Tuesday, April 29, 2014

that's my girl!

Kids - from day one - are their own people. Any mom will tell you that. There are days that I wonder where this alien creature came from, with her won't eat onions, and keeping candy all year (???) and such.

Then there are days, like today, when I know exactly who's kid she is. She is MINE.

I walked into her bedroom and found this stack of books on her bed.

discarded library books
She got to bring some home, and she picked out - and carried - a pile. A girl after my own heart. Her choices are different than mine would be, but they so did not surprise me. Let's see... snakes

look what I got, Mom!
... and more snakes...

and this one!
...and reptiles, and raptors and finally...

badgers badgers badgers
Yep! Thats my girl, all right.

Monday, April 28, 2014

carcassonne - a game review

It's Carl's fault. I know I've literally been saying that since he was born, but - eh - what the heck. Sometimes it is true. Most times. Well, you know.

One day, Carl and I were browsing through games on the Xbox that Raine got for Christmas. WHAT? Anyway, Carl spotted this game, which he seemed to be familiar with.

We discussed it briefly, and then went on to try some more familiar family type board games on the xbox. We were disappointed in them.

A few days later, some friends were over, and since we all like to play board games, we decided to buy and try this one for the x-box. We had a blast. I think we played it four times that evening. The next evening we were at it again. Even Ron played, and he isn't that fond of board games. (He bought it for his phone). The following weekend, we had a fourth remote, so four people could play at a time. Yeah, I think we liked it.

This is a really good example of a board game that translates well to computer. The scoring is pretty complicated, but so what? The computer takes care of that. There are tiles and meeple and stuff to sort and keep track of. So what? The computer takes care of that. There are no rule disputes, because, yeah, the computer takes care of that, too.  Understanding the game to be able to play takes only a few moments. Understanding successful strategies to play and win? Much more time.

What is even better is that the game for the x-box was only about $10. I think it was a bargain at that, and we have all ready gotten our money's worth out of it.

So, how does it work? Well, each player lays a tile during his or her turn. The tiles can be a combination of city, road, monastary and farm land. Once you lay the tile, you have to decide whether you want to claim any available area represented on that tile. You claim it by setting a little man called a meeple on that area. When you complete something, like a stretch of road, or a city, you get points for it, and you get your meeple back, to claim something else. At the end of the game, you get points for unfinished cities, etc, and for the farmland that supplies (touches) any completed city. It is not quite a cooperative game, but it does have potentially cooperative elements.

If you like building games like Settlers of Catan, you too would probably enjoy Carcassonne!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

not too old to hunt eggs

Our Easter holiday was low key. I made Raine hunt for the plastic eggs she kept last year, so the Easter Bunny would have something to fill and hide. We didn't do much candy, she doesn't eat it anyway much, so much the better for her, so small toys and stuff, mostly. Not too many, I don't think, and set out a basket with books and peeps, and pistacios, which she has decided to love.
good morning Raine
She sleeps late even on holidays. Especially on holidays, so we had plenty of time to start dinner, then hide eggs.  She went out in pj's and uncombed hair (her favorite) to find them. Hide and seek is the fun part.

More Easter goodies.
The egg dying was fun, and for our Easter dinner, I turned them into devilled eggs. A much better use for them than hide and seek, I think.


Pretty yummy!
Raine and Ezekiel did a great job of dying them, I loved the speckled colors and marblization. Ginger - however - was not impressed...

No eggs for you!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

not overly puzzled

I've been itching to work a jigsaw puzzle for a while. I look at them in the store, and think, but those are so expensive! Sigh. I think about getting one at a thrift store, but what about missing pieces? They bug me! Anyway, a finally picked up a box of puzzles with several assorted sizes and a variety of pictures that I liked. A couple weeks ago I finally pulled out the card table and sorted the pieces.

I figured a 500 piece puzzle would take us about a week to put together and I was right. Raine took to it like a fish to water, and helped. This past Friday, I took it apart and bagged it up. "Did you take a picture of it?" Raine asked, hopefully. I had to admit that I had not.


Not to worry, Raine, we can do another one. Pick out the one you want to do. The one with kittens of course! It was only 300 pieces, and she had it finished last night. Then she took a picture.

I'm glad that puzzles are back on the activity list! I think we need a different cover for the card table though... those grey and yellow circles make me dizzy! Whew!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

just another brick

Today, I learned something from a song. Well, maybe "learned" isn't quite right, but there was definitely an epiphany.

First, the song... "Another Brick in the Wall," by Pink Floyd, from their album The Wall. Here is a link to it on YouTube, if you need a refresher... The song is rather a protest about the institution of education, and several generations of school kids have picked it up as an anthem for those moments - or years - when they hate school, starting with my generation. I remember when this album came out, and it was the voice of a teenaged angst-filled, broken-hearted, almost adult period of time for me. I'm sure I'm not alone in that. It isn't a terrible album, but I don't get it out to listen to as a whole. Mostly because it is full of that broken-hearted, depressed, angst-y emotion that made it a perfect soundtrack for that part of my life, and I'm not there any more and don't want to be.

Still, songs from the album visit me on the radio, or where-ever. Today it was "Another Brick in the Wall." When I hear that song these days, I feel the voices of my students - almost 18 years of them now - singing it to me, protesting their "encarceration" in school, much as my friends and I belted it out, riding around in cars, as we prepared to graduate high school. Today, I realized for the first time, that I was, now, one of those "bricks" in the wall. I could have felt bad, taking it the way Pink Floyd meant, basically that a teacher was just another repressor. Instead, I got this image of someone standing at the wall so long that they basically become a part of the wall. They go from pounding on the wall to holding it up.

Interesting. I understand that the song protests the indoctrination of education, and as an educator, I recognize that - indeed - that is a necessary element of society. If you don't know how to be a part of society, you cannot function within it. The good or ill of the indoctrination has to do with its purpose, not its existance. Beyond that, though, lies the real value - and danger - of education. Without it, how do you think beyond that indoctrination? How do you think beyond what is known? It is like so many things. Once you know the rules, you know how to break them with intelligent purpose and intent. You know when to break those rules to achieve your purpose. You understand that it is not without risk or consequence, and you can decide whether the gain is worth the consequence.

So, Pink Floyd, I hear your anthem, and I see beyond it. Not only do we all need that education, we all need to become, some way or another, another brick in that wall.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

holding on

It's a Taurus thing. We don't like to let go. Nope. Not at all. Maybe its a friend who moves away, or that whatchamacallit. You  know, the one you got on your 14th birthday. Heck you don't even remember who gave it to you, or what its really called. It goes RIGHT THERE, on your dresser. And collects dust.

Taurans, you know who you are, and you know it's true.

I'm learning, slowly, the joys of purging. How good it can feel inside to let go of stuff. But sometimes, it can be difficult.

For instance, every time I drive through the neighborhood I grew up in, the neighborhood with the house my parents lived in until my dad remarried after my mom died. Let me just say this (for my mother was a Taurus, too) the house my mother didn't leave until she died. (I hope you can understand my sentiment here... as when we joke around and say I'm not leaving until... well, she didn't - and it fit who she was) The house that my dad let our step-mother take away from us. Well, I get irked. Sometimes more than other times.

Now, of course you are going to say to me, "Of course you do! Who wouldn't?" Well, that whole situation? It's over. It's done with. NOTHING I could ever do will change any of it. I made choices at the time that I stand by, that make me feel like a decent human being. Choices that I can live with, because those were the questions I had to ask myself.

But driving through there, I get irked. Sometimes more than others, and tonight was one of those more nights. Oh I could NOT drive through there, but it is the quickest way to Raine's friend's house, so I drive it at least once a week, more than that, mostly. I would really like to put those feelings to rest. I would really like to be a better person than that. I would like to think I was a better person than that. But I'm a Taurus. I hold on to stuff.

So, every time I drive past, I get that visceral reaction. I'm still working on letting it go.