Saturday, December 12, 2009

World's Record

LilKat1 and I were at Costco looking at the books. LilKat1 found a book about World's Records. He found some interesting things like a guy that set the record for putting on the most t-shirts at one time. He saw the High School Musical kids who apparently had the World's Fastest selling soundtrack album. Then he came to a picture of Britney Spears. He looks at it for a second and says, "Dad...is this the record for the World's Smallest Shirt?"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Advent

Wow...it's been busy around here lately. I started a new basketball clinic for kids at our church. It's kind of a pilot program right now. It's a small 4 week session made up of kids from my Sunday School class and around the neighborhood. In January, I'm planning on doing a larger session that's open to everyone else. So that's one thing keeping us busy. But we've also got ADVENT!

A couple of Christmas's ago, we started doing a new thing where we give our kids almost all of their Christmas presents before Christmas. The idea is that getting the presents out of the way will make it easier for us to truly celebrate Jesus' birthday. And it's been working great for the past 2 years! I like it because less importance is placed on the presents. The kids like it because they get their presents early. (Mrs. BigKat is not as thrilled about the new system as I am, but she does see the need for it and enjoys the fact that it's working so well.)

Anyhow, at church, they asked us, as a family, to light the Advent candle this Sunday. And my job is to tell about our family traditions that help us keep Jesus as the focus of Christmas. Now everyone at church will get to hear about my crazy idea!

There's another Advent activity that LilKat1 and I are doing. It's actually something that I'm doing with my Sunday School class. We're doing an Advent Calendar, but it's a little different than your normal Advent calendar. You know the calendars where you open up the doors and eat the little chocolates (or get Legos or whatever)? Well, instead of getting things, we're giving things. Each day leading up to Christmas, we're giving a gift of service to Jesus. On our calendar, we write down something we can do to share God's love with someone else for each day of the month. Then, as we give our gifts of service, we draw hearts around whatever day it is to mark down what we did. For example, one day LilKat1 spent some time with his sister playing her favorite game. Another day, he emailed his favorite Bible verse to his grandmother. Another time, he helped make cookies, which we sold to help raise money to buy blankets for poor people in India to help them stay warm during the winter. So on Sunday, I'll be able to talk about our Advent Calendar too!

Here's a little video I made for my Sunday School class to illustrate the idea:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sunday School Video #2

This is the video I did this week for Sunday School. The kids enjoyed this one quite a bit. I enjoy these videos because they are reminiscent of the puppet shows that I used to do in class. Those puppet shows were great. The kids LOVED them. Even the grownups liked them. Our youth pastor would actually try to make time to be in our class when we were doing the puppet shows so that he could watch. They were one of the main highlights of the class.

But then my puppet show partner went to a different class, and I couldn't do them anymore with her. Mrs. BigKat filled in and did them with me for a year after that. But then she started helping out with the littler kids. I didn't have a partner anymore, so we had no more puppet shows.

For the past couple of years, I've been trying to think of a way to bring them back. I remembered a friend of mine doing a video for a class in high school using his GI Joes and Star Wars figures. I figured that with my new Vado, it would be fairly easy to get a set of toy-based videos like that done. I'm hoping that I can put these out every week or two for the kids. Now that soccer season is over, I have a bit more free time (and energy) to do stuff like this.

Here's the video:

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sunday School Video

Today at Sunday School, I'm teaching about Joseph. We're learning about how, no matter what happened to Joseph, God was with him. Even though Joseph went through all sorts of bad times, God was able to use them for His good purposes. To help illustrate how God can make great things happen from our bad situations, I made a little video using some of LilKat1's toys. I'm showing it in class this morning. I hope the kids like it!

Here it is:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

You want a What?

This conversation just happened at our house:

LilKat1: Mom, I want a French bagel.

Mrs. BigKat: A what?

LilKat1: A French bagel!

Mrs. BigKat: What’s that?

LilKat1: (thinking)

LilKat1: (thinking)

LilKat1: AAAAA! I mean an English muffin!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Turducken 2.0


Just saw this link. When a regular turducken isn't enough, now you can get your turducken stuffed inside a pig. Sounds like a good idea, but I'm actually waiting for the next version when they stick the pig turducken into a cow.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Black is Positive

I was leaving the parking lot after LilKat2's soccer game today, when an African-American guy asked me if I could help jump start his car. I parked my truck next to his car and popped open my hood. He hooked one end of the jumper cables up to his car and handed me the other end. Then he said:

Ok, red is positive, black is negative...well, black is really positive...but you know...society...
I thought it was pretty funny. But he felt he had to tell me that black was really negative a couple of times, just in case I didn't understand his joke and tried to put the cables in the wrong place.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Box Tops


This week at school, LilKat2 learned that if his class collects the most 'Box Tops', then they'll get to have a party. Well, I don't know if his teacher told him that they're having the party at Disneyland or that maybe that Boba Fett's going to show up with an ice cream cake. But whatever it was she said...it worked. LilKat2 is a highly motivated little boy when it comes to Box Tops.

Yesterday, he was searching through cupboards, pulling out boxes of cereal, scanning the tops and bottoms of anything cardboard and rectangular for the pink Box Top picture. When I came downstairs, I saw him holding a huge pair of kitchen scissors, wearing a very determined look on his face, about to carve off the bottom of a full box of Kleenex.

Here's the conversation we ended up having:

Me: LilKat2, you aren't allowed to cut open that box. There's stuff in there.

LilKat2: But my teacher says we need Box Tops. We need to get the most so we can have a party.

Me: But there's stuff in the box.

LilKat2: But we need them.

Me: But you can't cut it open. We need it to hold the stuff.

LilKat2: But we need them.

Me: Besides, you aren't even allowed to use those big scissors.

LilKat2: But we need them.

(and so on)

He is a boy on a mission. I am fully expecting to find little rectangular holes in any box in our pantry from now until June.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

New Goals

Remember back here, when I talked about the 6th grade girl who could beat me in a 400? Well, I saw her this Sunday. She's now in 7th grade, and I asked her if she's gotten any faster. She informed me that she can run a 6 minute mile.

Ugh...

Well, I've decided that the 6 minute mile is now my new goal. I gave it a shot this morning to see where I stood. It was good running weather, not too cold. Just nice and crisp. I did a mile warmup to get myself ready and then took off.

Within the first 100 meters, I knew that I was in trouble. I figured I was running close to a 6 minute pace, but I could feel my legs already starting to get mad at me. At half a mile, I was starting to get pretty tired. At around the 3/4 mark, I noticed that I was breathing really had and had slowed down considerably. I picked up my pace as much as I could so that I could finish strong. My final time:

6:56...

I have a lot of work to do...which is actually fine by me. Having silly goals like this makes my running a lot more fun.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

School Bus II

Last year, I wrote about how fun LilKat1's school bus is. Turns out, it's even more fun that I thought it was.

Every once in a while on a Friday, the bus driver will declare that it's 'Jelly Bean Friday'. Know what that means? Jelly beans for everyone! You don't even get stuff like that on airplanes!

Our bus driver is also good about making sure kids cross the street correctly. If they cross without looking, he'll make them go back and do it again. Back when I was a kid, I don't think the bus driver cared if you got home. As long as you got off the bus, that was good enough for her.

Our bus driver has also changed our designated stop so that it's closer to our house. Our stop is supposed to be down at the corner of our street (about 50 yards away). But since LilKat1 and LilKat2 are the only ones to get picked up at our stop, the bus driver will just stop wherever we happen to be standing. Over the past few days, LilKat1 and I have tried standing closer and closer to our house to see how far he'll go away from the designated stop. Today, we stood right at the edge of our next door neighbor's house and, sure enough, the bus stopped right in front of us. When I was a kid, I think our mean bus lady would probably have done the opposite and driven around the corner and made us run to catch up with her.

And here's the most recent cool thing that has happened with our bus driver. LilKat1 and I were standing at the bus stop, when we saw the bus come around the corner and pick up some kids down the street. I heard him saying something to them over his speaker, but couldn't quite make it out. When the bus come over and pulled up in front of us, I noticed that there were no kids in the bus. LilKat1 got on and started walking to the back. Right as he got to the middle of the bus, all of the kids jumped up and once and said 'HAHHHHHHHHH!' Oh, that was too funny! It really made me laugh.
Then, LilKat1 quickly hopped into his seat and joined the others in getting ready to surprise the kids at the next stop.
When LilKat1 go home, I found out that they did this at all of the stops. Some of the stops were better than others (they said 'HAAHHHHHHHH!' a bit too early at a couple of places). But it sounded like a very fun time.

You know, it's too bad that they don't do stuff like this on regular buses and trains. I think that public transportation in general would be more popular if they did.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Phone Fishing II

Remeber my Phone Fishing story? Well, I got a good one today! FOUR AND A HALF MINUTES!

Know what worked for me? Everytime I heard her start to say something, I said 'Hang on a minute! I'm almost done!' I think I must've said that about 10 times.

Hopefully, I'll be able to break the 5 minute barrier at some point!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New Logos

I finally got around to finishing the boys' soccer team logos. Here's LilKat1's logo. His team is the Bakugan Battle Blazer Penguins:
LilKat1 liked this logo. First of all, it has one of his favorite Bakugan's on it. And second the penguin is in his Super Mario Smash Bros. game, so he works for both 'Battle' and 'Penguin'.

Here's the logo for LilKat2's team:

Ok, this one was kind of funny. The boys didn't know what to make of it. First of all, LilKat1 told me that the firecracker wasn't a firecracker. It was a bomb. And they couldn't figure out where the coyote was.

Our conversation went something like this:

Them: Dad, who's that guy in the picture?

Me: Who's the guy?!?!?!?! That's the Coyote!

Them: That's not a coyote.

Me: Of course it is! That's the Coyote! Wile E. Coyote!

(puzzled stares)

LilKat1: He looks like a rabbit.
So of course I had to fire up YouTube and find a RoadRunner cartoon for them to watch. So now they know who the Coyote is. Kids these days...


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Vado HD

A little while ago, I saw the Creative Vado HD go on sale for $99, so I picked one up. It's a compact video camera that fits in your pocket and records HD video. I've been wanting something like this to carry around with me when I'm out with the kids. I don't always want to lug around my standard video camera when we go to the park or the beach or the zoo. I want to be able to capture all the fun, cute, spontaneous kid moments that pop up all the time and be able to easily share them with my friends and family.

I knew there would be a couple of downsides. First of all, there's no image stabilization, so if you don't hold your hand steady, things can get a little shaky. Another downside is that there's no zoom. I considered waiting to see if the price would drop on something like the Canon Powershot 780IS (a fancy point and shoot camera that does HD video and has image stabilization). But since my main priority was to get something that was super-easy to shoot and share video with (and pay under $100), the Vado HD won out.

Turns out it works quite well! The video quality is quite nice, better than my old (non-HD) camcorder. The image stabilization isn't too big of a problem since I'm just taking family movies. I like being able to plug the Vado into the HDMI port on our tv and watch videos right away. And the software installed on the Vado for uploading to Youtube and Photobucket is very convenient.

Here's a video that I made while playing around with it. It's a tour of my home office and boardgame collection.

In the Toy Aisle

I was at Target the other day looking around the toy aisle. A mom and her sons were near me. They were buying a birthday present for someone and were having a hard time picking it out. It was pretty funny to watch. Some of the stuff was funny because it's stuff that I've said many times in the past when picking out presents, but some of the stuff was brand new. Here are a few of the highlights...

Mom: Now remember...we're not picking out something for you. We're picking out something for Brandon...

Boy 1: We HAVE to get THIS! He needs THIS!
Mom: Does he even like G.I. Joe?
Boy 1: What's G.I. Joe?
Mom: Ummm...that thing in your hand...

(Boys are trying to decide on which Transformer to get their friend)
Boy 1: Oh, we should buy this one!
Boy 2: No...we can't get him that one...That's from the OLD Testament.

(Boys can't decide on which Transformer to get. Boy 1 wants Transformer A. Boy 2 wants Transformer B. So Mom comes up with a brilliant idea.)
Mom: Ok, I'm putting these both behind my back. And whichever one gets picked, that'll be the one we get. And no complaining!
Boy 1 (pointing to his mom's left arm): THAT ONE!

(Mom looks at box...it's Transformer A. Boy 1 is very pleased...)

Mom: You were peeking! That's why you chose that one!

(Mom not sure about what to do...)

Mom: Fine, I'm just going to pick one.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Donut Store

Our church does not have a fellowship hall. After church, if you want to hang out and talk with your friends, there really isn't a great place to do that. There is an area right outside the main room that people just kind of stand in if they want to talk. But it's not very wide and if you hang out in one place, you basically get in everyone else's way.

For the past few summers, I've been suggesting that they take some tables and chairs and put them outside on the patio. That way people can sit outside and have a comfortable place to chat. Unfortunately, I no one's listened to me because it's never happened.

Well, the other week, Mrs. BigKat and I decided to make it happen. Not only that, but we also made it into a cool service project for kids! As a parent, I know how hard it is to find good service opportunities for young kids, so part of what I do as a Sunday School teacher is to come up with creative ways to get the kids involved in ministry. Last winter, our Sunday School class found out about a need in India. There are families there who have no doors on their houses and no blankets to protect them from the cold in the winter. So our class raised money during February to help provide blankets for them. I had planned on having my class do another 'Blanket Month' project in September. But we saw a great opportunity to have the kids get it kick started in August. That led to the creation of...

THE SUNDAY SCHOOL DONUT STORE!!!

Here's the plan. Each Sunday in August, between 1st and 2nd service, our kids will run a Donut Store in front of the church. We'll have tables and chairs so that people can have a comfortable place to relax and enjoy donuts with their friends. There are a bunch of different jobs for the kids: making signs, creating table decorations, passing out flyers, serving lemonade, collecting money. The donuts cost a dollar each, and the money will go towards buying blankets for families in India. So not only do our kids get a chance to help out people who need help, but our congregation gets a place for people to socialize after church.

Last week was our first Sunday. I wasn't sure at all how many donuts to buy. At first, I was going to go with 3 dozen. But we decided to bump it up to 4 dozen. We had considered 5 dozen, but really didn't want to be stuck with any leftover donuts, so we just stuck with 4.

Turns out we really didn't have to worry about leftovers! After first service, people started lining up at the Donut Store. And I mean EVERYONE! The 4 dozen donuts were gone in a couple of minutes, and there was still a line going into the parking lot. And people were very generous. Our 4 dozen donuts led to $128 in donations. That's 25 blankets! Next week, we've decided to bump it up to 15 dozen and see how that works.

I think this will be a great illustration for the kids to show that God can use anyone for ministry. When we're helping others in Jesus' name, God can do amazing things through us. We might be limited, but He is not. I am very excited to see how the next four Sundays go!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fixed




This is a great idea. Next time our house needs fixing, I'm raiding the boys' Lego bins...

You can see more pictures here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Pizza Videos

I think we're having pizza night on Friday. Seems like a good opportunity to try to beat this guy's record:


I also saw this video. Nice to know that if I ever get lost in the woods, I'll be able to survive on pizza instead of having to eat bugs or something.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Get Clean...FAST!

I pride myself on being able to take fast showers. I think showers take up too much time, especially if your exercise routine or yardwork or whatever has you taking multiple showers a day. I realize that people need to take them in order to not be stinky, but each minute wasted in the shower is a minute that you could've been doing something else, like playing boardgames or eating fudgsicles or learning how to whistle by putting your fingers in your mouth (something I've recently been trying, unsuccessfully, to master).

Here are some tips to help you minimize your time in the shower so that you can have more time for doing fun stuff:

  • The most important thing is to stay focused. Your goal is to get in and out as quickly as possible. No wasted movements. You need to be efficient. (But at the same time, don't cut any corners. You still need to get clean!)
  • Those poofy sponge things may look like they're for girls, but they will definitely get you clean faster. Yeah, your friends might make fun of you. But you know what? They're the ones wasting their precious minutes with inefficient washcloths or whatever else they're using. I figure that over the course of a year, your time saved using the poofy sponge will have allowed you to have mixed and drank at least 300 glasses of chocolate milk more than your slow friends. Who's laughing now?
  • You need to figure out the right amount of shower gel to use. Using too little is a huge mistake. Having to reopen the bottle and squeeze out more soap is a big time waster. Better to use a little more than you think you'll need. Don't use too much though, because you'll end up wasting time at the end wringing the excess soap out of your sponge.
  • Keep your hair as short as possible. Shave your head if you can (this will also save you money, since you can do it yourself without having to go to the barber). Less hair on your head means less hair to clean, and less soap to rinse out. Most importantly, it takes less time to dry.
  • A shower gel that says 'For Hair and Body' will make it so that you only have to open and squeeze one bottle. Definitely a good investment.
  • Make sure your water temperature is a little too hot or a little too cold for your liking. This will help prevent you from wanting to hang out in the shower.
  • If you have glass windows on your shower, you'll need to wipe them down. I use a squeegee thing with the following technique: Bend your arms and/or back so that your shoulder is positioned midway between the top and bottom of the window. Unless you have an unusually tall shower door, this should allow you to clean the window with up and down arm movements only (moving your back or legs will slow you down. Arm movements are much quicker.). Start on one side and use a shuffle-step to move on as you wipe off each section.
  • For clothes, t-shirts and baggy basketball shorts are by far the fastest clothes to put on. I try and stick with those exclusively. And try to get socks that aren't too tight. Remember, getting dressed is part of the deal too. You don't want to waste any time here either.

Now, you might be a little skeptical. You might be thinking to yourself, can I really save that much time doing these things? Well, let's see...how long do you normally take in the shower each day? 15 minutes? 20 minutes? A half hour?

Well, yesterday, I used my stopwatch and timed myself. I was able to get cleaned AND dressed in 3 minutes 59.31 seconds. Clean and dressed in under 4 minutes!

While you were wasting a half an hour with your bar soap and your washcloths and your singing and your separate bottle of shampoo and your just right temperature water and your shirt with buttons, I was able to get cleaned, dressed, eat a bowl of cereal, and watch a whole episode of Happy Days.

See? I knew you'd begin to see it my way. And don't worry. With the right focus, the right tools, and a little practice, you too could be a Sub-Four Minute Showerer. Good luck!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

..and NEW World's Champion

To start off, I have to give a little background...

About a month or two ago, I had a 6th grade helper, E, in my Sunday School class (the sister of one of my 1st graders, S). We were at the part of class where the kids tell me interesting things that they've done during the week. S told me that his sister won 1st place in the 400 at a track meet. I asked her what her time was and she said that she ran a 1:09.

I wondered if I could run a 1:09 too. I used to run track, but I hadn't done any middle distance in a looooong time. Well, the following Monday, I went to the track to see how I would do. I figured if a 6th grade girl could run a 1:09, surely I could run something close to that.

WRONG!

I ran my lap and clocked in at a very unblistering 1:25. I was glad that E wasn't there racing against me because it would've been embarrassing. As it was, it probably just looked to everyone like I was doing a slow warm up lap. (Oh, by the way, E was very encouraging to me. I told her that I had run a 1:25 and she said 'That's not so bad! I have a friend who ran a 1:23!' I asked her what grade her friend was in, and she replied 'Fifth'. Great...)

I decided that I was going to start training to beat 1:09 so that I would no longer be slower than a 6th grade girl. I started doing interval training during the week instead of my normal slow jog. My workout was a mile and a half warmup followed by a couple of 400's and a couple of 300's (or 200's if I was too tired).

It didn't take long to see the results. Within a week, I was down to 1:13. The next week, it was down to 1:11. And finally...a 1:09!

I saw E at church and proudly told her that I had tied her time. She told me that that was really good! She also informed me that her other friend (also a 6th grader) ran a 1:07!

yay...

Ok, so now I had a new goal. But it wasn't so bad. I got my 1:07 just last Friday!

I think that I can now safely say that I am faster than all 6th grade girls in the entire world (doesn't count if their last name is Bolt, Lewis, Devers, or Joyner-Kersey).

Oh yeah, and that thing about the NEW World's Champion? Well, running my 400's has also helped speed up my one and a half mile warmup time. It used to take my a little over 12 minutes to run it. Today, I clocked in at 10:47! My own personal best! It seemed pretty fast, so I looked up what the Track and Field World's Record is for the mile and a half. Turns out there isn't any! There's records for the 1500, mile, 2000, and 3000. But no mile and a half. I must be the first, so I guess that makes me that Champ. I just need to figure out who to email my time to at the US Track & Field Association, so that they can update their World's Record page.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Phone Fishing

People don't usually think of telemarketer calls as fun, but you know what? They can be. Today, I got a call and decided to find out how long I could keep them on the phone for. They asked for me and I told them that I would go get 'him'. I set the phone down and started the clock. While they were waiting, I would say something every once in a while to keep them on as long as possible. You know, kind of like trying to catch a big fish: They start to hang up...and then ('Yeah, it's for you!'), you reel them in a bit...then they start to hang up again...and then ('I think they're still there, just pick up the phone!'), you reel them in a bit.

Unfortunately, they gave up sooner than I was hoping.

Final score...3 minutes, 30 seconds. I'll see if I can beat that score next time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fooled

I've been waiting all day for the UPS guy to come. He's got a case of my new favorite-boardgame-that-I've-never-played-before-but-I've-read-about-it-and-it-looks-really-cool Monsterpocalypse (or MonPoc as the cool kids call it). I ordered it last week and have been not very patiently waiting.

Well, a little while ago, I heard the knock at the door. My wait was over! The UPS man was here to hand over my box full of plastic dinosaurs, robots, aliens, and other monsters ready to do battle on a paper map amongst tiny plastic buildings. I flew out of my chair, tossed open my office door, avoided plowing over Mrs. BigKat in the hall, and sprinted down the stairs, all in about 4.5 seconds (seriously! If it took me any more than that, I'd be surprised).

I got to the front door only to find...LilKat1 tapping on the door with a big smile on his face.

Grinning at me from ear to ear, he says 'It was me!'

So now I'm back upstairs...waiting...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Too Late

I just saw a video of this dice rolling machine:



It's 7 feet tall and can roll 1.3 million dice per day. It has a computer that takes images of the dice to figure out what was rolled. 

My birthday was last Sunday. I'm a little sad because if I had seen the video sooner, I could've asked for one. But now it's too late...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My Birthday

My birthday was last Sunday, so we had a nice long birthday weekend. Here are the highlights:

Saturday
  • Took the whole family out for a round of frisbee golf. There's this elementary school not too far away that has its own frisbee golf course on it. It ended up being perfect because the holes weren't too far away from each other, so the kids had an easier time with it. And the whole place is fenced in, so we didn't have to worry about PrincessKat running away somewhere.

  • Mrs. BigKat took LilKat1 shopping, so I was able to have some time with LilKat2 playing boardgames. I showed him a couple that he'd never played before: DVONN and Carcassonne: The Castle. I thought he might be a little young for them, but he caught on to the rules for both of them quite easily. He actually thumped me pretty good on Carcassonne. I think the final score was 101-38. Sure, I helped him a bit on his turns, but he really did quite well for himself.
Sunday
  • I taught Sunday School. It was my last regular class of the year! Next week, we're having an in-class celebration. And the following week, we're having awards and games. After that, it's summer. I'm a little sad to see all of my 2nd graders 'graduating' out of my class!

  • After lunch, I got to open my presents. I got a bunch of cool stuff! First, I got a whole bunch of boardgames:
Yspahan - I've been wanting this for a long time. A fairly quick, family oriented boardgame that uses dice in an interesting way. The rules are pretty simple, but there are a few different ways to score points, which I like.

Powerboats - A fast paced boat racing game with a modular board. Mrs. BigKat and I tried it out right away. It's quite fun. The interesting blue 3 sided dice that it comes with are quite cool. I'm looking forward to showing it to the boys.



Jamaica - Another racing game, but this time it's pirate ships. I still have to read the rules, but it looks like something that will be fun for grownups and kids to play together.

Stratego - Did you know that there's a revised version of Stratego? I showed LilKat1 how to play the original version a while ago, and we had fun with it. He bought me the revised version. In this one, all of the pieces have their own special abilities. Can't wait to try it out!
  • I also got a big pile of candy. Did you know that they made chewy lemonheads? They're really good! And they come with apple, grape, orange, and cherry too. They're called something like Sour Chewy Lemonheads AND FRIENDS. The only problem was the PrincessKat got ahold of them, put a whole bunch in her mouth, decided they were too sour, and spit them on the carpet, leaving a kind of rainbow colored shotgun blast of candy stains on the carpet.
  • In the afternoon, I got to cook. I made paella! I was going to make it with chicken and linguica. But I don't know how to get the chicken to be done at the same time as the rice. So I cheated and made the chicken separately on the grill (using my new favorite chicken grilling technique that I saw in last month's Cook's Illustrated). The paella turned out pretty good, but not perfect. The flavor was great, but some of the rice was undercooked. But I still got to spend the whole afternoon cooking and grilling, which is fun for me.

  • I did take one break from cooking. The ice cream man came by and LilKat1 bought himself a missile pop with is own money. LilKat2 felt left out, so I grabbed my wallet and chased the ice cream man down the street. Just like when I was a kid!
  • That evening my mom and My-Friend-Who-Lies (MFWL) and his wife (MFWLW) came over. After the kids went to bed, we all played a couple of games of Cash 'n Guns. It's an absolutely silly game where you're a bunch of gangsters trying to split up the money that you got from robbing a bank by threatening each other with orange foam pistols. I lost pretty bad at this game. And it's quite possible that I will never win at this game. It turns out that everyone likes to shoot me with orange foam pistols. I don't know why. But even though I lost, it was still a lot of fun.

  • I think the best part, though was when Mrs. BigKat said that she would never let the kids see this game. After all it uses real foam pistols!
REAL...FOAM...PISTOLS!

Ok...I should probably stop making fun of my wife now...

But REAL FOAM PISTOLS! It just makes me smile everytime I think about it.
  • Oh yeah, MFWL also got me the expansion for Galaxy Trucker, bringing my birthday boardgame total up to FIVE!
The next day was good too. Got to beat MFWL in a round of 18 holes of frisbee golf (although he did lose Mrs. BigKat's frisbee by throwing it over a barbed wire fence...that wasn't so good). I also got to spend some fun time with LilKat1 shopping for Star Wars legos. And I bought myself a small game: Hula Hippos! I'm definitely going to have to make a video for that one.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Kobe

I haven't been able to watch many of the NBA playoff games this year because we don't get ESPN or TNT. But I was able to 'see' the game on the computer last night (and by 'see', I mean taking a break from cleaning the bathroom, going to the computer, and clicking refresh on the Yahoo Sports page).

After the game, I went to tell Mrs. BigKat that the Nuggets beat the Lakers. Her response?
'That's good, right?'
I wasn't sure what to say. It was a bit startling. I immediately tried to think of some other situations where something similar might have happened...

Luke: Hey C3PO! It worked! We blew up the Death Star!
C3PO: That's good, right?

or maybe...

Penny: Uncle Gadget! We finally captured Dr. Claw!
Inspector Gadget: That's good, right?

or possibly...

Aquaman: Superman! It worked! We got him to say kltpzyxm!
Superman: That's good, right?
Well, the only thing I could come up with was...

Ummm...it's KOBE!

Which apparently was good enough for her.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Pants

I rarely wear pants. Working from home, I can wear whatever I want, so it's always shorts for me. In fact, I can't actually remember the last time I wore pants somewhere. My guess is that it was a wedding or something.
Anyhow, I have to go on a business trip tomorrow for a boring conference. Which means I have to wear pants. I went into my closet to look for some and I only had 2 pair. And guess what! They didn't even come close to fitting! Hard for me to believe that I was once that skinny.
I went to Costco today and picked up a pair of new pants. It was the first time I've bought a new pair of pants in...ok, I really can't remember that one. If I had to take a guess, I would say it's been at least 10 years. I can't think of a time when I've purchased pants since I've been married.
I must say though that I think these pants were a great purchase. I put them on and not only did they fit...but they have an elastic thing that stretches out if you get too fat! I figure I can put on an extra 20 pounds and still be able to fit in these pants!

I'm never going to have to buy another pair of pants for the rest of my life!

Friday, May 15, 2009

TracBall

I found my old TracBall set in a closet the other day. LilKat2 immediately asked me what 'that tennis thing' was. I told him that it was a game that I used to play when I was little and that we could go to the park and try it out sometime when the weather was nice.

Well, today was the first sunny day in a while, so at lunch, LilKat2 asked if I could take him to the park to play the tennis game (I couldn't remember what he was talking about at first, but Mrs. BigKat reminded me).

It was a lot of fun! Turns out TracBall is great for playing catch with small kids! It took LilKat2 a little while to figure it out (most of his first few throws went backwards. Many went straight sideways.), but once he got it, he could throw the ball quite far. He could also catch the ball pretty well too.

Compare this to when we throw the football around. The TracBall rackets allow him to fling the ball much farther than he can throw a football. And because they impart a backspin, the TracBall floats a bit, making it easier for me to chase his throws down when they're off to the side. He can also catch the TracBall easier than he can catch a football. All he has to do is reach his racket out and get the ball to hit it somewhere. And since the racket is so big, he can catch balls that go over his head (something he can't do with a football).  I can even whip the ball at him with a pretty good pace. He just sticks his racket out and watches the ball slide down into the pocket (the only thing I have to worry about is keeping it away from his face. I imagine getting popped with one of those hard plastic balls would sting).

I think LilKat2 really liked that he could throw the ball far and that he could catch the ball when I threw it normally (I could zip it in there from far away, instead of having to get close and throw it soft at him). I think it made him feel a little bit bigger.

So if you're clearing out your garage and find an old set, try them out with your kids! You might be surprised at how much fun you guys have!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Overcoming Evil with Good

The boys are doing Spring Soccer right now. It's basically a soccer clinic that the boys go to every Monday. They do games and drills and learn new soccer skills.

At the last practice, LilKat1 had an interesting incident. During the middle of a drill, another boy came up to him and took his ball. Obviously this didn't make LilKat1 very happy. I was wondering what he would do. First, he asked the boy for his ball back. The boy said no. I was wondering if he would try to forcefully take the ball back from the other kid (it's what I would've done when I was little). But instead, he started looking around the field. It took him a few seconds, but he spotted whatever it was he was looking for and quickly made a beeline for it. He had found 2 soccer balls sitting together. He ran over, picked them up, and raced back to the boy that took his ball. He told the boy that he would give him both balls in exchange for his own ball. The other boy, being greedy, enthusiastically took the deal. LilKat1 was happy that he had his ball, and the other boy was happy that he had 2 balls instead of one.

Immediately, a Bible verse popped into my head:

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:20-21

The funny part was that the other boy didn't even get to keep his extra balls (he had actually ended up with 3 because he grabbed another one as well). The coach took all of the extra balls from the kids who had more than one and gave them to kids that didn't have any.

Ok, so maybe it's not like burning coals on his head. And maybe what LilKat1 did was more outsmarting the kid, rather than an act of kindness. but I still thought it was funny.

I was also proud of my son for making a good choice. Like I said, if that was me as a boy, I definitely would've grabbed the ball away from the kid and probably got into an argument or fight. I told LilKat1 that I was proud of him for not making a bad choice like I would've made. That little boy continues to amaze me with the stuff his wonderful brain comes up with.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Science Fair

Way back before Spring Break, we found out that LilKat1’s school was having a Science Fair and that students from K-5 were welcome to submit projects. I have always looked forward to helping my kids with Science Fair projects. I remember learning how to make electric motors for my project when I was young and having a great time. But I was in 7th grade! I had no idea that people had Science Fairs for 1st grade and younger.

Well, I thought that it would be a fun thing for me and LilKat1 to do together, so I encouraged him to sign up for it. The first thing we needed was a good age-appropriate project. We tried to think of something that he could do himself. We got an idea from an episode of Curious George. We decided to use our Science Fair project to find out what worms liked. LilKat1 named the project ‘Fascinating Worms’.

Here’s how we did it:

First, we needed some worms. So we went to the worm store and got some:

Next, we gathered up a bunch of materials that we thought worms might like. We had soil, mud, hay, cedar chips, pine bits, coffee grounds, styrofoam packing peanuts, cereal, and easter grass.

Then LilKat1 picked out 4 of the materials and put them into a container like this:

Next, we put a bunch of worms in the middle of the materials like this:

 

Then we waited while the worms figured out where they wanted to go. When the worms were happy in their new spots, we pulled them out of each section and counted them. LilKat1 used a notebook to record how many worms we found in each material.

 

We did a total of 4 experiments. Here are pictures of the others:

 

After our experimenting was done, we had to make our display. I think this part actually took longer than the experimenting! We spent a good 3 evenings of cutting and gluing. I thought LilKat1 might start to get tired of working on his project. But he really liked seeing his experiments come to life on the display that we were creating. We actually had a lot of fun making it.

Here’s the display at the Science Fair:

 

Here is the raw data that he recorded from the experiments:

Here is a table showing how he interpreted the data:

Each of the Science Fair projects was scored by a group of judges. Projects that scored high enough received a Science Star award. We must’ve done a pretty good job because we got one!

 

It was a little difficult thinking of a good age appropriate project, but I think we picked a pretty good one. One cool thing was that we (me included) actually found out things that we didn’t know before. Did you know that worms liked styrofoam more than coffee grounds? I didn’t! But most of all, it was a very fun thing to do with my son.  In fact, on the Scientist Question and Answer section, I asked LilKat1 what his favorite thing about the project was, and his answer was ‘Being with Dad’.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Secret Missions

Last Saturday, I was trying to come up with a good way to teach my Sunday School kids about Matthew 28:19-20, the Great Commission:
So you must go and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And you can be sure that I am always with you, to the very end.
I wanted a good 'hook' to get their attention, and immediately thought of 'Secret Missions'. I thought it would be perfect. I figured all kids know about Secret Missions. I showed a couple of old Inspector Gadget clips to give an illustration of a Secret Mission (most of the kids had never heard of Inspector Gadget...they loved it).

I then posed the question 'What if God gave you a Secret Mission?' They decided that if God gave them a Secret Mission, they would do their best to follow it. That's when I introduced them to the Great Commission. I pointed out that it's not really a 'secret' mission since it's in the Bible and anyone who has a Bible can read it. But it was still a mission from Jesus to those who believe in Him.

Finally, for a craft, I had them make what appeared to be a standard Sunday School craft (a Cross). It looked like a paper cross made nice and pretty with colored paper glued to it. But in reality, it had a hidden panel with their Secret Mission, Matthew 28:19-20 printed inside. The colored paper served not only as a distraction to outside observers, but also helped camoflauge the hidden compartment. Whether or not they wanted to reveal the hidden contents of their craft was totally up to them. All of the kids had a great time with the craft. They loved that there was a secret compartment with their Secret Mission from God. I thought it was the perfect Sunday School lesson.

Until last night...

I got an email from a parent expressing their concern about the word 'secret'. They found the work to be very negative and don't use it in their house. They work as a therapist and mentioned that 'secret' is a word that sex offenders use with kids. They concluded by encouraging me to not use the term 'secret' anymore.

I had never really thought about this before, and spent a lot of last night trying to figure out what I thought of it. Here's what I've come up with so far:

First of all, a secret is basically another word for privileged information. It creates 2 groups: Group A, which has access to the privileged information, and Group B, which does not.

Why create a secret? Because the creator of the secret believes that if people in Group B had access to the privileged information, it could possibly create an undesired (to the creator of the secret) consequence.

In other words, it becomes an issue of trust: Group A is trusted, Group B is not.

Now I don't really believe that the concept of privileged information is bad. Obviously, you have things like passwords, bank account numbers, etc. that should be privileged information. As far as kids go, the idea of privileged information can be used for their protection. 

I think that where things go wrong, like in the example of the sex offender, is when somone forces a child to choose to put their parents into Group B: the group that can not be trusted. So maybe the concept of privileged information is not bad. Maybe what makes a piece of privileged information bad is when a child is forced to break an absolute rule that is put in place for their protection (in this case, the rule being 'Always trust your parents').

To protect against this, perhaps it would be good to emphasize trust in the parent/kid relationship so that if a situation came up where a kid was asked to place their parents into Group B, their education and upbringing would force them to make a good choice and they would recognize why creating certain forms of privilged information is a bad idea.

Now, I'm not a therapist, and there's probably a lot of things that I'm not considering. But like I said, I've never thought of the idea of 'secrets' being something that should be excluded from the upbringing of our childrent and I'm trying to figure it out. The parent is quite passionate about their opinion on this, and I'd really like to find out if it has merit. I'd hate to teach something to my Sunday School kids that could potentially harm them.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sick

Our family got hit with the flu a couple of weeks ago. It started with LilKat1. Then Mrs. BigKat. Then LilKat2 and PrincessKat. For a long time, I was the only one that was not sick. I was really hoping that it would pass me by.

It didn't.

I got hit with a fever last Wednesday. I missed a business trip down to California. But I thought it was early enough that I would be fine by Easter.

Well, Saturday night rolls around, and I'm still not feeling well. I was preparing my Powerpoint presentation when it suddenly hit me...what if I'm still contagious? If I'm still contagious, then I can't go to Sunday school! I did a little research, and it turns out that I was, in fact, still contagious. So we had to quickly switch gears. I ditched the Powerpoint and had to start working on a new lesson plan that my substitute, Mrs. BigKat, could teach (keep in mind that it was about 10pm by this point). Her Sunday School teaching style is much different than mine, so I had to come up with something that would fit her. First of all, I had her read about Jesus' resurrection from The Jesus Storybook Bible (which I consider to be the BEST storybook Bible out there). I also got some songs for her that the kids were familiar with that she could do with them. We have a video that has Jana Alarya performing her songs with all of the hand motions. I thought this would be a fun way for Mrs. BigKat to lead the singing portion. And I already had the crafts part all worked out. So a good chunk of the class was taken care of without too much difficulty.
But I also wanted the kids to hear about the significance of Easter. I wanted to explain to them about God's Plan of Salvation and about how the whole Bible is centered around Christ's death and resurrection. And I REALLY wanted to this part myself.

That's when I came up with my great idea...

I set up my webcam and made a short 7 minute video of myself that Mrs. BigKat played for the kids on the projector. It took me 4 or 5 takes, but it turned out pretty good! Some of the kids actually thought that I was talking to them from my home. I started out doing the 'Christ is risen!'-'He is risen indeed!' greeting, which they picked up on pretty quickly. I had them do it 4 times, encouraging them to get progressively louder (Mrs. BigKat said that they got pretty loud by the third time). It sounds like they were disappointed that I wasn't there, but they were happy that my wife was taking my place and that they were able to see me on the video.

I was glad that I was kinda-sorta able to be in class on Easter with the kids. I was quite disappointed when I realized that I wouldn't be able to go. We had been looking forward to our Easter class for a while now. I had purchased some special crafts for them and everything. But in the end, I think we did a pretty good job of taking a less-than-ideal situation and still making it special for the kids.

You know, this is really an interesting side effect of when I decided to create my own curriculum this year. I knew that creating all my own stuff was a big decision and would require a lot of extra effort. But I decided to just give it a try and see what happens. The funny thing is that now, when other ideas pop into my head, it's pretty easy to just give those a try as well. We did this for 'Blanket Month' where our our class raised $100 in February to help provide blankets for families in India. We did it when we redesigned how our Discipleship Journals worked (also known as D-Journal v2.0). We did this when we started using YouTube videos as a way to communicate important information to parents. And now, thanks to my webcam we're able to creatively minister to the kids on Easter, even though I was sick. 

It might not be very traditional. It can sometimes take some extra effort. And it may not work out like I envision it. But for a Sunday School Geek like me, finding new, interesting ways to teach the Bible, disciple kids, and solve problems is a lot of fun. And most importantly, when I'm able to implement one of my goofy ideas, I feel like I'm using the gifts that God has given me and really putting them to use for His glory. 

Friday, April 3, 2009

Escalator

ummm...you're kind of going the wrong...

I mean...you're not actually supposed to go...

Nevermind...go ahead and do it your way...


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Games for Date Night

My wife and I go out on a 'Date Night' every week. It's something that we both look forward to quite a bit. Just some nice time for ourselves with no kids. One of the things that we like to do on Date Night is to go somewhere quiet and play a quick board game together. Here's a video I made that talks about some games that we like to play when we go out:


If you want to find out more about the games I talked about, here are some links for you:


I'm sure that there are tons of other games that would be great for Date Night, or could be easily modified to bring on Date Night. I just wanted to throw this idea out there because it's something that both my wife and I have a lot of fun doing. Yeah, we play board games at home all the time. But for some reason, playing somewhere that's not your house every once in a while is just kind of fun!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Videos

This is a cartoon made by a friend of mine from high school. It's called 'The Infinite Goliath'. It's about a super-powerful space villain that has been captured, paroled, and forced to live in the suburbs. I thought it was pretty funny:



Here's a clip of a deleted scene from the original Star Wars movie that I'd never seen. Too bad they didn't leave it in.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Mario Kart


You know how much I love my children?

I love my children so much that I spent hours becoming a Mario Kart expert so that they could play on the 'hidden' courses. HOURS!

Now, I enjoy playing games with my kids. And they love Mario Kart. We have the old version for the Game Cube (actually belongs to My-Friend-Who-Lies who was kind enough to let us borrow it. I guess that somewhat makes up for him stealing my 'Great Escape' DVD). Every now and then, me, Mrs. BigKat, and the 2 LilKats will have some great 4 player races.

But I'm talking about playing by myself after the kids have gone to bed because LilKat1 has told me 'Dad...we REEEEAAAAAAALLLLLYYYYYY want to play on the new courses.' Me, by myself, sitting in front of the TV (on a tiny wooden kid chair) when there are perfectly good boardgames upstairs just begging to be played!

Now, it wasn't all by myself. I did play a bit with LilKat2 to try and unlock the courses. We played the 150cc Star course together during my lunch break a couple of times. I remember once, I was very close to coming in first place. Then, all of a sudden, right before the finish line, I got blown up by a flying shell. I said something like 'Aaaaargh! I had it, but then someone blasted me with a flying shell!'

To which LilKat2 replied: 'Oh! That was me Dad!'

So we had to try again...

Well, over the weekend, we finally unlocked the tracks (actually Mrs. BigKat got the final piece of the puzzle with a 1st place on the 100cc Star Course with LilKat2) and the boys have been enjoying the new courses (LilKat2 woke up at 5:30 yesterday to go play them).

As for me...I think it's going to be a long time before I have one of those Mario Kart by myself sessions again.

Well, until we get a Wii and they want me to unlock those courses too...

Monday, March 16, 2009

The BigKat Deck

My wife and I just celebrated our 10 year anniversary (Yay!). I was trying to think of something creative to give her that would be fun for both of us. I had trouble thinking of anything good, and was about to give up. But then, I found out about a special deal on ArtsCow.com on custom made decks of cards. That led to...

The K-Deck!



The K-Deck allows you to play some of my favorite games, Lost Cities, Battle Line, and Tichu, all from one specially made deck of cards (actually 2 decks smashed together). It also functions as a standard deck of cards. But the best thing about the K-Deck is that all of the cards contain images of our family. For example...

This is what the 10's look like:

Here is an 8:

For Battle Line, here is one of the Tactics cards (used to be 'Fog' in the original game, I renamed it 'Mess'. The picture is from when LilKat2 dumped a whole box of Strawberry Quik on the floor and made sand castles out of it (Quik Castles?) ).

For Tichu, instead of 'The Hounds', we have 'The Cats':

And of course, the single most powerful card in Tichu...the Dragon:

I was quite pleased with how they turned out. Mrs. BigKat got a kick out of them too. On our date nights, we sometimes will go to a coffee shop or library after dinner and play a quick game of something. Now we can bring the K-Deck with us and enjoy a round of Battle Line, featuring our family!

I'm thinking of making another deck for Mystery Rummy: Jack the Ripper, an out of print game that I'd like to play. But instead of being about Jack the Ripper, I'm going to re-theme it to a game of people in our family stealing desserts.

Even I have my limits

So  I own a bunch of boardgames. I have a room dedicated to boardgames. I own boardgames of many different kinds. I have purchased almost all of my boardgames without having seen (in person) or played them first. Sometimes, I'll buy a boardgame just because it seems like a good deal. I've even bought a boardgame knowing that it probably won't get played very much, but it might be a good idea to have for when the kids are older. I buy a lot of boardgames.

But even I have my limits...

I


I don't think I'm going to be getting this game anytime soon. It's a little too...silly. I didn't think that was possible, but, apparently, it is.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

How'd I miss this?


"Why is nobody talking about Antrel Rolle!" All he did was lose the Super Bowl for the Cardinals! Rolle, the Cardinals' safety, was on the sideline at the end of the first half when Steelers linebacker James Harrison intercepted Kurt Warner at the goal line and began his unthinkable 100-yard touchdown rumble. That was a 14-point swing for the Steelers and turned the game. But Cards' wide receiverLarry Fitzgerald was close to catching Harrison at the 30 when he ran smack into Rolle, who had stepped onto the field go get a good look at Harrison going past. Fitzgerald slammed into Rolle, pushed him out of the way, had to start over and didn't get to Harrison again until the goal line, when it was too late
Did this really happen? I've long since deleted the SuperBowl from my tivo, so I had to go to YouTube...




Wow...

Harrison barely made that touchdown. If Rolle stays off the field and Fitzgerald doesn't run into him...



CURSE YOU ANTREL ROLLE!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Prayers

Wow, seems like a lot of people I know are needing prayer right now...

1) One of my Sunday School kids, B, is out in Philadelphia right now. He just had back surgery yesterday. If this surgery is successful, it may make it so that he does not have to have another more major surgery later on.

2) A friend of the family, H (9 years old), had to fly our to Utah last night. She's going to have open heart surgery on Wednesday.

3) My dad had pneumonia and ended up having surgery to drain fluid from his lungs on Sunday.

If you could take some time to pray for these guys, I think it would be great.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Crokinole

Last month, I decided to order a custom made crokinole board. Yeah, it may seem strange to spend a lot of money on a handmade board for a game that I've never played before. But when you're addicted to boardgames like me, things like this are really not out of the ordinary.

There are a few differnent options for nice crokinole boards. I went with the Hilinski brothers. They're a couple of guys that enjoy making crokinole boards for people. Most places have a line of standard models that are all the same. The Hilinski's are interesting each board they make (with a few exceptions) is unique. You can check out their gallery to see some of the interesting boards that they've made.

Anyhow, after a month of waiting, I finally got the email that my board was done. I just sent in the payment, so the board should be in the mail very soon. It's called Chautauqua Here's a picture of it:


If you want to know how to play the game, here's a video that explains it:


Color Blind update

By request of My-Friend-Who-Lies (MFWL), here are the pictures from the last post after processing them with the color blind software.

Like I said...U-G-L-Y!!!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Color Blind

My Friend Who Lies (MFWL) is color blind. When we were in college, he would have me help him figure out what color clothes to put on his video game people (What color is this?...Blue...What color is this?...Brown...What color is this?...Red...What color is this?...Greenish Blue...What color is this?...Yellow...Ok! Now for the pants!). His sister numbered his clothes and made him a chart so that he would always know which pants went with which shirts.

So when I found out about this application, I thought of him. It's called Color Oracle, and it changes your computer screen so things look like how a color blind person would see them.

You know what's funny? MFWL's favorite teams are the San Francisco 49ers and the Portland Trailblazers, who both have red as one of their team colors. Take a look at these pictures using the app...U-G-L-Y!!!


Edit: These are the original pictures. For the color blind version, go here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ingenious

Here's an introduction to another tile-laying game: Ingenious.

This is actually one of my favorite games. It's a great game to play with people who are new to boardgaming. I even taught my dad to play this!




It may be hard to notice, but you might be able to tell that my box top is slightly damaged. I bought this game as a 'Ding and Dent' game from an online retailer. Several online retailers sell games with damaged boxes at a slight discount. So if you don't care about what your box looks like, 'Ding and Dent' games are an option that can save you a little bit of money.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Not what I wanted to see...

A couple of nights ago, I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth. I walked up to the sink and reached over to grab my toothbrush only to find some sort of a white cloth draped on top of it. It seemed pretty strange. I thought it must've been a washcloth or something, but couldn't figure out why someone would put it there. I picked it up and was immediatly thrown into a state of shock, horror, and disgust when I realized what I was holding...

My son's underwear!

LilKat1 had went into our bathroom and tossed his UNDERWEAR on my TOOTHBRUSH! We let him use our shower when his brother is taking a bath in their bathroom. I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but I can just picture him taking off his underwear and start whipping it around in the air like he was a Steelers fan with a Terrible Towel before randomly flinging it across the room (and onto my toothbrush) as he hopped  into the shower.

You know, finding your son's underwear on your toothbrush is completely disgusting and gross...

But for some bizarre reason, it's made me giggle inside every time I've thought about it today.

I love my goofy kids.

Wasabi!

Ok, maybe I'm starting to have a little too much fun with these boardgame videos...

Now I own several racing games. I own a few detective games. I have a whole bunch of train games. But I only have one game about sushi making -Wasabi!

Here's a short video introduction to the game. Keep in mind that there are a lot of rules that I don't go over. I just wanted to introduce the game and give you a brief overview of what it's about. It really is one of the more unique games in my collection, and it's definitely near the top of the list as far as nice looking games. If you're interested in finding out more details, there's a lot more information at Board Game Geek.

Anyhow, enjoy the video!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Water Baths

Something I learned while sitting on the potty today...

When you cook a custard using a water bath, the material that you use for your water bath can make a big difference. A cast iron pan can go up to 195 degrees, while a stainless steel pan might only get to 180.

A while ago, I tried making a cheesecake (which is a custard) using a water bath. It tasted fine, but it didn't quite set right. I think part of the problem was that I used an aluminum pan for my water bath. I don't think it ever got up to 185. Next time I'm going to try using cast iron or glass.

Worm Up!

Recently, Eagle Games had a nice sale and I was able to get a big stack of games for not a whole lot of money (7 games for just over $70! Woo hoo!). One of the games I got was Worm Up! I had never heard of this game before, so I did some research on it. It actually looked really fun, so I picked it up.

Good call by me! We played it last night loved it.

Here's a short video I made so you can see what the game is like:



I forgot to mention one important rule. The lower numbers get to move before the higher numbers. So if you play a 4, you don't get to move as far as someone who played a 7, but since you're moving first, you get first shot at cutting them off.

Anyhow, like I said, I've only played this game one time, but I think it's great. It's fun, it's silly, and it plays really fast. It won't be a 'Main Event' type game at your game night, but it's definitely a great warm-up act.

(By the way, Eagle Games still has several games on sale. They also have free shipping if you purchase over $70. Not a huge selection, but you could get some good deals if they have what you're looking for.)

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hey! That's My Fish!

A little while ago, I was telling a friend of mine about my boardgames. He asked what kind of games I had, and you know what? I had a really hard time answering him! First of all, I have a wide variety of games, so it's kind of hard to put them all into one category. Also, giving a brief description of a game can give a sense of what the game is about, but may not necessarily show why the game is fun (oh sure...your game about the 1960 election sounds really fun...weirdo...).

I think seeing a game, and watching a small sample of how it plays is much better than me trying to describe it. So I thought it would be fun to make some short video clips introducing some of my games. The first one I did was for Hey! That's My Fish! Here it is:

I forgot to mention a couple of things (like the fact that the number of fish on each tile is the nunmber of points that you get for that tile. So tiles with 3 fish on them are worth more than tiles with 1 fish). But I think this is a pretty good introduction to what I consider to be a very solid family game.

Rock Music

You know what's cute? Watching PrincessKat put her dollies into her little toy crib, get them all tucked in, and gently start rocking them to sleep while singing...

We will, we will ROCK YOU!
We will, we will ROCK YOU!

That's cute!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sonicare

I love my Sonicare toothbrush. It makes my teeth feel just-like-a-dentist-scraped-your-mouth-with-a-metal-hook clean.

But it has one fatal flaw...the colored rings.

The colored rings are these little rubber circles at the base of the detachable brushes. The rings are supposed to identify whose brush is whose, so that when someone goes to brush their teeth, they don't stick someone else's toothbrush in their mouth.

The colored rings used to work great. They had standard colors: blue, yellow, green, etc. Perfectly useful for identifying toothbrushes. But now, some genius decided that the standard colors didn't look right on the fancy-schmancy toothbrush. So they decided to make all new colors...THAT LOOK EXACTLY THE SAME! They're all grey! It's completely ridiculous!

Now when me and Mrs. BigKat go on vacations, we have ridiculous conversations like this.

'Which one is my toothbrush?'

'What color did you have?'
 
'Grey'

'Was it dark grey?'

'Ummm...I don't know...Maybe...I think it was kind of bluish grey'

'Ok, then this one is yours'

'But that one's greenish grey. Wasn't yours greenish grey?'

'No mine was light grey'

'Light greenish grey, or light bluish grey?'

'I don't know...I guess light bluish grey...'

'Then this one's probably yours. It's light bluish grey'

'But the other one's light bluish grey too. Just a little greener. Maybe greenish-light bluish grey. Are you sure yours was light bluish grey and not greenish-light bluish grey?'

(pause)

'Fine...I'm just going to use this one. I don't care if I get your cooties.'

Friday, January 30, 2009

Location, location, location

A while ago, I bought a book that I really thought I would like. It's Harold McGee's 'On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen'. I enjoy watching shows like Good Eats and finding out interesting things about the science of cooking. This book sounded like it contained all kinds of great information, so I thought it would be perfect for me.
Well, I got it, and I flipped through it for a bit. And it did in fact contain some great information.

But it was boring.

It felt kind of like reading an encyclopedia. If I was just sitting on the couch and wanted to pick up a book to read, this would not be one of my top choices.

It sat on the bookshelf unread for a long time. Which made me a little sad. Here, I had a great resource that contained a lot of knowledge that I would like to have inside my brain. But I just never felt like picking it up and reading it.

But then, something happened that made this book a bazillion times more useful.

I moved it next to the potty.

This book is a great next-to-the-potty book! If I'm just hanging out around the house, I would never feel like picking up a reference text and looking for an interesting piece of information that I don't know. But if I'm hanging out on the potty for a while, it's a whole different story! I've got nothing else to do...might as well find out why fruit turns brown after you cut it...or how vegetables are pickled around the world...or what the Maillard reaction is all about.

It's perfect because the articles are concise and well written. You think of a subject you want to read about, flip to the page, go about your business...and BOOM! Now you know something new! 
It's a good, thick, comprehensive book, so there's no shortage of topics to look up. I'm guessing that several of the interesting food science facts on Good Eats probably come from this book.

Now, instead of searching (in vain) for something (anything) interesting in an old issue of 'Cottage Living', I can read about what happens when beer is made or recipes for baked goods written hundreds of years ago.

Makes me wonder if any other books that I own could benefit from a change of scenery...

Monday, January 26, 2009

The McDonald's Slide Lottery

Yesterday, I took the 3 kids over to McDonalds to play in the play structure. It's kind of amazing to see PrincessKat easily holding her own with her brothers on such a big playground. Just another reminder that my little ones are all quickly turning into big ones.

But at the same time, PrincessKat is still pretty little. It's kind of funny sitting at the base of the slide, knowing that your 3 kids are going to come down in a single tangly clump and just hoping that your baby doesn't get squished.

I made up a haiku to capture the moment...

Waiting by the slide
Hoping the small one's on top
Sometimes she is not


It's kind of like a kid-pile-lottery. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But either way, you send them up again and keep playing.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A New Way to Waste Time on the Computer

I was looking around BoardGameGeek the other day and I found a cool new game. Actually, the game isn't THAT new, it's been out for a year, but for some reason, I hadn't really paid any attention to it. The game is called The Battle For Hill 218. It's a card game that uses a kind of a WWII setting (probably why I didn't look at the game. I didn't think Mrs. BigKat would be interested in playing). But it really is more of an abstract tile placement game. So much more like Hive (one of our favorites) or Blokus or even Dominoes than a military simulation-type game.

Each side gets their own deck of cards. There are 7 different types of cards (tanks, infantry, heavy weapons, paratroopers, artillery, special forces, and airstrike), each with their own powers (but again, these cards could've easily been re-themed to be dragons, knights, and wizards, or Ewoks, Stormtroopers, and Wookies. So if you don't like the WWII theme, just try and ignore it. There really is a clever little game here).

The game starts with one card in the middle, Hill 218. Each player has a starting spot on either side of the Hill card. You take turns placing your cards around the hill in kind of a grid form. The special abilities of the cards determine where you can place cards and how you can get rid of the other guy's cards. Some cards can be place next to other cards (like infantry), some cards can be placed diagonally from other cards (special forces), and some can be put anywhere (paratroopers). Some cards can get rid of other cards by themselves (tanks, artillery), some cards need the support of other cards to do this (paratroopers, heavy weapons). The object is to take control of the other player's starting spot. If you can manage to do that, you win the game.

It really is a fun, clever game that plays quickly, like 15 minutes or so. Perfect for when you have just a few minutes at lunch and you want to play something. It's also quite portable; you can fit it in your pocket.

Since the game is just a pack of cards, it's pretty cheap. If you found it in a hobby store, it would probably cost you about $10. Online, you can get it for around $7. But the best thing is that they've made a computer version that you can play by yourself or with a friend (LAN only though). You can go here to try it out yourself.

The AI is pretty good. The first few times I played it, it destroyed me. I'm pretty new to the game, but am starting to get a grasp of it. It took a few plays to begin to figure out the best way to use the different cards. At this point, I can hold my own. I even won once!

Anyhow, if you're ever wanting to waste some time on the computer and find yourself firing up a solitaire game of some kind, try out The Battle For Hill 218 instead. Even if you don't like war games. Just give it a try. Once you start to understand some of the tactics, I think you'll be hooked.

By the way, if you're interested in purchasing the actual card version of the game, this thread might be worth a quick read. It sounds like they're close to selling out their initial print run. But they're considering doing another printing with some extra features.