Minecraft for Mom

Minecraft for Mom

Both of my children play Minecraft. Maybe you’ve heard of the game. They even have a few YouTubers that they watch every chance they get! Like this one:

When they discovered that there was a Minecraft Con, they were disappointed that they’s missed it. Nevermind the fact that it was in another country! A week or so after that discovery, my son learned about a school that teaches lessons based on Minecraft. He asked if we could move!

He’s been trying (unsuccessfully) to convince me to play the game. I’m not a gamer. He even attempts to tie it into things he knows I like:

Dr. Who

Harry Potter

The Hunger Games

But I’m just not into it.

So, how about you give me your top 10 reasons why I should give Minecraft a try?

Leave them in the comments!

Kori

 

Healthy Morning Habits

Healthy Morning Habits

We are what we do

I want you to take a few minutes and think about your morning routine a.k.a habits. What do you do every, single, morning without fail?

Here’s what I do:

  • Wake up, take a few deep breaths, stretch a little, and then get out of bed.
  • Exercise for 10-15 minutes
  • Drink 1 12-oz glass of cold water with lemon
  • Make tea (usually oolong)
  • Do 1 pull up; Quick clean-up
  • Read my personal mission statement and set goals for the day
  • Wake up my kids
  • Make breakfast and lunch for my kids
  • Take my kids to school; listen to music and chat along the way.
  • Return home, climb the stairs 5 times, make myself breakfast

This all happens between 6:00 and 9:00 a.m. Monday – Friday.  The point is, I’ve implemented some healthy habits into my routine. It wasn’t always like this. And now I’m feeling a lot more energized!

Good Habits

Here are a few suggestions you could sneak into your daily routine:

  • Exercise. Nothing fancy. It could be dancing for a few minutes, hula hooping, or whatever. Just get moving for a few minutes to wake up your brain.
  • Drink 1 full glass of cold water. You’ve been sleeping a long time. Your body needs hydration!
  • Read, listen to, or watch something that inspires you. Keep it brief! Less than 2 minutes.
  • Eat breakfast. Your body needs protein in the morning, and throughout the day, to keep you going. You can eat eggs, meat, cheese, drink milk, a protein smoothie (that you make, not something purchased — too much sugar!), nuts — there are lots of sources for protein.
  • Meditate for 1-3 minutes before getting out of bed. This could be as simple as focusing on your breathing.
  • Stretch.

I’m sure that you have other ideas. Share them in the comments!

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Parent-Teacher Conferences Are Scary

Parent-Teacher Conferences Are Scary

calvin-and-hobbes-parent-conferences

When I was a kid, I dreaded parent-teacher conferences. Back then, it was always my father who attended them. He’s the kind of dad who believed in having disciplined, well-behaved children. You don’t talk back and you don’t question authority figures (if you’re the kid.) He was an Air Force guy and those traits stayed with him long after he left the military.

I was terrified about what my teachers might say. Usually, they didn’t tell him anything that I didn’t already know. I mean, I  procrastinated (still d0, especially when it’s a topic I find excruciatingly boring or overly detailed) and a perfectionist (I’ve learned to work with this trait.) The teachers consistently noted that this last trait made me work slower than other classmates, and in some cases, not complete assignments (gasp!)

By the time I began attending high school, I wasn’t as nervous. I knew that some of my teachers would say negative things, so I’d prepared my father ahead of time. I recall that on one such occasion, I worried that my biology teacher would mention that I fell asleep during class (bored – we were watching something on TV.) So, I reminded my dad that my new migraine medication made me really tired. My teacher didn’t know about the medicine.

parent-teacher conferences

Now I have my own children and I have a slightly different perspective on parent-teacher conferences. And the teachers do, too! As a kid, I never attended the conferences. We weren’t supposed to. But my kids are expected to be there. It’s viewed as a chance for them to brag about what they’re doing well, and see that the teachers and parents are working together on areas where our kids need to improve. It’s a great thing!

Tonight, I’m attending conferences. Yesterday I asked each of my kids, “What do you think your teachers are going to tell me?” And they both gave me very honest answers. Just like when I was a kid, they and I, don’t want to hear any surprises coming from the teacher. They’re not nervous about going. They know that I’ll get to see some cool projects they’ve completed. And they’ve prepared me for anything potentially negative. Smart kids.

So, if you get nervous about parent-teacher conferences, try to remember that the point is to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Everyone wants you to be successful. And while you might encounter a teacher or two with whom you don’t click, that doesn’t mean that the teacher is “out to get you.”

Do your best. Complete your assignments. Ask for help when you need it.

These are the qualities every employer will expect from you later. Learn them now. You’ll be glad that you did!

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10 Things You Must Do to be a Successful Author

10 Things You Must Do to be a Successful Author

Authors at Work

Some of you might be thinking about being a writer when you get older. First, why wait? And second, make sure you cultivate these 10 traits. Every successful author I know has done these things (and continues to do them.)

  • Share. You probably learned this in preschool. It’s one of those life lessons that serves you well all the way through adulthood.
  • Be nice. You might think it’s funny or harmless to talk about someone in a nasty way, or to spread a rumor about someone, but it’s going to bite you in the butt later.  My father used to always say, “what goes ’round, comes ’round.” This can be a good thing or bad thing, but one way or another you’ll reap what you sow.  Trust me. Been there, done that. Got the T-shirt. And been on both sides of this equation.

Side story —

The other day, I was following an interesting Facebook post. In it, one of the commenters made a few grammatical errors. She happened to be a teacher. Another commenter, who didn’t agree with what was written by that teacher, verbally attacked her by emphasizing her poor use of grammar and how she shouldn’t be a teacher. Really?

Consider this:

When you don’t agree with someone, how do you believe you should handle the situation?

Getting along with others is crucial to your success in just about any thing you do in life. Sometimes hiding behind screen names makes even adults forget this important skill.

  • Identify mentors. Find adult role models whom you know and respect. You’ll need several throughout your writing career.
  • Listen. You can learn a lot by simply listening to what people are saying, or not saying, in situations. These are the morsels of a good story.
  • Watch. We speak more with our bodies than we do with our voices. Pay close attention. There’s a story waiting to be told in the way a person’s body speaks.
  • Read. There are only two ways to become a better writer. This is one of them. Read fiction and non-fiction, including books about writing.
  • Write. Take chances with your writing. Nothing is bad. Everything is useful. Some writing is simply better or more useful than other writing. You can’t call yourself a writer if you don’t actually write. Thinking about writing, isn’t the same as writing. Set goals. Exceed goals. This is the second way to become a better writer.
  • Believe. This is probably the most difficult thing for every writer to come to terms with. You must believe in your ability as a writer. What others believe isn’t nearly as relevant as what you tell yourself about your writing.
  • Learn about the industry. The days of finding an agent (which can take a very long time, and a lot of effort, but you should consider for some projects) who then submits your work to one of the Big 6 publishers, has changed dramatically. The awesome news is that now, more than ever before, you, the author, are in the driver’s seat. You can decide to indie publish, hybrid publish, or go after the Big 6.
  • Learn to market. What? You’re just a kid? There are thousands of kids like you inventing, publishing, and marketing their ideas and products. Check out The Secret Millionaire’s Club., Kid President, or Erik and Felicia (both were guests on my live podcast, Back Porch Writer.)

BONUS TIPS:

Take advice from people you see moving in the direction that you want to go.

Don’t take advice from broke people, negative people, or people who aren’t supportive of your dreams and goals.

SurroundYourself_Lions

 

I look forward to reading what you write!

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3 Life Lessons From Dobby

3 Life Lessons From Dobby

Cat_grey stripes

Recently, Dobby, one of our cats, had to spend nearly a week at the vet’s office. He’s supposed to be an inside cat, but has decided that being outside is more rewarding. He doesn’t have front claws (not by our choice) so I was always hesitant to allow him outside time. But he seemed a lot happier.

We adopted Dobby and his brother, Harry, from a local shelter. When we brought them home, Dobby hid for several days. After a while, he began warming up to us and never wanted to venture outside. Harry, on the other hand, darted out every time a door opened! Their personalities are completely different.

Over time, Dobby began peaking his head out when one of us would open a door. Then he’d go out, but only for short periods of time. Those short stays turned into all-day adventures. I’d see him attempting to catch a wild turkey who’d strayed into our backyard. Or, he’d lounge in the sun on the deck. Every now and then, I’d catch him returning from the neighbor’s yard (having been up to no good, I’m sure.)

Now that he’s home from the vet, he has to stay inside for a few days. So, I spent the greater part of yesterday listening to him beg to go outside. I know that he missed me, but I also know that he missed his freedom even more.

3 valuable lessons from Dobby 

  1. Appreciate your freedom. It comes in a variety of packages. – Dobby’s sulking and needy because his has been taken away. Do the right things and you’ll keep yours.
  2. Slow down and watch the world around you. Things don’t have to happen at break-neck speeds, 24/7 to be interesting. – Dobby spends most of his day observing his world.
  3. Go after what you want no matter how unlikely your success might seem (You might surprise yourself.) – Someday, Dobby’s going to catch one of those wild turkeys!

What are you learning from your pets? Tell me in the comments!

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Good Habits Help You Succeed (Here’s how!)

Good Habits Help You Succeed (Here’s how!)

You only need to know 3 things to create or break (replace) any habit:

Habit loop

 

A group of researchers at MIT discovered this while working with rats. The more the rats ran the maze, the less they had to think about it. Running the maze and knowing where and when to turn became automatic.

This is what happens to us. When you get dressed in the morning, do you think, “My right leg goes into my shorts first, and then my left?” Nope. You do it automatically (but you didn’t when you were 2 years old!) The more times you got dressed, the more automatic it became. This freed up your brain (the cerebral cortex part) to focus on more meaningful activities (higher order thinking.) Our brains love to do things automatically and there are a TON of examples. I bet you could think of at least ten things that you automatically do everyday, right now!

back-to-school-413848_640

Now that school is in session, it might be time for you to think about the habits you developed during summer, that might not help you during school. If you’re anything like my kids (age 10 and 8) then you might have spent more time playing video games, less time reading, and more time staying up late.

Here’s how you change all of that!

When you get home from school, you see the computer/game console/TV. You immediately want to play a game, watch YouTube videos or TV, right? Seeing the computer/game console/TV is your CUE!

You could cover them up so that you don’t see them right away. Or, you could change your ROUTINE.

How? I’m glad you asked!

If I was trying to change this habit, I might put a sticky note on those items that read:

Have you completed your homework? OR Have you read your book?

Or, I might set a timer for 30 minutes when I walk into the house. No computer, gaming, or TV until the timer rings. Or, maybe I ALLOW myself 30 minutes and have to stop when the timer rings.

The reward for not playing/watching is knowing that I could resist the urge to do it. That can be powerful enough for some people. The reward also could be better grades on my completed homework because I didn’t rush through it. Better grades makes me feel good about myself.

You can experiment with different rewards. The critical part is

  1. figuring out what gets you to do a certain thing (gaming), and
  2. then changing the routine (what you normally do.) You’ll probably mess up a few times. That’s okay.

If you want to practice adding or breaking a habit, try adding tiny habits to your day. These take less than 30 seconds to do, and often (but not always) are sandwiched between good habits you already do everyday.

For example, you brush your teeth every morning. Now you want to make sure that you floss your teeth. For one week, you floss one tooth everyday. The next week, you add one or two more teeth to your new routine. After you floss your tooth (teeth) maybe you already have the habit of washing your face.  This last part isn’t important, but it let’s you see where you can anchor the new habit.

Remember this:

We are what we do

Here are a few good habits to consider adding to your life:

7-habits-of-happy-kids

A man named Stephen Covey wrote a book called, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” This image was adapted for you. Cool, huh?

 

Good luck!

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How Gluttony Became a Sin

How Gluttony Became a Sin

 

7-deadly-sins - second version

You might be curious to know what gluttony, one of the Seven Deadly Sins, actually is. Considering there’s not much emphasis placed on it these days, I decided to do a little research myself.

A quick Google search provided me with a definition:

glut·ton·y
ˈɡlətnē/
noun
  1. habitual greed or excess in eating.
    synonyms: greed, greediness, overeating, gourmandism, gourmandizing, voracity,insatiability;

    informalpiggishness
    “the gluttony you displayed last evening was reprehensible”

    A guy by the name of Evagrius Ponticus is credited for developing a list of eight sins in AD 375. Yep, there were originally eight. Then, along came Pope Gregory I (Pope Gregory the Great). He decided to combine a few and the list changed to seven. Now, you know.

    But gluttony isn’t just about eating or drinking anymore. Now it applies to all sorts of things you might do too much of in your day-to-day life.

    Let’s say, for example, that rather than eating too much, you purposely eat too little, to the point that you’re withering away. Could this be a form of gluttony?

    over-exercising-signs

    Or maybe you spend hours exercising but it’s not because you’re part of a sport. Or perhaps you play computer/video games most of the day/night.

    Too much of something is considered gluttonous. But why should you care?

    As it turns out, when we do too much of anything, it can have a negative affect on our body and mind. Another quick Google search yielded scientific article, after article, supporting this. (I’ll let you do your own research for this one.)

    The trick is to strike a balance. A little of this. A little of that. Nothing too extreme. Do you have to eat an entire chocolate bar to satisfy your sweet tooth? No, probably not. (Here’s a tip: Eating decent dark chocolate with a cacao content of at least 70% is good for your heart. And you won’t want to eat the entire bar.)

    Can you exercise three days per week and be healthy? Yes, you probably can.

    Do you have to spend hours doing homework every night? Yes, you probably do. (I was on a roll for a minute there. The amount of time spent on homework depends on your grade, but here’s an article supporting the idea that it should max out at 60 minutes/day. You’re welcome.)

    The point is that you need to develop healthy habits. Healthy habits = a more productive, happier life in the long run.

    Now go study.

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Keep Moving Forward

Keep Moving Forward

Teen Kori

This is me at about age 16 or 17. I loved that little bicycle hat! This was taken by a friend when a few of us were hanging out in downtown Omaha at Gene Leahy Mall. Good times!

For all of you out there dreading returning to school, let me just admit this right now: I completely get it. I mean sure, there are some fun things like hangin’ with your friends, and maybe getting a glimpse at that cute guy or girl. And maybe summer did get a little boring by the end. But sitting in a classroom all day long, well, that can be a special kind of torture. Then there’s algebra — the thing teachers swear you’ll need later. I don’t think so.

Here’s the thing. Having lived through 12 years of private school education wearing incredibly ugly, unstylish uniforms, I can honestly say that it wasn’t so bad after all. (Except for algebra. That really did bite, and I’ve never used it as an adult.)

plaid skirt

Something like this, only grayer and it was a skort. I never knew what that was until high school.

Looking back, the uniforms made getting ready in the morning a lot easier. Attending an all-female high school meant not worrying about makeup or “looking cute.” I loved my English classes, spending time in the dark room developing film for the school paper, Surprise Days, drama club, mime troupe, being part of the lighting crew for school musicals, Psychotheology class (Yeah, that was a thing. We read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning. I still have my original copy.) My World Religions, psychology and sociology classes fascinated me (so much so, that I ended up with a Bachelors in psych, minors in english and sociology, and nearly 18 hours of philosophy credits in college!)

It’s easy to get laser-focused on how things are now. Maybe you’re at that point where people who were your friends inexplicably aren’t. Maybe you’re trying to navigate getting a whole new set of friends. On top of all that, you have no idea what’s going on with your body or why you want to simultaneously cry, and beat the crap out of someone — anyone. I’ve been where you are.

It’s tough. It sucks. But it gets better and it gets easier. All you need to remember is a little advice from Dr. Seuss.

Dr. Seuss Quote

 

Simplistic? Yes. But hindsight, as the saying goes, is 20/20. While I wouldn’t necessarily want to change things that happened back then, there is one thing I wish I understood with greater clarity, and that is precisely what this quote says.

Remember this, too:

Print

 

 

If you don’t have a copy of the book, get one. Here’s what it looks like:

Oh the Places You'll Go cover

 

As the immortal Walt Disney once said, “Keep moving forward.” (Have you seen Meet the Robinsons? Great movie.)

 

Here’s what I say to my kids every morning before they get out of the car:

Have fun. Do your best.

At the end of the day, if you’ve accomplished those two things, then you’re on the right track in my book.

Good luck this year!

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What is Vanity?

What is Vanity?

selfie_Woody

Vanity is excessive pride in or admiration of one’s own appearance or achievements.

How is vanity different from confidence? Some would say that there’s no real difference, but that they’re both a matter of perception. I tend to agree with this. If someone is über confident, sometimes they’re described as arrogant, vain, full of themselves, egotistical, and self-centered. Again, these are all simply perceptions.

So, what is perception?

Perception is a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression.

We form perceptions constantly. Oftentimes, our perceptions keep us out of trouble. For instance, if you’re home alone and someone rings the bell, you might believe answering it is a bad idea. But why?

The person is probably a stranger and your parents have instructed you not to answer the door when they’re not home. Your parents, and you (by default) perceive people ringing the bell to be possible threats until confirmed otherwise. And your parents want to keep you safe. Their perception is that the best way to do that is to instruct you to ignore the bell.

Their perceptions, and you mirroring those perceptions, keeps you safe.

But the thing about perceptions is that they’re very individual. Some, like in the above example, are to keep us safe, while others might keep you from achieving success.

Here’s an example:

You plan to tryout for a sports team. None of your friends are really into that. In fact, they think it’s stupid and a waste of time. They’d rather you all spend your time playing video games.

How will their perception of playing sports affect your decision to tryout for a team?

If you decide to tryout and you succeed, how will your friends perceive you?

How will you perceive them?

It’s easy to say, “Oh, it won’t be any different,” but for most of us, that’s not true. People don’t like to feel as though they’re being left behind. And, a lot of people don’t like change.

Does this mean you shouldn’t go out for a team, join a choir, or whatever other activity you’re interested in doing?

No.

It does mean that you need to understand that our perceptions, and those of the people around us, shape who we believe we are. And, as a young person, trying to figure out what makes you tick, you’re probably even more concerned about your friend’s perceptions than say, your parent’s perception of you.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it needs repeating:

SurroundYourself_Lions

 

Perception is reality for everyone, but it is very individual. You are in control of how you perceive yourself and others. You aren’t in control of how they perceive you.

Here are a few rules I follow:

  • Be myself
  • Be consistent
  • Be honest
  • Be compassionate
  • Be respectful
  • Be empathetic
  • Be helpful

How do you see yourself? Write down your rules for being you. And don’t worry if the list changes as you get older. That’s a good thing. It means you’re taking in new information, analyzing it, and using what works for you.

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Are You Related to a Sloth?

Are You Related to a Sloth?

How do you spend your time? There’s no right or wrong answer. We all make choices every day about time. Some of us have bouts with what I like to call, the internal sloth. It’s that tiny voice that encourages us to do nothing. Doing nothing is okay once in a while, but if it becomes a habit, that’s an entirely different story. Let me show you what I mean.

What’s the moral of The Farmer and His Lazy Sons?

What did you learn from the story?

What will you do today to fight your internal sloth?

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