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Instagram #2016bestnine

Looks about right: family in the center… with lots of board games. 🙂

Mario Kart 8 has been a blast to play as a family over the past couple years. When we remember to watch the highlight reel after races, we’re always rewarded. Here’s a clip of Abby (as Yoshi) rocking me w/ a red shell earlier this evening…

Yoshi’s face at the end! Bahahahaha!

Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds

Mouse Guard has been a part of our family for a few years now. We’ve bought a few of the books, checked out a couple from the library, and keep our eyes out for new releases. Both my wife and I have loved reading to the kids as well as giving them a turn. I’ve said it before and I can’t seem to avoid saying it again, it’s been a delight to watch them encounter new vocabulary words, discuss meaning, and even work through reading difficult words that appear in highly-stylized handwritten text.

Mouse Guard Fall 1152 cover

Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 was our first journey into the Mouse Guard universe of Kenzie, Lieam, and Saxon. Winter 1152 followed. And then we found our noses buried in Beginning The Black Axe and even the Legends of the Guard books.

In the last few pages of Fall 1152, there are a couple mice gathered around a little game in a tavern. I remember the kids exclaiming at the tiny mice tokens when we read it for the first time.

Little did we know we’d have that same game on a table in our ‘tavern’ a few years later.

Kickstarter Campaign

Writer & Artist, David Petersen, teamed up with Game Designer, Luke Crane, to create a light strategy game and put their concept on Kickstarter.

A two-player board game from the Mouse Guard comics—for guardmice, patrons of the June Alley Inn and their fans.

Long story short: we backed it.

The Goods

Thankfully, the Kickstarter campaign succeeded. Once our copy showed up, my son and I were the first to put it through its paces. It’s a chess-like game that looks and feels as though it was magically extracted from the pages of the book, and most importantly plays easily enough while hiding a lot of depth. I’m sure we’ll get Swords & Strongholds to the table a lot around this house.

Over this last weekend, my dad showed up to Dice & Decks – a local board gaming club/event I run. I had to introduce him to the game.

Now, I’ll admit that I was so wrapped up in being thrilled that he came, that I forgot just how good my dad is at chess.

Early on in our first game of Swords & Strongholds, my dad captured one of my pawns, and then another. I felt like I fought back valiantly and managed to recover both after a few more turns. Although, it was only my third playthrough, so I’m sure to a seasoned player of chess or chess-like games I looked like a fish flopping around in a puddle.

He eventually whittled me down to one pawn and was able to maneuver one of his into the winning, stronghold-making position.

He called it a practice round and eagerly asked to play again.

I wanted to pass along a heartfelt “Thank you” to David Peterson and Luke Crane for the wonderfully delicious anguish over the decisions made while playing Swords & Strongholds. It’s a brilliant little package with a ton of charm; there’s so much game there. Excellent work, gentlemen!

Buy from BurningWheel | Buy from Paizo

Temptation in the seat next to me

Martha and I are about 8 days away from the end of the DietBet game we’re in. We’re both so close to hitting our goal weight! It’s been a fight, but we’ve done well over the last 3 weeks.


Today happens to be my daughter’s 9th birthday. Happy Burpee, Abbilicious! After an entire-family-snuggle-session in our bed, she requested cinnamon rolls from Copper Creek Cookies – the best in the city. Mar and I looked at each other with dread. Do we behave and abstain? Do we cheat? We’re so close to making our goal!

While the rest of the family got ready for the day, I took a little drive to pick some up for the kids.

The best cinnamon rolls in the city taunting me from my car's passenger seat

Look at them. I’m pretty sure they whispered my name as I got off the freeway.

Gooey, delicious little punks.

Sure, the future is attractive…

November has always been a reflective month for me. It hosts my birthday, my wife’s, and good ol’ Thanksgiving. For the past several years, it’s also hosted the annual melanoma walk at The University of Arizona Cancer Center.

Our team this year

Another year has gone by. I don’t say that sentence without considering the weight of it.

This year, Team ¡Mela-NO-MAS! didn’t push for a huge team or make new t-shirts. Instead, Martha had the idea to make ‘race bibs’ for folks to wear and declare who they walk in honor or memory of. It turned out to be a great way to connect with other participants as they left the registration tables.

I was caught off guard by a woman that stopped to write a name on a bib for herself. As she talked with Martha about her husband that’d passed away only two months before, she was overcome and began to cry. Her story began to eat at my heart… That could have been me telling some woman at an event table that I’d lost my love to melanoma. As I looked back on some of the more dire days we’ve seen over the last five years, I hid behind my sunglasses and wept. In that moment I was an ugly mess of mourning and relief… I whispered “no mas” and mentally added another name to the already-too-long list pinned to Martha’s back.

That first part of the event is always the toughest. Meeting up with folks you saw at last year’s walk. Catching up on how they’re doing. Being confronted with bad news and good news.

But then we move into the staging area in the parking lot and you can feel the mood change. We mingle with other melanoma warriors, our friends and family, the Walgreens pharmacy staff, our oncologists, nurses, and local vendors that come out in support of the fight. As we set off out of the parking lot, there’s this feeling of significant purpose. And even though we know the money has already been donated — the job is done — it’s as though each step we take is physically getting us closer to even better treatments than we have today and possibly even the c-word… a cure!

This amazing woman

As the walk drew to a close, I couldn’t help but thank God for where we’ve been and what we’ve come through. As attractive as the future is… right now is beautiful.

We were rewarded with a gorgeous sunset

Brosius

aka “Lil’ Bro”

Well… after considering it for a little more than a year, with Martha’s health at a better place than it’s been in years and seeming pretty stable, there’s one less dog at Pima Animal Care Center.

Brosius is a two-year-old Border Terrier that our family fell in love with last Saturday.

I think it took about 2 minutes to decide to adopt him. It’s been a really enjoyable several days with Lil’ Bro. He’s so calm and has been really well behaved; even plays well with other dogs!* We’re all learning a ton and it’s been really fun watching the kids interact with him.

* dogs involved are already proven to be amazing dogs. We may have cheated.

Apologies to I+M for the bombardment of questions via text message – you’ve been a huge help! Thank you so much!

Movie age limits

Well, I have the good fortune of fighting a cold today. Thankfully, the kids have been in good moods and Martha’s been sweet enough to let me sleep in and has assumed most of the load of entertaining/directing the kids.

I started watching the extended edition of Fellowship of the Ring while they were napping. I made it an hour in before Joey came out and asked permission to ‘wake up’. I, of course, paused the movie and began mulling over when the right time would be to introduce him to the Lord of the Rings series and even Star Wars. He knows of Star Wars… I have too much licensed product in my house for it to be avoided. almost enough Star Wars stuff and he’s asked me who a few characters are, what ships are called, etc. But he hasn’t seen any of the movies.

I’ll confess that I long for the day he digests the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings movies with me. They’ll be important days in the geekling’s life. They’ll be planned out, scheduled for, and celebrated.

But before all that, I have several questions to ask myself. I figured I’d share mine and perhaps collect a few from you.

  • How much stock to I put in the rating system that’s already in place? (G, PG, PG-13, etc.)
  • How much violence is too much? Is there such a thing?
  • When do I want to talk to my son/daughter about killing in movies/stories?
  • When do I want to talk to my son/daughter about the need to kill?
  • How many years of love will my kids need under their belts before they face the likes of the Lidless Eye or Darth Vader killing Kenobi? Or Luke’s whining, for that matter?

I’m sure I’ll come up w/ more. How will you decide when to expose your kids to these stories? How have you decided? Thoughts?

Diary of a Singl-ish Dad – Day 6

Today began as most of the others this past week, but with one small difference. I knew she was coming home today.

That colored everything I did today. Grammie was very sweet and took both kids Christmas shopping with her this morning. Then they got to play with Papa and Uncle James for a while in the afternoon. That gave me a lot of time to rest and get some things done for my sweet love around the house – uninterrupted! It was awesome.

I was really looking forward to surprising Martha with the Christmas lights I’d put up on Thursday. And her reaction was better than I expected. I wasn’t expecting anything overwhelming – but I could tell she was touched and it put a big smile on her face. Merry Christmas indeed.

We – unfortunately – had to say goodbye to Uncle James tonight. He’s heading to San Diego tomorrow to sign papers and begin the ‘move in’ process. Though, even with the looming goodbye, we had a ton of fun with him and are looking forward to being back together in a few weeks for Christmas.

Ahh… she’s home.

Diary of a Singl-ish Dad – Day 4 & 5

Tired. Both days.

Looking forward to Mama comin’ home.

Diary of a Singl-ish Dad – Day 1 & 2

My beautiful wife left town yesterday with her good friend. They headed up to Las Vegas late in the afternoon to lend support to my friend Lang’s fiancĂ©e as she waits on his healing. Sounds like Lang’s taken a turn for the worse and that’s weighing on us all… Keep praying.

Yesterday was an interesting day. It marked the end of a nine year career in IT for ADE/KLA Tencor. It was the first time I’d lost a job. I’m guessing it won’t be the last. Offshoring could easily hit me again. It was sad to walk out of our building with my friend and former boss knowing that we’d never leave that parking lot again. And sad to think that there are some co-workers that I’ll likely not see again. I hope we all find work soon.

The comforting thing is that I know I’ll see the friends I made again over the years. My former boss happens to be one of my closest friends; it’ll be hard not to see him. Some folks I’ll be able to stay in touch with over IM or Facebook. Hooray for the webitron.

In a way, I was kinda spared yesterday from thinking too much about my predicament. With Martha furiously packing and trying to get ready for a sudden five-day trip, I didn’t have time to wallow or really even reflect. I did my best to help her out the door and then turned my attention to wrangling these two kids that keep hanging around here.

Speaking of kids… I think my daughter’s rash is either slowing down or starting to fade a bit. We discovered it Sunday morning while getting ready for church. She’s had a rash similar to it before and it turned into some crazy hot tub virus or something and she had to be treated w/ some scary antibiotics that kept doctor, pharmacist, and parents concerned for a while. Thankfully, she got seen rather quickly this time and has already got 3 doses of non-scary antibiotics in her. I’ll be praying that the spots are gone before Thursday.

This morning, Abby and I did some shopping while Joey was in preschool. It was strange to go shopping the day after I lost my job, but the vast majority of our merchandise was bought with gift cards of some sort. I picked up a new Dewalt drill that was going for a crazy sale price. I loved my previous drill, but the Makita battery packs are hard to find and expensive. The Home Depot trip was really only a time-killer until we could get into Costco. Abby was really well behaved and pulled off many smiles from strangers. If only that would work as currency… that’d come in handy.

With grocery shopping out of the way, we went to pick up Joey. We stopped to make a quick sea turtle in the wet sand outside his classroom. It’s amazing how quickly wet sand will claim a previously clean 2 year-old’s outfit.

I then raced through three chaotic projects at once… prepping the kids’ lunches, cleaning out the freezer, and putting the groceries away. Whew…

Then we made these:

Now… I shall nap.

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