Day 263: Jonathan’s Minecraft Birthday

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Today’s first was another September birthday celebration, this time for grandson Jonathan. He is the son of Elissa’s significant other, Josh. I already count sweet Jonathan as a grandchild and this was the first time I’ve attended a birthday party in his honor.

Jonathan turned 9 years old today and started the afternoon in a special way….he was baptized. The party was held at Trinity Baptist Church, in Pittsburg, KS. The party attendees met upstairs to be witnesses to this significant event. After a few words, the pastor baptized Jonathan, signifying new life in Christ.

Downstairs, we gathered in the fellowship hall for cake and goodies and joyful celebrating. Jonathan chose a theme based on the popular video game, Minecraft. I’m familiar with this game only because I’ve watched Dayan play. It is based on creating and breaking blocks. You can build structures to protect against monsters, in worlds where everything is square shaped, but there is much room for creative playing and building, and exploration, and there are a variety of resources to help you along your journey.

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The decorations were all made by Jonathan’s family members and the room looked so cute! The food matched food resources available in the game, and were labeled so non-gamers knew what was what. There was a Minecraft piñata that the kids enjoyed breaking open and a scene set up for a photo op. The central character in the game is Steve. Dayan graciously dressed up today as Steve, sporting the large blocky head and turquoise shirt. The kids enjoyed having Steve at the party and having their pictures taken with him.

It was Jonathan’s day, and he had a fun afternoon. From blowing out candles to eating cake to opening presents, he was surrounded by other children, and loving adults, who allowed him to shine in the spotlight. Jonathan is a cute, good natured, smart young man, who loves music and computers and gaming. At the age of nine, he already has an idea for a game app of his own and has spent time planning and working out the logistics of it. I have no doubt that he will find a way to launch his creation. Jonathan has huge potential in the gaming world, indeed in any field he chooses, and the support of those who love him who will encourage him to keep creating and keep dreaming. I look forward to watching him grow and become all that he is meant to be.

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It was fun too to see Josh’s family. I have known his parents, Jonathan’s Nana and Papa, Debi and Mike, since they were in their late teens. Greg has known Mike, actually, since childhood. When our families were young, Mike and Debi’s children and ours played together often. Elissa and Josh have literally known each other since babyhood. They’ve been close friends for most of their lives. It is wonderful to see them together as a couple, blending their families, and journeying hand in hand. And it was amazing to gather today with Mike and Debi to celebrate a dear grandson’s birthday. Many joy filled years ahead, Jonathan. Thank you for allowing me to be your Yaya.

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Day 233: Celebrate Elissa’s Birthday

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My daughter, Elissa, had a birthday while I was away in Scotland. I got to wish her a happy birthday via Facebook and text. However, I missed getting to see her and have our traditional birthday dinner. Tonight 13 family members gathered at Rib Crib, in Joplin, to celebrate Elissa!

Elissa is my firstborn, the child who made me a mommy. When I was still a child, all I wanted to be, when I grew up, was a mom. I used to sit and daydream, in one of my solitary places, about the children I would someday have. Three years into my marriage and one miscarriage later, I began to wonder if that dream would go unfulfilled. I spent a year reading about the gift of children, preparing for the role that I still hoped to embrace. I was given a Divine promise, that I would become a “joyful mother of children”. I believed! Shortly afterward, I found out I was pregnant. When Elissa Dawn was born and placed in my arms, I thought my heart would burst, so great was my joy.

This beautiful girl, intelligent, creative and witty, has taught me so much, about parenting and about life. Fiercely independent, since her toddler days, she has never ceased to amaze me with her ability to learn and grow, adapt and create. She was my perfectionist child and in her I saw myself and my own need for perfection. We both learned to let mistakes be okay. Everyone in my family is artistic and most of us draw or create by looking at a picture and copying what we see. Elissa is gifted with the ability to draw and create from her imagination. She is an amazing cartoonist and illustrator, creating the book covers for all three of my mom’s published children’s books.

My daughter’s passion has always been horses. She loves most animals and has the ability to connect with them easily and deeply. But her great love is reserved for the mighty horse. During her teen years she spent many hours each week at the stable where she took riding lessons and boarded her horses. Elissa was happiest when she was mucking out stalls or seated in the saddle atop a magnificent mare or gelding. I spent many hours watching her compete all over the Midwest or simply care for and train horses at the stable.

One of the greatest aha moments that I had as a mom came as I stood leaning on a fence, observing Elissa as she worked with yearlings in an indoor arena. “Watch this one,” she called out to me, “he’s naturally gaited. He will make a great show horse.” I noted the high stepping little colt as he ran around in a huge circle. “And this one is a jumper.” She laughed as another young horse ran toward the end of the arena and sailed over the gate. Elissa carefully studied each horse and then worked with them, in accordance with their gifting and natural abilities. Standing there listening to my wise daughter, I suddenly had clarity on a scripture that many use rearing children. “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he shall not depart from it.” The interpretation usually given is to discipline a child in order to modify behavior so that he will grow up decently. Watching Elissa, a new meaning came to me. Perhaps I was instructed to observe my children, note their gifts and encourage them, “train” them, “in the way they should go” meaning to guide them to follow their hearts and use their God given abilities and desires. It wasn’t about correcting, it was about allowing, and working with, not against. My parenting style shifted that day and my sweet daughter, happily in her element, with hay clinging to her shirt and jeans, was to thank for that shift. I am forever grateful.

My girl is a mom herself now, an amazing one, with a wonderful son. Elissa has spent most of her adult life working as a legal assistant and spent a year working for me as my assistant. She currently has an awesome job with a progressive and innovative company in downtown Joplin where her attention to detail and her ability to learn quickly allows her to shine. And she’s recently begun to ride again, engaging her passion for all things equestrian. Her dream is to someday own and operate a horse training and boarding facility. I have no doubts that she will accomplish all that she wants to do. Happy birthday, precious daughter. May joy, beauty and happiness continue to surround you!

Day 205: Lucy

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What fun this evening, to participate in another movie night! My daughter Elissa and grandson Dayan invited me to see the new release, Lucy. I was delighted to accept. It is always fun to watch a movie at the theater with family or friends. And I was interested in this film also.

Lucy stars Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Min-sik Choi, and Amr Waked and was directed and written by Luc Besson. It is classified as an action/sci-fi film and carries an R rating for violence. Lucy has a run time of 1 hour and 30 minutes.

The tagline for this movie is “The average person uses 10% of their brain capacity. Imagine what she could do with 100%.” We get to find out! Lucy, played by Johansson, is duped into an illegal drug operation and quickly finds herself forced to act as a mule, carrying the experimental drug, CPH4, within her body. When one of her captors kicks her in the abdomen, the bag breaks and the drug leaks into her body. We watch her evolve during the movie as she uses more and more of her brain capacity. She partners with Captain Del Rio, played by Waked, to settle the score with the drug ring while making her way to a professor who has been studying theories about brain use for 20 years. Professor Norman, portrayed by Freeman, helps and observes as Lucy reaches 100% brain capacity.

Although the movie is based on a flawed premise, that we only use 10% of our brain capacity, it is an interesting movie that explores what is possible when our focus shifts from having….to being. Johansson delivers a riveting performance, moving from a terrified woman who can barely speak through her tears to an emotionless feral woman whose new abilities border on super powers. The scene where Lucy talks to her mother as she remembers early childhood memories, that should have been impossible to recall, brought tears to my eyes. Lucy can hear thoughts, see phone signals, manipulate matter and learn a new skill in moments. But it is her ability to see the world from a different perspective, from a much larger, more expansive space, that resonated with me.

For me, it is more about increasing my awareness and raising my level of vibration than increasing brain power. As my awareness expands I, too, can see differently, manifest reality, and increase my ability to love and give and accept. I can begin to experience the connection of all things. While those abilities may not be as amazing as manipulating matter, they are still cool! And my journey continues…

Day 170: Furballs Launch Party

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Third Thursdays are always fun. Thousands of people wander about in downtown Joplin, between 7th and A Streets on Main. Vendors, performers, artists and organizations are set up along Main and in storefronts. It’s a great time to connect with friends and meet new people. It’s a very festive atmosphere, which is perfect for a Launch Party!

Today, for my first, I attended the launch party for Furballs, a new game app. A year in the making, Furballs is the baby of creator Les Olsen. His company, Wise App Inc., is located in downtown Joplin along with his other company, Sidecars Inc. Les embodies entrepreneurial spirit and creative energy. His vision was to create a modern day Duck Hunt with cute little woodland characters who inflate themselves with an air compressor and float around the screen. The player shoots them to deflate them, knocking off their fur and sending them to the ground. There are multiple levels, that increase in difficulty as the player progresses, making this a game that appeals to all ages.

After sharing the idea with colleagues and friends, Les says, “I knew by how excited everyone was that this was a good idea and from there, it was a matter of finding out HOW to get this done.” Thus began a long and not always easy journey of bringing his vision to reality. Using a post production team from Bulgaria and a support team of collaborators here, the project evolved from an idea to character development to storyline to the app that released today.

I downloaded the game app, from the iTunes store, before attending the party this evening. I confess that I enjoy playing games on my iPhone. It is my guilty pleasure and after a long day of work and play, it is a way for me to unwind. I’ve played Angry Birds and a variety of arcade style games. I still play Candy Crush. So I am not a game novice. Furballs is a FUN game. I played for 40 minutes before needing to leave the house and I laughed and learned and progressed. The graphics are amazing, the music catchy without being annoying, and the game easy to figure out as I moved along. I love the movie quotes that the main character, Beemer, shares after each round of play. And I laughed the most when, after a poor round on my part, Beemer came out and shook his head, saying “No, no, no….”.

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This app is available now for iPad and iPhone and will be available for other platforms soon. At a price of $2.99 this game joins a movement against in-app purchases. There is an option to purchase coins for those who want to take a shortcut, but it isn’t necessary to progress in the game.

My daughter, Elissa, works for this amazing company. I’m looking forward to spending a day with her at work soon and learning more about this product and other upcoming adventures. I’m excited about this game, not just because it is so fun to play, but because it is inspiring to witness a dream come true.

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Learn more about Furballs below:

https://www.facebook.com/furballsapp

http://wiseappinc.com/

Day 68: Gala of the Royal Horses Show

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Today’s first was a beautiful event in Springfield, MO. The Gala of the Royal Horses Show is an international horse show that is touring the US for the first time. I was really the invited guest on this first. Greg discovered the show and thought of Elissa, our daughter. She is the horse lover in the family. When she expressed interest in going, it became an opportunity to experience something I hadn’t before. Greg, Elissa, my grandson Dayan and I made the trip to Springfield, and what a fun day and evening we had, watching the horse show, eating dinner together and browsing at Barnes and Noble!

The Gala featured four magnificent breeds of horses: the Andalusian, Friesian, Lipizzaner and Arabian. What a gorgeous display of horses and horsemanship. The show is called an “Equestrian Royalty presented at the highest level in a culturally rich and stunningly beautiful tribute to The Royal Horses, complete with Flamenco music & dancers.” We were enchanted. The power and grace of the horses was amazing to watch. The riders wore beautiful costumes and together with their mounts, performed a variety of maneuvers . There is bond of trust and affection that must exist between man and animal and that was evident this afternoon. Force would never have produced such results. Rene Gasser, the trainer and producer of the show, demonstrated how the young horses are trained, much to the delight of the audience, and showed off his skill at handling horses. I admired his use of love and reward in training his equine performers.

The show was educational and a joy to watch. Having Dayan there for his first horse show was fun too. He went with us good naturedly,  with low expectations and it was great to see interest light up his face and to hear that he thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He was glad he attended and we were glad he chose to accompany us.

Watching Elissa during the performance was heartwarming. She began riding horses when she was 13 year old and quickly moved to showing in local and national horse shows. Elissa is a natural rider and trainer and has a bond with horses that is magical to watch. Her deep love for these big animals endears her to them and I’ve seen a huge American Saddebred gently take her ponytail between his lips and follow her around the arena like an overgrown puppy. Her father and I have spent many hours in arenas watching her ride and compete. She sold her horses and stopped riding when she was pregnant with Dayan, who is now 14. She has only recently begun to ride again. Being in the arena today in Springfield felt like a homecoming…the sights, the sounds, the smell even, all reminiscent of her years of working with and riding horses. Seeing the sparkle in her eyes I’m guessing that she will be picking this passion back up!

Helen Thomson says, simply, “In riding a horse we borrow freedom. “ This afternoon as I watched the horses and riders move as one around the arena, I thought, how beautiful, graceful, soulful, and free. It stirred my heart. I think Elissa would agree.