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My Kids Are Not Playing Fortnite, Here’s Why

March 4, 2018

Mean Mom of the Year, right here, folks. Why? Because this weekend, my husband and I made the decision to pull the plug, so to speak, on Fortnite.

If you haven’t run across this game yet, then you either don’t have tweens or teens living in your house, or you live off the grid in Arizona. I see posts on Facebook daily from parents who either love the game, or hate it. Google it, and you’ll see forum posts like “Why are kids so obsessed with Fortnite?” and “I saw a kid in Taco Bell playing Fortnite” and blog posts like “How I Lost My Children to Fortnite.”

What’s the allure? It’s a free strategy survival game that works on several platforms. It combines Minecraft-type collection of resources and building, with team-based survival shooting like Call of Duty. Kids (and adults) can play with up to 100 strangers, creating teams and crafting strategy.

One mom writes that gaming…”has now become a social activity amongst children (and adult men) breaking down barriers and connecting children from different communities. My kids are playing with their camp friends, school friends, and family friends from neighboring cities.., they are creating stronger bonds with some kids they rarely see and friends they see all the time.”

So what’s the big deal? Team work = good, right? (The same mom above is also complaining that her kids no longer remember to eat or bathe…)

The big deal for me was when my 10 year old sat next to me on the couch and proceeded to explain the difference between a Gatling Gun and an AR-15. My 10 year old is suddenly an expert on…assault weapons.

Assault weapons. The very things used in some of the deadliest mass shootings in America. Las Vegas. Orlando. Parkland, and more. The United States has the honor of hosting nearly half of the deadliest mass shootings in the world over the last 30 years. I don’t need to tell you that no other country appears on the list as many times as we do. This country is obsessed — and I mean obsessed — with guns.

I feel strongly that the gun culture of America needs to change, and it needs to change now. There’s not much I can do single-handedly to make this happen — I will vote, I will use my voice when and where I can — but I can change what I teach my kids. Does playing violent video games lead to violence? The jury is still out. But, God help me if I allow my children to believe that shooting assault weapons is normal or fun. God help me if I allow them to become desensitized to violence and the idea of holding and firing a weapon.

37 Mass Shootings in America

563 children wounded or killed.

2,461 dead…

This year. That’s just three months. Gun violence in America isn’t just a problem. It’s a massacre.

Charles Figley, director of the Traumatology Institute and a professor of social work at Tulane University, has worked directly in school shooting interventions, and says growing accustomed to repeated violent acts is a form of adaptation, and most people do it without even realizing it.

“People adapt, they adjust, they try to look on the bright side,” he says. “There are two primary methods of dealing with a traumatic event: to respond, or to put it out of your mind. That’s what’s happening now. We’re still shocked, but we watch the people in the communities where this has happened, and we see their shock, their unpreparedness. We think, ‘There is nothing they could have done.’ The more frequently this happens, the more it reminds people there’s nothing they can do, so they put it out of their minds.”

God help me if I continue to sit back and do nothing.

Long ago, my husband and I decided that we weren’t going to allow (or play ourselves) any first-person shooter games. We stuck by that rule, despite the popularity of Halo and Call of Duty, and our kids have done fine. Pulling the plug on Fortnite, however, definitely had a sting, especially for our youngest who is (was) really into the game. But when we explained to him why…why we don’t want him playing a game that involves holding any kind of semi-automatic weapon, you know what? He understood. He’s seen the news, he knows what’s been happening.

And he doesn’t want any part of it, either.

Times up, people, in more ways than one. Times up for thinking gun violence isn’t your problem, or it won’t ever happen to you (or your kids). Times up for thinking you can’t make a difference. Times up for believing that change isn’t possible.

Thanks for listening. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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Want to know what else you can do to stop gun violence in America? Here’s a few ideas:

Text RESIST to 50409  – This is the coolest thing ever. Using your zipcode, Resistbot allows you to write custom letters and faxes them directly to your Congressional representatives, your governor, and CC’s them to your local paper if you wish. Takes about two minutes, you write what you want, they send it. Easy peasy.

6 Things You Can Do Right Now to Fight for Gun-Control

Pledge to be a Gun Sense Voter

Sign the Petition: Pass Gun Safety Reform

Five things you could do right now to reduce gun violence in America

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Hope Like A Heartbeat

December 12, 2017

A noun. A thing, elusive and ephemeral. To grasp, to cling, to clutch. But slippery. Sliding away when we’re not paying attention. Open hands, it’s gone. Again.

A verb. A choice. An act of myopic faith, blurry in the distance but promising. What might be, what could be? Active belief in possibilities as yet unseen.

Hope in a family with Huntington’s Disease is a risky business. We’ve hoped and held on to hope for so long already. Hope slipped away the day I knew my mom was dying. Hope returned, a tiny flicker of belief that perhaps my life would not end the same as hers.

Hope, like a heartbeat, pulses in the background, at times strong, at times so faint it barely exists.

I may not carry the Huntingtin gene, but there are people I love who do.

Hope began to beat again, this week, when a drug company in the UK released the results of trial using new methods to treat HD.

The results are promising.

Weary, we lean down and pick up Hope again. Choosing to believe, choosing to carry this thing we’ve held and dropped so many times before. Tucking it back into our pocket.

Perhaps, this time, we won’t have to let it go.

A Love Letter to a New England Summer

August 25, 2017

It is nearly midnight but I don’t want to go to bed. Because when I wake up, it will be the last Friday of summer and it will all be over. On Monday it will be school, and schedule, and routine. 

This summer, our first full summer in New England, was extraordinary. It was full of all the things that summer should be. Swimming and sunburns and mosquito bites. Add a dash of poison ivy because it is, well, everywhere and to go without it is to never walk in the woods and what kind of life would that be?

It was ice cream and warm rain, cut grass and baby goats. It was small town parades and eating outside, food trucks on the parkway and the farmer’s market. It was plane rides to faraway places, heavy lidded boys with brown cheeks and tousled hair. It was air thick with humidity and sweating as you step out of the shower. It was a little work, a lot of play, staying up too late and sleeping in too long. 

It was all that summer should be.

But now, it’s over. 

Fall is peeking around the corner. The forecast proves it. She’s ready for her turn in the spotlight and we love her, we really do, but summer….

A New England summer isn’t anything like those long, drawn out seasons of the west. She’s only here a moment, and when she’s gone, she’s gone and she’s not reappearing for a long, long, LOOOONG time. 

Tonight I’ve got the windows open. The crickets, a cacophony outside my window. Tomorrow will be back packs and school supplies, sharpened pencils and notebooks. It will be laundering all the new school clothes and pulling the long-sleeved shirts and jeans from the back of the closet and drawers. (It will also be astonishment at how much their feet can grow in three months, but I digress.) Tomorrow will belong to fall and I’ll have to put on a sweater to walk them to the bus stop on Monday. 

But tonight…tonight belongs to summer and to the crickets and to me. 

Things I’ve Learned Since Moving to New England

July 24, 2017

June 21 marked the one year anniversary of our exodus to New Hampshire from Northern California.

It’s been quite a year — we survived the winter splendidly — it was quite fun, in fact. Spring, however, was not so much fun. It was cold, and raw, and the 9th wettest May on record. Mother’s Day nearly done me in — the rest of the country (it seems) was hanging out by the pool and we were still in hats and mittens. But summer did arrive mid-June, on schedule, and we are now gallivanting around to fairs, the beach, and eating our body weight in locally produced ice cream. It’s a good life! 

For those of you who still think we are crazy to leave La Buena Vida of California…here’s a few things I’ve learned in the past year:

  • The most frequently accessed app on my phone is The Weather Channel. I am obsessed. But for good reason! Like Forrest and his box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get. And just because they said that three days ago, does not mean that’s what’s going to happen today. Meteorologists around here are local celebrities; they really have to be on their toes! 
  • Having lived in Maine, I already knew that Autumn was spectacular. But it’s nice when memory doesn’t exaggerate.

  • Car seat warmers: Not a novelty. Essential to survival.
  • Mittens not gloves. If you live here, you know. 
  • Winter is a time for rest. We never had that in NorCal — when the sun was shining, we just HAD to be doing, and going. It was kind of exhausting in hindsight. When the storms roll in around here, we actually do hibernate. By the fire, in our PJs, with a good book. It’s a beautiful and refreshing thing to have permission to Just. Be. Still.

  • Wind chill is a thing. A very important thing. (And, may I repeat, mittens, not gloves!)
  • Hats are not a fashion statement, nor are they optional. After a haircut in the winter, I ended up wearing one around the house and to bed for about three days until my scalp acclimated.
  • Bluebird Days are the very best kind of days.

    blue·bird
    adjective
    noun: bluebird day: denoting or relating to a period of time characterized by sunny, cloudless weather, typically after a night of snowfall.

  • The advent of spring is very much like that part in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy leaves the monochromatic world of Kansas and wakes up in Technicolor Oz. It’s JUST LIKE THAT.
  • I’ll never buy ice cream in the grocery store again. Because locally made is a THING around here, and there are so many places to choose from. I’ve made it my personal mission to try every version of Moose Tracks that exists. So far, Richardson’s is the best, but only when it’s purchased at Stillwell’s on the Riverwalk, Exeter. 
  • Hearing the words “poison ivy” elicits the same physical response as does the word “lice.”  
  • After nearly six months of cold and freezing temps, any sunny day over 60°F is sufficient for wearing shorts and/or sunbathing. 
  • Spirea, Ninebark, Doublefile Viburnum….(flora of a truly exquisite nature I’d never even heard of before.)
  • Mosquitoes still bite even when it’s pouring out. 
  • Farm-to-table is more norm here than exception. We have farm-to-table Mexican, pizza, burgers…you name it, we got it. So much yum.  
  • Tick checks. Every. Single. Day. 
  • Baby goats are addictive. And they do not smell. They are joy, on four legs. And sometimes, two. 

  • Getting out of school in late June seems awful in theory, but given summer’s late start around here, we will be enjoying a full month of summer in August while you people are back in the classroom. 
  • If there’s not at least three festivals, fairs, parades, or cook-offs to choose from every weekend in the summer then something is terribly wrong. 
  • Traffic is not. There really is no such thing around here, unless it’s 95 at the front or back end of a holiday weekend. But that’s easily avoided. When locals complain about the “awful traffic” in Exeter, we just giggle. A whole 10 minutes! So brutal. More than three cars at a stoplight is what the locals call traffic.
  • Remember the film Doc Hollywood? The quaint, small-town life where everyone knows each other and the town parade and fair is a huge deal and it’s all so charming and story-bookish? Well, that life really does exist. Whether it’s the town’s 300th anniversary parade (yes, you read that right. Stratham isn’t as mature as most towns around here, at ONLY 300 years old….) to the Memorial Day parade, to fireworks over the river, to the Independence Day re-enactment of the delivery of the Declaration of Independence to Exeter on July 16, 1776 (complete with horseback couriers and Royalist hecklers) to the local 4H exhibits in baking and sewing and horticulture at the town fair. That life is real, and we’re now living it.

In short, as I’ve said before, I feel like I am finally home.

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My History with Huntington’s Disease: Writing From The Inside Out

May 2, 2017

Mom and me, spring of 1992, my sophomore year of college. Her decline had already begun, and this is one of the last “normal” photos I have of her.

As you probably already know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

I took this opportunity to rip out my own guts and wear them on the outside for a while, and I wrote about my mother’s decline into mental illness as she began to succumb to Huntington’s Disease.

To say I feel a bit exposed is a understatment. But, this illness, this horror, it needs to be brought out into the light. The world needs to know. The suffering has to stop. There are so many people still at risk. Some of them I love.

This post, The Story Of An Enabler, is running on the Redbud Post website this month. I hope you’ll take the time to read it. Take the time to share it. Take them time to spread the word.

The suffering has to stop.

 

An enabler is a person who encourages or enables self-destructive behavior in another. So often we think of enablers in terms of addicts and alcoholics or the mom who keeps feeding her 700-pound, bedridden son. People who keep hidden what everyone else can already see. We think of them with derision and judgment, as if they had a choice in their actions.

Perhaps, though, we, the enablers, are creatures just as broken and bereft as the individuals we try to protect. Desperate victims in a dark-shrouded world, who cannot see a way out of the darkness.

The beginning was subtle. She began to worry about strange things. She became convinced that odors of any kind would make her sick and refused to allow any cleaning products in our home—she even demanded that hotels we visited not clean our room with anything but water. If she encountered any kind of construction work or gardeners, she would flee immediately, running home to lock the house and close the windows lest the smells or the dust make her sick. Or worse, she would approach the crew and demand they stop their work, regardless of the circumstances or employer.

Late one night when I was a junior in college, she called, whispering into the phone that my dad had just tried to kill her…

Read More

 

If you’d like to read more about HD, or about my history with Huntington’s Disease:

My Story: Why I Write

On Death, Joy, and Tattoos

What Not to Pray (Unless You Really Mean It)

The Waiting: On Fear, Friendship and Snorkeling

Friday FAQ: Life After Huntington’s Disease

On Belonging, Friendship and Surviving Renae’s Hikes

Pray for a cure.

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Making New Friends Was Easier In Elementary School

April 21, 2017

Once upon a time, all it took to make a new friend were four simple words: “Do you wanna play?”

The end. Off we scampered to the swings, or the monkey bars, or the shady spot under the redwood trees that lined our school’s grassy field, and the deed was done. Friends made, simple as that.

(Keeping them was another story, but that’s not my point.)

These days, making new friends is much harder and far more ridden with angst. Doing so on your own turf is hard enough, but couple that with moving into an entirely new locale, doubly so. 

Making new friends, these days, takes guts. A willingness to put yourself out there, and risk rejection.

This week, my first post went live on the City Moms Blog Network, a nationwide blog collective with hubs all over the country. I write for the Seacoast Moms Blog which caters to the moms of the Seacoast region (Maine, New Hampshire, and northern Massachusetts). I wrote about this struggle to make new friends, and all the feelings involved.

Check it out! Let me know what you think.

Mom-Dating Takes Moxie: Making New Friends After A Move

“Do you want to meet for coffee sometime?” By the time I got the words out, I was sweating. She hesitated before answering. I was certain she was trying to find a way to decline. But then, she smiled.

“Sure! Do you want to bring the kids or should we get a sitter?” Huge sigh of relief–yet another Mom-Date on the calendar, and my quest for making new friends continued.

I’m the new kid around here, a transplant from the West Coast where I’d lived pretty much my entire life. Yet, I was undaunted at this move to New England. I’m friendly! I’m outgoing! I thought that somehow I’d find my new community if I looked hard enough. A ready-made home team of players to be a part of our new life. They would invite me over, and their kids would love to play with mine. We’d just KNOW we were meant to be BFFs from day one…

Yet, after months of desperate loneliness, I realized that making new friends wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.

Read more…

Don’t forget! The drawing to win a copy of EVERBLOOM will be at 5 p.m. EST on April 25 – release day! Anyone who is a current subscriber of this blog is automatically entered to win.

Do you find it easy to make friends now that you are an adult?

What’s your favorite pick-up line? 

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Worth Repeating: Everbloom Excerpt “We Write” (And A Giveaway)

April 18, 2017

The Everbloom collection releases in just a few days, and to celebrate, I’m giving away two free copies of the book.

 

The winners will be selected from the subscribers of this blog.

If you already receive my posts via email, you’re subscribed, and you’re alreayd in. If you don’t, and would like to do so, you can sign up here. Be sure to follow the instructions for the email verification to ensure you are fully subscribed.

Do you know someone who might benefit from this book?

Everbloom is an anthology of work by women of Redbud Writers Guild with essays, stories and poems. Readers will be empowered and inspired to find their own voice through the transforming power of story. These stories connect to a deep need within all of us to discover God’s guiding hand in the events of our lives.

In this book, compelling personal narratives and poetic reflections of pain, loss, struggle, beauty and redemption give an invitation to draw closer into the love of Christ. Insightful writing prompts encourage a response of faith and imagination at a deep level, providing a guide and friend for those who walk through these pages with so many generous storytellers.

In The Motherless Mother, my contribution to Everbloom, I share my experiences losing my mother to Huntington’s Disease. Simultaneous with this extraordinary loss, I became a mother in my own right, and The Motherless Mother outlines this painful journey, as I grew from darkness, desperation and loss into a confidence in myself and my own motherhood. It is a story of light emerging from darkness — shattered glass still shines; even in brokenness we still can reflect God’s healing and guiding light.

Do you know of someone who might benefit from this book? Ask her to subscribe, too. Final winners will be selected on release day, April 25. That’s just a week from today!

I also want to share with you just a bit of the introduction to Everbloom.

This says it all, all of it, the why, the who, and what you can expect from this anthology of essays and poetry.

We believe

in the singularity of our coffee mugs

as companions to

sermons, essays, proposals

composed alone,

but shared and shredded

as sisters.

 

We write

through cancer,

deadbeat fathers,

bipolar daughters,

dementia mothers,

and if He gives

a deep water immersion

of courage, our secrets.

 

We envy

the unattainable,

the Proverbs 31 woman

and we try, yes, we try

to climb Kilimanjaro,

crush HIV,

dance out urban decay,

set a table,

catch a fish,

and feed them.

Oh, we feed them,

words.

Every word,

we write,

for Him.

 

excerpted from We Write, by Margaret Ann Phlbrick

 

Two winners will be randomly selected from all blog and newsletter subscribers. I will announce the winners next Friday, April 25 at 5 p.m. EST.

I can’t wait to share this book with you!

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The conversation continues!  See the boymom life in full Technicolor.  Join me over on Instagram.

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