Friday, June 28, 2013

the lizard whisperer

My son loves to catch lizards, and lizards appear to love my son. The other day BOY bent down near a lizard and put out his hand. "Come here little lizard, come here..." The lizard ran into his hand and sat there, as my son gently stroked its back. Then it made its way onto BOY's shirt and stayed...

submit to reddit

Saturday, June 22, 2013

if we move the chairs....

A couple of weeks ago, my husband moved two chairs from our back yard to our front yard. There is nothing special about these two chairs- adirondack style, of heavy plastic. Yet, they have the essentials: arm rests for cocktails, and bright, striped cushions that add pizazz and comfort to just ordinary.

We now enjoy sitting outside in the evenings and looking at our world from a different vantage point. It's a quiet street overall, and the setting sun, just over the neighbor's house, adds a blood orange and crimson palette to our sundowns. All of our trees need trimming, but I love the sound of the breeze through thick branches, and the rustle of leaves overhead. Like the rise and fall of the ocean's tides, it immediately calms.

Sometimes sitting together inside the house can be weighted with "shoulds" and "dos." Sitting outside is a welcome change and encourages conversation that isn't based on our upcoming schedules, parenting dilemmas, and what we owe to the orthodontist this month.

It's gotten me thinking about how the simple act of moving furniture and looking out at your own orbit with a different vista can change your world perspective...instantly. The backyard is fine and offers more privacy, but the front yard offers a view of the lush olive trees on our street, the beautiful roses in a neighbor's garden and a perch under our gargantuan camphor tree that must be close to 100 years old.

 Soon after the two chairs were ensconced in our front yard, we decided we needed something to thwart the insects that appeared at dusk and looked to us for nourishment. My husband returned one day with Tiki torches. Not just any Tiki torches, but ornate ones. They now flank the two chairs. So, we sit in our thrones, flaming torches beside us, clanking our whiskey cups... and, life is good.

Frequently couples will walk by and I wonder about their lives together. Do they have children? Do they still connect? Has it been with lots of ups and downs to arrive at this moment on an evening walk together down a neighbor's street? Or, have they been unscathed by life? Then I remember that none of us have that freedom to be untouched. We all become bruised and battered, and then, if we're lucky, can rise back up to shimmer in the glow of having come through battle together.

Until recently, I hadn't realized how exhausted I had become by the inertia of remaining the same. How powerful it can be to try on some new things. I am ready to shake it up, challenge myself, and try a renascence. It's good to stretch and pull a little against your edges. We can change our lives, and shift into new rhythms, if we move the chairs....

submit to reddit

Monday, June 17, 2013

Conversations about...teenagers and other matters, including underwear

There are times where you look at pictures of your children and wish that you could be back there ...even for a moment. I know that it won't be long from now when I will see this time, right now, as one of those moments.  How long ago it feels, yet I am so grateful for the photographs that stir memories of my life at home with them.

There is much to celebrate in the presence of these two right now. Most especially in the conversations that we have...

Let's take teenagers for example. My children are fascinated with them. GIRL idolizes our babysitters, and BOY thinks teenagers have it made...because he imagines they have unlimited access and time for devices and freedom to use BAD WORDS...

Trip to the bookstore:

Bookseller: What kind of books are you looking for?

BOY: Well, you know, I'm almost a teenager.

Bookseller: Really...? How old are you?

BOY: 9 1/2.

Conversation at home:

GIRL: Mommy, do teenagers have recess?

JCK: Well, yes...they have a break during lunch.

GIRL: What do they do during recess?

JCK: They mostly hang out with their friends, eat, study...things like that.

GIRL: They don't play at all?

JCK: Not really...not in the same way you do.

GIRL: That's really lame.

Conversation in the car on women's underwear:

GIRL: Mommy, what's a thong?

JCK: A thong?[!!!cough...cough??!!]

GIRL: Yes, a mom called her daughter's flip-flops...thongs, and some other girls started laughing and saying thongs are underwear?

JCK: Well...yes, that is true.

GIRL: It's underwear?

JCK: Well, you know how flip-flops have a section that goes between your big toe and the next toe?

GIRL: Yeah.

JCK: Well, a thong is a kind of women's underwear that covers the front of you and has a section that goes between your butt.

GIRL: That is disgusting.

JCK figures thinking about how lame teenagers are will last about... 24 hours in BOY's mind.  GIRL? Now, she's willing to take her time to get there...

submit to reddit

Thursday, June 13, 2013

What teachers say...

GIRL: Mommy, Ms. J told us that coffee makes you short. She said that is why she ended up being short, because she looooves coffee and now she is short.

JCK: I think...Ms. J was joking, sweetie.

GIRL: No, she had her serious face. When Ms. J has her serious face she is not joking.

JCK: Well...GIRL.

GIRL: She didn't smile afterwards...She had her serious face and didn't smile. She smiles later if she is joking.

JCK: mmmmm...then probably best to steer clear of coffee, GIRL.

JCK's children have both been lucky enough to have Ms. J. She will be treasured always...for her belief in each child, for her humor, and for her amazing teaching. Thank you, J...

Photo courtesy of:

submit to reddit

Friday, June 7, 2013

Minecrack is a candybox devil game

My son is 9 1/2. He has one passion, and we call it... Minecrack.

Minecrack is a candybox devil game originally created by Swedish programmer Markus "Notmyproblem" Persona non grata and later developed and published by Mobetterthanyourparents. It was publicly released for the PC[Parents Computer] on May 17, 2009, as a developmental alphamaleboy version and, after gradual updates, was published as a full release Seratonin version on November 18, 2011. A version for Mom's phone was released a month earlier on October 7, and an SOS[Suckers oh you Suckers] version was released on November 17, 2011. On May 9, 2012, the game was released on crackbox 360 as an heroinbox Live Arcade game, co-developed by 4Junior Sadists. All versions of Minecrack receive periodic updates.

The creative and building aspects of Minecrack allow players to build constructions out of textured sugar cubes in a 3D highly addictive world. Other activities in the game include exploration, gathering resources, crafting, and combat. Gameplay in its commercial $$$$$$$$$ release has two principal modes: survival of very few brain cells, which requires players to acquire resources and maintain their healthlessliving and hungerformore; and you too can be a creative genius, where players have an unlimited supply of resources, the ability to fly in the face of their parents, and no health or hunger. A third gameplay mode named hardcore is the same as survival, differing only in difficulty yanking it out of your child's hands; it is set to hardest setting and respawning is disabled, forcing players to delete their worlds upon their parents' deaths.

Minecrack received five awards from the 2011 Game Conspirators Developers Conference: it was awarded the Inhalant Award, Best Downloadable Game that your Parents Regret Buying Award, and the Best Disaster to the Family Unit Game Award from the Heinous Game Developers NonChoice for Parents Awards; and the Laughing All the Way to the Bank Audience Award, as well as the Sicko Maniacal Grand Prize, from the Dependent Habit Forming Games Festival in 2011. In 2012, Minecrack was awarded a Golden Joystick Up the Parents' Wazoo Award in the category Best Downloadable Game to Ruin the Formerly Functioning Family.[7] As of April 8, 2013, the game has sold over 10 million copies on PC[8] and as of January 22, 2013, over 20 million copies across all platforms households.[9]

Photo courtesy of

submit to reddit

Saturday, June 1, 2013

between leaving your comfort zone and landing in the new place

 Life was opening up … like an orchid in bloomT.Coraghessan Boyle

Change is one of those things that exhausts and challenges us, yet it often brings new, positive energy into our lives. Or... that is what I like to tell myself every time I am undergoing some kind of change. My job is coming to an end soon, and I have an opportunity to think about what I'd like to do next, and to look for a new job. A double-edged sword: it could be my El Dorado, but I might have to dig for it.

 As a parent, when it comes to change, I often think about how it affects my children- how they handle transitions during the day in school  or doing something for the first time that they've never done before. I recognize that life is about change, and that children need to be able to navigate change themselves. But...however difficult change can be for children, I believe it's even harder for us, as adults, when we have to step out of our comfort zones.

Here we are, having designed our lives to be what feels agreeable, if not always the most fulfilling choice- but we are at ease. We have our daily routines during the week and our weekends fill in the pattern. We create how the interiors of our homes look, how we design our yard, who we create community with, all of it, for the most part, within the landscape of our control.

Unless we have a job that is continually throwing us curves, we don't transition much into change. So, change can be very frightening, and unnerving. Especially if we don't know what is going to Or, how things will look in two weeks or 6 months.

As a child, I moved a lot. By the time I was fifteen, I had lived in 9 different homes or apartments - not including extended hotel stays in-between some of those moves. When I met my husband, I was living in place #24 (and I'm probably forgetting a couple.) I now live in #28. It's the longest place I've ever called home, having been here 13 years...a lifetime to a former nomad. 

Part of me welcomes transition, because I do know from experience that it can bring adventure and new people into my life that I wouldn't have encountered otherwise. But, also...the idea of change brings with it a certain dread, knowing that I will have to Bring IT to the table, and bring ME with IT. I will be shaken from the comfort of my regular routines, that which I deem within my control.

Moving that many times taught me this... I can do it.  Sometimes I have to keep reminding myself that this is true. I can do it. Yes, I can. Change is good. It shakes you up, enables you to look at the world a little differently, and it empowers you to see yourself in a new light. It's that transition between leaving your comfort zone and landing in the new place that is so difficult to maneuver. But, going from I can do it to ...yes, I did it, and, look at me what enables me to grow. 

Anticipate change as though you had left it behind you —Rainer Maria Rilke

"Between Darkness and Wonder" Painting by Chuck Gumpert

submit to reddit
Copyright © 2007-2014 JCK.

The content on these pages is the sole property of the author and may not be used or reproduced in any manner without consent.

All Rights Reserved.