Thursday, February 26, 2009

March '09 Blog Carnival on Video Games

Since gaming has been a big part of our lives, especially Alec's, I felt like it was important to participate in March's blog carnival over at the Radical Unschoolers Network.

Also, for anyone who is reading here for the first time: Tim is my husband and we have 3 children-- Alec 15, Abbi 14, and Kyra 11.

How are video games a part of you and/or your kids lives?

They're just like any other interest in our house. At certain times they are being played more than others. Specifically right now, there isn't a whole lot being played, but there were other times where there was a lot. Currently, Alec is working on completing Persona 3, which is a RPG (role player game) and he'll usually play some drums on Rock Band each day. WoW (World of Warcraft) has gotten lots of play in our household the last couple years but right now it isn't so present. Kyra will be on quite a bit for roleplaying and Alec will be on 3-4 nights a week for raids with his guild but that's the extent of that right now. Abbi used to play WoW quite a bit with leveling her characters and roleplaying but right now she's doing other things.

How do you support video gaming in your household?

We get the games that people want and we've been able to get most of the game consoles that are out there. Like I said in the above answer, it's just like any other interest. We nurture each other's passions and sometimes video game playing is it. We've also made sure that there were places and TVs to play, if certain locations weren't working we'd figure out places where it would, for example, Tim just finished a media room in the basement so there's one more place to play. If Alec is up at night and others are sleeping he can play down there. We also keep our eyes open for new games and for resources to help with the games that we have. When the kids were younger we had to do that a lot more than now. Now they all know how to look up guides on their own and research different things about the games that they are playing. I still keep my eyes open but they are all really independent that way.

if you haven't always been supportive how did you "get there"?

We weren't always in this place, as far as gaming. I remember when I said I'd never buy a game system. I said if they (our kids) bought one, that would be fine, but I wasn't going to support that. (eek!) How did I change? I remember reading on unschooling lists about how to support our children in their learning and that it's great to support what your kids are interested in. Well... Alec was totally interested in gaming, so we got him a game system (and he bought one himself with money he earned :). Just looking at his face when he's into a game is so telling, he's involved, thinking, figuring things out. It wasn't him not thinking or just rotting his brain (as some people would think) it was him being challenged intellectually. (and if you know him you know how hard it is to challenge him!) I truly think, in these last years, that video games have been about the only thing that has been a challenge to him, really. He doesn't play just any game either, he's quite particular with what he delves into. If there's not enough in the game he usually doesn't play it very long. In school, they really couldn't bring anything to him that would keep him challenged, and he loves figuring things out. Gaming has been his work and it's been good.

Do you play video games as a family?

We have and do when there's a multi-player game. Rock Band and Guitar Hero have been great for that. Also we've played WoW that way too, we could adventure, quest and just have plain fun together. It's been an amazing bond, I'm so glad it's in our life. When I think about it, even 1 player games can bring about a bond if the other person who isn't playing is willing to watch and learn. A lot of times the kids will take turns with a single player game and then they can talk about the game, comparing strategies or experiences. That's very cool too. I think this is key for the parents too, you can hang out with your child and watch what they're doing. Ask questions, learn why it is interesting to your child, I can't stress how important it is to be part of your child's life that way. Don't look at it as isolating, it doesn't have to be... be part of it :)

How do you deal with your mainstream friends ideas about video games?

They know Alec is a big gamer and that we've all played video games. It's not usually an issue.

What do you say to your kids when their friends aren't allowed to play V's because of restriction?

We haven't had that issue a whole lot. I do remember there was one time a mom to one of Alec's friends didn't like him playing Halo at our house because he'd come back to his house too excited.... that was different. I guess when our kids are excited about something, we are too! And there was one other friend who couldn't play video games so Alec would do other things with him. They would play board games or they would go outside and play. They'd find other things to do. When my kids have heard about parents not allowing gaming they feel bad for the kids, especially if the kids want to be playing, but they've always honored the parent's wishes.

Thoughts on violence and VG, or learning through VGs.

As far as violence and video games, I truly don't believe that a violent game will make a person violent. Not allowing someone to do something will have a much worse effect on the person than a game with computer generated images. I've seen how feeling powerless and limited can make a person be more violent and angry. I know a lot of kids who play video games and usually they are the most gentle and non-violent individuals.

We've learned a lot through video games-- from reading to typing, to comparative math reasoning to history. It goes on and on because games can have so much in them. One point I do want to make though is that I'd never advise someone to get video games because of the learning opportunity. I'd advise someone to get them if there was interest being shown.

How does VG system or console sharing work in your house, how has it evolved?

We've all had to learn to have patience with this since so much of the time you can't just get off a game instantly. Who ever that is playing may be working toward something and very often you have to get to a save point or you lose your progress. Just understanding that has really helped with the sharing of consoles. They know that they like to be on so they'll allow the others to have a turn. Also, right away we got 2 different consoles and had a couple of TVs so if there was an issue we could offer another alternative.

how much is "too much"?

This is one thing I've learned from having video gaming around our house; "too much" for one person isn't always "too much" for another. Some of us like physical activity and that's what energizes us, others get totally jazzed from figuring out a solution in a puzzle. I'm not going to tell anyone to stop doing what they're doing. We'll do other things and some times they'll choose to stop playing and join us; other times they'll choose what they're doing. The big thing here is that they have the choice to do what they want so it in turn gives them the freedom to choose not to play. It's not in limited quanity and that's been only positive.

Bringing video games into our home has only been a good thing.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Some Happiness

I was tagged by Gail and Laura for this meme, and I like it.

6 Things that make me happy:

My family - what can I say? They are my number 1 in so many ways :)

laughter - hearing the glorious sound

walking - especially near bodies of water and being surrounded by trees

creating - it makes me happy in a calm peaceful way

music - lifts my spirit

There are so many more but here are six that come to mind. I'm not going to tag anyone but if anyone would like to do this, feel free :)

Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Movie watching Oscar time

Abbi and I had a great day yesterday, we attended this with Madeline.

We're all big time movie lovers so to be able to watch these great movies in one day was a dream. Sometimes it was an intense dream, but we still had a great time. We didn't stay for the last one Frost/Nixon so we'll maybe get that later on DVD.

My favorite was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, a bit Forrest Gumpish, so I don't think it'll win Best Picture, but I think with it's visuals it may win something there. Milk was superb as was Slum Dog Millionaire. Slum Dog was really intense for me, almost painfully so. The Reader was interesting, really got you thinking about the grey of good and evil.

Tim, Alec and Kyra weren't interested at all in the movie extravaganza so they had a blast together playing different games and going out for dinner. It was a great Saturday for all.

Now we're all ready for tonight's Oscar show and Abbi and I are totally ok with watching Hugh Jackman for a couple of hours ;)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A yummy hot drink for rainy days.

Earl grey tea , brewed quite strong
Steamed milk
Vanilla coffee flavoring/syrup (We love Monin brand)

I love the smell of bergamot... mmmm, off to drink my tea latte :)


Just to wig out my girls, (cuz they'll so like this)

To Abbi and Kyra:

"Your Other Mother"

The site is really fun, thanks Deanne! Of course the buttons I chose were designed by the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The girls and I went to Coraline this week and really liked it. The one we went to was the regular one, not 3-D, but still good. The animation in it is amazing, stop-motion if you're wondering. Just makes me want to run out and create! Of course there are swirls all over in the movie. There were some creepy parts, but not too much for us girls. Alec didn't go, we/he knew it wouldn't be one for him, he hates The Nightmare Before Christmas and it had that kind of feel to it. Abbi has read the book and said the book is much scarier. I'm glad it wasn't too bad (scary wise), for my sake! ;)

I have one happy exploring song going on my playlist from the movie but below is a creepier sounding sound. I really liked the music from it, I love soundtracks.

Oh! And Happy Valentines Day everyone!

Do you know the history behind Valentines Day? I didn't, until Abbi was wondering about it the other day. Here ya go!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Staying Conscious

10 Things that I think are wonderful to do for yourself. (I know when I remember these, I'm a much happier person.) These are from the DailyOM:

Staying Conscious
Staying Grounded in a Big City or Busy World

1. Live simply and live deliberately. By choosing not to get caught up in the details of this fast-paced world, you are doing your part to slow down the . You will also discover that you have more time to enjoy being alive.

2. Stay in touch with yourself. Soul searching, meditation, and journaling are just a few of the many activities you can take part in to stay aware and learn as much as you can about your emotions, reactions, likes, dislikes, dreams, and fears. Having a solid sense of self gives you a firm foundation for living in this world.

3. Support or teach others as often as you can. This can help you form connections with people while also giving you an opportunity to make the world a better place.

4. Consciously choose what you will allow into your being. The media bombards us with visions of hate, war, and pain. Be judicious about what you read, watch, and listen to.

5. Acknowledge the beauty that resides around you. Whether you live in a sprawling metropolis or a stereotypical suburb, there are natural and man-made wonders just waiting to be discovered by you.

6. Nurture your ties to your tribe. If you don’t have one, create a community that you can belong to. Modern life can be isolating. When you have a tribe, you have a circle that you are a part of. Its members – loved ones, friends, or neighbors - can be a source of support, caring, guidance, and companionship.

7. See the larger picture. Remember that the way that you choose to live is not the only way to live. Widen your perspective by exploring other modes of being through research, travel, and discussion.

8. Embrace the challenges that life presents to you, and challenge yourself often. After a time, even the most exciting jobs or lifestyles can seem routine. Never stop assimilating new knowledge about whatever you are doing, and your life will never seem dull.

9. Move your body. In this busy world, it can be easy to live a sedentary life. Movement reacquaints us with our bodies and connects us to the earth in a visceral way. It also restores our vitality.

10. Make time for stillness, silence, and solitude. The world can be noisy, and we are subject to all kinds of noises nearly every waking hour. We are also often "on the go" and unable to relax. Being alone in a peaceful place and
making time for quiet can help you stay in touch with yourself.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

oh my stars... (can't believe I typed that)

Wish we could get pictures like this from our telescope.

I found my galaxy! This is Messier 101. These photographs are taken with infrared-light used on the light coming from the stars and other things out there (sorry I'm not very technical ;) by the Spitzer Space telescope.

check out this one:

Stars being created and all that. wow.

Now to trying to figure out our telescope, we'd be happy with a good view of the moon!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Our interests as of late

The music that you hear is the song that Abbi is working on right now. I worked on it when I was 17 or so and had taken piano lessons for about 10 years. Honestly, I think she knows it better right now than I ever did.

It's been chilly here the last couple of days, as I write this it still hasn't gotten above 20 F, and it's 10:00 a.m. That's cold for Georgia! So as we stay inside we've been enjoying some nice inside cozy activities.

Abbi's been working on the piano, working out, baking wonderful cookies and watching Buffy and Angel.

Alec's been playing Persona 3, drumming every day and still enjoying raids with his guild on WoW.

Kyra's been leveling her druid on WoW, she's up to level 50 now! She loves talking with friends over the computer and watching Buffy and Angel.

Thank you Kimi who borrowed us the whole Angel series, we can w
atch to our hearts desire :)

Here are 2 of our favorite cookies recipes, we have a hard time keeping any of these around!

Ginger Snaps from my mother-in-law Jan

Cream: 1 1/2 C shortening (we use butter flavored crisco)

2 C sugar

Add: 1/2 c molasses
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 eggs
Mix, then add:

4 cups flour
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt

Chill dough for a couple of hours (or not, sometimes we're in a hurry and they're still good ;) roll into balls and sugar

375 degrees for 10-12 minutes

and our Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mix in this order:

2 Cups sugar

1 Cup brown sugar
1 cup crisco (we use butter flavored crisco on this too)
1 cup butter
2 eggs
4 Cups flour
4 teaspoons cream of tartar
4 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon vanille
1 package Chocolate chips semi sweet is what we like or chocolate chunks are good too.

350 degrees for 10-12 minutes


oops.. a little angel/David on the brain. Yes I have also enjoyed the shows.

I meant, enjoy those cookies!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

American Pie

With Ronnie reminding me.

50 years, wow, the day the music died. I wasn't around, but it always held even more sadness for those of us who lived where they were heading.

Damn winter.