The Boys’ Eye View Premier: Super Smash Bros WiiU Review

TEchBoy2My boys are gamers. There is no denying it any more. They spend any time they are allowed attached to some sort of screen, either the DS handheld systems, their computer or the WiiU. As diligent as I am with watching the amount of time they spend online, I am equally as diligent about watching what it is they are doing there.

When I was asked for the boys to become kid-reviewers for Nintendo*, the answer was simple. These boys know so much about most Nintendo products that it was a no brainer to turn the camera and the blog over to them. So, you’ll now be seeing our new Reinvention Girl feature: The Boys’ Eye View video reviews. Here the boys will share their expertise about new games, systems etc. As far as I’m concerned, there is no one better than these two who are immersed in all things Nintendo as often as I’ll allow.

They’ve been begging for their own YouTube channel forever. This is my way of compromising. Their videos,  my logins and blogs. Everyone wins.

Today, they’re talking about the new Super Smash Bros.  for Nintendo Wii U game that they got last week as well as the  Amiibo Figure that you can use to play with it. My mom’s eye view is that this game is better for my boys than the previous version which we banned from our house because every time they played they were like wild Tasmanian Devils for the remainder of the day. This game is rated E for everyone and while it is still a fighting game, it doesn’t seem as frenetic as its predecessor and the “suggestive themes” are gone as well. There is still one character with farts as a weapon, but I can’t really argue against that. Maybe I’m too immature to parent! The bottom line is this is a limited time game in our house because the main goal is cartoons beating eachother up, so no one is learning anything here. However, the boys ADORE it, and they play it together very well so it’s a great tool to have in my game arsenal as it’s highly coveted and pretty low on the “bad-game” scale.

I’ll let the boys take it over from here. They say it all better anyway. Here it is: The Boys’ Eye View

* Disclosure: As members of the Nintendo Kids’ Reviewers, we got a complimentary copy of the game as well as systems to play the game on for the purposes of review. All opinions are our own.

 

Finding Balance Outside My Home

This work space makes me a better mom.

This work space makes me a better mom.

That’s such a cliché title isn’t it? Finding Balance. Just the words make me a little queasy. I’ve long been a vocal advocate of not even trying to find balance because it is elusive and the constant search can make you crazy.

I’ve now worked out of the house for just over a year and almost a year to the day I went from part-time to full-time, which really means I went from being at work all the time and feeling guilty about it to being at work all the time and still feeling like I’m not there enough. There are so many things happening if feels like I never get it all done, but somehow I have never been more at peace.

For nearly twelve years as a parent I have struggled with my job. Am I making the right choices for my kids? Am I spending my time wisely? Am I teaching them what good adults need to know? Every evening I could lay my head down knowing I tried my best, but still always wondering if that was good enough.

Sure, I worked from home for most of those years but being at home meant I was constantly thinking of home and my work became just one more thing I might have been doing wrong as a parent. Whenever I got immersed at work in my house, I felt a bit selfish and guilty.

Now, when I leave for an office, it feels so different. At work, I make decisions, execute plans and watch the results unfold all without the laundry piles and dishes staring me in the face. I still occasionally second guess myself, but not nearly as much or as often as I did  as a parent with an office in my living room. Work now makes me feel accomplished while parenting, often, makes me feel inadequate and trying to work in the environment where I parent just became more than I could juggle.

It’s not like I don’t enjoy spending time with my kids. Quite the contrary actually; I almost wrote about how great they are to be with at this stage of the game but I thought you might be sick of hearing that. Certainly, there are days where I miss being in charge of my own schedule and wearing pajamas to my “office”.  It’s not that I don’t love being home, it’s just that being out at work makes me feel like I am smart and might even have some control where being at home made me feel  like I was always winging it and hoping for the best no matter how much I think about or work toward logical, planned decisions there.

The upside of all this is that my kids actually have a better mom. Just the little bit of confidence I get from being at my job helps me be a more attentive, less frazzled mom. Oh, I’m frazzled, nearly all the time, but my kids don’t catch the brunt of it anymore.

When I first decided to stay home with my kids I had friends who said they could never quit working because it made them better parents. I understood where they were coming from as far as intellectual stimulation, but I did not see the value, for me, of leaving my house to do it.

Now, even if some things (like this poor neglected blog) still need better management, and there are plenty of things on the to-do list that aren’t getting done,  overall working a full-time gig outside my house has changed the way we live inside the house. I think, for the better.

Crafts for Kids=Early Release Relief for Moms

Who Wouldn't Love This Craft?!?

Who Wouldn’t Love This Craft?!?

There was a time, not so long ago that crafts were a regular part of our day around here. We made jewelry and picture frames and simple clay pots. I can’t draw worth a lick, but I can glue pre-cut shapes like a boss. So when I had three under six all home with me, we crafted… a lot.

Now, with school and sports and video-game obsessions, we do not have much time or inclination to break out our glue guns around these parts. All that changed last week when the kids had two early release days and a big box of School Specialty Craft projects arrived in the mail at just the right time.

I’ll admit, I agreed to review these kits for KidzVuz out of a sense of nostalgia. All the while they were being shipped I worried that my grown kids would turn their noses up and I would be left trying to write something witty about crafts I couldn’t get my kids to do. Lucky for me, the folks at School Specialty sent some incredible kits and my kids not only dove right in, but they couldn’t get to each kit fast enough. It was actually quite adorable as it reminded me of those days long ago when we all sat around our cozy kitchen table up to our ears in sparkle and glue.

This time, the kids could choose from more grown up crafts. There were dream catchers to make that required quite a bit of concentration and thought and left you with a final product you might actually use! The boys loved the scratch art kits. One contained paper the sign of door signs, so the kids could scratch their Keep Out messages in pretty rainbow colors. Who knows, maybe that softens the blow a bit! The other kit looked like the memo cubes we used to put on desks back in the olden days before tablets and smart phones, but instead of square paper, you got square scratch off paper to leave cute lunch box notes or “good night dad” notes on a pillow. I’ll be using them into the days ahead for sure.

Finally, my favorite, mosaic tile magnet kits. You were meant to glue the tiles in a frame on the magnets but my mini-Picasso chose to just create his own mosaic design to hang on our fridge. Rules be dammed, I love it.

You can watch our video below for proof that these old kids can still get into crafts with mom on any given day!

School Specialty is a brand that, as a teacher, I relied on for quality supplies for my classroom. I’ve learned lately they are so much more. This fall they helped send less-fortuante kids back to school with stuffed backpacks of supplies they may not otherwise have access too. Now, they are helping out a group particularly close to my heart: teachers. You can help School Specialty give the gift of education by shopping for these great crafts for the people you love. School Specialty is donating a portion of all purchases until December 31st to DonorsChoose.org which will in turn help teachers fill their classes with all the tools our kids need.

Get your craft on with school specialty and give back to deserving teachers and schools.

 

We received the School Specialty craft kids for review as part of a compensated relationship with KidzVuz and School Specialty. All opinions are my own, and those of the mini-crafters. 

A Change in Perspective: A Follow-Up

Not gonna lie, the view helps.

Not gonna lie, the view helps.

About a year ago I wrote a post here about how change is hard for both the agents of change and those who live it. I was smack in the middle of a theoretical throw down at work with a group of concerned and anxious parents. I said then that I would not give airtime to the ones who made it personal. But, today, I feel like I need to give airtime to all of those who did nott, for the good far outnumber the mean.

You see, it is easy to focus on the negative when it’s in your face. It would have been very easy for me to vilify the people of this parish and decide “they” were all one amorphous group who acted and thought the way the few loud and vocal apples did.

I tried so hard not to do that. I tried to wade and wait through the turmoil so that I could get to the other side and really know the people I was here to serve. And, all the while I tried to be mindful of the fact that I was called here to serve, not be served. I didn’t always do this well. There were many nights I complained to anyone in my house who would listen and painted broad strokes with a less-than-kind brush.

I spent a good deal of last fall thinking I would quit this job at any moment. I was full of angst and doubt over the decision to come here and  the outward signs were confirming my worry.  Sometime after I wrote that post I decided to dig in, but it was almost out of spite, so I still wasn’t feeling completely good about the decision.

Then, more time passed and a funny thing happened: peace came, and I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

I started to look at my job and this place with a whole new set of eyes. Instead of focusing on myself and how I was feeling, I started to look for ways to use myself to help others. You know what happened? Seemingly out of the woodwork came hoardes of amazing people. Every day I am filled up by the interactions I have.

There are funny people and warm people. There are ridiculously helpful people and there are grateful people. There are talented and beautiful and wickedly smart people. I have not only come to find peace in the job, but I have developed such a love for the people at this church that I claim them as my own. And, much like family, I can still tease, but I better not hear you say a bad word against or else I’m coming for you!

So, what changed? Did suddenly all the doubters and naysayers and meanies leave? No. Did I transform them with my charm and wit? Decidedly not as I’m not terribly witty or charming.

What changed was my perspective. I stopped putting so much stock into the negativity and started actively looking for how I could provide value to the people I interacted with. I stopped looking for a way out and started figuring out how to make staying better. In short, I stopped looking only to be fulfilled and started trying to fulfill, and as you might expect, everyone wins.

I started walking the walk of someone called to serve and instead of figuring out how I was being made to feel, I shifted my focus outward, on making others feel good. When you spread joy, it usually comes right back.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still a fair amount of eye-rolling moments during my day. But mostly, I wake excited to go and leave a sense of a job well done. Call it magic. Call it God. Call it choices and self-motivation. Whatever the reason, this time, change wasn’t hard at all.