Friday, July 23, 2010

Lucky Toad

Okay, so back in May, I had an "I know you!" moment with a toad.

We'd moved the trailer out of our yard and come across the toad and the kids were picking it up and holding it.

Got a GREAT picture of my oldest holding it.

Well, that evening, I saw it again in the laundry room, and I -recognized- it!!

I'd seen it in August a year before, in pretty much the exact same spot. And I recognized it for the white patch it has on it's back!

Back in May, it visited us for four evenings and then moved on its way. I was afraid the dogs had stepped on it, but they actually avoid it...kind of like they do the cat when he's pissy (;

Well, I saw it day before yesterday, in the morning.

Enjoying a nice soak in the dog's water dish. (lol) When I dashed off to get my camera, I'd apparently scared it off and missed the opportunity.

Well, it came back last night (:

We call it our Lucky Toad and think of it like another pet-- but one we don't have to do anything for (lol).

The Boy's Multi-Year Plan

Okay, so anyone who was around when my oldest was 2 is going to know first hand this is absolutely true.

He made himself a multi-year plan, and would tell anyone who paused long enough about it (:

At 2, my boy would say, "When I'm four, I get to ride a big-boy bike. When I'm five, I get to go to school. When I'm seven, I get to have a sewing machine and learn how to sew. When I'm nine, I'll get to ride a horse. When I'm fourteen I can start dating girls. When I'm eighteen, I can get my own motorcycle."

Well, my darling boy-o is now eight.

At four, not only did he get a big boy bike-- he learned how to ride it -without- the training wheels!

At five, we went school shopping for the first time and he absolutely adored his first year at school (:

As he approached seven, he reminded me about his plan. Unfortunately, I could not find a simple sewing machine that wasn't pink or purple. I looked for over a year and couldn't find one. And the next step up was well over a hundred dollars. Which is a heck of a lot more than I wanted to spend for something he might not end up liking (and I already have my own nice sewing machine).

Well, yesterday, my friend Shelly's status on facebook was that she was getting rid of her barely used sewing machine for $20. I emailed to see if anyone else had already claimed it, and we set up this morning for the boys and I to head up there.

I didn't tell the boys why we were headed there. Just told them to put on their shoes and hop in the car. Being the wonderful children they are, they hopped to.

So when we stopped at a large fence, and I pulled out my cellphone, a choir chirped from the backseat, "Why did we stop here, Momma?"

And I reminded my now eight year old of his plan and how I'd not been able to get what he wanted then. That's when my youngest asked, "Is there something special for me too, Momma?"

I told him there might be, I just needed to see if my friend still had it.

So today, my eight year old got his own sewing machine!

I taught my boy how to set up his machine, how to set up the needle and foot, and then I introduced him to one of the best sewing lessons I ever got.

I was a freshman in college, I hadn't touched a sewing machine since I was in home ec. in seventh grade. I walked into the costume shop and Sharon Foster, the costumer, asked me if I knew how to sew. My response was that I didn't know. So she set me down at the sewing machine, as I did my son this afternoon:

With a blank needle and a lined piece of paper.

I had my boy following the blue lines. Teaches how to hold the material properly, how to guide the material, and how to sew a straight line (:

He did a GREAT job! He's looking forward to using his new skills on cloth tomorrow (:

And my youngest got my piano keyboard-- and from Shelly, I got him an enormous (and I mean -enormous-) box of sheet music/songs/guides for playing the piano.

He's enjoying discovering all the fun features. And I showed him how to play Twinkle Twinkle little Star. We'll need to practice it a bit, but the boy has natural talent for music (:

...Though now I'm thinking my oldest is -definitely- going to be visiting my mother next summer...because otherwise, I'm not sure how I'm going to manage a horse (lol).

A&S 50 Challenge Update #4

Added the game I'd previously made pieces for, as well as the game I made the cards for (though the cards, can of course, be used for any period card games). Also added an alternative game on a Fox and Geese board. Going to take a little bit of a break-- I've doubled the # of games I'd generated pdfs for in the last 2 weeks.

Brings me to 32 (:

Fast approaching my goal and getting started on the second phase.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I know that I've said it before,

but it remains true: Children should come with a warning label!

So today, just as my oldest is getting ready for Karate and my youngest is supposed to be putting his shoes on, I'm in my restroom washing my hands.

When I hear my oldest hollering at his brother for taking bologna out of the fridge without asking. I go ahead and holler, "It's alright. He can have it."

And then they're both at my bathroom door.

I will say that I am extremely grateful that my boys have always looked out for each other.

Because what I hear on the other side of the door is my oldest say, "Mom, he's -choking-!"

I immediately flung the door open and began sweeping the bologna out of his mouth. He'd put the entire piece in his mouth. I could hear him gasping, so I could tell he wasn't completely stopped, but he was still choking, so I did a second sweep. I accidentally scratched the very back of his mouth in the process. I was getting ready for the heimlich maneuver and hoping to god that I would remember how to do it properly, when I said, "Spit it out, baby! Spit it out!!"

And he did. The piece that was causing all the trouble was about dollar coin in size. After I was sure he was breathing okay, I turned to clean up the mess and saw a little bit of blood in the sink.

I briefly considered freaking out, but instead, I had his brother grab me a flash light and had my youngest open his mouth so I could check him out. That's when I discovered I'd scratched the back of him mouth when I was getting the majority of the bologna out of it.

Between the three of us, we had a brief discussion on why you shouldn't put a whole bunch of food in your mouth at once. Because, as they both pointed out, "You can CHOKE!"

This has been the summer of doctor visits and learning NOT to freak out.

In May, we had to take my oldest to the emergency room because he stabbed himself in the leg with his 3/4 inch pocket knife while trying to cut cardboard. Again, both of my boys rushed to me, this time my youngest son announcing, "Mom! He's bleeding! He stabbed himself!"

The doctor held his small puncture closed and super glued it. I should have insisted on stitches. He has an purple mildly raised scar there now because it was sealed-- but didn't stay -closed-.

In June, we had to take my youngest in for surgery to have a Chalazion removed from his lower left eye lid. It's healed up beautifully.

Two weeks ago, my oldest discovered that the monkey bars on the play set we've had out in the backyard for the last 4 years has paint peeling off the top of one of the bars and there's split wood there-- he ripped a thumb length chunk out of his palm. Thankfully, it was only the first layer or two of skin and has healed up just fine.

And not 3 days before my youngest's follow up appointment a month later for his eye (read: Last Wednesday)-- he's gotten a stye in the upper lid of his right eye! Fortunately, the doctor prescribed antibiotic drops and we're using as warm as he can stand compresses so we don't have to have another surgery! I am glad to report that this one finally came to a head today and is already starting to look better.

Yeah, I know I've said it before, but it's absolutely true:

Children should come with a warning label.

And an owner's manual.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A&S 50 Challenge Update: Cards

So today as I was researching, I came across a game I would like to make a PDF for. Poch. But the difficulty that I ran into is that it uses playing cards.

I've been trying to stay away from modern cards-- and it dawned on me, I can still make the gameboard -IF- I first created a deck of printable cards (: So that's what I've done this evening.

And though I don't intend to create a PDF with all the rules for card games (They're available readily on-line and through a variety of books), the cards I've created can be used for a period deck. They can even be painted, like the originals would have been.

The Suites I used are Swords, Batons, Chalice/Cups, and Money/Coins.

A&S 50 Challenge Update

I have now done 30 of the Medieval Board Games as PDFs. Twenty left to go and I'll complete phase one of my A&S 50 Challenge (:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

RUM and A&S 50 Challenge Update

So I got to teach Introduction to Board Games at Royal University of Meridies yesterday (: To prepare for it, I created the pdf for 8 more board games, bringing me to one shy of half my goal for the A&S 50 Challenge (I've now made 24 pdf printable medieval games).

I started by setting up 15 'universal bags'. They're game bags with two sets of 40 pieces in contrasting colors (read: 40 clear, 40 red), 1 piece completely different from all the others, 4 pieces the same color, and then two sets of two different colors. In all, it means there were 6 different colored pieces in the bags. I used the flattened glass marbles available at Wal-Mart. They're cheap and readily available, and as long as you're not overtly violent with them, they're pretty sturdy. I also tossed in 3 regular 6-sided dice. I also had a bag with cowrie shells for playing Pachisi, though we didn't end up using them. I'll still need to create some of the 'specialty' pieces for games like Mehen.

I got up at 3 on Saturday morning, after very little sleep the night before-- the neighbor was apparently having a late night pool party-- that lasted well up to 2 am...

I was packed and all ready to head out at 3:45 and got to site at 7:30. I was scheduled to teach during the first section: 8:30-9:30 and I wanted to make sure that I had the table set up. I was delighted to have 8 people join the class, including a gentleman named Guillaume de Pyrenees who normally teaches the class himself, and shared his website with me for further research.

Introduction to Games was the perfect name for the class (lol) though I'm definitely going to have to revamp how I teach it and/or how long is allotted to do so. With a one hour time slot, and over 20 games, it went like this: each game had about 2 minutes to set the pieces up and for me to tell them the rules and how they are played. Then they had about 5 minutes to -start- playing the game....before I would ask them to slide the pieces to the side and start the next game. The upshot (and I would LOVE to claim to have done it on purpose, but it was complete a matter of chance) is that the games were stacked so that the game just played had very similar rules to the 2-3 games under it-- so there was less explaining, and more getting to play along the same lines of what they'd just done before we moved on to another game. All in all, I had a good time teaching it, and hope that the people in the class did as well. If nothing else, they got free handouts for games they can use in the future-- and that helps spread game playing in the Kingdom, so that makes me happy (:

I enjoyed the very informative Chatelaine classes offered throughout the day, getting to visit with friends that I haven't seen in a while, and witnessing my first bard/poet competition. It was wonderful and moving and there is a LOT of talent in Meridies!

And after a very amusing court, I got to have a delicious Mexican dinner with my friends Heather and Patrick, Charles and Graidhne, and several new people. It was fun and funny-- but everything had run so late, it was after 9:30 at night before I started heading home.

I was -completely- exhausted by the time I pulled into our drive way at 1:40 this morning. Didn't bother unpacking the car or anything. Stumbled into the house and crash-- waiting just long enough to find out that Mark and the boys had enjoyed their day at Water World for one of the boys' cousin's birthday. And that my 8 year old had gone on the Great White by himself twice!! My four year even made his Daddy take him on it once (: So all in all, all four of the Wise had a wonderful Saturday!

And when I came home today and started researching again, I came across an amazing resource:

It's Alfonso X's book of games, translated into English, with the original images!!!

I also realized that although I have it, I have yet to share my references, so I wanted to give credit where credit is due:

Alphonso X of Spain Book of Games
R. C. Bell Board and Table Games from Many Civilizations
Dagonell the Juggler (David P. Salley)
Royal Game of the Goose: Rules of Play
1999 Kadon Enterprises, Inc. Game of Goose
Shire of Hartshorn-dale