Parenting Guild Wars 2 Style

As some of you know, I like to game. Specifically, I like to play MMORPGs. In layman’s terms, that stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. The truth about how these games affect the lives of the people playing them varies depending on who you talk to. For me, it’s been a positive affectation.  I finished typing out a rather long and embarrassingly nerdy explanation of such perks, but instead of giving you that version… Suffice it to say that I find the interactions between players to be of a psychologically interesting nature. Moving to the reason I brought up MMOs… I play Guild Wars 2 specifically, and I play it for the people. However, it has had some interesting outcomes that were unexpected.

#1: We have loot. I already wrote about this in a previous post last semester, but the loot table has gotten an upgrade (for those nerds reading this, it got patched). It’s easier to get loot this time around, but we only roll for it once a week. However, this has significantly improved our getting out the door with smiles intact.

#2: We level up. I love games. All types even. Biggest and Littlest do too. Their favorites though, all have characters to level up. So, this weekend, after failing for the umpteenth time to try to explain to Biggest why we put effort into things like listening, I gave up. Or rather… I told him to throw the effort out the window, since it wasn’t working anyway, and put some experience points into levelling up instead. The light bulb went on. I have yet to have an issue since. In fact, this morning, I had a discussion with him about picking his feet up when he was walking, and I told him that I levelled up my stealthy feet when I was his age even if he thought he was too young to learn that skill… And after two minutes, (his own words, I kid you not) “Mom! Look! I put my adulty pants on and I levelled up! See??? It worked!” (as his boots were no longer dragging on the ground.) (Side note: I didn’t realize he understood the meaning of adulty pants, but my inside voice was laughing so hard I couldn’t see straight).

#3: We have map bonuses and buffs. This is my version of a chore chart. In Guild Wars 2, when you complete an event in a specific part of the world (it’s broken down to maps to save on processing power), you may receive extra rewards specific to that map. Behold! Our household has been broken down into three maps: Biggest’s Reach, Littlest Citadel, and Momma’s Rest. Each has a customizable map bonus that may be chosen when regular household duties are completed. (I mean… events…) Better yet… Bonus events yield buffs. Buffs are temporary bonuses to individual people. For instance, I (the mother) have a Preparation Buff that I award myself for completing prep each night. My map bonus currently is +1 Brandy (Neat). My preparation buff stacks up to 5 times, each stack gives me an extra half hour of playtime anytime during the week, in addition to my “play days”. (I now have specific days I allow myself to play on only, since my training has commenced.) Biggest currently has +30min quiet reading time as his map bonus, and has 1 stack of Nourishment, which gives him an additional jelly bean at the end of his loot roll for the week. Nourishment is gained by eating dinner nicely and has a maximum stack of 5. Littlest currently has +30min quiet reading time as his map bonus as well, and also has one stack of Nourishment. If they complete the bonus event (which was dusting the living room today), they gain the Might buff, which gives them an additional 30min to spend either playing a video game with me or watching an episode of Paw Patrol. Also spent in addition to regular time and stackable up to 5 times. They both currently have the Regeneration (Momma’s Grace) Buff which allows them cartoons on Saturday, since they’ve been quite polite to me this week. There’s a couple more that they haven’t earned yet, but it’s been fun. More importantly, it’s worked really well so far! We salvaged this morning despite a near wipe by putting map bonuses on the line. I guess they wanted those pretty bad because they smartened up in less than a blink of an eye.


And, on a serious note, for the first time in well over 6 months, I feel as though I’ve actually connected with these little creatures. It’s been a really rough few months with attitudes, and I can happily say that this week, I didn’t feel like I was rewarding bad behaviour with snuggles, and I didn’t feel like I was being badgered every 5 minutes for something. Time for a new phase in our lives, the phase where they’re people figuring out how to be people instead of trying to figure out how to wipe their asses. Or perhaps… in a more nerdy fashion, we cleared the boss and we’re off to learn the next one.

I wish you good night, and happy gaming, whether it’s Words with Friends, Candy Crush, Monopoly, Catan, or something wilder like Halo or World of Warcraft. In the meantime, I’m off to get some rested experience points, since our event usually starts waaaaaaay earlier than I ever anticipate.

The Handler.






Well, I have lost the fight.


The I-DON’T-WANNA-PUT-MY-ADULTY-PANTS-ON fight. It’s for the better of course, but (as my mother will tell you if you ask her about the pink pants incident when I was 8), I couldn’t get rid of the kid pants entirely.

What on earth could make me put my adulty pants on? Well. Two things, actually.

The biggest of things is that this is the YEAR. The year that I run my first half marathon. My sister and I are running two in the fall and it’s going to take some serious wringing to find time in my life for training. Seems like a decent enough reason to put adulty pants on to me. In putting my adulty pants on, I have successfully squeezed 4 runs in a week, with the help of my mom calendar. And the delight of my husband for my use of said calendar. (He’s purchased one two years in a row in anticipation of helping me organize the chaos that resembles my life, and he’s super delighted that I have made use of it finally. Thanks Mr. Handler!) Sadly, putting the adulty pants on means that my social life has taken a massive hit, as has my video game playing. But! The kid pants wrangled the adulty pants off for one night, that being Friday night since even adults need a rebel night. So. Friday nights are no-bedtime nights. Every other night I’m in bed at ten. (I lie, really, at least one night this week was 9:30. Yikes!) Back to the adulty pants. I took the opportunity to retrain my housework habits to rely less on a day off and more on a meager hour in the evening to make lunches and do dishes. Surprisingly, the adulty pants AND the kid pants are content, as now that I’m doing half the dishes instead of Mr. Handler doing most of them.. WE UNEARTHED THE COUNTER YESTERDAY!!!! The adulty pants AND the kid pants are even more content with the surprising, yet utterly satisfying Gnome deposit in the morning. Because of the counter and the lunches and maybe the earlier bedtime, the Gnomes have been deposited EARLY ALL WEEK. Who knew? Adulty pants have USEFULNESS. (I know, I’m shocked too. I just thought they were overdoing the marketing on those.) As if that wasn’t enough, the Gnomes put on their big kid pants and helped me with their backpacks and lunches all week too. It’s almost… easier. (Again, if you need a moment to deal with your shock, I understand. I really did think those adulty pant commercials were over the top.)


The smaller, less noticeable side effect of adulty pants (albeit a decent reason anyway) is that they come in MY SIZE. Do you know how hard it is to find pants that fit? Especially adulty pants. I was skeptical, but alas, they fit like a glove. Who knew?


And with that, I’d like to reassure you that having put my adulty pants on, I actually have the time (I think?) to update a little more than once a month, since the chaos level has gone from 1 bazillion down to about 12. It’s a pretty significant improvement, if I do say so myself. Also. Loot still happens. You can’t take ALL the kid out, it’s bad for your health.



The Handler.

Gnome Newzzzzz…zzz…zzzz….zzzzz….

I gotta tell you… I was hoping to have several posts written this month but quite frankly… I’m regularly face planting my keyboard. It would be better for you not to know what time that may be, but suffice it to say that I push myself to make it to a normal person bedtime.

In Biggest News: He had his first Christmas concert this month!!! It was really lovely. He sang two french songs with his class, and participated beautifully! I found out earlier in December that they switched the curriculum for our area for the first time in 50 years, and I’m happy to say that they included problem-solving, critical thinking, and co-operation into the new one. Who knew? Job skills made it into regular school programming! This is actually a great explanation for Biggest’s sudden interest in “filling my bucket”, as they say at school. Filling buckets is one of the easiest ways I’ve found to effectively communicate when something’s not working properly (emptying a bucket) and when we’re doing something and an action is more helpful or extra special (filling a bucket). I mean… it doesn’t get rid of meltdowns due to a lack of fast food for dinner, and it doesn’t help when we didn’t put our boots on properly and have to get to school anyway buuut…. I’m impressed nonetheless. Nothing melts my heart more than snuggles and “did that fill your bucket Mommy?”… except maybe a big hug with “You’re the BEST Mommy!”.


In Littlest News: Littlest hates mud and he hates snow. I don’t know if  he’ll outgrow it or not, but currently I get murderous screams (now that the snow has gotten crunchier), and previously a seriously large amount of whining upon seeing anything resembling brown sludge. I’m a little surprised, because both are amazing. Also, a little humorous also, puddles are ok, and so is sledding. Just not snow. And definitely not mud. Another random discovery: Littlest washes his blankets in his “dishwasher” (IE: cupboard). For the last two days, he’s gotten me to bring him his blanket at night, and when I go to look for it, he tells me he washed it. I have now gotten used to fishing it out of the “dishwasher”. Yesterday I did tea party lunch, and Littlest looks at me (after I said, is this awesome or what??) and says “You’re a SWEET MOMMY!”. Darn straight kid, darn straight. Who else would do goldfish crackers and oolong for lunch? That’s right, this momma right here. Keeping in mind, of course, that every momma is a sweet momma in their own right. But I’m gonna have my super cool tea-party-lunch-making-goldfish-cracker-feeding moment. Just for a second.


OK done. We did, sadly, have to put away our loot this month until we were a little more cooperative in getting out the door. Both of my gnomies were highly unimpressed that they had to wait until January to start working towards loot again, but they are getting much, much, much better at mornings. I am optimistic that the loot-friendly Commander Mommy will be back soon. I personally, am looking forward to not having to do the dragging for Christmas break. Sure, at some point I may wonder how soon winter break will be over, but right now, I am going to appreciate it as much as they will.


And with that, I am literally peering at my keys trying to find the r button, so I will bid you adieu for the moment.


Mrs. Handler.

We Surface Again!

*blub blub glub* *gasp* *splutter*


Oh. Right. Ok. So I may not actually be swimming right now, but this month has felt a little on the not-quite-drowning-but-maybe-should-have-pursued-swimming-lessons-a-little-longer side in an adorable always-wished-I-could-be-busy-until-I-was kind of way.

And, while I’m busy trying to surface, I have my usual shenanigans to rely on to keep my grounded.

Such as… my terribly awful green ideas. This happened not once, but TWICE in two weeks. It’s been pouring buckets here, literal buckets. The first time, I admit, was really quite random. I ended up being the October winner for our town’s #in2transit contest, and in my excitement at being recognized as @gnomehandler in the grocery store, I failed to make sure I knew where the office was to pick up my prize. (Which is amazing by the way! Thank you #in2transit!). It would have been more astute to calm myself and consider that maybe the office may have changed locations since the last time I’d been by, but, that was just not the case here. So. After failing to make my way to the office for a couple of weeks, I panicked. Pure and simple. So, on a cold and rainy day, Littlest and I had gone to purchase groceries. After a stellar (and heavier than average) find, I decided that lugging my find home instead of having it delivered along with the remainder of my groceries was a great idea. Keeping in mind, of course, that it was with the intention of pre-making a week’s worth of meals. (Incidentally, that failed miserably too, although my find remains wonderfully amazing.) When I got to the register, I cheerfully said my usual “paper will be fine” to the cashier, and carried on my way. Well. Why on earth would anyone in their mostly right mind think that paper in a monsoon was a good way to go? It’s a good question, really. So, with my heavy paper bags in hand, and Littlest in the other, we went and caught the bus. Only… having decided that this had to be THE day to go pick up my prize, I got off the bus early. Still monsooning, I make it across 2/3 of the crosswalk before my bag explodes out the bottom. Yep. In the cross walk. With the cars waiting. I sheepishly roll my zucchini (or what’s left of it) to the curb, and pack it in to the remaining two bags. By now they’re mostly overflowing, since really, I needed the third bag. And… I pick them up. Only, it should be noted that when it’s raining, puddles tend to collect at the side of the road. Really. I put the remaining two bags into a puddle. So. Here we are. At this point, I realize that my earlier hunch about leaking three-year-old-size rain gear is actually true, and my son is now soaking wet. And, looking up, I realize that I should have actually asked for directions. Because the office is not where I thought it was and I’m now standing in the rain with three composting-in-front-of-my-face grocery bags and a wet three year old. So what’s a Mom to do? Well. Since the rain gear is clearly not working anyway, I got the bright idea to use our dragon raincoat as a tarp/packaging material for the groceries. I bundle them all up in the dragon (I can’t even tell you how strange this looks). I give my soaking wet child my oversized red coat (which looks more like a blanket than anything on my tiny kid). And I walked home in my sweater. It should also be noted that I had to use the sleeve of my red coat as a leash-type device, since Littlest was unable to use his hands in my coat. I wanted to draw you all a picture, but it was so terrible it just couldn’t be uploaded. Three quarters of the way home I realized my phone was still in the bottom pocket that was three inches above puddle height. (It’s ok but holy man!)


AS IF THAT WASN’T ENOUGH… I went the very next week and took paper AGAIN. This time it wasn’t raining, but the veggies I chose were wet, and I left a trail of groceries for a half a block in the dark before I realized that there was a hole composting through the bottom of one of the bags.


Only one of the crazy series of things November has brought us, but I have to go to bed now.

Nighty Night.

The Handler.

PS: THIS time, I brought reusable bags. I also filled them with 50lbs of groceries and had to drag them and my screaming, stomping, fighting, punching creatures home (I think they resemble human males, but it’s hard to say.). I probably should have bought less, however I couldn’t resist the bacon. But one step at a time right?



Sloppy, sloppy Joes.

So… dinner. Mr. Handler and I have been working tirelessly to try and “cook up” the energy to… well… cook dinner. The latest debacle was this evening. I attempted, earlier in the month, to  pre-prep dinner, and we were down to the last one. Sloppy joes. Pretty easy right? Wrong.

Ingredient #1: Meat. Burnt it, by accident. Covered with BBQ sauce to disguise the flavour, but it did nothing for the texture.

Ingredient #2: Cheese. The only cheese we had left was old-ish Swiss cheese. What could be wrong with that? Well, nothing really, except for the fact that it had a paper-like texture instead of a cheese-like texture.

Ingredient #3: Sauteed Onions. There’s really nothing wrong here except for the amount I felt would be appropriate to put on my bun.

Ingredient #4: Bun. Well… herein lies the real crux of the matter. Somehow, between the buns being frozen, thawed, and on the counter for a couple of days… they still managed to be usable. Note: usable does not mean edible. Since they were the only thing left to make sloppy joes with, we had no choice.


What happens when you put all these things together? A laughing fit halfway through dinner because no amount of water could make it go down. The buns were as dry and tasteless as sawdust, the meat was crunchy and over sauced as a result of being burnt (there wasn’t enough of it either), the cheese was indistinguishable to the point where I thought I’d left a paper wrapper on the slice, and the onions were in one huge clump in the middle of my bun.That’s to say nothing of the other brave people at the table who were politely thanking me for dinner, yet not touching it at all… We all gave up. I couldn’t stop laughing. We had cookies. I’m going grocery shopping in the morning. And that’s that.

A still slightly hungry Mrs. Handler.


Have I ever told you how much I hate whining? I really do. So much. Have I ever told you how often I DON’T HEAR whining? Probably because it NEVER happens. Actually, that’s a lie. Sometimes it happens. But it’s pretty rare, so for the purposes of this update, it NEVER happens. It should be stated for the record that anything in capital letters should be read in as whiny of a sneering voice as physically possible.

MOOOOOOOOOOM! (Can you wipe my BUUUUUUUTTTTTT??) To which, my brain responds with an equally whiny I’M IN THE SHOOOOOOWER! THE WATER’S WAAAAAARM!

MOOOOOOOOOOM! (I want some WAAAAAATER!!) To which, my brain responds with an equally moody I’M PACKING LUNCHES WHILE WASHING YOUR WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATER BOTTLE and I’m also boiling water for tea for my SAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANITY!



And, after all is said and done, I sit down with my tea for two minutes, and it begins again. (Not always, but most times, so continuing with the ALWAYS or now.) So! MOMMY’s turn.











Weirdly enough, once all is said and done though… I still look back on the morning and (with my whine-less-mommy-brain) say to myself, “Awwww… that hug Littlest gave Biggest was soooooo cute!” and “Man, Biggest’s so taaaaaaaaalll!!” and “Littlest’s chatter sure is adorable, clearly got the chatterbox gene from me!”…. I think it’s an extension of whatever gene gave us the ability to forget the pain of childbirth and go “OH YEAH, that wasn’t BAD at ALL! I could totally do that again”. Yup, that’s gotta be it.

Mrs. Handler.

Life Is A Dance – Calm Heart Solo

So, if you’ve been reading lately, my life has gotten busier. Much, much busier. And so, I have pondered how to survive the challenge of a seemingly insurmountable schedule while still retaining my sanity. I give you: The Calm Heart Solo.

My first question to myself: How do I steady my heart? I find myself regularly taken with others’ emotions and feelings and situations and it’s incredibly difficult for me to separate myself from them. The solution is a calm heart. It should be noted that I think there’s a difference between a calm heart and a soft heart. A soft heart, while malleable, is unable to retain shape and balance. It is constantly imprinted on and is subject to the chaos that can be (and often is) our lives. A calm heart is still malleable, but is capable of maintaining steadiness and balance, as it relies on deep peace to keep shape and stay grounded.

My second question to myself: How do I maintain deep peace? Aside from the anti anxiety measures that I regularly use to my advantage, my thinking pattern has to be that of deep peace. Initially, I visualised a chair. I allowed myself to disconnect for a moment to view the situation as it was. Eventually, as it got easier to visualise the chair, I started using that visual cue to apply it further. The eventual solution to maintaining deep peace (not finding it, but maintaining it) ended up being as simple as viewing it as a ballet. A ballet has parts. It has music (life). It has a choreographer (I chose my Choreographer, but the choreographer can be quantified as what or who you view to be responsible for your life’s direction). And it has an audience. Life tends to go many places. It can be soft, it can be tumultuous, it can reach a crescendo, similar to music. The dancer is the calm heart. Dancers have solid, steady feat, but can easily move to music, including sudden changes in tempo. It isn’t easy, but they are graceful in allowing themselves to be moved by the music. Most importantly, the best dancers don’t fight the music. They let it flow. The best dancers also trust and work with their choreographer(s). Choreographers can see where the music should take the dancer. The choreographer knows where the steps will get more intricate, and where they will become more delicate, and the dancer will trust that the dance will continue to flow. The audience becomes everyone else, including backup dancers. Some people in life will dance with you. Some will not. The dancer doesn’t fret about who isn’t dancing or who is. They continue to listen to the music, and move. It is not up to the dancer who else is cast in the ballet. The dancer is responsible for listening to the music and moving to it. So too must the calm heart. It must allow for life to flow. It must allow for changes in tempo, and must be flexible enough to move appropriately. It must also be confident enough to handle the changes, and to trust that the direction the music is going is intended as part of the dance. It must allow for people and situations and schedules and kids to come and go without worrying about their place in the scheme of things. This is not to say that the calm heart does not care, just that it doesn’t dwell.

The Calm Heart Solo. While my schedule increases in tempo, I feel like my mind is a little bit less anxious, and my heart is a little less frantic. And I have stayed up too late, but that’s ok. The morning will be the morning as it is meant to be. Graceful in chaos.

Good night.

The Handler.