Friday was a good day

If you haven’t read Kim’s post, Friday was a good day. Unbeknownst to the kids, we had a plan. A secret, fun plan. The summer has been particularly tough on Katy, what with the broken wrist pretty much canceling so many of her plans. I had the day off, the kids went through their usual routine of going to swim lessons, then they came home for lunch. We waited around, then took them out – to the Fredericksburg Agricultural Fair. The oldest in the country, it wasn’t quite up to the glitz of the state fair, but it was still pretty awesome. Getting there right when they opened (we may have actually been the second group to show up) really helped – we had almost complete run of the place, no lines, and just about every ride the kids were the only ones on. We ended the day with dinner at Friendlies and, of course, watching the Phineas and Ferb movie (“Across the second dimension”).

So without further ado, some obligatory pics of kids and Mom having fun 🙂

And then Katy rolled a d12 *again*

Like most children of the 80’s, I have nostalgic memories of how cool we had it back then, regardless of whether those memories actually stand up to scrutiny. For example, I remember going out for pizza with my parents as being a big deal, a special night out. Of course, my clearest memory is the time we went to Godfather’s and the pitcher of Pepsi spilled everywhere. That and the fact that Godfather’s had a table top arcade game (Ms. PacMan I think).

I also remember (and this barely grazes the 80’s, but its part of the mass memory of the 80’s so I lump it in there) playing role playing games. In High School, it was at the public library, where Gurps like rulesets were built around a mostly Star Trek universe, populated with events and characters from science fiction books the library had in stock and were trying to encourage us to explore. So, a lot like the original Star Trek I guess 🙂 – stealing from science fiction to build plots and all.

Fast forward twenty odd years, and here Kim and I are with our own brood of budding geeks (sorry Mom and Dad, we didn’t do this to them on purpose, but its a side effect of growing up in a household where internet access is more sacred than TV). Last weekend, we took opportunity by the horns – it was wonderful weather, hadn’t rained in a week, and we didn’t know when or if I’d need to go into work for a weekend to prepare for the holidays (like today). So we took the girls out to get pumpkins at the pumpkin patch, followed by a family dinner at Pizza Hut (who finally changed their pizza sauce to not include anchovie! yay!). I don’t recall going to the pumpkin patch as a kid – doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, just didn’t fall into the random bit of memories I’ve retained (to make up for it, said memories go back pretty darned far), so its especially magical to see the girls hunting down their pumpkins. Sometimes a little over zealously, as the pictures below no doubt attest to.

Last night, we took another stab at demonstrating to the kids that there was more than Netflix and McDonald’s in their lives (though still pizza, that great unifying food that it is). I’ve been somewhat nostalgically envious of my friends who play D&D these days, so on a tip from a friend, I went to http://newbiedm.com/rpgkids/ and bought the guide for a toned down, kids version. We then ran out, bought some dice and a blank map (’cause graph paper just wasn’t going to cut it in our house 😉 ), got some groceries and some pizzas from Wegman’s, and went home and played.

To say that Anna and Katy (Tara excused herself because it was dark outside, and therefore, time for bed, after admonishing all of us to keep it down so she could sleep) had a good time would be to put it mildly. To say we had an absolutely awesome time as my two girls led their two characters – Greg, a swordsman who knew no fear played by Katy, and Wizardy, the turn tail and run as soon as the trolls got too close wizard played by Anna – against a pair of trolls (I modified the game a little, but that’s the point, right?) is to put it mildly. We played for an hour or so one one adventure, and when it was over the girls were disappointed that we had to put them to bed. Anna asked if we could play the next chapter, or at least replay this one now that they knew the rules, and my heart grew about three sizes. Katy really enjoyed being able to explore being the tough, confrontational swordsman, rushing headfirst against the magical creatures that could shoot at her from five paces, even when she took damage and her sister had her character run away (yes, I keep repeating that, but it was hilarious at the table last night, I swear).

Oddly enough, I think the kids would have been just as happy with more rules (rpgkids is introductory, and I knew this going into it – there are no deep skill sets unless you add them, no complicated rolls, etc.). My plan is to finish out a full campaign or two with rpgkids, and if they’re still interested, invest in upgrading, or at least adding in more rules. But the fact that they wanted to roll for damage makes me optimistic. Enrique (newbiedm) has done a great job of making it simple enough to hold a kids attention span, but still complex enough to make it exciting for the kids to see what cruel twist the game will throw at them next. So if you have kids, and you wax nostalgic like me for RPG’s but have no opportunities to play with adults (or just want to give your kids an opportunity to play too), check out his site (link’s above).

And to close this long blog post (its what you get when I don’t blog as often, what with having a life and all), the closing shot below is as the final troll was sundered last night in the dark woods leading to the wizards hidden lair.

The comfortable din of a full house again

I should have known the weekend of silence wouldn’t have gone the way I’d dreamed on Saturday morning when all hell broke loose.

This summer hasn’t exactly been the most exciting one, at least not for the kids. This past weekend, my inlaws had offered to take the girls for 4(!) days, to include a trip to Busch Gardens. Saturday morning Kim set out with Katy in tow to get some school clothes during the tax free weekend, but when she returned to the car at her second stop, it wouldn’t start. Plans started to dissolve around us as I packed two kids in my commuting car to get Mom and Katy and wait for a tow truck. We tried jumping the van, but it just wouldn’t turn over, so I sent Kim home in my car with the kids  and waited for a tow truck, while she called her folks to let them know we wouldn’t be able to drive the kids down after all.

Sunday, Kim’s folks drove up to get the kids, and her Dad helped me fix the van. It seems that despite the fact that just about every electrical component in the van was operational (or at least it was after successive jump attempts), replacing the battery was the magic sauce to getting it working again. Thankfully we did that ourselves, saving us another tow truck plus labor, shop fees, and whatnot. And the kids were off to their grandparents for a few days!

Little did I know how weak I was. You see, Kim is home with them just about 24/7. The break and silence was a welcome thing for her, a momentary return to sanity. By the next morning, she looked younger – less frowning, less fight breaking, less stress all around. She needed this kind of extended break in a way I couldn’t begin to appreciate.

I, on the other hand, was morose. How was I to know ahead of time that I had actually grown accustomed to the din of the children? For the most part, I only see them for extended periods of time on the weekends. I mean, I see them on weekdays too – but just for an hour or three in the morning, maybe an hour or so when I get home if I’m lucky, but in both cases I see them either just before they’re wound up, or just after they’ve wound down. I miss the daily arguments, snits, break downs, pleas, and schizophrenic flip-flops of three girls kids. When we came back from grabbing some food Sunday, I actually felt a little sad that we weren’t met with cries of “Mommy!” or “Daddy!” as arms were flung around us.

I was, for lack of a better word, pathetic. I spent most of the time noticing how absolutely quiet the house was, how there was no one underfoot or demanding a snack. Growing up an only child, I never had other kids around me, so I’m not sure where this comes from, but although some may scoff and say we have a “large” family, that din of kids talking and laughing and yelling is part of what makes me feel comfortable at home. It isn’t the same with them gone.

Alas, the break was not permanent. We drove them home Tuesday (after a brief blimp chase on the way to get them 😉 ), and discovered that their new backpacks had been delivered. These kids are so excited, that this is what we were greeted with this morning:

They’re super excited. School is less than two weeks from starting, and the new backpacks is the first tangible piece of evidence they have. And yes, Tara is grinning furiously – she picked it out of the catalog herself (red? who knew that was her color??).

So I was sitting at our desk morning, me on my side, Kim on hers, while the kids argued over something – TV or computer time, take your pick. She rolled her eyes with a grimace, muttering “They’re back.” Me? I smiled from ear to ear and whispered, “They’re back :)”