Play these days

Here’s how the rules of play work these days, at least in our computer gaming influenced home. Start with a long discussion of who’s the boss and what special abilities they have. Negotiate, negotiate! What’s the boss’ cooldown? What level do you start at? Casual? Easy? Normal? Hard? Brutal?

Now battle. Good luck, don’t die.

Pillow throw is only a boss ability on brutal.

Pillow throw is only a boss ability on brutal.

Difficulty leveling up.

Difficulty leveling up.

The boss attacks! And misses!

The boss attacks! And misses!

Dodging the spin attack

Dodging the spin attack

Boss must attack in a straight line

Boss must attack in a straight line

Yessa flees

Yessa flees

The boss is tired

The boss is tired

Buster’s Birthday Cake

I’ll write a much longer post about the Buster’s Birthday Week, but I’m dying to get pictures out of his birthday cake.

He’s been thinking about his cake for months. The plan for a long time had been to have a Minecraft cake, but after Dad introduced him to StarCraft, that plan changed.

Here was the online inspiration cake:

From here: www.teamliquid.net

From here: www.teamliquid.net

And here was the cake Buds and The Buster created this afternoon:

Awesome recreation!

Awesome recreation!

NAILED IT!

Zoe’s So Silly

While walking to the bathroom to put away towels, I saw Monkey crawling out the door of her bedroom. At first I thought she was looking for something, but since her room was dark, I decided it must be something else.

“What are you doing?”

“I just don’t want to get up. Will you get me a drink of water?”

That’s right, she’d been comfy in bed, but was thirsty, so she was going to crawl to the bathroom. I guess once she got there, if I hadn’t appeared, she would have gotten a drink out of the toilet the way Chip and Chance used to do.

That’s our clever, crazy, and creative girl.

Monkey not crawling on the floor and not drinking out of the toilet.

Monkey not crawling on the floor and not drinking out of the toilet.

We’re On A Boat…

Our friend and neighbor, David, bought and fell in love with a sailboat that he keeps docked in Annapolis. He’s spent countless hours and unspecified dollars in resurrecting the boat. We’ve often talked of it and the joy it brings him, and he’s invited us to go out for a sail with him many times.

We finally made that happen, and it was fantastic.

David brilliantly invited along another couple, David and Natalie, who have extensive sailing experience. After seeing how much is involved in sailing the 34-foot craft, I was grateful to be able to watch and enjoy the sun and the children and the beauty of the day.

The dock leading to "Chevere," which will be renamed "The Southern Cross."

The dock leading to “Chevere,” which will be renamed “The Southern Cross.”

Her name currently.

Her name currently.

Kora is ready to greet us.

Kora is ready to greet us.

David's Dinghy

David’s Dinghy

We got to the marina around 11 a.m., the plan being to sail out to a restaurant for lunch, then back home, making for a pleasant outing. The weather was perfect; a little crisp, and sunny.

Crew Member #1: Natalie

Natalie

Natalie

We learned over lunch that Natalie is a researcher studying the markers of climate change. We also learned that she’s a fantastic sailor. She’s the one who took the helm for the first part of the trip, and once things had settled down, it was amazing as she would count down to when a gust would buffet the boat. The outbound trip was calm by water-seasoned folks standards, though tippy for landlubbers. Natalie was calm and made it fun even as the boat tilted sideways.

Captain Natalie

Captain Natalie

Natalie’s Mate: David, was Mate #2.

South African David

South African David

David with "lifeguard" lips.

David with “lifeguard” lips.

And, our David:

Australian David

Australian David

We went out under the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, then headed back for home. The tide was too low for the float up restaurant, so we ended up at a cute pub back on dry land, and that was an excellent ending to the day.

For the nautical set, we used the spinnaker, which was beautiful. The ride home was amazingly smooth compared to the trip out. I was able to relax on the trip home, and Buds and the kids went up on the top of the boat to enjoy the unrestricted view.

The spinnaker peaking around another sail.

The spinnaker peaking around another sail.

Buds got to captain the boat for much of the trip back…that’s how smooth it was. He received several compliments about his natural feel for the boat.

He wondered why the steering wheel wasn't fur lined to keep his hands warm.

He wondered why the steering wheel wasn’t fur lined to keep his hands warm.

Captain and First Mate

Captain and First Mate

It was brisk on the water if you were in the wind and not in the sun. Mom had on many layers.

Snuggled up to Grandma.

Snuggled up to Grandma.

Coolness

Coolness

So many lines and riggings and sails

So many lines and riggings and sails

Looking up at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Looking up at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Yessa out on the boat front.

Yessa out on the boat front.

Me and my buddy Kora

Me and my buddy Kora

All the kids loved being on the boat.

All the kids loved being on the boat.

Below deck lounging and playing games.

Below deck lounging and playing games.

The kids created a sumo wrestler game that brought much laughter from below deck when they bounced off each other wearing their life jackets.

Below deck buddies

Below deck buddies

Another cool kid

Another cool kid

Kids up front.

Kids up front.

I'm taking pictures to mask my anxiety about this climbing all over.

I’m taking pictures to mask my anxiety about this climbing all over.

Sailors in the making.

Sailors in the making.

A happy pair.

A happy pair.

Kora play time.

Kora play time.

David steers us in like a boss.

David steers us in like a boss.

Captain Serious

Captain Serious

Buddie in charge

Buddie in charge

Sunny Sailors

Sunny Sailors

Mom all bundled up.

Mom all bundled up.

Waiting for the adults to tie up the boat.

Waiting for the adults to tie up the boat.

Now that we’ve had a taste of the sailing life, we will jump at the chance to go out again. It was absolutely glorious. Thanks, David!

Partners’ Weekend

Thanks to Nonni agreeing to come stay with our crew, Buds and I were able to have our first overnight adult party with the other Partners.

Partners’ Weekend is a chance for Partners to hang out, enjoy meals together that we create as teams, have some organized frivolity in the evening, drink, laugh, and tell stories, share in a UU service on Sunday morning, wander around the property, learn about each other and our history, and laugh some more.

Buds and I drove out early on Saturday morning. As always, we love having time talking, planning, and laughing together.

Once we arrived, we decided to head out on a walk with Nancy and Dave to see some of the fallen trees and debris we had heard about on the logging road.

Turns out the reports were right. There was some impressive damage.

The huge tree that fell into the river and took out half the logging road.

The huge tree that fell into the river and took out half the logging road.

Dave had taken a bow saw to see what might be accomplished. Nancy and I offered lots of encourage and made funny jokes. (We thought they were funny.)

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It was a sunny, brisk Spring day, so much time was spent gathered on the porch or settled in the kitchen where groups ebb and flow as people reconnect and share.

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The Mowing Team (of which Jennie is a proud member) took time to visit our beloved mowers. And we all learned the power of “Thrust” to get things moving when that engine just doesn’t want to start.

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Dinner Prep Begins

Dinner Prep Begins

Looks delicious!

Looks delicious!

Dig In!

Dig In!

So many delicious options.

So many delicious options.

Dinner provided an opportunity for focused conversation and a great deal of laughter.

Lunch clean up before dinner prep.

Lunch clean up before dinner prep.

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The Chris' almost kill Meg with laughter.

The Chris’ almost kill Meg with laughter.

After dinner, Mark and Pete plied us with movie theater snacks (GOOBERS!), and we played a movie game with Mark as MC. Despite Mia’s trash talking like a sailor, a different team was victorious. There were many hilarious moments, and Mark’s ability to put up with us was truly impressive.

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Our wonderful MC.

Our wonderful MC.

Becky finally wins points with "The Princess Bride!"

Becky finally wins points with “The Princess Bride!”

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At some point in the evening (It’s all a little fuzzy now.), Pete made us delicious drinks that went down very smoothly.

And ice cream sundaes!

And ice cream sundaes!

Mark's Clean Up Crew Kicks Into Action.

Mark’s Clean Up Crew Kicks Into Action.

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Gorgeous weather, delightful friends, delicious food, and gut-wrenching laughter. As an added bonus, Chris interviewed Jan (who turned 80 just a few days after the weekend), about the remodeling of Massadoah and some of the beginnings of this amazing group.

Truly, an outstanding weekend.

Nonni Makes A Visit

Monkey just pointed out to me that I have been remiss in getting up a post about the few days Nonni spent with us and Cousins before we headed up to Vermont.

She’s so correct.

Monkey and Nonni settled in for a visit.

Monkey and Nonni settled in for a visit.

Reading together

Reading together

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While Buds and I were out in The Valley, Monkey and Friend were getting their picture taken with the Rich Froning, The Two-Time Fittest Man In The World, or "Chris' CrossFit Idol."

While Buds and I were out in The Valley, Monkey and Friend were getting their picture taken with the Rich Froning, The Two-Time Fittest Man In The World, or “Chris’ CrossFit Idol.”

Nonni stayed with our children on Saturday night so Buds and I could attend our first Partner’s Weekend overnight. The kids did great, and Buds and I had a fantastic time. (Post to follow on that.)

They roamed around our neighborhood and did a survey and rating of all the playgrounds they could find that were close to us. They ate lots of pizza and enjoyed having Nonni all to themselves.

Thanks, Nonni.

Let’s Go Climbing

Monkey and I spent an awesome day yesterday with Becca and Thalia and Ms. Louisa. Louisa had signed the girls up for a Climbing camp at Camp May Flather, a Girl Scout camp in Virginia, well past Massadoah on I-81. The drive took 2 1/2 hours, and Louisa and I laughed at ourselves that we drove that far when we could have just taken the girls to Sport Rock, but it turned out to be well worth the time and effort.

We all had a fantastic time visiting in the car on the drive there and back, and the girls had an awesome experience climbing like spiders.

Horseback riding and rock climbing; two of Monkey’s passions.

Our day in pictures:

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Shortly after this we realized Monkey had left her long pants and shoes at home. Quick stop at Wal-Mart saved the day.

Shortly after this we realized Monkey had left her long pants and shoes at home. Quick stop at Wal-Mart saved the day.

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Sully Plantation

Thanks to my PT appointment that took up the majority of the morning, which made going to Noa’s chosen museum in Maryland out of the question for today, and the Farm Museum being closed on Mondays, we went with an alternate plan: Sully Plantation. We drive past here on our way home from Massadoah, and I finally mentally registered the name so we could check it out.

It was a beautiful, overcast day, and perfect for walking around on the grounds, and touring the house. There were only 4 other people in our tour group, so the children had the time to ask lots of questions.

Insight of the day: The guide showed us a deck of cards from the time period, and they only had pictures, no numbers or words since not everyone could read. Zoe’s comment was, “I believe ‘jacks’ used to be called ‘knaves,’ but when they began writing the letters on cards, they had to be changed to ‘jacks’ since ‘kings’ were using the ‘k.'” Huh?! Who knew.

Our day in pictures:

Noa trying out the…we aren’t sure what…

Zachary peeled some bark off a log and they were fascinated by the white, creepy crawlies underneath.

We peered into a small building with a fire pit in the center, and we were all stumped, until The Buster pipes up with, “I think it’s a smokehouse.” Well, once you know what it is, it’s obvious what it is. I was impressed.

The Smokehouse

The first irises of the season that we have seen.

Snuggle shot

There was an interesting and fun quiz for the children to take while we waited for the tour to begin.

Zoe had the chance to play the pianoforte. It needs to be played regularly to keep it in good condition.

The Lee Family, builders of the home, had a pet white squirrel, and had a squirrel on their family crest.

The Buster on the main stairwell

The supplies in the school room that the children could play with: slates, McGuffey’s Readers, and rhyming word spinners.

A map from the time period. Virginia and West Virginia were still one state. Iowa and Kansas were still territories, and Iowa was HUGE!

The Main House

Today was the first time…ever…that we have gone on a field trip adventure without a snack bag. That’s a huge change.

In addition, at one point on the tour, Yessa turned to me and said, “I thought I wouldn’t like this, Mama, but I guess I sort of do.”

I consider that a ringing endorsement.