The 'Craft

I'm so tired of hearing about Minecraft.

Like, seriously.

Creepers and endermen and griefing and trolling and zombies and pickaxes and redstone and mobs and mods and spawning: these are all words that get peppered into normal dialogue in my house. My nine-year-old has an astonishing talent for turning any conversation at all into one about Minecraft. You comment on the weather; he tells you how in Minecraft you can change it from rainy to sunny by typing a command (then he tells you the command - /toggledownfall or some such nonsense - as if you'll ever use it). You mention that a friend is pregnant; he informs you that in Minecraft animals can only breed when they're in "love mode" and little hearts are flying everywhere. You hear a commercial for a jewelry store on the radio; he tells you how it's really hard to mine diamonds in Minecraft but he has done it and now he has diamond armor and a diamond sword and did you know that diamond pickaxes can break all types of block and by the way they make toy diamond pickaxes made out of foam and can we please get one?

Add in the fact that he's a serious computer geek, so we also get to hear about servers and admins and IP addresses, and the different versions of Minecraft like Indev and Infdev and Alpha, and the smallest nuances between each version. I have really had to perfect my "trying-not-to-glaze-over" look. I nod my head until I get a cramp in my neck.

Oh, and when he isn't playing Minecraft? He's watching other people play Minecraft on YouTube. Apparently this is a huge thing, because there are tons of videos of people playing (yawn) while offering up a running commentary (zZzZz), which is about as fascinating to me as watching paint dry. And when he's not watching other people play, he's making his own tutorials on YouTube like the ones he watches (find his channel here if your kids are into that sort of thing). You have to be careful with YouTube - remember how Cameron learned the word "gay?" - but Colin's videos are all kid-friendly. Adult-boring, maybe, but kid-friendly.

We have Minecraft on our computer, our XBox, and our tablet. We own a Minecraft playset that Colin got for his birthday, with figurines that cost a ridiculous sum for a little piece of plastic. They wear Minecraft t-shirts and have Minecraft hoodies and Minecraft books on their Christmas wish lists. They beg to go to MINECON (not a chance, when I've never even been to a blogging conference). I'm thinking that our financial support is a big part of the reason that Notch - the creator of Minecraft, didn't you know? - is probably sipping champagne and being fed strawberries on an island somewhere.

... But look at that face!

Colin wants to work for Mojang (the studio that developed Minecraft, naturally) when he grows up.

At least he'd be surrounded by people who love to talk about it as much as he does. Because around here? He's out of luck.


Yearning (or Yawning?)

Dearest Husband,

You want to fulfill my fantasies, right? Satisfy all my desires? I thought so, big guy. That's why I'm going to cut right to the chase and let you know exactly what I want: no guessing games, no playing coy, just straight to the stuff that will make me melt. I'll be putty in your hands.

First, I want you to take me to the bedroom and order me to get on the bed.*

*Because you know I have too much to do to actually initiate a nap on my own.

Then I'm going to take off my bra ...*

*Who can sleep comfortably with one on? I mean really?

... and my pants.*

*In my fantasies this is, like, a serious nap ... and everybody knows pantsless is the way to go.

I want to feel your hands on my body. ... Lower ... lower ...*

*Because a foot massage would be an epic way to kick off this nap.

I want you to whisper in my ear about all the dirty things you're going to do while I'm lying here.*

*Like mop the dirty floor, wash the dirty laundry, scrub the dirty toilet, bathe the dirty children ...

Then I want you to give it to me. Nice and slow.*

*I mean the pillow. The fat one. And fluff it first.

Oh, yeah ... I'm all hot and bothered right now.*

*But that's probably because there's a human-radiator of a toddler using me as a jungle gym, which is definitely bothersome. 

So let me know the next time you want to participate in this ... adults-only activity.*

*Seriously, don't let the kids see me trying to nap. They'd never allow it.

Take me to heaven, honey. I want it so bad. I ache for it.*

*No, I mean it, I ache. Did you see the size of that last load of laundry I carried up the stairs? Sheesh.

I'll be waiting. Don't make me beg.



There are lots of questions we ask ourselves when we're wondering if we're ready to become parents. Am I financially stable? Am I the right age? Do I have a supportive partner? Am I ready to settle down?

Those are all valid questions, of course. But there's another equally important thing to ask: am I good at doing things from the toilet?

I don't mean simply reading a book or playing with your phone. Ohhhh, no - anybody can do that. But when you're a parent, there's barely a limit to the things you'll find yourself having to do while you're trying to ... well, doodoo.

See, little kids do not grasp the concept of privacy for a very long time. (And even when they do, they seem to think that it somehow does not apply to Mom and Dad.) This means that things like taking a dump become public domain. From the time they realize they can reach their chubby little fingers under the door, you can bet that it'll be years before you enjoy a solo trip to the crapper.

What's more, there seems to be some unwritten kid-rule that everything occurring while a parent is on the toilet is urgent and therefore MUST BE ADDRESSED IMMEDIATELY.* Your brother stole your toy? You want some fruit snacks? Your shoe is untied? Just barge into the bathroom and demand a quick resolution to the dilemma.

*Ironically, things that are actually important - such as the baby drawing on the wall with a Sharpie - typically go unmentioned until you flush.

Eventually, as a parent, you realize that unless you want to spend huge chunks of your life yelling, "Just give me a minute!!" you have to just go with the flow and learn to address situations directly from the porcelain throne. Because often, that's your only chance to have at least one or two minutes of peace while you're there.

So for those who may be asking themselves the question, here's a sampling of the actual things I have found myself doing from the toilet since having kids:

- Opening various food packages
- Buttoning/zipping/tying (or dressing the child altogether)
- Nursing a baby
- Mediating arguments
- Burping a baby
- Fixing broken toys
- Removing splinters
- Singing songs
- Helping with homework
- Making a snowman out of play-dough

Oh, and also? You can add "eating my breakfast" and "brushing/flossing my teeth" to the list of toilet-bound activities, because parenthood also brings the occasional time crunch which makes such things necessary.

So if you know someone who's wondering if they're ready to have kids, tell them to just sit on the toilet and try to do a million and one random things while still "handling their business."

Because if their idea of multitasking is talking on the phone while they jog or balancing their Starbucks without spilling it all over their tablet, they're in for it.

Dear First-Time Moms ...

Dear First-Time Moms,

I have a confession to make. It's something I'm not proud of, but here it is: sometimes I think you're silly for being so uptight about your kid.

It's not that I haven't been in your shoes. I remember when I, too, had just one. I wanted so badly to be a perfect mom. To have a perfect child. To do everything by the book. I read all the studies ... disciplined the way this expert suggested and potty trained the way that expert suggested and only bought organic hormone-free food with extra DHA and AHA added for brain development and served it in a BPA-free dish because that's what those experts said I should be doing. I was so, so afraid to mess up - like one little misstep would send my son hurtling toward a future of misfortune, all because his mother let him watch one too many minutes of non-educational TV or fed him too much processed food which irrevocably altered his mental chemistry.

But then I had another kid. And another. And another. (Yes, I know how these things happen.)

Having multiple children - in my case, four - changes your grand parenting plan. Dramatically. You realize that you can actually trust your own instincts, and that not every expert opinion is right for your kids. You start to relax in your approach to parenting. For example, when you see your toddler heading for an electrical outlet ...

First-time mom: (gasp) No no, sweetie! We don't get within five feet of an outlet! Those plastic covers are there for your safety!

Mom of more than one kid: I wouldn't touch that outlet if I were you. Or at least put down that fork you were running with first.

Okay, so perhaps I'm exaggerating a smidge, but you get my drift. When I just had one child, I'd have called the doctor in the middle of the night for a sniffle; now I battle raging flu viruses at home without blinking an eye. I've always thought that first-time moms and their ambitious parenting styles were sweetly amusing, yet secretly relished my own level of experience, thinking, I'm so glad I'm not like that any more.

Until I realized something the other day, watching my eldest son walk uncertainly into his fourth-grade classroom and into a new year of firsts.

No matter how many kids you have, you're always a first-time mom. Because as your oldest child grows, there are challenges you've never faced. Things you've never thought of. Times when you feel paralyzed with fear that you'll do something wrong. Any time you have to make decisions on behalf of your child, you agonize over whether you'll make the wrong decision - especially if it's a situation you've never been in before. Every year, every age, brings some element that you didn't expect, and you parent by trial-and-error. But you ask around first. You do research on the best way to handle a situation. You read articles. You make your best guess. You lose sleep.

When your second or third or fourth or fifth child is in the same situation, you know what to do already. You've been there, done that, figured it out.

But when it's your oldest ... your firstborn ...

... we're all first-time moms. Forever.


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