Me: video game noob and a very tired teacher

These days I’m dragging my feet into this video game world, its rules, terminology, and other related things. One thing is for certain: you don’t want to be called a “noob.” I could think of worse things but that term seems to push player’s buttons. It’s supposed to be insulting to call or be called a “noob” yet the term is teasingly used among friends for poor play.

According to Wikipedia, ” Newbienewbnoob, or nub is a slang term for a novice or newcomer, or somebody inexperienced in a profession or activity.”

I’m in the latter category: My kids call me “noob, “but it doesn’t offend me. My noobiness is obvious when I can’t control my avatar’s movements in the game and can’t pass through doors or climb ladders. I continually ask: “What’s that?”; “How do you do that?”; “Why do I keep…?”; or “What do I do now?”

We play “Bed Wars” on the BlockMan Go app. It’s a 4 team game of 4 players who buy gear, blocks, and weapons though coins earned at each of their base’s iron forge. To get better gear and upgrade your weapon’s arsenal, you build bridges to other lands to get diamonds and emeralds. You also need to build to other team’s lands to destroy their defended bed. If you die or get killed, you respawn but lose all your inventory; however, if your bed is destroyed, you cannot respawn after dying.

My role is limited; I defend the bed with blocks, build one bridge to nearby the diamond land, gather diamonds to upgrade our team’s forge, and try not to fall into the void. It’s stressful and I wonder how my fingers don’t move as fast as I want them to.

Still, they want me on their team. It’s flattering, but it’s too much together time. We already spend an inordinate amount of time together as a homeschooling family. This activity cuts into my nap time, alone time, bathroom time, phone time, etc. I’m guessing they want me to play so I’ll lose track of time and not yell at them to stop playing. Just sayin’…

When we play, we refer to each other by our usernames. They like to show off their skills and give me tutorials. Ellis comments that I’m like her little sister in video games and that she needs to teach me how to do things. Other times, Elliot tells me to “stay back…I got you” while he kills off opponents or gets revenge on the enemy who killed me.

Avatars: Ellis (Far left), Elliot (middle), me (far right); my updated Avatar is a winking eye

Another game we play is Skyblock; you mine for blocks and use them to build your land in the sky. This is my favorite game; who thought mining could be this fun and pleasant! Kids got me better gear and unbreakable cross/ slash thunderbolt staff that I can use to defend myself from other miners who want to steal your inventory by killing your avatar. fend off attacks from other miners in the advanced mining area for higher cost blocks. Rare and special blocks can be attained through trades with other players or by using coins to buy them by selling the blocks you mined or with gcubes (gold cubes you buy with money).

We’ve kind of gone overboard and have built all kinds of structures along with making up stories. We have an evil scientist who grows poisonous berries, a young Apatosaurus dinosaur that suddenly appeared on our land (we are caretaking and teaching him while we look for his parents), kids made their stone generator business that makes stones with water and lava (cost is 1 emerald per use). Ellis also made a graveside for my father in law who passed 7 years ago, as well as one for Chris’ friend who passed recently in Dec. 2020.

I’ve been on edge since kids love these games, along with Minecraft and others, and I feel they will never stop playing. But I can’t fight it all the time, so I’m reluctantly changing my approach. This may be my rationalizing, but playing together gives us an opportunity to reverse teacher and learner roles, learn about internet safety, make good decisions, problem solve, build creatively, research information they need, understand sportsmanship, and discuss different ways people think and act on video game platforms.

This is their new obsession, so I’m seizing this opportunity to revolve learning around it for them. Being my kid’s teacher has its rewards and surprises, but in uncharted territories like this, I find the ride wild, uncomfortable, and unbelievably frustrating!! I’ve emphasized the positives here, but it gives me migraines to work with it. ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿคจ๐Ÿ˜…

For every teacher, parent, and others in the second month of this school year, praying that we survive, stay healthy, and help kids on their road to become their best selves!

Feeding the busy builder birds, at least trying to

Few years ago, one of our windows was thoroughly streaked with bird poop: only that window. Turns out it was a bird who converted the overhang into its own cozy condo. I called a local office (can’t recall the specific place) to have someone remove the nest, but I was advised to leave it undisturbed till the nest was abandoned. Dismantling the nest was illegal.

It stayed and they continued to leave daily presents for us on, under, and around the window.

So it wasn’t a surprise when recently we noticed berserk activity from a group of random birds; zipping from tree to tree. They weren’t a flock: it was just arbitrary flying around of different sized birds. When they were camouflaged inside the tree branches, we could hear little “beep” sounds, similar to a home smoke alarm that is low on battery. They’re probably building nests for spring hatching. Hopefully the nests will be built only in trees and not in the previous condo space above our window.

Hypothesis: birds are building nests for the winter; they will lay eggs soon

When we discovered small v-shaped nests in several trees, we wanted to feed them, especially during this busy building season. A quick search about healthful foods for birds explained that bananas are beneficial to birds’ healths. Perfect for using up bananas that are starting to brown.

I chopped up 2 bananas into pieces and strung it through the middle (I cored it with a small straw) with twine. Ellis crushed up nuts using a mortar and pestle, which she sprinkled over the banana. 

Strung pieces of banana through twine to hang on the tree branches
Lots of birds flying around this particular tree. We were certain the birds or squirrels would eat this nuts-banana treat, but when we checked the next day, it was untouched. We removed this treat after 2 days and put it out for the neighborhood squirrels.
A potential spot to leave our treat. When we saw the nest, we agreed to hang it on this tree. You can see the nest higher above the blue circle. The banana treat is circled in blue. I overestimated my height and underestimated the tree’s height.
Day 2 of checking on this banana treat. It was half-eaten.
Day 3. Safe to say the bird/s loved our treat. All eaten.

We enjoyed the process since we could follow up and see whether a bird had eaten the treat. It wasn’t easy going unnoticed by the birds with all the crunchy leaves littered on the ground. Although it would’ve been delightful to see the birds eating while we looked, it wasn’t going to happen with 3 pairs of eager eyes staring at them.

Conclusion: one treat by a nest was consumed. The others were pulled off the tree branches and given to squirrels. At least the leftover was consumed by a happy squirrel. Yay, we all win!

This picture was posted yesterday for “Silent Sunday” before I realized I would write a post about it.  That’s the context of this picture; kids perched on the rails calling birds, squirrels, any critter would do, to come and eat the banana treats.

John Dewey and his empowering words for education

John Dewey is one of my favorite progressive educators from the 20th century. His thoughts inspire me to focus on the bigger aims of teaching and learning.

Also, want to give a shot out for my educator friends and dedicated parents working hard for your kids! Hope you know how special you are.

“Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.”

Butterfly watching in the Rainforest at California Academy of Sciences


The most important attitude that can be formed is that of desire to go on learning.”

A messy but fun slime experiment. Clean up was a nightmare
Can’t resist poking heads into astronaut’s lab station in space
Journeying together despite the occasional spats and sibling rivalry