A Case of the Mondays

Standard

“What are you doing?”

“Cleaning. If I don’t clean this space now, I won’t get to it for awhile.”

I had a co-worker leave on Friday. After putting in his two weeks and serving them with a smile, he left Friday never to walk into the office again. I didn’t know him too well; he didn’t know me too well either. Perhaps we could both feel that his term, in the office, was going to be temporary? Either way, he left, ready to start a new adventure.

My co-workers old space

I got thinking, what would you do, Bryan, if you could do anything? If money wasn’t an object, what would you do? The longer I work in my office, the harder those questions are becoming to answer. I know that I want to make more money. That I want to feel more engaged throughout my work day. I get tired of working in a role that is 75% administrative assistant and 25% office manager.

Stayed up late thinking I was almost done with a game. I ended up playing through the climax and resolution to the game’s story. Only to find out that there was another chapter to the story… saying goodbye to the cast of characters. I decided it would be best to go to bed about then.

Just as the adoption path has been silent, so has my search for a new line of work. I was driving back to work from lunch the other day, and I saw a sign that advertised x-amount of money for working on an assembly line at a local business. For a moment, I considered that job. It paid more than what I currently make per hour. But then you start to think about vacation time, having to work weekends, general hours, and one starts to talk themselves out of such things.

I know that God has me where I am for a reason. That He has grown me, changed me, and molded me into a totally different person than I was when I first started working here. In the twelve years I’ve worked here, I’ve become:

  • A dad
  • A homeowner
  • A Sunday school teacher
  • A deacon
  • A father waiting to become a father again, through adoption

The time that I have worked here, in this office, has not been wasted. I feel like God has been teaching me to find my fulfillment in Him, not in my job title or what I do 7 days a week. But I wonder what else there is… I wonder what other challenges await. I wonder how far we’ll have to go–will we have to move?–to find such prospects. I want to work again in a place where I am friends with my co-workers. If anything, the Coronavirus has shown me how alone I feel at work.

I am ready for something new.

Time for some more coffee.

Q: When was the last time you stayed up late trying to finish a book, movie, or game? Was it worth it? 🙂

In the Shadows of Fortnite

Standard

Last November, Tabitha and I were struggling through the Fortnite craze with Wyatt. At the time, I penned a blog post that opened with this:

“I feel caught between being a parent and a gamer. Caught between my son loving Fortnite and me seeing the game for what it is, exploitative. I find myself fighting the urge to erase the game from my house. To pretend that Fortnite does not exist and funnel Wyatt towards games that are not built upon:

  • The addictive free-to-play foundations of games such as Candy Crush and Clash of Clans. Games that are built to encourage consumers to spend real life money to advance/keep playing. Pay-to-win, children!
  • Female characters designed to be objectified/sexual eye candy.
  • A non-stop gameplay loop.
  • An in-game store that creates an artificial need to buy skins (think: clothing/costumes) and items that will expire within an arbitrary time limit.

I can feel my parents surging within me, screaming, “JUST PULL THE PLUG!” But I’m trying to push through that deep rooted feeling. I’m trying to like Fortnite for my son; I’m trying to parent through it.”

I wrote much more than what I’m sharing above. The Fortnite post was up, on this site, for a couple of hours until I removed it. Not that I disagreed with anything that I had written, but I realized that the game had changed.

There comes a point, in parenting, where you need to work through things on your own. I realized that I was painting myself, as a parent, into a corner. Failing to realize:

  • That my attitude towards Fornite might change in the future.
  • That one day Wyatt might discover my blog and read what I have written about him.
  • That I want to be careful with how I represent my son online.
  • That some things are best worked out as a family. Privately.

Yes, we struggled as a family through Fortnite. I know many of you did. But me writing that unpublished blog post made me re-think how I blog about myself and my family. Not everything that happens in our homes, with our kids, needs to end up online.

From Across the Net – “Three Cautions and Encouragements for Dads”

Standard

Photo by Scott Goodwill on Unsplash

The “plan dragon” is one of those I’ve had to battle for years. Thankful for God’s grace and how we grow, as parents, as our children grow.

When I was setting up our new family tent, a big part of my frustration sparked because I had plans and my daughter interrupted them. Most of our anger and annoyance happens when our plan (or our kingdom) becomes threatened or disturbed.

The very people we’re trying to serve and love become the problem in our eyes. They ruin our plan—even if that plan is to make memories with them—so we get angry.

You can read more here

From Across the Net – “8 Reasons Why Pastors Need to Serve in the Nursery or Preschool for a Sunday”

Standard

I can’t agree with Chuck Lawless enough here, speaking to pastors:

You need to model for your church’s parents the importance of serving in the nursery and preschool departments. Too many parents receive the benefits of childcare for their little ones, but they don’t give back by serving themselves. Perhaps seeing their pastor serve would encourage them to make a commitment.

Read more here

Personal Preferences and Media Consumption

Standard

Back on this date in 2017, I asked the following question on Facebook:

Parents: How much do personal preferences play a role in what media your child consumes?

The general response was that personal parental preferences play a huge role in what media a child consumes. I know that for years, in my home, I have curated and encouraged consumption of specific video games, shows, and movies. Part of that is me being an engaged parent; the other part of that is wanting to show my son what quality media looks and feels like.

Super Mario Odyssey represents quality media.

Over the years, my son has watched a few shows that have driven me nuts. There has been nothing wrong with these shows, content-wise, but the voice acting and plotlines just seemed inane. Something I’ve had to learn, as a parent, is that sometimes my kid is going to like something I do not.

The big bad video game, in my house lately, has been Fortnite. A typical match looks like:

  • Picking a place on the map to start out in
  • Scavenging for weapons
  • Trying not to make a lot of noise and survive
  • Engaging fellow players with the weapons I’ve collected while trying not to become a victim of the virtual Hunger Games.

I have found that I enjoy the satisfaction of staying alive and making it into the final 5 players alive. Knowing that 95 other players have been eliminated and that I’m one of the few remaining is a good feeling. But I dislike how aimless Fortnite otherwise feels. I dislike the lack of direction, objectives, and how I have to make my own fun while surviving at the same time.

Fortnite does not fit my personal gaming preferences. This has taken me awhile to realize/put into words. But I’ve learned that there are times, as a parent, where you need to be quiet and explore the things your kids love. I may dislike Fortnite for many reasons, but I enjoy the time I get to play with my son. I have to focus on that positive, co-op play, and ignore the “we could be playing such-and-such game instead because that game is designed better” thoughts. Play in the moment, right?

Revisited – The Onion Layers of Time

Standard

I wrote this back in March of 2012. I can tell you that I’ve chilled out a bit since then. No longer do I feel angry or frustrated when I don’t get to play a game in the evening. I’ve gotten to where I might game once a week (IF). I more so now enjoy the time I’m spending with my family. Just needed to grow up and discover a few more layers. Always thankful to Shrek for that analogy. – Bryan

As we advance in years, I believe that we all wish that we would personally be able to grow and mature with time as well. For some, growth and maturity are unattainable due to personal life choices; for others, growing in maturity and stature are a knowingly made decision.

Before I was married, I had all the time in the world to pursue what I wanted to pursue. If I wanted to go out with friends for coffee at 2AM, I could. If I wanted to sit down and play a video game every evening, for hours on end, I could do so as well. I was a free man and time was all mine.

Photo by Thomas Martinsen on Unsplash

As I dated and was soon married, my time quickly became our time. No longer did I have the freedom to do what I wanted to do. I had to now take my wife into consideration. What did she want to do? What could we do together? There was nothing wrong or bad about this change in the way I spent my time. Like an onion, I had simply discovered a new layer of personal depth; like an onion, my time had also grown thinner in peeling away that new layer.

The birth of our son set into motion the equation of: my time + our time = his time.

Age, growth and maturity force us to constantly evaluate the things that matter to us. Are we spending our free time pursuing the things that we love or the things that we simply like? This got me thinking about video games and my constant struggle to figure out where they place in my life. Do I love them or just like them? Are they keeping me from pursuing the things that I love?

What about you?

The Electronic Monster in My Pocket

Standard

Every time we go to a school event, I’m struck by parents glued to their phones.

The other day, I watched a parent sitting in front of me flip through their cell phone’s menu screen. Aimlessly. No doubt with a delightful internal monologue:

“Which app do I choose? I haven’t played Clash Royale in ages. Ah, don’t make eye contact! They might want to talk!!”

The introvert side of me gets it. The phone provides a safety blanket against scary “stranger” conversations. As a parent, as a dad, I wonder what the kids see though. Do they see parents:

  • Distracted/not present in the moment?
  • Displaying the same electronic habits at home?

Put it down.

The screen is so magical!

I know that being in a crowd of people we don’t know can be intimidating. I know that it is easier to escape into a phone, look important, and ignore those around us. But at what cost does our escape come at? What are we modeling for our children when we can’t even put down our phones for a moment?

I’m not trying to sound judgmental nor make others feel guilty. I’ve used my phone to ignore people many times. The thing is, I want my son to know that he is important. That I can be present in the moment. No matter how hard or uncomfortable that might be.

Understanding Minecraft through Cooperative Play

Standard

Over the weekend, Wyatt and I played Minecraft for a couple of hours. Straight. I’ve never really understood the game. Sure, I get that it is virtual LEGOS. You can dig caves, build forts, the imagination is the limit. But I didn’t understand Minecraft until I played it co-op with my son.

We started our play session separated from one another. I worked on a castle; Wyatt worked on a village/farm. Eventually we figured out that the game has an in-game map. We found each other!

Wyatt begged me to come see his village. So I did. But my castle called to me, come finish me! So I left. Wyatt followed. My castle soon became a joint creation, our castle. Glowing pumpkins, emerald blocks, materials I would never choose, the boy placed with relish.

Playing the game cooperatively, split-screen, allowed us to create our own in-game narrative. Our creations telling the story of a seven-year-old and a thirty-five-year-old living in a block-filled land.

We have built great things together. Cooperatively, through the magic of Minecraft.

I finally understand.

Wyatt (top screen); Me (bottom screen). Built a tower of light.

Sky Bridge

Wyatt (top screen); Me (bottom screen). Built an epic sky road that spans to a distant mountain.

From Across the Net: “Boys Need Their Moms”

Standard

Tim Challies wrote a piece titled “Boys Need Their Moms“.

And yet even in Christian circles there is little attention given to the relationship of boys and their mothers, at least once they pass the toddler stage. It is rarely mentioned and rarely celebrated. We still look askance at a boy who spends a lot of time with his mom or a mom who is close to her boy. There is still that suspicion—that irrational and unfair suspicion. There is still that fear that a boy necessarily ought to be closer to his father than his mother.

I am thankful for the relationship Tabitha has with Wyatt. She balances out my rougher parenting edges with a tenderness I find hard to provide.

Odd that Challies references James Dobson’s Bringing Up Boys. Dobson’s chapter aimed at moms is brief and lacking any substance. Tabitha and I were terribly disappointed in it.

The Pokémon Tourist

Standard

Pokemon Logo

I want to be the very best, like no one ever was. Even though I was 17 when Pokémon Red released, I have always been somewhat of a novice trainer. Following the series evolution across platforms, I have dabbled in different generations. Never completing:

  • Pokémon Red
  • Pokémon Yellow
  • Pokémon Pearl
  • Pokémon Platinum
  • OR Pokémon Y

Pokémon just isn’t an obsessive thing for me. What does draw me are the solid game mechanics, relaxed world, and creature battling.

Pokémon Y represents the most time I have spent with the series. Clocking in at over 20 hours, I thought I was almost done with the campaign. Nope. A walkthrough confirmed that I am but halfway on my journey. Never going to be number one at that pace. Ash, I’ve failed!

Pokemon Y

As a dad, Pokémon has taken on a new meaning. It is a series that I can share with Wyatt. A series that encourages reading, fun gameplay, and quality time spent. Nintendo has indeed created a monster.

pokemonThis year, The Pokémon Company is celebrating Pokémon’s 20th anniversary. The Super Bowl ad above is but the cusp of this tidal wave. Throughout the year, Nintendo and GameStop are offering one rare creature download a month. Take a look:

  • Celebi: March 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Jirachi: April 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Darkrai: May 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Manaphy: June 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Shaymin: July 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Arceus: August 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Victini: September 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Keldeo: October 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)
  • Genesect: November 1 – 24 (GameStop)
  • Meloetta: December 1 – 24 (Nintendo Network)

We’ll see if Wyatt and I can keep up with the pocket monster collecting. I’m still waiting for him to be ready for his own handheld console and copy of the game. We just aren’t there yet… but soon.

 

2015 – A Year In Review

Standard

2015 has been a roller coaster year.

We’ve Explored

file_204587_0_makelovenotwarcraft

Should Men Put Video Games Away As “Childish Things” For Their Wives / Girlfriends?

I have known countless guys who have given up their favorite hobby due to a spouse or girlfriend disapproving– I am sure that this is true for the female species as well. Once upon a time, these guys enjoyed playing video games. They used them to drop stress levels, rest, and relax. For some reason though, chemistry, the alignment of the stars, who knows, they end up coupling with someone who disapproves/looks down upon their hobby. So they have to quit, have to walk away from something they love to be in love.

Read more here

We’ve Been Real With One Another

photo-1427348693976-99e4aca06bb9

Longing For That Missing Person

Social media is filled with photos of babies. Beautiful children who are all snugly and cute. While I am excited for my friends and family who are pregnant, there is always this void that gnaws at my soul.

Read more here

We’ve Shared In The Joys Of Parenting

transformers-prime-images-26

Boys Club

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!”

Read more here

We’ve Read Some Great Books

_240_360_Book.1491.cover

Scary Close – Dropping the Act and Finding True Intimacy

I first discovered Donald Miller in college. I was at a point in my life where I wasn’t sure about my Christian faith anymore. There was a disconnect between the Christians I read about in the Bible and the Christians I met everyday. Tired of the hypocrisy, I found honesty in Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. Someone was finally writing from a perspective that felt authentic. God used Miller’s words to remind me of the freedom we have in Christ; He used Donald Miller to bring me back to Him.

Read more here

We’ve Called Each Other To More

Social Media

A Call: Moving Beyond Artificial Relationships

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.

Read more here

I’m not sure of the places we’ll go in 2016. But we can explore, share, and be real together. Here is to another great year. Happy New Year!

Night Terrors

Standard

Wyatt had another night terror.

I walked into his room to find him yelling and looking around for something on his pillow. His eyes darting about, as if tormented by unseen things. I asked him for five dollars. Nothing. If he had been awake, that would have brought a quick response. He continued moan-yelling, speaking in an asleep language.

I crawled into bed with him. Rubbed his back. Told him to go to sleep. We laid there for awhile. His eyes darting, refusing to stop their dance. I told him it was okay. Everything was okay.

Growing up, my sister suffered from epilepsy. I have seen things that I wish I could un-see. Prayed desperate prayers to God to take away her seizures. Which he did. But I can’t shake the images of her eyes darting about. Her seizures remind me of my son’s night terrors. Two completely different things, I know. Both haunting.

After awhile the heater kicked on. Wyatt finally calmed down. I left him and got back in bed. My mind awake.

Parenting is hard. I often feel as if I am failing as a dad. And then I have a moment where my son needs me.

I just want to be a good dad. A dad who has an actual relationship with his son. I try to move beyond what was modeled for me. Overcoming the past by active engagement.

The night terrors will one day cease. Wyatt will grow older, mature, and one day move out. I hope that the foundation I am building in our relationship is enough. I don’t want him to realize, as an adult, that he and I have nothing to say. Life is too short and precious for that.

Bad Parenting: Pete – The Monster in the Closet

Standard

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

Standard

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.

maxresdefault

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.

esrb ratings symbol for e10 games

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

Quote

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

Standard

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.

1415324863908_halo combat evolved anniversary edition (3)

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.

wp-1-1920x1080

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.

header

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

Standard

“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.