Sunday, January 4, 2015

Where Are My Sisters ?

My youngest son, Spencer, just turned two around Thanksgiving.  He IS the last child for my wife and I - this is a certainty!

Spencer hates to be alone or without his siblings (or his mommy).  At church, he is now old enough to attend Nursery, where he can play and eat snacks with other toddlers his age.  Today I am especially thankful for sweet Sisters in the Church who are trying to help him learn how to cope with these short separations from family (it will be hard for him to learn anything at school if he cannot be separated from siblings or family members for more than a few minutes).  His separation anxiety screaming today caused me to reflect on some pictures I took of him over the last few months.  I hope you find them as heartwarming as I do.

The Case girls were sleeping in the Movie Room ...
and Spencer didn't want to miss out.
So he was very sneaky and made his way into the room,
falling asleep next to his 'favorite' sister (Myra, age 4 here).

Myra helped make Spencer a mini-bed (in his bedroom)
out of the chair cushion and his handmade-by-mommy blanket.
His smile HAS TO make you smile!
One evening, while Karen and I were chatting,
we noticed that Spencer had wandered off.
A quick search revealed that he had gone to the basement
and had fallen asleep outside his sister's bedroom
(he obviously couldn't get the door open or he'd be inside).
The hallway was completely dark when I found him -
and he hates the dark - but not as much as he missed his sisters!

Song Of The Day:
Sundays are great for a capella music and probably my favorite a capella group is the one my cousin sings Bass for: Eclipse 6.  One of their Christmas CDs includes the song "Lullaby" and it is a beautiful tune any time of year - but I can also imagine Mary singing this to the baby Jesus and it warms my heart in a different way.  I hope you like it.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

Should The Name Have Been A Giveaway ?

All my children have been and will continue to grow up in a virtual world.  Connection to the internet is a constant, with all its trappings and immediate expectations.  This is a blessing and a curse.  I've learned a significant number of things from my children related to the world of electronics and virtual connectivity.
- My 15 year old son is NEVER without his iPhone, but he has shown me (and my wife) some great tips and tricks on our own phones.  He is also the protagonist of the subject for this blog post.
- My 13 year old son saved up money to buy his own iPod (which already seems outdated) and is in the iPad group at his middle school.  He finds the most funny things on YouTube!
- My 11 year old daughter is also on the iPad team at the middle school (she was also in that 'pilot' class at the elementary school last year).  She already has cooler and more productive apps on her iPad than I think I'll ever have.

Back to the oldest child - his head was buried so deep in his phone and he kept spouting out these random questions ... so I asked him (when he came up for air) what all the fuss was about ... 

And that's when the addiction began.

Granted it's been less than 48 hours that I've been 'hooked' but I downloaded the free app for Trivia Crack and began competing against my oldest sons, my wife, my buddy Tony, some young men (scouts) I know from church, my brother, a few work friends, my niece, and even a random game (but that was the first game it made me play - I didn't challenge that opponent again).  I have no idea if it is impressive at all, but I'm already at level 34 or something, which is almost at the top of the list of all my friends who are playing.

I'd feel guilty about it, but it's really an educational game (insert whatever sarcastic remark you have here).  I actually study a little about the concept of gamification in my newer line of work, so I can actually chalk up some of this as research (although not as much as my brother-in-law Dennis, whose job often truly is to play and test games).

Bottom line: it can be a blessing and a curse to ask questions of your children!

Song Of The Day:
Addictions to games are probably not a good thing.  I thought of the lyrics to the song "Need You Tonight" by INXS and with only a few minor word changes, the song is a perfect fit for a trivia game blog post.
Your moves are so raw ... you're one of my kind ... I need you tonight 'cause I'm not sleeping ... there's something about you (game) that makes me sweat ... what do you think? - I can't think at all ... and finally ... I'm lonely!  :)


Friday, January 2, 2015

When Is It Okay To Shoot Your Kids ?

It's not often you can find a board or card game that can easily accommodate an odd number of players.  It is also not easy to find a game that can accommodate 6 or 7 players - at least not one that I have the patience for.

I forget exactly who we learned about the game "Bang" from, but as soon as they remind me I will thank them.  It's been a great game to play with our family of 9 - yes, those keeping track will realize that the youngest two (ages 2 and 4 at the moment) can't really comprehend the game ... but I also mentioned in the first paragraph that I was referring to game for 6 to 7 players so do the math.

The concept of the game is fairly straightforward: try to be the last person alive.
The Sheriff may have a deputy (in games with 6 or more players).
The Outlaws (at least 2 are in play with games of 4 or more) just want the Sheriff dead.
The Renegade can only win if the Outlaws are dead before the Sheriff.

The twist is that no one knows for sure who anyone is - except everyone knows who the Sheriff is ... but he gets an extra life (bullet) as compensation.

Best of all, there's no rhyme or reason to winning every time.  It is equally difficult to win regardless of which role you draw.  There are certainly strategies that are more effective, but there's a decent amount of luck involved ... and the games play pretty quickly (30-45 minutes at most).

Song Of The Day:
You might be thinking I'd use the song "I Shot The Sheriff" by Eric Clapton, but I'm actually featuring the recent pop hit "Bang Bang" by Nicki Minaj, Jessie J, and Ariana Grande - for two reasons: the song is quite catchy and the title just works with this post.  Please refrain from pointing out the obvious non-family nature of the lyrics in that song.  I never said I listened to it while playing games with my kids!


Thursday, January 1, 2015

What Will You Do THIS Year ?

I recently read a blog post from my favorite Leadership blogger (linked HERE) wherein he wrote briefly about how we approach each new year.  Of course I love that he suggests using questions to improve ourselves (you know how I love questions!), but it also reminded me that it only takes the proper mental attitude to begin anew.
I've gone back and forth many times on my commitment to blogging (among many other arguably more worthwhile activities).  But reviewing this post (and reflecting on the questions Dan suggests) reminds me that our efforts do not always have to produce excellent or even noticeable results.
The key is to keep trying - keep pushing ourselves to improve - keep the strategies that work and replace those that don't.

In the end we'll have plenty to feel good about and we'll likely remember very few of the stumbles or low points.

Cheers to your new year's goals, whatever they may be!

Song Of The Day:
As you make your plans and goals for 2015, I would like to help you project ahead to the end of the year and visualize yourself singing along to the words in OneRepublic's song "I Lived"  The tune is certainly catchy, the message is meaningful (if not overstated), but it seems a fitting anthem for setting goals to challenge yourself in the coming year.  Filled with repeated statements of hope as a theme, I LOVE this song!