The Benefits of Board Games

Are you feeling overwhelmed by the thought of shopping for family members and friends this December? Tired of the latest electronic gadgets and gizmos?

Over the years, I’ve grown to value experiences more than things. Spending quality time with love ones results in closer relationships. This week’s post celebrates the benefits of board games. But not all board games are fun for everyone. Monopoly and Risk are both elimination games which take too long too play.

My favorite board games:

  • Keep every player hopeful that anyone might win.
  • Involve skill in addition to chance.
  • Are interesting.
  • Promote creativity.

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Many of you are already familiar with my family’s affection for Ticket to Ride. (Days of Wonder) After two years, we still play this game every Sunday afternoon. It’s developed into a habit we can’t seem to break. In this two to five player game each person draws tickets with specified routes. Players receive points for placing their train cars on tracks which connect various U. S. cities. At the end of the game, each player reveals their routes and completed trips. Points are either awarded or deducted based on the number of trips completed. All players remain in the game until the end and the winner is always a surprise.

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The 1910 expansion pack is a good idea for anyone purchasing Ticket to Ride. It contains larger playing cards and additional routes. At the end of the game a player can earn the fifteen point Globetrotter bonus card for the most completed trips.

 

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Our second favorite family board game is Beyond Balderdash.(Parker Brothers) This game has been around for awhile. We like it better than the original Balderdash because it includes a movie category. The object of Beyond Balderdash is to make up written answers which bluff the other players. A dasher reads all the answers submitted and includes the real answer in the mix. Points are awarded for fooling other players, as well as for choosing the real and often unbelievable answer.

My family members enjoy coming up with witty blurbs to describe each movie. The title of one movie was “Madhouse.” My husband, Herb submitted this summary: “An out of control builder takes his anger out on his wife by building her a two-story house without a staircase.” Beyond Balderdash inspires our creativity and can be played by as many as seven players.

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Lost Cities (Kosmos) is a card game for two players. Herb and I love this game because it’s very compact for travel and only takes thirty minutes to play. The object of the game is to form expedition routes and earn discovery points. Players draw cards and organize them in numerical order. At the end of each round, points are awarded for cards played which exceed the cost of each expedition.

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Splendor (Days of Wonder) is an artistic and mathematical game designed for up to four players. Each player takes on the role of a rich merchant during the Renaissance. As a merchant you collect gems and gold tokens that can used to buy development cards. Some development cards carry point values. Each player tries to be the first to reach the sum of fifteen points and win the game.

A good board game never goes out of style and can bring family entertainment for years. Leave a comment and let me know your opinion of any of these games, or offer a suggestion for something we haven’t tried.

 

See No Weevil

Do you like oatmeal? It’s a nutritious and low calorie food. Oatmeal is even more nutritious if you throw a few weevils into your bowl. What? Weevils?

One morning I decided to prepare some of the oatmeal that had been sitting in my pantry for months. I think I should also mention I wasn’t wearing my glasses at the time.

I scooped the oatmeal into a bowl, added the recommended amount of water, and slid the bowl into the microwave. When the cook time finished, I removed the bowl and carried it to the table. I mixed in a couple of spoonfuls of brown sugar, poured a little milk on top, and began to eat while I scanned emails on my phone.

Suddenly I took a closer look into my bowl. What are those funny black specks? Hey, wait a minute, those don’t look normal. 

I walked back in the kitchen and opened the oatmeal container. Brown things were crawling inside! I felt sick to my stomach. Could those things be weevils in the larvae stage? Oh no, I already ate two spoonfuls. Of course, whenever anyone needs medical information, who should you turn to, but Google. Of course, Google knows everything.

Weevils are small beetles that feed on grains. Their larvae is often found in packaged flour, cornmeal, cereals, and dog food. Weevils don’t break inside sealed packages, they are already inside as eggs. When the time is right they hatch.

I was greatly relieved that according to my internet source, weevils are not harmful to people or pets. Heating kills them, so that made me feel a little better. One site even shared that weevils could be considered a protein source . Actually, all of us have probably eaten a few weevils during our lifetime. Maybe we were  totally unaware of their presence.

Even though I felt a little better, that doesn’t mean I finished my oatmeal.  I poured it down the garbage disposal and got rid of the whole package of oats. I decided to eat a bagel with cream cheese instead. This was not a time to think about losing weight. 

The moral of the story: Take a close look (with your glasses on) inside any container of grains in order to be sure you “see no weevil.”

Readers, I hope this story has brightened your election week. Tomorrow many of us may be voting on  “the lesser of two weevils.”

“Roughing It” at Silver Springs

Yummy! There’s nothing like a hotdog roasted over a campfire. Here I am with Team Buddy for another Florida State Park campout. I like to kid myself by thinking I’m “living off the land.” Pay no attention to our Viking trailer in the background. Which by the way is equipped with a microwave, air conditioner, and bathroom. Everyone needs a few creature comforts.

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During our latest adventure we spent a few days exploring Silver Springs State Park. In case you’re unfamiliar with Silver Springs, it was Florida’s first tourist attraction. The largest artesian springs in the world are located here. Everyday 550 million gallons of water flow out of the springs and into the Silver River. Visitors can take a glass bottom boat trip or rent a kayak and view the beautiful plants and animals which thrive in these crystal clear waters. The banks of  the Silver River provided a perfect place for settlers to build their homesteads. A replica village is open to the public at the Silver River Museum.  On weekends, visitors can walk through a pioneer settlement and hear stories of what Florida life was like in the 1890’s. Compared to the pioneers, my idea of “roughing it” is misinformed at best.

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The early settlers in Florida had to make or grow everything they used. The broom pictured above was created by tying a palmetto leaf to a branch.  Fire was always a threat to their homes. The area around the cabin had to be raked and swept of any debris which might burn.

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A family of eleven lived in this replica of their two room cabin. The parents slept in the bedroom with the baby. The boys slept on the porch. The girls slept on the floor of the sitting area. The bed in the corner was reserved for the teacher of the community. Teachers were not paid but received room and board in local homes.

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The kitchen was built separate from the sleeping area in order to keep the heat out of the house and reduce the fire risk. Gourds were used as pitchers. Various utensils were constructed from natural materials found in the woods. Sugar cane syrup was used as a sweetener.

Did you know that the term blacksmith was coined as a name for someone who works with black metal? IMG_6222

During our visit a museum volunteer, Al Duane, demonstrated how to make a metal hook. In this community the metal was shipped in by boat from the northern U.S.  Blacksmiths made nails, tools, and cutlery.  Each member of the family had one set of cutlery which was expected to last them until they grew to adulthood.

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I had to get a photo of the outhouse, complete with a corncob. With no running water, the pioneers only bathed once a month. They used lye soap which they made themselves.  If you didn’t let it cure for twelve weeks, it would tear your skin off. Each family member had two sets of clothes. Laundry was done with a washboard and a tub.

I think this is a pretty good description of “roughing it.” A trip to the Silver River Museum makes me appreciate the conveniences I have today.  The museum is hosting Ocali Country Days on November 10th and 11th, 2018. For more information about this educational event click on the link.

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Ocean View Camping at Gamble Rogers

Herb, Buddy, and I kicked off our fall camping season by spending two nights at Gamble Rogers. Upon our arrival, a friendly ranger greeted us with a smile. “Welcome to your new favorite park.”

She was right. We absolutely fell in love with our campsite which overlooked Flagler Beach. The rhythm of the waves provided a constant soundtrack, and the ocean breeze kept us cool. We felt fortunate to camp here. The park is small and campsites fill up quickly. We had waited months for an oceanside site.

Additional campsites are located near the Intracoastal waterway.  For a small park it has much to offer in the way of recreation. Visitors can swim, kayak, and bike on the A1A bike path.  A pet friendly beach is within walking distance just outside the park.

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We walked Buddy through the dog gate to a ramp that led down to the ocean. It was his first experience seeing anything so powerful. While Hurricane Michael was reeking havoc many miles away in the panhandle, its effects could be seen here. Buddy didn’t want to get near the water and prepared to make a quick exit. (Maybe he knew the red warning flags meant danger).

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In 1991, the heavy surf at Flagler beach claimed the lives of Florida folk musician Gamble Rogers and a Canadian tourist. Gamble tried to help the Canadian who was struggling to swim. Both men drowned. Before his tragic death, Rogers was known as “Florida’s Troubadour.”  As a folk musician, Rogers was recognized for his gifted guitar playing, singing, and storytelling. The park was renamed Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area in his honor. Looking out over the powerful waves I’m reminded of how dangerous they really are. Yet, there are peaceful times as well, at dawn, when God reveals his glory in the sunrise.

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This short trip provided me with the opportunity to rest and reflect upon scripture.

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Gamble Rogers laid down his life for a stranger. But maybe Gamble didn’t consider this person a stranger. Maybe he thought of everyone as a friend.

 

 

Do you like your job?

I think most people would agree there are things they like and dislike about their job. In my featured photo I’m shown working at my desk when I taught third grade. I look happy. Maybe this was taken on a Friday after school dismissed!

Now that I’m retired, I look back on my career with amazement. How did I do it? How does any teacher manage to fulfill all the expectations of the position? The only way I survived was by learning how to multi-task. Somehow teachers manage to take attendance, listen to morning announcements, and keep an eye on the class all at the same time. Jacks of all trades, teachers fulfill many roles.

On Labor Day, we pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. For most workers our jobs are the most important thing in our lives.  After years of working at the same job, we begin to identify ourselves by our career. When introduced to someone, we ask, “What do you do for a living?” This pattern continues during retirement, “What did you retire from?”

It’s difficult for people to retire because it’s hard to imagine a life without work. Some feel like life will have no purpose or meaning. I’m often asked, “So what do you do all day?”

“I fill my days in much the same way I did during summer vacation. The big difference is I never reach a date on the calendar when I start to feel anxious about school starting again.”

We confuse the value of our work with the amount of money we receive for it. When I stayed at home to care for my preschool children, I received no income, but the experiences we shared were invaluable. Our “self-worth” should not be dependent on our level of income.

Do you feel undervalued at work? Comedian George Carlin said, “The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.”

Too bad Mr. Carlin seems to have forgotten, the butterfly once was the caterpillar.

One of my favorite scriptures reads, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23,24 NIV

If I work at something with all my heart, I feel content knowing I’ve done my best, even if no one else seems to notice.

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Engaging in our work changes us. Our “on the job experiences” teach us new skills. By trial and error we learn new ways of problem solving to accomplish our goals. Eventually we discover that like the monarch, we can fly!

Happy Labor Day!

If you’ve enjoyed my musings about work, please subscribe to be notified of future posts. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have You Abandoned Cursive?

On Father’s Day my family had an interesting discussion about cursive handwriting.  My husband said he practiced cursive with a fountain pen.  This laborious method involved dipping the pen in a bottle of ink. He continued to write in cursive throughout grade school. Now his handwriting is practically illegible. He tells me, “I can read it right after I write it, but if it sits there awhile I can’t understand it.”

As a parent, I forced my son to practice cursive every day for a whole summer, yet none of those exercises improved his penmanship. I remember being embarrassed during a parent teacher conference. A middle school teacher described his handwriting as primitive. Today he’s a successful attorney who signs documents electronically with an x.

Prior to the adoption of Common Core Standards, cursive was a large part of the third grade curriculum. My featured photo is from a worksheet I distributed every year to my third graders. Prior to retiring in 2013, I loved teaching cursive. Most of the children were excited about learning it. I remember spending hours grading their handwriting. I proudly displayed their excellent work on a bulletin board. Today I wonder if any of them still write in cursive.

For most schools, cursive is out and keyboarding is in. My husband and son think cursive should not be taught and view it as a waste of time. I can’t imagine living without cursive. I journal, take notes, make grocery lists, and sign my name in cursive. I think of it as a more efficient way to write.

My mom, age 85, joined our discussion. “What about people’s signatures? Isn’t that important?”

“Not anymore, Grandma,” my son responded. “Who writes checks? I pay all my bills online.”

Grandma shook her head. “Not me.”

In the distant past, cursive was considered a trademark of literacy. Mastering this skill meant you could not only write, but read other’s cursive. If cursive is no longer taught, future generations won’t be able to read historical documents. Journals and letters written by family members who’ve passed on will not be understood by their children. I imagine technology already exists to scan cursive and turn it into print. And the reverse, creating script from print. This seems so impersonal. A person’s handwriting used to say a lot about themselves.

What will become of people who analyze handwriting? According to graphologist, Kathi McKnight, cursive gives a good indication of our personalities. She asks people to write a simple sentence in cursive. A right slant means you’re open to others and like to socialize. A left slant means you like to work alone. No slant at all indicates you tend to be logical and practical.

I guess graphologists will be out of a job. Too bad, Kathi.

I’m afraid cursive has become an ancient artform. Its continuation now relegated for parents to teach at home. By the way, Amazon sells workbooks for adults and children. But what child wants to spend their summer vacation practicing cursive? Ask my son. It didn’t work for him.

Have you abandoned cursive? Do you think teaching it in school is a waste of time? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. I’m growing my audience and would love to have you as one of my followers.

 

 

Cardinal Virtues

This spring a cardinal family visited our enclosed patio. The parents were fussing because their baby couldn’t fly above the fence to make an exit. The baby would flap its wings, rise a bit, then fall back to the ground. For a few minutes I debated whether or not to intervene. Should I pick the baby up and carry it somewhere?

I knew the nest wasn’t in our courtyard. I sought out my Facebook friends, who responded with a number of ideas. “Cover it with a towel and take it back to a grassy area.” Another person told me, “Don’t move the baby without a clothes basket on your head because the father cardinal will attack you.” My husband told me to wait and see what happens. (That’s usually his advice about most things.)

I watched the cardinal family for an hour through the back door window.  Finally the baby cardinal made it to the top of the table. Encouraged by his mother, he managed to fly from the table to the top of the fence.  My husband got a terrific photo of him preparing for final take off.

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This event sparked my curiosity. I wanted to know more about cardinals. I discovered they were named after the red robes of the cardinals of the Catholic Church. Immediately the term “cardinal virtues” came to mind.  I applied the seven virtues to a cardinal’s behavior.

Faith: Believing the promises of God. Cardinals stay in the same general vicinity twelve months out of the year.  God provides for them through the cold, grey winter months. The male cardinal’s red color reminds us to “keep the faith” during bleak times.

Prudence: The ability to use foresight, knowing when it’s the right time to take action. Since cardinals do not migrate, they grow extra feathers and eat more to prepare for winter.

 Hope: Cardinals sing cheery songs which lift our spirits and encourage us to persevere through trials.

Love: Male and female cardinals mate for life and share the duties of child raising. The female cardinal calls to the male who responds by bringing her food when she’s nesting.

Justice: Male and female cardinals sing together. Both compliment one other. Each gender has a “voice” in cardinal matters.

Temperance: Both male and female cardinal parents restrain themselves from exploring other interests when they are raising their young. Cardinal babies hop around on the ground for a few days until they learn to fly. The parents stay close by to feed and protect their young.

Courage: A male cardinal is a fierce defender of the nest. He will attack other birds, cats, dogs, and snakes who intrude upon his territory. Males are know to even attack their reflection in a window (side-note: Intelligence isn’t one of the seven virtues).

I’m impressed. After I shared the extensive list of cardinal virtues, my husband asked, “What about the seven cardinal sins?”

I guess that’s one cardinal matter I’ll never know.