Sunday, November 13, 2011

Monopolizing the Game

This past Friday night we had game night in our pajamas.  The kids decided that we would be playing Monopoly despite my lack of enthusiasm for this choice.

I'm not a huge Monopoly fan; I can play the game about once every six months and be absolutely fine with that amount.  I don't mind the first part - buying the properties.  It's when you have to trade and wheel and deal that I think it gets so stressful.  I am not a real estate mogul; I have zero idea of what a "good deal" is.

This was Mike during much of the game.  He was going through the ads making a Christmas list for himself.  I kept telling him he was going to lose if he didn't pay attention.

We had to explain the idea of purchasing property and what the overall goal of the game was to the kids.  Jake thought he should save him money and didn't understand the concept of buying all the property you could at first.

This is where it started to get interesting.  Maddie landed on a railroad and bought it.  Then she landed on another and bought that.  Within two times around the board she had landed on all four railroads.  I knew things weren't looking pretty at that point.

After she landed on those four properties, we all started landing on them.

"You owe me $200!!"

"$200, please"

"You have to pay me $200!!"

Then she just stayed with "$200, please!".  By the third or fourth time of this statement, always said in the exact same tone and manner, Jake mimicked her as he handed over his cash.  He gave a dead-on impersonation, let me tell you.

There came a point where we were pulling all our cash reserves just to pay her.  Then she obtained all the light blue colors and was able to put up a motel on everything.  When she got her first "rent" payment...she was delirious.

Then there was Mike.  In the beginning he rounded the board and landed on Chance, Community Chest or the squares where he owed taxes.  By the time we all had 5-6 properties he had one.  It wasn't looking pretty for him.

The kids started offering to give him money to get through.  Jake especially started feeling really bad and was tossing money in Mike's piles.  Mike had mortgaged his properties to pay off Maddie and then he made her some offer that was in exchange for her railroads with what he had left.

Suddenly this game got serious.  Maddie was having a hard time agreeing to the trade; she loved her railroads.  However, her dad was in serious jeopardy of getting kicked out of the game.

We told her it was a game; she didn't have to agree to the trade.  Jake started announcing that he got dibs on dad's properties.  Mike yelled, "I'm not dead yet!"

Maddie was still struggling...

In the end she said, "I can't do it.  I just love my railroads."  So she kept them and proceeded to kick our patooties with those $200 debts every time we rounded a corner.

Maddie and Jake are itching to play the game again.  Tonight we learned a new dominoes game from my parents' friends.  Hopefully I can steer them towards that come Friday game night!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Family Photo Shoot(s)

This past weekend we finally got our family pictures done!  This has been a month+ long project and I'm glad to put it behind us for another year!  I'm going to go out on a limb and assume the rest of the family is as well.

At the end of September I mentioned to Mike that I really wanted family pictures taken this fall.  I was going to be taking pictures of a few other families at the beginning of October and knew the fall colors would be great.  Well, life got in the way and Mike ended up heading to Iowa a week earlier than we planned - hence, no family pictures then.

However, I managed to drag the kids along figuring I would at least get pictures of them done and we'd wait another year for full family photos.

Isn't that orange purty?  Ahhh...loved it.  This was really just a practice shot before my neighbors arrived to have their picture taken, so it isn't glowing with sibling fondness, but I still like it.

But, then they were goofing around and I caught this....

This is very "them" right now.  This will be in a frame near our basement mantle...and probably in my piano studio...and possibly in Mike's office.  It may be attached to Christmas cards...the possibilities are endless!

I also took some shots of the kids separately.  Maddie's were okay but I've had better photo shoots with her.  Jake wasn't feelin' the modeling thing and I think I got three shots of him.  Here's the winner:

We tried posing together to kill some time.  That's always an exercise in humility as I run back and forth to get composed in 20 seconds.  This was our best shot, and I don't think any of us are in focus.  However, it's been forever since I've had a decent picture with just me and the kids so this will probably also be in my piano studio...

And that was our day in October.  I thought it was good and I got the "kid" shots that I wanted.  However, each week that passed by, I was more sad that we hadn't gotten a family picture taken together.  So, I made the executive decision towards the end of October that despite the lack of color, we would just suck it up and get our pictures taken.

Everyone was thrilled.  Not.

This took three reschedules as well.  Finally this past Saturday Tracy graciously came over to help me figure out what the heck our family was wearing (thanks, Tracy!!!).  I had already been shopping at her house in the morning and what she borrowed out to us didn't work.  Then I had been shopping with a "no-holds-barred" attitude for three hours.  I purchased four shirts, six scarves, four necklaces and one pair of earrings.  I will be returning four shirts, five scarves, and three necklaces.  We ended up borrowing a scarf from Tracy's neighbor and the extra jewelry not being returned is my family's way of thanking me for saving them from a shopping horror expedition.

We headed out to Hyland Park because I knew there would be shade, a lake and lots of fallen leaves.  I wasn't expecting to find any color left whatsoever.  However, when we arrived there was one beautiful tree.  All the leaves were still on it - it was a pretty gold that was going to look perfect with our outfits.  I was a happy girl.  Jake was wrapped in the blanket we had brought with to sit on.  Maddie was ready to put on her coat; it was windy.  Ridiculously windy.  So windy that we couldn't take our picture by the perfect tree that had been waiting for us because our hair would have looked like we were sitting through a tornado.

So, we hiked over to a little area I'd previously discovered with a perfect little wood wall to sit on.  I took pictures and ran back and forth.  In my uber-professionalism I realized after the first 10 shots that Jake's shirt collar was completely messed up.  By then the wind had kicked up more and we needed to find a spot with some serious wind blocking.

Here's what we ended up with: the first picture is our family shot this year.  The "Serious Windblocking" wasn't really happening but we did end up with some minor blocking and now it just looks like someone's blow-drying our hair:

While I got things set up, Mike and the kids were goofing off - possibly trying to wrestle to keep warm...

I did get another shot of Maddie and Jake that I liked.  Can I just say: Jake's hands on his knee?  Looks totally casual - except it was only placed liked that after I asked him to please unclench his white-knuckled fist and look relaxed.  He agreed to try between chattering teeth.

Here's a shot of Maddie solo.  Though you can't see them, her firsts are clenched too:

I can't decide which pictures of them I prefer - there's also this one:

And we managed to get an updated picture of Mike and I.  Pretty sure this hasn't been done since about 2007 or thereabouts...

Sadly, neither of us are too excited about this one.  It was the second picture I showed to Mike.  He said, "Okay...what else?" I told him that was it.  Two pictures turned out of the maybe 10 we shot.  By then it was 1) getting dark and 2) getting even more windy and chilly.

We headed to Biaggi's to finish celebrating Mike's birthday week and the wrap of Family Pictures: 2011.

Monday, November 7, 2011

40 Years!

At the end of October my parents celebrated their 40th anniversary!  So cool!  They've been a great example on how to work together, have fun and be best friends.

Tracy, Riley and I graffiti'd their driveway while they were away celebrating...

Mom and dad were surprised when they got back.  She said a few neighbors commented on the stunning artwork in their driveway and one neighbor kept saying, "40 years."

Here's to another 40 years, mom and dad!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Happy Day!

Today is a special day around here - it's Mike's birthday!

He's not terribly happy that he has to work; he usually tries to take the day off.  But hopefully we all can find a way to make the day a little more special for him.  It's just the boys home tonight and Jake offered that he and dad could go out to dinner - I wonder if that meant Jake was paying too?

Either way - he's a hero to us and we hope he has a fantastic day, work or not!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

You Should See the Other Guy

Jake came home this afternoon and I got a look at his face and said, "Yikes!"

He said he collided with another kid's head during recess while they were playing football.  This led me to suddenly realize he wasn't wearing his glasses.

He pulled those out.  He thinks they are reparable - me?  Not so much, but I'll try to stay optimistic.  Tomorrow we will be pulling out pair #2.  We constantly tell our kids that moms and dads can see into the future.  We knew there would come a day when we would be needing a back-up plan.