Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Our family has always been competitive. Very competitive. I realize people may find this odd and even unhealthy, but we don't. I grew up in a very competitive family (my dad used to do this winners dance around us when we lost at a board game-it was obnoxious) and Jamie's family was the same. A friend of our family was mortified the first time he played the girls in Sorry and they informed him that nobody wins second place, but rather second place is considered "first loser". Don't worry, the girls are fine. When we are not playing some sort of competitive game we strive to be incredibly affirming. :)

Anyway, in the early days of playing games with your children it does not require a whole lot to beat them. I can sort of pay attention when I am playing Princess Memory with Macie and still pull off a pretty easy victory. This is true of the games that require a certain measure of skill or memory. As Tori and Isabelle have gotten older they have managed to win a good number of games like Rack-o, Sorry, or Skip-Bo, where skill is involved, but also a good amount of luck. We have good competition but it is known that Mom and Dad still rule the roost in the family game world. But this past weekend I began to sense a change and I don't really like where it is headed.

Isabelle was out on a date with her pal Heather, so Tori, Macie and I took the opportunity to spend some quality girl time together. We headed to Caribou, got our respective drinks, and sat down to play some Rummy. Now, I admit I am not a great card player. I did not grow up playing traditional card games and there is definite skill in playing and knowing what has been played and what can yet be played and what the odds are, etc. I do not have this skill set, nor have I attempted to develop it very much. This defiiency has not seemed to deter me from remaining competitive in family card games with the girls (I rarely, if ever beat Jamie, but I have conceded this for sake of my own sanity). However, Friday night I appeared incredibly deficient. Tori's many hours of playing cards has seemed to pay off. I first thought I was the victim of her lucky draws, but after she beat me 6 straight times, I realized that I was losing to a superior player. Blah- shot to the ego. I did not intend to stay at Caribou that long, but Macie was lost in her own imaginary play world at the table next to us, so I determined to stay there until I could beat the little twerp. I finally beat her in the 7th game. It did not make me feel so great about myself to have a 1-6 record against my 9 year old, but at least I finally won once and could walk out with some measure of dignity.

We went home and she beat me three times at wii tennis. It was not my night so I just sent her off to bed feeling like my competitive days at the top of the Miller family game world had come to an end. I did not imagine this would happen to me at the young age of 34.

Saturday night the girls wanted us all to play wii bowling. After my dreadful showing the night before I was reluctant to compete again and not excited to be the token bad player in the competition (you know, the one who is playing but who nobody really pays attention to because there game has no real impact on who wins-sad). However, I determined in my mind that is was good to participate in the all family activity, so I gave it a try. Let's just say sweet redemption. I bowled a wii career high 237 and beat my entire family (including Jamie- even better). Somehow, I even strung together 6 straight strikes at one point in my bowling game. I did not gloat, as that would be bad sportsmanship, but I couldn't contain the joy of being restored to a position of worthy competitor. I almost thought to hang up the controller and go out on top, but the competitive side of me gained some hope that I still may have some game in me yet.

All that to say, I have a new rival. She is about 4 foot 7 inches tall. She is only 9 and looks like a sweet young girl, but don't be fooled. She is out for blood and will do whatever it takes to beat you. She has no mercy, even if you are her kind and loving mother. I suppose I am partially responsible for this, but I am going to place most of the blame on Jamie, maybe even Grandma Sue. :) Look out baby girl! Mama's back!

p.s. Now before you think I am the only one who needs to watch my back in the family game world- ask Jamie who beat him two games straight in wii tennis. The girls couldn't go to bed the other night until he beat her. Oy vey! The next few years are going to get interesting. :)

Friday, January 21, 2011

There is something about January that beckons me to a fresh start. I realize we are 21 days in already and whatever start I am referring to is seemingly late, but I have good reasons. I have been organizing thanks to a few, wonderful Christmas gifts from my family:

Of course, there is the new calendar. Dad takes great pride in choosing each of us girls a calendar to suit us for the year. Mine is called "Faithful Moments", and after the passing of Penny in 2010 it is a good and necessary thing to focus on God's "faithful moments" in my life. January's calendar picture has the following verse: "May our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father comfort your hearts . May they make you strong in every good thing you do and say" (I Thessalonians 2:16-17). Perfect.

As a stocking stuffer (my personal favorite kind of gift), my little sister Em got me this great sticky note book. It has great prints and is from a fun store in Des Moines in the East Village called Porch Light. At first I wasn't sure why they put all the sticky notes in a book together, but now I think it is sheer brilliance. I will no longer lose my sticky notes. Perfect.

Most of my organizing has been at home in the family room where my new desk is. :) It is simple and tucked away in the corner where our chest used to be. I found some fun accessories and of course, hung some pictures of the girlies to inspire me while I work on things. I have been helping Jamie with some Consumed Publishing ventures so this is a great and hopefully productive space for me. My previous computer desk was in the basement and I find that to be a little, well, uninspiring. ;) Thanks Phil and Sue and Mom for contributing to my "home office". It's perfect.

And last, but definitely not least, I have this new little toy from Jamie- my new ipad. He really came out of nowhere with this gift and I was in complete shock and disbelief when I opened it. As sweet as the ipad is, the story as to how Jamie was able to get if for me touched me probably more as God definitely worked out some details for it to happen. Apart from being a fascinating little piece of technology, the ipad allows me to take my music, my pictures, and my writings with me. I have missed this over the past couple year, especially when the weather is nice and I want to be outside listening to the girls play while I work. ipad- perfect.

So, there you go. A fresh, more organized start to 2011 thanks to some new gadgets and gifts from family. I make no promises to be planning meals a month, a week, or even a day in advance. And I am sure I will still forget things I need at the grocery store, but at least for now, I feel more organized which is really half the battle, right?

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Christmas Eve my sister Leah threw out that she was really excited about one of my gifts this year. She also gave me a bit of a riddle saying it was a gift I could not keep. Random. We opened all the gifts for our family and there was the one box left, wrapped in simple brown paper. I opened and saw a sight I had not seen in years....Baby Skates.
When I was young I had wanted Baby Skates so badly. She was a doll that you could wind up and she roller-skated across hard surfaces. I know...it is life changing. She didn't even need batteries.
The story goes that the Christmas I wanted Baby Skates my mom and dad had me open every other present and held my most coveted gift back. I opened what I thought to be my last present and much to my disappointment it was a pair of Disney roller skates. You may see where my parents were going with the roller skates, but I was upset and apparently not good at hiding it. I cried and complained that I really wanted Baby Skates (I am not proud of this behavior and am pretty sure I would take all my girls' gifts back if they acted that way). But my obviously gracious parents consoled me and revealed to me that indeed they had bought me Baby Skates and they had gotten me my own roller skates so the two of us could roller skate together. Oops. Baby Skates and I roller skated the day away in the kitchen and lived happily ever after...until she got thrown away or something because I have no idea what ever became of her.
So this year Leah learned somehow that her neighbor had a Baby Skates doll in the original box. She had contemplated selling it to Leah but didn't think she could part with it (I am sure you can understand why). She was gracious enough to let Leah borrow it so we could relive some Stafford family Christmas lore. It is not my proudest Christmas moment but funny nonetheless. I was a much more gracious recipient this year and even gave it back without crying.
I hope you made some memories this holiday season and maybe even reflected on some old ones. Blessings in the New Year!