parenting

Pokemon GO, you are exactly what I need!

Hi, my name is Jenni, and I’m a 45 year old adult who is pretty heavily addicted to Pokemon GO.

Now before you dismiss me for that, read on, because I feel my reasons for loving this game are pretty solid.

First of all, let me put it out there, that my new “hobby” of Pokemon GO may be the nerdiest thing I’ve even been involved in. And this is coming from someone who used to be thoroughly excited to clip coupons from the newspaper ads on Sunday mornings and organize them into my Dollar Store accordion coupon pouch.

A couple of weeks ago I was volunteering at my 5th graders school, putting together first day packets.  There were 4 moms there including me, and a couple of students.  I nonchalantly, and rather fishingly asked, “So, do any of your kids play Pokemon GO?”  And the response from two moms was “Yes, and so do I!” We talked Pokemon for the rest of the packet assembling with our Pokemon GO apps open on the tables.

Shut the front door.  I’ve found my tribe.

When the game first came out and my son began explaining it to me, I told him, “Wow, that is an absolute brilliant app.”

He showed me this a day later, and it was hilarious (truly no political agenda here, just funny), and oh so true to what my friends were posting on Facebook about their kids walking their dogs and getting out of the house for walks and bike rides daily:

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Then I started seeing seeing stories of the game’s therapeutic benefits, which as a Recreation Therapist, really spoke to me.  Getting kids in hospitals out of their rooms, getting high anxiety, or isolative kids and adults out walking in their community…amazing.

My son told me I should download the app, I did, then I got hooked.  Not sure why.  I’ve never been into any game other than my tried and true Words With Friends.  Our family does like to Geocache when camping, so maybe it’s because Pokemon GO is a bit similar to geocaching, in that you need to find things, and Pokemon GO has constant findings and rewards.

I have to admit there was a bit of nostalgia seeing all of the Pokemon names.  My son loved Pokemon cards when he was young.  I still vividly remember the time that he exclaimed, “Mom! I have coughing and wheezing!”  To which I of course replied “What?  Are you ok?  When did that start?” Turns out he had Koffing and Weezing Pokemon cards that he just got out of his new deck.

Back to present day, I don’t know about your house, but in mine, having two teenagers and one preteen, conversations can be sparse at times.  I have awesome kids, but sometimes, the dialogue can have constant splashes of attitude.  For now though, it’s not uncommon while playing Pokemon GO, to hear one sibling say to another “I just evolved my Caterpie into a Metapod, look at how cute and funny he is!”  A whole new non confrontational language and conversation piece.

This has been a new activity that I can share with my kids.  We all enjoy it, and are all super interested in it.  Most days after I pick them up from their schools (an hour event to get all 3 from 3 separate schools), we head somewhere for about 1/2 hour to an hour to play Pokemon GO together, usually enjoying a smoothie along the way rather than just heading home eventually ending up in our separate activities or interests after recapping our days.  Recently, when we go somewhere new, or out of town, we talk about being excited for what Pokemon may be there.  (I know, nerdy, but hey, I’m good with nerdiness.)  Being able to have fun doing something together with my 16 year old son, my 13 year old daughter, and my 10 year old daughter is truly awesome.  I don’t know how long the thrill of this game is going to last for all of us, but I’m going to enjoy it while it’s here.

I posted the following on my Facebook page a few weeks back:

I totally thought this was funny when I read it. Then I started thinking about it, running around finding ‪#Pokemon‬ is a break from the crazy that is needed for a moment.”

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Honestly, life gets hard.  Scary stuff happens, and things get stressful and hard to handle.  A check out from reality is needed and welcome sometimes.  This app allows me to decompress, to mindlessly look for cartoon characters to pop up, and get excited about new ones I haven’t caught before.  In all honesty, it combats my stress and anxiety at times by being able to go on auto pilot for a bit.

Last night, my husband was out of town, and I took my 3 kids out to dinner downtown, where we were all excited to go because there’s a lot of Pokemon GO action!  As we were leaving the restaurant, a couple who was sitting outside watched us as we walked by and judgmentally said, “they are all looking at their phones.”  These are the times where I believe I need a shirt made with the motto that I tell my kids sometimes when they get concerned about others, “You Do You.”  Basically, mind your own business, worry about yourself, you don’t know what other people are going through.

Frankly, if catching a Squirtle, Leveling Up, or having three of the four of us in a frenzy while in the car taking turns to try and catch an Arcanine that has ??? as the CP value brings me or my family joy, I’m all in.

The glory of being 45 and having this hobby, I honestly don’t care what anyone else thinks.  Although, let’s be truthful, I’m not going to put a Poke ball on my purse or anything, it’s just that I can’t care about what people don’t understand.

Poke on friends!!

For my tribe, you get me:

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Too many emotional layers…

Lately, it seems that there are too many emotional layers in my head. I’m picturing it like the way we learned about rocks and land, where there are layers upon layers built upon each other.

Yet, unlike land, in my head, there is a definite limit to the amount of layers that can be built.  When the layers in my head have reached the top, even the smallest piece of dust that lands on the top layer seems to be too much.

I was subbing last week, and while in the lunch room with friends, tears built up in my eyes while I was in the process of figuring out a plan for the afternoon.  I was figuring out where my kids would be going in multiple directions when I had to be somewhere else. Not a big deal.  Everyday, normal decision making.  I’m not a cryer, especially in front of other people.  I tried to shake it off, and gave myself a quick ‘Pull it together!’

Yet, it was the dust on top of the layers.

That’s happening lately. Normal things that aren’t big things at all, at times have a big effect on me.

All I can figure, is that I need to get rid of some of those lower levels of crap that take up space in my head.

Many of these layers seemed to have just shown up, and taken up residence, I haven’t even really been aware that they moved in!   And like current home and tenant laws, after a short time limit of being there, even if they don’t belong, it’s a battle to get them out.

I need to make myself clear, I am not suffering from anything. I have close friends that are going through crazy times. Yet, here I am, my mind not able to take a piece of dust on top of the layers.

After talking to a friend recently, I wonder if a part of it has to do with being in my 40’s.

This seems to be an in between time.

My kids aren’t young, they don’t need me in the same ways that they used to, yet they aren’t around the corner from leaving the nest quite yet.  We’re in the midst of teenager years which brings it’s own challenges.  (Note:  Challenges is a very nice, PC word to use for some teen parenting experiences.)

40’s is finding good friends sick.  Horribly sick.

By our 40’s, most of us have been married a long time, and as I look around, it’s bringing some divorces.

40’s seems to be an in between time.

These 40’s things may be contributing to the layers in my head that are already there from my own life experiences.

But, I can see around the corner. Resilience will bring experience to this in between time, and maybe then the layers will start to lift.

Although, as I chip away at those layers in my head that by now probably have fossils in them, I believe for the time being my motto will be this:

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Just keeping it real.  Shoulders go down a bit in tension, and a small smile comes across my face as I take a sip while making dinner.

It may not chisel the layers, that’s going to take some work, but I do believe it helps me with the dusting.

 

Baseball knowledge converted to parental technique

I just posted this on my Facebook page:

My husband has always talked to my son about needing to have a short memory in baseball. I’m now thinking I need to have a short memory in raising teens. I told my husband I’m about a step away from putting a toilet on the wall like Fullerton has in the dugout so I can just walk by and flush things as they happen!!! New radical parenting technique! Ha!

 

*Where can I get a flushing toilet for my kitchen wall I wonder?

My 100th Post! How did that happen?

I can’t believe this is the 100th post on my blog.

The fact that I’ve had enough to say about something 100 times is pretty crazy, but also pretty cool.

As my blog states, You can’t argue with crazy is about how ‘Migraines suck, and other tidbits of my life!’

Well, as I look back through these 100 posts, I’ve written a lot about the other tidbits…

Here’s a few of those tidbits from along the way to 100.  They make me laugh and smile.  So, hopefully when you click on them and read them, they make you laugh and smile too!

Take for instance, posts about bugs:

Or animals:

My husband:  

My Recreation Therapy profession:  

My kids/parenting:

Random no real category posts:

And of course, migraines:

There is one thing about this whole blog experience that leaves me puzzled.  How in the world people find my blog from some of the things they search!

Here are some search terms that led people to my blog.  I can’t make this stuff up:

  • how can someone be so drunk that they do abnormal things like peeling wallpaper
  • when moms argue because kids friends argue
  • can fruit fly follow you

and, the one web search that got them to my site, that is just nuts:

  • i promise. I will kill you soon.

That one just makes me nervous!  What the heck?  How did that lead to my blog about migraines?  The internet is weird.  Maybe they got my anti-migraine smoothie recipe and all is good now.  Hope so!

Anyway, 100 is a lot!  And I have my sister in law to thank for this very first post to You can’t argue with crazy:

‘Winning’ (Charlie Sheen reference of course) the endless game of migraines (for this quarter at least)

If I were to talk to middle schoolers…

Middle school sucks.  Not the school in particular, the years of middle school life.  I know because I’ve been through middle school, watched one of my children go through it, and currently have one in middle school.  Kids are trying to figure out who they are.  Many start to make bad choices.  Others struggle with trying to keep on the right path.  Socially, emotionally, hormonally, things are on warp speed.  We’ve had our share of incidents through these years.  The incident I refer to below probably won’t be the last.  All is fine now, and my daughter does not know I’m writing about this, so if you my family, please don’t mention it to her.  Because of the stellar attention and actions from the administration at my child’s school, it was able to be determined that the student’s intention was not to threaten my child.  This incident in fact, opened a door to the student that may have never been opened in order to get some attention and assistance that was needed.  

If I were to talk in front of middle schoolers today, this is what I’d say:

My daughter was threatened by another middle school student last week.  I’m not going to go into the details about it.  The reason is because some of you may be scared hearing about what happened, and others of you may think ‘what’s the big deal about that?’  So, I’ll let you use your imagination.  Unfortunately, some of you may have your own experience with being threatened that you can relate to.

I feel that negative experiences at times are perfect opportunities to realize some positives.  So, I’m going to focus on some positives.  Some of these are general, some are specific.

Thank you to the student, who each day, walks up to my child and tells her something nice to make her smile.  Each and every day.  We should all be so lucky to have someone think of us and want to make us smile everyday.  You know who you are.  Thank you for your attention, and for making her smile.

Thank you to my child’s friends.  Both old and new.  Thank you for the laughter, the good times shared, or just sitting next to each other at lunchtime, those moments are important.  Friends are an extension of family, people my child can depend on.  Thank you.

Thank you to my child’s teammates.  No matter which sport, thank you for pushing my child, for picking them up, for constantly confirming what it means to be a team.  Being part of a team allows for a sense of belonging.  That is so important in life.

All of you here are a community. Your community became larger coming into middle school from elementary school.  Being in a community brings a feeling of needing to protect it.  When someone threatens a part of your community, you need to work together to make sure everyone is safe.  When you hear students talking about other students, and hurting them, or hurting themselves, that’s a warning sign. Even if you are hoping they are joking, it’s not something to take lightly.   It’s not your responsibility to decide whether something is or isn’t a ‘real’ threat to your community.  Parents, teachers, principals, counselors, those are the people you go to when you feel that your community needs to be protected from something.

YOU MATTER. Everyone matters. The person who is making the threat, they matter too.  Be proud of your community, and work to do your part to keep it safe.  You don’t ever need to feel embarrassed about something that you feel scared or uncomfortable about.  If you are not feeling safe, or feel someone else is not safe, those are real feelings, and always worthy of attention.  Your feelings do not have to match others.  If you are uncomfortable with something, tell someone.  YOU MATTER.

*You Matter is one of three essential messages used in the aMasongrace project @ amasongraceproject.com. 

Just keeping it real…

While shopping at Target for the second time in 3 days one recent morning, after getting all 3 of my kids off to their 3 separate schools, I saw a sign that read:

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I wanted to tell it to shut up, and then maybe give it a little shove to knock it over.

This particular recent morning, prior to my Target outing, had been a rough one in our household. Therefore, a more appropriate and accurate sign to be hung in my house would have read something like this:

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And while thankfully the majority of the time I could accurately display the love and laughter sign from Target, my own sign of attitudes, fits, temper tantrums and yelling is definitely an accurate portrayal of my home during certain moments.

(Disclaimer: moments where my ATTITUDE sign can be displayed may be getting more and more frequent as the number of teenagers in my house increases.)

Just keeping it real.

My blog is 1 year old, where’s my cake?

This is my 87th blog post, and today is my blog’s birthday.  I’m considering this to be my ‘Greatest Hits So Far’ post.

One year ago, I started my blog.  Thanks to my sister in law, upon her suggestion, I began sharing my migraine experiences, along with lots of other tidbits from my life, and as a result, have had 4,150 views of my posts.  Crazy.

It’s been a lot of fun, and I’m so thankful, and still a bit overwhelmed by the great feedback I have gotten.

So, to celebrate, here are the TOP 10 VIEWED POSTS from this past year:

10.  My littlest is sick.  Life stops when my kids get sick, and that’s ok.

9.  School Sleepover for Teachers  A teachers work is never done.

8.  For the love of dogs… A celebration of the dogs in my life.

7.  Oops I did it again!  Putting my foot in my mouth…again.

6.  I miss Little League (One of my favorites!!  Baseball is and has been a huge part of our family.)

5.  Part 3:  Our children’s reality, uncomfortably numb Part 3 of me trying to accept my kids reality of the dangers they prepare for at school.

4.  Our children’s reality, uncomfortably numb (Part 1)  Part 1 of me trying to accept my kids reality of the dangers they prepare for at school.

3.  Thoughts on my 17th wedding anniversary…  17 years married is a long time, it wasn’t a glamorous celebration, but its all worth it.

2.  My husband is my best friend…NOT  My husband doesn’t even want that job…

And the number 1 viewed post, my very first one:

‘Winning’ (Charlie Sheen reference of course) the endless game of migraines (for this quarter at least)  My migraine story.

Here are 3 of my personal favorites:

An Ode to See’s Candy  See’s is my favorite thing.

I am one step up from Jammie Bottoms  I love my jammies, but I will not wear them out in public.

The Mom Awards  The awards that we deserve for the little things we don’t have to do.

Thanks guys, I appreciate that I can make you smile from time to time!!  

It really is super cool!

Part 3: Our children’s reality, uncomfortably numb.

I was planning on publishing this in a couple of days, a recap of a conversation with my kids from last week.  But today, I subbed at my youngest’s elementary school, and participated in an ‘Active Shooter Drill’.  Laying flat, listening to the alarm, having administration bang on the doors to check that they are locked, all while meeting the eyes of little ones who some are nervous, some are still chatty, it’s hard to not get a little emotional that this is our reality.  I likened it to military, where God forbid anything like this ever happens for real, kids and staff would go on auto pilot and do what they have practiced, and practiced well.  So, I thought today was appropriate for the following post.

The actual conversation in the car after I picked up my children from school:

My 4th grade daughter:  We have a new way to act if we are on the playground for the stranger drill.

Me: Oh?

4th grader:  Ya, you don’t lay on the ground anymore, you run zig zag around the playground, or to the school to see if a class is open.  It makes it harder for someone to shoot you.

Me: Um, ok.

4th grader:  And someone asked a silly question, they asked what if the bad guy broke the window in the door and then just reached in and opened the door?

Me: Oh, I don’t think you need to worry about..

10th grader son interrupts:  Oh, that can totally happen, he could break the window with his gun and then just come in and start shooting then.

Me (in cold sweats, and clearly the only one in the car uncomfortable with the conversation):  Stop this conversation now please!

4th grader (totally nonchalant, with absolutely no emotion):  I totally think the old way was better.  You just lay down.

Me (calming down a bit thinking that I liked the old way too)

4th grader:  Because then you’re laying down and they just shoot you and it’s over.

Me:  Ok, that is it, no more of this talk, I can’t do it.

10th grade son and 7th grade daughter:  Snickering.

Me to my 10th grader:  Do you have drills?

10th grader:  Um, no.  Maybe we had a fire one last year?

What is going on?!!!

All 3 of my kids are in the car, chatting away like we’re talking about a recent movie seen, or what type of toppings they would order on frozen yogurt, and with each sentence stated by one of my kids in their calm, matter of fact voice, this is me:

And I could not make up this next part if I tried…  Playing outside later that night, my 9 year old says ‘hey mom, this is how we are supposed to run if there is a stranger on campus drill at school.’  And she proceeded to run across the grass, pretty much having fun, in a zig zag pattern.  She then wanted me to try.  As I had to almost laugh that I was going to run the ‘stranger zig zag pattern’, I rationalized that I was playing with my kid, so that’s good right?  After my zig zag debut, my 9 year old gave me a look like ‘ya, you’re a goner if it ever happens.’  So, I lost in the game of zig zag pattern stranger running?  I have no words…

Maybe it’s good that they are so matter of fact with all of this.  But it blows my mind still.  Again, glad that there are procedures in place to make our kids safe, and so thankful for my kids schools and their teachers.  But I have to almost laugh at the panic it creates in me, while my 3 kids are in an almost zen place when discussing this topic.

In case you missed it, here is why this post is labeled as number 3:

  1. Our children’s reality, uncomfortably numb (1)
  2. Our children’s reality, uncomfortably numb (2)

3 tough questions my kids asked me over the weekend.

  1. Is Santa real?  (9 year old)
  2. How did Robin Williams die?  (9 year old)
  3. What exactly is cancer?  (12 year old)

Amazingly, of these three questions, number 1 was the easiest and most direct to answer.

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She had asked me the ‘Is Santa real?’ question earlier in the week when everything was crazy busy and I was able to Jedi mind trick her with ‘let’s talk about that when we have time to really have a good talk.’  Then, a few days later, she cornered me in the backyard as I was watering the plants.  She just needed to know.  No emotion, just needed affirmation.  We talked, she was cool, and on she went to ride her Ripstick in the front yard.  Three kids, three different reactions to that question.  My 15 year old still has never asked me that question.  My 12 year old was extremely emotional during our conversation.  And I think I need to investigate why my husband has been away for a night when this question has been asked….

Question number 2 happened in the car while driving with all three of my kids.  This question I did not answer as directly as question number 1.  The movie ‘RV’ is our family go to movie.  All five of us love it, and consistently laugh each time we watch it (which is usually at least twice a year).

We, as many did, felt that we almost knew Robin Williams personally, so our family was very sad when he died.  Why my youngest wondered how he died while driving in the car yesterday, I do not know.  I wasn’t sure how honest I needed to be about his death, which isn’t really something I know too much about anyways.  We instead talked about that he had been married, and had adult children.  They were amazed when I told them I thought he was about 60 when he died (turns out he was 63).  My son said ‘but how did he look about 40 then?’  One thing I did say was that I had read that he had been sad at times during his life and making people laugh probably made him feel good.  I have talked to my kids about suicide, and learned to use language such as ‘you matter’, and ‘moments pass’ due to a mother’s extremely heartbreaking true story which has allowed me to learn how to help educate my kids http://amasongraceproject.com/about-the-project/.  And although suicide is something I have talked about with my kids, I wasn’t confident in going there and using that term yesterday with the Robin Williams talk.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s something I will revisit.

Question 3 happened out of the blue in the kitchen.  I tried to explain cancer as it happens in a persons body the best I could.  I tried to ‘answer only what is asked’ as I have in the past.  The follow up questions were ‘does it hurt?’  Then specifically about breast cancer and how ‘sometimes women just get them cut off?’

It’s these types of conversations that make me feel like such an amateur in this parenting thing.  But, I just keep doing my best at being honest while trying to keep in mind the maturity level of my kids.  Having Google implanted in my brain so I can reference it in the middle of these talks seems like a good idea to me.

It’s all going to be ok, Back to School edition…

I find myself telling my kids as they are getting older things that my friends and I have been telling each other for years.  As they are facing challenges and disappointments that come with an increasing age, I have found myself giving them the tools of ‘it will be better in 5 minutes’, and ‘the first day is the hardest, it will get a bit easier every day after.’

As my middle child went to middle school for her intro half day last week, she was nervous of course.  My words to her were, ‘focus on 12:08 when the school day is over, at that time, it will no longer be new, and no longer be as scary.’

And after the conversations with my children are done, I then start telling myself the same things.  Man, this worrying about your kids thing just gets harder and harder with some of the things growing older presents.

There were times in my life that I couldn’t see around the moment I was in in order to see the possibilities of the future.  And only through living life have I learned, that it really is better in 5 minutes, and the second day is usually easier than the first.

So, I will continue to tell my kids, and I mean it when I say ‘it will all be ok, I promise.’

As school starts tomorrow, and I look into my crystal ball and see myself waking up repeatedly throughout tonights sleep, I will tell myself as I often do in the middle of the night ‘everything is ok’ and allow myself to go back to sleep.

I hope the little things I say (mantras?) that help me move on and not get too tripped up on things actually help my kids rather than make me resemble Bob Wiley more and more.  They humor me at least making me feel as though they do help!  🙂

With the first day of school comes the enjoyment of a routine (and a quiet house), which will only too soon be replaced with  missing the kids and wishing for summer to return quickly!

Here’s to a safe school year, and strength to all of the wonderful teachers that spend each day teaching our kids!