Fortnite and Your Family

photo credit: mikecogh Luc Playing Fortnite via photopin (license)

Even if you aren’t into video games and rarely (if ever) play, you have heard of Fortnite. People talk about it all the time and it has spilled off the screen into our culture. This summer, while at a high school conference, some of our students were doing dance moves from Fortnite. Another student, from another youth group – a student we had not even met – started dancing along with our group. That is the power of Fortnite.

If you are a parent of Fortnite fanatic, you may have some questions about the game or concerns about the amount of time students spend playing the game. Here’s a good resource to help answer some of those questions and even create some conversation with your student.

Parent Ministry seeks to provide a library of resources and tools to parents. Recently they published a free article about Fortnite titled THE FAMILY BATTLE ROYALE (Fortnite and Your Family).

The article highlights the fact that nearly 80 million people are plugged into the game and it is a place for students to connect with friends.

Years ago I heard a speaker talk about relationships of proximity (I’m friend with you because we live in the same neighborhood or attend the same school) and relationships of affinity (we are friends because we share common interests).  Fornite has become a place for those relationships of affinity.

The article also links to an article from Common Sense Media that provides a guide for parents about the game.

If you are a parent of a Fortnite player, it would be worth the time to check out this resource or share it with a friend.

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#WorldAdoptionDay @daytonmomsblog

It’s hard to believe how much has changed since this picture was taken. Max is now 5 and is in his second year of preschool. Eli wasn’t even a blip on our radar, yet we can’t imagine our family without him. Adoption has changed so many people and so many families and we are excited to once again celebrate it through World Adoption Day.

World Adoption Day is a world-wide celebration of adoption. It is designed to celebrate family and to raise awareness for adoption.

The concept is so simple and so beautiful. Grab a sharpie, draw a smiley face on your hand and then post it on World Adoption Day, Nov. 9.

My wife has written an article on Dayton Moms Blog sharing more about the day. Go check it out and be involved!

How has adoption changed you? We’d love to hear your stories.

Come be a part of World Adoption Day.

My Name is Kate and I’m an Addict @DaytonMomsBlog

photo credit: Iker Merodio | Photography Welcome, Martin (the Beginning) via photopin (license)

If you have been following any part of our adoption journey, you may know we have a good relationship with Max’s birth mom, Mommy Kate. We have the opportunity to celebrate birthdays, Christmas and other occasions together.

A little over a year and a half ago Cheryl wrote about our relationship with Mommy Kate in the blog post Her Name is Kate. You can see the original post on Dayton Moms Blog, where many have had the opportunity to read a little about her journey.

Today, Kate reveals a little more about her story in post called My Name is Kate and I’m an Addict. She recounts the days leading up to Max’s birth and some of what transpired afterwards.

Here’s a portion of her story:

My Addiction was at 110% and I was drowning in it.

The days after that court hearing, where my son took on the name of another family were so difficult. I continued the cycle of using and jail and hating who I had become. I ended up in jail one last time and then entered a rehab center (again). While trying to get myself healthy, the love of my life died of a drug overdose. I knew then and there that I needed to change or I would not make it. At his funeral services, I saw my son again. The adoptive parents came to pay their respects to their son’s birth father, and it touched me that they came and I got to take him around and introduce him to the family. I knew that I was going to be different, I wanted to stop drowning in my addiction.

Take a few minutes to read what Mommy Kate shares. Our lives are forever changed through her and Max.

Our Son @DaytonMomsBlog

Almost two weeks ago we celebrated Eli’s first birthday. We gave him his own cupcake so he could go to town and make a mess and spread icing all over his face.

His birthday wasn’t just a celebration of his birth, but also of adoption. Cheryl wrote about her thoughts about Eli’s birth mom as we prepared to have his first birthday.

In final paragraph, she writes this:

Tomorrow he turns 1, and as I tuck him in bed, and kiss him, I’m thinking of you. I’m thinking of how far you have come from a short year ago, and what the future holds. I’m remembering how God answered my prayer and made it evident to me that our stories should be woven together, with one minute to spare. Tomorrow I’ll tell him how much we love him and tell him how much you love him and look forward to when we can celebrate his birthday together.

Adoption has taught us so many things  and we often think of our “extended family” as we go through the milestones of parenting.  Check out the entire post on Dayton Moms Blog.

Reflections on a Not So Happy Holiday Season

Now that we are well into the new year and have transitioned out of the holiday season, I keep thinking about this past December.  As school started back up and we all got back into our routines, the question kept popping up in conversations: “Did you have a good Christmas?”  Our answer was a pretty straight-forward (and some what Grinch-y sounding), “Not really.  It was kind of terrible!”

I’ve shared some posts in the past about my mother-in-law’s battle with Alzheimer’s.  She was living in a care facility for over 6 years and early in December, Hospice came in and informed the family that her health was failing.  So, from that point on, through most of the month, my wife visited with her mom almost every day.  Her brothers who live out-of-state came in for a few days and had an opportunity to spend time with her, with each other and to make plans for her services.  Hospice was keeping her comfortable and a Critical Care Nurse was in the room around the clock.  Nana made it through one more Christmas, but then passed away on December 27.  Her visitation took place on the 29th and she was laid to rest on the 30th.

In the midst of all that, our youngest (six month old) was sick for a few days and we had guys in and out of house repairing the floor in our laundry room, installing a new furnace and putting in new flooring throughout our first floor.

So, all those things kind of took the fun out of the holidays for us this year.  We still enjoyed celebrating Christmas with family who came in and with the extended family we have gained through adoption.  But, we didn’t get to do some of the holiday things we had planned.  The Christmas tree didn’t get put up til about one week before Christmas and our annual New Years Eve celebration with friends didn’t happen.

You probably know the feeling – you approach a certain season of the year (holidays, vacation, a significant celebration, etc.) and have an idea of how you want things to go.  You picture them in your mind and then the reality doesn’t match up with what you were thinking.  That was kind of Christmas for us.

As I look back at it, there a few things I personally took away from our not so happy holiday season.

The Power of Hope.  While we knew that my mother-in-law’s days on this earth were coming to an end, we also knew this wasn’t the end.  Because of her faith in Jesus, we have something to which we can look forward.  That message really came out at her funeral and it was a great reminder of the hope we can have in Jesus.

I loved this quote from Louie Giglio I was able to share at the funeral:  “Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all is to live as if this world is all there is, when God’s promise is for so much more. So make the most of every moment while you’re here. If you see something wrong, seek to fix it, but as you do, know that Jesus is preparing something brand new (and exponentially better) for those who have put their hope in Him. Live like you are headed to forever. Endure like you believe this world will fade, but Jesus will remain.”

Phyllis lived like this world will fade, but Jesus will remain.

The Strength of Family and Friends.  I was able to watch my wife sit and talk with her two brothers and her dad.  I listened as they shared memories about their mom and laugh and cry together.  I saw them hug each other and just support each other through a time of saying goodbye.

I also saw the stream of people who came to the visitation, who attended the funeral, who sent cards, who sent texts, who left Facebook messages, who prepared meals and who called just to check in.

You know in your mind that those relationships are important and needed, but you really come to understand it on a deeper level when you are the recipient of that love and care and concern.

The Beauty and Brevity of Life.  My mother-in-law lived to be almost 80 years old.  Many people would consider that old or a full-life.  I really only knew her in the last season of her life when she became my mother-in-law in 2010.  But hearing and reading stories about her, I came to appreciate how she enjoyed life.  Life is beautiful for sure.

There were a few times as we sat in her room that I was feeding our six month old son.  There, in the same room sitting about 10 feet apart, were two of my family who were at opposite ends of the spectrum of life.  One was just beginning his life; the other was nearing the end of hers.

I thought about all the life she experienced as a daughter, a sister, a student, a wife, a mom, a nurse, a friend.  I thought about what was still in store for our son and all that he had yet to experience, to learn, to discover, to know.

Life is both beautiful and brief.

The Comfort in Memories.  I shared at the funeral that I learned a lot about my mother-in-law through the memories of my wife.  As we went through this season, my wife would share things her mom liked, recipes she would make, things she liked to do, places she liked to go, food she liked to eat, music she liked to hear and so much more.

While I’m sad my wife doesn’t have her mother present with her anymore, I’m grateful she has those memories.

So, it wasn’t a very happy holiday season for us, but there were some good things about it.  In the midst of sadness, we received comfort. Even while shedding tears, I heard the joy of laughter.

While it’s not a season we want to repeat, we know that the hope we have makes all the difference.

A Must Read: A Letter to My Step-Daughter @DaytonMomsBlog

I’m a little late in sharing this (it was published last Friday), but it is still worth a read. My wife has another post on the Dayton Moms Blog and it gives a little peek into our journey of being a blended family.

Before we added to our family through adoption, we took on the challenge of blending a family of three boys and one girl spaced out from elementary school through a new high school graduate. Like most families, this was new territory for us and we faced a few challenges. Cheryl writes about that in her post.

I joked with her that her post makes me sound smarter than I really am, but I loved her honesty in this particular paragraph:

He told me to be patient and that was so hard. I wanted an instant family, I wanted you to just fit right into our family with my kids, and that was so selfish of me. Being patient was hard, but oh the wonderful things I was able to see and observe in that time. I watched you grow and mature from a distance.

Take a few minutes to read the letter on the Dayton Moms Blog.  Hopefully it will be an encouragement to you or allow you to encourage someone else facing a similar journey.

Want Better SAT Scores? // Try Family Meals

All parents want their children to do well in school. When it comes to moving onto higher education, high school students have to take the ACT or SAT. Some students take the test more than once to try to raise their score. Others do practice tests online or attend classes designed to prepare them for success on the test. I received an email today that pointed to another key to success on the test: Family Dinners.

Tim Elmore of Growing Leaders referenced a couple of studies which show the impact of families having regular meals together. At one point in the post Elmore wrote this: “Students who enjoyed talking over a meal with family members also enjoyed rising scores on standardized tests.”

I did some quick googling about family meals and while there are other factors at work, the general consensus from research is that there is benefit from families that have regular meal times together.

While studying for tests is a plus and there is value in taking prep courses, there is also merit to regular family meals. A study from Cornell University said, “Most studies have found that medium and high levels (i.e., 3 or more days per week) of frequent meals yield the most positive benefits for children.”

The Cornell study concluded with three suggestions:

1. Set a goal to have regular family meals at least three times per week, if possible.

2. Remember the benefits of consistent family mealtimes

3. Don’t forget, quality of family meals is just as important as quantity.

The research on family meals shows that regular family meals impact relationships within the family, increase academic achievement, help with overall health and nutrition among other things. Take some time during the week to sit together with your family and share a meal. While juggling busy schedules can be a challenge, regular meal times show a lot of benefit.