Bad Parenting: Pete – The Monster in the Closet

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Meal time conversations…

Just the other day, I told Wyatt that a monster by the name of Pete lives in his closet.

How do I know Pete exists, you may ask? Well, Pete is afraid of the dark, so he turns on the closet light.

“If you ever see the light on in your closet, that is Pete.”

I then told Wyatt that I have to feed the monster on a daily basis to keep him from attacking Wyatt in his sleep.

At this point in the conversation, my wife looked like she wanted to kill me. She muttered something about me sleeping in Wyatt’s room if my story spawned nightmares.

That led to a trip to check the closet. We walked into his room, opened his closet door, turned on the light. Nothing. Wyatt somehow tripped as I gave him a little push, landing on something cushy. I closed the closet door and walked away.

When Wyatt came out, I told him that his name is actually Pete. He is the monster! AHHHHHH!

Talk about a twist ending. Therapy won’t be cheap.

Note to Self: Next time go along with the setup. It was perfect! Scare the kid. Not too late to redeem this story. A simple closet light turned on, right before bedtime, might work wonders. Or not…

Potty Bricks – Minecraft: Story Mode

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Wyatt and I have yet to delve into the blocky depths of full blown Minecraft. The first-person shooter (FPS) control scheme and complex user interface (UI) are obstacles. Barriers that have kept us from moving beyond the demo.

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Telltale Games recently released Minecraft: Story Mode. The game received an Everyone 10+ rating for “Fantasy Violence” and “Mild Language”. I visited the Entertainment Software Rating Board’s (ESRB) website to verify rating and descriptors.

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EVERYONE 10+Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.

  • Violence – Scenes involving aggressive conflict. May contain bloodless dismemberment
  • Language – Mild to moderate use of profanity

The ESRB site fails to illuminate exactly what I am putting in front of my son. What does “Mild Language” mean? Common childhood words such as: Jerk, Stupid, Buttface? Or are we moving into the territory of: Hell, Damn, and Ass?

Story Time: When Wyatt was still learning how to talk, he started saying the word “dammit”. Now he wasn’t around other kids at the time. My wife and I watched what we said around him. But this was his favorite word. Even after telling him not to use it, he would mutter it under his breath when angry. Kind of funny looking back. Kids repeat what they hear. Even if the parents can’t figure out where they are hearing it.

Nebulous content descriptors are a poor tool. So I decided to go to a source I could trust, I talked to my friend Josh, who had recently played the game. Josh told me that there are instances of:

“What the hell.”

“Freaking.” A lot.

My wife and I have a decision to make on this game. Do we allow it in our home? Are we ready to let our 6 year old hear things above the school playground? I’m not sure. Each family has to decide what they let into their home. Even if it is as minor as a little freaking hell.

Check out Josh’s video on the game below.

Theology Gaming Review: Super Mega Baseball – Extra Innings

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Super Mega Baseball seems perfect for fathers and sons to play together (or mothers and daughters, for that matter). It’s not too hard to give your opponent a leg up if they’re still learning the game. And even better, you can play co-op against the computer if you don’t want to oppose each other. It makes me wish I had my own five year old to play the game with. – Super Mega Baseball – Extra Innings

Video Games – Better Together

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I am a social gamer. I enjoy talking about video games more, oftentimes, than actually playing them. I also prefer playing through a game co-op versus playing single-player. Unless the single-player mechanics/gameplay are mind-blowing, then sign me up. There is something compelling about sharing a game experience. Whether that is shooting aliens together in a Halo game or operating on a patient in tandem in Trauma Center. Video games are best played with one another.

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Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance and Halo: Combat Evolved were two games I played through with my friend Cory. Fun times where we would purposefully get together, drink the soda, and push through the game at hand. Finding/equipping new gear, fragging enemies, and general friendship created fond memories for me. I miss those times.

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When we first started dating, I brought my silver GameCube over to Tabitha’s house. She was not a gamer, but I wanted her to fall in love with video games, like me. So I introduced her to The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. I can still remember her trying to get through the pirate ship’s hold. Lanterns swaying, platforms threatening to disappear, the game proved challenging for her. And yet, she made it.

Our gaming together has continued since we married.

  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
  • Tomb Raider and the Guardian of Light

The above are a small sampling of series that we have played together. Sometimes even playing with a walkthrough in hand. Don’t judge.

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My son and I have started our own tradition of playing video games together. With him, just as with my wife, I have had to learn to chill out and watch how I talk while playing. I hope that:

  • Memories are being made. Good memories.
  • Muscle memory and skills are developing
  • My love of virtual worlds is being passed on

Surrounded by people, encouraged by friends, gaming together is awesome.

Let the Mario Parties begin.

Thank You for Joining Me

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“How many people do you know who actually read your blog?”

“A whole lot more than you would think.”

When I write, I try to push aside thoughts of who is reading this blog. I write:

  • As an exercise to improve written skill
  • To clarify thoughts
  • To share my life with the greater world
  • In the hopes that someone, somewhere out there, is able to see that they are not alone. We all share similar thoughts, feelings, the human experience. I just happen to expose my musings in a public manner. Good or bad.

Yesterday evening, I was at Men’s Bible Study at my church. One of the guys–hi, Jeremy!–admitted that he reads my blog. He told the group that you never know what you might find here. He couldn’t be more right.

Thought I would take a moment and thank you, the reader. Thank you for joining me on this blogging journey. Thank you for taking a moment out of your day to visit with me. You never know what you might find here. But I can promise you, that you’ll find 100% me. At the junction point of faith, fatherhood, and video games.

Until next time.

Commuting with Mike Erre

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Listened to part of Mike Erre‘s Vox Podcast this morning. His first episode is titled “Why Gay Marriage is Good for the Church”. Great thoughts so far. Jesus always provides a third way/viewpoint to any debate. I appreciate Mike’s honesty and willingness to tackle this topic.

Take a listen here, if you feel so inclined.

Drop me a comment below, if you want to discuss.

Something happened on the way to school

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Today Wyatt had a math test. We were running late. Test anxiety, tiredness, and general panic filled the car as we drove to school. It is on mornings like this that I am happy we have a short five minute drive. But still, there is traffic. Other parents rushing their children about. A regular suburban war zone of cars, humanity.

As we got closer to school, Wyatt asked if he could pray. I told him sure. He prayed for the usual things, family safety being key. I navigated us into the parent drop-off lane. Reminding him that there was nothing he could do about the test this morning. All he could do is do his best.

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Driving through the final drop-off area, my grown-up six year old melted before my eyes. He was crying. I reassured him that he was going to have a great day. The door opened, he gave me a hug and got out.

I don’t have these moments too often, moments where I want to swoop in and protect my kid. But this morning, this was a morning where I wanted to do just that. I wanted to protect him, reassure him, let him know that the world is an okay place. It is on mornings like this that I wonder if my wife and I should homeschool. Academically challenge him in ways public school is failing at. Another discussion for another time though.

My heart hurt this morning. It sucked. I had to trust that Wyatt would have a good day. Knowing that he is a super smart kid and would do just fine on his test. I had to let go… and I didn’t want to.

Being a dad can be hard. Understatement of the year.

We can do this.

Boys Club

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Wyatt and I were alone Saturday afternoon. Tabitha went to a pre-wedding event (her brother is getting married next month), so we made a special time of it. Welcome to Boys Club.

Boys Club: A time when father and son get to hang out together, away from momma; a time where all topics are on the table, including poo-poo. Butt face.

Ever since Wyatt began to talk, I have tried to schedule special times together. Time away from momma. A set time were we could talk all we wanted about potty humor. A safe place where I could build trust with my son. I want him to be able to talk to me about anything. I figure if we can joke around and talk about bodily functions, we can talk about the deeper things in life later on. But fart jokes never get old. Ever.

Our Saturday Boys Club consisted of:

  • Playing the Star Wars Battlefront beta together
  • Happy hour drinks at Sonic
  • Starting/beating the LEGO Jurassic Park demo. Best part of the game was controlling the raptors.
  • Running around the backyard with Nerf guns and swords.
  • Watching at least two hours of Transformers Prime. Optimus Prime was at his end…or was he?

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Best part of our day was in the backyard. Wyatt wanted to go outside and play Transformers. So we each picked a weapon. I grabbed a foam sword, he grabbed a Nerf gun. Somehow we never got around to playing. Wyatt was too concerned with making up rules, structure, to our play. I got bored. So I grabbed his gun and took off. There were tears over my dual wielding weapons.

“You can’t have two!”

(Right, I’m the parent. Take the higher path. Give the kid a weapon.)

What did giving him a weapon bring about? Me losing both arms and legs to a foam sword. It hurt. A lot. I told him I had had enough. Wyatt then created something to regrow my limbs. All forgiven. Until our play continued and I broke out my Nerf shotgun. Which then snapped in half as I cocked it. Hulk smash!

My son and I are a lot alike. We can drive each other crazy in a moment. Boys Club on Saturday was a success. Optimus Prime lived.

I want to encourage dads out there to set up special times with your kids. This time doesn’t have to be expensive or involve going anywhere. A drive in the car, a battle in the backyard, a conversation before bed. Build a solid foundation today with your kids. They’ll remember the time they spent with you. Good time with dad.

Game on.

A Call: Moving Beyond Artificial Relationships

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There comes a point where we are talking past one another. More interested in communicating our points of view versus practicing active listening. Direction, or more so the lack of it, unites us towards the brink of nothing. As a truck stuck in the mud, we are spinning our tires, flapping our collective jaws. We have no power, no authority, no solid foundation. Our relationships are artificial. Welcome to an age lacking any sort of relational depth, welcome to the age of social media.

Social MediaFacebook, Twitter, both are tools that provide instant connection and communication across the globe. We can use these tools to promote change, voice ideas, and escape our everyday lives. Yet, our online interactions lack the tangible, the real. Body language, fluctuations in tone/voice, growing with one another, all lost in translation. We get to where we think we know others based on how much information we have shared about ourselves. As if time and information mean something. And they do. They equal relationships bobbing on the surface of life.

  • Who are you spending time with?
  • Are you even leaving the house?
  • When was the last time you looked away from your screen and made eye contact with another human?

Surface level relationships will never go beyond the surface. Diving equipment, time invested in person, allows us to get to know one another better. Being purposeful in our pursuit, this is key. We have to make time to have time to spend with others; We have to get over ourselves, move beyond technology.

An invitation to go for a walk, time set aside to enjoy nature and listen. Spending the lunch hour eating with a friend. Time invested. Physical time. We need more of this. We need to do this.

Be purposeful. Love people. Seek those around you who need a friend. We are all lonely. We want those around us to see us as we are. Help others get to know you. In the process, you can get to know them. Live life. Move beyond the surface and into the deeper waters.

Realize that this process takes time and that it won’t be easy. Things that matter in life never are.

We can do this.

GWJ Parenting Quote

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“I actually love being a dad. I don’t want you to imagine otherwise. The reality is that very often I do pack away the laptop or PS3, and have an amazing time with my kids. My desk at work is annoyingly littered with pictures of my boys, and when people ask me about my children I really end up making them regret asking or even knowing me in the first place. But like any work worth doing, the better a job you hope you do at it, the exponentially harder the job becomes. Parenting is, by definition, nearly constant marginalization of your own ego and impulses, and at least for me those voices in my head did not go quiet into that good night.”

“I don’t want you to have the impression that I don’t like spending time with my kids. We do it all the time, and I love it. But, honest to God, sometimes you just want to come home and play some Killzone—but you know if you do that, then just like that you’re the guy who played a game called “Killzone” instead of being a good dad and playing with your offspring (which for all practical concerns means an hour of playing Thomas the Tank Engine, only you are given Toby, who is the crappiest tank engine of all time).” The Secret Life of Dad

Trust When There Is No Light

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Who among you fears the Lord
    and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
    who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
    and rely on their God.
11 But now, all you who light fires
    and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
    and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
    You will lie down in torment. – Isaiah 50:10-11 (NIV)

We are called to have faith in times of darkness, times when we do not feel like we are hearing from God. Our temptation is to light our own torches, to not trust in God (Genesis 16), but that does not end well. When God gives us a glimpse of something He has for us, we just need to wait on Him. Waiting sometimes isn’t easy, but it is necessary.

Job Hunting: Professional Silence

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How do you keep job rejection from becoming personal?

You apply month after month. No response.

You have a professional look over your resume. Good to go. Still no response.

That cover letter you just wrote, the best thing you’ve ever written. No response.

Time and consistent rejection without official reply are wearing. You begin to wonder if it is something personal. Could it be that some future employer knows about that tuna fish sandwich accident in high school? Nah.

There are a lot of factors that go into the job hunt. Factors that have nothing to do with you, your work history, or that dumped tuna sandwich. Some jobs have to be publicly posted for legal purposes. Someone else, internally, already offered the job. I’m guessing this happens more often than not. It’s not you, sparky.

Factors of experience, location, and even race are further elements to consider. However awesome you are, you may not fit the company culture, hiring needs, and/or profile.

Hunting for a job is hard. The faceless modern job application process the internet promotes makes the process more difficult. There is no human feedback. The submit button looms with the ever present question of whether to attach a cover letter or not.

But you can do this. We can do this.

By reminding ourselves that we:

  • Are qualified for the positions we are applying for.
  • Are not just some number, standing in an infinite line. We are unique, talented, and experienced.
  • Will not always be dealing with silence.

Job hunting is a waiting game. May you wait well.

The Church of the Latter Day Player

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Do you think video games are the next big religion? This video, by Andy Robertson of FamilyGamerTV, explores this interesting idea. Yes, I realize the video is a few years old. That does not preclude the conversation Andy inspires. Take a look and then join the discussion below.

“Faith and gaming actually go hand-in-hand.”

Dinosaurs at the Longview World of Wonders

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The Longview World of Wonders hosted Dinosaur George this past weekend. My family and I made the trek downtown to view the destructive combo firsthand.

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Rawr!

After sliding into a close parking spot, we disembarked for the museum. As we rounded the corner, we met a long line. No worries. Dinosaur George was working his way through the queue, asking children if they wanted to touch the dinosaur jawbone he was carrying. Wyatt loved this!

In the meantime, a museum volunteer noticed that we already had tickets in hand. Turns out we were in the wrong line. A few steps later, we were in the museum and surrounded by dinosaurs.

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The World of Wonders building was divided in half. Tables surrounded the two spaces, filled with replica dinosaur fossils.

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Another reason not to go swimming in Texas.

We spent the next hour working our way around the building. Though there were lots of people, everyone was nice and the atmosphere was filled eager children’s voices.

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Dr. Grant’s brother had no idea what was about to happen…

Lunch time!

Mmm, people.

This Longview World of Wonders did a great job hosting this event. Thank you for the fun experience.