  She loved it.  She is not passionate about the stage but enjoys the social aspect of it.  When asked if she wants to do it again she says absolutely.  When I am asked whether I would do it again, I say I will consider it.  It was exhausting.  I did not enjoy dealing with the sort of grownup who wants to be involved in such things– the nastiness, backbiting, shoving, and shouting were all way too much for me (not me, I avoided it like the plague but it was a constant undertone in the whole thin despite it being a “Christian” organization though it didn’t phase Esther in the least.  So, we will see what the next show is and if it falls during a time when there is not much else going on.  Oh, and no photos from the show because we weren’t allowed to take ANY photos of the kids in costume on the campus at all– so we would buy the not so great cd of photos for $10.

*Esther turned 11.  She wanted a birthday party, which we had 2 days after Thanksgiving (her birthday was the day after the last day of Oliver! and I needed to recuperate after having to have her at the college EVERY, single, day for 3-6 hours for a week so we waited for the party.)  The party went well (family party overlapped with a friend party–we had family there and invited a few friends and their families), she is thrilled that she finally had a real party and everyone is happy.  And I forgot to take photos because the kids had my camera batteries in use in the Wiimotes.

*My muse left me completely and I have a few illustrations to finish for the project so I can call it done so I am very frustrated.  Instead my brain went completely left brained and I spent the last month suddenly finishing all the websites that have been waiting for me to work on them (other than my own).  So those are mostly done, which is good, and now I am at a place where I am almost ready to pick up my paint brush again.

Rachel as Susan from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe.

*Rachel is adoring piano.  We are praying that we will continue to have the money to pay for her lessons (we pay about half what the other classes in the area cost but are dwindling down to the dregs financially and unless we get the check owed us soon are going to be worrying about where the next meal comes from let alone piano lesson.)

She and Issac also spent about a week making stop animation Lego videos– or at least taking photos for them (I have to find a better movie maker that will let me throw all those photos in for them–haven’t found a simple one for Ubuntu that works with stills.  They took over 300 photos.  They made a house building movie, a roller coaster ride, a sword fight, and a few others.

Building a House
Building a House

Preparing to record.

The Sword Fight

*Issac wrote a post on his blog, finally (it only took him a year).  Actually he was nervous of actually typing it himself but he answered the questions and told me what to write.  http://www.elasah.com/Issac/ He has also been getting really into Esther’s new Scribblenauts game (as have all three in fact) which is awesome because in Scribblenauts you have to write in anything you want or need to solve the puzzle and you have to spell it correctly (the other day Rachel wrote Duke instead of duck, and got a duke, and wrote plan and plane instead of plain and got both of those– which of course did not help her solve that particular problem.)  He is going around with a huge list of words on a sheet of paper so he can spell them corerctly and reading, reading, reading.

He also has thoroughly enjoyed the huge piles of leaves this year.

Happy leaf pile
Adding leaves
Raking
Very tall leaf pile

*We finally managed to figure out all the stuff the mortgage company wanted  (lots of no you don’t need that, oh wait yes you do, oh you forgot to send us that thing that you sent us twice sort of business since April) and are now plugged into the next step in project maybe they won’t foreclose on our home after all.  We keep praying about this and trying to decide how best to manage it.  If God wants us out of this house then the bank will probably have to take it because it needs to much work done for us to sell it at what we would have to in an area where houses aren’t really selling.  If He wants us to keep it then He needs to help us make more money (down to just the Escapist’s random checks and my random bits of income which only pay for extras) or provide some other way.  Either way we are trusting him but it is a relief that something is happening, finally and knowing that if we DO have to move it won’t be until June-ish. That said the roof is leaking again. Praising the Lord that it does or we never would have been able to afford the house in the first place.

Some pumpkins.

*We are thoroughly enjoying having more time with Shamus now that he is down to working a normal work week (he worked 60-80 hours before).  We actually got to watch a movie together last night (How to Train Your Dragon–hilarious).  Esther has used her birthday money to get a WoW account to play with him (as he works on his new Let’s Play series– his best work yet.  He is working on a game, and a book, and another video series and much calmer and happier, or would be if the whole where will the money come from thing would get settled.  I think that if the Escapist paid regularly– either on the quarter instead of some unknown time after or maybe even monthly, he would be much calmer and able to just enjoy writing for a living.

Esther Cat picking a pumpikin

*A dear friend gave us a copy of Restoration: Returning the Torah of God to the Disciples of Jesus which has changed our view of The Bible in amazing ways.  It has really been eye opening.  I read it myself, sharing some choice passages with Shamus and now we are reading through as a family (having finished our yearly through the Bible reading as a family early.)  It is so exciting to discuss and share and see the Bible from this new point of view.  I do not yet feel like I am up for discussion about it but we are now celebrating Sabbath and the Biblical holy days and it is so much more “real” and true than all the made up celebration days that have felt empty.  Not only that but God is really blessing us through it– the kids even get excited when it is near Sabbath each week.  In fact just a few weeks ago Esther realized it was Friday and shouted with joy, “Mom, tomorrow is Sabbath! That is my FAVORITE holiday!  And we get to celebrate it EVERY week!”  Not only has it changed our viewpoint but it has made us eager to start the new year and dig into the Old Testament scriptures and find the things we have been missing.  It also made reading the New Testament (we read straight through this year) make so much more sense!

My crew (Issac is Batman, again) with Kayla (Snow Princess).

*Shamus and I got each other Walk It Out for Christmas thanks to Janel’s review of it.  We love Wii Fit and the kids and Shamus love Dance Dance Revolution but we needed something that would be  low impact for me and let us walk with lots of goals and variety (walking outside here doesn’t happen much except in the summer since we live in Western PA where the weather and roads are not designed for walking– unless you like being forced into the mud/snow by cars whizzing by at speeds well in excess of the speed limit on blind curves while trying to trudge up a hill.) So, Walk it out is good and fun and as Janel pointed out here you have to use will power to STOP working out.

A gentle reminder

Where there are no oxen, the crib is empty: but where there is much corn, there the strength of the ox is manifest.
Proverbs 14:4

My desk is a mess– multiple coffee cups, several salad bowls and water glasses, watercolor stuff, paper work and receipts.
The kids rooms are trashed (although the daily service is working and they are slightly better each day). Books are everywhere though at least now they are in piles, most of the clothes have finally made their way to the laundry–clean and dirty alike, paper and writing utensils are everywhere as are all the little girl trappings– stuffies left from plays and other productions, nail polish and hair things set up like a beauty salon..
In the living room sits a box full of Christmas decorations (I finally took down the last bits), Wii motes and yoga mats, blankets and bean bags left out after movie watching, a laptop sitting on, and papers strewn about the midi keyboard.
Issac’s room there are legos and race tracks covering every inch of the room, mixed with books and boxes (used as needed for every building project under the sun. )
The kitchen is covered in dishes left over from meals, cd’s of audio books, and my paints and paintings in progress.
In the bathroom are the results of Rachel’s latest hand cream/epson salt concoction, some dolls and doll clothes left over from a recent doll resort, hair clippers from a recent trim, plus numerous damp towels and clothes on the hooks– left there just in case I need to go out and hubby is sleeping. The laundry room is overflowing with clean and dirty clothes and the back hall is full of snow things hanging to dry.

It is easy to think of these things as mess and clutter. And yet, I am reminded that these are signs of success, of learning, of activity and thought.
Everything left out in the girls’ room has been recently used and is the result of a project. Rachel’s hammer is sitting out because just a little while ago she used an old Chubs box (those plastic lego brick style diaper wipe boxes), a pen, and bits of paper to make a voting box– which entailed hammering a hole in the box for the votes. Books are piled everywhere because Essie always has a book, or her laptop. Audio books also lie strewn because Rachel is always listening to one. Their floor is always covered in paper and pens and other wiriting utensils because the girls are always drawing, designing, writing, or creating something.

Issac’s room is covered because he is constantly in the process of building or designing something new. Today he designed a war game using the weights to build cannons and gaming dice to figure out who wins each round. Race tracks cover his room surrounded by stuffies, Legos, K’Nex– all built precisely to the enclosed directions, and then adapted and added to, surrounded by books and boxes.

The kitchen is cluttered and not so clean because we ate and ran today as right after lunch we headed to the pond to test out the ice and Rachel’s new ice skates. The food we took along got dumped on the table because we had some other project to do when we got home. The audio books are there because we have been listening to classic books while I work on an acrylic painting and the kids either eat or do projects at the table. There is a blue IKEA bag full of snow things on the floor so we can easily take them to the pond tomorrow. A workbook (Issac’s) sits open where he left off coloring and doing activities (because he wants to, for fun, not because it is a rule.)

The bathroom is less than ideal because today Rachel made a special hand cream using various essential oils and Epsom salts to help our hands with the cold dry weather and aches that accompany the RA. This led to a discussion of books that I own with recipes for such things as well as which herbs work best for what, and future plans for me to teach her how to melt bees wax, olive oil, and coconut butter together for creams. She and Esther also had a beach party for their dolls a few days ago and today she had a spa day for the doll that she took skating (she designed skates and clothes adapted from other dolls for her so she could go along but then dropped her in the snow so she needed a bath).

The laundry in the laundry room is a sign that the girls finally remembered to give me their dirty (and some clean) clothes and that I have finally begun to get caught up on washing.

The living room proves that Rach, Essie, and I watched part of Rozencratz and Gildenstern are Dead this morning, which lead to much commentary on Shakespeare and humor and later watched The Golden Boys (a fun and interesting period piece) (both watched on the living room laptop). Issac also spent some time replaying Mario Sunshine, enjoying that he can finally read a lot of what is on the screen, and this morning Rach finally brought me the other Christmas box so I could take down the rest of the decorations. Oh, and several books are strewn about (because they are being read) and the piano music is out because it is being used.

The hall is evidence that there has been much snow play (and ice skating) as are the rather salty spots on the floor where people keep stepping with wet boots no matter how hard they try to avoid it.

The fact that my desk is cluttered is evidence that I have actually gotten some work done recently.

We may not have an immaculate house- though it is much, much cleaner, and staying cleaner now that we have instituted the 5 minutes upstairs 5 minutes downstairs rule. The kids are actually beginning to enjoy cleaning up and going well beyond the 5 min I require. It is never going to be perfect, or even clean to most people (though I do keep clutter to a minimum so that we don’t have so much to fuss about.) However, the mess is evidence of living and life, of time well-spent, of fun had, and mistakes made. More conversations and time together happen because we aren’t fighting over who is supposed to be doing what job and why isn’t everything perfect. Learning is going on at every turn without coercion and fuss. We all have time to pursue our interests without constant nagging and whining. We are greatly blessed.

December 2009: An Overview of life and learning

Because things have been crazy busy and I have yet to find a simple way to import my flickr images into WordPress. 🙂 Also my camera has dust on the lens and so has been tricky to use…which is why I am not taking so many photos. Sad.

The end of November was both my brother’s 18th birthday and Esther’s 10th birthday and since I didn’t get the photos up earlier they are in my December folder. (Aren’t I so organized?)

We made a whole bunch of chocolates and cookies (in between kid colds) and sent some geeky candy and chocolates off to The Escapist (who actually pay my hubby to write about what he loves– aren’t they awesome?) I made a whole lot more candy sushi, some more and some less realistic but due to camera issues this is the only that I got a photo of (the less realistic sushi was for people like my dad who couldn’t get past the whole “this looks like it should be raw fish and seaweed so I can’t enjoy it” thing.)
candy sushi

Also made Super Mario Brother’s stars
stars
And Pac Man cookies

Had a whole slew of work to do– both painting and computer and then got to take photos of my mother-in-laws new furniture for her (and her angel on her tree so she could share it with her facebook friends).
Angel

And then we got lots of snow (well, for December)…

which made my skiing brother VERY happy.
James

Not to mention the kids

The rest of the time has been spent doing things I didn’t get photos of like:

  • Logging many hours on the Wii Fit Plus.  It was an early Christmas present because before the snow we got lots and lots of rain, cold, wet, muddy rain and there is nothing like Christmas excited stir crazy kids who can’t get outside to drive a mother mad.  Issac alone logged 3 hours a day skateboarding and juggling while Rach enjoyed the Super Mario Brother’s like obstacle course, and Esther enjoyed trying out all the new stuff.
  • Alf, Scooby Doo, and Fraggle Rock.  The kids were looking for a new old tv show to watch and discovered these , which have triggered many pop culture and real versus fiction discussions.
  • Baking, crafting, and candy making, not to mention much  present planning, purchasing, wrapping and kidding (mostly the kids using money they have been saving– we didn’t buy that much this year.)
  • Rach made and sent out Christmas cards (myself not so much– this year I am just trying to stay on target).
  • We have been spending a lot of evenings playing board games, especially Trivial Pursuit Young Players edition (from the 80’s).
  • The kids have been spending a lot of days “playing school”.  Apparently this entails less work books and work sheets and more copying straight from the dictionary.
  • Esther and Rachel have been using the dictionary to look up ancient writing and copy it, writing out various things in early alphabets.
  • Due to a hiccup in our finances (hubby is on part time at one of his jobs so we are relying more on  his kind of  quarterly paycheck from his other job)we have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make our money go further.  The kids have been very active in this helping plan shopping trips and figuring out ways to save.
  • Issac is reading anything and everything though not really picking up books yet, instead preferring to spend much of his spare time in his room doing what looks like tossing all his small toys around the room but which apparently is him playing out huge battle scenes and building giant Construx robots which he occasionally runs down and tells us all about.
  • The kids have also been spending a lot of time using Garry’s Mod (the program Shamus uses in his comic making at times) to create various scenes and mini games for each other.
  • We are continuing our chronological trek through the Bible.  Due to taking a month off when my bmother passed away we are in the end of the Gospels now.  It is very interesting to read about the resurection at Christmas and I think has done more for our attitude thios Christmas than anything ever before– especially as we were reading the Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount when Christmas lists were being made and now as Christmas day approaches we are reading of Christ’s death and suffering.  VERY interesting and has led to many discussions and thinking processes which do not naturally occur when just reading about the newborn baby.  (For instance the 8 year old finally realizes that Jesus didn’t stay a baby like people always seem to imply at Christmas).
  • Climategate (another good article here), the Copenhaegen conference, and the giant East coast snowstorm and several other things have led to more than a few discussions of truth and why Chistians shouldn’t get too caught up in the world and what the world media says is going on and how to have discernment and peace when everyone is panicking.
  • Finally and most recently the girls have discovered the Dungeons and Dragons 4.0 handbook and decided they wanted to play.  They have thus been studying it, designing and rolling up characters, and learning how to figure out armor class, hit points, bonuses, etc.  For those who have no clue about these things–  think probability, formulas, and real life mathematical application combined with play acting, logic, and character development based along set lines of behavior (the girls chose character alignments based on their natural character–Rach by nature is Lawful Neutral and Esther is Neutral Good) but when they play they will have to make sure their characters adhere to those characteristics and make decisions based on that.  There also will be quite a lot of math and pencil paper work to do but they are both excited and willing to take it on. 🙂

Orienteering: take 2

Last Sunday the kids and I decided to drive an hour and a half so we could do the last orienteering meet of the season. It was a gorgeous, sunny and rather warm day (75 degrees–well above the norm for November). This was our second attempt at orienteering (you can read our first here –it also contains an explanation of what orienteering is) and as with the first time we made no attempt at actually racing–we just wanted to make it through to the end (and almost didn’t).

On the way to the first control we stopped to look over the bridge (and take a photo).
On the way to the first control we stopped to look over the bridge (and take a photo).

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September in Review

September has been crazy busy with a trip to Alexandria and Ocean City, Penn’s Colony, the Art’s Festival, and lots of trips to the pond. At the beginning of the month we headed down to visit our friends in Alexandria, VA and got to go with them for a day trip to the ocean.This was our first big trip in our new minivan and was a happy and sad time. It was fun spending time with friends but due to the loss of both my friend’s father and my mom within a few weeks of each other it was bittersweet.

The trip also meshed several ideas the kids have shown interest in–my friend has both a guitar and a violin and gave the kids an opportunity to test both out. So now we know that Essie definitely wants to play guitar and that RAchel would prefer piano lessons to violin as she once thought.
Issac at the pond
We also spent tons of time at the pond with my brother (who’s school is on strike).

The kids spent the first half of the month swimming and learning to row and fish and the second half learning to build fires and lean-to’s while James and I worked on his forge.rowJames and forge
And did I mention the invention building kick?
invention
And day time trips to Chuck E. Cheese?

The apparently interesting thing that is opening a new bank account?

And the awesomeness that was Penn’s Colony.

Where we got to see real blacksmiths at work.

And got to enjoy lots of Celtic music.


And in between it all was lots of game playing, reading, audio books, movies, playing, building, dreaming, creating, thinking, considering, discussing, programming…