Posted in Motherhood, Random Thoughts, Teaching, Uncategorized

An Open Letter to My Seniors

Dear Seniors,

You will probably never read this, I know, unless you someday stumble upon this small corner of the internet. By the time you do read this, you will probably wonder if this was about you at all. You’ll have to count back the years, try to see if this was the year that you graduated. Try to remember my name. Who I was. What that class was like…

That crazy Creative Writing teacher…the one who left to have a baby in your senior year. The one that knew all of your crazy secrets and never told a soul. Or maybe that stuck up Creative Writing teacher who didn’t teach you a whole heck of a lot of anything. I don’t know. History has a way of changing the way we remember things, doesn’t it.

Either way, I figure I’ll write this now while you’re still here, fresh in my mind. While I can still look across the room to you all (okay, really five of you out of a class of 15…not that I’m counting) typing away on your computers, trying to finish up the last project that I gave you. That you’re finishing last minute, but hey, that’s okay. I’m ready to be checked out too.

I remember when you all came into my room that first day, some four years ago. Normally, freshmen are scared and meek, but not you guys. I think I was more awkward that day than you were. Though I tend to be awkward a lot, to be serious. We played the name game and I heard your names for the first time. Pronounced some of them wrong, of course. I always do. But you didn’t yell at me…no, that didn’t come for another few weeks at least, when you got a bit more comfortable.

I was learning along with you. Learning how to be a better teacher. Learning how to show you where to go and what to do here. You were learning how to feel each other’s personalities out. Sometimes you were fantastic. Other times…well, I can remember many a fight that first year. Ka threatening to hit everyone. An trying to fight Ka. Ky encouraging An. Dy laughing at everyone from the corner. And mostly everyone not doing the work. Wanting me to come up with “Creative Talking” ideas, so you wouldn’t have to write.

That first year was HARD. I remember dreading having to come back to you all in the fall. You probably knew that though.  You didn’t hold it against me though. We did lose some people from the program that year. Some chose to go elsewhere. But we moved on. You all grew up quite a bit over that summer. And you grew up a lot over the past 4 years in general. I suppose high school students always do.

But you all were the first class I took from freshmen to seniors. You were the first kids that I called “my kids.” Because you were. I didn’t have any babies then, and you guys were it. Whether you know it or not, I gave a piece of myself to you, and I will be sad to see each of you go.

Now we’re in the last two weeks together. I’m sitting at my desk, looking at those of you that are here, and I’m trying not to cry. Thank goodness Dy isn’t here to tease me about it again. I’ll try to hold it together on exam day. But you know how I am.

I will miss you all so much, even though I never would have thought it possible in the beginning. You have each left an indelible mark on my heart. I have been so proud of each of you for so many different ways. Here’s a short list of remarks I have for each of you.

L.G.- You have overcome so much since we have been together. Coming from another country, overcoming a language barrier, dealing with loss, learning about yourself, and becoming friends with others. It has been a joy to watch you grow and look at your writing progress. Even if it’s not always technically perfect, your words come from your heart and move whoever reads it. Remember when you read that poem. Remember how everyone reacted. It was beautiful and true, and so very you. Don’t let anyone try to take that away from you.

V.F.- Girl, you are a powerhouse. For someone who has been quiet for so long, I have seen your words come to life. You have so much to say and show the world. Please don’t stop writing. Even if it’s just for yourself. Continue to be an example of what people should be like (hey, we’ll forget what happened with Mrs. Q, okay?). You are an amazing young woman, and I can’t wait to see where the future will take you.

S.M.- I’ve seen you more than most, because I got to have you as a student every day this year instead of just every other day. If anyone in this class could make it as a writer, I think it could be you. And no one is more deserving. You have a drive that I haven’t seen in many of my students, and the amazing thing is that even though you’re going through senioritis, you are still pretty driven. I’ve dealt with a lot worse. But not only are you a great writer, you have to be one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. You are selfless and friendly to everyone. It will go a long way for you in the future. I will miss you…don’t forget about me, and try to mention me in at least one of your dedications, hm?

D.B.- I don’t think that anyone knows what you have been through as much as I know. I know you don’t like to talk about it, and you don’t like to use it as a crutch. But knowing what i know and knowing you, it just shows how strong you really are. Heck, I don’t think I would have held up as well as you have. Especially with your knee, and your elbow, and all of the concussions…Yep. You are one piece of work, that’s for sure. When you focus, you are amazing. And when you don’t…well, you know what happens. Pretend like life is a baseball field and you are the star player. Keep that in mind and you will do just fine. Don’t let anyone take you for granted. And don’t fall into the traps that people set you up for. Be yourself. Be unabashedly yourself. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks or says…do that, and I’m sure you’ll be fine.

C.M.- One of these days, I’ll see you again, and you’ll be getting married. And I’ll just shake my head, laughing, because that’s one of the only things we talk about. Boys. And your family. Which is good, because you know what’s important in life. Family. And love. Just don’t get lost in other people. Don’t let some guy take advantage of that great big heart you have. Stand up for yourself, and don’t become the arm candy for some guy who doesn’t appreciate all you have to offer. Because you have a lot to offer. You’re amazing and fantastic. You can hold your own. So remember to do that sometimes. You’re worth so much more than you think!

C.W.- You’re another one who goes through a lot and doesn’t tell anyone. You don’t want to be seen for those things and instead want to be seen for who you are and what you accomplish. I commend you for that, because you are so much more than the obstacles you overcome. That is a part of who you are, but it is not all there is to you. You are bright, beautiful, and just one of the nicest people around. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone speak an awful word about you (Unless you count D, and he doesn’t count, because he says mean things about everyone. lol). Keep being the helpful, humble, sweet woman you are!

A.H.- The makeup world isn’t ready for your brand of fierce. And the world may not be ready for your brand of crazy. But that’s okay, because you’ve already learned that it doesn’t matter whether people are ready. They can take you or leave you as you are. Continue to refuse to compromise on your beliefs simply to make other people comfortable. You do you. Continue to do you. And you will make the world better for it.

K.H.- You weren’t even originally my baby, but you sure as heck made your mark when you came to me, didn’t you? And we didn’t hit it off at first. We bumped heads, quite a few times. And then a few times more. It didn’t make me hate you. You’re willful, sure, but you have a lot that you’re fighting against. Sometimes, it came out in fighting against me. I understand. You don’t let your circumstances be an excuse. You don’t try to use it as a crutch. But sometimes it’s okay to admit that you’re in a place where you need some extra sympathy. Because I’m all too happy to give it. You are amazingly talented in many ways. Don’t let other people try to make you feel as if you’re not worth it. You continue to amaze me with your accomplishments, and I hope to hear about many more in the future.

M.D.-You too have overcome so much, but I think that you don’t see it that way. We may not have always been on the best of terms, but I think that we have a mutual respect either way. You have matured and grown into a wonderful woman, one that I am proud to have accompanied on her journey. I hope that what you have learned at NH has prepared you to go into a career where you can spread your light to others. Teach other people to see the joy in dark situations. Help bring smiles to the people who need it most. Keep loving the things that you do, and remember that when you focus, girl, you can accomplish anything…and you’ll do it all while looking fabulous.

K.S.- I already wrote most of this in your yearbook, but I’ll place it here anyway. You have become SUCH a different person than when you were a freshman. Not in personality, per se. You’ve always been the dark, death-obsessed, fan-fiction loving, emo/goth girl. But you’ve lost some of that immature edge that made you want to punch everyone…or at least you’ve settled down enough to not announce it to the world. That’s a good thing. Punching people as an adult lands you in jail. You can think it all you want. Write stories about it. It’s a good outlet, no? Keep fighting the good fight, even if it’s in your head. Pick good people to hang out with. Remember that people aren’t always horrible, even when you think they are. I think going to school will help you see that some.

E.F.- I remember when you tried to convince me that your name was Leslie. See how well that worked? Instead, I’ve called you by your given name for the past four years. When other people called you by your middle name…nope. Why? Not out of spite, but because I want you to be proud of who you are and where you come from. Your name is your mother’s name, and it is a powerful one. It is unique, and it is so you. Whether you’re watching videos on the computer, or laying on the floor, or announcing to everyone that you have gone commando even when no one needed to hear it…that is the one thing that I can say. You have always been nothing but you. Continue to follow that inner voice and dance to the beat of your own drum. Sure, some people will look at you as if you’re crazy, but being crazy isn’t always a bad thing. It worked out well for me, I think. 😉

S.D.- As a freshman, you were quiet and meek. Slowly, you’ve grown into your own person, and if you told me that freshman you and senior you were the same person, I wouldn’t believe it. Every day is something different from you, even if it’s just your hair or your clothes. You are a chameleon, flowing with your whims and fancies, becoming one person one day, someone else the next. And it reflects in your words, and in the way people relate to you. You continue to surprise everyone with your candor and grace. I am so glad that I got to bear witness to your transformation over these four years. Some people say “Don’t ever change.” To you, I say, “Keep on changing. Be the best possible you you can be.”

M.K.- Another one I’ve written for in person, but here are some more words for you, my dear. Your smile and laughter are infectious. Keep living life as if it’s some fabulous game to play. Don’t lose that sense of wonder and joy. So many adults walk around the world as if they’re waiting to die. Keep living as if you remember what it was like to be a kid. Play. Have fun. But don’t forget to take time out and do the tough stuff, even when you don’t want to. Then you can go back to being a kid again. Think of work as the respite from all that fun. Sometimes you just have to take a break and relax, right?

K.W.- My hippy dippy flower child. We may not have always seen eye to eye on everything, especially when it comes to more political discussions. But that’s part of what makes you beautiful. You don’t take any crap from anyone, and you stand up for what you believe in. I think that that is awesome. You remember exactly who you are at all points in time, you don’t compromise if you don’t have to, and you really embody the “treat others as you want to be treated” motto. The world needs more people like you in it, but I think you recognize that, and that’s part of what makes you so passionate. Keep spreading love, light, and joy to others.

A.K.- You’ve always had that special sort of voice when it comes to your writing. Whether you choose to be a writer in the future or not, I know that your words will have meaning. Publish a book of poetry. Write for the screen. Become a teacher. A doctor. Whatever. And whatever you do, don’t hold back. Speak the truth because you know how to say it. Write the truth because you know how to write it…in the most personal, painful, and beautiful way possible. Help others to see the truth. If you do this in life, there is no way that you will not be successful. I have faith in that.

To all of you, thank you for taking a chance with me as a teacher. Thanks for not being too hard on me as I was learning to be the best possible teacher I could be. I may not have gotten it all right, but what parent ever does? I hope that I have at least taught you one thing that you can carry on with you in the future. Don’t let anyone stifle who you are. Remember that when things look bleak, there is at least one person out there who loves you exactly the way you are. I may not always like you, but I love you.

Always and Forever Yours,

Momma A.

 

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Posted in Random Thoughts, Uncategorized

MLMs And Why I Avoid Them

Hey everyone! I’m back again, after a bit of a hiatus. The baby has been teething and just been generally adorable, so I haven’t had much time to sit down and think of what I wanted to write about.

Now, however, I think I’ve come up with a topic that I have something to say about…and that is the subject of Multi-Level Marketing. Yep. MLMs.  First off, I want you to take a minute and think…When was the last time that someone asked you to come to a party, or think about joining their business venture? Was it in the last week? The last month? The last day?

Woo. Let's party!
This is just two of the events that I have on my Facebook calendar this week. Just. This. Week.

Now, I love my friends, and I love being able to connect with people that I haven’t talked to in a really long time. But every week, I feel like I’m being invited to another one of these “parties.” And this is where MLM drives me crazy.

It’s these companies that promise that you can stay at home and earn extra money in your spare time. You can be the mother you always wanted…have time with your kids and make money on the side. You don’t have to have a career…this will give you enough to buy that nice present for your child. You’ll be free from the chains of Corporate America. You’ll make back that initial investment cost in no time!

But no one tells you how you have to make that money. Sell the product to your friends and family. Constantly harass them to buy your product. And hey, if they like it so much, they can join up under you and run their own business. And then they can get more people to sign up, and they can inundate their friends and family to do the same. It’s a never ending cycle.

But what are the benefits of actually joining up with one of these companies? Sure, you can make a little extra income here and there, but it’s not nearly as much as they want you to believe. And if you don’t get in early, your chances of making a good chunk of change are slim to none. Plus, you have to spend more money on all of the training and conferences and feel-good hype that the company is putting out.

I don’t hope that those of you involved in these marketing campaigns fail. Quite the opposite. But when you feel the need to pray on people who don’t know any better, I want to step in and correct you. Over the past three days, I have seen at least 4 posts trying to recruit people to sign up for MLMs on Facebook. But they never tell you up front. You always have to “ask for more information.”

MLM2
An example of one of the many posts I see on Facebook every day.

On the post above, I mentioned a post about Pyramid schemes in case people didn’t know what this woman was offering. I was told then, ” I will never understand why some people think Network Marketing is a scam!! I’d rather myself and my friends and family make all the $ than Walmart and all of the other big stores!! Why not support your friends and their business? Or, better yet, take the time to see what they’re offering. How will you know what your missing if you just put it down??”

How do I know what I’m missing? Because I’ve seen every post over and over again. I’ve been invited to every party, and do you know what I find? Overpriced merchandise that I can get for better quality cheaper someplace else. And I might be more inclined to support my fellow man/woman’s entrepreneurial ventures if I felt that they were actually selling something worth buying and not guilting me into it.

That’s not to say I don’t ever buy from MLM. I find that Pampered Chef often has a lot of good stuff…but I do it on my own time and if I want it, I know where to find a consultant. I don’t need to be harassed for those products.

Please, please, please don’t fall victim to these companies. You can do better. And maybe you’ll even keep your friends in the process.

Do you know of people who participate in these companies? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!

Posted in Motherhood, Product Review, Random Thoughts, Uncategorized

The Joys of Good Customer Service

Recently, I’ve gotten into the Amazon reviewing game, and I find that it’s a fun little side hobby where I get to try products out for less cost in exchange for honest Amazon reviews. Now, I don’t expect much when I apply for products to review. As a matter of fact, a lot of my time is spent weeding out sellers who try to scam the systems that are set in place. I’ve applied for numerous products, and when confronted with a problem with a code that I’m given, often times, I’m ignored. Which is fine. I don’t mind. I know that this is something that people take advantage of, and so I don’t expect much.

Which is why my latest encounter was such a pleasant surprise.

I applied on one of my various websites to review a teething necklace at a pretty steep discount. Surprisingly, I was approved, and I was super excited to use the code I was given and purchase the product. Unfortunately, there was a problem with the code when I input it into Amazon…the discount wasn’t what the website stated it should be. I emailed the client, and let them know that there was a problem, fully expecting to get the brush off one more time.

Yet, almost within five minutes, I had a response from the fantastic rep. She apologized for the mixup and went in to fix the code on Amazon’s end. She then told me that there would be an approximate four hour waiting period for the code to work, and that I should try again sometime after that. This entire exchange was super pleasant.

More than four hours later, I tried again, still to no avail. I wrote her back, telling her of the same issue, and offered to apply for a different necklace or get another code. I was floored by her response.

Awe, you are so sweet, thank you!!  You and one other person had the exact same problem.  I think it’s on Amazon’s end not being able to input the new code.   What I did for her was just sent her one directly to her house (I keep some on hand exactly for this reason :).
I’ll send you whichever one you prefer at no cost.  I’m truly sorry that this turned into such a pain.
If you send me your address, I can get it into the mail for you  in the morning.
This woman, who didn’t owe me anything, apologized to ME and offered me the necklace at no charge. She was so kind didn’t have to do anything for me, someone who is just trying to test out some things in exchange for reviews.
She didn’t ask me to, but I’m going to tell all of you, that Snuggle Bunny Beads TM is one of the most amazing companies I have ever had the pleasure of doing business with. Once I get my necklaces (because I went ahead and bought the other one anyway), I will definitely post a review here.
So thank you again! If you’re in the market for a good new mom gift, these necklaces are awesome, and I highly recommend them!
Posted in Motherhood, Random Thoughts, Teaching, Uncategorized

You Are Worth It

How often do we think about the lives of people who walk past us on a day to day basis How many of us think about the consequences of our words and how they affect other people? How do we deal with loss when it happens?

The school I work at was hit hard this weekend. On Saturday, one of our freshman students committed suicide. She had apparently been bullied by some girls and decided to end her life. Yesterday, for me, was spent talking with other teachers to try and find out who knew this young woman and lend my support to those people. Today, back at work, I see the consequences of the actions of a few. Never in my eleven years of teaching have I ever seen such solidarity from the students at my school.

We are a school of over 2000 people. This morning, about fifteen minutes after I arrived at work, there was a large gathering of students out in the hallway outside of my classroom door. At least 100 students. And they were all holding hands and praying together, those who knew her, and those who didn’t. I didn’t know this young girl, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel something. Life is precious and no one should ever feel that they are alone or worthless. No one should ever feel as if killing themselves is their last option.

Some of my students came by the room today, tears in their eyes. Although I have been a teacher for eleven years, I am not equipped to handle their grief. So I did what I could. I hugged them tight. I told them that they are loved. I let them know that I was there for them. The school has offered extra counseling services today, so I let them know of that. And I tried to let them know that even if they were feeling sad, there was someone out there who cares for them.

I remember being in middle and high school. I remember being bullied…no, tormented…by people all throughout those years. I wouldn’t wish that kind of a hell on anyone. But I had people who reminded me that I was worth it. I had a mother and father who tried to talk to me about what was happening in my life. I had people around me who listened when I talked. It may not have been much, but it was enough, for me. I only hope that people remember that sometimes that’s all that it takes.

No one should ever have to bury a child. I feel extremely sad for this young woman’s family. They now have to go on without her, and instead of seeing her bright face, they have to see her as a cause. She has become a rallying cry against bullying. She has become the poster child for what happens when people ignore an epidemic of words. It is not what her legacy should have been, but it is what it has become.

I pray that her family and friends find peace. I pray that people see this and see it as a dire reminder of what our words mean and how they can affect others. I hope that those people who bullied her feel a change of heart. I have heard that students in this building are looking for the people “responsible.” I pray that they look inside of themselves and find that the anger they feel would be better channeled into something else.

To those of you out there who may be feeling the same way, remember this. You are more than just a name or a cause or a face. You are a person who is loved, who has loved, and has affected more people in your lifetime than you will ever know. Talk to someone. Don’t take that last step off of the precipice.

If you or someone you know and love is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255.  And if you are passionate about helping people who have hit this place, consider sending a donation to To Write Love on Her Arms, a non-profit that seeks to bring help and attention to people who self-harm, are addicts, are depressed, and are considering suicide.

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

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