Posted in Random Thoughts, Teaching, Uncategorized

Stressing Out

Ah, another musing brought on by a conversation with a student. If ever there was a career that made you think more about life and how we live it, teaching would be it. I never ceased to be amazed by how much I end up learning from my students.

Anywho, today’s musing comes from my conversation with a student about stress. And it made me think, how much stress do we put on ourselves that is unwarranted? How much stress do we try to take off of the backs of other people and place it on ourselves? How much worldly burden can we take on before it breaks our own backs?

I know I’ve done it before. I’ve sat down and worried myself over things that were needless. “What if I didn’t do this correctly?” “What if my principal didn’t like my lesson?” “What if I forgot my lunch?” All of these simple worries, scattered throughout my mind, each one a feather on their own, but together, a pile of worry that slowly takes a toll.

And it starts with the mental. You start losing concentration on everyday tasks. You try to calm yourself but can’t seem to think about anything else. Then it moves onto the physical. Your heart beats at ten million beats per minute. You get that sinking feeling in your stomach. You try to distract yourself with menial tasks, but keep coming back to the problems that burden you. They may not even be your burdens. Maybe you’re worried on behalf of someone else.

And what does that bring us, all of this worry? Are we better for it, in the end? I don’t think so.

Instead of enjoying the simple things that lay in front of us in abundance, we get mired in the quicksand of our worries. We can’t enjoy things for we are blinded. It hurts, it brings us down, and it affects those we love as well.

I’m not saying that all anxieties and worries can be put off easily, but we have to have something that we can do to save ourselves. Maybe it’s those coloring books that are all the rage. Maybe you get up from your desk and take a walk to get a cup of coffee. Maybe you write about it. Maybe you listen to music. Talk to someone. Something has to help free you of the burden and make you feel better.

For me, it’s a mix of things. Sometimes I’ll watch video of my son. Sometimes I’ll read. I do like to color. And it doesn’t always work, but for a moment, at least, I can clear my head and try to see the light through the clouds.

I hope that those of you who are suffering from some sort of worry today find a way to move past it. I hope that you find something that makes you feel even a tiny bit better. I hope that you make this day a positive one, and move forward with whatever it is that you’re doing.

If any of you have any tried and true methods of stress relief that work for you, let me know in the comments. And let me know of a time in which this has happened to you. I look forward to reading it.

 

~Aly aka The Mommy Gamer

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Posted in Motherhood, Random Thoughts, Teaching, Uncategorized

On Being a Mother and a Teacher

Sorry about being away for so long…not that it was super noticeable. Such is the life of a mother, I suppose. I came down with a pretty bad cold, and then ended up on Spring Break…and that meant taking care of the Goober. Now I’m back on track and ready to write more about stuff and things!

Today’s thoughts come from a conversation that my students were having yesterday. They are often times some of the most insightful people I have in my life, surprising me at the most interesting moments. Yesterday was no exception.

So, I had given my students an assignment to simply write about their Spring Break. I know it wasn’t particularly interesting, but when you’re coming back from a long break, often times a simple, “Hey, we’re back here and we have work to do” assignment works best. My students were in various phases of their work. Some of them had thrown themselves into the writing, and others, per usual, were spending their time talking with someone next to them. They’re Juniors, I get it.

All of a sudden, one of my students pipes up with some random commentary. I’ll try to do her justice in my recollection of what she said.

“Mrs. A? Can I just talk for a minute? As I was writing, I had a thought. I’m almost an adult. I’m 16 years old. Soon, I’m going to be out of my house, going to be away from my family. Mrs. A…I’m scared. I don’t want to leave my mother! I just want to spend time with her. I think I realized that over spring break…I just wanted to be with her and spend time with her. And it makes me sad and scared to think that soon, I won’t be able to do that.”

Now, my students don’t normally talk a lot about their families, and when they do, I almost never get thoughts like these. Most of the time, it’s “Ugh, my mother is so annoying. She got mad at me over nothing!” But this…this conversation left me with a lot of thoughts. I listened to the rest of the class talk with her about their own thoughts on the matter, and it made my eyes tear up.

I think that part of it is again my newfound motherhood. That and my own connection with my own mother. It’s amazing how in hindsight we see things with such clarity. And it’s amazing how this one student sees with clarity right now how her relationship with her own mother is going to change.

While not everyone has a great relationship with their parents, seeing that they still exist makes my heart warm. We all go through growing pains with our parents, but knowing that time with them is precious is a valuable lesson to learn. Hearing that some of my students appreciate their parents gives me hope.

Do any of you remember having that feeling at any point? Are there any memories of your parents that you’d like to share? I look forward to seeing it in the comments!

Posted in Gaming, Motherhood, Random Thoughts

Step Away From The Computer!

We’ve all heard over and over again about how the internet is a breeding ground for distasteful behavior. I’m one of those people who tends to like to see the beauty and goodness in people, and a majority of my experiences as a citizen of the internet have shown me that I’m not wrong. But there are some times, and some people, who continue to put black spots on the marks of kindness that I have found here.

Now, let me preface this by saying that I’ve done a lot of socializing on the computer. When I was dating in my mid-20’s, I tried internet dating, and actually found my husband on OKCupid. I met up with one other guy there before I met my husband. He was nice, but ended up being a flake. He’s my friend on Facebook now, and we don’t ever talk, but it’s interesting keeping up with him. Even he wasn’t the scourge of the earth.

I really began to have an internet social life in early 2010. This was when I started playing MMOs, and I quickly warmed up to the idea of making friends and having a social life where I wouldn’t have to go out all the time. Call me an ambivert…I like to be social, but I also like to be comfy in my house.

Along with the MMO world came friendships that ended up meaning a lot to me over the years. I began being a mod for certain communities, I ran blogs for my RP characters. I routinely get to go and visit a few friends that I have made online at their homes in various places.  But for each lovely person I met, I heard horror stories about people who weren’t so nice.

Eventually I came across one of those people myself. We became great friends, so much so that I didn’t see what was happening beneath the surface. Slowly, this “friend” was whittling away at my self esteem, making me feel that I was doing things wrong, and that I was a bad person for trying to maintain a sense of sanity with what I was doing. It is a very easy thing to get wrapped up in story when you’re playing pretend online, and I knew this. But it didn’t make it any easier to distance myself from it. Eventually I learned that this wasn’t a healthy friendship, and I cut ties. But it was difficult. I had invested a lot of time and emotions into that friendship, and losing it was like losing a piece of myself.

Things died down for me online after that. I ended up conceiving my son shortly after, and spent a lot of my time contemplating life with a new baby. R was born in November, and I’m not just getting back to some of my computer activities. I have returned from a hiatus on one of the message boards that I moderate, and I’m not sure if I should have.

People seem to not understand how to step back from the computer. As much as I love my friends, I would never jeopardize my mental sanity and good nature because of people on the internet. I get that people have strong opinions. Why does it seem that some people turn the internet into a vacuum into which they can shout those opinions the loudest? Are we all struggling that much to be heard?

I watch people interact all the time. I teach highschoolers…and I will never understand how grown adults on the internet act so mean to each other over things that are essentially meaningless. And it’s not just on the boards that I moderate…it’s everywhere. People trying to drag others down, people taking advantage of each other. If someone has a platform, they have an audience, and there is no way to drown out the angry throngs of voices.

Why can’t people just take a step back? There is nothing that needs to be said so badly that it can’t wait the five minutes it takes to get a soda and a snack. Perhaps by that time, people would let their frustrations die down, and they’d see the truth…that it doesn’t matter.

Have you ever been involved in an online conversation that exploded into something it shouldn’t have been? How did you feel after the fact? Do you feel that it could have been prevented? And what do you think when you see behavior like this? Looking forward to your comments and stories!

 

~Aly, aka The Mommy Gamer

Posted in Gaming, Random Thoughts

Gamer Gripe: Characters You Can’t Stand

So, this past weekend I managed to pick up Square Enix’s episodic game Life Is Strange on the PS4. I’d heard good things about it, and it fit in with the type of games that I liked to play. In all actuality, it reminds me a lot of Heavy Rain in that it is mainly a lot of quicktime style events and decision making.

Despite my enjoyment of the game and the genre, one thing that has pissed me off is the character of Chloe. For those of you who don’t know anything about the game, it centers on Max, a young photographer who eventually realizes that she has the power to turn back time and change events. Within the first chapter of the game, you meed her good friend from childhood, Chloe, who is probably the most angsty stereotype of a teenage girl I think I have ever seen in a game.

As a player, I think that we are supposed to feel sympathy for Chloe and her home life, coupled with her issues with trust and friends. But therein lies the problem. I don’t care about Chloe. In fact, I find her to be a jerk, and I’d rather Max didn’t care about her either.

And this is just one example in gaming where I think the developers want you to feel something for their characters, but instead, you feel the opposite.

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Via yamaorce.deviantart.com

Take The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt for example. If you’d never played another Witcher game, and hadn’t read the books (which I hadn’t when I began playing it), you have no idea who Yennefer is, and once you interact with her, I think you might like her even less. Triss, on the other hand, comes off as a sweet and happy woman, one who most players find more appealing overall than Yen. And yet, the game makes it seem, through choices, that Geralt would be much happier in the end with Yennifer.

I think that if game companies want players to care about characters, they need to craft them in such a way that enables the player to make their own choices without being skewed heavily in one way. And if they do want the player to be skewed, they need to do a better job of the writing in order to bring players to that conclusion.

I think a fine example of a game that does that right is Dragon Age: Inquisition. In the beginning of the game, it is difficult to relate to the broody Cassandra. But the writing in the game slowly wears down her tough exterior to create a character that is fully developed. Even if you don’t care to romance Cass, in the end, I think most people agree that her character was interesting and fun to watch change.

Anywho, do any of you have any games/characters like this? Who did you feel that the game was trying to get you to feel for, and why didn’t you? Looking forward to your discussion in the comments!

 

~Aly, aka The Mommy Gamer

Posted in Motherhood, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized

Easter Shennanigans

And I’m back from my weekend hiatus! It was a long weekend for sure, but one that I enjoyed quite a bit.

Friday, when I got out of work, I went out with my mother, sister, and R to Toys R Us because they were having a fabulous sale on toys for the baby. BOGO Free on VTech and Fisher Price toys. My son is spoiled. That’s all I have to say.

The rest of my evening was spent at home with the baby and the husband. Didn’t do anything too ridiculous. I knew we were going to have a long weekend, and besides, we usually save all of our running around for Saturday and Sunday anyway.

Saturday was a fiasco. We decided to procrastinate and wait until the last minute to get the baby’s Easter pictures done. So we made a trek up to Bass Pro Shops and figured we’d have his picture taken there, since they give you one for free. We got there about noon, and got a ticket for pictures at 2. We proceeded to kill some time and buy some food we didn’t need. Hubby decided to spring for a jar of Habanero jellybeans. More power to him. They’ll go in with the Beanboozled jellybeans he already has at work. Glad I’m not one of his co-workers.

We still had more time to kill by the end of that run, so we headed over to Target as well. I don’t know if I need to say this, but we’re a bit Target obsessed in my family. Seriously, we are at Target at least once a week. I don’t know why, as we don’t really NEED a whole lot of stuff from there…although we always end up getting something. This trip resulted in me picking up a copy of Omega Ruby for the 3DS. I might get around to writing a review on that a bit later. It’s been a bit since I sat down and played a Pokemon game.

When we got back to Bass, it was right around 1:30 pm, and so we got in line for the pictures. Bubba was happy to look at the other babies in line, and was generally in a good mood, which makes me feel good. It took them until about 2:30 to start letting the 2:00 picture people go through the line, which stunk, but R took a cute picture, making him look a whole lot smaller than I think he is. Then, to top it all off, we couldn’t buy the package with the pictures because they ran out of ink in their printer. How do you not plan for this!? People with children are notorious for doing things last minute!

After that, we took a trip over to Best Buy and then Babies R Us where we picked up yet more toys for the baby. Again, my son is super spoiled.

Easter was probably the best day we’ve had in a while though. Everyone came over to my parents’ house, including my in-laws, and we all spent the day gabbing and eating and talking with the baby. I am extremely blessed to have married into a family that gets along with mine. Makes holidays a lot easier when we don’t have to split the time and can instead all get together.

R looked adorable in the two outfits we put him in. Had to change him out of his first outfit because he leaked through his diaper onto my leg. Oh joy of joys. It’s not motherhood until you’ve ended up with someone else’s bodily fluids all over you.

R made out like a bandit. I think he ended up getting 6 stuffed bunnies in his various baskets. Why a 4 month old needs so many stuffed animals, I will never know. He is pretty adorable when he smiles at them though.

And smile he did. It was a long day for him, and he passed out as soon as we got home, slept all night, and woke up bright and cheerful this morning.

So, why did I just regale you with this diatribe about my weekend? No reason. I just wanted to write something and didn’t have a sufficient topic, being as I spent all weekend running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have any ideas for future blogs. I’m going to give writing a mommy game review soon, and I’ll be starting with The Witcher 3, since that’s really been the only game I’ve had any time to play since R was born. I also picked up Life Is Strange this weekend, and I will be writing about that as well…I can’t stand Chloe (which I’m sure is an unpopular opinion).

With spring break fast approaching, I’m sure I’ll talk more about school and teaching, and I’m sure I’ll find time to talk more about being a mom and the day to day of hanging out with my son. Some of this is going to be rambly, but I like to think that perhaps it’s one of those things that fits in with my writing style.

Anywho, I’m out for now. Hope you all had a fantastic weekend, whether you celebrate Easter or Purim or whatever it is that you do or do not celebrate. Feel free to tell me about it in the comments!

 

~Aly, aka The Mommy Gamer

Posted in Motherhood, Random Thoughts, Teaching, Uncategorized

The Trials and Tribulations of Teaching

How’d you like that use of alliteration? Beautiful wasn’t it? I’m not an English teacher…nope. Not at all.

Anywho, I figure since I’ve written at length lately about my own child, it’s time that I wrote about something that isn’t R but my other children. My students.

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from college with a B.A. in English.

And much like our character, Princeton, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. It really did seem like a useless degree…and for the most part it was. I had gone into English because it was the one major that wasn’t going to take me an extra year to finish when I transferred majors from Theatre Education (Yes, I use the British spelling. Sue me). I suppose that deep down I always knew I was going to be a teacher in one way or another. But at that moment, I didn’t know how to get started…didn’t know what I needed to do, what classes I still needed to take, nothing. I was lost.

So I went to a job fair, and there I ran into an old teacher of mine. My old French teacher, actually. And I can’t continue this story without thanking her. Because at that job fair, she gave me the guidance that I so very needed, guidance that has enabled me to have the career that I have had for the past 11 years. Without her, who knows where I would be right now. Madame T told me about a program that the school system had, one where I would take some classes over the summer, get a job in the fall, and have a free Masters degree by the end of three years. I signed up, was accepted, and began my journey as a teacher.

And a long journey it has been. In my eleven years, I have learned so much, not only about myself, but about the people in the community I serve, about the strength of students. Things that you don’t ever think about until you see them with your own eyes.

I started out teaching English to 9th grade high school students. It was not the easiest place in the world to reach kids. I was also 21, and students saw me more as a peer than as an authority figure, so it made things even more difficult. But as time went on, I developed my own style of teaching and discipline, and I’ve managed to make it through eleven years without too much of a fuss.

I currently teach Creative Writing instead of English, and that was a task in and of itself. I had never taken a Creative Writing class, much less taught it before I was given this program. I have never had to learn something so quick! But these past four years have been the best four years of my teaching career.

Where was I going with this? I don’t even remember. I just know that thinking about my students and the career that I’ve had so far fills me with a sort of nostalgia that almost makes me cry.

I ran into a former student two nights ago at Walmart. I couldn’t remember his name, but I remembered his face, and he definitely remembered me. He told me how he and his high school girlfriend were still together, how they had a son, and how he remembered me and my class. I don’t think much about the impact I leave. Sometimes I doubt that I leave much of an impact at all. But gosh darnit, if he didn’t look so happy to see me, and the way that he spoke about my class…it was one of those moments that I suppose every teacher gets. Where they realize that even though they don’t always realize it, they’ve made a difference to someone.

I talk about being a mother as if it’s this wholly new experience for me. But I suppose it’s not. I’ve had over a thousand children. None of them were mine by blood or birth, but they’ve all been mine for the short period of time that I knew them. And even if I can’t remember names any more, I still remember faces. I remember that once upon a time, they were no more than a fifteen year old with wide eyes, and maybe an attitude problem. And years later, they have grown into adults and remember me too.

If I ever have a bad day at work, at least I can sit back and think about those moments and be thankful that I have them. Because some jobs don’t have that. Even when my teaching time is done, there will be some part of me that lives on through the lives of my students. And that thought is comforting.

 

~Aly, aka The Mommy Gamer

Posted in Gaming, Motherhood, Random Thoughts

Juggling Recreation Time

If there was one thing that I really loved to do before I had my son, it was playing video games. For at least 6 years, I was a super active member of the online community of FFXIV. Before that, I had never really played games before, but this game gave me a whole new social life. Because I got involved in this game and community, I met many of the people that I am friends with today.

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I gave a good portion of my time and energy to these people who became like a second family to me. I remember telling them that I was pregnant, and how excited I was to share in that experience with them. For the next 8 months of my pregnancy, I shared my ups and downs, my pains, my aches, and my joys.

I remember at one point being on a skype call with my good friend Tay, and all of a sudden she asked, “Are you rubbing your stomach?” It threw me off because I had no clue how she knew. Apparently she could hear the sound of my hand on my stomach, something that had turned into background noise, but something that held special significance for her. For the rest of my pregnancy, she would always tease me when she heard it. It became a game, one that always made me smile.

As my pregnancy progressed, I knew that my time with them was going to grow short. I new that once R came, I’d have to give up my time with them in exchange for diaper changes, feedings, and sleepless nights. But I never expected it to hit me so hard.

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I’ve found that I really miss my former social life. I miss the people I used to talk with on the regular, and I find that it’s become more and more difficult to find things in common with these people. And I promised that I wouldn’t be that person. I didn’t want to be the woman who only talks about her child in front of everyone…but that’s exactly what I’ve become. Instead of screenshots of my character and the stories I wrote for her, my phone is now loaded with one of the 12,000 pictures of my son…most of which are identical to each other.

Instead of spending my nights up until all hours of the morning laughing with friends, I am in bed by 10 pm, hoping that my LO sleeps well and will smile at me when he wakes up. Instead of singing silly songs and killing monsters on the computer, I’m talking to my son from the point of view of his Batman toy, or trying to feed him his own feet. Nothing prepared me for the love that I would feel for him. And nothing has prepared me for the melancholy I sometimes feel for the friendships and fun I used to have.

Would I trade them? No. They’re two completely different worlds. I am happier now than I ever thought I could be. But would I like to find some more time here and there to remember what that life was like? Sure.

I just hope that all of my friends remember how much I cared for them. And that hopefully, someday, I’ll be able to make a return, and they’ll welcome me back with open arms. Until then, I’ll be over here, blowing raspberries with my baby.

 

~Aly, aka The Mommy Gamer

Posted in Random Thoughts

First blog post

Welcome to the Mommy Gamer.

You may be asking yourself, “Who is this woman, and what makes her think she has anything worth reading?”

Well, I’m not much. I’m a simple woman. I love to read. I love playing video games. I enjoy spending time with my husband, son, and extended family. I’m a child of the internet generation. What do I have to say that’s different from anyone else? Probably not a damned thing. And that’s okay.

I created this place as a space for me to put my thoughts on motherhood, socializing in an age in which people don’t get out so much anymore, teaching the youth of tomorrow, being a good person, and reviewing products and games that mean something to me.

I hope you stick around and give me a read. If it’s not what you’re looking for, I appreciate you giving me the time of day. And if it is, I hope you come back again. I look forward to interacting with you all, and hope to share a bit of my life with you all.

 

~Aly, aka The Mommy Gamer