Entries in Fun to the power of x (25)

Friday
Mar022007

The End of the Prophets

It took us fourteen months, but we did it. This morning we finished reading The Old Testament in our family scripture study time. The kids all felt an enormous sense of accomplishment (letting out a slightly irreverent whoop), and Patrick and I were a bit misty as we read the last beautiful verses of poor, lonely Malachi together.

It works out nicely, too, with Hope getting baptized tomorrow to mark the transition between old and new. Monday morning we'll jump right into the Gospel of St. Matthew; Hope will get to read out of her bran new grown-up scriptures, and Tess will start with the edition of The New Testament everyone secretly envies: the one with pictures and maps on every page.

Friday
Jan192007

Winter Games


Christian got a great game for Christmas. The object of Carcassonne (photo above) is to build a medieval landscape using tiles that have roads, farm, cities, and cloisters on them, scoring as many points as possible for claiming and completing the various items. Friends have told us that the game can get quite cutthroat, but we (and I'm trying hard not to be smug about this) really enjoy the cooperative alternative. Helping each other build an aesthetically pleasing country (with no square holes in the topography) has been more fun than scoring at someone else's expense every time. The game suggests that it is for ages 10 and up, but even 5-year-old Tess can play with a little coaching.
Patrick and I are big fans of Settlers of Catan as long as we can play with our friends Herb and Elizabeth. They are both smarter in general and better at this particular game than we are, but are so kind and apologetic as they win that it's fun and instructive every time. We can only play three or four times a year; Settlers requires a significant investment of time. Fortunately, their kids and ours can amuse themselves together quite well when we get together.
Karen and Ron introduced us to Pick Two. This game now rivals Big Boggle as my favorite game ever, and it's way more fun than Scrabble (no more interminable waiting for someone to set down a word). Apparently, it's now being marketed as its own game, but all you really need is a set of Scrabble tiles (I like playing with three sets at a time).
Turn all the tiles face down; each player draws seven tiles. Turn them over all at once and begin building your own crossword puzzle, freestyle, right on the table--no board needed. Scrabble word rules apply. When you've used all your tiles, shout out, "Pick two." Each player chooses two more tiles to add to their own puzzle. When all the tiles have been taken, the first player to use all his/her tiles wins. You can keep score if you wish, subtracting the values of the unused tiles from the losers' scores, but we never do this. A potentially hilarious option is to require each player to tell a story using all the words in his/her puzzle. Our kids love this game; it's quick and challenging. We're happy to help James and Hope with their construction, but Tess is happy making up her own words.
I love to sit with the family around the table, everyone glowing in the lamplight as they concentrate on the play at hand. What do you do when it's too dark and cold to play games outside?

Saturday
Dec302006

Jollity





"Good times." That mantra, spoken in unison by the bemused hosts of "Delicious Dish," an NPR radio show spoof on Saturday Night Live, is one of Patrick's and my favorite code phrases.
We've had good times aplenty in preparation for Christmas this year. A highlight was our annual Gingerbread Construction Night, usually held the last Monday before Christmas.
We use graham crackers instead of gingerbread. This way I don't stress out over broken or eaten pieces that ideally would have been used as structural material. I've experienced the joys of working with real gingergread in the past, the most famous example being the year we made the Chrysler Building complete with internal lighting system. Also, for my kids, authenticity is eschewed for the finer pleasure of eating and building with as much candy as possible. It's all about the candy.
What did we use? Two batches of buttercream icing; two boxes of Honey Grahams; one box of Frosted Shredded Wheet (great for snow-covered thatch); one cardboard box, cut into six pieces and covered with aluminum foil; and pounds and pounds of candy. Mini marshmallows are great for internal buttressing, by the way. And buy twice as many Crunchy Gummi Bears as you think you'll need. Not only are they tasty, they are also excellent for representing anyone from Santa to members of the Holy Family.
Sometimes we go for theme with our buildings. This year I made an a-frame creche; James favored a rendering of a house damaged in a California mudslide. In years past, we've had models with such diverse inspirations as Stonehenge, the Provo Temple, and Fallingwater.
After construction was completed, we did some dancing. I treasure this image of Hope and James cavorting, and I'm sure I'll be blackmailing them with it for years to come.

Saturday
Dec302006

Domestic Artists





Cooking, knitting, sewing (and all the cleaning up afterwards)--not only are these activities satisfying and productive, but they are also great for building confidence and strengthening family bonds.

Tess got the Green Eggs and Ham Cookbook for Christmas. It's perfectly suited to her temperament; if Dr. Seuss had known Tess, he certainly would have written a book about her. We've made several of the recipes so far, including the title recipe (guacamole makes the eggs green; a parsley coating colors the ham). Tess is now planning our menus for the next several days.

Santa brought Hope a swell sewing machine. It's from the Discovery Channel Store (I had to explain Santa's outsourcing strategies to the girls), and it's a great value. Limited in scope and options, it nonetheless sews much more effectively than you would expect from a toy. Hope made a little handbag yesterday and is anxious to try her hand at a skirt for herself next. Ever inspired by accessories (whose daughter is she?), she has special affection for the wee pincushion that came with the sewing kit.

We're having a luncheon after church on Sunday; the men are in charge of the food. For some reason, the pot luck has turned into a testosterone-fueled lasagna bake-off with many motivated entrants. Patrick made his offerings last night. I'm sure he'll win with this particular judge; Patrick taught me everything I know about pasta sauce, a fact I freely admit whenever someone compliments my Bolognese.

Mom was here over Christmas. We couldn't resist a trip to the fabulous Knittingsmith together. Mom got some chunky yellow alpaca for a cute sweater by Pure and Simple Designs; I got some gorgeous sock yarn. My bulky plum pullover is coming along well, but I felt the need for a quick-gratification project after the success of the girls' hats. The sock does not disappoint in this regard.

And the boys? Christian and James have been prowling the yard with metal detector and large magnet, cleaning up all the screws, nails, and other metal scraps that have been scattered about with abandon throughout the renovation. It's great when cleaning up can be an entertaining adventure. If only I could figure out a way to make dishes and laundry as exciting...

Daniel has been our snuggly muse, happy to consume the fruits of Tess's labors, always available for hugs and positive reinforcement for all. It's been a terrific vacation; I'll be very sorry to see it end next Tuesday.

Wednesday
Dec202006

...the past three months, Part 3


Patrick, aka His Majesty, surprised me with a trip to Rome to celebrate my 40th birthday. Yes, indeed, his stock is very high (as if it were ever low). Here's the Quirinale in the light of the setting sun on my birthday. The art, the light, the food, the company--it was a dream of a trip.

Patrick had also arranged for Carmen to meet us there; we love to celebrate our birthdays together (we plan to go to Antarctica for my 5oth/her 49th), and this was definitely one to remember. On our way to the catacombs of San Callisto, we encountered a shepherd and his flock of sheep! This, of course, made our pilgrimage perfect.

Other travel: In October I went to a conference in Utah. While there, I was able to spend a goodly amount of time with my fab sister Stephanie and my adorable grandmother. I also visited an amazing doctor who specializes in stress management. Amazing results: I haven't had a tension headache or muscle spasms in my shoulders since.

Blog learning curve issue: why won't the photos load where I want them? Must research this.

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