Thursday, September 29, 2011

Quarantine

I finally finished and tested the parlor LARP I've been writing called Quarantine (kind of like a murder mystery, but without the murder).  It went over pretty well, so I'm posting it here in case anyone would like to make use of it.  "Quarantine" takes place in a futuristic setting with good ol' sci-fi staples like faster than light travel and anthropomorphic aliens, but also has plenty of intrigue and mystery.

So, anyway, check it out if you like that sort of thing.  It takes minimal preparation, is for 6 players, and lasts about an hour or two.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gotta train 'em early...

Gotta train 'em early...to be geeks.  First, they must know how to create their own costume for an occasion other than Halloween:
Then, they must attend gatherings of fellow geeks, such as a local convention or Renaissance Faire.  

Next on the list: quoting from favorite geeky movies, such as Star Wars, or the Princess Bride.  :-D

Monday, September 12, 2011

Amazing Customer Service

Sometimes it seems like companies have forgot about one crucial element in their business -- the customers.  We had a bad experience with Hotwire on a vacation where they wouldn't give us a non-smoking room (it finally got resolved through the Better Business Bureau and American Express, who were quite helpful, but Hotwire was very annoying about it).

Usually you just expect decent customer service, but once in awhile you get blown away by a company who does it right.  In this case, I need to recommend to you Cedar Works, the company who made our wooden playset.  We bought one about two years ago, and it's held up really well, but some of the rubber on the chains was getting sticky and oozing.  I figured we'd just deal with it, but I sent them an e-mail in case they had some snazzy idea.  They are replacing all the affected swings totally free.  So awesome!  :-)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

School and Bubonicon

Quartz and Onyx are both in school this year, and I love how they are good friends at school!  They play at recess, and sit next to each other on the bus, and seem to get along really well at school.
Shhh, this was actually the 3rd day of school

Since Wes' mom is in town, we thought we'd take advantage of her and let her enjoy the kids for a weekend while we went to the local sci-fi convention, Bubonicon with our friend Lisa.  The theme was steampunk, so we all dressed up and had a great time seeing all the costumes and listening to George R. R. Martin and geeking out with other fans.  I wish there would have been like a masquerade or parlor LARP or something, but it was still pretty fun.
weird angle and lighting, but it's the only picture we got
And now, for some quotes:
 S: "Mom mom mom mom mom mom mom, baby doll is going to bed" (to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star")
O: "It was just a little bit fun" (talking about pedal boats)
Q: "Do we each get to eat seaweed?  Yum, yum, yum!"
A: "That's totally going on the blog!" (when Wes said something funny that I can't remember anymore)
W: "Wesley: romantic bourgeoisie space pedagogue" (magnetic poem)

Birthday Party!

OK, this was a long time ago (mid-August).  But somehow school has made things busier, even though there's less kids at home and they both ride the bus.  I guess I'm finally getting around to all the projects I've been putting off all summer ("I'll wait until the kids are in school").

So, Quartz and Onyx had a joint birthday party with a LEGO theme.  I'm not sure for how many years they will want to do joint parties, but I'm happy about it because it feels more worth it to put in all the effort (without feeling like I'll have to do the same thing again for the other kid next time).

I'll just let the pictures do the talking now.
Build the coolest Duplo tower you can in 5 minutes!

I made a treasure hunt for the kids

Snacks under the play set

Blowing out candles on the LEGO cakes

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Well, it seems my mom-blog is a hit in Slovenia...27 hits. Hmmm???

First Day of School Brings Mixed Emotions

It was cooler this morning.  Sorta like the weather knew it was time to start school and put away all the fun and frivolity of summer.  As we dragged our second grader out of bed, fought for space in the bathroom and grabbed the kids in time for in-front-of-the-maple-tree, annual first day of school pictures, I couldn't decide if I was happy or sad to see it all end. 

I was certainly ready for structure and a chance to work in my home office without the blaring of Sponge Bob and various neighbor kids poking in their heads to ask for treats.  The house would look the same when I got back from work, as I left it in the morning (OK, I know that might not be a good thing, but come on!  What teenager decides to clean and straighten up the house while on summer vacation?).  I wouldn't be scrambling to make sure that bathing suits and towels weren't congealing into some mildew-infested mass in the nether regions of tote bags and closets.  I was ready for some normalcy in our lives.  Well, as much as we ever have it in our home!

However, this year the transition back into the school year felt different.

I've had enough children, and first days of school, to know that each new school year marks a passage of time, and bittersweet moments you can never get back. 

This year my third child is starting her senior year in High School, and this is her last "first day of school". Her older sister was starting her first day at the University, and my oldest son was on his way to work.  Only the youngest still needed a walk to the bus stop and kiss on the cheek.

How in the world did this happen?  It feels like it was just  a couple of years ago that I put my oldest on the bus for his first day in Kindergarten.

So today, I am reflecting on all the times I wish I had spent more time enjoying and noticing the little moments of each of their childhoods.  I really do wish I had cleaned less and played more.  I am sad because it has all gone very fast.

I feel fortunate to have ten more first days of school with my youngest child, and am enjoying the excitement of my daughter's senior-year experiences.  But, believe it or not, I wish I could have all of the other ones back again to do over.

So as the big orange bus drove away, I'm not too embarrassed to admit: Those were tears in my eyes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Returning from the Land of Oz: Do people really live like this?

I recently went to a family reunion held in a relative's lovely neighborhood.  As we pulled up to their beautiful (insert: clean, orderly and meticulously decorated) home, I marveled at the row upon row of manicured lawns, weed-free gardens and picture-perfect children we had passed.

Where was I?  Was this heaven?  Was this Iowa?  No, I was merely in a suburb a scant twenty minutes from our own home.  So why did I feel like I was on a different planet?

"How do they do it?" I asked my husband.

"Huh?  Who does what?" he replied distracted, attempting to park between the numerous cars of our various family members.

"All of these houses.  All of these people.  How do they, I don't know, keep it all so...Better Homes and Gardens-esque.  So perfect!"  I was amazed.  I was taking in sight of the stone-front-wood-shingled-bricked-driveways all in a pristine row.

"Maybe they have a lawn service."

"Maybe," I said uncertainly.  If I lawn service could do all this, I wanted one.

 "They probably don't have a dog,"  I suggested uncertainly.

We have three dogs.  Two labs and a bigger-than-life Maltese. They dig in our yard, pee on the floor and shed all over creation.  Yeah, they're loud, messy and lovable, and my husband and I are our own lawn service.  Even if we hired those guys in the green trucks and farmed out our menagerie,  I'm convinced we could never reach this level of orderliness.

"I'll bet there aren't many big families here.  The kids are probably all grown up,"   I continued.

My husband looked confused.  "Who are you talking about?"

He stopped the car and we got out of our family SUV.  As I open the door, I bump over the baked beans I have brought to share.  Only lost a scant blob on the passenger side floor mat.  Have to remember to clean that up later. 

"Never mind."  It seemed my husband didn't notice that we had just entered the Twilight Zone.

My car door slammed.  Suddenly, I was surrounded by birds flying about, wafting scent of flowers and a community of orderly houses, filled with apparent peace and bliss. I followed my two of my four kids and the love of my life up the driveway, lugging a crock pot and an overflowing bag of clothing, sunscreen and towels.  Shaking my head I disputed his assertion that the lawn service could do so much.  I was walking up the Yellow Brick road and entering the Land of Oz.

We rang the bell.  The door opened.  It wasn't the Wizard, but a distant cousin.  As we piled into the house, I climbed over a pile of shoes.  Down the hall I could see the bowls of jello salads and mounds of desserts, napkins and casseroles.  The noise of children running drifted up the stairs.  There was a smudge on the wall.  I think it was chocolate.  Their cat ran up the stairs, a nephew in hot pursuit.

Hey wait a second.  

This isn't perfect.  This isn't meticulous.  It's not even pristine.  It wasn't far different from my world.

The house was still beautiful and still decorated, but it was truly a home.  Looking at the relative uproar, I realized that we all have things that are a bit different behind the closed door or our public facades.  We often don't get to look behind the scenes.  But even without that glimpse, its important to remember that the man (or woman) behind the curtain, may not be the Wizard of Oz, but may be a member of normal, crazy, sometimes messy family like the rest of us.

Gosh it felt good to know I'm not alone!  

Take that Rod Sterling.  And Dorothy, no need to click those ruby slippers, cuz you may be already home.