Gamer Mom

The only other hobby that I have actually stuck with, ever since my dad brought home the original Nintendo back in the 80s, is video games. Since then, I’ve enjoyed games on all sorts of platforms from PC to consoles.

As a kid, I loved platform style games. Super Mario Brothers, Mega Man, Sonic, all were some of my favorites as a kid. I quit playing for most of high school, because, well, I was a teenage girl. I picked it up again in my early 20s, but kept it on the down low as not very many girls I knew played video games.  My gaming experience by then had evolved into racing games & NHL games, mixed with a little Halo & some Grand Theft Auto along the way. I even dabbled in World of Warcraft for a while. I’ve got a level 58 Night Elf out there somewhere named Staranna.

My gaming tastes have had to evolve over the years as I don’t have the time I once did, because well, I’m a grownup and I have grownup things to do. I also have come to the realization that I have the same level of commitment with video games as I do other hobbies. I hardly finish games anymore. A few years ago, my New Year’s Resolution was to finish all the games I had started, but never finished. Dead Space,  L.A Noire, Dead Island, Bioshock 2, The Last of Us are all started, but sadly never beaten.

I’ve since discovered the solution to my “I never finish games” & “I’m a grown up with limited time to play.” I can play RPGs like Skyrim, Fallout, Dragon Quest, etc. I’m not entirely stuck to a single linear quest line. I can make whatever kind of character I want & I am able to spend my time how I want. I can do main quests, side quests, craft, build or simply explore. And I don’t have to go online or raid at specific times to get the good gear.

Out of all the games I’ve ever played and fully meets my criteria, Skyrim, is my favorite game of all time. I can play for 30 minutes or a few hours after the munchkin goes to bed. It is a game that I have played 100s of hours over several characters. I started playing when the game come out  in 2011 & I have never “beaten” the game. There is so much to do that there isn’t really an ending to it. There’s times where I’ve spent more time taking screen shots in the game then actually playing. Below are some screen shots I’ve taken in the game (the main photo is my current character, Caelia.)

View outside the Honeyside home in Riften
A beautiful night sky in Skyrim
Another picturesque landscape in Skyrim

Another genre I love is simulation games, which are similar to RPGs. These are also games where you can play whenever you have time. Games like The Sims 4 or Sim City are fun to play on a whim because you have full control, no quests to do and well, you’re kinda playing God. Plus, things like this happen:

Yes, he is eating dinner with a Llama.

For me, playing video games is an awesome stress reliever. Sometimes, it takes finding that perfect kind of video game to suck you in. But once you’re there, you’re hooked. 

“I’m not like a regular mom. I’m a cool mom.” ~Regina George’s mom, Mean Girls.

For the Love of Books

I’ve been an avid reader my entire life. My earliest memories of childhood reading hundreds upon hundreds of BabySitters Club, Nancy Drew & Fear Street books. Around 11, I began sneaking my mom’s Stephen King books. IT & Skeleton Crew were my first King novels. I became a lifelong King fan from that moment on.

Over the years, however, my love for books and reading was pushed to the back burner. There were years I may be read only one or two books throughout the year. But it is the one hobby I never gave up on. And it’s because I challenged myself and make reading a little more interesting. For me, my passion for reading reignited because of a Goodreads account.

If you don’t have a Goodreads account, make one. Every year they have an annual reading challenge where you can set the amount of books you want to read in a year. I found that setting a goal helped push me on those days I didn’t want to read. I also joined reading challenge groups on the site that had silly “challenges,” like the “Alphabet Challenge,” where you read a book that starts with each letter of the alphabet. I also find lists from BookBub, Book Riot or r/booklists on Reddit helpful. My next reading challenge will to be to work through some of my saved lists on Pinterest.

My current reading challenge is to read through Stephen King’s entire bibliography in order of publication. I’m about 11 novels down and around 50ish to go. It’s been an interesting journey seeing King’s writing style develop over time. It’s something I would have never noticed had I not gone back and started from the beginning. Several of his earlier books I had not read, and I’m seeing his characters & worlds intertwining. Reading through your favorite author’s bibliography is something I recommend.  I break it up every few novels by reading something else, so I’m not overwhelmed.

Another fun way to kind get back into the reading habit is book hoarding, hunting, at used book sales at local libraries. I discovered this obsession hobby of mine as we began collecting all of Stephen King’s novels, which was my inspiration for my reading challenge.

Book Sale Finder is an awesome site for finding local used book sales put on by local organizations or local libraries. Most sell hardcovers between $1-2 and paperbacks are even cheaper. We hit up two of our local libraries on the weekends, and I get in trouble by the husband for the amount of books I bring home. $10 goes a long way at these sales. My local library has a “red dot sale” that is $2 a bag full. I crammed 9 hardcover & paperbacks into a plastic grocery bag & even my husband was impressed. He thinks I won’t ever get around to reading them all, but he underestimates my passion.

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R.R. Martin, A Dance with Dragons

How to be a Recreational Hobbyist

About two months ago, I decided to start a blog. But I know myself. I am the queen of starting a different hobby & moving on to something new within a few months. For two months, I mulled over what the hell I would write a blog about. I’m not interesting or do anything special to warrant any kind of “lifestyle blog.” I work full-time. I’m a mom & there a billion parenting & mom blogs out there. So what am I good at?

Then it hit me. I hobby recreationally. Every so often, when the motivation hits me, I decide I want to try something new. Spice up my life a bit. For example, I told everyone I wanted those adult coloring books for Christmas. I ended up getting some awesome coloring books, like Game of Thrones & Van Gogh. I got the recommended Prismacolor colored pencils set too. I posted a pic of the coloring books & pencils to Instagram, informing everyone through hashtags of how excited I was to start a new hobby. I colored some pictures and a month later, I abandoned it. A year later, those coloring books are still in the same spot I left them in my office.

So I’m taking my recreational hobbying to a new level. I am going to try a different hobby every month & blog about my experience. Maybe I will find something along the way I can stick with (that something will be this blog!) Nothing is off-limits, everything from magic tricks to quilting and even whittling.

The first hobby for my blog is cross stitching. I should have started with something a little easier, but this hobby was the catalyst behind my blog idea. When I first mentioned to my family that I was going to learn to cross stitch, I got laughs and rolling eyes. They know the routine.

I will post updates about how well or not well I’m doing, whether I enjoy it and helpful blogs or sites I used to assist me in the process. As I work through my hobby, my next posts are about the only hobbies I have stuck with over the years: reading, video & tabletop gaming.

Steps to becoming a Recreational Hobbyist:

  1. See something on Pinterest or anywhere on the internet you interested in trying;
  2. Declare to anyone who will listen that you’ve found a recent hobby;
  3. Try out your hobby;
  4. You realize that you are not: crafty, creative, or a skilled woodworker, knitter, crocheter, etc;
  5. Abandon recent hobby;
  6. Repeat steps 1-5 until you find something you love or are good at.

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