Wednesday, October 30, 2013


Wow, have arcades changed since I was kid.  

I can't remember the last time I took the kids to an arcade.  I know they've been to them before, but it has definitely been a looooong time.  Years.

We found a deal on Groupon where we got $30 arcade cards for only $16.50 (I love Groupon).  I thought it would be something different to do for family time.

When I was a kid, we used quarters in arcade games.  When I got older you had to use tokens.  And the games would spit out paper tickets at you when you finished playing and when you were ready to leave, you could trade in your tickets for a prize.  

I think it was 500 tickets = a green Jolly Rancher or something like that.

Anyway, arcades have come to the modern age.  Now, you give the cashier the amount of money you want to spend, and she gives you a "credit card" with that amount of money on it.  Instead of putting coins or tokens in a game, you swipe  your card through it and it deducts the cost of the game and tells you your balance.  It also saves up all your "tickets" on your card and when you are ready to leave, they just scan your card to find out how many tickets you have won.

This was a particularly cool arcade though with laser tag, mini-golf, a laser obstacle course, a climbing wall, and a dodge ball court with a referee and real rules and stuff.  

When I was a kid, we had to play dodgeball in school for PE some days.  This mostly consisted of 50 or so kids milling in fear against a wall while four football players tried to hit us hard enough with a volley ball to actually crack a rib or two.  

Fortunately, there were so many of us, the first few throws would hit four or five people at a time.  I would pretend that the ball had hit me too - it was hard to tell as it ricocheted around who all had actually been hit - and I would go sit on the sidelines and chat with my friends until the teacher made us all get back up against the wall again.  

Nowadays, dodge ball has teams and you can throw the balls back at the people throwing them at you.

But we didn't do any of those cool things at this arcade.  I actually did go through the laser obstacle course and that was cool.  But our particular deal did not let us do the other cool stuff, so we just got to play games.  Which frankly was still a lot of fun!

Kerry enjoyed war games where he could shoot people.

And he taught Katie how to shoot as well.

Emily and I enjoyed Ski Ball!

We all liked Deal or No Deal and played it a bunch of times!  We had as much fun making fun of the models who open the suitcases as we did trying to win points on our cards.

The most hilarious moment was when I spotted a Guitar Hero game.  

"Let's play that," I told Kerry.

"I don't know how," he responded.

"Me either.  Let's play it anyway!"

We each picked up a guitar and tried to figure out how this game worked.  Apparently, you are supposed to pick a character to represent you during the game.  Unfortunately, neither of us could figure out how to scroll through the characters or choose one.  I wound up being a huge overweight Gene Simmons and Kerry wound up being a pink-clad rocker chick.

We had a general idea that we were supposed to push the colored buttons on the guitar neck as the colored dots showed on the screen.  I was pushing them in time to the beat, but nothing was happening.  After a few stanzas of an 80's rock tune, we finally figured out that we were supposed to hold down the colored button with our left hands and strum with our right thumbs in order to actually get points in the game.  This required way more hand-eye coordination than either of us possess.

Suddenly two 10 year old boys materialized on either side of us.  

"What are you doing???"  "You missed a power-up!"

"What's a power-up?"

"That thing you just missed!!"

They were horrified that we were wasting a perfectly good game by playing it so badly.  I was laughing so hard my sides hurt.  We could tell they wondered why two old fossils like us were pretending to play guitar.

When we were done they practically ripped the guitars our of our hands, strapped them on and started playing.  

Kerry and I wandered off snickering to find an old fogey's game.

And Kerry killed aliens.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

American History

Katie is currently studying the Revolutionary War at the Mama On The Move Academy For Exceptionally Gifted and Talented Children of Dizzying Intellect.  I was asking her questions about the material she had covered today.

"Where did the American army corner the British in 1781?"  (The answer is Yorktown, in case you don't know - although you should.)

" was that port town.  I can't think of the name."

I gave her a big hint, "Well, it sounds like 'port town' but it starts with a 'Y'."


Monday, October 28, 2013

Can't You Smell That Smell?

On our trip to Florida, we pulled in at a service station to gas up and get a snack.  The girls hurried to pick out a drink and a snack while Kerry filled up the car.

I was trying to find the snack and drink Kerry had requested as well as find something for myself that wasn't gross when Katie asked if she could get some beef jerky as her snack.  Sure, no problem.

It wasn't until I had checked out and my brain registered that the snacks seemed to be awfully expensive that I realized something was amiss.  I looked at my receipt and realized Katie's beef jerky was seven dollars.

"Katie!  You picked out a seven dollar package of beef jerky??"

She looked horrified, "I didn't know it was that much!"

"You should check the price when you choose something.  Don't just take it and assume it's the same price as a Slim Jim!"

When we got in the car, I told Kerry about the price of the jerky.  Then Katie asked me to help her open the bag.  As I pulled the bag open (and it was a small bag, not seven dollars worth of jerky in my opinion) the smell of expensive jerky wafted up.  "Ugh, it smells like Alpo," I thought.

A second later Katie said, "All right, who farted?"

"That's your seven dollar jerky," Kerry informed her.  "They should have called it butt-jerky instead of beef-jerky!"

Thankfully it tasted better than it smelled!

Saturday, October 26, 2013


What we did in Florida:

And then we went to a surprise party.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Road Trip

We went on a spur-of-the-moment road trip to Florida.

Rigger and Ringo knew something was up as soon as they saw the suitcases.  They are so pitiful, standing by the door with their ears and eyebrows raised.  They know suitcases mean we won't be home for a while.

After we loaded the suitcases in the car, we decided to walk the dogs.  When I held up the leash, Rigger came running to me high-stepping like a prancing pony.  His excitement was visible in every muscle of his body.  He thought  he was going with us.  Ringo was excited as well, but he contains his enthusiasm better.

Usually when we take the dogs out, they head straight for the curb.  That's where all the dogs who are being walked around the neighborhood leave their scent.  Our dogs usually drag us to the curb so they can leave their own scent in response to the other canines.  The edge of our yard is the Facebook of the dog community.

This time however, our dogs headed straight for the cars in the driveway.  Rigger nearly took me off my feet.  They circled each of the vehicles, looking for a way in.  "How are we supposed to go with you when we can't get it??  Open a door!"

We tried to entice them over to the grass to use the bathroom, but they were having none of that.  "Car, suitcase, car, suitcase....let me in!!!"

We decided to load them up in the van and go for a quick drive around the block.  This has worked in the past especially well with Rigger.  As long as he gets a ride in the car, he's happy.  He doesn't care how long it is, a ride is a ride.  And he usually forgets that there was a purpose to the whole thing.  So we loaded them up, I drove around the block with them and came back home.  Ringo hopped right out.  Rigger sat down in the back of the van and refused to budge.

Have you ever tried to move a 160-pound dog who doesn't want to move?  It's not easy.

I was really surprised he caught on to our little ploy.  Rigger's sweet but he's never been the sharpest knife in the drawer.  Ringo is the one who's scary smart.  But this time Rigger was the one who caught on to our little trick.  Kerry pointed out that many people who lose one of their five senses often develop heightened awareness in their remaining senses.  Apparently since Rigger recently lost a major favorite body part (he still looks baffled when performing his daily cleansing routine), it's heightened his intelligence.

Kerry finally managed to haul him out of the van and actually managed to shut the rear hatch without harming Rigger who was trying to get back in before it closed.

We made it to Florida and back, the dogs were delirious with joy when we returned (someone stayed at the house with them while we were gone) and they apparently will not require therapy to overcome the trauma of being left behind.

I think they might pee on our suitcases the next time they see them though.

Monday, October 21, 2013

For Want of a Key

Emily is making a bug collection for Biology.  We have often stopped everything we are doing to capture a bug without squishing it.

Last week, we were heading into the Red Cross building to check on a babysitting course.  As we were about to open the door, Emily spotted a wasp flitting around.

"I need the keys so I can go get a container out of the car!" she screeched,

I handed her the keys and Katie and I waited for her to run back to the van where her tennis ball container was available for bug holding duties.  I was not thrilled about deliberately taking a live wasp in the car but felt like it should be okay as long as no one accidentally knocked the lid off and released an angry wasp in the van.

But as it turned out, I had other things to worry about.

Emily came slowly trudging back from the parking lot with her head hanging low.

"I just locked the keys in the van."

Kerry had to come rescue us and the Red Cross had closed early so we had to sit outside and be eaten by mosquitos until he got there to open the van for us.

But at least she got the wasp.

Friday, October 18, 2013


We had to use a port-a-potty while we were at the Wolf Fest.  That's never a positive experience, but at least one of them was a lovely blue color.

When I came out of it Kerry quipped, "How did you like your journey in the Port-A-Tardis?  It's cleaner on the outside than on the inside!"

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wolf Fest

We recently headed over into Missouri for "Wolf Fest 2012".

 Kerry's always been fascinated with wolves (and all wild creatures) and I knew he would love, love love this!

 The girls got to pose with the wolf mascot (they were beyond thrilled to be in this photo).

 We got to see some really cool demonstrations.  We watched demonstrations of therapy dogs, sled dogs, dogs pulling carts of flowers, and dogs pulling people on bicycles.  It's amazing really what they can train dogs to do!

 We got to touch lots of animal pelts and skulls.  All the pelts were from animals which had died of natural causes.  No animals were specifically harmed for their pelts, anyway.

We saw plenty of wolves too.  They were behind double fences but we could see them very well.  There were volunteers at each enclosure to tell us about the wolves.  

One volunteer was especially interesting.  She said many animals in the wild will kill or abandon an injured member of the pack.  But the African Painted Wolf will actually care for any member of the pack who is sick or injured.  They once observed a pack care for a wolf who had been injured in an attack.  They kept him hidden and brought him food for months until he recovered.

Now that's a good pack to be in!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ringo Haiku

Ringo likes to find a nice sunny spot to rest in.  I snapped some pictures of him lying in a square of sun and then told the girls to each write a Haiku about him as an exercise in poetry.

Katie's Haiku:

Lying in the sun
The shadows dance like the wind.
I yawn.  I am tired.


Emily's Haiku:

Why are you asleep
When you woke me up at four?
Die, die, die, die die.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Giving Tree

I can remember the first time I heard of the book "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein. 

My college roommate told me about it.  "I love that book," she told me. "I can't believe you've never read it!"

A lot of people have recommended books to me over the years, and there are very few that I specifically remember.  In fact, as I'm sitting here trying to remember, I can think of maybe four books out of hundreds that were recommended to me where I still remember who told me about it and what I thought of it.  I think I still remember this because 1) it was a children's book and those weren't usually recommended in college - I  was just surprised by that and 2) I read it and I hated it.  And not just hated it a little.  I thought it was one of the most depressing stories I'd ever read.  I love a book that makes you feel strong emotion, even makes you cry, but this one was just depressing.

If you haven't read it, it's about a boy and a tree.  As a child, the boy loves to play in the tree's branches, eat her fruit, and swing on her swing.  And this makes the tree happy.  As he gets older, he needs money and the tree tells him to take all her fruit and sell it so the boy does.  And this makes the tree happy.  Then the boy wants to go away and the tree tells him to take all of her branches and make a boat.  The boy does and the tree is happy about that too.  Then the boy gets married and needs a house to live in and the tree tells the boy to cut her down and build a house from her wood.  The boy does and the tree is happy - sort of.  Because now the tree is just a stump and the boy is gone.

Then the boy comes back but he is old now and he just wants a place to rest.  A stump is a good place to rest.  So the tree/stump tells the boy/old man rest to rest on her.  And the tree/stump is happy again.

And I always thought that was an awful ending because the tree is just a stump at the end.  She's all used up and has nothing left to give anyone else.  How sad.  How depressing.

Then on Facebook, someone made a post about what children's books should really have been titled.  And the Giving Tree was called:

Oh.  OH.  

I get it now!  The tree is a metaphor for a mother!  She gives everything she has to make her child's life better and even if it takes everything she's got, she really is happy when they are happy.

I love this book.

I told Emily, "I'm going to get each one of you a copy of this book!"

Emily just looked at me and said, "We don't need a copy of that book.  We already know we're going to use you up and bleed you dry.  What's for dinner?"

Friday, October 4, 2013

Painless Poetry

Katie and I were studying her poetry lesson on Tuesday.  This year, we are using the book "Painless Poetry" which gives us snippets of various types of poems and teaches us to compare and contrast in order to better appreciate poetry.

In this particular lesson,we read the poem "Fog" by Carl Sandburg.  I read it out loud to Kate:

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking 
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Then I asked Katie to describe the setting.

"It's in a city overlooking a harbor.  It's quiet and foggy, probably night or early morning."

"How is the setting important to the poem?" I asked her.

"Because it wouldn't make sense if it said it was looking over a taco."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Corn Palace

Okay, if you are driving through South Dakota, you have to stop at the Corn Palace. You'll need to use the bathroom anyway and this is just bizarre enough to make it interesting and give you a chance to walk around and stretch your legs.
The girls posing with "Cornelius" outside the Mitchell Corn Palace.

The first Corn Palace was built in 1892 in order to showcase - what else - corn! It was to encourage people to settle down there and was a testament to the fact that the soil was good and you could raise a family from food you grew in that soil.

It's been rebuilt a few times over the years and has finally morphed into a giant arena covered in corn murals.

And I don't mean murals about corn.  These are created out of corn.

In the hallway around the main arena, they have pictures of the Corn Palace from each year of its existence.   It's as interesting to look at the old cars and clothing styles of the people in the pictures as it is to look at the building!

New murals are designed every year.

Extreme close up!

Look at those cobs!

They even have a mural of Mt Rushmore!