Sunday, June 27, 2010

God will provide (and other things I am entitled to)

I was annoyed the other day… a couple of weeks ago actually, but this has been bumping around in my brain… over someone carelessly saying “God will provide”. I know. I shouldn’t judge, I know I shouldn’t read into it. Most people say it without really thinking about what it means. Only a few use and abuse this concept… meaning they chuck out all sense of personal responsibility and blindly forge ahead, even if they are scared enough about potential risks to start the praying before they take the first step. I shouldn’t even be annoyed with that type.. even when I think people are doing really stupid things. Oh yea… you waste all your money on things you know you shouldn’t today… even good things, like charity…  but when asked why you can’t pay your mortgage next month…  just shrugging your shoulders and saying “God will provide”, is going to make it “Ok”? I don’t think so…  I mean really, some people are a work in progress (aren’t we all?) and need to learn, but it is frustrating to see! I was reminded of this little parable, I have always liked this:

A devout man was in his home, listening to the storm outside. He heard a rapid knocking on the door. It was the sheriff… in his bright yellow rain slicker and rubber boots. “Sir, you need to evacuate immediately! The dam is failing and you are in danger. Please, move to higher ground.” The man said, “No, I’m staying here, God will provide.” An hour later, the power is out, and water is thigh deep in his house. He hears a noise outside and goes to investigate. It’s the National Guard in a rescue boat. “Thank goodness we found you sir! Quick, get in the boat and let’s go. The waters are still rising!” The man said, “No, I’m staying here, God will provide.” Another hour passes, the man is on his rooftop, rushing water licking about his shoes. He hears a noise in the sky and looks up as a Marine Corps helicopter zips in and drops a ladder. “Come on sir! Let’s get you out of here! The rains are not letting up and you are in danger!” The man said, “No, I’m staying here, God will provide.” Needless to say, shortly after this, his house collapsed beneath him, and he was drowned. As he arrived in heaven, wet and confused, he had his chance to speak with God. He said, “But I believed in You! I have trusted in You my whole life! Why did You not protect me when I needed you most?!” God shook His head sadly and said, I sent you the Sheriff in a warm SUV to give you a ride to safety, I sent the National Guard in a sturdy boat, I sent the United States Marine Corps in a state of the art flying machine… and each time, you turned your back on My gifts.”

I guess, what annoys me the most, is that some people think it is OK to toss out all sense of personal responsibility and use God as some sort of personal insurance policy. A person will take things too far, barely squeak by, assume it was a gift of God, and then, rather than learn from it, he’ll go out to take things too far again.. because “God will provide'”. Is it really Ok for me to do whatever I want, without worrying about responsibility or long-term consequences, as long as I say “God will provide” (or “forgive me”, or “love me anyway”, or whatever)? These thoughts came to me at the same time a friend and I were talking about bad parenting, and spoiled kids/adults who feel they are entitled to have, or do, or get away with, whatever they want. Bad enough, when kids act this way with their parents, or people act that way to their fellows in society. I hate it even more, when I see it used with God. God DOES provide.. He gave us each a brain, some common sense, and so many other gifts… that’s some damn fine providing if you ask me!

ok.. had to get that off my chest. I feel better now ;D

Geeky Family Time

How did you spend your weekend? With the family? Chores? Shopping? Swimming? Going to the park? Not us, nope. Kids were worn out from a full week of summer (day) camp last week and my goal was to keep them in, quiet, and healing from sunburn (which they got despite being painted in sunscreen) so they’d be fully recharged for camp again this week. We logged on, and went on quests… wizardly, monster fighting, world saving quests! I’ve advocated for the online game “Wizard101” before, but thought I’d actually show you a bit of what I’m talking about.

It is a fun, family, MMORPG, and we have been playing and sharing this game for a long time, but usually, depending character level or place in game play, there’s only so much we could do as a group. When we first started playing, Honor (then 6yo) would get bored of the actual game quickly, but still had fun running around the virtual worlds, playing hide-and-seek with her brother, and shopping. However, as the kids have grown their skills in tactics and team play, we’ve been able to do more actual ‘team work’ in the quests, rather than just helping each other out here and there, and hanging out together in the game. Chess, it’s not, but the characters, their classes, and abilities can be complex, there are many variations, and players must pay attention to their partners, as well as the enemy, and their own stats, offensive and defensive, in order to play well. There are ways to aid or protect your teammates… if you are paying attention to their needs as well as your own. There are also plus and minus percentage spells to use, which require a bit of math to estimate what attack or defense you should play in order to win a battle.

Here’s Honor (right) and I having a little mommy-daughter time. My character is casting some sort of death spell.

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Maybe this spell. He’s always good to have on your side.

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My character can also manage some pretty tough fire spells, like a phoenix. Honor’s 'reaction(texted, as she was in another room, away from me) : “Cute!” … I guess, as long as he’s not aimed at you, he is cute.

Picture 2010-06-26 17-21-48  My little girl is quite the ice wizard. When she casts a spell, little snowflakes swirl around. She’s also, finally, learning to equip her character (clothes and tools) properly, to increase her strength and defense stats… it’s part of the game strategy, and not just about style and matching colors(!), but what can I say, she’s has her girly moments.

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Here she is, fighting next to her dad, in process of sending an evil snowman after the polluted elementals we were battling.

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Honor also enjoys decorating her house, and collecting pets. You can win or buy items in the game and each player’s home can be a very unique hang-out/trophy room to show off to your friends.

Here are Brian and Honor with a couple of their pets. The game has a new feature that allows you to train your pet so that it might actually assist you in battle with a spell here or there, or by providing a boost in your stats. I’m glad they don’t bring home these sorts of critters in real life.

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The game allows you to make a number of separate characters. The game plot stays the same, but how you play with a wizard of one school (life, death, myth, ice, storm, and fire) will be different than your strategy in another school. There is a bit of story line, here and there, that differs as well.

Brad played one of his characters to the end, pretty much maxed out, and then started another to work with another of Brian’s new characters. Here he is with Honor, using his death mage. He’s got a pet ghost, how cool is that?

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Casting one of our favorite spells, the skeletal pirate. The animation in this game is very well done, and as you can see from the screen shots, the details and backgrounds are very ornate and detailed too. The colors are bright and vibrant. When this spell is cast ,water covers the play area, an island rises from below, the pirate awakes, focuses his eye on you, and leaps up to attack with his sword. It’s humorous, but rather cool too. The game deals with fighting, and spells, and beating bad guys, but it’s not graphic or gory, and if you get killed, you might lose some progress and have to re-start an area, but you come back to life again, unlimited times.

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Wait, where’s Brian? I wouldn’t forget my awesome son! Here’s his storm character starting to get all sparkley and cast a spell. Picture 2010-06-26 16-46-43

And when he gets all sparkle-y, I mean really sparkle-y…

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Watch out! This might be coming your way.

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or this…

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or this…

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or even this guy.

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I don’t actually plan on turning my blog into a free-advertising site for this game, but we get so much enjoyment out of it, as a family, I do like to share. Having 4 computers functioning, and every one at a level/place that works well together, was a new experience. I couldn’t resist grabbing (and sharing) some screenshots. Just one more…

Family portrait…  everybody on the battlefield.. say cheese!

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

To blog, or not to blog…

I woke up today thinking I should blog about some things. I have some ideas, I’ve taken a few new photos, so why not? I thought about it…


and thought about it some more…


then I found the camera batteries were dead!


Do I reeeaally need to deal with that much fuss on a Saturday morning?


Maybe I should take a nap?


I might get Honor to nap with me?


I can be very convincing.


hmm? Maybe not.




Hope you are having a lovely and relaxing weekend too!

(Photos by Honor, attitude by me and Pixie)

Monday, June 21, 2010

So… where ya been already??

I know, I know. I’ve been ignoring my blog. Poor neglected bit of internet real estate. The grass is overgrown, sidebars are dusty, newspapers piling up on the porch. Sorry! I’ve just been distracted... in a very good/lazy/happy way. I’ll try to be a more responsible member of this neighborhood association, but seriously, it IS summer (Blessed Solstice, btw) and I’m making no promises.

First things first – SCHOOL’s OUT! Whoo hooo! Ok, actually, the kids liked school, so they didn’t exactly come running home, chucking their notebooks into the nearest ditch, dancing prancing and singing and so forth, but it is nice to have the break. One of the last activities of the school year was a field day… on a very very hot June morning. I hadn’t volunteered, but when I showed up to watch, I ended us as a helper anyway. I had fun, but it was HOT! I believe the kids had a blast, and that was the whole idea.

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It was so hot, that I think I was seeing things later that day…

DSC06798 A day or so before school ended, the kids brought home their extra school supplies. Brian came in with an armload of heavy bags and Ninja thought it terribly unfair that he had so much, while she had nothing at all. She dug through his stash, found things she liked, and ran off with the whole bag of pencils, markers, notebooks and other items. She may look slender and slight, but do not be fooled into complacency, she’s a pro!

DSC06801 Last day of school! Can’t believe how big our kids are getting! On to summer!

DSC06807 Wait .. one more stop. Because it took me so long to finish making Brian’s hydra, I decided to come up with a silly excuse as to why it was so hard to finish it, an excuse that both kids would get a kick out of…

When they came home after their last day of school, they found Hydra on Brian’s bed… sitting on eggs!


I made 3 cloth eggs, and each one held a small hydra baby… each baby a single color, red, blue and purple. Mythical Hydras get their extra heads after losing one in a fight and growing more… I figured the young ones probably only start out with one head. That’s my theory, or perhaps my excuse to make my sewing easier. Nevertheless, the kids thought it was a very fun surprise.

DSC06810 Speaking of babies, this is a little toy cat that Honor has had since she was a baby. Ninja LOVES this kitten! She’ll carry it everywhere, and I often find it at, or in, the cat dish. Ninja, and Pixie too, will often bring their ‘babies’ to the food, purposely and carefully putting the toy in the bowl.


We’ve been keeping quietly busy since the start of break. The kids have been happy to hang out and play at the house and do their own things. I offered several times, during the first week off of school, to take them places, but they wanted to stay in and relax for a few days. We did get out to the local Children’s Museum with some friends the other day and had a great time. There is a lot to do there, and we probably should get a family pass.

Brian tried his hand at pitching. Honor learned what it was like to wheel a wheelchair. (Sorry for the blurry photos – forgot the camera and used my mobile instead).



Honor lifted herself with pulleys, and Brian drove a small robot.


Honor used another robot to build a statue.

Photo_061710_007 All the kids practiced their weather broadcast skills.



They went shopping.


They saw a beautiful little shark (which I took a photo of before Honor found the ‘no photography’ sign … I used no flash, my cell phone doesn’t flash, so honestly, this was not fish abuse!)


And they learned about earthquakes, or at least, Brian did… Honor and her friend spent some time burying his little brother in the sand pit instead (Don’t worry, we dug him out before we left.. he is too cute to leave behind!)


The above is only a small sample of what is inside the museum, and there are some nifty activities outside as well.


Wet activities… how refreshing, especially on what turned out to be another hot day! Took a bit to pull the kids away from this section of the museum.


There was a interesting sculpture-thingy that the kids climbed on, and a number of large musical instruments made of wood and stone that I should have captured a video of, but my little cell phone is not that versatile. Maybe on another visit when I bring the real camera.


Tired yet?


Need a looong nap?


Tired enough to go camping in the living room? Honor drew up little invitations (found under our pillows) to a camp out slumber party… kids in tents, parents on sofas… cats chose to sleep, and play, where ever they wanted!


Being inside the house did not protect us from the onslaught of wild beasties.



By the end of the camp out, Brian had lost the lower end of his tent… the cats ran off with it when he was asleep!


The kids slept well, while the parents managed!

To top it all off, the kids had a fine time making a surprise cake for their dad on Father’s Day!


DSC06832 A chocolate cake, with what turned out to be a lovely tie-dye style decoration. Hope everyone was able to celebrate Father’s Day with the special dads/father figures in their lives.

The kids are going to day camp now, and will for a couple of weeks. Despite sunscreen, they are getting pinker every day and coming home completely worn out…tennis, soccer, taekwondo and swimming… and yes, again, it has been hot. Very hot. Summer is here, and has been here, even before its official arrival. Whew!

Anyway, you are now officially caught up, for now, and I’ll try to be better about maintaining my place here, but if I’m not around, just imagine us off having fun somewhere, and I’ll be back to blog whenever I start feeling guilty and negligent again.